echoing. how mama days have changed this fall

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I have less than one year left of having “mamadays” with both of our children. And then Ethan enters kindergarten. And let me just say, so far age four is a million times more sweet than age three. And the same is true for Evy, her current age is our favorite one with her yet. I think our perspective on parenting allows us to both enjoy the current stage, but look forward to the joys of the next stage as well. We of course do have our moments of nostalgia and bittersweetness, but we have our photos and memories to capture that.

And ETHAN LOVES his preschool time. He was bummed when he didn’t get to go last week on one of the days…. “because I like to learn!”. OH my heart. If you’re a kid who mostly loves school — we will be golden.

Anyway. Prior to kids I worked 5 days a week. And then post-Ethan I worked 3 days a week for 2 years and then quit my job to change directions during my maternity leave with Evy. After Evy was born, I started 2 days a week at my new clinic with a partial 3rd day teaching at the University. Those courses have now finished, so I am now on an “as needed” schedule with my adjunct position. Matt and I discussed our options and we decided several  months ago to go ahead and replace that now “open” day with a clinic day. Our kids were in daycare/preschool anyways. So now I’m back to my 3 full days (7am-6pm) working a week.

The debate was that I had gotten accustomed to having a half day to do stuff — laundry, groceries, cleaning, appointments, yardwork, etc. And without those 5 hours, it means those duties will now need to be spread during our other days. The kids come home at 530pm on preschool days so my 3rd day of 6pm home didn’t cut into family time too much (and I can often get home by 530pm pending traffic).

But we still needed to work out the new routine.

My kids are FINALLY at the age I can very comfortably go to the grocery store with BOTH of them and not have chaos ensue. So I can do our grocery shopping on one of my mamadays with the kids. I don’t need to nurse, or chase 2 kids pulling down stuff off the shelves, or running away thinking it’s a game, etc. Ethan is incredibly helpful, and Evy is (usually) engaged as well. So that part is done. My meal-planning I do over one of my lunch breaks at work so the shopping usually goes pretty quick. And in fact when we’re done, I make a huge mess in the kitchen with the kids and make lunches for Matt/I for the week, some muffins, some granola, and maybe a “treat” that Ethan picked out of the cookbook. It works FABULOUS!

Laundry. It has FINALLY been improved.

Do you know how you’re like “We need to do laundry — we are out of clothes!!” — but you actually have like 10-20 things still hanging up in the closet?? Well. I was FED UP. I either need to start wearing the clothes, or honest to goodness GET RID OF THEM. Because I feel like we should have things that are mostly interchangeable for work and home days. Be able to layer with weather changes. And if we need to do laundry it’s because we would be naked the next day without it. So a few months ago we did it– reorganized and filled in the missing gaps to have 10-14 days of clothes without doing laundry.

And it’s amazing. We actually own “less” clothes. But we wear them all. Because most of them are second hand we’ll need to likely refill in as things wear out over the course of a few years, but it’s glorious. I own two skirts that I can wear 3x each before needing a wash. Shirts — things I can tuck into a pencil skirt for work or wear with jeans with the kids. Kids go through their stuff due to food/mud/snut/i-don’t-want-to-know-what-that-is. But second-hand means $2 shirts can be extra each season to fill it in.

So that’s how we survive. Doing laundry 2-3x a month instead of 5?? Yup. We just do it all at once. Spend a Saturday evening into Sunday and call it good for a couple weeks.

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The truth though, for the 9 hours I have alone with my kids on mamadays, less than 2 hours of this time is “constructive” time for our family. Yes it’s important for us to create these new habits, and real life responsibilities, with our kids. But most of my mamadays are sweet because we do all the other stuff together. Endless reading and creative play. Hours spent outside with bikes or skates or playgrounds. Weekly trips to the library for new books. Hours of coloring and legos and adventures. Constant outloud prayer and Bible stories and character lessons. Countless fights and making it right and do-overs. Sticky hands and messy floors. It’s all up for grabs.

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But one more honest moment during my mama-days? Accepted, yet limited, screen time. Because it’s still special for our kids. They get it 3 times a week. Evy uses a pad with sesame street clips and songs and some music videos. Ethan uses kid-netflix on the ipad. It’s their time, it’s short, only ever at around 1pm (never before noon or in the evenings). And it gives me about 30minutes to nap, or do a mass quick clean up, or reply to the emails. I never feel bad. Never. Because we don’t have TV in our house, it’s never just “on” in the background. They don’t get ads. They can pick their own videos on it that we’ve approved. Someday maybe our kids will actually want to watch a movie together or as a family – and those moments we will look forward to in the future! But for right now, it’s just little clips for a little bit of time. It’s good.

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So I am really treasuring my mamadays. We usually meet up with one friend each day for an hour to build those relationships and keep community living central. But honestly most of my days with them — are just us together. Thank goodness 5pm comes and Matt comes home eager for kid time because I am MAXED OUT by that time.

But truly. My mamadays are a blessing. To me. My soul. My kids. And our family.

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Alicia

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Echoing

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