Feed, Read, and Say I Love You: Everything Else is Optional

Last week, I gave a run-down of our daily rhythm, and I think it’s the first time I have mentioned here on Sugar, Spice and Glitter that, even though I work from home, my daughter and I only get about 2.5 hours of family time per day — and that includes supper and bedtime routines.

Supper takes about 45 minutes to an hour, bedtime takes 30 minutes, and every other day (or so…) Ella gets a bath which is at least 20 minutes. That leaves under an hour for anything else. I think most other families are in the same boat of really not having much free family time.

Read, feed and Say I Love You: Everything else is optional

For the most part, she is excited about waking up everyday and having her friends over, but the flip side is that she spends her day compromising and watching her mom take care of other people’s children before her. If she and another child fell at the same time, my intuition is to take care of the child whose parent isn’t present first — not her. Our curriculum is geared to the majority, and it’s been a little while since I’ve felt like she’s been adequately challenged.

Sometimes, I end the day feeling like I haven’t done anything special or noteworthy with her, despite re-arranging our whole lives to stay home and run Child’s Garden Montessori. I’m going to be completely honest with you here: it is my nature to feel guilty and see only my shortcomings and focus on what I’m not doing right.

(Again, I don’t think I’m alone here.)

But when I think about other parents, I’m a lot kinder and reasonable in my expectations. I’ve said it before:

As far as I’m concerned, if you told your kid you love them today, you’re already doing a great job. (Bonus points if you remembered to feed them at regular intervals.)

But I’m going to add a slight amendment: Read, feed, and say I love you. That’s more than enough. That’s everything your child needs to flourish, and everything else is bonus.

My new criteria for declaring any given day a “win” is if those three boxes are checked off. Didn’t provide a clutter-free environment? Didn’t make the perfect unit study? Didn’t phrase everything positively? Fed the kids popcorn as a meal? Whatever. I’ll try again the next day, but I’m going to feel good about what I did do right.

Daily Parenting Checklist: Parenting Inspiration

What parenting guilt do you need to let go of?

PS — Here’s a great read by Psychology Today on the importance of reading to children.

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  1. I love this list – read, feed, and say “I love you!” It’s so refreshing to hear these three and have a short list that can be met everyday as an exhausted mom. Jennifer, you do an awesome job and please be proud of all your amazing accomplishments for your child and all the children in your care. Go Mama!

  2. Absolutely! This is a great reminder. We are much harder on ourselves than anyone else is (especially our kids). I think if we focus on the positive instead of the negative, more positive will follow.

  3. Great reminder to not be so hard on ourselves. My guilt is simply playtime. I don’t feel like I get down on his level and play with him enough. Being the only child at home with a working-at-home-mom can be boring I’m sure.

    1. I totally understand the guilt of being a work-at-home mom, but he’s still getting so much more of you than the alternative 🙂 The fact that you’re aware of it says a lot about what kind of mom you are!

  4. I have found myself in a similar boat where I spend my time focusing on getting the house clean and the other demands of life. This simple list of 3 activities is so effective. Feed, read and say I love you. Thanks so much for this Jenn.

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