Right now, my house is a mess. The vacuuming hasn’t been completely done in weeks. There are massive piles of dirty laundry to be washed and several laundry baskets full of clean clothes waiting to be folded and put away. My kids have been spending a great deal of their time on the iPad lately. I haven’t been getting to the things on my to do lists, and things like blog posts and uploading pictures have been queueing up, waiting to be taken care of. I haven’t had an hour to myself in over 10 days, and last week I realized there had been a 10 day stretch when I didn’t leave the house, not once. Yesterday I locked myself in the bathroom to get 2 minutes — 2 literal minutes — to myself because the requests for water “in the other cup”, for an unbroken graham cracker, and for me to “make my brother stop kicking me” got to be too much at one point.
But the reality is that the housework is undone because I’ve been prioritizing getting in a walk for me, and an hour at the playground for the boys, every day. It’s been great for all of us. The boys have been spending more time on the iPad because we’ve recently found several educational math and reading games that they absolutely love. I haven’t been getting to the things on my list, writing as many blog posts or sharing as many pictures because I’ve been making a concerted effort to spend more time mentally present with the kids and less time multi-tasking. I decided not to take any time to myself this weekend because things at home were so nice that I didn’t want to go out (though I’m second guessing that choice after hiding in the bathroom yesterday). I hid in the bathroom yesterday because I recognized the signs — anxiousness, irritability, impatience — that I was about to vent my frustration and fatigue on the kids … so I took 2 minutes to myself in the only room that has a locking door. The kids didn’t even notice that I was gone, but I felt much better.
And all of THAT sounds pretty great. But it’s hard, because although I philosophically agree with the choices I’m making, living with the reality of it is a challenge. We’re enjoying our summer, though we aren’t getting much done. And I think that’s great, except when I’m stressing over the length of my to do list. I’m living with a messy house so that we can spend more time outside. Which is wonderful, except when I get twitchy over the dust bunnies. The boys are practicing math and reading. And that’s fantastic, except when I count up the hours of screen time they had yesterday and compare it to my idea of what it OUGHT to have been. I’m focusing on different priorities than I’m used to, shifting my strategy for the summer, and being as loving and nurturing as possible, which feels very good, other than when I’m hiding in the bathroom, which feels a lot like failing. I’m spending my energy on really important stuff, but I’m having a lot of trouble letting go of the other stuff.
On balance, things are pretty great around here right now, but it’s so easy to lose sight of that. I think that one of the hard things about parenting is that failing and succeeding can look a lot alike. That first paragraph looks exactly like so many of the overwhelmed/stressed/ freaking out posts I’ve written, but today it’s about working on feeling grounded, relaxed and focused on things I’m not used to focusing on. Looking around my house right now, it’s easy for me to feel like I’ve dropped the ball on everything, but I don’t think I have — I’m just spending my energy in other areas right now … and I think it’s a good trade.
Also, we’ve stopped B’s afternoon naps because he’ll be in school for a full day by the end of the month. The idea is for him to read or play learning games while Liam naps and while I do things like compose my blog posts. In reality, though, it’s turned into an hour where B sits and asks me questions about learning math or where dragons come from while I attempt to type a variety of increasingly fragmented sentences into my computer. Today’s blog post was composed entirely while teaching double digit addition. That is an underrated super power.