Friday, October 02, 2009

Ramblings on Staying at Home

By "staying at home," I mean physically staying at home - not just as a stay-at-home mom, but as a stay-at-home mom who is not leaving the house constantly for various errands, activities, playgroups, etc. I have been trying to stay home with the girls more lately and have mixed feelings on it. Mostly, I think it is a good thing. It keeps my young children in a stable environment where they are not overstimulated or exposed to things I'd rather them not be exposed to. It costs less money. It lets us focus on home life and doing things together in our home, like projects and baking. It is calmer and less hectic.

I used to try to leave the house often - playgroups, library story time, impromptu trips to Wal-Mart... as a way to get out and about. I thought that is what moms with small children were "supposed" to do. Where I live, the playgroups were all a half hour away or more. But we went anyway, Caroline and I. And we did have fun with it... I think it is a little different with just your first child. It is easier to go places with just one baby or toddler, and since that one child is the only one in the parent-child relationship with you, then it works very well to do these types of outings.

I began re-thinking all this several months ago once I realized that Caroline sometimes expected to go places daily - expected for there to be some planned entertainment outside the home. She'd ask, "Where are we going today?" I also thought back to my own childhood... as a preschool-aged child, did I ever go to playgroups? The McDonald's playground? Out to lunch at restaurants with my mom? I really did not. Therefore, the McDonald's playground was a special place in my mind... a real treat! I don't want my own kids to become "desensitized" to the special-ness of going places, and I want them to be able to really enjoy their childhood memories of making their own imaginative fun at home. I have great memories of this myself. I know that temperament will play into this some... and age... I loved going places as a teenager, but as a younger child, I was fine being at home (and I was as a teen too, but I also loved to get out).

But... I was also in preschool beginning at age three, and so I had that two or three days a week. If I homeschool my children, they won't have that, so we will be at home even more. And that's good, because we will need to be at home to do a lot of our homeschooling.

I think a lot of stay-at-home moms feel restless at home for a few reasons: one, because we are used to being rush, rush, rush, on the go all the time in our culture. The second reason is because we live alone - just our immediate family lives with us, no other relatives (this is true for most families, at least), and we live far apart from friends for the most part... most of us are not good friends with every neighbor on our streets any more, unfortunately, and many moms find that most of their neighbors are gone all day and nobody is at home. Friends who have the same interests and values may live pretty far away. So, it can be isolating to stay home a lot. I think having a big family would help with this, and having family and friends who visit regularly.

Lately, I have also wondered if Cecilia would do better being out and about more, like I was with Caroline, or if it is better for her to be at home more, or if there is really no difference. I think that being the second born plus her own personality come into play here as well. I had that special one-on-one time with Caroline, where she wanted to help me unload the dishwasher and such as a toddler, because there was nobody else around to interact with. Cecilia has Caroline to play with now, which she enjoys more and more as she gets older... but then I don't have as much of that special time with her helping me out with things in the same way. I wonder if this has to do with how crabby she's been since she was about, oh, 15 months old. She was not really a fussy baby, but she's become a fussy toddler. Usually she is fine playing with Caroline for awhile but then comes to me and gets fussy. A fussy toddler - especially on a bad nap day! - makes me want to get out of the house! We went to the park a few days ago after a poor nap and had no fussiness while we were there. It was a change of pace, and it was outside and not in an overstimulating library puppet show or something like that. The fussiness may just be her personality, or just being one. One was a very golden age with Caroline... it is different with Cecilia, but I think, looking at books and other kids around me, that it is a bit more typical this time around. Ones are not supposed to be reasonable at all - and I could reason some with Caroline at that age - but not Cecilia. "Mommy is going to use the bathroom before I pick you up." That doesn't phase her - Mommy's need to go to the bathroom doesn't register at all in Cecilia's mind! And that is the way it is supposed to be, at least with the second born child... I think. But it is certainly tiring!

But of course, it will change, and even if she has a fussy temperament forever, when she is five she will not demand to be held while I am trying to pee (at least I hope not!). She is also so sweet and funny... any time Caroline is crying, she will go find her and say, "Bline... cry... kiss." and give her a hug and kiss. Today, I overheard her singing to herself. She was singing, "Down by the Bay," which says, "Down by the bay, where the watermelons grow, back to my home, I dare not go..." and it has silly rhyming parts like, "Did you ever see a bear combing his hair?" Cecilia's version went like this: "Down... bay... mumehwons... gwo... back... ome... go!!" And then she started saying, "Jason... Mason!" because we made up a silly rhyme using these names, and she still remembers it and likes to sing that part. She can be so silly when she's not crabby!

Anyway, back to my topic... I think maybe there are both pros and cons to staying at home as much as possible. I like the slower pace and that my girls don't expect the constant entertainment and excitement of being out and about and busy most days. I do miss the days of just going anywhere with my one portable baby/toddler (I love how portable AP babies/toddlers are... can usually eat and nap anywhere because they can nurse!)... it is a much bigger challenge with two! I also hope that we can get involved in a Catholic homeschooling group as the girls grow - to give them a place to make like-minded friends and to have that larger Catholic "family" around us. Living closer to extended family would be nice too, although we don't live as terribly far as some (I know there are families who live across the country from all their relatives!).

Just some of my thoughts lately...

5 comments:

Kris said...

We have been homeschooling for 4 years now and I know in the beginning I would run errands and make doctor's appointments in the mornings, thinking that since we homeschooled, it would be fine and we could just get the work done whenever. I have learned over time, that just staying home is much less stressful, we get everything done by lunchtime, and I don't feel so much pressure. If I do have to make appointments, I do it very early in the morning (8:00), so we're home by 9:00. Or around lunchtime so that we are mostly done before we leave the house. I do not run any errands in the morning anymore - only in the afternoon. I am blessed to now have a teenager in the house who can watch his little brothers, so I am able to run errands "unassisted"! Which makes them faster so I can get back home. It also allows me to take only one child with me and have a little one-on-one time with someone, since we have 5. I also used to do the playgroups, etc., but now we just limit ourselves to playdates at a friend's house every once in awhile.

johnston5in5 said...

I also find it much easier to stay home a lot with homeschooling. I wanted to be out a lot more when the older ones were little because I was a little bored just playing and cleaning all day. Now I prefer to be home in the morning to get more done. I do miss having other adults to talk to since my antisocial husband doesn't like to talk or hear about my day. I think I would like to live in a community like the Amish or Native Americans to have others to talk with, do chores with, etc.

Kate said...

i came to a very similar realization a few months ago... although i am not a stay at home mom, i work full time, i do pick my kids up at 2:30 everyday so we have the afternoons together. we were really busy for awhile, always doing something, running errands, visiting friends/family, etc. then one day we were just going to go home to play and matt asked me "what fun thing are we doing today?" and i told him we were going home and he threw the biggest tantrum! i realized that we had been going to much... my kids need to be content with just being home and playing together. they need to learn to play without being given lots of outside stimulation! so now i try to limit our outings... i do usually have to run my errands with them b/c i work while they are at school, but i try to make an effort to spend as many afternoons as possible playing around the house. really does make things so much easier!

Charlotte said...

You have a fussy toddler too?

Erin said...

Oh, yes Charlotte! Except today and yesterday, she has been much less fussy. I guess that's to give me some balance because Caroline has been a grump more than usual today! She has a cold or allergies, and that always makes her less pleasant!

So has John been fussy too? I know a lot of people say they hit a fussy stage around a year and a half... the half-years are supposed to be the toughest transitions and therefore the most unpleasant...