Domesticity

Sitting here, Sunday morning. Coffee. Cereal. Sunlight pouring through window onto faces of children. Dirty dishes. Discarded pyjamas.

Domesticity.

School goes back tomorrow. Today we will move our way through all the jobs Sundays require. I went through the washing basket before making my coffee this morning and found that we hadn’t yet washed the school uniforms… the washing seems to pile up so fast that often the top layers get washed but the bottom of the basket is forgotten. This is probably so unhygienic I’m not sure if I should mention it publicly. Never fear, all the uniforms are in the machine now and I’ll hang them out in front of the heater later this morning.

The girls both have holes in their navy school leggings that I put off as a school holiday job. They haven’t been mended. In January this year I bought a few metres of navy bamboo jersey material to make them new leggings. They haven’t been made.

I always look ahead to a place where there will be more time, where life will move a little slower. It seems to be an unending lesson that this time never actually comes. These holidays I have to give myself a break though, as I have not simply been contending with time; I’ve spent the entire two weeks coughing and spluttering with a second bout of a wintery virus that has its tendrils tightly wrapped within my chest.

On the long list of holiday jobs we are slowly working our way through is sorting and clearing our home as we get ready to put it on the market. A few days ago I found an old journal I wrote when I lived in London in my early 20s. Despite being excruciatingly disturbing to read, it made me realise how domesticated my life (and I) have become. The majority of its pages had me galavanting around London at night, begrudging what he said and what she said and complaining that I can’t afford to top up my phone and there’s too much plastic on the broccoli at Tesco and maybe I’ll quit my job and move to Edinburgh among a variety of other things that I’ll never mention here, or anywhere, ever. I had nothing to worry about beyond the 18p on my phone and where I was going to buy my next can of corn.

In comparison, domestic life is… what is it? It is full and busy and intense. I like to tell myself it is rarely dull, though at times when wrapped up in the cycle it can be endlessly dull and repetitive. Sometimes it seems like a ridiculous game, a never-ending attempt to reach a certain point (that never eventuates) and I wonder if I’m trapped in some sort of experiment. Eg. Once I’ve washed the dishes I’ll… or If only I could get through this washing basket, then I’ll have time for… or Once I’ve written these emails and filled out those school notices I could… and somehow (I still haven’t quite figured out how) that moment never, ever comes. If you want it, you have to allow it to barge through the wall of domesticated life. If you want to write something, make something, listen to something, you have to grab the moment by the horns and if the proverbial hits the fan, ignore it. At least, that’s the basic theory. I can’t say I have mastered it, although, I am sitting here typing so I suppose in some ways I have. The girls are all at the table with me, colouring in. Between every third word I type there is a question usually beginning with a repeated Mummyyy Mummyyy Mummyyy Mummyy if I don’t answer within the required millisecond. It’s delivered in that kind of whiny, elongated pitch, that cuts straight through your motherly ears (I know you know the tone). That’s ok. I can truly say I love this life. I love the messiness of it, the chaos. I love being around these little, crazy people, despite it being the most exhausting, all-consuming, insane thing I have ever done. I love hearing their conversations, I love organising their things and planning out activities, birthdays, clothing, food. I love cuddling them and reading them books from my childhood, reliving them through their eyes and minds. I love the safety and cosiness of family, of a solid family unit. I love all the nerdy things associated with motherhood: meal planning, wardrobe organising, sewing lists. Sometimes I wonder if I am really an 80 year old trapped in this 36 year old body.

I know that by the time I have figured all this out, my girls will be grown and this brief window of my life will be over. Most days I don’t give it a second thought, I just move with the motions. But now and again I try to tune in, to pay attention. Because domestic life may be inane at times, but I don’t want to miss a second of it.

In an hour or so we will head off to the farmers market and stock up for the week. I don’t know what we’ll cook this week. I’ve been so unwell that we haven’t eaten very well or cooked much over the holidays. The day will flow on as all days do. We will try to make sense of the messiness, and then we will let it go.

Bringing in the Weekend

It is a sunny winters day today. The girls are on the couch watching Play School in their pyjamas and I’m gearing up to clean their bedrooms. The smallest is sitting next to me doing some drawing and intermittently yelling at me if I don’t take a texta lid off fast enough. I’m finishing my luke warm coffee and knowing my time sitting is coming to an end.

Today we’re doing some tidying, meal planning, and a few other bits and pieces before heading to our local Winter Solstice later this afternoon. Things have been incredibly busy lately with both KB and I writing reports or marking for school/uni and we’ve barely had time to take a breath. I’m not someone who thrives on busy-ness, I much prefer white space in life and do almost anything I can to preserve it. Lately that has been impossible, contradicting almost everything I’m learning at Yoga Teacher Training! But it has provided me with a different platform to practice my learnings, and I suppose a window into what normal life would be like for many of my future students, who may or may not have an awareness of the importance of creating space in life, let alone the tools to do it.

So I have a toddler on my lap now, precariously lashing out at my keyboard, which means this post is coming to an early end. I’m off to tidy, potter and think about how I can carve out some time (because to carve out time is sometimes necessary when finding time is difficult) in these remaining short days to think about how to move forward as our days begin to stretch out and lengthen once again.

What are you letting go of this Winter Solstice? What are you moving towards?

Over the Weekend

It’s Monday and we had the most glorious weekend. It started when I was presented with a hot coffee first thing and told to drink it in bed. I opened the curtain and let the light stream in and sat with Birdie curled up next to me and slowly sipped.

I spent five hours in the kitchen with my three little helpers yesterday afternoon, and I feel so organised for the week. I made tamari trail mix, raw trail mix, salted caramel bliss balls (with nuts for those eating at home), coconut cacao bliss balls (with seeds for those taking to work/school), sneaky veg muffins, sweet potato and lentil frittata, and a giant batch of kitchari (a traditional Ayurvedic recipe which is gentle on tummies and great to eat during the change of season into Autumn. I made enough for a family meal + five adult lunches). I was planning on making red kidney bean bolognese sauce as well for one of our dinners this week but we ran out of time, I will make that in the next few days. The girls donned their aprons (the baby joined us with a rusk and contributed with some squeals here and there) and helped to pour, mix, roll, chop and grate. Things are slower with them in the kitchen and I have to make a conscious effort to include them and allow things to go at a slower pace.

We went to a local native plant sale, met some friends and took turns minding children and wandering around. We bought some natives for our garden and even found time to plant a few.

On Saturday KB took all three girls out and I stayed at home for the whole morning cleaning the house, I think this was a major contributing factor to the calm flow that followed us throughout the remainder of our weekend. It took about four hours, but oh! What a difference it made to our attitudes and our time spent at home over the weekend, without falling over things and each other. Now we just have to try to maintain our sense of order, for a little while at least.

It’s weekends like these I like best, with time to think and potter and make. I hope you had a wonderful one too, wherever you may be.

ten things I can do with one hand, thanks to motherhood

final1439189443768

When you’re carrying a baby around for what feels like 99% of your day, and you’re very lazy/stubborn when it comes to putting on your sling, you get pretty nifty doing things with one hand. Here are some of the things I’ve learned to do with one hand thanks to my babies. High five to motherhood skills!

  1. Chop vegetables. Albeit a bit chunky, but chopped nonetheless.
  2. Put jackets on bigger kids. With a bit of yanking.
  3. Make cups of tea. Including a slightly risky manoeuvre in order to get the stove lit.
  4. Go to the toilet, pants down, pants up, etc. Yeah! (Skinny jeans = an extra ten points.)
  5. Type, write blog posts, reply to emails, and so on (eg. this post right now).
  6. Bark commands at anyone within a 500 metre radius. Just kidding, I can bark commands with or without one or two handed gesticulation. I’m very talented like that.
  7. Wash dishes. Ok they aren’t great, but useable. If it is the difference between eating and not eating…
  8. Put loads of washing on. This one is not much fun as it also requires a deep squat to get down to my machine. That combined with seemingly dissolved pelvic floor muscles and an extra 5kg is a no brainer: avoid if possible. (Avoiding washing is always possible.)
  9. Open packets of m and ms and eat them.
  10. Eat double cream by the spoonful out of the container… I’m not going to lie, this is something I excel at.

So I have to say my skills have increased dramatically over the last five years. I’m not sure how helpful the above list will be on my CV though.

What do you do while wandering around with babe in arms?

staying home

IMG_4548IMG_4435IMG_4431IMG_4436IMG_4428

We have been enjoying a lot of time at home lately. We’ve had a few rounds of tonsilitis, flu, colds, vomiting (yay), and other lovely end-of-wintery illnesses. Many of our friends have been sick too, so all the mamas in my circle have been sending “I miss you” texts and going about our solo ways for the past few weeks.

Something that ordinarily sends me a bit nutty has actually been an absolute blessing. Having to cancel plans and really, truly, actually Slow Down has, in the end, been just what we all needed to close off the winter.

The telly has been on way too much. I’ve been drinking so much coffee because our pot makes enough for two. We’ve spent many a day in our pyjamas and thrown gumboots over the top to go outside. The house has been cleaner despite us all being here all day. Food has been cooked and menus planned. Sewing has been done! Baking has happened.

I think even once everyone recovers and Spring arrives (in just a few days now!) we will stick with this new rhythm of more home time.

It suits us all very nicely.

the rabbit ate my computer cord

IMG_7731

Sounding strangely like “the dog ate my homework” though unfortunately, this bunny excuse is true. Suki ate my computer cord a few weeks ago and I have only been able to charge my computer sporadically. And no, I have not ventured out to buy a new cord yet. This is a prime example of my middle name: Procrastination, interfering with my life and annoying me, intensely.

A friend of mine is moving to Chicago next week for a new job and new life and fresh opportunities and cocktails and people and flashy city lights. I chatted to her on the phone last night. We haven’t spoken in a while so she asked me the inevitable question: “So, what’s new? What’s been happening?”

A brief silence ensued.

Well, many days have been devoured washing nappies, feeding children, playing duplo, doing puzzles, watching play school… I’ve enrolled Birdie in kindergarten for next year (!)… I toyed with the idea of going back to work and then got melodramatic and melancholy and all variation of “mel” words about mothering and parenting and loving my babies and as such got cold feet and re-did the budget and decided against it… I did some cooking… I did the “I Quit Sugar” program… I got hives… I crocheted some hats… I sewed some chooks… We went away for a couple of weekends to the beach… The girls got sick… Prince Charming got sick… I told him he had man-flu and then I got sick… Still sick…

Hmm not really news worthy, blog worthy or telling-single-high-life-living-friend-worthy.

Nevertheless, life is plodding along nicely, we are having fun, and I am trying to stop coughing and recover from this horrendous virus!

Updates from all of you? What’s new? What’s been happening? 😉

can you play with me, mama?

If I got a dollar for every time I was asked, “Can you play with me, Mama?” by a certain 2 year old, I would be one very rich lady.

Trying to gather some activity inspiration, especially for those times when I am physically bound up with the baby or just exhausted, I asked some of my mama friends yesterday what types of activities they are doing at home with their toddlers. I wondered if I should be doing more beyond the endless books, puzzles, pasting and drawing to entertain her and provide her with structured things to do. We were TV-free until she was about 2, which was a lot easier when there was only one kid! Now we watch a bit of telly, often just so I can have a rest, but I hate relying on it too much.

Turns out, the other girls seem to be doing much the same as me, with the main structured activities including drawing, books and so on, but, like us, it’s the incidental things that happen in day to day life at home providing the most entertainment – folding the washing, helping to wipe down surfaces, feeding the dogs and the bunny, sweeping with the dustpan and brush while mummy has the broom, and so on.

I love the independence of the toddler age, it’s so great to slowly watch the big girl become more able to do things on her own, to have conversations (albeit repeated many times over: “Mama, can you play with me? Can you play with me, Mama? Mama, Mummy, Mum, can you play with me? Can you play with me at home Mum? Can we play Mummy?”), to understand instructions, to be able to help out a bit with little things and enjoy it – like going to get a face washer, or helping change the baby’s nappy. It’s easy to feel inadequate though when reading blogs and seeing amazing craft activities and so on that some amazing parents are doing with their kids. When it takes half an hour to set up an activity for five minutes worth of concentration, it is pretty hard to conjure up the motivation!

I try to have a few special things for her to do while I’m breastfeeding. Often she’ll just climb up next to me and pretend to breastfeed one of her teddies or dolls. This afternoon she crammed herself up as close as she could get to me while I was feeding, saying, “I’m just giving you some space Mummy.” Thanks for that! Other than trying to get as close to me as she possibly can, she has a sticker book, special crayons and textas, marbles and a few other things that come out of the hat at baby snack time.

What do you do at home with your little kids?