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I recently wrote about a disconnection between Arlo and myself, and the fact that I wasn’t feeling particularly happy with the ‘Stay at Home Parent’ role.
I actually wanted to be anywhere but home. It wasn’t fun at all. And any time I did try to think outside the box, do something different in an attempt to pull Arlo and I out of our respective funks, I was rewarded with more tantrums and protests than usual, that in turn leaving me with a distinct sense of disappointment and a resolve not to bother again.
This month, I have eagerly handed over the parenting reigns to Sam at every opportunity. I spent a weekend seeing friends. I spent most weekends working whilst Sam did all the child wrangling.
My mind definitely seems to be in conflict about the whole Stay at Home thing at the moment. I signed Arlo up for a fourth morning at preschool, because having a whole day to fill on both Mondays and Fridays seemed too much. But I felt sad about it, because the plan all along had been for Mondays and Fridays to be our chance to have fun days, like it used to be before preschool was even part of our life. Signing him up for another day at preschool was declaring a failure on the Monday/Friday funday idea. Admitting that I can’t force fun onto him, and that maybe a bit more breathing space is just the best option for now.
But I was still craving the fun times. I thought I needed time away from parenting. Actually, what seems to be helping most is spending more time with Arlo.
Running my own business in my spare time means that, in my busy periods, weekends aren’t really weekends. Most of our time is spent separated – Sam taking the children out for walks whilst I catch up with my work at home. But in the time I don’t spend with them, I miss them. Sunday evening rolls around far too quickly, and I realise that Sam and I have hardly spoken all weekend, let alone Arlo and I.
So, this weekend I made a change. Despite it being my busiest time of year, I ignored all work on Saturday. We spent a really low-key day shopping in Croydon, we were together all day, and Arlo was happy. In the afternoon, as the day grew dark, we settled in our living room for a family night in. I wanted to make the most of the opportunity to reconnect with Arlo, and so I popped to our local Tesco to make sure that our family time involved some of his favourite things – Malteasers, popcorn, and a snacky dinner in front of the TV.
What you see below is the result of me playing around with my new camera’s remote access features. I have felt so busy/lazy recently that I could not even be bothered to put on decent clothes or brush my hair for photos that I knew would be going on this blog. But in spite of my unashamed slovenliness, I really quite like the resulting time-lapse effect of our family afternoon together.
For the first time in a while, I greeted the start of the week with a brighter sense of positivity. I’m really glad that I seized the opportunity to spend quality time with Arlo this weekend, and that he was receptive to having a good time. Sam and I have both noted that Arlo has been in a much better mood in the last week, and I am quietly hoping that we might have turned a corner.
I have also made a new resolution for my own sake. There is no longer pressure for Mondays to be funday Mondays. If someone is not in the mood, that’s fine. But it’s my one full day with Arlo, and so I’ve decided that on Mondays, I forget about work. It doesn’t matter how behind I am, who has emailed me, how long the to-do list is. It can all wait until Tuesday. For one day a week – no more juggling childcare and work, no more guilt that I should be doing one thing more than the other. On Mondays, there is no worrying that I’m going to look back and realise I’ve missed out on precious time with my children. For one day a week, I am just doing the Stay At Home parent thing, and the rest can wait.
We might not be having fun, but at least nothing is getting done ….or something like that.