Working full time over the last few months really made me focus on the most important aspects of motherhood to me, and truly helped me learn more about the type of Mama I strive to be for our children. With time with Josephine seemingly taken from me, I made mental notes of how we'd spend our days filled with nothing but crafting and reading and playing as soon as the work finished.
And in many ways we have. Christmas crafts have become common place round here (i'll share some of our favourites soon) and we've made dens a-plenty, but I've come to realise that, as Mamas, time to get on and do housework, cook the dinner and sort the bills remains a constant; let alone finding those equally important moments to ourselves, when we can sit and breathe and relax for just a moment. Even without the work, spending 24/7 engaging Josephine in fun-filled, educational and self-affirming activities is just unrealistic. More importantly, I've come to realise that that's ok. That it's just as important for Josephine to play on her own, occupy herself and discover the world through her own eyes as it is for me to get her food sorted, whip the hoover round once in a while and have a glance at some of my favourite blogs.
And yesterday, Josephine taught me the most important factor of this particular lesson.
I'm not ashamed to admit that since mid-August, the task that rapidly fell to the bottom of my to-do list, that rarely got completed, was the housework. Sure the washing up was done and the clothes washed, but the dusting and polishing? Absolutely not. So yesterday I decided it was time to tackle the mess; to get sorted and get tidy before Christmas. While Josephine pottered about doing this and that, and watching a bit of Mr Tumble on iPlayer, I spent the day putting things away, hoovering and packing bags to take to the charity shop, before giving Josephine her dinner and heading out to meet Ben at the supermarket to do our weekly shop.
As we wheeled the trolley up and down the aisles, Ben asked Josephine about her day:
"What have you and Mama done today, Phiney?"
"Ummmm. We did dancing!!"
As she said it, a huge smile broke out across my face and a lesson was well and truly learnt. If Ben had asked me what fun things I'd done with Josephine that day, I'd have been filled with Mama-guilt as I wouldn't have seen past the cleaning and sorting, the fact we didn't leave the house until 5.30pm and that Josephine was wearing her pajamas until 20 minutes before that.
But Josephine? Her day had been filled with that little Christmas music dance-off she had with Mama before lunch; our trips to sit and watch the lights twinkle on the Christmas tree and see how many birds she could find nestled in its branches; winding up the musical snow globe and listening to Mama sing along while we watched the snow fall on Father Christmas. Those fleeting but magical moments had been what made her day, what she remembered; what she'd fall asleep thinking of while I lay in bed wishing I'd made more effort to do this or that with her.
Our little ones are so often the best teachers. And we need to listen to them more, to watch how happy they are; to realise that they drift off to sleep with smiles on their faces because of the little things we did with them, and that they don't feel they've missed out because we haven't been on some amazing adventure that day.
So now, as I fall asleep I'll be thinking of the little things too, learning from my amazing guide through this journey of Mama-hood; our tiny dancer.
Perhaps it's time to take a step away from Pinterest and the extravagant activities it suggests, and take pleasure instead in those 5 minute strolls round the garden (like ours this morning, pictured), the kitchen discos or tickle-time on the sofa? What are the little things that fill those magical spare minutes on busy days in your home?