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­Finding stillness through moments of chaos

What do self care and rice have in common?

A few minutes of rest.

Let me explain.

Everyone is handling the pandemic differently. Our family has been staying at home as much as we can. We’ve been fortunate to remain healthy, but being home all the time has its own challenges. One of them is entertaining an active toddler. Another is keeping my own sanity on top of it.

So that’s how this started. I was brainstorming new activities we could try indoors (because it’s cold and winter-y outside) and thought it would be fun to make a sensory table.

I ran outside and grabbed our water table, then dragged it in to clean it up. After a summer of playing outdoors, it needed a little TLC. Then I asked my husband to grab a big bag of rice next time he was at the store.

One morning, I poured about half the bag of rice into the table and added some small toys, bowls and utensils.

The first few minutes were great. My daughter enjoyed pouring rice from one container to another, driving cars through it and sprinkling the rice through her fingers.

Even better, I got to sit back, relax and watch. I follow a blogger who calls this “sittervising,” and I think that’s an excellent term.

Then things got wild.

My daughter figured out there was nothing keeping the rice inside the table and promptly dumped a bowl-full directly on the carpet.

The rice continued to pile up. It was spreading. It was multiplying. Soon there was rice throughout the first floor of our home.

When my husband walked into the room, he smirked and said, “I did NOT see that coming!”

Here’s the thing, though.

It gave me a few minutes of stillness amid the action. And that’s what we’re all after, right?

Parenting is a tough job. It is a wonderful job, but a tough one. There are struggles at every age. In this particular stage of toddlerhood, my daughter is energetic and active. She thrives on engagement and play, and ol’ mom can’t always keep up. Trying activities that result in some “sittervising” are a win in my book.

Scheduling these moments in our routine is one way I can take a step back and reenergize during the day.

I also think it’s important to keep your own hobbies and interests in the midst of parenting. Sometime last year, I saw a viral video in which someone propagated succulents from their own plants.

Hey, I had some succulents! I got to work researching the specific kind of dirt they thrive in, the amount of sunlight, the best time to water them. It gave me a little something to focus on for myself.

Six months later, I am happy to announce that my succulents did, in fact, grow.

My succulents are a “me” thing — a bit of “self care,” as they’re calling it these days.

If you have older children, you can even involve them in activities you like to do. My daughter is a bit young for propagating succulents, but she does enjoy helping me feed and water the rabbits we raise. As parents, we spend much of our time doing things for our kids. Make time for some of your things, too.

Despite moments of quiet throughout the day or indulging in hobbies when I can, I admit that nothing compares to brief times away to reset and refresh. In the evenings or on weekends, my husband takes over while I spend some time alone. Sometimes I take the opportunity to complete chores, sometimes I take a nap. Self care is whatever makes you feel taken care of — whether that is crossing things off your list or simply being still for awhile.

This would be a great time for a visit with grandparents or swapping play dates with a friend so you each get a break. If you need to hire a babysitter, do it.

Most importantly, don’t feel guilty about it. Your children deserve the best version of you, and that means taking care of yourself too.

Every day is different. Some days, you will feel like you’ve got all your rice in the table. Other days, it will be on the floor. If it’s one of those days, sit back and take a breather. You can always sweep it up later.

¯¯¯

Julianne Kilmer and her husband, Nick, live in Reedsville with their daughter, Carter, who turns 2 in April.

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