Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

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Coffee & Pearls is finally back! After a rough first trimester of pregnancy followed by bronchitis, I took a break from C&P to put out the Striving For Sainthood class series. It’s amazing and you can check out all 20 classes here! So it’s been awhile since we’ve had a regular ‘ole podcast episode. Now that we’re back on schedule, you can expect them every Tuesday!

As summer approaches and many families are about to find themselves surrounded by kids all day and with hundreds of summer activities to choose from, I want to talk about access.

Who has access to you and who has access to your time?

It can be really easy to let the children believe they can have your attention any time they want. After All, we want to be loving and attentive moms and that means always stopping what we’re doing to stare into the sweet little faces of our children to answer their questions right? Not quite.

The older I get, the more kids I have and quite frankly, the older my kids get, the more I realize the need to set boundaries with them. Yes, it is my job to keep them safe 100% of the time, no it is not my job to give them access to me for fun, questions, entertainment, food, water, books, etc.

“Even food and water?” you ask. That’s right. I make sure they have three meals a day and access to water often throughout the day, but just because they’ve run out of water at a time I am busy does not mean I drop what I’m doing to help them.

I tell my children that there are times when I’m praying, working, or cleaning. Sometimes I tell them I’m doing a project. Since my oldest is 6 and doesn’t quite understand time yet, I try to give visual cues for what I’m doing. Here are some examples:

“I’m going to be in this room working on a project. When I come out of this room, that means I’m done.”

“I will be sorting the laundry. When I’m finished, I will bring you your laundry to put away.”

“I am going to record a podcast. There is a stop sign on my door. When I am finished recording, I will take the stop sign down.”

“I’m going to make a few phone calls. When I’m finished, I will let you know that I’m done.”

I make it clear that they cannot interrupt me unless someone is in danger. They know that means they can’t ask me for a snack, some water, or to get a toy down.

Sometimes I will sit in the same room as my children but I tell them, “This room has now become a quiet space.” This is true when I’m reading my Bible or praying. I will invite them to pray the Rosary with me if they want. And if I find they’re getting too loud, then they have to go to another room. Often children want to be around us and so they will be quiet for the privilege of staying in the room. If they have too much energy, they can go into another room.

Now this didn’t happen overnight for me. I had to work with them and train them to respect these rules. If you have never had rules like these before, expect the children to not understand or to not take you seriously. Plan NOT to get any of that work done. Your first work is the training of the children.

When they interrupt you with a silly question, and they will, say, “Oh, you interrupted my ____ time (i.e. project, prayer, cleaning etc.) now you need to stand silently by the door for two minutes.” I use the front or the back door depending on where we are in the house. I will do this as young as 2 years old although I’ve already been doing this with Violet since she was 20 months.

A few things to note:

I couldn’t leave my two year old in a room alone before having older kids to watch out for her. If you only have one child under 3, you probably have to be with them most of the time. This is why I think having only one child is actually the hardest number!

They can always interrupt me for safety reasons! I make that very clear. If they feel scared or if they get hurt, I will always listen to them. Sometimes they come to me with things that aren’t really that scary or unsafe but I listen to them anyways… unless they’re clearly trying to manipulate me 😉

Three years old can be a tricky age because you THINK they aren’t capable of this but they really are. I find that once I push through the challenges of that age, then the kids truly understand this idea that they don’t get access to me all the time.

Sometimes this concept involves husbands too! I will setup with my husband that I need 15-30 minutes at some point to sit in a dark room by myself in silence! Or maybe read a book or take a bath or go for a walk but no one can have access to me. If you have a reluctant husband, try explaining to him that you have no silence in your life and that you need these small bouts of time to recharge.

Now that it’s nice outside, I have also been telling my children, “You can play outside but as soon as you come inside, it’s going to be quiet time/nap time or bed time.” This has worked wonders. They’ll stay outside for much longer knowing that coming inside will trigger quiet time/sleep time. I don’t let them come in and out a lot either. They know they get to choose to be outside OR inside.

These are just some of the ways I protect my sanity.

I do this with my calendar too. I create white space on my calendar… days when I won’t schedule anything. When possible, I only schedule one event/appointment per day so the rest of our day is quiet at home. I don’t like being too busy.

We do not have to say yes. We do not have to answer our phone. We do not have to let people (including our children) have access to us all the time. It’s important that we make time to drink tea, say our prayers, take a few deep breaths of fresh air alone, etc.

This is a concept that is often talked about in leadership and management. You need to protect your time and if you give people access to you all the time, they will take advantage of you and interrupt you all day long and you won’t be able to get anything done. I think it applies just as much to moms whether you work or stay at home.

If you have any questions about how I manage this with a 6, 4, and 2 year old, please ask and I’ll explain more details. If you have a unique situation and you’re not sure to apply this, let me know and I’ll take a shot at making a suggestion.

If you have only one child, under two, who is with you and on you all day long… close your eyes and pray. That phase is hard. They will get older and you will have more freedom later.

Here’s a great Bible verse to focus on this week whether you’re going to start this practice of protecting yourself, whether you already do it, or whether you’re living the land of only one child and your current option is just to live through the days!

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15