These two words seem to be somewhat synonymous with parenting, but I think we have to be very careful that those words do not become more a part of our household than feelings of warmth, welcomeness, love, peace, caring and togetherness. We grown ups seem to get very carried away with talking about our tiredness and our busyness and I think that rubs off on kids which makes them more distant and gives them a sense that they should not bother us which the believe will only cause us to be more tired and more busy - and possibly more grumpy and more unpleasant to be around.
When kids feel their parents are too busy and too tired they are less likely to choose to talk to them about things they are struggling with, that make them sad or that even make them happy and excited. They are more likely to retreat to far spaces in the house to be away from the busyness and tiredness (aka STRESS) and get involved in activities that are not that beneficial to them like long hours of gaming, texting, etc. They are likely not cleaning their rooms, reading, eating healthy food, and being otherwise productive as they might with more parental involvement.
This is a bad cycle to get into! I wonder how often we are actually pushing our kids away and not realizing it. Another big parent distraction that likely all parents will admit to shamefully is time on what my husband calls "fidget devices" - phones and computers. There is likely no parent alive who hasn't let a child walk away feeling a little uncared for when preoccupied on the phone or computer. I know when I am working at the computer, even on worthwhile activities, I can lose track of time and kid and that is not a good thing.
I think for me the goal I have to keep this from being a problem in our home is to avoid busyness and the very appearance of it. I have to keep paring down and cutting back and getting rid of activities that are not my top priorities, even if I love to do them. I have to prioritize what is best for the family and for me -- a mix of those things, but I have to have a very few items that make that list.
Next is self care. I've written about that here many, many times. If I'm not well I can't do my best with other people or myself. That means taking time to unwind, taking care of eating well, getting exercise and doing things that feed our souls. This year I have been sleeping much more than I have historically and it has been a big difference. I have gone from 4-6 hours of sleep a night to 8-10 hours many nights. The difference in my abilities and functionality is a little big frightening. My physical health has improved a great deal too and gosh darn it, it feels good to actually feel good!
Lastly I think I want to be very cautious about how we talk around our kiddo. I want to take "I'm so busy" and "I'm tired" out of our vocabulary and incorporate the feelings and words that say "I have time for you.", "How can I help you today?" and "Can we spend some time together?" into our every day. I want to open up the opportunities and dialogues that build stronger relationships, especially as we head into the teen years.
So even if I do feel a little "stressed", "busy" or "tired", I'm not going to put that on my Kiddo. She needs to know I'm "available", "looking for hugs" and am full of love, time and energy for her.