How Carting My Kids Around Helped Me See I Am Not a Bad Mom.

The Mom Guilt is Real

I am a veterinarian, business owner, Mom and wife and I suffer from Mom guilt. I find myself saying to myself “I am a bad Mom.”

According to Urban Dictionary, Mom guilt is guilt a mother feels anytime she takes time to do something for herself, outside of work, that does not involve her children. As a working veterinary Mom, I have the feeling of guilt, doubt, anxiousness or uncertainty, and worry I am failing or falling short of expectations.  The variables that contribute to this phenomenon are numerous and intense.

When I am at work I find myself thinking of the stuff I am missing at home. When I am at home I find it hard to focus on the family and spend too much time on my phone or worrying about work. All of these distractions cause me Mom guilt.

When I am working with other veterinarians this is their biggest complaint, I am a bad mom and I don’t have time. 

Quality vs Quantity

My husband, Chad, is a stay home Dad and takes on almost all the domestic and childcare duties.  This too causes me more guilt.  As a woman and mother I allow society to place many pressures on me to make me think I am not fulfilling my role as a suitable spouse and mother. 

My children often complain that I am never home, I work too much, my phone is more important than they are.

What I find is that quality time over quantity of time is the solution to this struggle.  I will never work less or care less about my purpose and passion work while my children still live under my roof.  Chad will continue to be the main childcare provider and domestic support. My kids will continue to want my time and attention.

What I have discovered is all my kids really care about is that when they have me, they have me.  No distractions.

Utilize the Time You Do Have

Most parents I know complain that all they do is cart their kids from one activity to another.  I actually enjoy this drive time, since I am not available for too many opportunities. I would encourage you to flip the thoughts of wasted time in the car to connection time with your kids.

I take a few “shifts” a week with each kid.  I use that time to really connect with them.  It is great because it forces me to put my phone down, an all too often distraction and top complaint from my kids.

While driving it is a great opportunity to talk about how their day was, how my day was, who they interacted with that day, what did they do on the playground, who got in trouble at school, what did they have for lunch and more.  Keep a list of questions in the car in case you get stumped on what to talk about.  Here is a great article about talking with teens dos and don’ts.

We play a game called “best and worst”.  They have to tell me the worst part of their day and then the best part of their day, and I have to offer up the same.  Then we talk about how the worst really wasn’t that bad or what we can learn from it.

Before and after whatever activity we are going to we talk about what we want from that activity, how we will behave if other’s don’t, what their goals are for the activity. My main goal is for them to have fun and be nice human beings.

Music is always our medicine.  I have an extensive playlist but sometimes our taste in music is not the same.  That’s when I hand over the phone to the kid in the backseat and have them pick what they want, either from existing playlists or from YouTube.  My kids watch some crazy stuff on YouTube and love sharing it with me.

We love to be silly, “Mom honk the horn.”  “Mom wave at those people.” “Mom let me tell you how to get home.” We tell silly stories that start with Once Upon a Time There was…I start it and then they have to add to it and we go back and forth.

Benefits of the Drive Time

Time in the car together has decreased my electronics time.  I have to stay off my phone to drive, which means I am available to my kids.  It is teaching my kids to be in the moment and cherish this time.  We are all learning life lessons.  Be kind. Listen. Pay attention. This is simply taking a mundane, sometimes dreaded task and turning it into quality time with each other.

Here’s the deal, my kids don’t care what we are doing in the car as long as they have my undivided attention for the short time we are in there.  They also don’t care that I am not around if I don’t point it out to them. The more I dwell on the time I am missing the more upset they get or the more they notice.  Instead we celebrate the time we do have together.

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