thismummaslife

Motherhood, Art, Creative Play, and Finding Joy in Everyday Life


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Breaking Bad…Habits

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It is very difficult to admit to oneself when a bad habit has developed. It takes a certain level of self-awareness to even recognize when something you are doing is having a negative impact on your life, let alone to do something about it. I recently came to realize that I have a bad habit when it comes to my constant use of the internet.

Not only do I have a computer, but I recently got my first smart phone, something I had avoided for a long time because I felt in unnecessary. With the new technology came an increase in temptation to simply pop online to check Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads…any of my favorite sites. It was easy to check it all before, but now I had access in my pocket, wherever I might be. A bad habit had become a worse one.

It wasn’t just that I was being distracted from my own tasks, I was also sending a message to Simon that the internet was a priority for his Mumma. Not something I want to role model, especially in a world that more and more tries to reel kids into the latest technology, and away from using their imaginations and learning from their surroundings. I also believe in and will espouse the value of setting limits for use of technology, but was not living up to my own convictions. So, after thinking it over a bit, and admitting to myself that my internet habit was interfering with my ability to be in the moment and to find motivation, I realized I had to break it.

I talked to my husband about it, because he has the same bad habit. He agreed we needed to work on it. So we came up with a new rule: No internet until Simon is in bed. This means no frivolous browsing on either our computers or our phones while he is around. The acceptable exceptions would be things like checking the bank account balance or paying a bill, looking up how to get somewhere, finding a recipe, etc. Otherwise, there is no reason why it cannot wait until after the child is in bed.

The new rule has been in place for about a week now, and we have both broken it a couple of times. The other day, while Simon ran around in the yard to play, and I sat on the deck with my iced coffee, I popped onto facebook. Today he actually took a nap and I decided to hop online for a few minutes. So, I still need to work on it, but even those times when I did break the rule, it was when Simon was not around me. And overall, I have been successful at staying away from the temptation to just pop on needlessly.

The thing is, we think we are more connected when we use the internet. And yes, in some ways we are. For example, I have friends and acquaintances that I communicate with exclusively on the internet. However, the reality is, spending time online takes us away from the connectedness that comes from being where we are, in the real world, with the people who are there. What is happening right now will change from moment to fleeting moment, but the internet will still be waiting for me when and if I do decide to surf at the end of the day. The messages don’t care what time I check them, the blog posts and articles won’t disappear if they aren’t read immediately.

The internet–social media in particular–is addicting. But giving up the addiction and setting healthy boundaries is much more rewarding.

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My Winter Reminder

chickadee
This part of Winter has been rough for me. I have frequently felt sick, we have had loads of snow and ice, and things feel a bit stale. I find myself repeating: “One day at a time.” as a reminder that it will get warmer, I will feel better, and routines will change again.

Sometimes I forget to appreciate Winter for what it can be. If I let it, it can be an opportunity for connection. We are forced inside, we spend more time together in close proximity. Sometimes, we take turns caring for one another when we catch colds or illness. We learn to seize upon the days when the sky is blue, and the temperature jumps above freezing for a while, because we don’t know how long before it will happen again. And when it is snowing, and sleeting, and freezing rain for the third time in a week, we hunker together and try to be in awe of nature.

It is hard for me to do this. To put a positive spin on Winter and find the joy in it, when it goes on for months and months in this part of the world. But I have to take the time, for my own good. I need to stop, take a moment, and remind myself that Winter is a season in nature, and in the flow of life, when I must work a bit harder to be mindful and seek the positive, but the reward of doing so is crucial to my soul.


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Parenting: Accepting Mistakes

fallen toy
We must be willing to accept mistakes from our children. They need to try things, and they are going to fail sometimes. They will spill, they will break, they will stumble, they will forget. If we expect them to always get it right, to never make a mess or an error, than we are asking more of them than we ourselves are capable of.

As parents we try to teach our children how to be safe. We also pass on intelligence and guidance.
It is not safe to jump down the stairs.” “You need to carry the cup with both hands.” You need to listen to your body so you know when to go to the bathroom.” We say these things and they still fall, drop, forget. They will mess up. They are kids. Yet it is so hard for us to remember that at times. We wonder why our child is misbehaving in spite of what we think they should know by now. Frustration builds, and it seems we are speaking to them in vain.

As a Mom, I am working on practicing mindfulness in the face of Simon’s errors. Sometimes he needs a consequence for his actions, but sometimes he just needs to know that I will love him no matter what. A hug and a conversation about what happened and why, can be miles more effective than being sent to his room. If I am always scolding, always impatient, and always punitive, I will actually hinder his ability to learn and mature.  He will feel punished all the time, and it will begin to lose meaning. I will feel discouraged and tired, and lose my temper. No one benefits.

This afternoon, I asked Simon to feed the cats. This is one of the chores he helps with. I reminded him that the bag was full, and not to let it tip over and spill. Well, no sooner had I said that, than he did let it tip over, and cat food rolled out, all over the kitchen floor. I could have raised my voice and spoken to him with exasperation. I could have just taken over for him, scooted him out of the way, and allowed myself to become upset. Instead I stood the bag upright, allowed him to finish, and then plugged in the vacuum cleaner and handed him the hose. I didn’t say “I told you” like I wanted to. Instead, I gave him the opportunity to fix his mistake.

The next time your child asks a question that you have already answered for the third time that day, or spills their milk on the floor because they were not being careful, try to breathe and remember that we adults do these things too. Boundaries are important, but so is patience and forgiveness in the face of being human. Children have had less practice at life than we have, and need to keep testing their world to see what works.  Some days they will “fail” over and over and over again. But that is ok, even though it might not feel like it. They are learning, and we can help them.

Our children look to us for leadership. What kind of leaders do we want to be?


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2014

Simon's sunshine
We started our new year off this morning by being entirely too lazy for an impatient Simon, who woke with typical boisterous three-year-old energy. (How do they do that, so early?) Once he convinced me to leave my warm bed I sat on the couch, by the heater, under a blanket, and sipped a cup of tea while Jeramy made us all toast. Thankfully, my child has plenty of new toys from Christmas to occupy him while Mumma and Daddy wake up fully.

We then dressed and headed off for a day at Simon’s Great-Grandmother’s house. There, we enjoyed lunch, playtime, and even a champagne toast (for the grownups).

Back home, our exhausted child was ready, despite his protests, for an early bedtime, as indicated by his continuous eye-rubbing. (Poor kid, can never fool us into believing he isn’t really tired.)

And now I sit, in my cluttered house, finding myself feeling kind of relieved that the holiday season is over. It is time to take the ornaments off the tree and drag it into the woods where it can become new habitat for wild creatures. Time to put away all of the remaining gift bags and boxes, and mix the new toys in with the old. Time to pick up the mess that the holiday season left behind. Time to set out with a new list of intentions for a mindful, peaceful, and happy new year.

Happy 2014!


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A Reminder

 

yellow flowers
pink flowers

This whole blogging business requires paying a certain amount of attention to my days, to find that moment that is worth writing about, worth remembering. Sometimes this comes easily, such as when we go somewhere scenic or adventurous, or when we celebrate a family event, or do a picture-worthy craft project. Other days, I find it harder…I stumble through the motions of the day, and when it ends I am too exhausted to recall how it all went. Lately, I have been experiencing much more of the latter. I do intend to blog, but then I find myself thinking: “What about today is special enough to share? Certainly, no one wants to read about me paying the bills and driving through hellish traffic!?

I am forgetting the point, the reason I started this blog in the first place. It was not because I thought myself to be the best writer, philosopher, or entertainer. It was for myself. And if, in writing (and photographing) for myself, someone else found something they liked. or related to, or were inspired by, then that is a bonus. A wonderful bonus, but definitely not the primary goal.

So while I write this blog for all of you who come here daily, or from time to time…I need to be real, and remember to write for me too. Pressuring myself to have fantastic and amusing content each time I write stifles the creative process, and causes me to switch off, and avoid writing anything at all. Some of my own favorite blogs are not about anything in particular. A few photographs and words, capturing the beauty of everyday life. Some people have a knack for seeking out that little bit of special in their days…from a photograph of their artfully arranged breakfast, to prose about a moving sunset. I go there to read and gain a sense of calm, and to take a breath. I like blogs with more information too, I definitely do. But sometimes, I just need to escape from reality and the bombardment of info and step into someone else’s moments for a little while. And when I write, I am stepping out of my routine and into my own meditation, and a chance to reflect on what made that day good.

I know, I have written this before, my reasons for writing. Yet, sometimes I need the reminder.


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Thankful

play food
It has been a little while since I have stopped to really think about all that I am grateful for. Our days have been busier, with me directing a play and working more shifts at the library. Despite the busyness, I believe it is important to try to remain present in my moments. Sometimes I forget to do this, but is still helpful to think back over my day and recall the day’s blessings.

Today I am thankful for:
~Simon giving me an extra half hour of sleep.
~Having him curl up on my lap to read stories together after breakfast.
~His delightful imagination and the detailed scenarios he makes up when he plays. (Such as serving me the play food meal shown above.)
~Having the day off, so I got to wear jeans.
~The sun shining, even if it was only for a small part of the day.
~That the rain never came down hard enough to bother us when we were out walking.
~Listening to good music in the car and singing along.
~A visit to our favorite little toy store where Simon played happily; and I bought him his very first pair of scissors.
~A deep tissue treatment at the chiropractor.
~A few precious moments of complete quiet in the afternoon.
~Seeing my husband and son all snuggled up together on the couch.
~My favorite comfy sweatshirt.

As for tonight, I have yet another new book to start reading; and my bed is calling my name.

Hope you all are feeling glad, here in the middle of the week.


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Resolutions

january first
Happy New Year! Jeramy and I celebrated with friends last night, making Mexican food, having a margarita, talking and laughing. Today we spent the last day of Jeramy’s long vacation from work by hanging out around the house together. Jeramy worked on fixing the plumbing in the bathroom, Simon and I unloaded the dishwasher and made art together. Nothing very eventful.

However, we spent some time leading up to today talking of our plans for 2013, and how we hope it will go. We made some resolutions together, and I made some separately as well.

~Buy or build a house. We spent all but 2 months of 2012 looking, and even put offers in on two places only to have them not work out. We are hoping this is the year that we finally find a place of our own.

~Be more organized. Jeramy and I tend to be pack rats. We also tend to have a very cluttered space. This year we want to clear out and simplify. Donate unnecessary things, avoid mindless purchases, clean out all of the closets, get some shelves/bins/baskets for that which is essential.

~Keep a budget notebook. We recently went over our budget and realized the way we were doing things was not working for us. We agreed to get a notebook and be more diligent with tracking our spending and maintaining our bill paying records.

~Move more. This means getting back into my yoga practice, going for more walks and hikes, dancing, playing outside. Making activity a regular art of my life so that it requires less effort.

~Keep sewing. Last year I started to teach myself this new hobby. This year I want to dig in a little more and try making more things and learning new techniques.

~Spend less time surfing the internet and more engaging in other hobbies. The internet is fun. Obviously, I need to use it often in order to share this blog. But sometimes, as I am sure you all have experienced, the internet sucks me in. Pinterest, facebook, youtube, etc. all can use up chunks of my day very quickly. I’d much rather read a book, draw, paint, sew, do yoga, write a (handwritten) note to a friend, bake, etc.

There are always more ways that I am trying to improve myself, so I could go on and on with this list. But these are the main themes right now.

Did you make any resolutions?