Saturday, July 25, 2015

Stumble? Get back up.

Now that I've been home for just about a week, I have sort of sunk in and processed things a bit and I'm ready to start sharing my many MANY "aha moments" from my trip. This one isn't directly related to the conference itself or anything that the wonderful speakers said, it is simply a realization that a busy, sorta tired, sometimes moderately frazzled momma of three came to when she had some time away to focus on her and fill her cup.

As many of you know, last week I was gone for four nights, and five days. It seems like a light year ago and I have only been home for less than a week. Since I have been home, it has been a game of catch-up and I was feeling like we hadn't had any really good play time together. You see, sometimes with three little ones, even things that are super-fun in theory, end up being a little overwhelming to actually make happen. First it is getting everyone ready and finally out the door and loaded into the car. Then there is getting to wherever we are going. Then there is the hyper-vigilance that is necessary in most places when you have three children, two of which are 2-year-olds. While we usually have a great time or can at the very least pick some bright moments out of our adventures, there is a underlying level of stress that accompanies them. It wasn't until I was a way and solely responsible for me - getting myself ready and out of the hotel room, feeding myself, getting across the street safely (haha), entertaining/occupying myself - that I really understood what that meant. Basically, for the last 5 years (and even more heightened in the past two), I have been living at a slightly (slightly? Haha) elevated stress level...we'll say I have been incredibly alert (ha) nearly every moment!! Woah. Talk about nuts! No wonder I WAS that "busy, sorta tired, sometimes moderately frazzled momma of three"! What an eye-opener!

It makes perfect sense to me now why I have felt like we have not done much at all over this Summer break and simultaneously that we have been busy enough to not really fully enjoy just playing together like I longed for so much at the end of last school year. So here we are just barely one month away from the huge transition of Nolan being in Kindergarten ( and I'm like, "Woah...what the heck happened? What about the playing all day every day we had planned for summertime?" It is time to stop being busy worrying about things and time to GET BUSY playing!!! This morning I went on a little "hike" (read: nature walk) with the kids and it was so fun. Granted, it helps that they were really amazing today, but we'll just go with it being my new (re-found really) awareness of the need to connect and play. 

We had a blast! I took a chance and left the Ergos in the car, hoping the girls would just go with the flow. Twenty feet away from the car and roughly five steps onto the trail, Alice face planted. Oh Lord. I thought that was the end. Haha. But, I picked her up, brushed her off, gave her a little pep talk and we moved right along. What!? Way to go, Alice! She ended up tumbling at least two more times and got jabbed in the lip by Lilah's stick once too. Lilah fell once or twice as well, but somehow each time I just helped them up, made a goofy noise while I brushed them off...or dabbed up the blood...and then we moved forward. We collected sticks and rocks. We watched the river pass by. We stopped and listened to the birds chirping and the wind rustling the leaves. We decided that some of the rustling was surely bunnies, snakes and mice in the bushes. We found some glitter on the ground and decided it was magic fairy dust. We flexed our muscles so we could be so strong and walk up the big hills. We put our arms out wide (or held a momma hand) and walked on "balance beams". We ran through the grass. And then we made our way back to our car (without a single fuss...what!?) and drove home in the perfect time for nap and snack. 

AND THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS WHAT I WANTED SUMMER TO BE ABOUT. know what? I'm going to take a lesson from my little ones today. I'm going pick myself off and brush myself off - all the stress, the worries, the fears, the insecurities of motherhood, of the past 5 1/2 years, 2 years, 2 months...whatever...and I'm gonna move forward. Here's to making the best of every moment of the last month of Summer break and then here's to transitions and to making the most of those moments too!

On the trail.
Should have put N in bright clothes too. We can barely see our leader. ;)
Stick Collector.
So brave. Nolan and Alice blazing the trail.
Reaching the "view point". Taking it all in.
Showing me her muscles and how strong she is to get up the hill.

He walked the whole way to the spot of sunshine in the top right. It's all about balance, right?
My resilient little one and her walking stick.
The end of the trail. All smiles.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Gotta play!

It is funny. Having multiple children can be a blessing and a curse when it comes to my balancing act of my priorities. Of course one of my biggest priorities (and desires) is pending quality time with them – getting down on the ground and really playing with them. Yet my other priority of…pretty much accomplishing anything (be it work, make a call to set up an appointment, a trip to the market, COOKING MEALS, general pick-up of the house, laundry, working out, whatever) has to fit into the day somewhere too.

I know, I know, I know…the old adage of children don’t keep and you can leave your dishes and laundry and all that, but that only works to a degree. At some point, all that stuff really does have to get done. And it isn’t realistic (at least in my world) to save it all for during nap/quiet time or after bedtime. So unfortunately too often our play time ends up unfocused on my part. I will play a little, fold a little (all in the same room), play a little, pick up toys a little, play a little, make a call, and so on.

When it was just Nolan, this would have never worked. I was the only one around and we played for hours. It also took me FOREVER to get anything done, but with only one it didn’t matter as much…it is more of a balancing act now. With three, they so frequently entertain each other (the blessing part) that I can convince myself without much work that they are playing together, that it is important for their relationships and development and all that, and I busy myself elsewhere (the curse). I really do think that this is good for them. I really do think that I don’t need to be “entertaining” them 24/7. BUT…I too really do understand that MY relationship with them also needs nourishing.

All of this has really been at the forefront of my mind lately as I’m working through Chalene Johnson’s 30 Day Push. I have been looking at my day, my time management, my goals and how I’m going to reach them, focusing on attracting what I want, being positive, being the mom, friend, wife, person that I want to be and more. More times in the past couple weeks than I can remember in months, we have chosen to stay home and play vs. get ready, load up, and go on an outing. Sometimes our outings are all about them – the zoo, the library, N’s school, whatever - and those are awesome, but those are the times when I want them to discover and play independently of me. Sometimes our outings are not all about them – going to the market, running an errand to the bank or the post office, etc - and sometimes these are unavoidable. And honestly, I’m ok with that too. I think it is important for them to understand how things work, what goes into making our lives happen, picking our healthy foods together, and yadda yadda. But again…not times for me to really get into play with them…obviously.

So…enter conscious change.  Last week for the first time, I pulled out the dried kidney/pinto/black beans for the girls to play with and they played for over an hour and a half. Two other days this week, we have had lengthy, delicious (and of course nutritious) play-feasts. Nolan has LOVED me “cooking” for him and serving him multiple course meals and calling him “Sir”. The girls have really started to get a hang of the play kitchen thing too. I have had to actively avoid getting too involved in the picking up as we go along, but the kids have actually been pretty amazing about helping me clean it all up when we are done! More time has been spent cuddled under blankets on the couch or in beds reading books, and more. It has been awesome.

Honestly, it has so much fun. But I know how easy it could be to slip back into our old habits. I guess that is part of why I’m sharing this. Perhaps putting it out into the world will help hold me accountable to my goal of sticking with it, playing more and being more focused in our play. Maybe you are a momma (or a dad) who struggles with the exact same thing…or something similar…and reading this will bring it to your attention and can help you too. I know for me, until I was really thinking about my days and my goals, I didn’t even realize how out of balance I felt.

Here’s to playing more in 2015! (with a few seconds set aside for photos. Hehe)

This is what an hour and half in looks like.
Nolan saw the beans sitting out and has since asked to play with them about four more times. :)
My little Chefs.
One of the many feasts they prepared.