It’s February and we’re tired of winter, so rather than head south, join a gym, or visit a museum the way other folks do, we’ve decided to rearrange our home! gulp.
With Big Brother venturing out into the world shortly (shhh I’m still in denial), we’ll be moving an excited Wildflower into a room of her own again, which she frequently reminds us means she’ll be getting her room ‘back’. She undoubtedly hasn’t healed from that wound yet, but adding a fourth member to our family two years ago required a bit of a switch around. We’re excited to spruce it up and give it ‘back’ to her, just the same.
However, that’s not even the project that we’ve begun tackling. Nope, we added another to the list. We’ve decided to swap the tv room and the school room. The tv room is currently in the parlour, the largest room, which as a child, was reserved for the best of company (not me apparently, nor any of us kids), so we never had a chance to use that room. Ironically, we’ll be morphing it into our art room shortly, with ample space for both grown ups and kids alike to have access to all types of art materials. I can imagine it will be a nice big smorgasbord of kinds of creating that would make proper folk cringe. I apologize in advance to my ancestors (who likely had only the best of intentions). Though there will still be ‘school’ supplies accessible, I hate to think that we’ll dedicate a whole lovely room in our home to an institution we’ve chosen to forgo, so the name change will be just another shift.
And finally, the back room, as we’ve taken to calling it, which was the room where my great-grandmother birthed her babies when it was referred to as the summer kitchen, will become the family room. We’re planning a small tv nook and some comfy space for us to chill together as a family, but since that room is relatively cold in the winter and warm in the summer, we hope it will be used less, or else the chilling will be literal. A mama can dream right?
All in all, the current struggle for me is just figuring out how to manage the ‘stuff’ I’ve accumulated over the years. Which things are going to aid my creativity? Which things will I take forward with me? Which things no longer serve me? Answering these questions will take the most time and of course, be the most difficult. Although I love the concept of having less and feeling lighter, I don’t feel that the minimalist lifestyle is my jam, so I still plan to be as eclectic as possible despite sharing our living space amongst 6 soon to be 5 of us…
Wish us luck and minimal arguments,
There are times when I feel like I’ve got this all under control, and then there are times when I don’t know which way is up.
Sometimes things flow beautifully. Kids are happily working on projects of their own choosing, and they just so happen to involve reading, writing and numeracy. The counter tops are clean, I’ve showered and put on mascara, and the beds have clean sheets.
Then the following week, two children are digging through baskets of unfolded laundry for unmatched socks and underwear, there are tiny legos on the carpet, dog hair on my pants, and for lunch it’s peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Oh wait, there’s no peanut butter…
There could be any number of reasons that things aren’t working optimally, but most of them revolve around one main concept, connection. Sometimes what’s missing is time to connect with my partner, and sometimes time to connect to my own needs and dreams, BUT when there is disconnect between the kids and I, they’ll be grumpier, more defiant, and mopey, and everything kind of crumbles. After all , we are also co-workers, teacher and students, friends…
Sometimes connection looks like working together on a craft of their choosing, not something that will make me feel like a great parent (sooo hard!)
Sometimes connection looks like snuggling and actually watching a movie together (no scrolling!).
Sometimes connection looks like talking and laughing together.
Connection is involved.
It means getting up and joining in on their project clean-up, or brushing our teeth together rather than sending them to tackle the job, only to find myself anxiously waiting while they got lost along the way (YOU’VE GOT FIVE SECONDS…it really doesn’t work).
It means sliding the clothes on the hangers while Wildflower sorts her laundry, or involving Moonchild in dinner prep even though I’d rather do it alone. It means a pause in writing this post to hear out Big Brother as he shares what is on his mind. Not all of the time, but enough of the time.
Sometimes connecting is hard because I’d just.like.five.minutes.to.my.self!
But it almost always solves our problems. The effort is a valuable investment.
January’s bleak and cold days are upon us. We’ve found a gentle daily rhythm, while we’ve allowed the holiday routines to slip into the past along with the tree which performed its final disappearing act last night, thanks to Big Brother. These days have been great days, but we’re ready to let go of very full bellies and too much tv. Even the kids can feel it.
Our deep-winter learning typically involves immersing ourselves in a couple of novels read aloud together with warm drinks in hand. Often we’ll use an online platform for some math studies, and we’ll attempt to get outside daily. These are the predictable factors, while there’s plenty of space for ebb and flow, for endeavours undertaken by small humans with big ideas.
In the past, we’ve stayed home for much of January, but this year, I aspire to get out a couple of times each week, to remind us of how lucky we are to have this coziness to return to, rather than feeling as though our home is a place where we feel stuck because of the cold. After all, we are Canadian, and we choose to continue living where the cold hurts our face, so we may as well make the best of it.
After all of this is said and done, winter is made for open play and for quiet snuggles.
What I’ve learned over the years is that our free time develops a premium, if we have some kind of framework to our days. When we have a rhythm to follow rather than a strict schedule and a loose plan rather than entirely open schedules…beauty ensues
Until next time
We’ve jumped right into our own version of chocolate advent calendars these past few days. In the past, we’ve dabbled in many variations of holiday countdown fads…we’ve added a new book each day, we’ve eaten a small treat, and we’ve opened a small gift. We’ve even used a downloadable story series with one story for each day leading up to the big HoHo’s arrival. All were great, but many of them were not repeatable (how many holiday books does one family need?), some were expensive (a small gift costing 2$ on average for 4 kids times 24 days…yikes!), and some were wonderful but limited in availability, like the downloadable stories.
Though, I think we’ve found our staple.
Each morning, the kids awake, knowing that there is an envelope hidden in our home. There are mornings where it’s discovered right away, and sometimes, Mama uses her intricate hiding places to ensure it isn’t found right away 😉 .Inside awaits a small note, explaining a Yuletide activity for us to complete together.
Sometimes we’ve made cards, cookies, or enjoyed warm mugs of cocoa, and other times we watch our favourite holiday films, meet Santa at the mall, or build our list of holiday plans together.
Some days are fancier than others, and that’s ok.
Thus far, after 2 years, we’ve had incredible success. It’s been a lovely way to create moments of togetherness each day, while making sure we tackle all of the holiday milestones that we’ve all deemed traditional.
How do you countdown to the holiday season?
This morning I woke up determined to make this a better week, or at least, make Monday really great so that the natural decline in mom-awesomness (momsomeness?) that tends to coincide with the days of the week, would at least plateau by Friday rather than plummeting into abyss.
I was pleased as punch to see that Sparrow let us sleep until 8am, though slightly less impressed that it was Moonchild who finally leaned over and whisper yelled into my ear that he ‘couldn’t lay in bed anymore’.
So we got up.
And then we went outside because there is nothing like fresh air to spruce up my mood. Yes, mom, you were right.
I knew that the best way to bring a sense of calm to our home was to bring back our rhythm…some of the usual staples, and some new ideas. I took the opportunity to dig into my back pocket of tricks to pull out a Hay-child pleaser, anything stemming from a nature walk. So we foraged and identified various plants and their seeds which branched into creating our own ID cards….and on and on it flowed.
Though of course, Mother Nature had other plans for our walk. We tucked under the lean-to just in time to avoid being completely drenched.
Once we made it back inside, my shoes were soaked and our bellies were rumbling. A pot of tea and some warm applesauce quickly brought us back to life. The day wasn’t anything spectacular, but I kept on top of the dishes, made healthy meals, ran through a good four hours of lesson time, and folded the laundry. I even snuck in a few episodes of something for me while I worked.
Success. Small, but mighty.
Sometimes I feel like I’m rocking this mom game, and other days, I feel like I can’t keep any of the plates that I’m juggling from crashing down. This was one of those weeks…
There were plenty of sibling disagreements, messes, toddlers on kitchen counters, and no clean, matched socks. Morning lessons were not on our itinerary, nor were crafts or field trips.
I’d hate to give the impression that everything here is peachy and keen all of the time, so this small post is just to let everyone know … shit gets real here.
I managed to snap some photos that reflect the turn of events this afternoon, when I finally managed to fold and sort the laundry and we made it outside to play together….
Fresh air has a way of making us appreciate everything a bit more.