Sam and I had a really good day yesterday. It was a perfect Autumn day with sunshine and crisp air and about a bazillion leaves on the ground to play in.
We probably spent 50% of his waking hours outside playing, taking pictures, chatting about every thought that popped into his head (that squirrel in the tree, that car over there, Mummy, did you hear that train??). We walked. Did we ever walk! In the morning we went to the Y and back while Lu napped at home before David went to work. In the afternoon (with Lucy bundled up in the stroller this time) our destination was the park, then that same park again to meet friends, then over to get sushi for dinner - sometimes we treat ourselves when Daddy is on "nights". By 5 pm the cold air and Sam's tired little legs were conspiring in my favour to persuade him to come inside without protest.
Our indoor hours were spent mostly reading. This kid can't get enough of books these days - he didn't ask to watch Cars or Chuggington or Sesame Street even once all day! Instead he brought me books on the couch while I nursed Lucy and we took turns reading them; some of them he has committed to memory and others he makes up based on the pictures.
Even bedtime went smoothly. I threw both kids in the bath together, had jammies on and teeth brushed without any fuss, read even more books while Lucy took her bedtime feed, then sang them both off for the night.
There were no tantrums, no time outs. It was lovely. All of it.
Obviously, I want to recreate this experience, so I've been reflecting on just what made the day so pleasant. Blue skies and sunshine are scarce this time of year, and as the weather is entirely outside my realm of my control, I have to hope there was something deeper at play here.
The best I can come up with is Presence.
With David home in the morning, I was able to leave Lucy to nap inside and play with Sam beyond earshot of the baby monitor. Sam and Mummy time is important and I try to carve out a little for us every day, but it's more than that. Lucy is a very easy baby - not fussy, not high needs - and Sam Capitol-L-loooooves her, so her absence from our playtime wasn't the key factor. Besides, we had just as much fun on our afternoon outing when she came along in the stroller.
Maybe it helped that we didn't really have an agenda for the day. No real plans, no outings, no schedule to keep other than meals and Lucy's nap. But, in all honesty, I think I know what it was . . . I'm beating around the bush because I know what I want to say and am embarrassed to do so . . .
We had such a good day yesterday because I didn't check my email. I didn't go on Facebook. We didn't watch any TV or YouTube videos. I barely texted anyone. He had my uncorrupted attention, and our fragile mum-and-three-year-old relationship thrived because of it.
Too many times I have answered Sam's questions (for the 80th time, but that's not the point) with my nose stuck in my phone or laptop rather than making eye contact with him. I've even been annoyed with him for interrupting me while texting (yikes! I can't believe I just wrote that). David and I are both guilty of using our phones too much during family time. We use them to text, check the time, the weather, read our email, take pictures, etc. etc. etc. And because we don't have a land line we always have our phones on us. It's very easy, very distracting, and not at all cool.
So from now on . . . no texting, email checking, Pinteresting - whatever - during family time. That means not even when I'm bored to tears of playing trains or watching him ride his bike over the makeshift ramp that David made for the neighbourhood littles in the summer. I want to have more good days, and while unplugging isn't a perfect recipe for that, I know it can't hurt. I want to be more present for my kids and model the kind of respect I hope they will show to me as they grow up.
Put the phone down, make eye contact, and be Present. After all, my kids aren't mine, I am theirs. So I should act like it.
It's late and I'm tired (and tired of blogging every day), but I am going to write more about this topic another time. I have more to say. Maybe start a movement. We'll see.