The balancing act.
How to do it all, and do it well.
Ever since having children, life has been a balancing act. It’s one thing to balance the ‘todo’ priorities on the list, but what about the extras? Often it’s the extra things in life that are truly the most important to us. The things that drive us, give us our ambition and motivation. Our passions, our desires. What about balancing life enough to give time to THOSE things?
Since my eldest was born over 22 years ago, I’ve always made it a point to find the time to relax, enjoy life, and enjoy the simple things life has to offer, no matter how busy things get. Our culture is busy, and I get that. We are a busy family, even though we spend the majority of our days now at home. With a homestead, life at home IS busy.
But, it’s important to slow down and smell the roses, as they say. If we, as mothers, rush through life and don’t stop to enjoy the little things, our children will follow our example and be stressed out, rushed teens and adults.
Stressed out teens and adults is not our ultimate parenting goal.
With 5 children in the first 8 years of our marriage, the youngest three being born within 22 months, it wasn’t always easy to find that time to enjoy the simple things. However, with creativity and some forethought, it was always possible!
While our first children were babies, and I worked outside of the home, I learned to take time out by having a long hot bath at least once or twice a week to refresh me, and lift my mood. Even if it meant dragging a baby bassinet into the bathroom with me, to have baby close enough if he/she woke up. Often times the heat and steam of the bathroom would help them sleep even better and I’d be left to enjoy my quiet time with baby near by, and a great book in hand, while I soaked up some bubbles.
During the time of just one child, we lived in BC near the ocean. Hubby and I would go for a walk on the beach many evenings with our two dogs, and baby Alesia in the snuggly. It was good to get out and enjoy nature and the peace and quiet the ocean has to offer. By the time our second child was born, I was working evenings and hubby worked days. We didn’t see much of each other for a while. We planned things this way though, so that we’d never need childcare. We ‘tag teamed’ child raising for a few years. During part of that time, I also had a home daycare. Often I’d load up 7 children ages 5 and under, and take them to the park and beach. Two good friends with children the same ages, would meet me there and we’d take turns pushing children on swings and visiting with one another while we all kept a watchful eye on our group. We’d bring along coffee so it was a real visit, even with so many little ones joining us. It worked out so well for us to have 3 adults. When we would all go to the beach, one mom could stay on the sand with the babies, the other two could be in the water with the ‘older’ ones.
Once all five of our children had come along and were old enough to walk, we would go on picnics at nearby parks or the beach, any and every chance we got. Nature walks were a HUGE thing as well, hikes and walks, as soon as they were old enough to walk or bike any distance, or even just sit in a stroller for a good amount of time. Where ever we went, I brought along a book so I could sit and read while the children played and/or rested. I think back to days on those days spent on picnic blankets with great fondness.
I still remember the very first outing I had alone with all five children. I had been waiting for weeks, because I had delivered our twins by c-section and I was not permitted to drive. At exactly 6 weeks, I loaded all five kids into the van along with the double stroller and we were off to the local beach park! It was so great to get out, and everyone had tons of fun, until it began to pour down rain. I rushed as fast as I could to gather the older kids while pushing the awkward double stroller through the sand to the van only to find out I had locked the keys in there… By now the park had been emptied out and there was no one to ask for help.
There we all stood, my very first outing alone as mom to five kids, in the pouring rain, locked out of our van. Ha!
It’s still a good memory though.
Alesia and Joshua went to find someone to call autoclub and they didn’t take too long to arrive to unlock the door for me. I was still proud of myself for getting out and about on my own with an 8 yr old, 6 year old, a not quite 2 year old and 6 week old twins!
These days, the kids are 22, 20, 16, and the twins 14. It’s no longer a struggle to find alone time to have a bubble bath (although my kids still seem to have a hard time NOT knocking in the door while I’m in the tub…). Now that the children are older and can mind themselves, I can sneak away and have a good long soak, or even go for a walk, with or without them.
We no longer need to drive for a nature walk, since we live in the rural prairie countryside! We still love day trips though, to check out nearby bodies of water and other attractions. Hubby and I have decided that every ‘stint’ of time off he has between his 12 hour work shifts, we will make a point of ‘staycationing’ at least day trip! We did this a few years ago while we were still living on Vancouver Island, and we all loved it. With a hobby farm and animals to feed, a garden to water and weed, and a home based business, there’s not so much opportunity to go away for long vacations so day trips and ‘staycations’ have become our favourite thing!
My extras are different now from years ago. Now I take time out to garden, which really isn’t an extra, since it does feeds the family & needs to be a top priority. It’s still an extra to me though because I love it so much. I learn SO much good stuff while gardening. God often whispers great wisdom to me while I’m working there.
I also like to write, and read, but in the last while I have not taken the time for either. I’m trying to change that because it helps to keep my creativity flowing and inspires even more creativity. Sewing, it’s something I do almost every single day yet I can not remember the last time I sewed something for myself. I did sew each of the younger three girls a bamboo velour quilt, but it took 14 months to complete them in time for this Christmas! They were meant to be given the Christmas before! lol I’ve purposed to make myself a quilt too now, since they don’t appreciate me constantly stealing theirs. I’ve decided to make it a family quilt by having each one dye different colours to be added to my quilt. It’s going to be my Mother’s Day gift. Hopefully for 2014, not 2015. Ha!
Another extra that is very important to me, is riding the horses. This ‘extra’ has been neglected for far too long, through too many moves. It’s to the point now that I’m actually fearful of getting on my horse which really is a shame and not something I’m proud to admit! How many people dream of having a horse? I have one, and I’m too fearful to hop on her because it’s been so long since I’ve had the time to properly work with her. Plus I constantly worry about falling off and falling hard since I’m not as young as I used to be, and out of shape. I fear if I fall I’ll break an arm or my sewing foot or something, and then be out of work for a while. The fears are some what valid, but they are still fears. I want to conquer fears!
So that’s my goal this year.
To conquer fears, set aside excuses, and work on adding back in all the extras!
How about you?
As a parent it can be more difficult to fit everything in but you can do it!
What are the extra’s in your life that you’ve been missing out on that you would like to find the time for again?