Sunday, October 16, 2011

Introducing...the boys

I am the very lucky mama of two boys...a gregarious, always busy four-year-old named Finn and a snuggly, curious nineteen-month-old named Emmett. I'm getting a huge kick out of watching them play together; it seems they are more interactive every day and that they sincerely care about each other. My greatest wish is that they will be good friends throughout their lives.

This blog is not, however, specifically about my boys (though like most moms who blog I could find plenty to say). My emphasis here is on hobbies and balance and perspective and all that good stuff. So a few thoughts on how parenting fits with keeping up on my personal interests:
  • Babywearing
I could write for days about how much better my mothering has been because of the number of babywearing pieces I use. I own three different slings, two wraps, a mei tai, and an Ergo carrier, and I have used them all with great frequency for both boys, from birth on up. As far as hobbies go, I have the most luck with babywearing options that allow me to wear the child on my back - either a wrap worn on the back (like this) or the Ergo.  As of late, it's more often the Ergo, mostly because of Emmett's size. I will leave it to other websites to discuss the social and emotional benefits of babywearing; for purposes of this blog, I'll just say that babywearing allows me to do both things that I love (cooking, taking photographs) and things that need to get done (grocery shopping, laundry).
  • Involve your kids
Finn helps me cook.  A lot. And it is not always helpful.  Sometimes it makes things take longer and even messes things up. But the long term benefits are obvious to me, from taking an interest in cooking (he consistently tells people he wants to be a baker when he grows up) to learning about following directions to wolfing up dishes he helped prepare. He also helps me with my sewing machine; his official job is to drop the presser foot before I begin sewing and to pick up the presser foot when I am finished. It's a supremely insignificant task, but it makes him feel like a part of what I am doing.
  •  Use the time you have
It sounds silly, but I am most successful in having time to do my hobbies when I use the time I have to do my hobbies. I'll say up front that our house is not one of those houses where both kids nap synchronously for three hours every day and I duck into my studio for some me time. For one, there is no studio; for another, I haven't seen a three hour silent stretch in a long time. But that doesn't mean that I don't get a lot done.

When I was working as a school librarian, my schedule was extremely choppy:  see a class, have a fifteen minute break, do a few checkouts, have a twenty minute break, see two more classes, etc.  I was most successful at work when I took advantage of those breaks, as little as they were, and attempted to accomplish something during that time. It is much the same in my house. The time I have may come in strange segments but minutes are minutes and you have to use what you've got. I might prep dinner then play a few rounds of Candyland then knit a few rows while the boys play together then read a few books then work a bit more on dinner then take the boys for a walk. Once the kids are in bed, I have longer stretches to do my things, and I take full advantage of those times.

One final note: I claim no expertise. My best advice is to try a lot of things and see what works for you and your family. And when that stops working (as it will, as your kids grow and their needs change), try something else. That's basically my parenting philosophy in a nutshell, to be perfectly fair. Just don't forget to have fun; otherwise, what's the point?

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