Mondays. They’re actually sorta happy days for me. Before kids, I remember slogging into work early on Mondays, groaning and grumbling to myself about there being a long week ahead. After kids when I was working for my husband, I looked forward to Mondays big time because it was like my respite from being a mom. Now that I’m at home, I look forward to Mondays for getting the house in order and getting some of my own time back.
I remember not being sure if I’d be satisfied with just home making and mothering– certainly, I didn’t like it when I tried it a few times before. Also, the kids were younger and had different and more urgent, nearly constant care. Plus, with our old home being a small two up and two down, kids play space was on top of our living space and the crowding required constant cleaning. One of the major reasons I sent the kids to nursery was because there was no room for them to play. It was impossible to have all of their toys out and toy rotation was a huge deal for just getting by.
At first I was apprehensive after moving into our new larger home because it seemed so overwhelming– all of the stuff that still needed finishing on the house on TOP of maintaining it. I’ll admit to having more than one panic attack over it, embarrassingly in front of some friends once too. At the time we were still having workmen coming through every day to finish painting and bits and bobs. While I was eager to have things done, what became the paramount need for me was to have a chance to settle in privately, quietly and in my own time.
While having that quiet time settling in, I learned that I wouldn’t have to keep this house like I kept our old home. We’re no longer crowded with play space doubling as living space. If a room is over-cluttered and I don’t feel like dealing with it, I can shut the door and deal with it later. Oh the breathing room is so nice. The playroom as been a godsend. Just throw the toys up there, no need to keep it perfectly tidy all of the time and I don’t have to go up there to deal with it until I’m ready! Plus, no one in their right mind could ever expect me to keep a huge house like this museum quality clean. There are so many things yet undone with this house, but for once, I’m totally okay with it.
So while the change in scenery has helped me feel like a better home maker, the bigger change has come from inside. Before, I was killing myself trying to have this Pinterest perfect home and life, trying to meet unrealistic expectations. It’s easy to do– it’s all over Mumsnet, Babycenter, Babycentre, I didn’t even bother with Cafe Mom because I didn’t have the energy. Plus Pinterest and then what probably did my head in more than anything else was Facebook. I’d see comments from people with notions of parenthood that were… torturous. Others were frantically trying to run that rat race and some so far stuck in, I don’t think they’ll ever see any other way to living. Drowning in unhappiness and that unhappiness coming out in some back stabbing ways.
I mean, not to downplay the importance of parenting and in being available and attentive to children… but the goal posts have changed and I daresay they’ve gotten impossibly high. I remember being a latchkey kid at age 8 and managing to make some of my own meals and minding myself after school. Today, that would be grounds for having your kids taken off of you. Indeed, there was an 80s movie marathon playing on Channel 5 this past weekend. ‘Honey I Shunk the Kids’ — at the start, mom and dad have a fight and mom goes to spend the night over at her mother’s, leaving the kids to fend for themselves. The oldest daughter stepped in to keep an eye on her little brother and cook a meal for the family, the father completely disengaged… he and his daughter were communicating via a device he built. When I was growing up, I remember that sort of scenario being very real and even somewhat common. Now imagine someone posting that up to Facebook and the sort of comments they’d get.
There are some very unrealistic notions of parenthood popularized on social media that are having negative affects on how parents view themselves and the everyday things that they do which is certainly translating to what happens with the children. Parents are stressed out because they’re told that they’ve not done enough if they haven’t done x, y and z (each in themselves a pretty superhuman feat), adding to unhappiness and leading to depression. Kids aren’t given the ability to practice independence and self regulation, aren’t given room to practice their own sense of grit, aren’t given their own space to develop into being their own people capable of caring for themselves and contributing back to the family.
When I started defining for myself what parenthood and family life meant to me and started building on only those things that reasonably worked for my family; when I started asking for help; when I stopped feeling guilty for doing things for myself (that is actually a continuing daily struggle); that’s when my attitude, my patience, and my perseverance towards full-time parenting (and homeschooling) changed. The journey’s not been without its wobbles, but I feel more secure in what I’m doing than I ever have. I’ve even started calling out folks on Facebook who have said to parents something unrealistic of their expectations of parenting. Hopefully the tide will change and other parents will find their confidence too, even if it’s a response along the lines of simply, “that’s stupid.”
Well I rambled on that bit a bit more than I anticipated. Today, I’ve been under the weather. But propped up by Lemsip and some crazy effervescent energy tabs, I’ve managed to start putting the house together after a full weekend of birthday parties and general hanging out.
And today A has…
- Worked on his Duggee Badges (acorn & rain dance)
- Played with his counting cards– he seemed interested in only getting to 10 with the cards… I think that the way that they fit together frustrates him a little as he’s still gaining the fine dexterity to fit them.
- Played with his new duplo set– this was a birthday gift. The train set counts from 1-10 which he mastered ages ago, but he needs some work on his fine motor dexterity and I’d like to see more creative play from him on these outside of building towers. He’s a few lego sets that he’s not been able to do much with because he hasn’t gotten the dexterity for them down just yet.
- Went out and ran errands with me. He loves ‘Stop, Look, & Listen’ and pressing the button at cross walks besides splashing in every pond he can and chatting it up with other adults about his flat cap.
- Showered and then nearly dressed himself fully. He’s still trying to get socks right and knee high welly socks are epsecially challenging. But once he’s got socks more confidently, I’ll start him again on tying and on how to start zippers.
- Worked on a floor puzzle of the solar system that he got for his birthday
- I taught him about where the sun, moon and earth were and quizzed him on it after
- Worked on maths concepts of less and more (greater than, less than) with M&Ms. He especially enjoyed that lesson!
- Grandpa in My Pocket Lolly Machine
And I’m sure there will be more before the day is out as its only 1:45pm.