The real reason I can’t stand singing that song for the millionth time…

Let's play The Ants Are Marching, mum! I’ll be the little one, and this time we’re going up to thirteen, ok?

And so it goes, we march around singing, we get to two, and whoever the little one is stops to tie their shoes, and we all go on marching.

But this time, whenever we got to two, the song got restarted. The first time, fine. The second time, eh, no big deal. The third time, ok, thought we were going to thirteen, but whatever. The fourth time, I could feel my frustration boiling, and by the fifth time I had to sit out for a second.

I’d sung the same words over and over, could we please just get to thirteen and be done with it?

(As a side note, has anyone actually sung to thirteen? I’m pretty sure 10 says THE END….what do you rhyme with thirteen?)

And then I stopped for a moment.

What exactly did I want to be done with this for?

My kids were loving it. They were happy. They were moving. I was moving. We were laughing. We were imagining. Our afternoon was going great…

Yet I wasn’t doing this activity for any of those things.

As I checked in with myself, I realised I’d had in my head that we were going to 13 – I had a target. And every time that trajectory was interrupted, I got annoyed. I mean, seriously, how am I going to tick “Marching to 13’ off my to-do list if we never get there?

But our kids don’t ask us to do these things to finish them. They ask us for the joy of doing them.

Left to their own devices, kids don’t have to-dos. They just do.

And what exactly was I ‘missing out’ on by having this unending circle of giggles?

Yeah, not much.

Slowing down and being in the moment isn’t always as easy as it sounds. 

Being slow can feel distinctly uncomfortable, especially when we’re used to being so on the go.

It can feel frustrating. It can feel pointless and boring, and it’s easy to forget the connection we’re forming in that moment and start focusing on the details of what we’re doing.

In this particular moment, I gave way to laughter. And yes, we all know it’s not always a positive emotion that comes up in this situation, but honestly that doesn’t change what our kids want from us – just us, there with them.

They just want us.

I know as well as the next person how easy it is to feel guilted into spending every waking moment with our children.

But recent research has shown that mums are spending more time with their children now than our grandmother’s did, despite working outside the home. In general, we are actually giving our kids more than enough minutes.

But what’s the quality like? 

I’m pretty sure I’d rather have fewer, better moments than endless moments of resentment and frustration.

Because let’s be honest, we all have eleventy billion things we need to do as well as raising our kids. And parenting is definitely a long term game, both in vision and in effort.

So no, I’m not saying spend more time with your kids. I’m just saying that if you invest pockets of presence, everyone wins.

So this week, I encourage you to find those pockets.

Don’t think about your lack of productivity, don’t think about the laundry still not done, don’t think about that project at work that’s stressing you out…the world will not implode if for just these 10 minutes, you’re totally focused on enjoying the nothingness of playing.

Focus on just being with your kids, connecting in action, joining in their world.

Watch for the connection, watch for the eye contact, watch for all the little ways you’re saying ‘I’m here, I see you, you matter.’

Even if it feels uncomfortable.

Because I can definitely say the rewards with our kids, and our own sense of wellbeing, are worth it.

And who knows? Your day might even give way to a little laughter too.

Anna is a Childbirth Educator, Doula and Motherhood Mentor, working in the Adelaide metro area and country South Australia.

For more information about overcoming motherhood overwhelm, or if you would like to find out more about her workshopsbirth coaching, birth support, and online birthing course,  please visit

© Anna Siebert and Anna Siebert Blog, 2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Anna Siebert and Anna Siebert Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About the author

Anna is a Motherhood Mentor, who works with busy mums to beat overwhelm, stop yelling and enjoy parenting. As a Childbirth Educator, Anna helps parents prepare for their birth to overcome fear, feel confident and come out the other side of birth positive and empowered. She is the founder of Calm in the Chaos, where mums learn how to feel calm, joyful and confident in modern parenting, and Preparing for Birth, where parents learn how to have a positive birth regardless of how their birth unfolds. Her mission is to take the fear out of birth and the overwhelm out of parenting. Anna runs live workshops, online courses and trainings, and is the author of Preparing for Birth.