Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Breaks Will Do a Stay-At-Home-Mom Good

When I was handed my stay-at-home-mom badge in 2014, it was a time that was full of changes.  I was adjusting to not working for practically the first time in my life, and also was responsible for taking care of an 8 pound four ounce pooping and eating machine.

The first year of Scarlett's life was an exciting one.  I documented everything and anything. I took 15,000 pictures and vowed to never forget anything.  A rhythm and routine developed in my household with taking care of my house and my child at the same.  I was in a comfortable place and enjoying life.  Scarlett went to routine activities and playgroups that I took her to to encourage social and emotional development.

Scarlett is not the same tiny baby that she once was.  She now wants to run wild in my house exploring and discovering all that everything has to offer her.  While this child was once content with playing with a toy quietly on the floor, those days have passed.  I can only offer her so much at home, when I switch my title from mom to playmate. I'm not a teacher and have no certification to do so. Scarlett needs structure, independence, and a social outlet. It's not that she doesn't have structure and independence at home, but I knew it was time for her to participate in activities that are now for her age.

Starting in June, Scarlett started going to camp two days a week.  Her camp is run by the same preschool that she'll be attending in September.  The teacher is wonderfully creative and sends weekly outlines and schedules of what the children will be doing.  Each week has a different theme involving activities that meet the emotional, physical, and social developments that a child her age needs.  The best part is she will learn in a classroom environment, something that I cannot provide at home.

This summer has been a big milestone for Scarlett, she's old enough to be away from me for the first time in her life.  She's done amazing at camp drop-off and I couldn't be more proud. I'm raising her to be independent so it thrills me that she is ready to play and interact with her teachers.  It's important to me for her to have independence from me for the first time in her life.  On the other hand, this summer marks the first time that I've been away from Scarlett too.  I feel like this opportunity is a reward for saying you've put in so many hours and days, you get a break too.

Her camp is 3 hours a day and it allows me to have a little time to myself.  I can do whatever I want to do for those 180 minutes and you better believe I enjoy every minute. Whether I want to go the gym, prep dinner, or even continue my Gilmore Girls Netflix binge, you can bet I'll be doing it.  Time for myself used to be scarce during the week. When I pick her up, I feel refreshed and energized.  I'm excited to see her and I've missed her.  The break does us both good and allows me to parent better because of the time apart. If you are able to sign your toddler up for a drop-off activity, do so.  It'll be the best decision you can make.

Scarlett will also be starting pre-school and gymnastics in September which will allow me another break.  When I stop to think about how fast Scarlett is growing and changing, it does make me sad.  There's nothing I can do about that though.  What I can do is welcome the changes in our lives and accept that she's a very sweet girl who is kind, responsible, and loving.  She's everything I want her to be right now.  

Being a stay-home-mom is the hardest job in the world.  Your work day doesn't end at 5 pm, you're on call 24/7. You don't get time off or paid vacation.  There's nothing wrong with needing a break once in a while.  Having some time apart from your child will actually make you a better parent.  You'll come back relaxed and ready to dive right in, and your little one will be happy for a fun and exciting change.

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