Sometimes it’s important to celebrate the fact that we didn’t do something. I don’t mean harmful or negative stuff, though, yes, it’s good to give yourself a pat on the back when you choose the high road. What I mean is the things I chose not to do because I chose calm instead.
Long ago, I earned myself the reputation of trying to do too many things. It’s been an issue at least since high school. It’s not like I was a super high achiever but that I always wanted to pursue more than I had the ability to follow through on. That’s bad when you’re trying to heal your body from chronic illness, and it’s bad when you’re trying to start a business!
A while back, I started noting to my husband, “By the way, tonight there was a (fill in the blank of healthy living event) and I’m not attending.” I wanted credit from him for exercising caution, for not over-doing. I’ve stopped feeling bad for missing Holistic Moms Moms Nights Out and have pretty much decided something that happens in the evening has to be unique and amazing or else super important to my life and my kids’ lives for me to attend.
Where the line has been fuzzier is about the kids. Will it benefit them to go to take this class or go to this evening activity at school? Probably. But will it also cause some challenges? Probably again.
A few weeks ago, my daughter came home from school wearing a sticker on her shirt about Fall for the Arts night, a new evening activity I didn’t know much about. She really wanted to go; my son did not. It was a nice day, and both played outside a lot, so a super early didn’t happen. But little girl still wanted to go, so we did, late, missing the first activity, catching the last bit of the second and joining everyone in the library for a storytime that was really lovely. I was glad we went, she and I. And my son probably needed to stay home with his dad, and that was fine.
Last night there was another school event, an evening with two activities to exemplify what Expeditionary Learning is. Would it have been nice to experience that for myself? Sure. And for my kids to better understand why the school does things the way it does, and how it’s different from other places? Probably. But still, that’s kinda late to be out at night, the first week off of Daylight Savings Time, or what I call Global Darkening.
My son was game to go when I asked him about EL night while his sister was in dance class, but otherwise, neither kid had it on his/her radar. There were no stickers, no pleading to go. My husband was going to be out, so leaving one at home or going as a family of four were not going to happen.
I didn’t relish the idea of getting home at 8:00 to solo-parent both kids who would probably complain of hunger they wouldn’t have if we’d stayed home. If we didn’t go, I could probably have them in bed long before that. Plus, there was an 8:00 virtual call for Femworking, a networking group I’m in. I had never made it onto the call, which used to be at 7:00 when I don’t feel comfortable steeling off to the basement to get on a Google hangout while the kids give my husband a hard time through bedtime. So I thought it might be nice to make it this time, especially since he wasn’t home.
In addition to the school event, there was also a great panel at the Burke/Springfield HMN chapter on alternatives to public school that might have been nice to have in my pocket if middle school proves disastrous. But it was too late to take the kids, and, in truth, I would have been going to network for a post for my site and to second-guess my decisions about school more than I would have been there to feel inspired and empowered, which I’m sure most of the attendees were.
So that event I wrote off, but I still thought we might try to event at our school. Maybe we could just do the first half, leaving at 7:15? I got dinner ready early enough that we could have gone, but it was proving to be a nice evening, and I just didn’t want to mess that up to go out into the pitch-black night.
How many times have I said to myself, “We have got to stop doing x/scale back/get them to bed on time no matter what?” A ton. I know enough about the ideas of Simplicity Parenting to guide me toward the easier path, but I also love learning and doing and often privilege those. But Fear of Missing Out is not exactly the highest value I want to instill in my kids.
I put the week in context: I knew the following evening would be busy with soccer practice and me taking my daughter to a lantern walk. And the next day would be long, with an afterschool class keeping the kids at school until 4:00. I decided staying home was money in the bank. So partway through dinner, I quietly told my son I thought we should just stay home. He was cool with it, and his sister was none the wiser.
You know what happened? With no rushing, my daughter finished every last bit of the dinner I’d given her, including all her soup, which she actually called soup. I tend to call it broth, which happened to have peas and carrots in it. But she embraced it as soup. Granted, it took her forever and included sucking rice noodles up a metal straw. It went on so long that her brother and I didn’t stay at the table the whole time; he read on the couch, I dealt with dishes while chatting with my chewing daughter. Not ideal, but it worked.
In fact, it was nice. It was calm. No one got mad. Starting early and having no timetable other than the virtual call in the back of my mind at 8:00, we had a pleasant evening together. I remembered a little late that my son really needed to shower, and his sister wanted to as well. So that revved them up a bit and set us back 10 or 15 minutes, but they were still in bed with lights out at 7:42. As I type it is almost 11 hours later, and I’m hopeful that the silence means they had good nights.
I did. I got on the call and 1) conquered my fear of Google hangout, which I’d never done 2) met a really cool person and 3) had some great conversations. It was inspiring, and though it made turn off my computer an hour later than is my target, I was still lights out by 10:05 and up just after 5:00 to journal, exercise, do some yoga, and write.
Here it is 6:44 a.m., time to start breakfast. Though I may have a twinge of regret when I see photos about last night’s event or hear how fun it was, I’m sticking with celebration for not going and prioritizing simplicity and ease for my kids.
Posted for real at 6:54 a.m. Edits & links came later.
Day 1: Writing To-Do List: Making it Public
Day 2: Why I Feel Better, Part 1: Diet & Supplementation
Day 3: What Life Sounds Like Now
Day 4: Big Kids Are Better Than Babies
Events! I just got notified from our school about a school musical that every elementary kid has a part in on December 10th at 7 p.m. I know full well we’ll have to be there early and with the baby, I’m not sure how we’re going to work this. The last time they had a night event, we went and it crushed our week trying to get up the next morning for school. We live pretty far from school (private school) so it’s really tough to do nighttime activities. I’ve said “no” to so many of the school’s events, I feel like I have to go and just be thankful it’s on a Thursday and we’ll have the weekend to recuperate from getting up early on Friday morning.
I hope it works out for you, Holly! So tough when baby is involved (that’s not in my life but is in the novel I’m working on!) Thursday definitely feels easier to swallow than other days of the week. I don’t want to be a stickler and totally inflexible or to miss fun stuff, but if you read Nurture Shock, the research says even messing just a little with sleep schedules can really have a negative effect.