thismummaslife

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


3 Comments

Doldrums

february 1

february 5

February is almost over. There has been snow, snow, and more snow. And freezing cold temperatures. I am incredibly thankful to my wood stove. Yesterday our ceiling in the kitchen sprung a leak, and Jeramy spent the greater portion of his evening on the roof, breaking up an 8-inch thick ice dam. I made supper and sang “Raindrops keep falling on my head!”

february 3

february 4

Days lately all seem very much the same. I am home with the children. Two days a week Simon goes to preschool and I have some one-on-one time with Malcolm, who is now almost 5 months old. Jeramy comes home, we make supper, put the big kid to bed. I read, Jeramy plays a game, the baby nurses and falls asleep. The three of us go to bed. It all starts over the next day. It is that part of winter. The doldrums.

Thank goodness for books and tea, coffee and chocolate, occasional sunshine even on the coldest of days.


Leave a comment

Our Mornings

tea mug
Through my sleep, I become aware of the sound of 4-year-old mouth-breathing in my room, and then feel the mattress start bouncing as he climbs into my bed and starts whining at me to move over and make room for him to snuggle. I groan and grumble at him to stop pulling on my blanket, but I move over anyway. “Snuggling” lasts for maybe two minutes, before he becomes bored, and begins his list of demands for breakfast, someone to play with him, and/or for me to rub or scratch his back. Usually, I complain that the numbers on the clock say it is too early, and that he needs to go play in his room for a few minutes, and give Mumma a chance to wake up.

Occasionally, this plan works, and I get to spend another 15 minutes or so dozing, while I listen to the imaginative narrations and sound effects of his play over the baby monitor. My bubble inevitably bursts though, as Lego creations are thrust into my face, or shouts of “Can you come wipe my butt!!!?” wake me again.

When we come down the stairs, he is chatty—too chatty for an introverted, non-morning person Mom to handle before coffee. I relish in closing the bathroom door behind me for a moment, creating a physical barrier between us, so that I can pee in peace. However, he usually bursts in on me anyway, says he “just wants to be with me”, and sits on his little bathroom step stool, staring at me while I do my business, and giving me a grin that is somehow simultaneously endearing and obnoxious.

We then make our way to the kitchen, where the regular routine of me suggesting something for breakfast, and him repeatedly asking: “But what else do we have?” begins. This either ends in me losing patience, and making him whatever I am having anyway despite his protests, or giving in and allowing him to have a yogurt tube (they are supposed to be for preschool lunches) and crackers for breakfast, while I have my granola and fruit.

Finally, at the breakfast table, I usually get my moment of peace. He is too impatient to get on with the day’s playing, and instead of demanding and arguing that he stay at the table to eat, I allow him to come and go, returning to the table for an occasional bite, while he makes tinker toy contraptions, or engages a toy ninja in a fight with a knight. His needs being met, and off in his little world, I sip my coffee, eat my own breakfast, and read a book or doodle in my sketchbook. My brain slowly thaws from grogginess, and I become, at least a little bit, human.

At one point, I formed an idealized vision–of us having breakfast together every morning, side-by-side at the table, enjoying conversation–and I tried to make it a reality. This resulted in too much squirminess on his part, and too much impatience on mine. I believe in the importance of the family meal, which we fulfill at dinnertime. Breakfast and lunch with my child, on the days when we are home together, are much more relaxed and fluid, and I have decided to be OK with that, rather than beat myself up about it.

Today is one of such days at home. I do not have to work, and he has no preschool. He has a runny nose and slight cough, so I want to keep him inside the house and as relaxed as possible in order to avoid this little cold from combining with his asthma and becoming croup or worse. I am also heavily pregnant, so while my hope is to get all of the laundry done, dishes washed, dinner planned, and vacuuming done, I am accepting the reality that it might not all happen.

I am reading and drinking a cup of tea while he watches Magic School Bus. He comes over for a bite of his food and sees my mug. “Can I have some tea?” he asks.

I go pour some of the still warm water from my tea preparations into a mug, add a blueberry tea bag, and bring it to the table. He comes back into the dining room, and reaches for his mug. Something catches his attention on the television, he fails to stop paying attention to his actions, and his flailing arm knocks his tea over. (I knew I should not have filled it up so full.)

“Oops! I didn’t mean to.” he tells me, as I jump up and start frantically moving things out-of-the-way before the spreading tea puddle can get to them.
“Quick!”, I shout, “Go get the paper towels!”
He intends to, but he is taking time, perfecting his dismount from the chair.
Go get the paper towels!”
He is still worried more about doing just the right kind of jump than his shouting mother.
“UGH!”, I sigh with frustration, and make my way to the kitchen to grab what I need, leaving the puddle still spreading on the table. I then make a totally uncool Mom move, when I blurt: “Why are you NEVER fast enough when I ask you to do something!?” I instantly regret these words of criticism, and take a deep inhale. “I’m sorry. I am not mad at you. I am only frustrated because you were not paying attention. I know it was an accident.”

I wipe up the huge spill (Really, why did I fill his mug so full?), he wanders back off to watch his show, and I take another deep breath. The tea missed my library book, and the basket of clean laundry that really should not have been on the table we eat at in the first place, and at least the dining room now smells like blueberries. Finally, I go put on a new pot of water to make him a fresh cup of tea before plopping back down to read more of my book.

Eventually, I will feel ready to get on with the day. I will get myself dressed, and some days, I even manage to convince him to change out of his pajamas too. I will load the dishwasher, and scratching even just one thing off my to-do list will make me feel accomplished. We will glue buttons onto cardboard together , or build a castle out of blocks. He will eventually demand lunch, and I will insist that he have some type of fruit or vegetable with it. He will mope that he just wants pickles and pretzels, and I will try to explain proper nutrition as I spread peanut butter. We will read a pile of picture books, or draw on the driveway with chalk. I will try to pick up clutter while he follows me around like a puppy, pretending to be a baby armadillo, or praying mantis, or whatever the animal/insect of the day is. He will constantly run in front of me, almost tripping me up, and I will silently wish that he would stop talking in a baby voice. At 2:30 I will excitedly announce that Daddy will be home soon, and start mentally counting down the minutes as I wait to hear his car pull into the drive. At this point, the afternoon shifts, and the second half of our day begins.

It took me a while to accept the fact that I am not a get-up-and-go, seize the day type of Mom. I was never that way before kids, so why should I expect it of myself now, when I am even more tired and more frequently overwhelmed? On the days that we do have to be out of the house early, I somehow manage to do what takes me hours on our days at home, in the span of 45 minutes. Those days I feel like Superwoman for getting us both fed, dressed, packed, and out the door and into the car. Somehow I even do my hair, put on makeup, and accessorize. I usually only do this twice a week, but somehow it seems like a humongous feat, despite the fact that I know other parents do the same thing every single week day. Then, our next day at home will arrive, and I will feel slow again, and in need of another long “thaw”. I cannot compare myself with those other 5-days-a-week parents, because their family has different needs, and they are different people.
—-
I am not entirely sure why I felt the need to record and to blog about our mornings. Perhaps it is because I know it will soon change, with the arrival of the new Baby. This post can be a little snapshot to look back on later, including the good and the imperfect, of what our relaxed routine was like with Mumma home and only one child. Perhaps it is a step in my continuing efforts to remain comfortable with my parenting style, and to be OK with who I am as a Mom. I am sure that I am not the only parent out there, who feels less than stellar first thing after waking up, and who might worry about how our being tired effects our abilities with our kids.

I think it is both.


2 Comments

A New Routine

a new routine
As I have mentioned before, this pregnancy has been a very rough one, making me feel sick almost all of the time. Through all of this, I have had a much harder time focusing on daily tasks, and fully being there for Simon on our days at home together. For a while, I often felt foggy, confused, and…kind of lost. At any given time of day I had no idea what we were supposed to be doing. Simon would ask “When is lunch?” and I would uncertainly answer: “Ummmm, right now?” We had no structure going from day to day, and I felt so much guilt because I know most children, including my own, thrive on routine. During a particularly difficult day over a week ago, I exasperatedly reached for my laptop and googled: “stay-at-home mom schedule”, hoping to find some inspiration that would get me back on track.

I spent some time reading blogs and articles, in which other stay-at-home parents shared their daily schedules, and tips for how they keep going without a boss or a deadline to keep them moving forward. I also reached out on facebook to other parents I know, asking how they structure their days. I got inspired to make a new plan for Simon and I.

One thing I noticed right away was how most others agreed that a rigid plan is a bad idea. The daily routine needs to be in place, but also be very flexible. Children are unpredictable. So is the weather, the budget, and the flow of life. One week might bring freezing rain every day, keeping us inside and unable or unwilling to go on a daily outing. The next week might require a lot of extra errands. I knew whatever plan I came up with could not be too strict or I would become discouraged when, inevitably, I could not keep up with it. It was to be more of a guideline than set in stone. Basically, I needed something to reference on my more foggy-brained days, when Simon asks: “What are we going to do now, Mumma?”

So, I typed out a routine for us to use on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. (The other two days of the week Simon has preschool, and I work at the Library.) Weekends are a toss-up and will change so much that there was no point in scheduling them. (Plus, Jeramy is home on the weekends to help me .)  Here is what I came up with:

~7am: Wake up time. Spend the next hour making breakfast, drinking tea, and shaking off sleep. Eat breakfast together at the table.

~8am: Getting dressed for the day. Shower if needed, get myself and Simon dressed, brush teeth.

~9am: Go somewhere, or go outside. Unless the weather really stinks, get out and run errands, have an adventure, or spend some time in the yard.

~11am: Prepare lunch together. Eat together at the table.

~12pm: Time Out. Simon can watch some tv or play quietly. I can use my computer or read. This is a good time for another cup of tea. Also a good time to blog.

~1pm: Activity time. Get out some art supplies, do some puzzles together, create a project, read aloud from our current chapter book.

~2pm: Time for a healthy, energizing snack. Smoothies, fruit, nuts, popcorn, etc. An afternoon pick-me-up. Enjoy the snack out on the deck if it is nice.

~2:15pm: Pick up time. Do some clean-up around the house. Put on some music, throw in a load of dishes or laundry, and do the chores that need to be done that day.

~3:30pm: Daddy is home. Depending on the day, different things may happen: family errands, Daddy and Simon playtime, Mumma working an evening shift, etc. Start prepping dinner.

~5pm: Dinner. Eat early because Simon goes to bed early.

~6pm: Pick up time. Simon picks up toys he has taken out. Mumma and Daddy pick up after supper. Tidy things up before bedtime.

~6:30pm: Start Simon’s bedtime routine: pajamas, brush teeth, sip of water, bedtime story, lullabies, tuck in.

~7pm: Mumma and Daddy can collapse on the couch.
______
Last week was our first week with this routine. We have not yet fully conformed to it. One day Simon slept in late so everything was pushed back and we ended up skipping a few parts of the routine. On another day we ended up on a much longer outing than I had expected, and didn’t get back home until late afternoon. Today, we spent most of our morning reading books together, because it was too cold and windy for us to go anywhere. However, we have followed the schedule part-time. When I am not sure what to do next, I can simply glance at the clock and the schedule posted on the fridge, and feel reassured. I have been more productive and more present for my son. For this, I am thankful.


Leave a comment

Side By Side

art time together
art time together5
art time together4
art time together2
art time together3
Last night I did some drawing in my sketchbook while relaxing on the couch. I forgot to put my art supplies away when I finished, and this morning, Simon noticed the bin of drawing supplies sitting on our current makeshift coffee table, and asked: “Mumma, what are these?”. I told him they were art supplies and he asked “Can I use them?” “Sure!” I said, and went to get a large pad of newsprint.

We spread out paper and supplies out on the table, and worked side-by side. Simon was mostly interested in experimenting with charcoal and a rubber eraser, two things that he hasn’t used before. I sketched while he experimented with the feel of new materials, and I made it a point to let him experience the trial and error of attempting to erase various drawing mediums.

Since moving, our routine has been really off. The house is still a major work-in-progress, and I have a harder time finding my way through our routine as I adjust to our new surroundings. However, this reminded me of our frequent morning art time, and I hadn’t realized how much I had been missing it!

I love working side-by-side with my little one, being creative together as our first act after breakfast.


Leave a comment

A Morning Tray


morning tray 1
morning tray1-2
I am not a morning person. Never have been, and might never be. I do really wish that I was, but it is just not in my nature. In the mornings, my child is raring to go, and has plenty of mental focus and a need to do something with his hands. It usually takes everything I can muster to shuffle us through breakfast, let alone be entertainment for a three-year-old.

In order to give Simon something engaging to do, and give myself a little break from having to use my brain while I am still drinking my coffee, I came up with the idea of a morning activity tray.

morning tray 1-3
morning tray 1-4
I always admire the aesthetic quality of Montessori activities presented to children on a tray. I also think that sometimes, having a visual or physical boundary to work within can actually be liberating to a child’s sense of creativity. Give them a space and some materials to work with, and just sit back and see what they will do.

The photos above are my first attempt at using the idea of a pre-assembled activity in a tray for morning, and it went very well. Last night I prepared the materials, lining the bottom with sheets of drawing paper, and putting some farm stickers into two round lids. I added a couple of tubes of glitter glue and a couple of markers, in case Simon wanted to draw in some scenery too. The tray I used is one that a Melissa and Doug block set came in, and is just the right size and shape to re-purpose for this.

When we came into the kitchen this morning, as I was making breakfast, I put the tray out on the table and told Simon it was an activity for him to do. He dove right in, peeling the backs off the foam shapes and sticking them to the paper. He also experimented using the glue, and sticking the shapes to the tray. After stopping to eat breakfast, he went right back to it for a while, and I sat beside him, sipping coffee and talking to him about what he was working on. By the time he was ready to move on to something else, I was awake enough to get the day going.

I already have lots of ideas for more morning trays, and plan to document them and share here.


5 Comments

Morning Art Time

 


This morning, after breakfast but before anything else, Simon said he wanted to color. So, we spread some paper out on the kitchen floor, grabbed the crayons, and Simon also pulled out some neon pink tape he begged his Nana for one day at the hardware store, and a glue stick. Then we sat together, side-by-side in our pajamas, making art. (He was also wearing his too large rain boots,one of his current favorite fashion statements.)

We didn’t end up doing a lot of actual making, just relaxing and playing with the materials, but I found this act of having morning art time to be a perfect way to start the day. It was quiet, though we chatted a little, and being creative was a gentle way to shake off our remaining sleepiness. I have decided to make it into a routine, a daily ritual for us. Maybe we will color and draw, perhaps we’ll squish clay or use paint. I think the key to this morning routine will be having no expectations at all, and simply enjoying some bonding time over art supplies.


1 Comment

Stopping By

 


I am sorry about my frequent absence from this space this month. I am attempting to adjust to a new schedule, and I am now asleep when I usally to do most of my blogging. However, I am finally getting the swing of things, and expect to be back here more often. I am also planning to take part in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) again in November for an extra bit of inspiration and motivation.

Hope you are kicking off your weekend right! Goodnight all!