A large latte, an interesting book, and some good weather. Sometimes that all it takes to regain some mental sanity in the midst of a stressful week so that I can focus on the things in my life that are genuinely important.The weather was indeed very nice. Despite the time of year it was sunny and the near-cloudless sky was deep blue. It was warm as well, and the kids were itching to get out of the house. So was I, and so after running a few errands we found ourselves at one of our favorite playgrounds.
Not only one of our favorite playgrounds, though. A playground with no one else at it, which is it’s own particular type of bliss. The only conflict that might arise would be between my own children, and I’m fairly practiced at handling that. All told, it was the perfect situation to let the kids wear themselves out exploring and playing while I took a break and opened my book.
Of course I wasn’t neglecting my children. I still paused to observe them from time to time and listen to their imaginations work. The little boys decided to build a “huge volcano” out of sand and were working industriously together without a single disagreement. The bigger kids were running back and forth between different play structures, swinging on monkey bars, climbing, and just generally having fun. T was practicing her climbing skills one some small toddler-oriented ladders and going down slides over and over.
It was peaceful, and that’s something that can be hard to find while managing six children all day, every day.
I didn’t feel guilty about setting them free to play without me. Of course sometimes I do play with them when we go to a playground. T, in particular, likes having me nearby while she explores and experiments, but she’s getting big enough that she doesn’t always need that interaction. The other kids also like it when I join them in their games of imagination, but they too don’t always need it. Indeed, what they need more often is the freedom to explore and play freely, without rules or bounds, and this was the perfect morning for it.
What I needed was a small break from the hectic life of at-home parenting. I needed a little quiet, and some time to let the children do their own things. When I don’t find ways to escape and relax, even in the middle of a day if need be, I often find that I’m not being the parent I need to be. I’m realize that I’m not taking enough interest in the pursuits and learning of my children, I’m not being patient when they’re struggling, and I’m not finding ways to inspire and encourage them. For my sake, just as much as for theirs, I sometimes need to step back and find something to do for myself. Reading does that for me, and coffee can help too.
So on this particular day, my latte, book and the excellent weather helped meet all our needs.