When my workday is complete, I pick up my youngest 2 kids (4-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl). My son wants to cuddle with me on the couch and watch a movie. Now he’s underfoot as I try to prepare some dinner. He gets up on the counter so he can watch my every move. Dad comes home. I try to give him a hug and kiss but before I know it, our son is wedged in-between us ensuring that he is getting the majority (all if he can have it) of my attention. My husband and I try to catch up, but questions and demands come flying out of our son’s mouth — clearly no one except him is allowed to talk to me. It’s exhausting!
Not all days are like this though. He can happily entertain himself and just check in every so often which is so very normal for his age. The excessive clinging only happens if I’ve been gone too much. As a mother that works full time with 3 kids ranging from 4 to 17, its easy to be gone too much.
Penelope Trunk’s latest post on her homeschooling blog talks about this exact thing. Being more present with our kids makes them so much more secure and need us less. This is exactly the opposite of what we are “expected” to do — leave our kids at daycare so they get used to being without us; leave our kids at preschool; send them on the bus; send them to school all day long. This may build self-reliance in some, but it’s not the natural way to do it. Being with your kids as much as they need it so that they feel secure is the way they build confidence. Then they can willingly separate from you knowing that you will be there when they return.
I’m planning on homeschooling my 8-year-old next year, but the more I read about it and really evaluate my parenting I want to keep my son home too! I can’t quit my job though so it’s out of the question for now. He still has 1 more year before Kindergarten though — maybe I’ll be able to swing that. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a light at the end of the tunnel.