A Day — and a Room — For Me

When you’re a mom, a daughter, an employee, a business owner, and an individual, it’s easy to get pulled in a million directions. And sometimes what’s a priority for one part of you conflicts with what’s a priority for another part of you. That was my life this week (and, if I’m honest, has been my life for a while now!).

This week felt like about three weeks rolled into one. And yet I still feel like I didn’t get much done. I was busy with set-up and break-down of Teacher Appreciation activities, which had me at Avery’s school a bit more than usual — and ate into some of my free time. I was trying to catch up and build a surplus of work-from-home hours for my day job. I received disappointing news and good news with my book business, which had me up and down and trying to reach out to people. I was getting the ball rolling with my grad school application. I was brainstorming and researching to figure out how to help Avery with his impulse control issues and his struggles with the divorce. And I was trying to stay on top of household tasks, while also working on cleaning up the library.

*phew*

I could really use a day off. And, with this being Mother’s Day, I would have the perfect opportunity for one. But instead, since I don’t really know how to relax, I’ve decided to use today to work on the library. Not because I want to clean and organize, but because I have wanted this room for quite some time. And while the furniture we bought for it has been set up, way too much clutter has already invaded the room, and it’s a mess. This room, in my mind, is going to be a bit of a haven. Yes, I have to share it with the kids when they’re around, but when they’re in bed, I envision myself reading and writing and working in this room. But before that can happen, it has to be neat.

This morning I plan on working to clear up the clutter. Then I’m heading down to Ikea to pick up a few more bookshelves and a few more supplies. Tonight I’ll put the bookshelves together and, time permitting, I will start filling them up and putting things where I want them. I have ideas (don’t I always?), and I’m hoping they’ll work out as I imagine. The final piece of the puzzle — moving my chaise into the room — will unfortunately have to wait. I don’t have a clear path through which to move it! I have to clear up other areas of the house before I can move that piece of furniture. But if I can get everything else set up, I’ll be happy.

Will it all happen today? Probably not. But I’m going to do my best. And, once it’s complete, I’ll be able to check off one big thing from my goals this month. But that’s not the real goal. The most important thing is having a room where I can work, be with my kids, and just be myself. Who knows what will come from a room made for dreams?

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A Little Crazy

What an exhausting week! I don’t know if it was the attempt to go (mostly) screen-free, the fact that I was busy with Teacher Appreciation Week prep, the kids not behaving, or just life — but it was a crazy week! OK, let’s take this step by step…

I have definitely been busy this week, between trying to get things wrapped up for Teacher Appreciation Week (which is my fault, I know), trying to get the ball rolling for grad school, going on a field trip with Avery’s class, and attempting to stay on top of everything else. My brain is frazzled from being pulled in a million directions! Add to that the fact that I’ve had less time to take care of everything because of screen-free week, and I’m about ready to collapse! Why did screen-free week mean I had less time? Because….

Screen-free week is tough! OK, for me I had to have some screen time because I was waiting for responses and needed to communicate with people, and I had to stay on top of assorted responsibilities. But I definitely cut back considerably, and I cut out Netflix and Hulu completely. The biggest challenge, though, was with Avery. Avery loves screen time. He feels lost without it. Which means that if he didn’t have his normal screen time, I had to play with him. I didn’t really mind playing with him, but I usually take the time that he’s distracted to get other things done. So not having that time messed me up, especially during a week that I had so much going on. I really could have used that free time!

*Deep Breath*

OK, so the week is coming to a close. Screen-free week ends tonight, and I told the kids we would watch a movie tonight as a return to normalcy. But, despite the challenges, I don’t regret attempting to go screen-free. Both Avery and myself had been relying on it way too much, and we needed the break. Moving forward we both need to limit our screen interactions. That being said, I did learn some things:

  • Avery is at a loss when he can’t have a screen. I already kind of knew this, but I realized I need to help him learn how to (1) find other things to do, (2) become more self-sufficient without a screen, and (3) play. Avery’s version of playing often involves throwing, hitting, kicking. Fine when he’s outside playing soccer or baseball. Not so fine when we’re inside the house and he’s picking up random things and throwing them. His impulse control is sorely lacking, but I also think his brain is just moving too fast for his body to keep up. I need to work with him to slow him down so he can actually process what’s going on and make better choices.
  • Emily is fine either way! She doesn’t seem to care much one way or the other if she has a screen. This doesn’t surprise me, as she’s never been one to go for the electronic toys as much, and she’s usually happy either playing with her animals, making a puzzle, coloring, or some other quiet, easygoing task.
  • For me, some tasks are way too boring without a screen! I have gotten into the habit of multi-tasking with screens. I will have a TV show or movie running while I do tedious or monotonous tasks. It was hard going back to the time before I did this, when some tasks would nearly make me fall asleep!
  • I need to reset my defaults. As with Avery having screen time as his automatic entertainment default, I was using it as a diversion and time-killing default. I would have a screen while eating breakfast, a screen while getting work done, a screen while the kids were playing outside. I’ve been using screens too often to fill up those little bits of time that sneak into our days, and yet I would complain that I didn’t have time to read (I’ve checked out books from the library, renewed them, and still not gotten through more than a chapter or two). If I can keep the screen off, perhaps my mind can slow down a bit, and I can catch up on other things. It’s going to take more than a week to really get there, though.

I’ve read that some people, having experienced the screen-free week challenge, will opt to keep it going. They will, perhaps, choose to go screen-free during the school or work week, and only have screens from Friday evening through Sunday evening. While an interesting concept, I don’t know if my family could do that. Avery truly does love his screen time, and while we do need to cut back overall, that is truly what he enjoys doing. So I think at this point I just need to evaluate when and how much screen time is appropriate, and go from there.

As this crazy week comes to a close, I have a lot to figure out. I also need to catch up on rest! Unfortunately I have more ideas and research than I have time, and I have to figure that out, too! I see many more crazy weeks in my future…