It’s time to pull back from writing about vacations since that time is coming to a close. As the days are getting shorter and colder, my focus becomes dealing with change calmly.
I wrote this a long time ago, but it seems pertinent with all the kids going back to school or going to school for the first time. In the midst of all the chaos . . . a few quiet moments can bring peace.
And like every human being, today, I failed to follow my own advice. Thus, I experienced fit-throwing, rude behavior, apologizing, and that whole cycle over and over again this evening. This was in part because I didn’t practice evening downtime. Given the change in schedule with pre-school starting, this downtime is especially important for my youngest who needs a lot of hugs and reminders about what the new schedule is. He just turned 4, and as he states, he doesn’t always “understand the rules.” I think he means the new schedule.
I promised to write this post after going to my annual physical back in January. My doctor is a “Mama + 2 Muchachas” and since we first met when I was pregnant with my first and she cared for me through both boys’ time in the womb, it is always fun to catch up with her once a year. Since I am not carrying a lot of extra weight around like when she first met me, she is always surprised to see me, “looking good” as she says. But we always note that we are both a little weary with all the working outside the home and still trying to be the best mom and professional possible. Although her girls are older, she expressed how much they still need her (this is good) and how it is so hard to get home, make dinner, really pay attention to what they are trying to tell her about how their days went, and with the teenagers and pre-teens, really be aware of all the social media stuff they might be participating in. She expressed that it was really hard to always be listening to her daughters when she gets home, still carrying the stress of work and trying to get a good meal on the table.
I shared her sentiments, the same stresses, but I also shared with her what alleviates it all just a little. Downtime with my boys is a daily practice. It stems out of two things — first, listening to my elder family members. My cousin has 4 children and works full time and once told about how if she didn’t give each one 5 minutes of her time when they got home, she would get nothing done. If you think of this, it is just 20 minutes. Five minutes with each kid to hug, listen, cuddle, whatever they need in those five minutes. Then she can get dinner ready. So when I come home from work, my boys and I always do this as well. I sit down with them on the couch, or the “big chair” as we call it — a recliner that is falling apart in our living room that for the time being, we can all fit on if the littlest sits on my lap. Sometimes we will share a snack or watch a cartoon or just sit quietly enjoying each others’ company. This lasts any where from 5 to 20 minutes depending on how hard our days were or how complicated the meal I am trying to prepare is.
Downtime always helps me feel calmer too. Besides evening downtime stemming from the advice of my cousin, breastfeeding also helped initiate morning downtime. Before work, I always tried to nurse the boys one more time before we were off to daycare. Even after they were weaned, we continue this practice of sitting together, cuddling. Since we need to get ready for the day, I actually time the morning downtime from the time we are all awake and sitting together. It lasts five minutes. It feels like heaven to be able to hug my little boys and feel their fuzzy hair brush against my chin. They are growing. I know this won’t last forever. So I will take it as long as I can, as long as they need it. The perfect, quiet together sort of way to start the day.