I decided we were entirely too busy and that was a distraction for me!
Often on Mondays or Tuesdays I have a church meeting or I go out with a friend of mine. So that takes up both of those nights. On Wednesdays, Dave or I or both of us have church responsibilities followed by Dave playing basketball with friends, and my girls’ night with mine. On Thursdays, Adelynn has dance and by the time we are done with that, kids are hungry and we eat a late dinner. Thursdays are supposed to be our date night but that has been neglected for a while. He has work responsibilities that start around our bedtime that night. Usually Fridays we try to spend as a little family. Weekends are random, and often there are other random things that happen throughout the course of a month. Example: I have a friend who just bought a house, so we took the afternoon to go decor shopping! I also have dinner plans once a month with all the women on my Mom’s side of the family. I volunteer at Adelynn’s preschool 1 hour per month. They don’t seem like much, but all lumped together, they take up a bit of time!
I love spending time with family and friends, and cutting them out is not an option. However, there are definitely responsibilities in my life that need cutting corners. I had a friend send out a Facebook message today to several moms asking one of us to take her daughter for a little while. I would have been super crunched for time with dance tonight and all, so I just sat back and waited and someone else offered to watch her! There’s limits between being kind and making genuine offers, and overexerting yourself.
Often, the girls and I do activities during the week. We often have a play date some morning, we have GLOW at church, a trip to the grocery store, we have Parents As Teachers play group, and there’s several story times here in town also. One of the questions Adelynn asks me every evening – and usually every morning before I’m out of bed – is “Mom where are we going and who is coming over in the morning?” I was thinking about something else when she asked me that today. So I just said “Nothing.” She said “You mean nowhere and nobody.” “Right!” I said. She’s heard that answer before! And that was the answer all week this week! (Mostly). Her Grandmothers each get the girls once a week, but other than that this week, there weren’t any guests over, we didn’t have any play dates except play group, and I didn’t do anything in the evenings.
During this week of calm schedules, I kept busy enough working on my 12-12-12-12 and doing a modified version of the food challenge and the clothing challenge. (Seriously! Less choices make life easier!) I wasn’t bored, and my time was spent wisely!
I have to confess, I did feel a bit disconnected from my friends that week. I’m so blessed with such wonderful friends.
Dave is so great about encouraging me to do things with my friends in the evenings. He knows many days go by with the repetition of the same songs blasting through the house and the same fights, the same ouchies, the same questions, the same routine of not wanting to get dressed, or being given the wrong color plate, etc. He knows how valuable the adult time is to me. When I drink coffee at home, it’s sitting on my piano getting colder and colder and I sneak a sip each time I walk by. I warm that thing up until after lunch time when I get bored of it or forget it’s in the microwave. When I drink coffee at Starbucks, it’s a game changer. I drink the whole thing hot (it tastes better too) and the conversation cannot be beat – or interrupted!
Dave gets to spend all day being with people. I do too – but they don’t care to have conversations deeper than which books they want to read next and which color of crayon to use. Which is fine! That is what is important to them. Dave and I also have different social needs. They are different in being male vs female, but also based on personality. I’ve always needed the social interaction. I once went through a phase where I wanted to be homeschooled but my parents knew I wouldn’t survive. (They were right.) Learning wouldn’t happen without the social aspect. Dave gets most of his social life fulfilled by being at work and playing basketball once a week, and that’s enough for him.
The social interaction I get during the week is all based on me being Mommy. Every social activity I do during the week is because I am a mom. I am doing kids activities and dragging myself along. The conversations with other moms are all about mom things. But in the evenings? I am Cassi. Cassi the social butterfly. Cassi who can think of things beyond how stupid John Jacob Jingleheimerschmidt is. I am Cassi who is a person like everyone else. I am Cassi who pays bills, makes grocery lists, plans the calendar, gets ideas in the middle of the night, makes decisions, has ideas about decorating my house, events to plan, texts to send, emails to check, etc. That is such a huge part of my identity – being myself. I don’t want to lose that. I love my girls SO stinkin’ much, but I can’t be “Mommy” 24/7 – don’t take that literally. Just don’t. You know what I mean. Because even if I am paying a bill past working hours and a kid gets up, they get attention. They don’t get told “Sorry, I’m off the clock. Soothe yourself from your own bad dream.” No! I’m always Mom, but I’m always Cassi too and if I don’t express that, I don’t want to eventually lose my own identity in motherhood. I don’t want to fall so deeply into that hole that I can’t get out someday.
Anyway, that’s a whole separate post I think. What happened during this week was amazing. We had time to just BE as a family. We could do puzzles together, play games together, we could build forts together. Okay, one night I did run off to the grocery store and when I got home I actually said “Dave, thank you for letting me go to the grocery store.” Haha. But that was on Monday, so I had no idea what the week was about to look like.
What else did we do that was good? We ate at home. All at the same time. Together. We weren’t grabbing fast food on the way home from dance. Dave wasn’t picking up last minute things from the store. When I was doing the food thing last week, we ended up eating in shifts because we were eating different things. The girls ate first and then we ate. Lunch time was that way too and it was sad. We normally sit down as a family and eat, but I really missed that over the last week. (Another reason the food challenge sucked for us!)
The house was cleaner. Yeah! It surprised me too! We weren’t rushing from dinner to bedtime or we weren’t down an adult. So it was possible for one person to clean up dinner while the other played on the floor. In regular life, one person will put their dish in the sink and run out the door or finish a puzzle but will run off to the next thing without picking anything up. Sometimes the house feels like a hotel. You sleep and shower – and sometimes eat – there. Having the time to clean things up the right way makes a huge difference.
We got to spend one on one time with our girls and we got to spend time as a whole family. So many evenings it’s a divide-and-conquer type of situation. Dave gets Ava ready for bed while I help Adelynn and then we switch. Or we are getting home at bedtime and I take Ava while he takes Adelynn until they are asleep. Then we crash while we stare at our trashed living room. At least we do that together, right? This was so much better. We were able to do puzzles, read books – one on one if necessary to get all the books in – play games, etc. I do those things during the day but there tend to be more interruptions and tasks to be done. There aren’t any when we are together in the evenings. If one person gets up to do something, the other parent is right there sweeping up dinner crumbs.
It reminds me that we are a team. When it is the divide and conquer thing, we are a team, but we are splitting up to get to the finish line. When we have time to interact and communicate and discuss, it’s more like we are crossing the finish line hand-in-hand. I like that much better. I like holding Dave’s hand.
I enjoy my family so much! I forget how funny Adelynn can be sometimes. I’m with her all day, but when there are more people talking, she has more fun things to say. I love watching Dave with the girls. So often when he has them during the week, I am gone, so I miss him reading them Tickle Monster and having hilarious negotiations with Adelynn. I don’t get to hear Ava’s loud belly laughs when he chases her, I don’t get to see her cuddle anyone else but me most of the time, so watching her take her blanket to Daddy is a beautiful sight.
We can focus better and worry about other things later. They just aren’t important right then. Because what could be better? If the phone makes a sound, it can wait. It doesn’t even compare to what is happening in there here and now.
My kids are happier. They seem to know when we are functioning as a whole family unit. Kids know when something isn’t right. When we aren’t all together, my kids are both sensitive in their own ways. Ava always cries when anyone leaves the house. Including me. When Dave is gone, Adelynn doesn’t sleep as well. She also often gets sick. She becomes more moody. I think age has a lot to do with the way they both react – and I think they are both appropriate – but they both know things aren’t right in their world and it’s the only way they know to say so.
It’s easy to see what is important when you weed out all the extra. So distractions be gone! I’m so thankful for my family and the time I have with them.