Time with Your Kids: A Hidden Benefit of the Stay-at-Home Mandate

April 15, 2020

I was the mother who left home and forgot the diaper bag. Or if I brought it, I forgot to restock before leaving the house. If there was a category of Martha Stewart mothering – you know the one with super moms that are totally organized and have everything color-coded – I would be in the “Shame on You” column of her magazine (if there was such a thing).

For years as a young mom, I just wanted an hour a day to spend time with Jesus and be refreshed. But when that hour came, if I was lucky and my boys actually napped, I couldn’t read more than a sentence without dozing off.

In Isaiah 40 it talks about the Lord as a shepherd. Verse 11 says …

“He gently leads those that have young.”

I love that word – gentle. God isn’t some taskmaster, judging moms and dads and keeping a tally of their time spent in Bible study and family devotions. He knows how hard it is to raise kids (we’re His kids, remember?). And He is gently leading you and me as we lead those little ones under our care.

If you feel at your wits end today and are beating yourself up for not being a “perfect” mom, try to remember that God isn’t unhappy with you! He loves you. He knows this is the hardest job you’ve ever done. And He’s not going to let you blow it (completely).

God is closer than you can imagine. He is in your home. He is giving you what you need to do this mothering thing. He knows that your kids are turning your hair prematurely gray and taking the luster from your skin. He knows all the worries that occupy your mama heart. He knows the tremendous responsibility you bear, and He wants you to come to Him and lay all of it down. Go ahead and admit you are desperate for Him – He knows you are. Ask Him to cover the mistakes you’ve made with His grace. He’s got a plan for you, and for your kids.

He gave you to these kids, and that means you’re the best mom for the job. So today, put down your mental list of what a perfect mom is like. Relax. And just love on your kids. That’s all they’re going to remember. It’s all they care about.

The most important thing

Despite all my failings as a mom, I got one important thing right—I enjoyed my children, and they knew it. They were more than a tag-a-long in my life. I was glad they were with me. And I focused a lot of my time on them. Not just time cleaning up after them or cooking for them, I mean time playing with them, reading to them, singing with them, being together. I interacted with them – in the car doing errands we played games like “I spy” and “20 questions,” on walks I pointed out things in nature, at home I played duets on the piano with my oldest, and when I cooked they “helped.” We didn’t just occupy the same space, we communicated and interacted all day long.

I wanted to do these things because I knew being a full-on mom was only one season of my life. And even though it felt like a long one at times, I purposely narrowed my world to the size of theirs and spent focused time with them. Now that they’re grown up, I don’t regret a moment of that time.

This may sound impossible to you. I understand. For some reason, it just worked for me – not because I’m a saint, but because it actually was quite healing for me to focus my attention on someone outside myself. It gave me the wonderful excuse I needed to slow down and smell the roses. It could have also been because I was older when I started having kids, and I’d already done my own thing for years. And no doubt, it was also God’s grace because He knew that’s what my boys really needed.

But whatever the reason, I want to encourage you that just spending one hour each day, focused on your child and weaving interaction into little moments throughout the day, will make all the difference for him or her. It will build a relationship that yields dividends later when they’re pulled by the world yet still want to please you because your opinion matters. It will build confidence because they’ll know they are worth your time, and that sets them up for healthy relationships as they grow up. And – it’s fun.

Right now when COVID-19 is forcing us all to slow down and Stay at Home, let’s take advantage of the time with our kids. I recently read a Facebook post where a mom who works full time listed all the things she was learning “so far” at home with her kids. The thing that stood out to me most was this:

My kiddos miss me! I’ve appreciated the opportunity to observe them more. It was nice to watch Amy play, hear her insightful thoughts about things, sing with her. Peter is definitely turning into a man and I am walking the line of being honest with him during all this but not scaring him. I can see him waver between reacting like a little boy and reacting like a young man. Evey is very in tune with any feelings and asks if I am ok a lot. Her stability depends on it.

What a gift in the midst of this crisis – to gain insight into your kids and build a closer relationship with them. These things are easily missed in the usual busyness of life. As much as we may be sad or mad or afraid about COVID-19, let’s dive in, enjoy this time with our kids, and make it something worth remembering.

Written by Elizabeth Griffin, Senior Writer for CRISTA Ministries
Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash