What a month.
I started September feeling like it actually wasn’t going to be as nuts as many Septembers often feel. As a family, not much changes for us this month. When people asked if I, like many mothers, were ready for her kids to go back to school, I could never really be too honestly enthusiastic about it. Very little changes for us at Back to School time. We always had to be up and out the door in the morning to get my husband to work. Now we’re just dropping off a kid along the way. I made one bagged lunch all summer, now I’m making two. Instead of having three loud and crazy kids at home, I have two. It isn’t as loud at home, but we do have to interrupt our early afternoon (and the baby’s nap time) to pick up the school kid. It is easier and harder.
So, I figured, not much would change in the grand scheme of things. Once we got through Back To School shopping and all of that of course…
September had other plans.
I interviewed for a job – three times. I got a new job! I started that new job! I went to the dentist twice. I was in a hospital twice (or, more specifically, I was in two separate hospitals once each). I saw my four-year-old bleed profusely from his head. I watched him get four stitches. (We were in the hospital until 2:3o AM for this). We had guests for meals and guests for overnights and oh my goodness I have guests coming tonight too.
As the month draws to a close, I am feeling the weight of all the things I need to do right now crushing me. It is funny how we get like that. It was only a couple of days ago that I was feeling like I could sit and rest without feeling the guilt and stress of stopping for a few moments. It has taken me years to try to get to a conscious place where I can turn off once in a while. I don’t want to be so busy and so tired that I don’t enjoy my life. But this is hard. (Can I get an “Amen!”, Mamas?)
My mother-in-law was here for two weeks at the beginning of the month. Her visit was a little bit unscheduled and my husband had just finished his vacation when she arrived, so he wasn’t able to take time away from work. That meant, my mother-in-law got to spend her days with me as I did all the things I do on a typical day: driving kids places; managing the house; working from home. She saw me busy from the moment I woke up to long after the kids went to bed. She began to tell Dan all about how busy I am and she made sure he would appreciate the work that he never sees me do. It was a blessing to be really seen for what I do and to have my days be acknowledged. I don’t want to glorify busyness, but even when we are conscious about controlling what we allow in our lives, there is always something to do when you live in a house with three little humans. It is just the nature of the beast.
I’m not convinced the coming months will be any better, to be honest. We’re coming into the holiday season, with Thanksgiving weekend only a week away. There’s always more to do and prepare and decorate and wrap… The only way to slow down is to consciously slow ourselves down – and refuse to feel guilty about it.
This is both an important lesson to learn ourselves and to teach our families. In this culture that glorifies busyness, we need to be an example of healthy living so that our children know how to pull themselves out from underneath that pressure.
For me, this looks like going to bed even when my to-do list is still full of things. Or, it means that I start my days with quiet meditation and prayer instead of jumping right into the grind. (Coffee grinds, however, can come first!). It means laying down in the middle of the day when I feel my body losing stamina due to low iron. It means being present with my husband when he is home. It means looking out for my health and my well-being and recognizing when I need a break.
For our families, this could be a lot more fun. Planning time together is a good way to slow everyone down and make sure there’s time to connect with each other. This can look like eating around the dinner table together nightly. It could mean monthly or weekly movie nights. It could mean board games or playdates or even baking together. It could look like a quiet Sunday afternoon with everyone sitting together in the living room, a book in each hand.
So here is my challenge: Take a guilt-free break, especially when you need it. Don’t let yourself feel the pressure to be busy. Seek an avenue away from busyness when at all possible. Do this for yourself, and your kids. And let me know what you’re going to do!
Netflix has some great ideas for taking a break from the daily grind with your family.
- Dress up like your favourite movie characters. Put on a tiara while watching The Princess and the Frog or throw on a red bandana to get into the pirate spirit like Captain Jack Sparrow!
- Combine Movie Night with Game Night using this bingo game! Print a card for each family member and try to spot the things or actions that commonly happen in movies. The first person to get “BINGO” (a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line) wins!
- Catch Zootopia, one of the newest family movies on Netflix, with the animals living under your roof. Cuddle up with ALL your kids’ stuffed animals. If your kids are anything like mine, they already love pulling all their stuffies out of their room and filling the house with them anyway…
This post was inspired by Netflix. I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and as such I have been compensated for this post with a complimentary Netflix subscription and a few other perks. I’m honoured to have been a StreamTeam member for the last three years. The stories and opinions are all my own.