I love my kids.
I just don’t always like them.
Don’t get me wrong, I am their mother and I will love them until the end of time, but some days during that two hour window I like to call “The Worst Time of Day,” I wish I could be transported a million miles away. A beach. Or a quiet dark space. Basically anywhere alone, just me and my own needs, thoughts and dreams.
Please tell me I’m not the only one!
Everyday between the hours of 3 to 5 PM the Mommy Love starts to fade away and I begin to lose it. My voice even changes. It becomes louder, harsher and exasperated. (I never realized this until my son accidentally video taped me one afternoon. I cried when I watched it. I sound like a tyrant.)
After a full 9 hours on toddler parenting duty, even the most energized get tired and need a break. Yet, it’s only 3:00 which means dad won’t walk through the door for another few hours. A break is no where in sight and inside my head I start to scream: WHAT AM I GOING TO DO FOR ANOTHER 3 HOURS WITH THESE KIDS?!
When 3:00 rolls around and the kids still have not napped, we become #teamnonap and even the best mornings quickly turn into the worst afternoons. The toddler is waking around loopy and singing gibberish tunes. The baby won’t let go of my leg. Even the cat gets under my skin. The 3:00 hour is when things start to feel out-of-control.
By 3:06 I’m wondering:
Where is dad? Why is the clock moving sooooo slowly? We’ll never make it at this rate!
Why aren’t any of my friends texting me back- don’t they know I’ve reached my limit and I’m bored?
Ugh 3:07 this can NOT be happening! Is my sister out of work yet? Who can I call?
Contrary to toddler belief, there are only so many times one can read books, sing, color, build something or eat something before going stir crazy. (TV is not an option in our house- it’s a reward.)
It dawned on me the other day the reason this happens is because internally I’m ready to check out and switch gears. Begin with a new frame of mind. A new task.
On these days I envy parents who work out of the house have a set start and end time to the work day.
Start at 7 end at 3, start at 9 end at 5.
As a Stay At Home Mom, I don’t. There is no start and no end time. It is an open-ended work day.
I don’t have anything to really look forward to, except dinnertime.
When there is another adult in the house to answer the thousands of questions, grab yet another glass of water or read a book for the seventh time that day. Even though I can’t have an actual conversation with him until after the kids are sleeping, it’s still nice to have that other authority figure around.
With the agony and stress that comes during the Worst Time of Day, I know that right around the corner is the Best Time of Day. During the two hours from 6-8 PM our family enjoys dinner together, we recap our day, clean up and reset for the next round. It’s our wind down. It’s the downhill cruise from the day. It’s a homestretch and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
The Best Time of Day is where the magic moments happen.
During the Best Time of Day I cook.
I love preparing food and that hour of dinner prep is actually pretty therapeutic. It challenges my brain to be used in a different way. Cooking energizes me. I feel my creativity return and helps me to feel like I’ve accomplished something with my day.
During the Best Time of Day I clean.
Toys are returned back to bins, floors are swept and dishes loaded up into the dishwasher.
Kids jump into the bath and then snuggled into soft pajamas. (When I’m desperate for an activity during the Worst Time of Day we sometimes take two baths. One around 4 PM, and another before bed. Don’t judge. They love the water!)
During the Best Time of Day I do something for me.
It could be sewing, blogging, online shopping, showering, painting my nails. Whatever it is, you better believe I get a solid 2 hours of uninterrupted me time before I realize I can’t keep my eyes open any longer.
During the Best Time of Day I reflect.
This is usually when the mom guilt starts to set in. I wipe a tear or two. I rock my little girl to sleep and marvel at how much she’s grown. I get upset about feeling mad at her for hanging on my leg all day. She’s still a baby, but it’s slipping away. Her hair is much thicker and her chubby arms are slimming down.
My toddler son might have asked me to read the same book 57 times that day, but I know he won’t always ask me to read to him. One day he may not want to read at all. And yes, I may have laid in bed admiring the twinkly lights with him, “For some more minutes” just because. One day soon he won’t ask me to lay with him, instead he’ll start to want his own space. So I lay down and feel sad that it seemed like I yelled at him for 80% of the day.
During the Best Time of Day I am quiet.
Stillness is serene. My body slows down. My mind slows down. I finally slow down. I allow myself to be tired and spent.
During the Best Time of Day I am thankful.
I look around at our house, our photos on the fridge, our memories. I peek in on all the sleeping bodies, (including my husband) and I smile. I smile at the memories we made and the future memories we will make.
It’s true I may struggle though the Worst Time of Day, but it paves the way for gratitude during the Best Time of Day.