SAH Sanity Tip #5: Leave the House Without the Kids

I already mentioned how important that leaving the house is to maintaining my sanity as a stay at home parent. Most of the time, this involves some kind of outing with the kids. Sometimes, though, I just need to get away from the kids. There are, of course, dates, which my husband and I occasionally try to take (we took a three-day one to New Orleans this summer, so we haven’t had a regular one-afternoon one in awhile). These are very important and great, but they require finding a babysitter and all that goes along with that.

Sometimes, too, I just need time to myself. I don’t remember exactly what brought this to a head last December (right after my husband finished his semester), but my husband realized it before I did, so one evening he sent me out by myself with orders to do something I wanted and not to come back before 8:30 (when the kids should be in bed). It was fantastic. I went to the Hillsborough Yarn Shop, ate dinner at Cracker Barrel while reading my book (the restaurant choice made my husband laugh, but hey, it tasted good and wasn’t too expensive!), then sat and knit and listened to an audiobook at Starbucks until about 9.

It went so well that we did it again last spring (that time I had dinner with some library school friends), and I’m doing it again for several days this month. Our church has a women’s retreat every fall, and I’ve never gone for one reason or another. This year, though, I am going. I’m looking forward to it, and also looking forward to feeling refreshed and ready to tackle daily life anew when I get back.

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Library Books Enjoyed, 10/3/13

The Three Little Pigs Book & CDThe Three Little Pigs Book & CD by Paul Galdone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I vaguely remember Paul Galdone’s name from being a kid, but I didn’t remember, when I picked up this retelling by him, how very no-nonsense his retellings are! Two pigs don’t survive in this version, and neither does the wolf (and my 5 year old’s question was “Did the third pig eat the other two pigs, since they were in the wolf and he ate the wolf?”). Still, the pictures were nicely done, it was a good basic retelling of the folktale, and the kids seemed to enjoy it. Here’s to folktale retellers!

Francis Woke Up EarlyFrancis Woke Up Early by Josephine Nobisso

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An imagined story of Francis of Assisi as a boy, which follows his morning adventure of taking care of the family’s animals while a hungry wolf lingers nearby. It was an enjoyable story, and the pictures were beautiful, but it just seemed to be missing something. Part of my problem was that I thought more would happen after Francis befriended the wolf–one bit of dialog seemed to indicate he would find her more to eat, but he didn’t. That aside, my kids enjoyed reading this several times, especially looking for the wolf’s shadow in the pictures.

The Favorite DaughterThe Favorite Daughter by Allen Say

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Allen Say’s picture books…I’ve loved Grandfather’s Journey since I was a kid, I recently enjoyed Drawing from Memory, and I also remember enjoying Tea With Milk and Alison.

The Favorite Daughter is, like Grandfather’s Journey autobiographical, but it focuses on Say’s daughter Yuriko. We don’t meet her mother, but we can tell that Yuriko feels caught between two worlds, and she comes to a point where she doesn’t want her Japanese name any more. The story follows how she comes to re-appreciate the Japanese side of her heritage, and also grow closer to her father.

I think I liked this more than my kids did…it’s probably a little old for their listening skills right now…but I really did enjoy it, and especially the use of both paintings and photographs for the illustrations.

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Habits and To-Do Lists

I started this post about a month ago, and it was going to be about cutting blogging down to 2 entries a week (from a whopping 3) and trying to write more on other things. I have long since cut the blog post quantity back, and so far I have yet to do any more on the other writing front.

Some of this is due to life–we started our oldest in kindergarten, and adjusting to that schedule and homework (?!) has taken awhile. Also, my husband is in the middle of taking his doctoral qualifying exams (last big thing before writing a dissertation in his program), so he has been super busy at school, and I have been on my own with the kids a little more than usual.

The other thing that happened is that I realized my running to-do list (which I seem to have had some iteration of for about as long as I can remember) was completely stressing me out, so I threw it away. This may not seem completely related to writing more, but it actually is. My modus operandi thus far in life has been to make a list of things I need to do and then try to cross items off the list. I have most recently has 2 or 3 to-do lists going:

  • One “big life goals” or “big year goals” that I keep tucked away and only look at every so often.
  • One “monthly” list that has more concrete things that I would like to do in the next month or two.
  • Either a weekly, “next couple days”, or “this afternoon” list that usually pops up on a Post-It when I really need to prioritize what’s going on.

I can’t imagine why this would stress me out, would you? Oh, I also always have more things on the list than I can possibly get done in the timeframe. And, things like “writing” or “knitting” never seemed to be as important in a to-do list setting. So, as I continue to adjust to our most recent changes, I’m trying not to be so to-do list dependent. Instead, I want to work on cultivating habits. Some habits I have pretty well down:

  • Getting everyone out of the house on time. (This is a new accomplishment, but school is a great motivator!)
  • Making dinner every day.
  • Keeping up with laundry enough to ensure clean clothes all around.

None of these are surprising, I’m sure, as most adults have some form of these daily life habits well worked out. There are some other habits, however, that I haven’t really ingrained yet, and I want to focus more on them going forward:

  • Write something every day.
  • Pray and read the Bible every day.
  • Choose my activities intentionally:  There are still things that need to get done, after all, so I still need to choose some housework that needs doing each day and focus on the work at hand. This also means paying attention to how much time I spend on the computer (and doing what!), which is my real time waster these days, and deciding when I’m going to fit in things like writing and Bible study.
  • Rest better. (By which I mean, go to bed earlier when I need to, don’t make every minute frantic with “to-do” worry, and choose to spend some time in activities I enjoy.)

I’m hoping that moving from a “to do” list mindset to a “habit forming” mindset, I will be a little less stressed by the daily hustle and bustle that we all live with. I’m not completely giving up on lists–sometimes a short one is still the best way for me to organize my plan of action–but I’m trying not to let them rule me quite so much. And, who knows? Maybe I’ll get that extra writing time in eventually.