Coming home from a family walk last week, I happened to be in the backseat with our precocious, surprisingly deep-thinking, 7-year-old. He looked pensive for a moment (all while perched on his booster seat, with scrawny legs crossed neatly – a truly adorable sight) and then turned to me and said: “You know how some people say 2021 went by very quickly? I think it did too.”
Cue mike drop. A 7-year-old who realizes the profound truth that time flies. 2021 felt like a time vortex; days that felt like eons, but then the reality of the fact that the year sped by like no other. Because – let’s face it – it was (yet another) year that felt like no other.
I’ve written before about my admiration for Gretchen Rubin’s work – I find her material very relatable and have incorporated so many of her life improvement strategies into my daily life that I’ve lost count.
One of her more famous discussions centers around the simplistically profound conclusion that: “The days are long, but the years are short.“
Today I’m just going to focus on the first bit because, friends, the days can feel really, really long sometimes.
Our extended break between Christmas and the return to school has been a blessing in many ways; case numbers are relatively high in our province (especially considering we have always had very low infection rates per capita). After a “heavy” year – the word I’ve decided best describes 2021 – I needed the extra breathing room.
It’s ironic, as a mother, how often I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day…but then also that the hours drag on interminably and there are far too many of them.
Don’t get me wrong – I love my children deeply, but it can sometimes feel very, very hard to fill all those hours.
They wake up early – often before I’ve set my own feet on terra firma. They’re always hungry…but eat fast. They no longer nap and are no longer content to sit still for hours reading books on my lap or cozying up on the floor doing the same puzzle 15 times in a row (thereby allowing me to turn off my brain). Honestly, it’s not that uncommon for them to be awake after I go to bed.
By 8:00 am last Saturday I had: helped with breakfast prep + cleanup, read the daily devotional + finished a chapter in our latest book (an epic account of Ernest Shackleton’s expedition to the Antarctic; Endurance by Alfred Lansing – highly recommend) and fielded about 22 requests for screen time.
By 1:00 pm I had helped prep lunch, gone for another walk (how could I turn down a 10-year-old requesting to go for a walk with her mother?), and settled the kids in their rooms for an hour of quiet time.
There are just so many hours to fill.
We do lots of (good) things. We go outside: we walk and hike and bike and play soccer and visit playgrounds. We play games and build LEGO. We read (a lot). The kids spend hundreds (literally) of hours outside with neighbourhood friends playing soccer and doing chalk art on our quiet little streets. We go skating and we stroll down picturesque streets. We sit around the table by candlelight each night and talk about our day (and endless Harry Potter trivia that is slowly melting my brain). But each activity can only fill…so much time.
We also allow plenty of screen time – some of it with quasi-educational value (drawing off Art for Kids Hub falls in this category to me), most of it not. Disney+ and Netflix have saved my sanity during this pandemic. In the last week my children have watched Encanto exactly 5 1/2 times. I made it through 1/2 the movie and do not need to finish it OR re-watch it. But it does keep them happy for roughly 90 minutes.
90 minutes might seem like a lot, but in the span of a day, a week, a month, a year – I can assure you it’s not.
In addition to 5.5 viewings of Encanto, in the last week they have also watched all three extended editions of The Lord of The Rings trilogy. Like I said, there is plenty of screen time in our house.
I don’t necessarily have a point to all of this, except the observation that sometimes the days can just feel long. Not because they’re particularly bad or hard – and I’m not opposed to kids feeling bored or entertaining themselves or to spending a portion of the day in front of a screen (trust me this plummets significantly when school is in session) – but just because there are so many hours to fill.
Now excuse me while I go put Encanto on…again.
Thoughts? Do you ever feel the same way?