It’s hard to believe that today begins the last month of summer. I’m finding myself wondering where the summer went, and determined to try to eek some more fun out of the next month because so far, it’s just been a blur. Summer as a working mom is an interesting thing . . . I grew up with parents who were both in education, and as an adult it is still blowing my mind that some people (i.e. myself) do not just get to laze about all summer long, but actually have to continue working. That being said, I did just turn in grades at the university and I’m looking forward to a slower month in August.
I’ve written before about how I often find it difficult to slow down and relax. I’ve been doing some introspection about that, and since becoming a mom, I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to equate “slowing down” with “playing with my kids.” I wrote a post about how I have a tough time being motivated to sit and play with my kids, and the comments kind of gave me an Orphan “aha moment”: Not everyone is wired to enjoy sitting and playing action figures or My Little Ponies with small children, and that’s okay. I feel like that post allowed me to let myself off the hook a little bit, instead of trying to force myself to be someone I’m not. I still value playing with my kids and try to do so in ways that are mutually enjoyable, but I’m no longer berating myself for the fact that giving voice to princess dolls is not my favorite thing to do.
So, armed with this epiphany, my new challenge has been to figure out what “slowing down” actually looks like for me as a mom of four kids. I’ve surrendered the idea of playing with children as a time of slowing down (okay, even typing that sentence makes me realize what an insane standard that was). But now what? Pre-kids, slowing down often meant sitting in the sunshine with a good book . . . or laying out at the beach with my latest issue of Dwell magazine. Nowadays, I can’t exactly bury myself in a book . . . and if I open a magazine I immediately have four children wanting to sit in my lap and talk through the pictures. Not to mention, as we are trying to get to the beach more, I really need to have my eyes on the kids, not on a book. ENTER THE PODCAST.
Where has this secret parenting tool been my whole life?
I’m not new to podcasts, so I don’t know how this never dawned on me before. Previously I’d always reserved podcasts as something for a long road trip. But the past few weeks, I’ve discovered the beauty of a podcast in the middle of the day . . . surrounded by kids who are doing their thing. My eyes are available for supervising and stern looks, but I’m getting to unwind with a good story or a poignant tale. It’s like escaping with a good book, but it doesn’t cause my children to demand I read aloud.
(That snappy aqua phone? That would be the Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone – the sponsor of this post and a fabulous way to catch podcasts. I’m loving the fact that it renews my podcast subscriptions without me having to sync to a computer.)
Kids are screaming on the trampoline, but who’s not bored? Me. I’m just chilling, listening to This American Life or The Moth.
The kids are tearing it up on the Razors in the front yard? That’s cool. I’m watching. And laughing along while listening to For Crying Out Loud.
The kids are watching Phineas and Ferb? Not me. I’m listening to Tim and Wendy’s Foster Parenting Podcast.
So, yes. The podcast is my new summer indulgence . . . my way to escape in the middle of the day, while still supervising the kids. I’m having fun with it, and I think in a weird way it’s making me more present. It’s certainly better than my precious mode of sitting around bored, feeling guilty that I don’t feel the siren call to act out a scene with Little People.
So, two questions for you:
1) Do you have an “unwinding” kind of activity that you can do in the midst of watching your kids?
2) Do you have any podcast recommendations for me?
I’ve listed my favorites, but I would love to get some new ideas for podcast subscriptions. And I’m still trying to find a fun podcast that is appropriate for kids for our occasional road trips. What are some of your favorite podcasts?