I often find myself feeling guilty when Nesrine and I are stuck at home for the day. I try to go out with her at least once every day, even if it is simply outside to play or to go to the library. We both seem to always feel better to get out for a bit. Some days that just doesn’t happen…she is home with the nanny while I take care of errands or doctor appointments, or the weather is bad for driving, or I don’t have the energy for it and we just can’t get it together to get out. You mamas out there know exactly what I mean. Mamas-to-be, you will find out soon 🙂
Let me start by saying we are not a family that overdoes it by any means. I am a SAHM and I take Nesrine (19.5 months) to 2 regular classes per week (music and art), and the rest of the week we will spend time at the park/library, go to a museum or other educational activity one day, or go to pick up groceries, etc. The rest of the time we stay home cooking, doing laundry, playing. On weekends Hashem and I like to take her to do one family activity, and we do a big grocery shopping trip and chores around the house, coffee and park trips. It’s the days that we stay home the entire day, especially when we don’t have the option to play outside, where I feel like I should be doing something to engage her and be the best mom to her I can be. But I am in my third trimester (what?!?!), and have no choice but to slow down a bit. I have had to very consciously convince myself that it’s okay, she doesn’t get antsy like my husband and I do when we are home all day. In fact, I am realizing that some of those days that we just stay home turn out to be wonderfully refreshing for us. So I’m here to tell you Moms out there in the same boat as me (pregnant or not) to throw that guilt out and enjoy the beauty of nothingness. I know, very zen. When I started to observe Nesrine’s behavior, I began to notice so many benefits to boredom, or ‘down time’ if you prefer, that I have written them down to share with you.
It promotes creativity and independent play. Some of our favorite ‘games’ were created on days when we exhausted our usual toys and playroom activities. It also has helped her tremendously with finding ways to entertain herself while I am doing chores around the house. If she wants me to play, I tell her I will finish what I am doing and then I will play with her. Surprisingly she will go play make-believe with her stuffed animals or build duplos until I am done (by the way, if you told me 3 months ago she would do this I would have laughed out loud). Having time at home on a regular basis to practice this skill certainly has helped her develop this ability in a major way. I absolutely love to watch her imagination blossom…and sometimes I find myself just standing off to the side watching her play instead of doing whatever it is I was working on! 😉
It gives you time to notice the little things. There is a time and place to get moving, but there is something to be said for taking time to slow down, too. Days at home give us time to sit and observe new things (or old things that are so routine we stop noticing them). They give us time to be silly, time to be serious, time to be quiet.
It lowers stress levels and decreases anxiety. There is a lot going on in the world, it is a busy place and often times can be overwhelming. I notice in Nesrine that when we get a day to recuperate from the hustle and bustle of daily life, she is much more calm for days to come. And I see how she starts to act when we have days on end of activity or running around and not enough down time at home.
Life can get hectic, and pressures from both within and without can ramp up mom-guilt for so many reasons. I say, let’s make an effort to let some of that go, to give ourselves a break (from ourselves, mostly!), to know that being the “best” mom to your child doesn’t mean doing tons of activities or constantly doing something stimulating. Boredom is valuable. Remember, it is out of nothingness that the beauty of life can reveal itself to us.