There are a few lessons that I am having a hard time learning as I enter the second month of my parenting journey. One of them is that spending Ebba time is way more important than making sure the counter is free of dirty dishes and that the laundry is clean and folded at all times. We have enough forks to last a week and I have enough undies to last a month, so why this preoccupation with keeping the mundane household tasks moving at warp speed?
I don't know. It's not like I'm anal or anything, but I do like to have things a bit clutter free around the home. It makes my mind feel less cluttered too. But the way I see it, now that Ebba is around, there are less hours in the day. And when she is not sleeping, eating, or crying, I have a choice of tasks. I can:
(A) Play with Ebba, or
(B) Do housework
I know the answer seems like a no-brainer to most of you, probably. But for me it was actually difficult! I had to force myself to ignore the ever piling hampers and stacks of dishes in favour of giving my little one an infant massage or dancing around the livingroom with her. Now, though, the rewards of Ebba time way outweigh the rewards of a clean house, so I think I'm getting the hang of it. It helps that she's smiling a lot now in response to what we do. (One of her favourite things is watching her mum dance like a crazy person in front of her.)
I'm really glad I'm learning this now, because as I look ahead at future Ebba time, I realize that it's just going to get messier and messier. I want to be the kind of mum who doesn't mind when finger painting goes off the paper, the kind of mum who doesn't constrain water play to "just in the bucket, honey," and the kind of mum who is okay with rough and tumble play and pillow fights. I realize there will always be limits, like water play "just outside" and finger painting "not in the dining room" might be okay, but I don't want to give limits that are too restrictive to allow Ebba's natural and healthy brain development.
Recently (back before Ebba took up most of my reading time. :) ) I read a book called "It's Okay NOT To Share," by Heather Shumaker. In this book, she outlines the Renegade Rules of child-rearing. Rules like, "Hog that toy all day" and "Paint off the paper," that allow children to feel in control and accepted while they grow and learn. She discusses how giving children freedom (while setting reasonable and non-arbitrary limits) develops the child's emotional intelligence so that in later life they can become happier, and more self-regulated and well-adjusted teens and adults. Isn't that what we all hope for our children!
So, everyday I'm making more of a conscious effort to "forget the laundry" and focus on what really matters, the tiny human that moved into my house just over a month ago!!
What are some trade-offs you other mums (or dads!) have made now that you're parents?