Picture Day Pitfalls

Last week we saw the poster up on the front door at school and got the flyers in our cubbies:

Picture day! Hooray!

The Bug and the Bear were pretty excited, and we went clothes shopping on Friday afternoon.

We picked some cute plaid shirts, some nice trousers, and the boys got to choose some fun items, too.

We have a rule in our house. The boys choose their clothes on a daily basis. I only require that they dress appropriately for the weather, but then they have full autonomy.

However, on special occasions, Mama gets to choose.

Since they usually get to pick, I rarely run into problems when it comes to special occasion dressing.

Normally, I give them a choice on those occasions. We’ll lay out some nice shirts and trousers for them to pick from.

For Picture Day, however, I was adamant. Bug was to wear his lederhosen.

Yes, lederhosen!

They’re beautiful, green leather, Bavarian lederhosen. They fit him perfectly, and come with a sweet coordinated plaid shirt embroidered with edelweiss.

For the Bear, we put him in a little Bavarian checked button-down shirt with a jaunty boiled-wool hat given to him by his aunt and uncle.

They look so handsome. Their shirts are pressed, their hair is combed… But then…

Remember, everyone:

NEVER EVER LET YOUR CHILDREN EAT THEIR BREAKFAST IN THEIR PICTURE DAY CLOTHES.

Or, if you do, don’t serve scones with strawberry jam.

help-my-kid-starting-daycare

Help! My kid has started daycare!

Today is the Bug’s first day of daycare. I’m celebrating (and distracting myself) by writing a long-overdue blog post!

So he’s out of the house… What now??

I have been extremely lucky. First, I benefitted from Canada’s generous parental leave policy with one whole year of maternity leave. Second, my family’s timely move from Canada to Germany allowed me to extend my maternity leave while we settled into our new life here.

But it’s time for this charmed period of my life to end. It’s time to get back to work. This, of course, is easier said than done.

Since it looks like Chico and I may move around quite a bit in future, I have decided to become certified as a teacher of English as a second language–a career that will hopefully allow me to work wherever we end up.

I’ll be taking a 4-week intensive CELTA course (a Cambridge English certification) in Munich starting in September. I’m lucky enough to have daycare lined up, as well as family who are available to come and take over running the house while I am in class full-time. Not everyone is so lucky.

Organizing your overwhelming amount of free time

Suddenly you’re home alone, and you have all this amazing free time. You’re going to be able to get all that stuff done you’ve been meaning to do! Right? Wrong.

The few precious hours you have will slip by like water over Niagara Falls. There’s just so much to cram into a short space of time that (if you’re like me) you can sometimes end up ignoring it all and wasting time online.

So how do you make the most of the time without feeling overwhelmed? I have a simple answer.

LISTS.

i-love-listsI love lists. Lists help keep things clear, manageable, and tidy. I make lists for everything: To Do lists, Honey Do lists (technically for my Chico, poor man), packing lists, grocery lists, and many more.

I use a notebook to make a general list for each week. Then, I’ll make a break-down list to more specifically detail each day’s plan.

A list of what makes a good list notebook:

  • Spiral-bound
  • Able to sit open on a desk or tabletop
  • Lined or squared
  • Portable (A5) size
  • Tear-away option for the pages

A list of what makes a good list:

  • Short. Limit yourself to a maximum of 3 to 5 main tasks.
  • Specific. Don’t just say “clean.” Clean what? The kitchen? The bathroom?
  • Sweet. Don’t just put chores or unpleasant tasks (like cleaning) on there. Make room for a cup of tea, or for writing a blog post!

Making lists helps me to remember what I so desperately wanted to do before the chasm of free time stretched out before me. That chasm has a tendency to swallow all memory of what I had planned, hence the lists.

Take time to do something for yourself

Whether it’s an activity you love (exercise, reading, crafting), or a personal development project like my CELTA training, take some time to do something for yourself.

The few parenting resources I’ve read (I swore them off after I started feeling overwhelmed last year) recommend that parents set an example for their children of taking care of themselves.

Pursuing our own development shows our kids that parents have enough self-respect to maintain our interests outside of our families. Most everyone who’s an expert on the subject agrees that this sets a good example of self-respect to our children.

Far from resenting our absence from their lives, as long as we strike a good balance between our activities (whether it be work or hobbies) and family time, our kids will appreciate the example we set.

Enjoy your kids all the more when they get home

If they’ve been gone all day, chances are you’ll be pretty excited to see your kids when everyone gets home. As time spent together gets more limited, enjoy the moments you spend together to the max.

As far as I can, I’ll try to have everything prepared to keep cooking and chores to a minimum when the Bug gets home, and put away the iPhone and iPad, and try to nab some quality time with the little man.

Here’s hoping all goes well.