Funny things that I do now that I have a kid
Certain changes I anticipated when I had a child: I have wipes stashed on every floor and in every car, I always carry several snacks with me, and my daily word count totals at least twice what it was in my pre-kid days. But other shifts in my behavior I did not expect. In fact, some of them run completely contrary to the pictures our culture paints of parenthood. For instance:
1. I read more now.
While my book count certainly approaches nowhere near what it did during my college and graduate school career, I read more books than I did before having children. I am stuck waiting much more often now in carpool drop-offs, sporting events, and appointments. In these awkward pockets of time, I try to read a few pages on my Kindle app rather than clicking through my social media feeds. While I know that my daughter does not know whether I am reading on my phone or bouncing between click bait articles, I know, and I am more self-conscious about how I am spending my downtime.
2. My house is cleaner.
Said no one ever. Except, it's true. This one is shocking to me. What happened? I have always been tidy but never particularly clean. Despite the sticky fingers and crumbs that find their way to every surface of our home, again, my downtime has increased. I am in the kitchen with a few idle minutes after preparing breakfast, watching my child eat. My child is changing, and I have another two minutes. She picks up her toys, and I find a few more minutes. All of these pockets of time are not good for work that requires intensive engagement or concentration, but they are perfect for a little dusting or vacuuming or counter wiping. I could be better about being present with my child in these moments, but I choose to give myself grace here. I can carry on small conversations with a four-year-old with a cleaning rag in my hand, and my sanity level improves if our environment is ordered.
3. I listen to more music.
I crave silence. I went on a silent retreat last year for a long weekend, and whereas most of the women in my group were going crazy at the end, I could have kept going for a few more days. But silence and a four-year-old are not synonymous. Our family talks plenty, and we are not ones to have music or the TV going 24/7, but we do play music more often in the car and in the minutes leading up to dinner than we did pre-kids. I am aware of music's ability to shift moods or signal transitions. The nights we turn on classical music before dinner, I do feel stress and energy levels going down and it sets a nice tone for the evening.
4. We get out of the house way more often.
Lazy Saturdays are a thing of the past, so these former homebodies plan many more outings. I do errands in person now, even if I can do them online, just to get us out of the house. We check out events we may have bailed on before because the house dynamic changes with children. We are all less cranky when we are not cooped up in the house for hours on end, and I find outings more enjoyable and entertaining for all ages than activities and games that can be done in the house.
5. We go on more dates.
Again, laziness is a luxury that does not come with young children. I know this season will not last forever, but while we are in this stage, we have decided to be intentional about how we spend our leisure time. Thanks in large part to a babysitter who lives down the street, Dan and I get out regularly sans child. We try more creative date spots--we went to Wine + Design more recently, and we have gone on more than one post-dinner furniture shopping excursion--and we have stepped up our restaurant game.