Although I realise that this year began in January, now is when it really gets going for me.
Biggie started back at school today (note to self: Take camera to take her photo when I pick her up), and Otto will start tomorrow. My time is about to be my own again – at least, almost.
A few years ago, I implemented what I called “The Sunday Shutdown.” It didn’t last for long – maybe a term or so – but it was fantastic, while it did. Essentially, the rule was that whatever else we did over the weekend, we would be at home between 4 and 7pm on a Sunday. That time was spent cleaning, doing laundry and (believe it or not) counting underwear and socks to make sure that the kids had enough clean, sorted and put away to get them through the school week. We packed bags (for swimming, etc) and generally made sure that we were ready to face Monday morning.
Memo to my family: The Sunday Shutdown is back.
After this Sunday, anyway, when we have two parties to go to. Ooops.
I tend not to respect the importance of headspace in my life. With so many things going on right now, getting a bit of time to think clearly and plan for calm is vital.
The year I was home when Otto was a baby, I had headspace. The house was (comparatively) clean, food was cooked at night, we were on time for appointments. Calm was not how I expected to feel when I was at home with a baby and a 4 year old, but it worked well for all of us. My work is a very important part of my self-image, but it was surprisingly easy to let it go for a while. Fraser and I agree that that was probably the happiest year of our lives, not for any single event but for the overall peace and calm that we felt. The kids noticed or felt it less than we did, but it was definitely there.
Oddly, part of my headspace this year will be French lessons. It’s nice to be doing something that is just for me.
The other thing I am putting together for headspace is checklists. It’s regimented, true – but if I know that Wednesday nights are for music practice and Thursdays are when we do spelling, then there’s no thinking involved. And thinking about activities for four people can be surprisingly stressful. It takes me 2 hours to plan meals for 2 weeks, but at the end of that time I have a printable menu and matching shopping lists. Even better, I can probably re-use them later. And in the evenings, after work, I don’t have to think about what we are going to eat for dinner. If Fraser’s home first, he can even start cooking it, because the menu is up there on the fridge waving at him.
It isn’t so much the doing that is an issue, it’s the planning and managing that takes thought and consideration.