our beautiful unstructured days

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I try to keep parenting in perspective by imagining the things I will someday miss about these days with very young kids.  I've written about it before and think about it often.  On days when I've answered 36,000 questions and listened to 64 stories about Bigfoot, and cheered along to 93 of the kids 'shows,' it is sometimes difficult to imagine a time when my future teenagers will walk in the door and not even speak to me.   I try to envision the days to come when I have to pry information out of them about their days and their interests.  When they make friends with parents that we don't already know.  Crushes, peer pressure, boyfriends, girlfriends, heartbreak, failed test scores, team tryouts; these things belong in a parenting world yet foreign to us.

There is one thing about our life right now that feels frighteningly numbered and that is the beauty in our unstructured life.  There are so many reasons I feel blessed to stay home with our very young kids, mainly because that means we operate within an unstructured day.   We have no clocks barking at us, no third party schedules, no practices, no due dates, no homework; we have nowhere else to be than right where we are at almost any given time.

The kids slept in yesterday until after 8:30a and while getting changed out of pajamas, the three of us laid in Gemma's bed and pretended that various animals lived in the knots in the bunk bed wood.  As they suggested various hole-dwelling animals (worms, snakes, chipmunks) and I tickled them, pretending those animals were biting them. Later, they played on the slip n' slide for over an hour...because we could.  Lunch happens when we're hungry and we do 'activities' when the kids get bored.  The only place I had to be yesterday was at the dentist for an appointment and my Mum (thank you!) came to play with them for a few hours while I ran there and then to the grocery store.

B got home from work yesterday and for a hilarious half hour wrestled and slammed the kids on the bed while they joyfully shouted; "Again!"

I spend my days caring for our house and life (bills, cleaning, cooking, etc), but also playing board games, snuggling with Gemma before her nap, reading about tree frogs, teaching Grey to fold dish towels, and being there with open arms to tiny requests of 'hold you.'

This is my main job as a parent right now.  We try to follow a loose schedule for the weekdays to keep the kids learning new stuff:
Make Something Monday
Reading Tuesday
What's Cookin' Wednesday
Thoughtful Thursday
Explore Friday

...but most of our days consist of free play; the kids decide what looks fun and that's what they do for as long as they're interested.  It's out of that kind of play that I watch my kids learn and discover on their own while I answer questions and manage arguments mostly about sharing.

But these days are numbered.  I can feel them closing in on us.

Although four years old, Grey will not be attending preschool this year.

This comes as a surprise to loads of people that ask what are plans are for the fall.  Brandon and I have talked about it and agreed since there is no free preschool available at our local public school and paying for it seems sort of outrageous considering we live on one paycheck.  We'd definitely find a way to send him if we thought he needed it; mentally, emotionally, or socially - but he's a pretty well adjusted kid as we make sure to do educational things at home (thanks Pinterest) and spend great amounts of social time with friends, family, and playground stranger kids and talking about manners.

We have purposely limited enrolling the kids in activities over the past two years too.  Our kids don't play on teams, or attend multiple classes throughout the year.  They went to vacation bible school for a week this summer and this winter we plan to enroll them in gymnastics and/or indoor soccer.  But other than that, we keep it all pretty close to home.

Because we are keenly aware that there is only a very short time that they will get to have totally unadulterated freedom to do whatever they want with no restrictions of schedules.  Sure, they'll have summers in the future that will lay before them blissfully unoccupied, but even then we will likely have practices, or summer reading packets, camps, or sleep overs scheduled.  They will also be a little older which means a little more removed from us - a little less interested in spending that unadulterated freedom with us.

This time next year, we will be staring Kindergarten in the face.  Our first baby will be preparing to step into thirteen+ years of education.  Brandon and I were both athletes and multiple club members in high school, so we know from experience how entire seasons can be swallowed whole by practices, games, and laundry alone.  School and after-school commitments will dictate our lives for most of the rest of our parenting days.  I am a planner, so I'm confident in my future ability to deal with the scheduling of pick-ups, drop offs, dinner planning, homework completing, awards ceremonies, and fundraisers.

Our kids will have their whole lives to follow schedules and be on time for things.

But all that can wait.

Because we still have at least one year of beautifully, perfect unstructured days.

And the kids and I have absolutely no where to be today.  So maybe we'll take a walk in the woods, or take a trip to the bank followed by a stop at the playground, or maybe we'll dig for worms in the yard. We still have left some wonderfully, yet numbered, days that I fully intend to squeeze every little giggle, hug, and smile out of it while we still got 'em.


  1. Love you Tabitha Studer. You are a fabulous Mumma!!!

    xoxo - Melodye

  2. Tab-- Thank you. Your thoughts on your days with your kids is beautiful. I needed to hear this today.