Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mindful Mothering: family time....

MOMfulness: is the spiritual practice of cultivating a mindful, compassionate, mothering presence. 

This week during the parenting time of our ECFE class (Early Childhood and Family Education) our discussion leader brought up the topic of Momfulness, or rather the word Mindful.

Mindful, as she stated, is kind of a trendy word that seems to be used a lot lately.
People are mindful of what they eat, mindful of their bodies, mindful of their time. 

Since the mom's retreat that I took last October I have had the idea of being mindful of many things.  So the discussion yesterday really interested me.  She opened up by asking us if anyone could share anything that came to mind when you read that definition. 

One brave mom admitted that she thinks that she was a better mom when she just had one.  Now that she has three she is so busy just keeping up with the to do stuff that she isn't as present and engaged with her children. 

I chimed in that I also had that feeling lately.  I feel like I have lost my appreciation for being home.  I don't have as much patience and there are afternoons when I am so worried about the kitchen floor or the laundry that Henry kind of just is waiting for Charley to get home.  I feel I am not as present, patient, or focused on the "right" things. 

So then the discussion went to what types of things do we need to be mindful of as parents.  And I have a feeling the discussion leader had meant for the discussion to go in many directions, and now that I have read a few chapters of the book, I think she probably wanted to give us the chance to realize that we should be mindful of ourselves and how we are feeling during the day.  But many different things came up and the conversation seemed to have been dominated by a comment I made about what I have been thinking about lately. 

On our trip I sat on the beach with lots of parents of older kids.  Kids that are involved in amazing sports activities.  But listening to all the talk I felt more and more stressed over the fact that we have not "picked a sport" for our children.  We have not committed several evenings a week to a sport.  And honestly, I don't invision this being something I want for our family.  I grew up, and I am not athletic, but I was able to play different sports each season.  There were a few weeks in between each sport season.  And yes, it took up our Saturday mornings...but,it didn't require travelling the country. 

Hearing them worry about the lack of spring break vacations they have left as a family before their kids go off to college.  Listening to them talk about how hard it is even to plan a vacation because of sport camps, practices, meets, etc.  And hearing that the sports were year round and took up multiple evenings during the week.  It made me realize how lucky we are right now to have dinner as a family, most nights of the week.

So my comment was, "I want to be mindful of the choices Ed and I make for our families time, money, energy, etc."

This time of year the summer brochures come out and it is so easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of signing your children up for EVERY fabulous activity.  They are fabulous.  They all offer opportunities of learning, growth, social time, fun, and memories.  It is easy to feel the pressure to sign up for things because everyone else is. 

It is easy to lose touch of what you want your summer to look at.

Last summer we had this HUGE bucket list.
Last summer we visited both grandparents for extended times.
Last summer we saw extended family.
Last summer we spent a summer at a cabin.
Last summer we signed up for different activities and I think our choices were pretty right on.

This summer is a different summer.
The kids are at different stages.
And as I sit and ponder what I want our summer to look like.
How I want our summer to flow.
Where I want our money to be spent...gas to see Grandma, swim lessons, tennis that Henry won't even participate in, Boy Scout Camp, park groups, pool passes....
I get a little stressed.

But one thing I realized last week and during our discussion yesterday.
The kids will grow up.
They will start to gravitate towards sports and activities that will take them away from our family.
And RIGHT NOW is my chance to build a foundation for our family that has them
desiring time spent together.
Now is the time to let them wake up leisurely, watch cartoons and eat breakfast, bike to the park, see a neighbor, visit the library, turn on the sprinkler, pack our lunch and hit the zoo, and spend hours building Lego's and having imaginary play as brothers. 
This is the time for that.
There aren't very many summers in their lives where "play" is just "play."

So this summer, my thoughts right now are less is more.
Less organized activities.
More items on our family's bucket list.
Less appointments or scheduled days.
More spur of the moment beach excursions with friends and family.
Less money towards sports stuff.
More money for gas to go spend quiet days building forts with grandma,  fishing in grandpas boat, and feeding the fish at our local park.

I say this now.
And I know as I sit with other moms I will get swept up in the summer activities.
But I told Ed last night...

My thoughts right now are some really good swimming lessons and Boy Scout Camp.

We will get the kids in at the club I joined and the outdoor pool can be our spot this summer.
We will be ready for friends (because last year we were tied to park days that were different than their kids' park days). 
We will see our grandparents and cousins and friends.
Bubbles, chalk, bikes, strollers, library books, picnics, parks, and Popsicles. 
We will enjoy the ordinary moments.

Today, as the temps are unbelievable around these parts, I realize that it isn't too early to start being mindful of the upcoming summer.  I am glad that I am getting my mind set on what I want to value this summer so that as sign up deadlines and discussions arise I can feel firm in saying yes or no to things.

 Because, boy oh boy.  I can't wait.  I think when your kids get older and they are in school all just look forward to the time when they are home.  I know it is true for me. 

Today, Charley is home and he and his buddy are playing with "guys" and enjoying first grade boy play.  A little video game playing with a friend is heaven for a boy.  And Charley hasn't had this opportunity enough.  Makes me smile. 



The laundry will be folded and the window splattered with milk will get cleaned.
But sitting outside and letting Sydney get dirty will be on the list too.
Reading with the boys, outside of the bedtime reading time, is on the list.
And lunch at the picnic table is happening.
And getting my water intake back on my priority list.
Chilling a bottle of wine to enjoy when the thunderstorms roll in (that's if they roll in).  If they don't...I am thinking it's time to hit the gym in the evening since it's been almost two weeks. Yikes.

For now, it is time to pour a second cup of coffee and watch Sydney sit by the back screen door window and chat with the chirping birds while listening to Charley and his buddy conquer a video game level or something. 


Goings on at the Glenn's said...

I am so jealous of your nice weather. We have been drowning in gray and wet for the past week. And it is COLD rain with lots of wind. We're getting cabin fever.

Shannon said...

Yes! Even though my oldest is only three I already have felt pressured to sign her up for dance classes, music lessons, preschools, gymnastics, etc. It has taken courage to trust myself enough to know first, my daughter and second, the needs of our family and the value of these precious years when we are all together everyday. Thank you for strengthening this resolve!

jessica said...

Well said Sarah! Enjoyed reading this and could relate to many parts.

shellycoulter said...

Good thoughts, Sarah! Thanks! We did let Eli play soccer and it was fun...but I was so relieved when it was over. It threw off the balance of our evenings and I LOVE this stage where we are all home together every night! ;)


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