By Sarah Deveau
August 9th, 2011

No blog about the Calgary Zoo this month because, well, I haven’t been in Calgary! After a week-long “business” trip in San Francisco with Stella & Dot (my husband claims a trip shouldn’t count as business if one of the nights I stayed out dancing until 4am and I’m inclined to agree with him) I returned home just to jump on a flight to Nova Scotia with my three girls for a five week vacay at our lake house in Annapolis Valley.

The first two weeks were absolute bliss. My dad was here, along with friends with their four kids. We had perfect weather and lazed on the beach and enjoyed afternoon naps and a few trips to town (20 minutes away, nothing within walking distance).

Then everyone left, and before my next wave of visitors would arrive I had nine days in which it would just be me and the three girls, ages 6, 3, and 22 months, and no car. I’m not a homebody at all, and nine days is certainly a record for me to be “stuck” at home with the kids.

On the plus side, we have the beach and the woods and a decent sized house to rattle around in. One the negative side, we have no television, a broken hard drive (leaving just five movies to watch on my laptop), and no toys, since we bought the place last summer and have only just furnished it this visit.
I think I’ve come a long way in these nine days. I’ve had a lot of time to think about those things you don’t have time to contemplate when you’re in the thick of it with the kids and work and general chaos. I’ve come up with a few realizations (some big, some small) that I’ll likely carry over into our routine when we’re back home.

• I make food way too complicated at home. My kids are picky eaters and I like to cook. That means I spend upwards of an hour each day making simple meals for them, and nicer meals for my husband and I, and cleaning up after both. Here, I’ve been eating simple upgrades to their meals. With no option to run out for fancier ingredients if I didn’t plan ahead, I’ve gotten used to more basic fare. Dinner is ready in a fraction of the time, and I think my husband will barely even notice (he’s the hungry, grateful type).

• I work from home, so I can fill my day with being a crappy mom and a crappy worker instead of focusing on doing each thing well, in its own time. Here, when we heard to the beach or the backyard they’re getting my full attention, and they’re happy to give me completely uninterrupted time later to work. They’ve always seem to want to consume every second I have, but I realize now that the time I was giving them wasn’t actually satisfying them, and just left them wanting more.

• I’ve been rushing my toddler to grow up and I need to stop. My six-year-old is oh so easy, and my nearly two-year-old such a handful in comparison. I’ve been mentally wishing her two years ahead in age, and forgetting that this is the last baby I have, and someday I’ll wish I could have one more day with her at this age. This is the last time I’ll lay with a sweet smelling baby watching her twirl her hair as she nods off. The last time I’ll be able to cuddle and kiss a snuggly little body to my heart’s content without being pushed away.

• We can have fun without having a plan. At home, we’re the on the go family, despite not spending much on activities or enrolling in any programs. We like to get out to parks, playdates, and special events, and love trying new things. Here, we’ve found pleasure in discovering a wild blueberry bush and making blueberry pancakes. We’ve played for hours with sticks and empty soup cans. I’m going to do my best to stifle the urge to “do something” and just enjoy the peace that can come from not doing much at all.