Yesterday, I didn’t have to go to work. And for the first time in forever (cue music) it wasn’t because my kid or I was sick. I’ve taken the week off to attend the Sydney Writers’ Festival, and I figure if SWF gets a cut of my annual leave balance, surely my kid deserves a bit too. So yesterday we got to hang out, just like the old “maternity leave” days, free from sniffles and high temperatures, and with no set agenda.
We did a lot of cool things;
8:40am – We walked to church for 9am Mass (ok, let’s be honest I walked/jogged while Mr 2 sat in his pram, and we got there 10 minutes late).
9:40am – Caught a bus back home and hung out the washing.
10:10am – Walked to the shopping centre to drop off dry cleaning.
10:45am – Journeyed to the local library to read some books and join in Rhyme Time.
11:45am – Munched on chicken strips for lunch.
12:30 – Walked back home and begun The Battle of the Day Time Nap (lots of shrieking and crying).
1:00pm – Mr 2 admitted defeat and allowed me to be tuck him into bed.
1:40pm – Mr 2 woke up (talk about short naps!) so I scooped him up and took him to our bed, where we slept and slept (and slept some more).
3:45pm – Mr 2 finally announced the end of nap time with a loud “Up Mama!”. So we got up, and I prepared afternoon tea. I took down the washing while Mr 2 munched on carrot sticks and chocolate cookies while “halping Mamma” put pegs away.
4:15pm – Walked to the playground (left the stroller at home) and took advantage of the swings, slides and jungle gym.
5:00pm – Mr 2 pointed to and babbled non-stop about the sky, the sun, loud trucks and the “buk-buks” (birds) during the walk home.
5:15pm – Phoned Daddy, Lolo and Lola, and “Aye-meh” (Mr 2’s cousin; that’s not her real name, that’s just how it comes out of his mouth).
6:00pm – Mr 2 “halp Mamma” prepare dinner while dancing in the kitchen.
6:15pm – Welcomes Daddy home.
6:45pm – Dinner time, bath time and (eventually) bed time.
After I kissed my little monkey goodnight and turned off the light in his bedroom, it dawned on me just how much I missed hanging out with him during the day. Don’t get me wrong, the day was not without it’s tantrums and hiccups (eg there was the midday nap drama, and I forgot to mention the shrieking episode at 7:20am when Mr 2 decided Rice Bubbles were no longer his cereal of choice, but I’d already poured them into his bowl and didn’t have the patience for his pickiness so flat out refused to let him change his mind).
Holy crap my kid sure knows how to screech. Day 1 of “annual leave” indeed.
— Joy Adan (@themamaminute) May 19, 2014
It was also tiring, despite the sleep we enjoyed together in the afternoon. And I know that most of my maternity leave days weren’t as eventful as yesterday (though I do remember doing my best to get out of the house everyday), nor were all the days brilliantly sunny and warm.
I also know that my family had legitimate reasons for me returning to full-time paid employment. We are trying to save up for our own house and a second bubba, for example.
But there is something to be said about having a day (or several) each week, to spend alone with my child. Here are some the things I miss the most:
- Being able to decide what he spends his time on. We were outside and playing for most of the day. If going out wasn’t an option then we would be drawing, playing with blocks or baking muffins that he can take to school or to his grandparents’ houses.
- He got to “help” me with the housework. Taking part in the monotony of household chores is something we should’t take for granted. Even if all he does is help me load the washing machine, pass me pegs, or pour a cup of cold water into a pot of beans, he gets to see that running a household requires time, effort and energy. That is something I want him to learn at a young age so he can appreciate it, contribute, and grow up not taking that part of life for granted.
- He got through a whole day TV-free. Don’t get me wrong: we watched a lot of TV when I was at home with him during maternity leave. I blame myself for his obsession with The Wiggles. But when I’m the one setting the agenda for the day, I can limit his access to digital stimulation. I know a couple who, for at least the first two years of their first son’s life, didn’t even have a TV in the house. While I wouldn’t go as far as getting rid of our TV (my husband would die, I’m sure), that family is a constant reminder that life without cartoons and Elmo is perfectly do-able… and probably better for mental and physical stimulation.
- Being around for the milestones: Yesterday morning we had a conversation that went something like this:
Me: *sitting on the loo* (if this is already TMI, skip ahead. If this is a shock to you, or you are new to parenting, let it be known that once you are with child there is no such thing as privacy, even on the toilet)
Mr 2: Halp Mama. (goes to rip off some toilet paper for me) Mama finished?
Mr 2: Me poo poo? (points to toilet)
Me: Do you want to use the toilet?
Mr 2: Yes!
Apparently my kid is ready for toilet training. I wonder how long it would have taken for me to hear him tell me that if I wasn’t at home alone with him.
- There is time to just do… nothing. On weekends (i.e. the only 2 days of a 7-day week we are all around each other) there is always something to do. There are people to see, groceries to be bought, toilets to be cleaned and a long list of God knows what else. And yes, there were things I should have attended to yesterday, but instead I chose to cuddle up to my 2 year old and spend half of the afternoon in bed. It was lovely. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything else. I knew, as I heard him stir after his brief nap, that no one and nothing else deserved my time in that moment. No book, client, project or errand was more alluring than just being with my kid and taking a moment to rest.
Of all the things, I probably miss that last one the most. Being paid by hour gives us the false impression that for every minute to be productive, it needs to earn us money. But I know in my heart that the moments where we sit together and read the same book for the 11th time, or lie in bed and giggle wholeheartedly, or run through a pile of golden leaves, I am earning something far more valuable than a pay cheque.
Are you at home with your little person/people? Are you at work? What do you love or miss the most about spending time with them?