Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Are your hands free to do what matters?

Thanks to Jewels, I've just discovered this treasure of a website, called Hands Free Mama. I've only read several posts from it so far, but fully intend to continue exploring it, as time allows. Basically it's about something I've discussed here as well: simplifying and slowing down, in order to make time and space for the most important things in life.

Many of us are stay-at-home mothers, in order to be available to our children as much as possible. I feel it's cruel that society expects mothers to be out there working for money - which may mean looking (oh the irony) after other people's children, anyone's but their own - instead of nurturing their own families. The feminine nature, on a general level, is gentle, quiet, introspective, non-competitive; perfectly suited for keeping the hearth and home. 

But even without paid work, there are other things to consider. Screen time - internet and TV, phones, volunteering, extracurricular activities, social obligations, relationships, hobbies - all of this can be a drain and a distraction, not because they are bad things, but because, together, they can sometimes turn into too much. Several times, I've been asked to join committees, to volunteer on a regular basis, but I simply feel it can't work in a non-stressful way, at this season of my life. Even housework, while necessary, and important, can be put on hold at times of need. People are more important than dishes. 

Yesterday, I took Shira to ballet class for the first time. I really wasn't thinking, up until a week ago, about such activities for children so young, but she enjoys music and dancing so much that we decided to give it a shot. She had a great time, and we can afford to be out and about one afternoon a week. But when I see mothers of four or five children, each of whom is engaged in, say, 2 different extracurricular activities per week - which may, or may not, coincide between siblings - it's obvious nearly every afternoon is spent in shuttling children back and forth. And that is in addition to school. How do they do it? I honestly have no idea. 

Here is a highly educative post to begin with, from Hands Free Mama:

I do have that disease. I'm not perfect. But I'm trying, and I'm learning. 


Anonymous said...

I could not agree more! My twins are in preschool 2 half days per week, we go to church on Sun and then I have a ladies Bible study twice a mth. My husband has a crazy job in law enforcement. These few activities are as much as I can handle right now w 3 yo twins and a 16 mth old! I think some people thrive on the business though. My sil has 4 school age kids and shuttles them all over the place for all sorts of things. Her oldest is now in jr high and getting overwhelmed, I think bc he's too busy!

Kate said...

Thanks for sharing that! One of the posts nearly had be in tears! (the one about the marks for being distracted in large groups but yet her 6 yo is so very observant).

I know what you mean about having several children and maybe having to shuttle them around but I think if the kids truly want to do the activities and benefit from them, then it may be just one of those *seasons* in your life that we all go through, as (if I had 3-4 kids) I would not make them choose simply out of my inconvenience if the gas money was not too much trouble, if that makes sense. Esp if I was a FT SAHM I would find a way to make it work so we could all enjoy what at "out and about" lifestyle had to offer us and still maintain family unity. If it doesn't work, then it doesn't work but I think if the kids really want something then it's worth giving it a shot and not dismissing it outright.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Kate, thank you for pointing that out. Of course it is, as always, a matter of balance. I am convinced that the primary need for my family is a balanced, orderly home, and a peacefully flowing routine. This means, for us, that we spend most of our time *in the home* (and its surroundings! We do love to take advantage of the lovely weather). Now, I'm lucky enough not to have a car *smile*, so I can't really be expected to drive here and there (to get to places when my husband isn't home, I carpool).

I do get your point about not wanting to disappoint the children. Of course, most of the things we go back and forth about are beneficial, as of themselves - otherwise, why would we even doubt? It's only a question of *how much* can be crammed in, without disrupting the balanced life of the entire family. This is something each family must decide for itself.

For me, personally, extracurricular activities began only when I was old enough to go alone, to those classes that were available within walking distance in our local community center. I took dancing classes for two years, which was lovely, and did not inconvenience my mother one bit. We never had a car, so driving me about was never an option.