Since it’s November 1 today, I looked at our calendar for the month to get a sense of what’s coming up and was startled to note that every weekend was packed. Every one. Soccer practice and games, five (!) kids birthday parties, plans with local friends, the holidays, visits from out of town family and friends, and volunteer commitments. The weekday nights are a bit better, but Tiger Scouts, school activities, Book Club, and other volunteering are bound to fill in any nights that are currently open.
How is that we become so over-scheduled? Perhaps it’s a product of not being able to say no? I know that can often be a challenge for me—I have a hard time understanding what actually can be done in 24 hours; I always think I can do so much more—but this month is a bit different. Every commitment we’ve made is something we want to do, especially the visits with friends and family. Which is why today was unusual.
My family awoke to a busy Saturday: three hours of soccer, a birthday party for my son to attend, a blogging event for me, and many (too many) to dos. The rain had not yet started, but it was due. You could feel it on the air, see it in the overcast sky. As we lay warm in bed, the children having fled from our bedroom in search of their present from the Switch Witch* (more on that below), my husband muttered, “I don’t want to go to soccer.” How many parents of kids have said this in their heads while simultaneously encouraging their kids to pull up the shin guards and tie their cleats? I thought my husband was making an appeal for a get-out-of-jail card, a please-take-the-kids-to-soccer-without-me request, but he really meant for all of us to skip. “It’s going to rain,” he explained.
The thought on sitting on a wet, mushy field on a cold November morning persuaded me immediately. “You have to convince the kids,” I replied.
“That won’t be hard,” he said. And it wasn’t. They were on board within seconds, and soccer was off the schedule for today (we later got an email saying our son’s game had been canceled because of the rain so any guilt for skipping out was somewhat assuaged.)
As the morning became free, we all slowed down. The kids played with their new toys, read, and made up elaborate games all while staying in their pajamas. I read my book (Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon, the eighth novel in the very addictive Outlander series), went back to bed for a half hour (when did that last happen?), went for a run in the rain, and cleaned up the house. My husband blew leaves in a big pile in between raindrops and played with the kids.
Then, we all ate lunch together. Sandwiches. My son expressed a serious interest in tuna fish. The kids sat at the table, singing and coloring. My husband took my son to the birthday party, during which my son had a great time bowling with friends. My daughter and I made cookies with the Reese’s Peanut Butter cups that were leftover from Halloween; she made a mess of the kitchen but it didn’t matter. “If we do it together, Mommy,” she said. “We can get it done, and it will be better.” And it was. She and I curled up on the couch to read books. The boys came home. My husband and the kids had a dance party in the basement while cleaning up toys.
In the evening, I headed to a blogger meet-up/surprise birthday party for a fellow blogger. We drank apple margaritas and pumpkin sangria and caught up about our lives, kids, and travel. The rest of my family stayed home and had take out with good friends. I drove through a rainy night to come home, put the kids to bed, and sit on the couch with my husband as he scrolled through TV channels, watching everything and nothing.
Much of our Saturday was unplanned; some of it was, as always, scheduled. But no matter what, the day was just right.
*What’s the Switch Witch? I read about it on Facebook a few days before Halloween, and thought it was brilliant. The Switch Witch comes to take the candy kids collect on Halloween, leaving a toy behind. When the idea was presented, my son was on board immediately; my daughter was a harder sell (“I’ll only do it if she brings me a live unicorn.”). She agreed in the end, though. The kids ate a few pieces on Halloween night, saving three for the days afterward. The rest of the candy went away for the Switch Witch (except the M&Ms: they are always for me). This morning, when they awoke, a small present was sitting for each of them on the kitchen table: a toy bow and arrow for my son (with suction cups for the arrows, thankfully) and a Playmobil fairy and unicorn for my daughter. #parentingsuccess