A good friend of mine has banned glitter in her house. Banned glitter, can you imagine? I like things tidy. I do. But I also adamantly support mess in the pursuit of art. All week, though, I’ve been hearing a lot of “Uh-oh.” Followed by, “Mama, can Millie eat glitter?” There is enough glitter in my toddler’s hair, that if we turned him upside down and gave him a couple of shakes, we’d be able to decorate a few more doilyed red hearts. I have new empathy for my friend’s position.
All this is to say that there has been a lot of deep breathing this week (and, admittedly, several of those long sighs that aren’t fooling anyone). Life is messy. Our life is messy multiplied by 3 children and 1 puppy and 2 parents who really just want to eat cake and watch Downton Abbey.
Yet there is work to be done, which brings me to another cornerstone of my parenting: Rest Stops.
Let me explain. When my school-aged children wake up on a weekday morning, the first thing out of their mouths is, “I don’t want to go to school!” They enjoy school, but when you are warm and cozy, and a little hungry, and look kind of funny from a night of sleep, it is hard to imagine going out into the world beyond your bed. So we don’t talk about “getting ready for school.” We take it one step at a time. First it’s, “Let’s put on some warm clothes,” and then it’s, “A little oatmeal?”, and then, before you know it we’re braiding hair, and daddy’s playing loud music in the kitchen, and we’re putting on boots and heading out the door.
Similarly, when we take a 12-hour car trip, we go little by little (unless we’re on one of those “drive through the night while the kids sleep” marathons–not advisable on a daily basis), stopping before our patience fails us: to move our bodies, rearrange our seats, and take a break from the road. Likewise, I take my day one step at a time, with little rest stops along the way: a morning cup of matcha tea after walking the dog; an after lunch piece of dark chocolate, consumed in the pantry on the sly; a few moments with a good book during quiet time; 4 o’clock espresso or a fine cup of coffee (or two)…
You see, I’ve tried it the other way. I’ve tried to get up and go(!), but by the end of the day I am burned out, the kids are wild, and supper still isn’t made. Taking rest stops in my day replenishes me: physically and mentally. Oh, how I look forward to 4 o’clock! When I’m sitting in the big blue chair, sipping a cup of coffee, I can handle the haze of glitter, and crumbs, and partially chewed puppy toys that is our life because I’m not driving down that road right now.
A rest stop is not for living in, of course, I always know that I’ll soon get up, and find the broom, and rally the children and puppy for a walk. But right now I’m parked, the keys are in my pocket, and it’s just really nice to have a break from the road.