The Amount of Time Spent With My Child Everyday
After taking 12 grateful weeks off for maternity leave a year ago, I had the same feeling every working mom has when we go back to work and the child spends all day at daycare – Are they okay? Is it 4:30 pm yet? What would I be doing if I was not at work? Do I really need to work?
It took me about a week to really get back into the routine and groove of going back to work and dropping her off every day. However, it wasn’t until the fifth day when I was sitting in traffic that I really thought about how much time (or lack thereof) that I actually had spent with my child over the past few days. I had gone from spending basically 20+ hours a day with her to under 5 hours. Fast forward a year later where we have a bedtime and (for the most part) she sleeps in her crib all night, I’m at a total of about 3.5 hours a day. Those 3.5 hours equate to actual time spent with her awake. So this means me changing her diaper when she wakes up, dressing her, talking to her on the way to daycare, talking to her or handing her snacks in the car on the way home in the afternoon, playing with her once we are at home, watching her eat, bathing her, reading a book and then putting her in her crib. The other 20.5 hours in each day are spent either at daycare or asleep.
It was a really sad realization when I realized this number and it was scary at first, but I have learned to now just cherish every single second and minute that I have with her. While I don’t think any mom, or dad, chooses this limited amount of time to spend with our children, this reality challenges us to look at things a little differently.
Road trips, at a minimum, take three to four hours. The next time you have a road trip with the kids and they are getting irritable, crying, talking your head off or kicking the backseat, choose to look at the situation as a “glass half full” perspective. While those three or more hours in the car may seem like the longest few hours in that moment, remember that those few hours are essentially the amount of time you spend with your child every day – so choose to cherish it all, the good, the bad and the tantrums.
This is a hard one for me to choose to look at with a different perspective because I am always on the go running errands, but now I have a child that I usually bring with me. It’s a constant struggle to decide if I really want to take her with me because five minute in and out errands turn into 15-20 minute errands. However, bringing her with me has given me a lot of my memories with her that I still laugh about. We have had blowouts in the store that she laughed about and I cried about, we have had tantrums in the store that has created a great bond between us and the Target cashier (she inevitably remembers us from that one tantrum in the store), and we have hit great milestones while out in stores as well (first fall out on the floor tantrum was held in Kohls).
We get to a restaurant, we are seated and I immediately regret my decision after about five minutes of being seated. Much like running errands, this time is time spent with our family making memories that I don’t normally have during the day. So I will choose to take all the memories I can get with her.
I hope you all will join me in looking at our limited amount of time with our children as a way to make a surplus of memories with a shortage of time. Let’s decide to make lemonade out of 3.5 lemons (hours)!