Breaking up the day

two kids in strawberry patch

Strawberry picking was a great way to break up our routine.

Now that I’m home with the kids, I’ve found that I hear, “Mom, mom, mama, mommy, hey mom!” more often than my sanity budgets for. I love my kids with all my heart, but they are always there. I mean, right there! Often so close to me that I accidentally step on them when I turn around after hearing my name called for the umpteenth time.

One of my big breakthroughs as a stay-at-home mom was realizing that everyone—even 5-year-olds—needs alone time. I try to make sure everyone gets alone time during the day, even me. As a family we love each other unconditionally, but let’s face it, we get on each other’s nerves. Being able to go in a room and close the door when you need to has helped one of my kids tremendously, so I try to work it in before anyone reaches the breaking point.

I’m gonna get “fan mail” for this next one, but I don’t monitor screen time. Never have. I used to think I did and even felt bad that I didn’t, but one day I was talking to a mother who had adult twins. She was telling me how much she loved Barney when her kids were little because it gave her a break. I thought about that for a minute and thought, “We’re all in the trenches, especially when they’re little. Why kill myself over surviving?”

Now, I’m not advocating using the TV or other device as an alternate parent, but some days, it’s a lifesaver. I also use a TV show or two to take a mid-day break and chill for a little while. Naps are sometimes necessary, but most days we can just relax for a bit and get back out there.

All in all, I like to have a bunch of activities as options for the day and try a few things. We might head to the library in the morning and set up the sprinkler in the afternoon. Some days, we go to mall play places or parks, others we visit with friends. Bike rides, looking at garage sales (seriously, my kids love how much crap they can get for $1), and drawing chalk cities on the driveway are all great ways to engage with kids. I also like to have them help me make lunch and pick what we have for dinner (not that they’ll eat it). I even have a Pinterest board called “Keep them out of jail” that’s full of kid-friendly, cheap activities to keep them occupied, which has a great side effect of letting me stretch my creative muscles.

All in all, we’re surviving. We’re staying busy. And we’re trying to enjoy the ride.

– Rebecca Calappi is the adoptive parent to boy/girl twins and a freelance writer. She is a Capricorn, if you want to send her birthday greetings.

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