Settling into Summer at Home

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Taken at the Amtrak’s Grand Union station the day we left

We are back from our second planned vacation of the summer, an amazing trip to Chicago.  (Look for future posts about the trip.)  For now we are getting used to being home again.

Right now I am debating how I want these stay at home summer weeks to look.  How much structure, how much of a routine do I want to establish?  I have been trying to give my son more freedom and trying not to freak out if all he wants to do with it is watch tv and use the computer (or watch tv on the computer!).

My first thought was to let him have an hour or two each morning and afternoon to do as he pleased.  And what was I going to have him do the rest of the time?  I pictured lots of sulking and whining and both of us being miserable.

And then I thought about flipping that mentality around.  What if I asked him to spend up to one hour in the morning helping with chores or errands and one hour in the afternoon doing learning?  Fun learning like playing Yahtzee to work on his multiplication and addition skills. And the rest of the time would be open to his choices.

Do I trust that eventually he will get tired of all the screen time and join me in the pool or play a game?  Do I trust that he is truly doing what he wants to do?  He is one of those kids that gets obsessed with something for awhile and then moves on to something else.  Right now he is stuck on “Stuck In The Middle”, some Disney show.

 I am planning on doing some sort of outing each week.  Will that be enough of a break from screen time? Of course what I am really hoping is that at some point he will add more activities to his time, of his own volition.

This parenting thing is really hard.  I have no idea what the right answer is for my son.  And that is the key, my son.  I can read all the contradictory advice in the world and still not have the answer as to what is best for my son. 

I am going with my instincts.  I will let him make his own choices for the next week and see how it goes. I will be as patient as possible with the screen time but if his behavior deteriorates or he is overtly bored or unhappy then I will intervene.

Afterall, if I could spend all day doing whatever I wanted it would include some time on the computer and a little television as well as reading a good book.  I am hoping once the novelty wears off he will be more interested in doing other things.

Here’s to the start of a hopefully happy summer at home!

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I had a glazed and an orange chocolate cake donut. (I miss them already!)
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Sweet summer in Chicago!

Sometimes Books Find You

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Playing around with my camera.  I grew this plant from a seed, a rare success for me.

Usually when I go to the library I have a list of books to look for or a pile to pick up from the reserved shelf. Of course this never stops me from a casual browse, no matter how big my pile of books already is.  There are some shelves right by the front door where the staff has some sort of themed display. There is a shelf of recently returned books that sometimes yields an interesting nugget.  And sometimes I just walk amid the shelves randomly pulling titles that catch my eye.

Recently I stumbled onto the book “the gift of an ordinary day” by Katrina Kenison.  An interesting memoir.  At times it was a bit repetitive but still…there were lines that made me stop and think.  She was the same age I am now when she wrote this memoir, though her sons are older than mine but still…I could relate.  Chapter five, “doors” I read twice and wrote down several quotes from.

You never know where a little help is going to come from.  I have been working hard to improve my relationship with my son lately.  Trying to find the proper balance of mothering and letting go. Finding my parenting priorities.  Which battles do I fight?  Becoming more accepting of who my son is.  Many traits of his are not going to change and nagging away at them helps nothing.  I can’t change my son.

But I can change myself.  I can be the mother I want to be. I will backslide and be inconsistent and still have the occasional parenting meltdown.  And when this happens I can retreat to my office and read through all my notes.  Remind myself how to be the mother I want to be.  I trust the universe will send me the encouragement and tips and advice that I need.  All I have to do is walk through the library.

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Experimenting with a spray of water
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and different light.

Two Weeks Later

I am now starting my third week of my new “me time” routine. After a lot of thinking I have decided to officially call it “T Time” for writing purposes.

I was actually rather nervous at the start of day one. I had no idea how things were going to work out.  Change is stressful, even good change. I had to talk myself out of waiting another week to start and pep talked myself into forging ahead.

Day one was…amazing! It was so relaxing being able to do things without constantly looking at the clock. I was able to go slow, stop and ponder, enjoy the sunshine. It was incredibly liberating.

Not perfect of course. I did do two loads of laundry. (I hang a lot of things outside so I can’t wait until late afternoon if I am going to take advantage of the Arizona winter sunshine.) At lunch time I had to sternly tell myself that unloading and reloading the dishwasher could wait until 2:00p. And so it waited and the world didn’t end!

And then real life happened and T Time got interrupted by preparations for a camping trip, a puppet show at school etc.  But to my surprise and delight I didn’t let T Time get cancelled altogether.  Postponed, rescheduled and skipped at times, but not gone.

I have learned a lot these last two weeks.  I learned that I really need this time to myself.  I am happier, calmer and less annoyed by small annoyances.  I learned that you can get a lot of housework done in 45 focused minutes.  I learned that it is okay to relax and be flexible and make stuff up as I go.

One day I found myself wondering what the rules for T Time were.  Did there have to be rules?  Maybe a few.  Could I watch television during T Time?  Yes, as long as it was something I really wanted to watch and I wasn’t just killing time flipping through the DVR list.  What about cooking  or baking.  Yes, if it was really something I wanted to do and not just prepping vegetables for dinner that could easily wait until after T Time.  Did I need to have a set routine?  No, but I do find it best to start my day in the office with some quiet time, thoughts about how to use my T Time and planning my to do list.

The best part of T Time?  It has made me a better parent.  I am calm and patient and my son is learning how to help clean up.  We have been working together, nicely.  It is so much better than the frustrated, yelling and still having to do all the cleaning up person I was before.  My son responds so much better to the calm.  And if he chooses not to help I sadly but firmly enforce the consequences.  Turns out he doesn’t mind helping Mom when she is so nice.

I am thrilled to be looking forward to this week filled with T Time, savoring it all the more because I know next week will be another tough week filled with interruptions.  Interruptions that I will be able to handle gracefully because my cup of solitude, peace and reflection will be filled to the brim from this week!