As time opens up

IMG_2784Perhaps it is the coming spring.* Perhaps it is the lull between sports. But this weekend had a different feel to it. When there are lots of little kids around, chunks of the weekend always feel like survival mode. Not the entire weekend certainly; I have had many wonderful weekend moments over the past decade, despite being pregnant or having a baby for almost the entirety of it. But many moments did not feel relaxing.

This weekend, it felt like time was starting to open up.

The 2-year-old woke up at the civilized times of 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, and at 7 a.m. on Sunday.** Not only that, he went down for nap, and down for bed without huge slamming-on-the-door protests both days. Bedtime was actually kind of nice. We read lots of stories, and cuddled, and said “God bless…[name]” for all the people in our family, and he sounds so cute saying it. It turns out that both my husband and I are in much better moods when neither of us has to get up at 4:30 a.m. on a weekend morning. Since I’d had more than enough sleep Sunday morning, and it was my husband’s turn, I got to read in bed and then run on the treadmill, all by 8 a.m. Luxurious!

I used big chunks of nap time both days to read. I finished The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough, read Pond, by Claire-Louise Bennett (I don’t get it – has anyone else read it?), and then The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran. As promised, Gibran had some great quotes. I think this will be the quote at the start of my chapter on how people are a good use of time: “What is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live.”

But it wasn’t just that the 2-year-old was reliably asleep for big chunks of time. When he was awake it was…not that bad. On Saturday morning, I was able to read with my coffee while he watched TV. As I’d gotten into bed by about 11 p.m. the night before, I was not sleep deprived. I took him and my 5-year-old to the Please Touch Museum in the morning. My husband took those two to the Academy of Natural Sciences (aka “the dinosaur museum”) on Sunday and they had a good time too. We can now let the 2-year-old play in the basement by himself and he is OK being there by himself. Which means that on Sunday, my husband and I had breakfast together in relative quiet before I took all four kids to church (and my husband got some work time).

As time opens up, I want to be sure I am using it well. When life has big chunks of survival mode, you get good about squeezing things in. When that pressure eases, it can be easy to lose the time to other things that are not such a great use of time. I’m doing my best to be focused on the weekend. I make a list of specific chores to do (this weekend it was cleaning out the cars and applying for a half-day enrichment program for my daughter) rather than have anything be an option at any moment. That way, I can relax. I asked my husband to take the kids after nap on Saturday so I could go to the mall to buy jeans. I bought a decent pair (and a red trench coat that was just speaking to me). That was fine, and focused, though I can see how mall trips could easily eat up serious time. There were a lot of people at the KOP mall. I guess it’s the place to go on a weekend when it’s 25 degrees out! I’m trying to fill downtime with reading real books instead of magazines and internet headlines.

And, above all, I’m trying to enjoy it. I’m sure there will be steps backwards — another 4:30 a.m. wake-up this week perhaps. But all in all, time opening up feels very nice.

*Though it was 23 degrees this morning. Yikes!

** If you don’t have small children, this might strike you as early. Ha ha!

Photo: Water table at the Please Touch Museum

10 thoughts on “As time opens up

  1. OOH, red trench coat sounds awesome! I have been counting my blessings a ton this week – husband is out of town, which usually means “survival mode”, but the last time he had a trip like this was a year ago. WHat a HUGE difference a year has made. 4yo woke up once in the middle of the night *all week*. The girls got their own breakfast AND cleaned up after themselves this morning while I took a luxurious shower.

    Though mid-shower, the 7yo stomped upstairs in disgust to tell me we only had coconut milk left and no soy milk and how was she supposed to eat her cereal with that 😉

    I think it’s really worth capturing these sorts of details somewhere because it changes faster than you think.

    1. @ARC – your girls are growing up! Being able to take a shower without another adult around or naps was a huge milestone for me. But yeah, no matter the age, something’s going to be wrong with any given meal 🙂

      1. Yeah, today I established that I can shower with the shower door open while my 1.5-year-old stands at the edge and watches my every move. Not exactly relaxing 🙂 It’s good to hear there’s light ahead!

  2. O, how lovely 6:30 is 🙂 My 3, 2 and 1 year old rarely make that. And with a fourth on the way, it will be a while before time opens up for us. But you gave me a fairytale insight into how it can be a few years on! Thanks!

  3. My almost 13 year old daughter has to be forcibly woken every school morning – we have to be out of the house by 8.05 and she often only leaves her bed at 7.30. Weekends she may well sleep past midday if allowed, and she is not even a teenager quite yet. But on the other hand she loathes going to bed, just like her dad. Neither of my two were ever early risers, thank goodness. I genuinely don’t know how I would have coped if they had been.

    1. @Amy- yes, nice prose in places. But nothing ever happened. No plot. No idea who the narrator is or what she cares about, really. Maybe someone else will enlighten us?

  4. It’s sort of amazing that marriages survive years of both parents being rather sleep-deprived, isn’t it?

    So much easier to be pleasant when you’re not constantly exhausted.

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