Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A Borrowed Quote

"A loose end - that's what we women call it, when we are overwhelmed by the care of small children, the weight of small tasks, a life in which we fall into bed at the end of the day exhausted from being all things to all people."

Anna Quindlen, "Every Last One"

I've recently started reading again.  I hope to do more of it.  I can't handle anything too serious or too complicated, and I've started to give myself permission to cast aside any novel that I can't get into.  But I do enjoy getting lost in a good story.  I know it's a good one when I can stay awake to read more than a few pages before the words blur, I imagine new sentences, and the weight of my eyelids and the book itself cause the book to fall on the floor.

This is one I've just finished.  Beyond being a mother, the narrator's life doesn't parallel mine, but this was one of several phrases which resonated with me.  Long ago, when I had time for such things, I kept a journal of phrases and ideas from books I'd read that kindled something inside of me, gave me pause to think, made me laugh, or just really made sense.  

Now, I'd just be happy for the chance to read, and maybe join a book club...

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Kindergarten Registration

I’ll be registering Middle for junior kindergarten (JK) this week.  While it’s exciting that she’ll be starting school, making new friends, and learning new things, this is not what excites us most. 

For us, having Middle start school means we’re one step closer to the end of regular child-care payments. 
When I returned to work after my last maternity leave, we chose to employ a live-out nanny to care for our three young children.  Although there are many conveniences and advantages to having someone come to our house to look after our girls, I don’t believe that this is the best option for our children’s development.  It is however, the cheapest option.  My personal preference for child-care is a licensed non-profit child-care centre.   However, besides the frustrations of the wait-list for spots, the daily fees in our local child-care centre would have cost us over $160.  As it is, our family spends about $2500 a month in child-care expenses.  
Unfortunately, our local school doesn’t yet have Full-Day Kindergarten. Although the Full-Day Kindergarten program began to be implemented in Ontario in 2010, the year that Oldest started JK, our school is slated to be among the last of the schools in the province to implement the program.  Provided the Full-Day Kindergarten program isn’t cancelled between now and then, (as suggested by economist Don Drummond in his cost-saving recommendations, but fortunately still supported by the Liberal finance minister Dwight Duncan), Full-Day Kindergarten will be available to our school by the time Youngest is 4, in 2014. 
That means, in 2.5 years, we’ll finally be able to see our child-care costs decrease dramatically.
I don’t like to wish away time.  I don’t really look forward to the days when my little girls are not so little, but I do like to imagine what we could be doing with that extra money every month.  Although, I suppose by the time they we no longer need to pay for child-care, we’ll need to pay for dance classes and costumes, or ski school and equipment, or figure skating lessons, or martial arts, or piano, or…

Monday, 13 February 2012

Love, work and chaos

I made cookies for Valentine's Day for my girls.  Heart-shaped sugar cookies.  Pink, heart-shaped, sugar cookies.  Enough for big sister to take some to school for her class party, and enough for middle and littlest sister to take some to share at the drop-in centre.  Enough that there is a few left at home for the girls to eat later.

I also made heart-shaped toast for Valentine's Day breakfast. 

I love doing these sorts of things for my girls.  My hubby calls it 'being such a mom.'  He means it in an affectionate way, and I'm proud of it too.  I love being a mom.

I love making cut-and-paste Valentines with them.  I love taking them out sledding in the snow.  I love snuggling with them in bed.  I love reading to them (except for Disney princess stories, but that's another post).  I love making play-dough for them.  I love singing to them.  I love dancing with them after dinner.  I love playing with them.  I love listening to them tell stories.  I love colouring with them.  I love hearing them giggle.

But as much as I love being with them, I am comfortable in admitting that being a full-time stay-at-home mom is not for me.  I don't mean to be controversial.  I am fully supportive, and somewhat in awe of those who do it.  But for me, returning to work was about more than just economics.  It was also about my sanity.   I'm really good at looking after my kids, and managing our household.  But while being at home on maternity leave, I learned that I'm not always so good at stepping back to enjoy my children.  It can be hard to break from the housework and the list of all the things I believe need to accomplish, in order to just spend time with my kids. 

So, as terrible as this might sound, spending less time with my children allows me to enjoy them more.  In spite of the dinner to be made, the laundry to be done and the housework that perpetually awaits, I feel as though spending the workdays at the office grants me permission to just relax (a little) when I'm at home.   By allowing myself to let my standards to slide, I can just spend time doing some of the fun mom things that my girls and I love so much.

So let the dinner wait.  I've earned the time to read one more story before starting the spaghetti.  Vacuuming can be put off for another couple of days.  I deserve these moments of love and chaos with my kids.

I love being a (working) mom.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Shampoo, Rinse, Repeat (An average day)

Awake by 6 a.m. (if you're lucky - for the first time that night) when youngest daughter enters room.  Bring her into bed with you, hoping to at least feign sleep for another 30 minutes or so.  Endure the tugging and twisting of your hair by her little fingers while listening to the sound of her sucking her thumb.  Resign to getting out of bed when the second of three daughters also enters room and inquires why the first one gets to sleep in your bed. 

Assist children with getting dressed, brushing teeth, making beds and putting away clothes.  Shower quickly with at least one daughter hanging out in the bathroom.  Get dressed and brush teeth while asking children not to climb on furniture or fight with one another.

Head downstairs to make tea for self, start on breakfast for the children, and await the arrival of the nanny.

Get in car.  Listen to radio.  Drive mindlessly to office.

Arrive at work.  Make more tea and breakfast for self.  Work.  If workload and timing of office arrival versus time of necessary departure from office permit, dash out at mid-day to quickly run errands, buy groceries or cram in a fast workout.  Leave office by 4:50 p.m. in order to get home in time to relieve nanny by 5:30 p.m.

Listen to quick run-down of the day from nanny and children.  Learn who has fought with whom, who has wet their pants, and what they've had to eat.

Begin preparing dinner while asking children not to climb on furniture or fight with one another.  Feed dog.

Eat dinner.  Listen to stories from children, encourage children to eat their vegetables, ask children not to climb on furniture, and attempt mature conversation with husband.

Bath-time.  Assist children with getting dressed into pyjamas, brushing teeth, and putting away clothes.  Read stories.  Sing songs.


Tidy up kitchen.  Put away any toys, markers or craft materials left lying around.  Move laundry from washer into dryer.  Put a load of laundry in the wash.  Walk the dog.

If time and energy permits, attend a yoga class, try to do a self-chosen activity, or watch television or play sport with husband.

Put laundry into the dryer, and put another load in the wash.

Put away clothes.  Climb into bed.  Collapse into sleep.