Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Scrub Days.

Some days, all my best laid plans and ideas for the day just. aren't. working. Getting little minds and hands corralled into any activity is like trying to herd drunken cats. Or juggle them. It's difficult.

I used to end these days crying after everyone was asleep, in my favorite "comfort" pajamas over a carton of vanilla greek yogurt, asking my cat questions like: "Why is this so hard? Why can't I get them to follow this awesome plan? Am I failing all my kids completely? Why do I SUCK?! Do you even care?"

Then, on one of Those Days, I noticed something. I'd stuck everyone in the car and released them into a big park with a field, in effort to not yell at anyone harshly out of frustration. (Don't pretend now. We all do that sometimes. ;oP ) They meandered into a giant pavilion with a sandpit and so immersed their minds in play and their toes in sand that they stayed there happily for 3 full hours. It struck me that this is probably what they needed all along.

So now, when a day's just not working, I scrub all plans. Done. There's now nothing on the docket, except sitting and waiting for the day to tell us what needs to happen for us all to find our balance again. The answer always presents itself, eventually, and it's usually the youngest of us that discovers the truth first. (More often than not, if you let the youngest member of the family set the barometer for the day, things are bound to be more successful all around, in my experience, which sort of flies in the face of conventional wisdom I suppose.)

Sometimes, the solution is a day doing nothing but reading in bed together. Sometimes, we have an impromptu trip to the park. Often, it's building elaborate tents and tunnels with quilts and chairs and tables, and pretending until people fall asleep under a hideout or indoor makeshift hammock. Another favorite go-to is gross motor movement activities like tree climbing or building dams in streams with rocks or scaling giant wood chip mounds. Almost invariably, sour moods are put right again, tempers stop flaring and the pointless urgency of the atmosphere drains lazily out of the day like water out of a long, luxurious bath.

Grace and Lark's bear cave
Sometimes, we simply toss pillows in the floor and watch movies together while eating popcorn (everyone gets their OWN bowl.) If we need to run out and grab snacks just to get through that day, so be it. (And who says anyone needs matching shoes anyway? There are days for nice outfits and matching shoes, and then there are days to celebrate the hilarity of being a little ridiculous!)

Most importantly, there's no pushing through or powering ahead when everyone's got a bad case of "the stupids" (you know, the days when every instruction is met with a blank stare), or the grumpies, or when the whole family is just restless in general. There's only stopping and trying to find our bliss on Scrub days. And that's OK.

It's OK because Scrub Days are about finding something our routine made us leave behind. Relationship. Connection. Alone time. Fantasy. Imagination. Our inner monkey. When we give ourselves time to honor the part inside us that's screaming for air and sustenance, so that we can become balanced people again. Then we can move forward and think about words like "accomplishment" and "rhythm" and "planning".

 All work and no play makes Jane a dull/grouchy/spaced out/whiny/incomplete girl. So instead pecking away at the impossible, we relax and let our Muses carry us effortlessly to where we needed to go in the first place. Does it look indulgent and lazy to others? Sure. Who cares! We know it's wise. We know it works. And that's really all that matters.

Getting lost in wonderland.

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