Every parent knows that one of the keys to successful parenting is mastering the art of consistency. But how many of us can really do that? I, for one, have trouble holding my grounds when I’m stressed out and overwhelmed. I break rules, I give in to whining, and then I beat myself up over my inconsistency.
I don’t do it often, but it happens, because I’m not a perfect mommy. I’ve come to realize though, that it’s okay to cut myself some slack from time to time. Last week was a perfect example. Alan was out of town, Bridgette’s school was flooded and shut down for the week, and I had about a million things I needed to get done for work. Stressing over my workload for the week, I considered my options. I looked for drop-in daycare nearby, checked to see if either set of grandparents could look after her, and researched on week-long camps. No such luck.
Most of my work for the week could potentially be done at home, but how on earth was I to keep Bridgette preoccupied the entire time? I planned out a list of projects for her, moved her desk next to mine, and gave her the title of “Wedding Planner Assistant” for the week. She beamed with pride when I presented her the title. Some of her projects included dog-earing bridal magazines of her favorite dresses, drawing a make-believe wedding invitation card, and making pretty necklaces for the imaginary bridesmaids.
The first day was wonderful. She was quietly engrossed in her tasks, and I was achieving the productivity that I wanted. I couldn’t keep her cooped up inside anymore on Tuesday and Wednesday, so we had lunch with my cousins, and went all over town to run errands in preparation for her kindergarten application submission. Thursday rolled around, and Bridgette was no longer interested in being my assistant, nor was she interested in running errands with me anymore. She wanted other sources of entertainment. After dragging her to the school district to submit her kindergarten application in the morning, we went straight home so that I could catch up with my work. I sent her to her room to play with her dolls, which lasted all of 5 minutes before she begged me to play with her. I told her I would, if only she’d let me finish my project first. She would agree, playing quietly for up to 30 minutes, before interrupting me again. I kept making up excuses to send her away again, feeling painfully guilty, but knowing that I needed to focus on the work in front of me. I finally pulled out the one thing which I knew for sure, would keep her entertained for a long stretch of time.
I pulled out my iPad.
A part of me cringed, as an inner voice scolded myself that I was a bad mommy to stick my child in front of a screen to keep her quiet. That same inner voice kept telling me to drop my work to spend time with her. But the more sensible voice in my head urged me to hand over the iPad. Man, that iPad can sure do wonders. Bridgette settled on my bed with the iPad in front of her and happily entered the world of Cailou and SuperWhy, while I got the peace and quiet that I desperately needed to finish my work. I even got to make phone calls! It’s amazing how much you can get done when you have the luxury of working in a quiet, uninterrupted environment. By late afternoon, I was caught up enough where I felt comfortable enough to shut my laptop off and call it a day. It was only 4pm at the time. We decided to celebrate with ice cream, and drove all the way out to my new favorite ice cream joint–Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous in the Dogpatch district.
Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous is known for their unusual flavors of homemade ice cream. The first time that I was there, I had their chocolate malted crunch and it seriously was the very best ice cream I’ve ever had. Definitely beats Bi-Rite. This time, I was slightly disappointed that they took the chocolate malted crunch off their menu, but tried their salted caramel and chocolate chip instead. As Rachel Ray would say, YUM-O! Bridgette had their Sweet Cream with rainbow sprinkles. Just as we were leaving, they put out a batch of Earl Grey Lavender and we got a little sampling of it. I’ll definitely be ordering that one next time, if it’s on the menu again! Very flavorful! Our spontaneous ice cream outing felt really good. Because I had accomplished what I needed to for work while she was on the iPad, I was able to relax my mind a bit while with her, enabling me to truly enjoy the moment. I suppose this is what they mean by “quality vs quantity” when it comes to being with our children. They have this way of differentiating too. When I’m distracted and preoccupied while with Bridgette, she tends to be whinier and grumpier. When I’m completely in the moment with her, she is a cooperative happy camper.
I decided to forego my guilt and try the same tactic for Friday. While she immersed herself into my iPad, I sat at my desk responding to emails and working on my clients’ weddings. We took a brief break to have lunch at home, and then quickly settled back into our different worlds. At one point, Bridgette herself got tired of watching movies on Netflix and started playing the more educational games on the iPad, ones that teach you how to spell and calculate. That certainly erased any last bit of guilt that I had! 🙂 By 2:00pm I accomplished enough where I could shut down my laptop early once again. I decided to have another impromptu outing with my little girl. Where to? I suddenly saw the birthday gift that my friend Jean gave me a couple weeks ago, from Lisa’s Tea Treasures.
What a perfect place to bring Bridgette, who has been in love with the English tradition of high tea since our trip to Hong Kong! Off we went, all dressed up, ready for another afternoon of spontaneity adventure…
Much to Bridgette’s confusion, our order was not brought out on a beautiful 3 tier display, which is what she is use to from her high tea experience in Hong Kong. Rather, we each had an assorted plate of tea sandwiches amongst a selection of savory goodies.
“Where are the desserts?” she asked our server in great concern.
True to our server’s promise, the desserts were brought out after we finished all the savories. Overall, the quality of the food was very mediocre, but the experience was delightful. Bridgette loved the fine china with the ornate patterns; it made her feel really grown up. She also loved getting her own tea pot, filled with hot cocoa. We walked out of there with her grinning from ear to ear and declaring that this was the “best day ever mama!”
After our tea, because we were in no great hurry to get anywhere, we took our time browsing around the area. Bridgette loved twirling around in her dress, photographing pretty flowers with my iPhone, and making wishes at the water fountains. We stumbled upon a bookstore and spent a good hour in there, reading until my throat cracked so badly we had to go next door to Cafe Borrone for a drink. We ended up having dinner there before calling it a night.
So there. I let my the iPad babysit my daughter for two whole mornings in order to get my work done. But in return, I got to take two whole afternoons off to spend honest to goodness quality time with her to make up for it. Life is never one smooth road. When we come across some bumps once in awhile, we have to cut ourselves some slack, and find ways to continue moving forward. When it comes to parenting or house rules, there really is no “one size fits all” formula. I try not to judge other people’s parenting for this reason. What works for us may not work for others. At the end of the day, we just have to do what feels right for our family.
Happy weekend everyone!