Freeze This Moment!

Freeze This Moment! October 23, 2013

My days are busy and I am not finding much time to stop and smell the roses.  I thought, in a funky and resentful mood last week, that this was because there were not enough roses in my life, but I have been praying for some inner calm and the fruit of that prayer is abundant.

I tend to think that a positive family life means that we are all together, laughing, playing board games or reading scripture, playing touch football or serving at the soup kitchen.  I shy away from what B-Mama has called “spaces in our togetherness.”  Lately we have had a lot of spaces, and it feels like my family is moving in too many different directions.  It’s all good, though.  One part of the “spaces” is that there are so many of us that we can mix and mingle in different ways.  Another part is that some alone time is good for everyone.

This morning, I found myself alone at the kitchen sink, cleaning up from breakfast.  Rather than resenting the fact that no one was helping me, I took joy in the time I had alone with my thoughts.

Here is my Saturday morning freeze frame.  When you read this post, respond with a comment about what the various members of your family were doing, it is fun to see a slice of life:

A 12 year old boy is mowing the lawn, listening to Bon Jovi, having attended his first middle school dance last night

A 10 year old girl is doing a computer math tutorial for school, a happy break from her frustrating writing workshop

A 9 year old girl is out on a run with her father, and they brought the baby in the jogger, she is not a golfer, but has finally find a way to get her share of time with dad!

A 9 year old boy is using brand new sharpies, which he worked to earn, to draw over the lines of a haunted mansion he has been working on for several days

4 and 5 year old boys are playing with chalk in the driveway

Life is good.  I need to stop and look around more often and be thankful for that.

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  • buildingcathedralstexasmommy

    Sat am we were all parked in front of the TV watching Dad’s pictures from China/Hong Kong via Apple TV. As much as I want to be anti-technology, it is a blessing for our family to FaceTime with Daddy from Tiananmen Square! We were happy to be together after a far flung week!! Then that jetlagged dad pitched a little league game. But that gives our kids chances to flourish, too. Our extrovert was within sight of the field on the playground with a gaggle of kids around him, and our legalistic one was helping score the game!

  • Saturday morning I am sweaty and my legs feel tight from a long run as I drive my 7 year old son to soccer practice with his team. He has his baseball bag packed because he will be headed directly to his baseball game after soccer. I have 3 other children in the car, one (girl age 9) who is reading a book and dressed for her soccer game in the later afternoon hours. Two little girls (ages 4 and almost 2) who are dressed for a day at the soccer fields. They will spend 1/2 hour in the car as I drop my 7 year old off and then head to their 5 year old brother’s soccer game. My husband is with our 5 year old son, coaching the team. I have bags of lunches and waters packed in the car, although the kids will not be hungry for hours as they are full of a delicious pancake breakfast made and served solo by dad. I am wondering how my children will perform in their games, and lamenting that I will miss at least 2 sporting events.

  • I should also add — our lawn was cut Friday by someone we hired. My sink is full of dishes, which will be difficult to clean when we all return home in the later afternoon. On most Saturdays, I enjoy the chaos 😉 and the blessing of being a mom to a bustling busy household. But I am usually lamenting how early we had to rise to make our Saturday work! I loved reading about your slice of life.

  • Bethany

    Saturday I, too, am dashing in from a long run and chatting with my husband over our coveted Sat. morning Starbucks (he–Pumpkin spice latte, me–Americano). It is my peace offering to him for holding down the fort early while I get in my miles. We shower and get ready for the day ahead. The kids are huddled around the computer, playing their also-coveted Sat. morning Minecraft game. A half hour later, we head out to support J (5) at his soccer game (Daddy coaching) followed by a quick stint at T’s (7) game (Daddy coaching there too), only to finish at M’s (8) game. Little girls are in tow and relatively happy with snacks and drinks. Thankfully this season all of our games are within a 3 mile radius. This is a good thing as games ended by one and M had to dash off to Cub Scout camping with his Papa. THANKS be to God for His bounty and goodness!

  • Bethany

    Tex, I love this image of your sons on the playground and also helping score. I could have written a very similar description of my little people. Glad Mr. Tex is home from China!

  • Juris Mater

    Saturday is our only day that starts and moves slowly, so we usually make a slower breakfast, the kids do their drawing and legos and crafts, and we eventually get outside if we can. It’s nice to have a calmer day to follow where the day leads us, although by mid-day I start to get annoyed by the lack of structure : ) I am going to re-read this post on Friday to prepare myself to be able to “freeze” and appreciate the little moments on Saturdays. My husband has always worked on Saturdays, which is a real downer, but it means he’s home for dinner many nights so it’s worth it.

    Sunday is our fast weekend day–Mass, brunch, family outing, and everyone is doing only 1 sport right now, CYO cross-country, which takes place on Sunday afternoons and is the MOST AWESOME THING EVER to share with my kids.

  • Kathleen

    What? None of the builders mentioned Saturday morning chores? 🙂 🙂 Our Saturdays begin with Mass, a quick coffee, and then back to the ranch for character building manual labor for all our children (and us). Leaf racking, car vacuuming, window washing, weeding. After the early morning chores we then do fun things or fun errands, but I just remember growing up with Saturday morning chores as “character building” the earlier you rose the better chores you got. This is the time for us to really work with our children, teach them how to work well. Plus, it’s hard sometimes to get those big projects done during the busy week, so we try to keep Saturday morning free for family work time. Sometimes it’s idyllic and the kids are whistling while they work and sometimes they groan and complain and we have to keep after them, but in the end, I love that feeling that we’ve accomplished something as a family. But I promise I’m not always “Sargent Mom,” I do make pancakes for my kids and savor the a slow morning, we just do that on Sunday and head to a later mass.

  • Juris Mater

    Kathleen, that is awesome!! My husband and I are discussing this idea pronto. I love this concept.

  • Annie

    What a fun post, thanks for giving your readers a peek into your lives. On my Saturday morning, I was enjoying catching up with some runner girlfriends at a local 10k while our toddler got some coveted Daddy time. I loved coming home to see my husband chasing him around in the backyard and hearing our little guy’s squeals of delight. My husband also usually works on Saturday so this was a treat for all 3 of us! I am so thankful for days like last Saturday.

  • buildingcathedralstexasmommy

    Yes, we usually do chore work on Sat AM, as baseball is usually noon or later. I started keeping a running list of chores (shorter term and longer term) on a google doc shared with my husband, but even that wasn’t specific enough. Now I send an email with the subject “Things that must be done this weekend to avoid your wife having a nervous breakdown”. He appreciates the forthrightness! Boys help if they can at all, including weeding, moving firewood, cleaning out drawers, etc. My parents made it a point for us not to have to do a lot of chores so we could have “opportunities” but I regret not learning how to do many typical household chores now!

  • Kat0427

    We also do Saturday morning chores when we don’t have early soccer games. It is a tremendous help to me, and I’m glad that the kids are learning how to do basic house cleaning. Surprisingly, cleaning bathrooms is one of the easiest tasks for young kids to help with – a win-win, in my opinion! I’m a bit frightened by them spraying chemicals, so we fill spray bottles with water and let them have at it. They also do a good job with dusting and folding simple laundry. We have tried pulling chores out of a hat, but sometimes it’s easier just to put a couple of kids with each parent and to go from there.

  • Jen Minson

    I’m so jealous JM! I loved the Philly CYO cross country Sundays. I cried with the beauty of it the first week. I had never experienced anything like it before.

  • Juris Mater

    OK good, so it’s not just me? It takes my breath away every time.

  • Bethany

    i’ll be honest and say that for our family right now, Saturday morning chores would probably push my children over the edge and send them packing. We have such a struggle with kickback from our oldest child that sets a horrible tone for the family and for a day that is supposed to be a day of peace in our home. I so appreciate you sharing the picture of your Saturday morning, but I think for some families, especially ours at the moment, I have to set my expectations realistically. I also wanted to be sure to be real for the sake of our readership. Readers: If the thought of Saturday morning chores is a faraway dream for your family, you are not alone! I hope to get there at some point, but my husband and I can only do so much. I’m still patting myself on the back for getting into a better rhythm of daily chores for my kids!!

  • AMDG

    Thank you for keeping it real! Something to aspire to ( or dream of as I get a little giddy with thoughts of a clean and tidy home) but with a three month old, three year old, and one who just started Kindergarten, I am learning…sometimes struggling… to accept our limitations.

  • Yes B-Mama, thanks for keepin it real! We only do Sat. chores in the winter offseason. It is hard not to “get stuff done” during this Sat. morning time, but these are the sacrifices we make as a sporty Catholic family 😉 Thankfully, intense athletic competition builds character too, and there are always weekday chores if we really want to pile it on, LOL!

  • Mary Alice

    My 12 year old was mowing the lawn! About once a month, we have a Saturday during the fall and spring that is a big work morning, raking leaves, cleaning out the garage, weeding, putting out/away patio furniture, etc. Almost every Saturday morning in the summer is like that, too, with more garden related chores to be done until about noon, followed by family hang out by the pool in the afternoon.

    My husband is out of the house for 75-80 hours from Mon-Fri, so a “honey do” list is really not possible for him, he really needs the weekends to recover. We try to make sure that he is doing things that will keep him healthy and sane while also spending time with the kids, so he might go for a run, we might take a big walk in the woods, and he usually takes our son out to play golf on Saturday afternoons.

    To make time for this, the kids and I do lots of the other chores that you mentioned during breaks in our homeschool week — we change out clothes and clean our drawers, we empty and clean the van, do laundry and put it away, etc, during the week.

    We are able to have a cleaning lady once a week to do the heavier cleaning chores, but the kids are responsible for keeping the bathrooms and their bedrooms fairly tidy, doing some laundry and helping with meal prep, dishes, etc.

  • Kat0427

    It’s so funny, because I think that going from one soccer field to the next would totally push my children over the edge! I feel like a total slacker when I read about your sports schedules.
    And let me just say, in case there was any confusion, that our Saturday morning chore routine is far from perfect! It doesn’t happen every week, and the children are not always happily working. I just wanted to share what has worked for us, in case it can serve as an encouragement or provide some ideas for anyone else out there. I didn’t mean to paint an idyllic picture by any means!
    We don’t do weekday chores, other than the very basic make your bed/clean up after yourself. Wish we did, but we don’t.

  • Bethany

    Kat, you’re so sweet. I think for all of us this is definitely a “what’s good for your family” type of thing. You all inspire me to be a better mama every day and I am so grateful for that. I can get very discouraged and down on myself by the “should haves”, “would haves” so I wanted to be sure no one else felt like I did. I think we can all agree that every family is a work-in-progress and we are here to help each other on this journey of parenthood. It goes without saying, but I’m saying it just in case! 🙂

  • Mary Alice

    B, it is so interesting that you notice that your oldest is setting the tone. All along with homeschooling, I have known that it is possible for us because our oldest is compliant and sets that tone with school work, and the same is true for chores. If I had been dealing with my middle ones first, I never would have been homeschooling.

    Also, ditto Kat on the soccer schedule. It would push my husband so far over the edge that he would never be seen again, and for other dads it is a totally fun quality time. Yet, we drive three hours each way every weekend in the winter and he manages all the kids both weekend days with no complaints on the ski mountain.

  • Mary Alice

    Start small, and they will get with the program and the help that they contribute will add up fast. When I had four little ones about the age you are describing I had my kindergartener empty the wastebaskets around the house twice a week. That was the first taste, but the kids all got the idea that there would be nightly chores.

  • Mary Alice

    I have to admit that it is getting harder to get my older ones to do weekday chores now that they are in school. There just are not enough hours in the day — they are at school for 9 hours (including bus rides), then have homework and piano practice, and I want the rest of their time to be downtime. On the other hand, I do think they are sort of losing the “we’re all in this together” mentality that chores provided. I have noticed that one child has stopped clearing the plate, making the bed, the basic things that are courtesy to the people who share your home. Back when that child was in charge of cleaning the kitchen once a week, there would have been a nuclear meltdown if a sibling had failed to clear their plate!

  • Kathleen

    BEthany, I totally understand that it can be hard to do chores and obviously during the week is better for some families, but I was trying to be funny by painting a somewhat dramatic picture of back-breaking labor for children…. My husband and I were inspired to be a bit tougher on ourselves and our kids about working together as a family after hearing a couple of talks on raising kids of virtue. I don’t think chores should be on Saturday per say, whenever we teach our children to have that capacity for hard work is great. I think (AND I am not at all referring to any of the brave hardworking courageous women who write here!!) society as a whole tries to shield children from discomfort and as a result, there are many very adolescent adults incapable of self sacrifice and self gift. I personally think chores are probably more important for a child’s development than sports or music or arts or plays. Yes, yes, yes, we do all those things to the extent that we can, but if those things complicate our lives to such an extent that we aren’t able to teach our children to give of themselves for the family, than something else should give. I should add that I live in an area of the country where families over-schedule their children and themselves to such a degree that kids think their parents were created to be their drivers to every single enriching activity. It’s this mentality that I think often makes people (at least in my neighborhood) tell themselves that they could not have more than two kids because it’s just too much work.
    I didn’t mean to imply everyone should do chores Saturday..

  • Kathleen

    You’re right, I forgot about that.

  • Kathleen

    I should also add so that I don’t worry mothers of little babies… We don’t have any infants right now… Our youngest is 3 and our oldest is 7. And it’s not all morning long.

  • kathleen

    JM, we give them tooth brushes as cleaning tools and it begins at zero dark thirty.. Just kidding…

  • AMDG

    Thank you for the wonderful and practical advice 🙂

  • Mary Alice

    Kathleen, I find myself in a similar boat — I already have the seven children, but if I were trying to keep them on the sports and activities schedule that is common in my town, I would not be able to do it, or I would not have been able to be open to having the younger children.

    On the other hand, I also know that with the right kind of coaching and family attitude, sports and activities can be important schools of character. I think that those builders who put a lot of time into their childrens’ sports schedules were all Division 1 collegiate athletes, so for them it is really not just about chauffeuring, it is about athleticism, work ethic, sportsmanship, personal drive, and mental toughness on and off the field, and it is also really quality family time. I frequently notice that Red and her husband are MOST engaged with their children while doing sports with them, whereas for me, dropping off at little league practice was simply that. In our house, we find that we engage better with our children over the sports that we are good at (golf and skiing), and also through books, music, and things like bike rides and walks in the woods, so we have had to say no to most team sports to prioritize those things.

  • Kathleen

    I totally agree! Playing sports and mastering an instrument require a lot of mental toughness and virtue. It’s a huge challenge to maintain that healthy balance.