Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Luxury of Time

One thing I no longer have in my life is the luxury of time...of endless mornings lolling in bed, or lazy weekend afternoons stretching out for hours with only hunger driving the need to move on. These days there is always a need to keep one eye on the clock so as not to miss mealtimes, naptimes, bedtimes---the structure and routine so essential to avoiding little-person meltdown. Beyond that, there are the essential tasks we have to fit in, the groceries to be bought & cooked, the laundry to be put in the washer, then the dryer, then the drawers. Dog-walks needing to happen.

Just part of being an adult, I suppose, with family, home, and work responsibilities. I'm OK with that. What bothers me a bit is the realization that even my young children don't have that luxury of time. I feel like I'm constantly pushing them along to the next thing, all the while delicately managing each transition (because toddler psyches seem to come apart quickly while switching activities).

We work. The kids are in daycare. Mornings require constant motion for everyone to end up where they need to be. Evenings, similar, for everyone to end up in bed. All the other stuff gets done on the weekends, including the fun stuff. Swim lessons, Children's museum, birthday parties, park trips, etc... We want our kids to experience these things, and they love them, yet by necessity going places precludes staying at home and hanging out.

I used to think the kids enjoyed being out & about. That they got cranky & bored at home. But I'm realizing as they get older that they actually need down time the same way I do. B in particular is showing introvert tendencies. He likes to just lay in his crib alone sometimes or goes upstairs by himself and pages through books. Particularly after something stimulating or with other people. He also likes to play on his own, or one-on-one with a parent, on quiet activities like puzzles, play-doh, blocks. He likes "helping" us with chores & cooking. When we're home doing nothing is also when the boys fight play together, out of sheer proximity, they are negotiating their relationship and building their bond.

Lately I've been trying to be mindful of their need for downtime. To limit our activities so that there is time to simply hang out, get bored, know each other. To read just one more book 20 times,  go through the whole bottle of bubbles, transport every. single. toy. from their upstairs bedroom to the living room, and then back again, JUST BECAUSE I WANT TO MOMMY. For B to follow me upstairs and help me sort socks, while G holds L in his arms and talks him through his special chicken spice rub.

We still have lots of activities planned. Its spring, after all. Time to venture out and explore the city, celebrate with friends, and learn about the world. But I'm making sure the going & the doing doesn't completely obliterate the being.  Being together, being home, being the family I always envisioned.


  1. OMG YES. And honestly, even with one person not working in our household, we don't have as much down time as you'd think. T still needs to get to preschool, dance class, etc. which means I also need to drag the baby along. But we curb some of the pressure by only signing her up for one activity at a time, and also making sure she's up for the day in plenty of time to dawdle while getting ready :) Any "extra" time at the end is hers to do as she pleases: TV, playing, crafting etc. It helps.

  2. Hi... new reader here. This was the first post of yours that I've read, and it really resonates with me. I constantly feel like I'm racing through my life, hurrying from one commitment to another, with no time to think or enjoy the life that I've created. I had a relatively leisurely childhood, and would love to create the same for my daughter. I really need to find some time to stop and smell the proverbial roses- for her sake.

    1. Welcome Catwoman! Yes, my childhood was maybe even a little TOO leisurely, I remember lots of boredom, reading, TV, and video games...I'd like a nice balance for my kids.

  3. What's odd is that I don't do any activities and our schedules are super luxurious, and I STILL feel like I'm rushing all the time. I think for me it's the adult to adult-with-responsibilities transition you talked about. The other day Mr. Bunny asked me what we used to do on the weekends, and I was like ...laundry? And we both laughed and cried. Anyway, even though there are weekends when all we do is one trip to the store and a few walks, it's still a routine with so many items, it feels like we always have to be moving on to the next thing.

    The last two paragraphs are particularly beautiful.

  4. I am quite the opposite. I used to have a rule of not leaving the house on Sunday, I would do all chores during the week and keep Sundays for staying indoors, watching loads of tv, reading, taking hour-long baths, cooking hourS-long meals, taking y time doing my nails, the like. Until I met my husband, who literally was like a puppy, watching people passing on the street and wagging wildly when I finally relented and got up and dressed.
    Now, with the kids, we stay more inside, but mainly because we are perpetually getting one cold or another, the baby needs to sleep and sleeps better in a bed, we can't make it in time to do the zoo or the puppet theater or the circus, because we have nap to still observe (and I do pray the toddler nap is here to stay for some more years), so on. Last week we have started going out for the sake of going out, not because we need to check a chore off the to-do list. And the children seem to very much enjoy it. I am happily planning things to do when the weather finally gets nicer (sometime this year) and I hope we can do that and still manage the routines that keep us floating. I am also very lucky to have two very independent boys, who play alone or together very well, and need little parental supervision. At least they can do that, since the sleep thing is completely foreign to them!

  5. Beautiful conclusion.

    It's so easy to get wrapped up in the daily rushes, get dressed/eat/rush to school, get them home from school/eat/play or bathe or something/go to bed now now now. Luckily Burrito in particular is such a snuggler, and they both are so good at creating quiet loving moments, that I can't help but recognize several times each day that they're everything I've always dreamed of and more.

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