Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lo-fi Mothering


Between the fact that this is the rainiest summer I can ever remember and the return of ma' achin' back things have been pretty chill around these parts. Last week especially there was a lot of me laying around and saying things like, Go play. Sometimes I'd switch it up and say, You can either go play or do some chores. Thankfully, the two big girls usually scamper along because if they were to call my bluff it would have been my undoing. Zuzu was pretty easy going, often tagging along with her sisters or just needing a snack. However it took her a couple of days to realize I wasn't going to pick her up, so she started bringing me books to read to her while we lay on my bed, which was a pretty sweet deal for us both. Luckily the sun is starting to shine a little more and slowly my back pain has been easing. (Thanks for all the back advice...I'm going to therapy next week and will probably still get a cortisone shot to nip this pain for a while, fingers crossed.) 

So right now a lot of this is out of necessity, but truth be told, this lazy, unscheduled way isn't all that out of the ordinary. I don't like to be super busy, running around all day and over scheduled. I definitely like to go on outings and I usually do more of those, but when it comes to the day-to-day I don't have a big game plan. We have a lot of art + craft supplies that the girls can access anytime, but I don't often lead them in crafting activities. Although, for the record at the end of the school year I did sit down and make a list of crafts to do with the kids this summer--I was aiming for one a week--of course now I can't find the dadgum list. Anyway, I think this lax attitude in scheduled or unscheduled time has a lot to do with my own childhood--I spent a lot of time playing on my own, sometimes with my older brother or friends in the neighborhood but I don't remember having this expectation that my parents or grandparents (who we lived with for several years) were going to entertain me. Yes there were outings and going to the pool--but even those things were often done by ourselves as kids because of a safe small town and close proximity.

Thus, as a mom I've never really thought it was my job to play with or entertain my kids. Of course I definitely do engage with them and like to do fun things that would be considered 'entertaining' but again not on the daily. To be clear the girls have still had activities like swimming lessons, PSP just started violin lessons and soon we're going to have a super cute, power chair riding cheerleader in the house!  (This is both exciting and a little terrifying.) And there are little things like the caterpillar turned butterflies that we got to watch and subsequently let go. So we've definitely had these fun little things--maybe more that I realized when I started this post--but often I just send them outside and watch their imaginations open up. 

The one thing I do insist on everyday is quiet time and during quiet time they have to read for the first 20 minutes, then they just play quietly while Zuzu naps. It's magic. The girls always find some game or toy to play together and often get so caught up in their own little world they forget to come out after an hour. Oh and chores. Kids need chores. Amen.

I don't really know what to call this type of parenting--maybe intentional unintentionalness? I don't like being over scheduled myself or for my kids and I believe there is a lot to be gained from children having completely unstructured downtime. While I don't feel bad about this--especially under the circumstances--this is one of those aspects of motherhood where I sometimes wonder, Is this the norm? I know there is no 'right way' when it comes to these things, but I am curious to know how many moms out there have some sort of game plan when it comes to your children and down time? First do you try to limit 'down time' to begin with by keeping them active in summer camps, sports, music or art lessons? But in the absence of scheduled and paid for activities, do you have a game plan for most of the week--like crafts, daily outings, and/or play dates? Or do you just wing it? And further, do you like your current situation and how things are structured or are you craving a change?

5 comments:

  1. wHat you are describing is exactly the way I like to parent-- especially while homeschooling my kids, it seems we all do best with a loose schedule of school, chores, quiet time and go-play-so-mommy-can-stay-sane. I'm actually really nervous for these coming months since quite a lot is changing. Miss C will be going to high school, the boys will be going to school 2x a week to prepare for transitioning to public school in 2016-2017, and life in general will be more scheduled as I share parenting w/ my ex-husband. It's scary, and I pray all the time that I can keep things as relaxed and 'normal' for them as possible.

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    1. Well kudos to you for homeschooling...and I really mean it. I really admire moms who homeschool. But WOW--some big changes coming your way. Well, of course I knew about some of them already, but the schooling changes sound like a big deal in their own right. Good luck with all you've got going on... I don't pretend to know how difficult and crazy this all is, but I'm really excited for your new life. :)

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  2. this is totally my parenting philosophy as well. children have wonderful imaginations and should learn to use them. i love the downtime we get in summer. we do go to the pool every afternoon, but other than that, we pretty much hang out at home and in the backyard, with a few fun outings here and there (usually when someone else invites us).

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    1. A pool would be nice. In a couple years I feel like I could manage the pool and all three kids by myself...but right now I just can't do it with the younger two on my own. And high fives to making kids use their imaginations...sometimes we really have to make them too.

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  3. Mary B.8:01 PM

    I'm pretty laid back when it comes to parenting my three-and-a-half year old. She does one registered activity a season (typically alternating between dance and swimming), although we're not doing anything at the moment because it's summer and I don't want to be tied to a schedule. Once she starts kindergarten this fall we'll take a break from activities, as it's a full-day program in Ontario and I want to give her some breathing room as she adjusts to a new routine. Our other major weekly events include church and family swimming. Our summer plan is chill: no activities, no camps, and the one "big" trip has already come and gone (a week in New Brunswick). We do have a summer bucket list on our dining room wall. Most of the things on the list are pretty basic: go berry picking, play mini-golf, visit a different park every week, make ice cream. That sort of thing. I'm not sure how things will change as my daughter grows up. I want her to participate in something athletic and something artistic, and I figure that learning to skate, swim, and ride a bike are mandatory in Canada. But aside from that, I like to follow her pace and interests, and go with the flow!

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