Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Continuing to let go

What is it about being a stay at home mom that is so stressful? Today, I was ready for a break before 8am, and my patience was wearing WAY thin by noon. There is really nothing I HAVE to do in a day aside from keeping kids safe and fed, so I can only assume that the stressful part is my own doing. Although I have lowered my standards for what gets done in a day and what kind of mess I am willing to deal with, either the standards still need to get lowered or I need to put my kids to work - or maybe both.

Having only fairly recently been working in a scheduled world with deadlines and responsibilities and paperwork, the switch to full time parenthood has been really daunting. On one hand, we could hang out all day and watch TV. On the other hand, we could explore and do anything we want! I think the hard part is that the parameters are not handed to you as a mom. When you go to work at a job, the rules are set, the expectations are already laid out, there's usually a position description somewhere that spells it all out for you. As a parent, you have to figure it all out yourself. So after some trial and error, you might learn out that unless the kids eat lunch by 11:30, you are in for some serious tantrums the rest of the day. Or if you don't eat any protein for breakfast, you are an irritable weepy mess. Or if nap time goes more than 2 hours, going to bed at a reasonable hour is a pipe dream. The time spent in deciding what your expectations are of your kids and of each other are as well as what the rules are that help you meet those expectations is what makes it a 24/7 gig. With any other job, at the end of the day you can just walk away, which is clearly the biggest difference.

The crazy thing about me being worked up about all this is that we are "slow parenting". We don't have tons of scheduled activities, I am totally unconcerned with "school readiness", we like to go with the flow a bit, and I really like to have at least one day a week that we don't go anywhere at all. I do have pretty high expectations though - I expect that we will eat a home cooked meal as a family almost every night. I expect that we will be social at least a little with friends and other kids. I expect that my kids will be able to run errands with me without melting down, and perhaps actually enjoying themselves. I expect that we will all have clean clothes to wear, unspoiled food to eat, and relatively clean floors to play on. I do like to have a consistent daily routine awake at the same general time, naps around the same time, meals around the same time... So maybe I am not really remotely go with the flow. Maybe I'm just not into structured class activities for the kids, but I am all for structured days. Maybe if I can let some (more) of that go, the days where it seems like we have no plan will get easier...

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