Mother hood is such a beautiful thing. Also, it can be eternally messy.
It's messy from birth and diapers to night time feedings and subsequent burping. It's messy from the laundry piles to the lunch pail explosions. It's messy from bath time to the bad times and all of the fun-engaging-loving times in between.
When I have waded through the deep trenches of the mother hood, say during 3AM feedings, or during those moments when I have spot treated tiny baby clothing or when we have replaced growing feet and tossed out stinky running shoes, I have also been completely aware that mother hood is filled with messy moments but during those times there has been a very deep longing within me for things to stay the same forever.
Sometimes I wonder how we have made it through the constant night time wake up calls or how they have moved on to the next shoes size. Sometimes I even wonder if I made the most of it. Sometimes I wonder where the time has gone.
That's why when I read the stat that on average Canadian families spend 14% of their time together doing all kinds of activities, my children's little life times flashed before my eyes. I wondered if we could be included in that stat and I wondered how we could make sure we never were.
I didn't dream of having a little family of my own, only to have us not be together. No, I dreamed of copious amounts of quality time and family memories to last us all a long, beautiful, messy life time. But truth be told, life is also always busy and sometimes we do feel like we are being pulled in opposite directions instead of to each other.
For us, in our home, the living room is a central location for gathering and spending family time together.That's why the new experiment #ProjectSmartFurniture put out by Leons furniture caught my attention instantly.
They track an average family with their innovative technology that encourages family togetherness.
#ProjectSmartFurniture got me thinking. It also got a conversation brewing in our household. Did we spend enough time together? Was it quality time?? Could we improve? If so, how? What would could we do as a family at home to grow our relationships?
Together we determined that some weeks are better than others. Some weeks we do a good job of playing ball in the yard, reading stacks of stories before bedtime and snuggling up on the sofa just to chat about our days. And other days, we could really improve on our amount of quality family time spent together. After some discussion, we came up with adding a weekly "family game night in" to our schedules. We plunked it right there between after school activities, volunteer time and everything else we squeeze into our evenings. The thing is, we actually LOVE spending good old fashioned quality time together, so why not do more of it and make sure of it!
For the next few months while it is still a little too cold/wet and messy to engage in our usual weekly family hikes we have decided to instead play cards, stack up wooden towers and learn the tricks to becoming a family of chess pros. It's been in those moments, when we are huddled around our coffee table in our living room, with the throw pillows unfluffed and the destruction of a wooden tower strewn all over the floor that I have been reminded that their will always lots of beauty in the messes too.
Childhood is messy, weather it's the overwhelming early stages of infancy messes or the times when bigger kids make bigger messes, but all of it is fleeting. Recently, while we have been busy building gaming strategies and tall Jenga towers we have also been building lasting family memories. Best of all?? It isn't costing us a thing to spend those times together, but we are gratefully and consciously adding to our familie's shared memory bank by doing so.
Life is busy and messy and it will always be that way, but with a few slow minimalistic family game nights sprinkled within each busy month, we are on our way to creating an atmosphere that will constantly reassure our ever growing and ever changing children that our family and each other will always be priority.
They aren't as small, needy and messy as they use to be. I notice it in the way they count their cards during game night, and lay them down neatly, in a fluttering form beside the chips and dip, and the way they subsequently wipe up their own spills off of their clothing after heaping a potato chip to overflowing. I notice it in the way they wipe their sleepy eyes and head up to bed after one too many hands of GO FISH, without really needing us. And then, most of all, I notice it when I wake up at 3AM and the house is still sound asleep and no one is calling out for me. I notice a lot of things now that we have mindfully slowed down. Now that we have really looked at each other, spent time beside each other and truly grown closer in what I hope will be all of our greatest, most intimate, most rewarding life long relationships. I'm also reminded that these years are as messy as they are short.
It's final. I never want to be in that 14% and as Aerosmith so classically said: "I don't want to miss a thing."