Friday, 20 March 2015

It's OK not to finish

Yesterday morning I was at the computer and Millie came out into the lounge room and started playing, and I heard her say 'Good, finally it's just me and Mummy again!' - a great reminder of how much she treasures that time when she and I play together. So when she came in to sit on my lap and use the computer, I was quite happy to hand it over to her and chat to her while she played Minecraft, and help her spell things she wanted to type. I really enjoy my time alone in the mornings when it happens, checking my email and Facebook and browsing the internet. It has sometimes bothered me then when one of the kids gets up early and I don't have as much time by myself - but lately I've been enjoying it, however it works out. It is lovely having that quiet one-on-one time with whoever comes out first (usually Millie, sometimes LiAM, very occasionally Caitlin). Sometimes we play together, other times they play on the computer or iPad or put a movie on and I do my own thing next to them, while we share the experience. And it doesn't bother me like it used to if I don't end up finishing reading all my emails, or doing all the things I was planning to do - I can come back to it later, or the next day, or whenever - it's usually more fun to change direction and do what the kids want to do. (Occasionally I'll be working on something that someone else is waiting for, so I don't want to stop, and in those cases the kids are usually happy if I put a movie on until I'm finished and then they can have their turn on the computer).

It's the same during the day when I'm doing housework or sorting things out or reading or whatever I'm doing - if someone asks me to come and watch or come and play, I really try to say yes as much os the time as I can. What I'm doing can usually wait - spending time learning and exploring and playing with the kids is way more important than just about anything else, and I can always come back to the other activities. When I stop and play with the kids I've found it works best if I really do commit to playing, and be in the moment with them - if I'm still thinking about what I was doing and wondering when I can get back to it, then I'm distracted and not as fun a playmate, and I don't enjoying the playing or watching as much either.

I'm getting much more comfortable with the idea of not finishing tasks too - I can start something and get as much done as I manage, and if I'm interrupted for whatever reason that's fine. If I get back to it, great, if not, I can move it aside and finish it later, or let it go completely. I watch the kids do it all the time - work on something until they have had enough, then move on to another activity, without that stressful 'I Should finish this' feeling hanging over their heads. They are comfortable in doing what is important at the time, and not hanging on to activities because they were once important, but letting things go as priorities change. I like this, and as I practice it more myself I'm finding it quite liberating. Insisting on finishing something because we started it can stifle learning and interest and joy, and I'm not interested in doing that. The important things do get finished because there is motivation to come back to them, and those where interest has waned can be left and it doesn't matter. The learning happens in the doing of tasks, not the completion of them, and I love that I'm really learning how to enjoy and prioritise the process, not the end product.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Tony's day off

Tony had the day off yesterday. It's so great having him at home. In some previous years his day off could end up being quite stressful - I think I would spend all week hanging out for his day off, and have massive expectations for what we might achieve on that day, and then we'd both be tired and none of what I'd planned or hope for would happen, and I'd end up cranky. But that doesn't happen anymore (which is great!). I just love having him around, and I think I'm much better at not building up expectations, for myself or anyone else, and instead going with what happens on the day and what we all feel like.

Tony got up when Millie woke up, so I had a very rare sleep in - it was wonderful. When I got up, LiAM, Tony and Millie were playing Terraria together, then Millie came and played Minecraft while LiAM played Village Life. I pottered around and chatted with the kids and Tony, then he went and had a nap. Once he woke up he and the girls went to pick up the trampoline we had bought on ebay - our mat had died, and we'd bought a new one but it didn't fit properly, so buying a cheap 2nd hand trampoline just like our old one seemed like the best way to go. They also did an Aldi grocery shop so we're nicely stocked up on food now too!!! LiAM stayed home with me - we watched Wolfblood together for a while, then I went into my room to read my book (the 2nd book in the Fifty Shades series - I didn't know whether I'd like them but I really really love them) and really enjoyed having the down time. It was funny, in the morning I kept thinking 'after I've done the dishes and put the washing on etc I can go and read my book). But the whole time I was trying to do housework I was distracted and edgy because I just wanted to read. Once I let myself go and relax and read I felt great - I finished my book (after stopping and getting lunch for LiAM and myself) and then felt nurtured and recharged, and happily came out and did the housework I'd wanted to do, quickly and with enjoyment. A lesson I hope I can remember in the future! Nurture myself first, the housework will be more fun when I'm feeling great, rather than slogging through it because I feel like I have to...

Once the girls and Tony came home Millie and I played with lego for a while. Caitlin started making labels with her new label maker, lots of fun for her discovering how to use it and all the options she could use. After another nap Tony and Caitlin and I set up the new trampoline (actually we used the new springs on our current trampoline and that worked perfectly) and the girls had a long awaited jump. Tony and I packed up the camper trailer - it had been up in our yard for a while - it kept getting wet before we had a chance to pack it up - and then I hooked it up to my car and reversed it into our carport!!! Felt very proud of myself, and more confident now that I could take the kids to a caravan park myself and get the camper trailer in position and set up.

Millie and I played a chasing hiding game while I got the washing in, then we all played iPad games, chatted, watched TV and hung out for a while while Tony cooked some butter chicken. I also talked to a friend on the phone. We all ate together at the table then had apple pie and cream for dessert. I went to bed and the others joined me shortly where I read a couple of chapters of Eldest (book 2 in the Inheritance series). The big kids stayed up for a while longer but were happy to let the rest of us go to sleep.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

A quiet Friday

I have been unwell lately and this has helped me cut back even further on my level of busyness (I never know how to spell that word - feels like it should be business, but that has a different meaning...). I'm paying more attention to how each of us are feeling and making more decisions on the day (or in the moment) than in advance, and it feels good. Scary sometimes, like I SHOULD be able to do more or plan ahead more - but that's just anxiety talking and most of the time I can sit back and realise that I'm feeling anxious, let it pass over me, then get on with doing what really does feel right.

Yesterday I was up early enough to have a bit of time on the computer alone, then Millie joined me. She played on one of her colouring in and printing out websites while I read a library book about the making of The Hobbit movies - I am constantly amazed at the level of thought, creativity and expertise that went into those movies. I still haven't seen the first one all the way through (that's on my list for trying to get done this week) and haven't seen the 3rd one, but reading these books has me all excited about watching all of them again. We played on the iPad for a while, Township and Village Life, then the other kids got up and played with us for a while too. Millie and LiAM then played Minecraft on the computer while Caitlin continued to set up her new iPad Mini (she lost hers late last year, and we purchased a replacement for her this week - very exciting for her to have her own device again!). She then put on Nim's Island and the kids watched it several times. I was in the middle of doing dishes when I felt like having a bath. Initially I thought 'no, I need to finish these dishes first', and then was feeling frustrated at the sink and no longer enjoying doing them. So I realised that having a bath was important, if that was what I felt like doing. The kids were happy with Minecraft and movies, I made sure they all had something to eat, then I went and jumped in a deep, warm bath with my book and had a wonderful relaxing soak. The kids came in and out when they had questions or just to reconnect, and I am so glad I listened to myself instead of sticking with what my anxiety felt like I should do. Afterwards I had a long chat on the phone with a local friend, and then a long chat with a friend who lives further away, a wonderful friend who I haven't spoken to in a while, so that was a lovely surprise and a very nurturing way to spend my early afternoon.

By this stage Tony was awake (he's on night shift at the moment) and he and I folded up some stuff we'd had hung up in the yard to dry. He and Caitlin went for a bike ride and visited our neighbour, who earlier in the week had cooked dinner for us when she heard that I wasn't well. Millie and I played a game which involved pirates and dragons and mothers and daughters which was fun. When Caitlin came back she and I continued watching the BBC series of Pride and Prejudice - I'm so excited to be introducing her to my favourite story ever, and she's enjoying it so far. Tony watched for a while with us too, I don't think he's seen it before so he also enjoyed starting to understand the story.

Suddenly I realised it was time to get ready so we all rushed around a bit then headed off - Tony to work and the rest of us to take Caitlin to acting. We got there only a tiny bit late, listening to our current audio CD on the way (Itch, by Simon Mayo. Very suspenseful and funny). We dropped her off then went down to the shops near Croydon library to get a milkshake - which we couldn't find, so we bought some snacks at the Reject Shop and some chocolate milk and yoghurt from Woolworths, and sat near the pond in front of the library to eat and drink. When we were done we went into the library and watched YouTube videos, played on the computer, read books (I read to Millie, and read my own book), borrowed books and DVDs, and had a very relaxing evening. Once the library closed at 8, we popped over to the pizza shop to get pizza for tea, then went back and picked Caitlin up. She's normally starving after acting, even with having a sandwich during her break, so she was thrilled to have pizza waiting for her in the car. We got home about 9.10, and I put all the animals to bed/fed them, cleared the kitchen table, gave LiAM his medicine, got toothbrushes for everyone, then went to lie down and read my book. The kids were playing one of the My Angela mini games on their iPads - a Tetris type game which is quite challenging and I helped them out a couple of times, but between the 3 of them they managed most levels. Eventually they all came into my room, and I read a couple of (very exciting, battle focussed) chapters of Eragon, until I was dozing while I read. Millie was asleep by then and the other 2 went to their beds where Caitlin read Garfield comics to LiAM and they talked and laughed until they went to sleep.