Sticking cold feet up my back is a sure-fire way to rouse me out of bed and into the kitchen to make breakfast, and the Maiden knows it. So the other morning, when she crawled into my bed at an ungodly hour okay fine, it was eight in the morning I don’t care, I hate mornings, I braced myself for the inevitable.
But it didn’t come. Instead, the Maiden snuggled up to me, and, with a wistful look, asked, “Do we have to go somewhere today?”
We modern moms often joke about needing an appointment book to keep track of our kids’– even toddlers’ and preschoolers’– social schedules. Preschool, playdates, parties, trips to the park, dance class, and sports (and throw in a few doctor’s appointments and visits to the grocery store or pharmacy to run errands) keep our kids active and social, but very, very busy. Old and new friends and experiences are an important part of growing up, but they can easily overwhelm the little ones if there’s not sufficient time for a break.
Think about it. As adults, there are some days when we decide we’re taking a whole day’s raincheck on busyness. We call them “jammie days” and just hang around the house, and whether we’re cleaning, gardening, cooking, or just relaxing with a book (okay, maybe in our dreams, but still!), we don’t have to go out. We don’t have to face carseat drama, traffic, hassle, whiny kids, nasty weather, or even figure out a way to keep our kids entertained while we’re showering and fixing our hair so that we look vaguely human.
Kids are the same way. Sometimes, like us, they just want to stay the heck home! They like the stimulation of outings and love playing with their little pals. But from time to time, kids also need a quieter pace, a day with no appointments penciled into mommy’s planner. In fact, they often relish that chance to be free from even the most enjoyable obligations. They can play with their own toys and sit in their own chairs. They can be messy and loud, and run wild, without annoying anyone except possibly their mothers. In essence, they can be little kids.
I’ve found that for the Maiden, “down” days are necessary. She’s very Type A (not at all like her mama….ahem), and she “needs” to know what’s coming up in advance. Because “down” days mean no upcoming events that she needs to prepare for, she’s able to “de-stress,” as it were, from the pace of the rest of the week. On our stay-at-home days, we don’t leave the house, except maybe to take a walk, and she can play with whatever she wants and wear whatever she wants (usually, it’s her ballet leotard). I draw the line at eating whatever she wants, but we sometimes make fun, messy meals.
Taking a quiet day now and then mellows the Maiden somewhat. And, to be honest, it’s often equally welcomed by her chauffeur and personal assistant. Staying in and allowing ourselves to actually enjoy the little things– rather than rushing through them as so many lines on our things-to-do list—is a rewarding and regenerating treat for both mom and kid. The following next morning, we feel refreshed (as refreshed as one can feel in the mornings) and ready to take on a new, busy day!