Thursday, November 25, 2010

Just sayin' no.

I should be cleaning the kitchen.

But I don't want to. Instead I'll sit at the table with my tea and pretend my elbow doesn't keep catching on that sticky spot.

Flylady (my online housecleaning guru) lurks in my head, saying waking up to a dirty kitchen is not the way to love myself. But for now, typing, sipping, resting in silence before I go to bed, definitely is the best way to love myself.

We're coming off a week of the flu in our house. All in all it was a mild flu, the quick 24 hour zinger. But in our house the flu always causes Queen lyrics to pop into my head, "and another one's down, another one's down, another one bites the dust...". Predictably it rolled through us all, Seth on Saturday, to Claire, Max and I Monday evening into Tuesday, Troy Thursday, and finally Thane appeared with the sick face tonight.

I've been noticing lately, and it was quite apparent this week, that I'm finally beginning to learn the fine art of opting out.

Although I was feeling mostly better Wednesday, I canceled an afternoon appointment (that realistically I shouldn't have scheduled for that time anyway) so that Claire and Max could have their naps at the usual time, instead of keeping them up, dragging them out, and putting them down late. This meant that I was also able enjoy the peace their naptime brings and give myself more time to really recoup, instead of doing too much too soon.

And it was nice, this saying no.

I always thought I was really good at not overscheduling ourselves and the kids, but I really pared back our activities even more this season. We put a lot of thought into what the kids were signed up for, gave up what still didn't work out, and finally listened to them about what they wanted to do instead of pushing our agendas.

Even though that meant no to an art class that I really thought Thane would love. And he had really shown great improvements at a basketball camp this fall, but he didn't want to continue through the winter. When we realized that Claire was not getting anything out a naptime-conflicting mid-afternoon gymnastics class, we just stopped going. The worst part about that one is that I had already learned that lesson before, back when Thane was two and we quit gymnastics. For the record, free-play and unstructured activities are one thing (we love our babies at the gallery once-a-month class!), but two is not old enough for organized classes. Even Seth's gymnastics class, which at five he does get a lot out of, we've decided is going to the wayside because it is only offered on Sunday afternoons, a time we just find disruptive to an otherwise generally family day.

I was having a hard time pondering whether to sign them up for the next swimming session or not. I generally try to avoid the winter one because it's just too much of a temperature/gear change between the freezing cold outside and winter layers to the muggy pool, returning to the cold van with wet hair and socks and bags of wet towels. My brain said yes though, because post-newborn we didn't do the fall session. My brain went into 'champ mode', thinking how they both have 'missed time' and how they had such good momentum this summer, Seth moving up a couple swim levels and Thane three. I wanted to say no, but sometimes it's seems like such a weighty decision. Then I remembered, for goodness sake, that they're just little! It's not that dire. I'm sure they won't forget how to swim in a few months time.

What started out in response to Maxwell's arrival, to save ourselves the stress of a busy schedule with a new baby, has turned into much more of a good thing than I had imagined. Despite the amount of people in our family, we have a peaceful, generally unhurried life. Right now the boys each have Scouts once a week, their activity of choice that they love dearly, and it's well after supper. One morning a week Claire and Max and I troop out to the library for storyhour, if we feel like it. If we wake up early enough, we attempt to get to church on Sunday.

The kids have time for play, for creativity, for their homework, their sleep, their housework, for each other. We sit and eat together. We have routines.

There really is time for us. We just had to re-discover it. Saying no made way for lots of yes!


  1. Lovely post Victoria.
    I imagine that your little ones probably have so much fun together at home, who needs all the extra structured activity (some is good, but not to the point where it is not fun anymore).

  2. I so agree with this. Less is always more. I'm so social, though, so it's hard for me to say no to friends, but I'm always most happy with a fire in the fireplace and a book on the couch!


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