What to Do?

By: 
Sara Beth Wald

I have the luxury of working a modified schedule in the summers, allowing me four uninterrupted days at home.
I appreciate this for the blessing it truly is in my life.
That being said, when you have young children, the big question becomes, “What to do?”
I know exactly what I’d do with that time if I didn’t have kids at home. I’d cook elaborate meals with grown-up ingredients, like sherry and dried cherries.
I’d deep clean under all the beds.
I’d sort my Tupperware, and get rid of anything that doesn’t have a lid.
I’d eat spinach smoothies for breakfast every day, and have time to wash all the parts of the juicer immediately after.
I’d actually own a juicer.
I’d sort emails, maybe write a memoir. Because, why not?
But I do have kids. And if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be working modified summer hours.
When kids get older, they make their own fun.
But when you’re three, you still want snuggles. You want an audience when you jump off the toy box. You want a snack or a drink of water or help pulling up your pants after visiting the bathroom.
When you are at home with a three-year-old, you hear the following three statements on endless rotation:
“Mommy, watch this!”
“I don’t know what to do!”
“I need someone to play with me!”
And you hear yourself always making the same response:
“Try to say it again without whining.”
Days are long in the summer. The sun comes up early, and goes down late. One day can feel like four. And yet somehow, my four-day weekend always goes too fast.
Because here’s the thing about being at home with a three-year-old...
Yes, it’s tedious sometimes. Yes, you are certain if you play one more game of Connect Four or Pirates or Cops and Robbers you will tear your hair out.
Yes, you spent all day in the sun watching a tiny stuntman do the same trick endlessly in the sprinkler and insisting it was the best one yet.
Yes, you are exhausted and the child is just getting warmed up.
Yes, you have four days off each week, and still you find yourself rushing to unload the dishwasher and throw in a load of laundry during your lunch hour.
It’s also the best excuse ever to have a carpet picnic with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and tater tots for dinner. (Admit it. Now you’re craving it.)
It’s your one chance to turn your couch into Noah’s Ark. You pile up all the blankets and pillows and stuffed animals and then violently shake them all about, and then rescue them after they’ve plummeted into the depths of the floodwaters on the floor.
(My three-year-old likes to add a Hollywood twist to Biblical classics.)
It may be the only time in your life that someone compliments your dance moves to the YMCA song, which you found yourself performing with reckless abandon even after the music had stopped.
I don’t want my children’s childhoods to last forever. I’m looking forward to discovering new grown-up recipes for two to share with my husband.
But in the meantime, I’ll happily wake up four days a week and wonder, “What to do?”

An archive of The Sara Beth Times can be found at www.sarabethtimes.com.

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