balance

Doing The Next Right Thing At This Moment (Whatever The Heck That Is)

Our little family is settling into a routine during this chaotic and stressful time.

We wake up in the sixes, get dressed, and eat breakfast. Then we go for an outdoor adventure – Irvine Nature Center, Oregon Ridge, Soldiers Delight, the Gunpowder River, etc. The boys splash through muddles or play in mud, and we get some fresh air and a change of scenery. Ever since schools closed on March 16, my social media feeds have been full of photos of families out exploring nature. It’s the thing we can do, since stores and museums and libraries and playgrounds are not options right now. Luckily, it’s also incredibly therapeutic – exercise and beauty and fresh air, all rolled into a family hike.

When our family gets home from our morning hike, we play in the backyard or the basement. At around noon, we eat lunch and start to wind down for books and nap. The boys nap (or have quiet time) until around three o’clock, and then we play until dinner time (around 5:30 p.m.). After dinner, we tidy, play, read books, and take a bath (some nights) before books and pajamas and bedtime.

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It’s been a good routine. I’m grateful that our boys are so small during this crazy time; the chaos of the world is not quite as impactful for them as it is for school-aged kids. Edgar (age 3) isn’t going to pre-school, but he usually goes only two days per week, so it’s not as much of a change as if he attended daily. He’s aware that there’s a “virus” going around and that it’s the reason why we’re not visiting playgrounds or the library. He’s a homebody and loves just being at home with us. For Edgar, this is (I hope!) an odd but not entirely unpleasant time.

And Jonas (18 months old) – that little bundle of joy is pretty oblivious, and just seems happy to have both his moms at home to play with all day.

The weight of what’s happening in the world right now is intense. For me, it’s coming in waves. And when it starts to feel overwhelming, I know I need to bring myself back to the present moment and just be with my boys. Preferably without intermittently checking CNN or listening to NPR podcasts.

I’m trying my best not to get swept up into comparison with other people and how they’re handling this time. I’ve definitely been spending more time on social media this past week or so; there are a few Facebook threads that I’ve been really enjoying (funny and timely questions from my sister and a new books-related question in my book group). And while I’ve been mostly enjoying the social media aspect, it does cause me to compare what I’m doing to what others are doing. Should I be following a schedule? Should I be having “academic time” with Edgar? Should I be doing more for my community? When you have a tendency to compare yourself with others, you have to really be intentional and conscious about your choices. Am I doing this because it’s the best choice for me and my family?  Or am I doing this because I feel like I “should”?

That said, I am contemplating trying to bring a little more routine to my days with the boys. Edgar can have a one track mind; his singular obsession of late is the Cars movie franchise, and he would happily play with cars and trucks all day long if allowed. I’m considering structuring our days a little so that there is a set (but flexible) time for various activities. An arts and crafts activity, perhaps; sensory or creative play, like play dough or rainbow rice; independent play – like, a set 15 to 30 minutes when Mommy’s going to do some tidying and listen to a podcast; puzzles or board games; listening to music; yoga; sports and games.

I like the idea of doing this. I’ve started a little already; just trying to bring a little variety to our days at home with alphabet games and bubble foam and salt dough and cardboard box coloring.

But also? I am feeling that weight – the uncertainty of what lies ahead and the anxiety about the state of the world. Concern for my family, my friends, my community.  It’s Sunday, March 22nd, as I write this – just over a week since we got the news that schools across Maryland would be closed. This week has been a roller coaster of contentment, connection, concern, contemplation – and worry. Fear.

I’m scheduled to volunteer at the food bank on Tuesday. I’ve reached out to community resources to offer support. I’m checking in on My People regularly, since this is hard on all of us.

But for today, I am trying my best to let go of the expectations I have of myself – the feelings of not doing enough, not helping enough, not taking advantage of this time away from work enough, not writing enough. Just for today, I am practicing contentment and I am letting go of all my goals and expectations. I’m going to do the next right thing, one thing at a time, and (a la Glennon Doyle) that will take me all the way home to myself.

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