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For the past 12 years I had been waking up early to commute to my job. While there was some structure to my work day, I had a lot of autonomy and interaction with people. It was comfortable. I knew what to expect. Who I would see in a day. I had settled into a routine within office politics.
Honestly, I thought that job was something I would do even after having kids. It had been my life’s goal. What I thought was my mission.
But that all changed once I became pregnant. Suddenly I was feeling less fulfilled. The politics were taking up too much mental energy. The calling I felt to stay home with my son was too strong to ignore.
At the end of my maternity leave, I made the decision not to go back. Was I terrified? YES! I had worked through college, terrible jobs, long hours, time away from my husband, all to get this job.
The first few months taking care of my son were tough! Tougher than I ever thought it could be. In addition to taking care of a baby who constantly needs, I was having doubts on whether I had made the right decision.
Most of my friends didn’t understand. The ones without kids were telling me I’d regret leaving the workforce and having a gap in my resume. The ones with kids were saying how it’s important for them to go to daycare and socialize. Besides, you’ll get bored being at home all the time.
After staying home, I felt truly alone. It was just me, my baby, and a 12 hour timespan before my husband got home. All of my friends were working. There was one day when I realized I hadn’t left my house for three days straight except for getting the mail. That’s when I realized the importance of getting onto a routine.
We started by scheduling one or two outings a week starting with Baby Bounce at the local library. We’d go, sing songs, small talk with other moms, then leave. My son is now firmly into toddlerhood but we still have a routine that involves doing set programs throughout the week.
Routines Don’t Have To Mean Boring
The reason I told the above story is because at this point, you can either find comfort in your routine or see it as a prison sentence. The constant repetition day in and day out can wear on anyone. Your child is constantly needing something from you and free time has to be scheduled for yourself a week in advance.
Instead of focusing on the boring repetition of my routine, I started to focus on how my son was experiencing the world. Nothing is a better explanation of a child’s sense of wonder like watching a baby pick up a sock and carefully examine it for 5 minutes like it’s the most interesting item they’ve ever seen (because it most like IS the most interesting item they’ve ever seen).
Ways that we find adventure in our everyday routine:
- Grocery Store: letting my son hold items (that he can’t damage). He’ll shake them, look them over, and put them into the main area of the cart.
- Walking Outside: Pointing out birds, squirrels, flowers, butterflies and other things in nature. Letting him pick up and hold sticks.
- Cooking: Bringing his high chair over so he can see me chop and wash produce. Letting him explore the produce discards.
- Laundry: He helps me sort clothes and put them into the washer.
- Cleaning: One of his favorite things to do is use the microfiber floor cloth. He pushes it around collecting dust.
- Gardening: I point out weeds to let him pull out. He also assists with spreading mulch.
All of these tasks sound boring and are things adults typically try to get through as fast as possible. By involving my son, they suddenly become events to enjoy and explore alongside him. When we pull weeds we may uncover a worm or other insect to investigate. Each event usually lends itself to new experiences.
The entire world is new, interesting, and exciting for a child. Slowing down and seeing things from your child’s viewpoint allows you to tap into their sense of wonder for yourself.
A Little More About Steffa
Steffa left her science job at a non-profit to stay at home and raise her 2 year old son. She is a stay-at-home mom blogger who writes about finances, making money, budgeting, and meal planning. As a plant based food enthusiast, she hasn’t met a vegetable she doesn’t like and is raising her son the same way.
More can be found in her blog Plantsonify.com.