I did something a little different this summer… I kept my kids at home. All day. Every day. You see, my kids normally go to daycare/preschool for about 3 hours a day Monday through Friday. Otherwise, I’d never get any work done for the college courses I teach or at my consulting business, and I’d never be able to attend meetings with my clients. But I decided to try something new since work was slow from May to August.
Let’s just say, it was an adventure. And a learning experience…
Kids Don’t Mind Brown Play-Doh.
Little Miss K turned three while I wasn’t looking this summer. And since she’s now a big three-year-old, she gets super fun big-kid birthday presents, like Play-Doh. Of course, the fun of Play-Doh is increased exponentially by tools that you can squeeze the Play Dough through, making long strands of Play Dough. As you’ve guessed, Little Miss K got one such tool for her birthday.
This particular Play-Doh tool was in the form of a My Little Pony and the long strands that squeeze out of her form her hair. Well, this pony doesn’t just have any old plain solid color hair. She has rainbow hair! But it’s impossible to make rainbow hair with Play-Doh without the colors mixing, at least a little.
So I resisted letting Little Miss K make rainbow hair for her My Little Pony Play-Doh tool. I explained that doing so will mix the colors together and we wouldn’t be able to un-mix them. But she persisted and I finally caved, telling her that by choosing to make rainbow hair she was choosing to mix her Play-Doh colors knowing they can’t get un-mixed.
And guess what. She had a blast. And she continued to have a blast long after the hair was no longer rainbow hair, but a muddy sort of brown hair with colorful flecks. Lesson learned: let your kids mix their Play-Doh.
Fresh Air and Sunshine Makes All the Difference.
The kids and I became very relaxed in our routine this summer. Which is a big deal for me as a very structure- and routine-oriented person. But with Little Guy still being a newbie (just born March 31), this momma was tired. So there was quite a bit of sleeping in and slow starts to many days.
Pretty quickly, I got into the habit of getting on my computer right after breakfast to try to get a little work done while the girls played together for a bit. This was my solution for missing out on those couple of hours I used to get up and work before the kids awoke. But it backfired. I didn’t end up getting much work done at all because the girls were mostly irritable with each other, which meant I was constantly refereeing instead of working. And when I wasn’t doing that, I was trying to get Little Guy to relax into a nap.
I was feeling rather exhausted at the thought of the “morning struggle” and also pretty guilty that our mornings had been so difficult. So one morning I decided we were going to go to the park right after breakfast instead of staying couped up in the house.
It was amazing! The kids ran and played and had a great time. There wasn’t a single whiny word uttered, nor a single tear shed. Even I felt great: energized, awake, happy. We were home by 9:30am. The kids played wonderfully and baby boy napped until lunch. I actually got a little work done! Lesson learned: fresh air and sunshine really do make a difference. So that became part of our routine a few days a week. Well, for the most part. I’m not perfect. 😉
Sometimes Watching Cartoons All Afternoon is Just What You Need.
Remember how I was saying I’m not perfect? Yeah, there was an afternoon when it was particularly hot and humid outside and I was particularly exhausted. And I just flopped on the couch and turned on the TV. Both the girls looked at me like I had three heads. Little Miss S asked me, “Is there a storm?” My husband gets called into work during storms sometimes, so if there is any chance of a storm, the radar channel is usually on. I told her, “Nope.” and I turned on some cartoons and just watched.
The girls slowly sat down looking back and forth between me and the TV. It was amusing, and I wanted to giggle. But I was just too exhausted. We laid around and watched cartoons for a good couple of hours. And guess what? No ones brain rotted out of their head!!! Miss S and Miss K were so giddy to tell daddy about their afternoon. You would have thought I gave them cake for breakfast. And the next day, we went back to our regular routine a little more rested. Lesson learned: sometimes you just need a lazy afternoon to rest your brain and body.
I’m Not Cut Out to Be a Stay at Home Mom.
I kind of already knew this. But my experience this summer set it in stone.
The summer wasn’t bad. It was just… long. And tiring. And by no means do I mean to say I thought it’d be easy having the kids home all day everyday. Not at all. I knew it would be a challenge. And I’m so grateful for those days with them. But by the middle of August, I was not winning at motherhood.
I think a large part my struggle with this is my personality. I’m an INTJ, the “I” in which means introvert. And I am very much an introvert, meaning my energy is refueled when I get alone time. But I pretty much didn’t get any alone time all summer. Like, at all. So come August, I was spent. And it was apparent in everything I did. I won’t go into details. Just know it wasn’t pretty.
The other part of my struggle comes from my genuine love for working. I left my corporate gig to start a consulting business when Little Miss S was 6 months old. And I truly enjoy my work. I get a lot of gratification out of helping my clients.
By about mid-June, I was itching to get back into my work. But I was not able to be good at my job this summer. I was too unfocused and too tired. That led to feelings of frustration and overwhelm because I wasn’t able to get work done like I wanted to, which affected every other thing I tried to do. And that led to stress and feelings of guilt. Not good.
So it’s confirmed. I’m not meant to be a Stay at Home Mom. It’s not my calling. And I’m good with that. Lesson learned: don’t try to be things you’re not.
I love that life works on these adventurous cycles of learning lessons. At the end of summer, we entered into another adventure. My little guy, now 5 months old, started daycare with his big sisters. I am ready to dive back into my work and get back to our routine – modified, of course, to account for a growing baby in the family. And I can’t wait to see what lessons I learn next.