The amount of guilt I experience? Unimaginable. My insane commute to my full-time job results in severely limited parenting time. I’m away from my children so much that I find myself intermittently reintroducing myself to them…partly as a joke. Partly. One cannot be too careful.
Recently, I logged the amount of potential time spent with each child.
-Amalia (11 years old) has a possible 44 hours a week.
-Simon (4 years old) has the least averaging a possible 26-30 hours a week. During a normal weekday, I get 2 hours. That’s a whole 120 minutes. AND every other Wednesday he visits grandparents after school and comes home to go to sleep. On those days, I get…at the most…1/2 hour.
Movies that are longer than my week-day parenting time with Simon:
- Schindler’s List (195 minutes)
- Titanic (194 minutes)
- Inception (148 minutes)
- Forrest Gump (142 minutes)
Movies that are slightly shorter than the time I can spend with Simon:
- Evil Dead (85 minutes)
- Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (87 minutes)
- Cars 2 (106 minutes)
- Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (104 minutes)
-Max (3 months) has the most potential quality time at 58 hours a week, but half of that is spent sleeping. 1/4 is utilized changing diapers, so that only leaves ~14.5 hours of talk and play.
(How many hours/week was Osama bin Laden by his mother’s side?)
Conclusion: The Artist Formerly Known As Lonna Cottrell is a part-time parent.
Making the most of my time is necessary. The following is comprised of helpful methods I currently follow and some that haven’t yet tried. For kindred pathetic souls, I hope these help.
1. Pack meaning into the moments you spend with each of your offspring. In the future, I want them to remember reading, painting, scrubbing appliances with me, and how I gave them my undivided attention.
2. Make an effort to spend time with them in the beginning of the day, even if it’s for a few microseconds. Each work morning before scurrying out the door, I shake them out of their beds at 6:24, microwave frozen pancakes or toast waffles, tell them I love them, and attempt to trick them into kissing/hugging me.
3. Take lots of sick days.
4. Limit or eliminate parent substitutes. Remove any large stuffed animals. Not only are these pieces of crap dust-catching allergy-triggers, your child could become confused. Like in Are you my mother, they may ask it, “Are you my mother?”
5. Have television limited to less than the amount of time you spend with them that day, at the least. Most children already prefer to gaze at the tube over being with you (Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching than spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54). Encouraging this by allowing more tv than parental time can only lead to Total Television-Parent Replacement Syndrome. Guest starring on Yo Gabba Gabba and having a tank engine named after you may also help remind your child of your existence.
6. Stalk your child or allude to the possibility of stalking your child. There’s a fine line between stalking and parenting. Reading Runaway Bunny reminds your son or daughter that you will always be there no matter how hard they try to escape. Always. Even when you’re not.
“I am running away.”
“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you.
For you are my little bunny.”
“If you run after me,” said the little bunny,
“I will become a fish in a trout stream
and I will swim away from you.”
“If you become a fish in a trout stream,” said his mother,
“I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.”
Leaving notes in their lunch boxes, writing on the bathroom mirror pre-shower, and piping your voice through the school’s overhead speaker system or your child’s baby monitor, are all wonderful ideas.
7. Have your child’s primary caretaker wear a mommy/daddy mask. You can have one made to look just like you (exactly like you) and with a little voice manipulation your child will never know the difference. http://www.thatsmyface.com/ This site also makes personalized action figures which you can strategically drop around the house…so your son or daughter can play with you. $299 for a face mask, $49 dollars for a custom Polly Pocket head. Pricey? Perhaps, but can you really put a dollar amount on the amount of time you spend with your kid?