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Suggestion ideas - a hour in her bed reading to her; baking cookies/cake together (from a box if need be - or buy a kiddies cook-book and tackle it together. Brothers will love the flops); go grocery shopping alone together; a library trip together; building a puzzle of appropriate size, that maybe takes a few days to complete; plant something together, including the trip to the nursery to buy what's needed and tending to it regularly together; taking her with you next time you have to go somewhere that's a fair drive away.

I have only 1 son (4) but because I work from home i find that I'm not 'present' a lot of the time and he doesn't even have to share me.

It sounds cheesy but he loves the car wash so once a week we take the car through the car wash and then we go and have a milkshake while they wash the car. Just the 2 of us sitting in a cafe chatting and catching up. Sometimes he takes a car along or we buy a disney mag and go through the puzzles etc.

He really, really enjoys our time together and I make sure that i don't take calls and its all about him.

its simple, its an hour and a bit and his love tank has a little top up!!

Does she like books? Why not pick a book -- or a book series -- and read them aloud to her, or have her read them to you? I know no matter how old I got, I never lost the enjoyment of having someone read aloud to me.

how about a mini tea party in her bedroom or at a park somewhere? you could sit on a blanket and have tea and cookies with her dolls or teddies, or super hero action figures (if she's the tomboy type) :)

good luck. it must be very hard to be surrounded by so many needy people. I don't have the patience or energy for it myself, so I don't envy your position.

Hey T~ Girl time is tough for me!!! I am so not a girly girl! and I screw up crafts...Just ask my sweet M!!

What about a trip to the coffee shop and just time chatting? bike riding? reading a book together (we are reading a the Frog Princess Series together right now)? getting your nails done together? Would cooking dinner together work or would the boys be too involved?

Hugs your are such an amazing person!


I totally understand why you said, "that sound was the knife in my heart" - but I was kinda angry too (with the world in general) - *WHY* is it a big deal for *you* to work, and yet there was no *daddy isn't there* because *daddy has to work*. Women just do NOT have it fair. Feminism and all that malarchy has worked against us. Now, because we can have it all, suddenly we HAVE TO have and DO it all. It sucks. A hubby just has to do *anything* for his kids and he is praised by all and sundry, while our jaws drop, considering all that we do, and no praise from anywhere.

At the end of the day when you're scheduling your diary, make sure you make time for YOU. Too.

It must be hard to find a balance. But as you've stated before, you're a workaholic. Hopefully this will be the nudge you need to be able to find out how to be there for your family first, and work second. They will remember this time for the rest of their lives now, you are making a lasting impression on what it means to be their mom and how much you value it. You don't have to do specific 'things' with Kate, you just have to spend time with her. Go for walks, go to the mall, go for a bite to eat. Ask HER what she wants to do with you.

I love the idea of a mommy-and-Kate reading time. Besides that, I would just ask her how *she* wants to spend that time. I'll bet her answers will be quite simple. And because she gets to choose the activity, it will be memorable and special to her.

Hugs to you. It's hard to be a WAHM. I'm one too, and I *totally* get it.

It's always so hard to hear these things from our children. My 20 year old daughter (who still lives at home and is totally depending on us) recently told me that I don't really know how she feels about things and I never will because it's one less thing that I can control....
Sjoe! I was guttered. I don't think I'm a controlling Mom at all but there are certain rules though, if she goes out I want to know with who, where and she has a curfew. But... the words stung like crazy!

Oh, Tertia! I just adore you and your honesty! You are amazing in so many ways and I so admire you. I must say though that when I called a couple of months ago for some help and advice, you said you'd get back to me, we spoke at about 5ish. I thought get back to me, meant tomorrow BUT less than an hour later, you had spoken to 2 specialist and had advice. AMAZING!!! I was so grateful but being a mother and knowing that, that is crazy time I was blown away. I still would have felt the same way about your amazingness if you'd called me in the morning. I think the 4-8pm thing would work well. You are such a giver, maybe you need to take a little and you'll probably be surprised that it all still gets done! Did I say you were amazing??? Mwah! x

Yeah, does it need to be 'something' you do? Can you not just snuggle up on the couch and watch her favorite movie? Or maybe go for a walk or a milkshake? Quality time is one of my love languages, and all I want from my husband is just to snuggle on the couch and chat.

best bet is to ask her what she wants to do, or ask her for several choices, and choose from among them.

re feminism: at least from where i sit, it's not that "feminism" is to blame for the present state of work-life nonsense in womens' lives; it's the cost of housing. for most women, at least where i'm from, working outside the home isn't a choice, it's a fundamental necessity, because housing is so expensive that a single person can't earn enough to support a family anymore.

When my husband started working from home instead of going into the office, we thought it was a blessing. It turned out to make our lives more difficult, because the kids felt rejected by a daddy who was around the house but unable to pay them any attention (because he was working). A few changes helped: we moved his office into our basement, and when daddy went to the basement he was "going to work." We acted as if the basement was no longer a part of our house -- the kids didn't ever enter it to play, and my husband had to be strict with himself about when he was there, instead of drifting in and out of the rest of the house throughout the day when he needed a break. Working from home required much more discipline and communication than working outside the home. Is your house set up such that you could have an office that is more separate?

Also, could you do something girlie with Kate like get your nails done? Or outdoorsy like going for a walk on the beach even if its cold out? Or taking the dogs on a hike? Or taking her to a women's sporting match? Or picking one of her after school activities, and always being the adult to accompany her to that one activity every week, not spending too much time talking with the other adults there while Kate tugs at your sleeve, and then going out for a bite to eat, just the two of you, afterward?

The time together should not stress you or cause huge anxiety. This would render you useless... choose an activity you like, Kate will learn to like it. I had similar issues with my daughter, we packed a tea basket took binoculars and headed to the nearest nature reserve. We "bird watched" and looked for bokkies, lay on blankets and read magazines. My 12 year old is now a serious twitcher and we now "sneak" away without telling Dad, just to be quiet together. She is now in charge of the books and reading up the description and identifying... I discovered photography so I take pretty pictures.. Sometimes we never leave the car! Enjoy, it doesn't take much...

You don't really have to find anything to do, just do what you need to do, but take her along. Running errands and doing housework teach responsibility, give the kids pride in being a contributing member of the household and provide time for you to interact together. Special outings to get a treat or go to a park are nice, but if your calendar is already brimming over, don't make it worse by scheduling in more, when it's not the activity which is important to her, it's time with you.

I love your funny and warm personality, Tertia, and I'm sorry--you sound like you feel stretched in all directions. I'm a part-time WAHM so I feel at least a little of your situation. It sounds like you work a lot more than 9-5, though, and from what you say I get the impression that's at least partly just because you love work. My experience with WAH is that it tends to seep into everything if you don't draw boundaries--though in my case it's a little easier to prevent because I don't love working. Not that it makes it easy to work less; for me at least, I work less but I have less money, and I'm so tired about worrying about that. Not to mention that I still seem to spend a lot of time doing housework, cooking, etc. But I kind of felt like Kate did when I was a kid, and it kind of sucked, so I choose this kind of suck instead. I'm morbid, and often think about what would I do if I had one week to live, and the answer definitely isn't "go through my work email"...however, if I had one week to live I also wouldn't need to pay the bills!

P.S. I agree with Rainbow. I'm a total feminist but the "women can't have it all" thing strikes me as a red herring in my own life. It's not that women can't have it all, but the way we live is so expensive and economic forces are squeezing every last cent out of people because we keep on taking it and feel too powerless to do anything differently. NO ONE can have it all--lots of time with family and higher levels of success at work/financial comfort.

How would Kate answer the question? "Hey Kate! I'm all yours! What's your favorite thing to do with me?"

I absolutely love your blunt honesty - it's been one of my favorite things about your blog ever since I started reading years ago.

I know you didn't ask for this but my own anxiety has been greatly, GREATLY helped by working the 12 steps at the group I attend: Codependents Anonymous. It's probably one of the best things I've ever done for myself. http://www.coda.org

Wow, thanks for the honesty. And this makes so much sense. We think that working from home gives us more time for our kids, but they see us at home and wonder why we aren't playing with them! I've never really thought about it like that. It depends what Kate likes, but I know my girl loves picnics so a picnic alone with mommy would be a treat. And I'd probably throw in one of those cheap kites that any idiot can fly, because that's what my skill level requires. And it's easy to have a picnic without cooking -- cheese, crackers, salami, fruit, and a sparkling juice drink would be my preference. Oh, and cookies. On another note, I love that parenting success can be boiled down to: "My kid hasn't hit anyone in two weeks! Score!"

For concrete ideas I'd suggest a walk or a board game or playing at a park or, like other people have said, something regular like grocery shopping together. You could go swimming or do a sport, but I would be careful with those because the focus needs to be on really interacting, not just being in the same place.

For the guilt...it sounds like you are finding a way to balance it, but there is nothing wrong with mummy working. It's more about the when/where/how much and also making sure that she understands that your office is at home.

Here's my story: When I sent my son to Montessori and went back to work full-time I was really focused on helping him to see it as a positive experience and not freaking him out. One day he said plaintively "don't you MISS me mummy?" So I started sharing my real feelings with him which were, in a nutshell "I like my job and I like working but I HATE HATE HATE time away from you and I wish I had a time machine." It helped.

I haven't read the other comments, so sorry if this is repetitive. My suggestion for what to do with Kate is to ask her how she wants to spend time with you. My guess is that she doesn't really want to DO anything, she just wants to be around you and have your attention. If she can't think of anything, I would suggest going on a walk/bike ride, playing a game together, reading books together, seeing a movie or doing a project together. There are tons of crafty projects out there that do not require any skill--lots of kits at toy stores for kids to do on their own or with some adult help. It doesn't have to be a planned out, structured activity. Make cookies together(using a mix)or decorate cookies or whatever. Keep it simple.

good on YOU for sharing this - i think many of us are in the same boat, or at least afloat on the same damn lake of parenthood.

amelia and i have one home day a week together where we just ARE together. we hang. at home, in our jammies, eating peanut butter sandwiches and simply being together. we have tea parties under the kitchen table, we do art work, we have baths together, we do chores together. sometimes knowing that we are at home together is enough for her - she disappears into her art-space or bedroom, coming out to say hello every now and then, and i can actually work if i choose to. it is enough for her that i have allocated that day to us. we have a season pass to a few funparks around here (we live in a tourist spot) so we also spend time at these (well, only one of the three on our pass so far) - seaworld, walking around the exhibits and animals hand in hand avoiding the crap food places. ask her what she wants to do and then do it. no phone, no internet, no-one and nothing else. just you two. believe you me, doing this NOW is the most powerful thing you could ever do for her - you are teaching her that her concerns will be met, that she is loveable, and that she is worthy of time and attention, and also that if she ASKS she will get what she needs. you are investing in a very healthy very happy future adult. much love to you both.

i would also be looking at what YOU do to fill your own tanks. yes, you are in demand all round, but it may be that you are the strong one from whom everyone else draws strength. where do YOU go to replenish that strength? or are you so concerned with keeping all the balls in the air that you feel empty and stripped of energy? find a way of topping YOURSELF up T, and you will find keeping everyone else's tanks full much easier.

I work in an office, but occasionally work at home, and my kids love when I work at home, even when I kick them out of my office. I'm sure if I worked at home all the time, it would be harder. I have a friend who worked full time at home for several years, and she got up, got dressed in her work clothes, went to her office like she was "going to work" and only came out when work was done, or for the most dire kid-based emergency. The kids thought of her as "at work."

As for what to do, I am always amazed at how happy my kids are just to be with me, and sometimes that can just mean in the same room doing different things. I know you want to focus on Kate, as you should, but maybe you can multi-task. Run errands that need running, and bring her along, if they are not boring errands. Snuggle in bed with a movie (which is a nice rest for you). Take her to a local bookstore and let her pick out a few books. Go out for lunch or dinner. Simple things like that.

But I also think it is okay to teach our kids that we have important jobs to do, and it is important that we do them, not just for us, but for the family, and that they have to be patient. My father died when I was young, and my mother had to work hard just to put food on the table. I got that the working was not a luxury but a necessity, and I would not have dreamed of complaining about it. My kids take their good fortune a little for granted, and i struggle with how to get them to understand.

I am with everyone who suggested ask Katie. Why not also plan one of your weekends away that you recently did with her. A walk on the beach. A drive somewhere even if to a mall or to get an ice-cream / hot chocolate somewhere.

Reading a book, going to the grocery market, having lunch, folding laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, walking the dog all count as quality time so long as you are present and interacting with her. I know you said you recently hired an au pair to do their extra murals, my advice would be to go yourself and be present. It would be much wiser to spend the money to hire someone to help you with the business then with the children. Also - break down your day. How many hours do you actually have to work to accomplish what you need? Work should be fulfilling but not all consuming. If you six year old thinks you are working too much, then you ARE working too much.

I had to come back to share this. Please don't think I'm being judgmental. We've been there.

My husband used to work 70 hours a week. When he was home he was either on his phone or trying to unwind, meaning he didn't want the kids to bother him. The kids used to try to get his attention by being good. When he didn't notice, they started acting out to get his attention. Which meant that he was constantly cross with them and felt overwhelmed by them. We had a big problem but we didn't know to fix it. I thought that since I was home with the kids, it was enough. But it wasn't. They needed their mother and their father to be fully present in their lives.

A few years ago, everything changed. We had a similar issue with one of our children and we knew that we had to make a drastic change. After lots of prayer, my husband decided to leave his job and find a new one that offered a more flexible schedule. It was really hard for him because his identity was so wrapped up in his position. It was also hard because we had become accustomed to being financially privileged. He took a VERY large pay cut and as a result we had to make lots of lifestyle changes. Fewer vacations, eating out less, moving to a cheaper house, driving older cars, less stuff, slower internet speed, less channels on our television, store brand vegetables, etc. I won't lie, it was hard to give up some things but it was a sacrifice I would gladly make again. People before things is our new motto

We live comfortably now. I love our smaller house. I feel like my children have learned to love the things they have instead of wanting everything. As a family we are so much happier. Dad is home at 5pm and he doesn't work weekends which means he can attend football games. And since his job isn't so high pressure, he's much more relaxed at home.

I suck at craft too. But, the purpose of the exercise is not for you to make something cool but to spend time with your daughter. My daughter loves to draw. I couldn't draw to save my life but got a few lessons from an arty farty friend and now I have a bit more confidence and will sit and draw with her now. She doesn't care that I am awful just that I am sitting with her doing something together

Another thing we do together are jigsaw puzzles. Again, I am not good at these but even I can do the 100 piece ones LOL

I am so with kelly on this issue and also don't mean to be judgemental or deliver a sermon, but so many times before i heard this, but i don't think it really sunk in. Having been through the very sudden and tragic loss of my DH, I realise that people should ALWAYS come before things. I do acknowledge that working is necessary, and that as people we need to feel wanted and appreciated, something we all know mothers often are not. The sad truth is however that in the long run it is not the private school, premium satellite, unlimited internet, lots of extramurals etc that children remember, but memories that were made from TIME spent together. My DH worked very very long hours when our son was small, and he always regretted having missed out on so much of his baby years. Luckily he saw the light in time and the last 3-4 years of his life spent much more time with us, which not only benefitted our marriage tremendously, but also the relationship between my husband and son. It built a foundation and deep found love that not even death will break. Please, please, please, you have only a few more years with your kids. Forgo some of life's niceties and spend time with your children. And again, I used to be a WAHM who loved her job too, thus I know how hard it is to sometimes set boundaries and not feel guilty etc, but looking back, I wish i was more available for many things. Hope you manage to strike a balance and do what is right for you and your family - we get but one chance.

Woollies have a cookie box that you just add an egg to, and possibly water... I can't recall... The bunny adds the ingredients to the kenwood while I cringe inside about the mess but smile cheerfully and enthusiastically as she works. I put the mixture on the baking tray and pop it in the oven, she sets the timer and we go and sit with a cup of tea while we wait for it to bake. I ask her about her day, her friends, her ballet, her teacher, etc... (and I hate to admit but I often say, 'O really?!' because I'm not listening too intently.
She is delighted because we have done something together, that tastes good! I am delighted because you really can't flop the cookies!!
We also have story time and a snuggle in bed every night. She sits at the kitchen counter and colours or draws while I cook and I will not work when she is awake during the week. Weekends and deadlines are slightly different, but generally I sit at the diningroom table so she can see me, and I talk to her while she colours. I will always make a point of stopping what I'm doing, getting up from the table and going to her for about 5 minutes every hour, or when she has a question that requires me looking at something in front of her.
These years disappear... I don't want to miss them because I was working during her time.

No one needs to work this hard. Make time for your daughter and don't think you need to package that time into a silly little craft. Take her to the grocery store. Sit together and watch tv. Go swimming. Don't pencil her in. Be there for her. I say this not to be judgmental -- I'm a single mom who also needs to work and has a bit of an addiction to my computer screen that my daughter calls me on all the time. But I also make sure we have hours of time together on weekends and evenings. Not easy, but why else have kids.?

just found out yesterday that my dad has secondary cancer from his prostate - and it is in his bones. i lay in bed last night crying about it, and thought of all the moments of joy that i have had with him - which are not many - because he was always so difficult. our beautiful memorable times could be stacked together and tied with a ribbon like a bunch of old love letters, and the rest was just hard going. i talked to him last night and his regrets, his biggest regrets, are that he was not around for us so very often and that he was unable to simply relax and be a father, so our time as a family was stressed and tumultuous.

whatever it takes to really BE with your kids, DO IT. this is all the time you have and then it is gone, never to return.

Things my DS and I enjoy doing together include riding bicycles, baking (mostly homemade banana bread), walks in the woods, swimming, kayaking (we own a small inflatable one and take it to nearby lakes and rivers), going to the library, choosing, checking out, and to some extent reading books (his high energy level makes doing the last of those steps for any length of time tricky), gardening, working around the house (e.g. cleaning something -- not straightening up, but washing -- or building something). He also likes crafts and pretend games (versions of "tea party" but with trucks) but I don't so try to pick from or insist on any of the others.

(@Kelly above has lots of good information but I have to disagree with her when she writes that "If your six year old thinks you are working too much, then you ARE working too much" (as a general rule, that may of course be true for her). Both my husband and my son would be delighted to be the focus of my attention 23.5/7 (the missing half hour is to allow them -- not me -- some private time in the bathroom) and: NO. I need time for myself and one place I get it is at my work. That's not to say that some kids don't indeed need more time and it sounds like Kate is there right now, but still ...)

Hi Kelly, thank you so much for your wise and caring comments. I am 50 this year but my kids are only 5&3, thus, I cannot afford to die. My work definitely will kill me sooner if I work constantly at the current rate - not so much about the hours but a lot of stress, and on my prehypertensive body...your comments made me think about life priorities in general, thanks!

Unique trips to get a cure or go to a recreation area are awesome, but if your schedule is already filled over, don't worsen it by organizing in more, when it's not the action which is essential to her, it 's time with you.

You let it slip that sometimes you are "working" from 4-8. The real issue is your narcissism. She will let you know that as she ages and figures it out.

Kudos to you for sharing your flaws when too many of us purport to be the perfect parent. I once saw a mom blogger write that her favorite part of being a mom is when she puts them to bed and sits on the couch watching TV! It is "so" true that while parenting is our favorite job we often enjoy it most when we aren't doing it.

I am not of the belief that all together time is better than any material things. I work to affort a house in a good school district and yes, organic food, and soccer and gymnastics and summer vacations, and I would defend my choices. I do not think my family would be better off if we sat together all day long in a run down house in a bad school district. However, I also try hard to achieve balance by working a job with regular hours or doing the after hours after bedtime. I hve followed your blog for many years and while you are clearly a loving mother it does seem that you pack your schedule with more work than the average working mom.And your question about what in the world could you do with Kate -- when there are a million and one things to do -- suggests that maybe the real problem is that you are uncomfortable with unstrucured or "unproductive" time.

Paige - We don't live in rundown house in a bad school district and our kids do participate in sports. We also get to take a vacation every summer. I don't want you to think that is what I was implying.

It's important to provide for you family but it's equally important to have time to enjoy them. In our case, my husband's priorities were out of whack. He was so focused on being a great provider that he was being a mediocre Dad. He felt like we needed a fancy house, new cars and top of line everything. Like you said, it's all about balance. We can cover all of our needs and many of wants.

My daughter and I do things like go for ice cream, go for coffee/hot chocolate and sit and talk, get our nails done, shop. For us we have to leave the house or else lttle brother/dh will interrupt.

The whole work/mom balance is tricky but it is very true that they are only little once. It is obvious that you adore all 3 and I know you will make it all work.

The scheduling thing works!!! David and I are both busy and with 3 kids who have to be in different places over the weekend - it gets crazy!

David schedules time in his diary to tell me he loves me - lol - sounds silly but when he doesn't call at 13h30 I get sad :-p

So set aside time for all of them - even it is a phone call, quick ice cream at the drive through - do it!!

Oh my love language is also time and David's isn't - it creates tension because like you said - a gift can be bought online at night and delivered by someone else - time can't!!

Good luck!!!

I don't think you need to do anything except be present! Turn off the TV, computer, radio, and be present with kate! Listen to her and let her tell you what she wants to do whether it's going for a walk or just sitting. Truly, if you sit still and just listen she'll tell you what she needs.

Just reading the post about the OT, the psychologist, the teacher, ect made me stressed. Ugh... & I'm am OT by training. Really, make some time for her and listen to her - then do what she's asking. GL, t

With the greatest of respect, you do tend to overly complicate matters. A therapist, A OT, the teacher - you've asked everyone but her.

Take her for a walk. Talk about the sky and the bugs you see and the flowers. Kid is probably sick of 'doing stuff' and not 'being'. She's only little.

I have a MIL with much the same problem. Always has to "DO" something with my kids. The kids end up being overtired, crabby and no one has any fun because it's all penciled in to her diary and she expects too much of them. Her time is limited therefore We All Must Have Fun At This Event Or We Have All Failed. No one wins.

I tell her all the time, just bake a cake with them or take them for a walk. They don't want a full on excursion. Just some time with someone they love.

Life doesn't have to be this hard, really.

make it simple! go out for tea? coffee? sandwhich? ice cream? bike ride? walk to ice cream? thats all. I think what is most important is 1. get out of the house, 2. no electronic devices, 3. no siblings. I do think, however, that her twin is going to want the same. And my son is 7 and having serious Sensory issues - I really had thought we were done with it and its back with a force. He was diagnosed at 2, much better by 3 and now we are back with OT, vision, etc etc. Good luck!!

That must have been hard to hear. Here's some more hard stuff, so remember that you are a GREAT mom while reading this. Firstly: I found it was not so much quality time but quantity time (sorry, doesn't help your case...). Secondly: don't try and fill your time together with a planned activity (well, most of the time anyway). She just wants to be with you. Doing her thing. Just. Be. There. I know you want to put it in your calendar and plan every moment but pack all your stuff away, commit to tuning into her and being in the moment with her and let it unfold. You'll be amazed how fast that time gets filled up with good stuff. Thirdly: this won't last forever and you'll wish you could turn back time once she becomes a teen and does NOT want you to spend quantity time with her (hopefully the quality will still be there though). It's a few years you have left. Drink it in - it is what having a kid is really all about, in the end. Lastly: you can always make more money by working more hours. It is tempting. At what point does one say: I have enough. There will be time to make more money, as I said, when she is a teen. She does not need the new iPad. She needs you and she wants time with you much, much more. Because you are a good mom and time with you is good, ok?

I'm going to be blunt here: it seem like your work is taking priority over your children. I work, too, and I do a lot of my work from home, but my husband and I have had to make a lot of financial sacrifices over the past few years: NO vacations, no television, no new cars, no house (we rent), etc. We did very well before kids and didn't have financial worries.

Whether you see this or not, you are making the choice that all of these things - a nice house, private school, vacations, etc. - are necessities, when, in fact, I don't think they are. The necessity is that you (and your husband) are there for your children. Your children could get a crap about having the best 'things' in life, and you providing for their future. What they care about is the NOW - that they get to spend time with you NOW and see their mother. This is what is going to make them happy - not having absent parents, being raised by nannies, and having all their financial needs taken care of.

Maybe Kate is a bit put out that you hired an au pair. Maybe she would rather you do all that stuff with her? Easier said than done no doubt!

So I will just come right out and say it: oh the the irony, the bitter irony that you wanted these children SO badly, the lengths you went to to be a mother and now that you have finally "arrived" after your very public and thoroughly documented infertility journey, these children are, for the most part it would seem, being raised by a nanny and now an au pair while you work an insane amount of hours to subsidise said au pair and nanny, a larney house, luxury cars, private schools, a legion of therapists... and don't even get me started on a toddler with his own iPad FFS!
Honestly Tertia, you need to get your priorities straight and decide what is REALLY important in life.

I have one of these kids. They require more work than others. I also work too much. Historically I don't work after getting home and putting the kids to bed and on weekends. They used to be too demanding. I kept up that schedule even though I may be able to get something done while they are awake these times. So forcing yourself to end work at 4pm (i.e. pretend afterschool program ends at that time and you need to pick them up) sounds perfect. Tell your clients that you have to tend to your kids. I often run out of meetings because I need to pick up someone. People do understand.

As for what to do with her - my son thrives on pretty much everything as long as he can nonstop talk to/with me. He'll play ball, play a board game, read books, go to a park, do something special, just hang out... Ask her and if she can't come up with something, tell her what you would like to do with her. I like playing board games, hate chess, like badmington, hate football, etc. So we usually do the stuff we both enjoy and leave the rest to dad :)
And I respectfully disagree with all the posts saying that availability of parents trumps everything and you need to make drastic changes. Btw, if the kids are home (school break), you could also do a 20-30 min lunch break with them. That will help bridge the time until 4. Most people need/benefit from a break during work.

I have worked three days a week since my daughter was 1 year old. My husband has been at home/working from home since. It doesn't matter that I'm around 4 days a week, my daughter still moans the fact, at 9 years old, that "Mom has to go to work." When I work out two nights a week that is a moan factor as well. I'm guessing you could be at Kate's side every day of the week and the minute you turned on the computer or talked on the phone she would try and guilt you. From reading your blog Kate sounds smart, funny, witty and not above manipulating you with a little mommy guilt! Take some time for her but don't beat yourself up!

I wonder if it may be ueful to actually sit down and document how you spend all the hours in a week. Actually set up a timesheet, and note in how the time is used - even all the small increments and tasks. This way, you can seeexactly how much time you spend "working" and how much time you spend "preparing to work". Time spent online, time spent running errands/talking on the phone/socialising etc. How much actual time you spend interacting with the kids.

I suspect when it comes right down to it, the time allocated to truly being with your kids and husband will be a very small percentage of the hours available. How will you feel when they are older and never have time for you? You reap what you sow. I agree it seems ironic that so much energy went over many years to having children, when now, it's a massive "effort" to be with them. Maybe worth reflecting on the reason it is so. It would be a terrible shame if your kids grew up feeling they were not so important to you as was the "show" of having them so the world could give you credit and tell you how awesome you are.

I don't expect this post to find much favour, but maybe you really need to look at things differently. It's not necessarily about *you*, it's about them! Think about it from their point of view. How would you feel if you were the child needing attention, and being continually brushed off? Sad? Hurt? Angry? It's all too easy for this to set a very negative pattern for their lives and futures. Step outside yourself, and really think about it.

My 5 year old already starts to hide in various places in the house to be alone, with our iPad or computers. She rather spends time with princesses via u-tube than us. Lucky you since Katie still wants to spend time with you. Enjoy, it'll soon pass.

i have been thinking about this post a lot in the last week or so, and just want to say thank you for posting it - just because it has helped me see some stuff in my own life more clearly, and made me more determined to continue to battle my own tendency to disappear on my family at times. while i have to work just to help pay our bills, when i am NOT working i am sometimes 'not present' with amelia (almost 5). i have been working on making my time with her more engaged and less distracted, and realise that i am all too quick to blur the lines between work and family - particularly with being on my phone/laptop all too often while having family time. (am doing this right now in fact).

what REALLY works for us is 'us time' where she and i do stuff uninterrupted by anyone or anything else. very simple things - like a walk to the beach with the dog, a cuddle in bed before her afternoon sleep, a small movie where we sit and talk through it and hold hands, a cup of coffee at a local cafe (her having a babyccino of course). small, regular spells of 'us time' where she feels like she is the most important person in my life at that moment. sometimes only 15 minutes at a time, but for that time, nothing else is allowed to intrude.

if there is one memory that can enrage me about my own childhood/early adulthood, it is my mother being too busy - with work, dad, friends, volunteer work etc - to BE with me. she was always late (if she turned up at all) to important things in my life, like school sports and events, and she would often invite me to do things with her but 'dump' me very smartly after they started - like getting me to come for lunch, but going out 5 minutes after we got there and leaving us to eat with my dad. i felt like i was worth nothing to her, because she allowed so much to get in the way of our relationship - and still does even now. her 'stuff' takes priority over us. it has been a huge barrier between us for as long as i can remember.

I'm with the others. You don't have to have a planned activity - just be with her. And, to be honest - you don't need an au pair. That is just silly when you have a nanny. You should be able to do your work during the day while the kids are in school. And, when they get home, it's their time with you. Not with an au pair, and frankly, not with a nanny by that time of the day.

Sorry to be so blunt, but I don't sugar coat anything.

paint your nails, go to the library and look for books, go to the beach/pool just you two together and throw things in for her to dive for, cook together (from a box is fine!), go shopping just you two (let her run the show, more or less), go for a walk, pick strawberries at a u-pick farm (do they have those in SA? I don't know much about it), go to a play/concert. do anything you would normally do with your kids, just only do it with her.

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