Finding me time in the chaos of summer days

standard June 26, 2013 Leave a response

There was a time, back when I worked in an office, when I made a point every week of taking one hour to myself. Friday afternoons I got out of work an hour early, and, instead of rushing to daycare to collect my babies, I would stop off at Starbucks, buy myself a latte and some chocolate covered graham crackers, and find a cozy spot to sit and read for an hour.

An hour out of a week doesn’t seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but I loved that hour. The rest of the week I changed diapers, fed bottles, made dinners, answered to supervisors and a million other people. But that one hour was mine, all mine, and for 60 glorious minutes I didn’t need to tend to anyone other than to me.

Then I quit my job and started working for myself and every stolen hour felt like just that, stolen. Instead of relishing the quiet, I worried that I should be doing something productive or taking care of someone. So I stopped taking that time for myself.

It took me years to realize that I really needed that me time. That it wasn’t stealing since it was critical to my well-being. To be productive and effective as a mother and a freelancer I need to take care of me. Simple, right? And yet such a hard lesson to learn.

This past year I’ve gotten better about making sure I take time to exercise, take time to have lunch with a friend, even take time to just take a morning off to read a book or knit in front of the TV. I’ve found that I’m more productive the rest of the time because I’m trying to finish things up so I can enjoy my time “off.” I’ve found that I’m much happier when I take care of me.

And then there came summer.

Now, let’s be clear, I have chosen to have my kids home with me all summer. I want them here. I want to hear them play while I write. I want them to have a summer with no schedule so they can just relax and be. And I’m enjoying having them here.

But the unexpected downside is that I’m never alone any more. And I won’t be alone again until they go back to school in August.

So, what’s a mom to do to get some much needed “me” time?

Well, I’ve gotten creative.

I’ve made it clear to the kids that they need to let me drink my morning tea in peace.
I’ve negotiated the right to go to the YMCA three times a week to work out while they hang out in the childcare room.
I’m very mindful of my evening down-time and try hard not to work after they go to bed.

It’s not much and it’s definitely not what I’m accustomed to, but it’ll do. And come August I know the house will be too quiet and the alone a bit too intense. So I’ll try to keep in mind, when the playful noises turn to whines and the happy sounds turn sad and I’m craving a bit of solitude, that summer only lasts 9 short weeks and that sooner rather than later it’s kid time I’ll be craving rather than me time.

 

Quaker® Chocolate Chip Cookies aren’t just for the kids! They may not be a latte and chocolate covered graham crackers, but they’re better! They allow me to be indulgent while still providing the power of Quaker® oats to fuel me for whatever the rest of the day might hold.

Share how you celebrate your me-time and go to Everyday Health for more fun stories.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Quaker®. The opinions and text are all mine.

9 Reasons I’m Sad Summer is Ending

standard August 20, 2012 3 responses

Summer vacation draws to a close on Wednesday morning bright and early at 8:15. And, well, I’m just not ready. There are 9 whole reasons why and only one small thing keeping from locking the doors and pretending that it’s not time for real shoes and new backpacks filled with crisp and new school supplies.

1) I seriously only just got the hang of summer. Between the traveling, the activities, and the children who are used to being constantly entertained or told what to do, last week I realized that we have only just now hit our summer stride. It’s lovely and I would like to enjoy it some more please.

This is what summer is all about!

2) We haven’t done all of the things we were going to do. You know, the things. Not quite sure what things exactly since we didn’t have a plan, but I know there was more we wanted to do. Like, uh, strawberry picking! And uh, uh, whatever, we would have found things to do if we’d had more time!

3) I don’t want to organize the kids’ clothes. I like that they can just pull shorts and t-shirts out of the (mostly clean) hamper and just go. People have grown. Pants are too short. And I hate taking them shopping. Hate, hate, hate it. Especially shoe shopping with Little L who is obsessed with shoes and won’t ever leave a shoe store. And of course she’s the one who needs new, practical shoes, because every pair of shoes that I have caved and agreed to buy her this summer is supremely impractical and not acceptable for school.

4) Do we really have to stop swimming? I liked all of our afternoons at the pool. It was fun to sit and work while the kids swam, jumped, dove, and just splashed around. Who’s going to distract me from my work while they’re in class? Who’s going to ask me to videotape their latest exploits? (Not the cat, that’s who. He just sleeps all day.)

The goal for the summer was to get the kids swim safe. Diving is a pure bonus.

5) OK, I have secret to share with you. I love to sleep. Wait. That wasn’t a secret at all, anyone who’s ever read this blog knows how much I love to sleep, but the whole school starts at 8:15 thing is grim and I can’t quite wrap my brain around it. In order to go to the YMCA before the kids go to school and have time to shower, make lunch for C, braid Little L’s hair, and get everyone out the door on time, I think I have to wake up at 6, which is two hours earlier than I’ve been getting up during the summer weekdays and three hours before I get up on the weekend. Oh sleep, how I will miss you.

6) It is going to be so quiet here during the mornings. And I’m going to seriously enjoy the quiet, but at the same time, I really, really, really enjoy enjoy the happy sounds of the kids playing together in their playroom or outside. The happy sounds. The crabby, snappy, cranky sounds I can’t say I’ll miss a whole lot, but the happy sounds yes. It has been a real treat to get to spend so much time with the kids at home. For the first time since they started daycare we’ve had long stretches of time together. I quite like having them home and it’s a bummer that they have to be away again.

7) Other than some sibling skirmishes there has been relatively little angst this summer. Since the whole back-to-school thing has started to rear its ugly head, anxiety levels have started rising in both children. Little L is breaking out in tantrums. Lots and lots of tantrums. C is just curling up with angst and is snapping at everyone or just melting down at unexpected times. I already miss the easy-goingness of summer and school hasn’t even started yet. Sigh.

8) OK fine. I’m anxious too. I’ve never been a huge fan of change, or of new things. I’m secretly quite shy so the whole brand new school thing is also stressing me out a bit. Ok. A lot. And I hate packing school lunches. But mostly I’m just shy. (New parent orientation is tonight. Hold me. Please.)

9) I only just busted out my summer shoes! So many cute flip flops that I haven’t had a chance to wear yet! OK, fine, this was just a contrived reason to be sad summer vacation is ending. Because, let’s be honest, this is California, I’ll be wearing flip flops for at least another two if not three months. Really this last one is about hating school lunches. Seriously, C is so picky packing lunches is a daily torture I thoroughly enjoyed not being submitted to for the last two and a half months.Today we stocked up on snacks and other lunchbox-y type things, but Wednesday I get to start playing the “Let’s see where I can hide some protein!” game again. You’d think that by now I’d be good at it, but since she keeps changing the rules on me, I never quite seem to master it.

And the one reason I’m not despondent about the end of summer vacation?
Last night I sat at my desk and made a bubble outline type-thing of everything I hope to accomplish this Fall. There is so much I’m excited to tackle: getting my novel self-published, working on the new one, plans for Splash Creative Media, and so much more. It’s a lot. It’s quite overwhelming. But at the same time, it’s really exciting and I’m a little thrilled to finally put the lazier days of summer behind me so I can roll up my sleeves* and get to work.

Plus, school supplies being on sale means I can buy new notebooks. I’m a sucker for new notebooks. They make everything seem fun again.

*Figurative sleeves, you know, since it is still August and in the 80s here so really I’m still wearing t-shirts and tanks to go with my flip flops…

Not Ready for the Summer to Wind-down

standard August 8, 2012 1 response

The fleeting thought that we were finally getting into the swing of summer crossed my mind this afternoon as I pulled into the driveway after the kids’ swim lessons.

The kids have finally come to grips with the fact that every minute of their every day doesn’t have to be hyper scheduled. They’ve started to get that “being home” is the new norm and that they’re expected to entertain themselves during that time. 

I’ve finally figured out that one scheduled activity per day – be that a playdate or a sports class – is a pretty good average.

Everyone has cottoned on to the fact that I’m going to make them nap every afternoon. Whether that means actual sleep or just reading quietly in bed is going to vary, but quiet time will prevail.

I finally figured out how to get the kids to do their summer worksheets. (10c a page. Not a side. A page. Works two ways, one they do their work, two C stops begging me for ideas on how to earn money.)

And I think we’re all loving this new lower key existence.

So of course on her way to the mailbox C spotted an acorn on the ground and inside the mailbox she found a bunch of catalogs touting backpacks and other back-to-school goodness.

I feel like that kid who just started having fun two seconds before mom says it’s time to go. Think if I start to kick and scream and beg for just five more minutes the fall and the start of school will hold off a bit longer?

Yeah, didn’t think so either.

Time for Camp!

standard July 11, 2012 Leave a response

I am sitting at my desk, hot cup of coffee at my right, long to do list at my left, and can you hear that? No? Well, that’s because there’s nothing to hear. No “MAMA!!” No yelling. No playing or laughing. Not even the sound of the TV.

Bliss.

This moment of serenity today is being brought to you, well, to me really, by the lovely and amazing people at Camp Galileo.

C and Little L have been traipsing off to camp every day this week with big smiles on their faces. Smiles that are only eclipsed by the even bigger ones they sport when I pick them up at 3pm.

So far, and I realize we’re only halfway through the week so I’m touching wood as I type, camp has been a roaring success. The girls have come home full of stories about the science experiments they’ve been doing, the art projects they’re working on, and even the games they’ve been playing during outdoor time.

Chicken-opoly anyone?

They’re in separate groups due to age. Little L is a Nebula, aka a ‘Nebbie’ or as she calls it a ‘Nevvie.’ C is a Star, and no, she isn’t going to let us forget that any time soon!

Two girls at camp
The Star and the ‘Nevvie’ sporting their group colors for color day!

I’ve been impressed with the Camp Galileo organization since the day I first started working with them, but this week they’ve really blown my socks off.

The sheer number of staffers available to welcome the campers and parents in the morning is amazing. People are responsive, cheerful, excited about being there. It really makes it easy to walk away knowing that the kids are in great hands.

I’ve also really appreciated how, at pick-up, each counselor takes a moment to give me a rundown on how each child’s day went, making sure to share at least one anecdote about the day that directly pertains to my child. It might seem like a little thing, but knowing how chaotic camp pick-up can be, it’s really very welcome!

So far the only downsides have been yesterday’s tuna sandwiches, (but really, that’s my fault, I shouldn’t have assumed that all tuna sandwiches were created equal and should have known that only the ones made by our beloved daycare provider were considered acceptable), and an incident concerning a castle in the Kindergarten playground that gave Little L nightmares last night. A quick call to the camp supervisor later and she assured me that they’d work to turn the stories surrounding the castle into something heartwarming rather than scary. (Please note that neither of those issues are the camp’s issue. The hot lunch is being brought in by a 3rd party organization and the castle is a permanent fixture at the school where camp is being held.)

So there you have it. Our camp interlude in the middle of our “summer at home” (clearly a misnomer given just how many times I’ve been on a plane since June…) is a real success. And now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go make myself a second cup of coffee and keep enjoying the quiet. 3pm and the noise it heralds isn’t all that far away.

Two girls walking at camp
Heading straight towards “Fun!!”

Local peeps! Summer is far from over and Camp Galileo still has some openings! Your child too could be learning science while doing art and having a blast! Catch a glimpse of the fun being had on the Camp Galileo Facebook Page.


Please note: I am being compensated for this post and the two I’ve written previously on this topic by the delightful people at Camp Galileo in the form of a week of camp for both of my children. Not only are they receiving my words, but also my eternal gratitude for this teensy break in the middle of summer.