Here's To A Boring Year

Too much excitement just might kill me!

Taking time

Looking after a toddler all day every day is hard work. It is draining, and most days I feel like I’ve done nothing useful at all. But clichéd as it sounds, it is also the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. I really do love it, and I am super grateful that I have the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mum. But I fully understand why some people choose not to.

I often get frustrated with things I’d like to do that just aren’t really feasible while Monkey is awake and I’m on my own – things like writing software, painting the house, vacuuming, sewing or reading my book. There’s such a limited amount of time where Monkey is sleeping, and I have to try to prioritise and cram in as much as possible – although vacuuming can’t be done during nap time either.

Granted if I was really desperate to do any of those things, I could find a way. When Monkey was smaller I used to wrap him on my back to vacuum, but he’s quite heavy and much more squirmy now. Or I could put him in his playpen and ignore the screaming while I did whatever it was I wanted to do.

But that’s not how I choose to parent. I have the luxury of Hubs acting as Monkey-distractor on the weekend so that I can vacuum and clean the bathrooms. (Mopping has to be done during a nap because slippery floors and Monkey are not a good combination). We tag team to get things like painting done. Sure it’s a lot slower that way, but we’re OK with that.

We’re also heading into discipline territory. I choose to use peaceful parenting techniques, but I strongly believe that any form of discipline will only be effective if you are 100% committed, and always do what you say. So when Monkey throws dirt, I warn him that if he does it again, we’ll go straight back inside. Then the next time he throws dirt (usually about 30 seconds later, accompanied by a cheeky chuckle), we go straight back inside – even if I’m in the middle of planting my blueberries. It’s annoying to have to stop whatever I’m doing, but anything less would simply teach Monkey that he can just ignore me, since I’m not actually serious about what I say.

So I don’t really have much that is time critical. I like to get chores and errands over with as quickly as possible (doesn’t everyone?), but it isn’t truly necessary – I don’t have to rush out to work, or cram everything into evenings or weekends.

And I try to remind myself of that. I try to consciously slow down and take my time, so that I can engage Monkey more. He helps me put the key in the door when we leave the house. He likes to help buckle his seatbelt, put the water bottles in the fridge, carry in the shopping, and help me put the groceries away. If he seems thirsty I will give him a drink before I start the car, or I’ll spend a few minutes trying to figure out which toy he’s pointing at, so that the trip will be a happier one – even if we’re only going 5 minutes up the road.

All these things make everything take longer. When locking the door takes 3 minutes instead of 3 seconds, I try to take a deep breath and think about how good it is for Monkey’s fine motor development, about the sense of achievement I know he feels (I can see it on his face) when he gets the key in the lock.

I try to offer opportunities for Monkey to help, or do things in his own, as often as I can see them. Sure, it inconveniences me, but I like to think it is valuable for him to learn to do things himself, not just for the skills themselves, but for the self confidence that comes along with it.

Is this a revelation everyone has? I don’t know. I hope so.

Do you let your toddler help when you know it will make everything take longer? What kinds of things do your children enjoy doing around the house?

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3 comments on “Taking time

  1. Mina
    February 28, 2013

    I too let my toddler help me. I also talk to him without dumbing it down, I explain more and try to keep it interesting for his level of understanding (so no Hegel and Goethe so far :-)). I can see the self confidence shining bright, as little mister has an opinion about EVERYTHING. The problem is that he does not yet have the means to express it all as he would like (acquiring three languages is not an easy feat, especially when he invents words of his own, gah!), and he is not really scared of anything and thinks he can do all that he puts his mind to. In theory it sounds great. And he can only learn by doing things. He is great at helping me, but he is equally great at creating monumental messes. But eating toast buttered by himself is so rewarding (ok, “buttered” is still a long way to go, he is still in the “dig chunks out of the stick of butter and eat them with the crumbs remaining from the toast that did not withstand the buttering” phase). still, it remains the most efficient way of learning,especially for a doer such as my George. I am yet to see how Stevie is, he seems loads more curious and interested in everything than George was, who was and still is more technically inclined than anything else.

    • boringyear
      February 28, 2013

      How old is your toddler? We’re not up to buttering toast yet, but he does feed himself with cutlery, and gets most annoyed if we forget to give him a knife to go with his fork!

      I also explain everything – I think kids are a lot smarter than people give them credit for. It’s amazing just how much they understand.

      Three languages! I’m jealous. I would have loved to be able to give Monkey the gift of a second language, but unfortunately we both only speak one ourselves and my highschool German just doesn’t cut it.

  2. glumbunny
    March 1, 2013

    You sound like such an amazing mother. I let Bun Bun help with things when I can, but I certainly don’t have your patience. Bun Bun puts things down the laundry chute, and into the washer, and into the dryer. And of course picks up her toys and puts things away, and brings me things I need. But I think that’s about it! I think your approach is wonderful. I get so stressed out about keeping things moving, which is not really a good feature in general, and also not so awesome for parenting. SIGH. Maybe when I am past the point of just not yelling at the babies I will work on this one…

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This entry was posted on February 28, 2013 by in baby talk, brain fry.
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