I try to be laid back about things we encounter when hanging out with people. Some sugary food gets offered, ok. A gift gets given that’s not my favorite, ok. I can always donate extra toys to goodwill and explain that some things we just do once and awhile for a special treat.
When activities go beyond my comfort level I kindly let folks know of our family ways of life: ‘River doesn’t watch much TV, so we’ll just skip it’ or ‘we don’t play violent games, let’s choose a different thing to play’ or ‘she’s already had enough sugar, so we won’t be eating any more tonight.’
I believe that the ways that we live life day in and day out matter much more than things we may do on occasion, like eat birthday cake or get a bunch of photos taken of ourselves, or stay up late. Being mellow when we come up against other people’s worlds allows them to feel accepted, as well as allowing us to experience something different.
The slippery slope is when we start allowing certain things in to our life more and more while still believing that they are not, in fact, a part of our life.
My own personal example of this is TV. Or videos as it may be, since we don’t technically have a TV.
I’ve started letting River watch some Mister Roger’s every day. This began, and still functions, as a way to let me have some free time. Most often I cook dinner and clean the kitchen. It is wonderful to have some time to think. However, we have now reached the stage where River screams if I say no to letting her watch an episode. It has gone too far apparently. It is exhausting to think of giving up this hour a day when I don’t have to be actively parenting. Must I? Maybe so. We have slid from a place of rarely watching TV to a place where River sings the theme song and pretends we are characters from the show.
I already wake up before anyone else in my household. I wake early and make coffee, breakfast, and lunch for those of us that will be gone for the day. I take nap time to read or clean. And sometimes I even set an alarm and wake up after River is asleep to clean or read. I work to accomplish my tasks, and I aim to give myself time for self renewal. But maintaining this balance takes continual thought, planning, and effort.
We do all the good things: we spend lots of time outside, we read books, River helps me with household chores, we bond with our animals, and we have play dates with friends. I aim at a balance of at home time and socializing.
But even with all this intention I feel the need for more alone time. River sometimes needs more attention than I can give. We caretakers get tired.
Any advice mamas and papas? What do you do? What is your balance?