Like many of you, Tony and I are working parents. And sometimes we work from home. While watching the kids. While taking care of the goats. While not getting enough work done. While our kids holler, “M-o-o-m! D-a-a-d!”
Not only is it distracting, but it also means that if you get a call from me you are likely to hear a lively discussion about “whose stick it is” in the background. For the record, it was originally Robin’s stick (6 years). But he put it down. So it became Annie’s stick (4 years). Meanwhile Maxi (1 year) makes off like a bandit with said stick while her two siblings argue.
This is parenthood. I can job-clean-nurse while wearing my child ankle weights. I know that 5 minutes of alone time in the bathroom isn’t guaranteed. Though sometimes I ask, why do Tony and I seem to have a gravitational mass that pulls in our children? Why do they require us to entertain them?
And I have to remind myself, this need not be a constant state. A simple change of venue can do the trick. Go outside! In the house, we parents are often the most interesting object available. The kids ricochet off the walls and into our near-Earth orbit. But outside, children can manage escape velocity.
Of course, there is the “parent addiction” (read: won’t leave you alone) that can afflict all children (at least before their teenage years). Once outdoors, kids may not be ready to see that the walls have vanished. While they work it out, we can get back to work: Sitting on the grass with our laptops, puttering in the garden, or watching the juncos flit through the trees.
And while ignoring little ones indoors is rarely possible, once in nature they invariably wander off to find rocks, mud puddles, bugs, grass, shovels, weeds to eat, dinosaur bones, knives, clouds, and squirrels. Or they may choose to help with your garden puttering.
As with any parenting advice, this is easier blogged than done. Yet sending our kids outside need not stem from our frustration; it can come from our empathy. A life spent indoors doesn’t set children up for success in exploring beyond the limited perspective of their parents (that’s us with our limitedness). Nature provides a far grander and more diverse landscape.
So next time we seek that sense of calm, but our kids aren’t letting us have it, let’s try stepping outside with them (or send them out on their own—that’s how I wrote this blog*). There we shall find a world with fewer boxed-in boundaries, less parental gravity. And enough sticks to for everyone!
See you outside,
Founder & Mom
*Picture the mom from Calvin and Hobbes.