Our Mindful Life

Our Mindful Life: January 2012

Our Mindful Life

Our Mindful Life is about paying attention to what it is that we do on a day to day basis and how we impact each other and the planet. We will talk about all of the things that we do here at home to make ourselves and the world a better place.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Craftily Parenting

Welcome to the January 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Experiments in Natural Family Living
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have reported on weeklong trials to make their lives a little greener and gentler. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I’m good at taking care of people. The sick, the hungry, the young, the old, those with special needs – bring them on.  I’ve spent years honing my relationship and communication skills.  I am good at taking care of people.  Other people, that is.  Myself, well, that can be another story.

My laundry is always sitting in a basket while the kids have neatly organized closets and a baby naps in my bed.  I eat my waffles cold while the kids have theirs cut in just the right size bites with their choice of dipping sauce, on or beside, and could I just get a wipe for their hands before I sit down.  And of course, the baby is yelling for more bites in his mouth and less in mine.  I can put myself last on my list while everyone else accomplishes their to-dos.  I can take on babysitting for a friend while I try my best to figure out how to get my house cleaned for an event.

While packing for our holiday trip this week, late in the afternoon before we were supposed to be leaving, the baby peed on my jeans.  My only jeans.  They had to be washed and dried before we could leave, while I wore my jammie pants around the house.   Then, when we had a near miss with the jammie pants, I realized that I was one accident away from having nothing left to wear or pack for our trip.  Perhaps I did need a second pair of jeans and pajamas after all.

So, yes, taking care of myself can be hard for me.

And then I got this call for the Carnival of Natural Parenting, and this month’s assignment is to run an experiment in natural living or natural parenting – do something you don’t normally do to be more environmentally friendly or a more natural parent, for at least a week.  And you know, that is a tall order for our family.  There was a whole list of possibilities to get people thinking – and my husband and I laughed about the list because there wasn’t much on there that we felt we could do that we weren’t already doing.  So, what would our experiment be?

Fast forward a few days to me in my rocking chair, crying to my husband.  I’ve got a teething baby who won’t detach from me for more than a few moments at a time.  I’ve got a husband who is completely overwhelmed by a class and working at it every spare waking moment.  I’ve got two children who are awaiting the magic of Christmas and all of the things that go with it.  And I’m drowning in the stress of taking care of my home, my children, my husband, my baby, and – oh yeah, myself!  In crying and talking about how much I was struggling, the words came out of my mouth, “I just want to sit down and work on my Christmas gifts, and relax for a few minutes and it seems like every little thing that comes up is something that I have to deal with before I can do what I really want to do!”  And it sank in.  I have not only given up my night out of the house for a baby who can’t handle either me being away from him or him being away from home at that time of night.  I had given up my one daily reprieve of knitting, crafting, and creativity.  I had given up my ONE LAST THING that I do because I enjoy it.  I was putting myself last on my list AGAIN.  Because it is obviously more important to have my house sparkling and the lunch dishes off the table than it is for me to get the Christmas gifts made – because I ENJOY the making of the Christmas gifts.  Or, is it?

And suddenly, my experiment revealed itself to me in a brilliant flash.  For at least a week, and hopefully longer than that, I would make getting in an hour of crafting a PRIORITY every day.  I would do it because taking the time to do something I enjoy makes me a better mom.  It makes me a better wife.  It makes me a better person. 

So, I began my experiment and it was such a huge success!  In the midst of my Christmas stress, the best days were those in which I got the most crafting done.  I was less stressed about getting the rest of my list done.  I was less stressed about getting my daily chores done.  I was less stressed about planning and packing for the impending trip.  I was less bothered by whatever craziness the kids were creating.  I was so much calmer and happier over all that I was better able to deal with all of the other inconveniences that arose on a daily basis.

We will definitely be keeping an hour of creativity in my day, from now on.  So if you peek in my window and see a table full of dishes, toys all over the floor, a baby playing on a blanket on the floor, and me happily knitting away in my chair – it is because I’m taking care of the most important item on my to do list first – and being a better parent.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

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