Sunday, February 22, 2009

About Me

I am a mother of four girls and one boy, ages three to nine. Growing up, I was the only child of a single mom. I was in daycare by the age of two when my parents divorced and although I respect my mother's hard work, I have very few memories of playing with her as a child. After I married and had a daughter of my own, I remember thinking, "What do I do with this child all day?" I felt like I needed to entertain her every minute she was awake. I would sit in front of her and go through black, white, and red flashcards. I taught her sign-language, after I learned it for myself from Rachel on Signing Time. I learned finger plays and lullabies I had never heard of before. I remember making a goal to sing a new song to her every night before bed from our church's Primary Song Book so that she would know them all, even though I only knew a handful. I became a regular at the children's section of the library, determined to build our small library on a very tiny budget. I wanted my daughter to have everything I didn't have. But too soon, I became very overwhelmed by own expectations of myself as a new mother. 

Shortly after my second daughter was born, and my work load had literally doubled, I realized that I was merely surviving motherhood. I was stretched too thin and trying to be too much. It simply wasn't feasible or healthy to sit and be with my children every minute they were awake. But as soon as I stepped away, or turned on the television (heaven forbid) I felt flooded with guilt. I needed balance, a plan. Something that would work for my perfectionist brain and allow me to still be ME, and also a good mom. This was the beginning of Activity Time.

I found a book online called "The Busy Book" by Trish Kuffner, filled with ideas and activities for toddlers. This soon became my Bible to know how to engage with my kids. I set aside time each morning for one-on-one time with my kids where we were learning and playing together, with no distractions. These activities took shape with time, moving from a rigid over-prepared plan to having a few ideas and then following their lead. I made up a silly song to get us started. When my oldest daughter was old enough to go to preschool, I found myself lingering outside the door and taking notes on everything the teacher did, listening to the songs she used for days of the week and noticing how she would focus on one letter at a time. After a few months, my daughter complained that she didn't want to go to preschool and I found myself relieved. Despite all my aspirations of her becoming the smartest child in the world, I wanted her home with me. Armed with my pages of notes from her preschool teacher, I started our own routine, "Activity Time" in our living room.

I continue to have "Activity Time" in my home every morning with my kids that are still at home with me. We have a letter of the week as a guide and our activities range from crafting paper snowmen to riding the escalator at the mall for the letter E. Sometimes we go on a walk, visit the library, go out for donuts, or identify fruit at Costco. It's time together, its playful, and it has saved me as a mother, and as a person. Hope you can find a little inspiration here, but most of all a feeling that you're doing just fine, you're normal, it's hard, and we are all in this together.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Wow Janelle, this is really good stuff and so true! Brett and I love The Family Man because of the moral of the movie too and it shows how much fun a family is without having all the money in the world. You are an awesome mom and a wonderful person. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I love that movie too- and especially that part. I always wondered where the title of your blog came from and now it's all come together. Thanks for posting that. I totally agree- if at the end of the day I can remember a few specific moments I had with the kids it's a whole lot easier to give myself some "me" time without the guilt, and that makes everyone happier.