Welcome to the March 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Day in the Life
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have given us a special glimpse into their everyday.
Since I’m always wondering where the time goes, I was thrilled to have a reason in this month’s blog carnival to account for it!
First, my family vitals:
Ages: Husband & me – early 40s. Kids: 4.5 and almost 9
School: Me: MAs in English and Women’s Studies. Background in teaching high school English. Respect and am in awe of homeschoolers but am not one! Kids: 3rd grade and Montessori pre-K at the same public magnet school, the only Expeditionary Learning school in our state. (Yes, she goes all day at a young age.)
Work: Husband crunches numbers and is the breadwinner. Even though I’ve got my hands in lots of things and want to be a working-at-home mom, I have to call it like it is for now: I’m a SAHM. Pre-kid I was a public high school teacher and post-kid a private school tutor for 6 years but not anymore as I try to make a go of some editing consulting and build a website business all the while doing lots of volunteer work and spending an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen and trying to improve my health, something I could not do if I had a regular job.
It probably seems like a pretty sweet deal that, most days, my husband takes our kids to school at about 7:45, and the bus brings back to the neighborhood at 3:00. Sounds like a ton of time to myself, doesn’t it? Yes, I am privileged that I don’t have to clock in anywhere or to do the school shuttling duty more than a few times most weeks.
However, when you have to cook all of your food from scratch using a very few ingredients (to which it would not be fair to restrict the rest of your family), you are effectively making six meals a day, which is a lot of time a whole lotta dishes!
Why so high-maintenance? I’ve been gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free since 2004, and that shift, I believe, was a huge part of my overcoming Graves’ Disease (autoimmune hyperthyroidism), regaining my fertility and being able to go on to have two healthy pregnancies. However, as I’ve gotten older and dealt with the strain that comes from nursing for five years with a body that had already flirted with adrenal fatigue and on the verge of flared Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (autoimmune hypothyroidism – I have both diseases, as well as Celiac), and with a gut turns out to have more sensitivities that I imagined, I am on a constant quest to figure out the next thing that might help me feel better.
Because feeling well – in body, mind and spirit – is essential to being a decent parent. And for me, it’s a lot of work!
“Feeling better” for me means to not be so overwhelmed that planning and going on a three-hour outing with my kids overwhelms me. Or not being so fatigued that I can’t think about walking more than 30 minutes lest I use up all my energy for the day. Those markers have improved a lot in the past several months to two years.
But I still can’t do a simple overnight or an all-day outing without paying for it. And I still am working to figure out: why my psoriasis won’t clear up, why I have to work so hard to keep my elimination regular, why my face turns red and hot sometimes when eat or even if I’m cooking with hot oil and poor ventilation, why I’m so sensitive to the smallest amount of perfume or chemical that going into a craft store makes me feel ill and going into a pool is not an option. How can I increase my endurance and boost my immune system?
There’s also some structural stuff: ever since my homebirth/HBAC in 2010, I’ve had issues with my c-section scar affecting other tissue, and with abdominal separation. If I did exercises every morning and saw my physical therapist more often than once in a blue moon, I could consider someday being able to run again, if I felt energetically up to it.
I miss running more than I can say. It was my meditation. It cleared my head and gave me joy. But without strengthening my core integrity, I’m a prime candidate for jogging to lead to injury or prolapse. So bolstering my strength really ought to be part of my everyday routine if I want to pay it forward and maybe be able to do Girls on the Run with my daughter by the time she’s in 3rd grade … in four or five years!
But there is so much to take care of in the immediate…
Here’s how life looks for me most days.
It would be great for me to work on my core at least five times a week. I am lucky if I do it once.
For a while, I was getting up at 5:30 or 6:00 in order to do yoga or, when I was feeling good, 20 minutes on an elliptical before the kids got up. But in the winter, that’s gotten harder to make happen! Still, it’s essential for me to move before I eat to get things going in my GI tract.
I start cooking at 6:40ish for breakfast to start by 7:15.
I used to eat with the kids, but now that I am trying The Paleo Mom’s “Paleo Approach” or Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP), I’m not eating eggs, nuts or any grains in addition to no nightshades (including potatoes and tomatoes) or sugars.
So I no longer join them for (soaked) oatmeal or eggs or pancakes with almond flour. I don’t even eat the Applegate Chicken Maple sausages I usually make for them if I don’t have any from a farmer. (But if Hormel buys Applegate, we will go exclusively local!)
Instead I have bone broth (which they usually have with some peas) and green veggies and leftover meat. So that’s at least three pans on the stove!
If we’re running late, I wait until they leave before I eat, but this usually is a bad idea because I spend too much time cleaning and then get too hungry! Plus, I like to eat with as a family. But it’s tough to pull off.
I’ve now got my son filling his and his sister’s water bottles for the day. I usually prep their lunches the night before, but sometimes I have to finish in the morning.
Right now we are not taking a lot of supplements, but when my kids are sick or when my son is fighting seasonal allergies, we load up on vitamins and herbs and homeopathic remedies, which also takes some time.
Once the kids are gone…
Some days for just 15 min, sometimes for close to two hours, if it’s been a while! We are not neat freaks in our daily life, and sometimes things just get out of hand!
And the kitchen is never done!
I often have a meeting or a phone call related to some school or volunteer thing – my Holistic Moms chapter, outdoor classroom at school, spring school fundraiser, school t-shirt contest, countywide school gardening initiatives, school wellness committee, county school health advisory board, county school environmental health & asthma subcommittee, regional outdoor education alliance or participation in a local health/wellness event or the Virginia Mama Summit with Moms Clean Air Force when I brought my kids with me to the Virginia General Assembly.
Or I might have actual work for an editing client or something related to the Mindful Healthy Life, the website I’m building to connect natural-minded families to local DC-area resources. The latter could include writing, social media, responding to emails, adding listings or trying to cast around for people to help me make my dream a reality!
I keep thinking I will work on my novel or on submitting pieces to literary magazines, but that hasn’t happened on a weekday in a while!
Lunch is as much of a production as anything else. One of the reasons my daughter went to public school at age 3 was because I honestly could not handle having lunch with her every day. I simply cannot digest when I’m stressed, which is why I also can’t stand potlucks. I cannot eat standing and talking to people, or really even sitting and talking to people when I might have to run up to get my kid something or take care of something or ugh, I just eat at home before the event and then come home and either go to bed hungry or eat too late after the event.
Anyway, most days I cook a full meal and eat it in a quiet house. I try to eat mindfully but usually read something at the same time – only on paper, never on a screen.
Then I clean up. Again.
I try to take care of myself.
Usually once a week or every two weeks, I have an appointment with some kind of healthcare practitioner including physical therapy, chiropractic. I haven’t been seeing an acupuncturist but want to. I have had a few massages, craniosacral sessions and Emotional Freedom Technique sessions here and there. I have a friend who is a health coach who is working with me on my diet and metabolism. I’m seeing my doctor soon for the first time in a while after having had to see her a lot last year for a series of infections and more acute adrenal issues.
It would do me a lot of good to meditate, but I resist sitting down for fear I won’t want to get back up! That’s a work in progress.
Sometimes I take a bath in magnesium flakes, and that seems to help my skin and to help me calm, too.
I clean some more.
Laundry and kitchen are the prime suspects here. My floors get swept daily, vacuumed sometimes and the hardwood cleaned once in a while. But even though my standards are kind of low, all the clutter and paper consumes a lot of time. Especially with a daughter who loves her some scissors.
As for me and my stuff, I’m trying to weed things out and am making some progress. I just decided that this summer we are going to have a home scrapbook camp for one week and deal with all the random photos and artifacts (and I will try to get digital scrapbooks started too).
I plan for the afternoon & evening
If my kids have a class in the afternoon that will have me away from the home during prime dinner-making time, I have to cook right when they get home or prep for right after we get home from the activity. I had a few good weeks of a crockpot, but whatever I can eat just doesn’t go over as well that way, and it’s no fun to prep some ahead and then also have to make a lot of other food, especially when considering the leftovers I need for the kids’ lunches the following day.
After my kids get off the bus at 3:00, we walk up the hill back home where they chill for a little bit and then want to snack for a lotta bit. I clean their lunch containers and start to prep dinner while they snack. My son does homework and right now we have only one day a week when we don’t have somewhere to be. The activities this winter are martial arts Monday & Wednesday 4:30-5:45, piano Thursday 4:00-4:30 and gymnastics Friday 4:30-5:15. Fortunately, they are all within a mile of our house. Who knows what spring will bring with baseball and I’m not sure what all else we will or won’t do.
It’s no fun to feel overscheduled, so we skip if we need to. But I do like to stay busy when it’s cold outside. The kids don’t get screen time on weekdays, and I’m usually so busy cooking that I rarely feel like I can stop and just play or be with them if I’m not successful at getting them to help cook.
Spring will be a different story; I hope I can just tell them to go play outside. We did a big renovation a while back, and for over a year had no real safe yard for them (it was full of construction debris and just clay!), so we got in more indoor habits, but I hope going forward they will make more outdoor fun. And there will be the garden to tend to soon enough!
My son also has the ALF orthodontic appliance which needs an adjustment once a month, and then he needs to see an osteopath or craniosacral therapist within the week. These days I pick up my kids from school early or right after school and have them play until the appointment. You know I’d better come packing snacks!
See above re: dinner. Often it’s cauliflower, potatoes and sweet potatoes, a green veggie , some kind of meat, salad. And there’d better be enough for the lunches the following day, which I try to pack even before I put dinner on the table or else while I’m cleaning up.
My husband is usually home for dinner around 6ish, but not much earlier. One of us usually cleans up while the other gets kids started on pjs and teeth. Lately he reads to my daughter while I read to my son, and lights are off around 7:45 most days.
I tend to get back on the computer to field any emails that came in after 3 p.m. (often related to school and volunteer stuff, or kid activities or appointments, but sometimes personal) and sometimes check back with Facebook, which tends to be where I learn about a lot of local news and a variety of things I want to check out and so open yet another tab on Chrome until none of them have any icons anymore.
If my husband is lucky, I will close the lid on my laptop by 8:45 in the hopes of talking to him, but then I usually remember something I forgot to check and need to know before we can discuss the next evening or the weekend or the next week: if we need to get a sitter for an hour so I can get to a PTA meeting or set up at Holistic Moms and or go to a book reading or and if none of those dates conflict with him wanting to go to a concert or a dinner with friends.
For my health, I ought to go to bed by 9 p.m. It’s often closer to 10, but never after 11. I used to thrive as a night owl, especially when I knew my child would wake around 12 or 1 a.m., so I’d just wait until then to go upstairs. I got so much writing done, and thinking and breathing! But now I’ve gotten clear that my body cannot handle late nights. I don’t follow a lot of Ayurveda in terms of diet or herbs, but I do believe the ancient medicine is right about early sleep and no food after 7 p.m.
I take magnesium and spray on magnesium oil before bed and have been sleeping better since I started that. Good sleep improves everything!
Some people in my life occasionally tell me, “I don’t know how you do so much.” Yet most of the time I really feel like I get hardly anything done besides feeding myself and my children. I do feel it’s necessary for me to pursue things I care about and feel really good when that effort leads to positive effects in my community. True, I don’t get my kids to cook with me as much as I’d like or if I ignore them more than I’d like while I’m doing stuff around the house or working on something for my site or for a volunteer commitment. I’d like to do better on those fronts.
But I am at least here for them most of the time, and I am modeling taking care of my body. I have to hope that they are getting some positive messages about living healthfully and also pursuing one’s passions.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon March 10 with all the carnival links.)
- A Day as Mama and Data Manager — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook explains what she actually does as data manager of a social science research study, as well as Mama to a baby and a fourth-grader.
- Pictures of a Day — A photo montage of a typical day in the life of Life Breath Present! You can see how she wakes up and spends her time in quiet, to Baby Boy sleeping at dinner, making natural products, and so much more!
- Escaping a Mekong cityscape for a slice of rural life — It’s often necessary for Nathalie of Kampuchea Crossings to escape the heady concrete jungle that Phnom Penh is rapidly becoming, for the calmer environment of rural life.
- Community-schooling — Dionna at Code Name: Mama and her family don’t *home*school, they *community* school!
- A day in the Life in La Yacata — Read how Survivor and her family at Surviving Mexico Adventures and Disasters spend their Sundays off-grid in rural central Mexico.
- Day in the Life of the Cole Family — Stoneageparent details the everyday life of her family through twelve photos taken over twelve hours
- The Days Are Just Packed — Holly at Leaves of Lavender talks about the beauty and simplicity of daily life with a toddler.
- A Day In The Life of a Heavily Pregnant Naturally Parenting Mama — At 37 weeks pregnant, Sam Vickery of Love Parenting shares her current reality as she naturally parents her four-year-old and awaits her sweet baby.
- My Life in Pictures on a Random Day — Donna at Eco-Mothering captures a random winter day in Rhode Island through a series of snapshots. What seemed boring at first made her smile in the end.
- How One Book Inspired Our Whole Day: A Day in the Life — How to plan the whole day with a toddler after reading one book together from Rachael at B is for Bookworm.
- A day in the life of an unschooling, work-at-home family — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares a picture journey through a typical day with three little homeschooling boys.
- Day in the Life of a Toddler — From mess making to cleaning up to trying new things, All Natural Katie shows the life of a toddler.
- Things I have done today (and every other day for the past seven years) — Marija Smits shares what a ‘normal’ day looks like in her crazy world of kids, writing, creativity and household chores!
- Just Another Wednesday — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shares a glimpse into a typical Wednesday in her family’s life.
- Day in the Life — Dr Sarah at Good Enough Mum gives us glimpses of her life as a British GP and mum.
- Our days, these days — Dietary restrictions and health issues take a lot of time for Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama, but she still follows her passions and tries to show up for her kids.
- A (Typical) Day in Our Life — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings describes a typical day with two kids, eight cats and two dogs.