Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How to date your kids

Lately I've both missed the girlies terribly and felt flustered and frustrated by them all at the same time. It's been close to two months since I finished placement but it still feels like we are trying to find our feet, the girls and I. We all coped through the crazy semester and crossed the finish line with all players still intact, yet we're all a bit different. I, for one, got used to having some new independence, even if that independence came with a nearly constant full schedule of client visits, births, and studying. 

It was the first time in a while that I was out in the world without the responsibility of the girlies and at times that was exactly what I needed after years of parenting young children full-time. I was thrown into a world where I could move about without always calculating how it would impact my children. Of course I was thinking about them throughout the day and I missed them deeply, but I wasn't answering to them in a way that I had become accustomed to. We had neighbours who walked them to school (bless them), a caregiver who picked them up and  made dinner, and of course, another parent home with them all the times that I couldn't be. But I wasn't home running the show all the time and some days it was a good feeling.

The girls too, developed new routines, new ways of moving through their world. When I was back home for bedtimes on a regular basis after my placement ended, Shira started declaring (loudly) that she wasn't used to me and my rules anymore. Papa does it different. (I bet he does, I thought.) While everyone was relieved to have the family together more often, we all had to adjust. There were big feelings all around, more tears than usual, and some ramped up competition over who got to sit in my lap (mostly from the girls, though not exclusively).

Since the first week of May I've been home during the day by myself. The girls and I worked out a new routine for the mornings, I began walking them to school again, but then the day was mine until 3:30. I would work on the course I teach online, read, putter around the house cleaning and fixing things that had been ignored for months. I would be lying if I didn't admit that the past two months have been lovely. Don't hate me. School lets out for summer this week, so this alone time I speak of will be a thing of the past.

In honour of all this time I had on my hands, I decided to spend one day alone with each girlie. To reconnect. To be silly. To eat too much ice cream. As I mentioned above, the girlies spend a good chunk of every waking hour competing for my attention, so a day alone together is a treasure. It was delightful to spend a full day with them without the constant sibling bickering. No competition, no outdoing the other, no raised voices, just the two of us. For Alyce and I it was a chance to talk about some difficult things after a rough year at school. As for Shira, we just played.

So how to do date your kids? If you can swing it, choose a school day, since there are few things better than skipping school. For those of you who gasp at my pulling the kids out of school to eat ice cream, I suggest relaxing. There is life beyond school. If not, a weekend will do, since ice cream tastes like perfection even on a Saturday.

The rest is up to you. I chose to take them out for the full days, filling our time with a mixture of treats (like french fries), crafts (watch out not to let the seven-year-old burn herself on the stove while making paste for paper mache, not that I'm speaking from experience or anything), and playing. I took Alyce to the mall to buy some new earrings and for some lunch, then we had popcorn and a movie at home. For Shira we went to the beach, collected bucketfuls of rocks, and then stopped for lunch on our way home to paint said rocks. While I chose to take each girlie out for lunch, a date day doesn't require any extra money. A picnic on the beach would have blown Shira's mind almost as much as McDonald's did.

The result? Two magical days. I still do bedtime differently than their Papa, but they'll just have to get used to that one.

Be well!

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