6. Spending time with the children
There are so many different ways to spend time with my children. When I decided to take a sabbatical it was really important for me they could continue doing what they were doing. I was not going to drag them to some lonely island, or take them out of school for world travel. I do believe that is not even allowed by the way. I have two great kids, that are caring, communicative, responsible, musical and creative. One of them is also very sportive. It wasn’t about now becoming that stay at home mum, nor was there any need for ‘correction’. They are teenagers now and actually find it very annoying if you take ‘too much’ care of them. I wasn’t all of the sudden going to become over protective. They want time with their friends and for their hobbies. But there are also things that they really enjoy doing together. And there were many topics that they really wanted to explore and discuss.
It took some time getting used to the fact that I was now home before they went to school and most of the time also when they got back. I noticed that weekday breakfast together was not as enjoyable as on sundays. Different starting times in school, finishing the last piece of homework or revision, packing for school. They were just too occupied and wanted to have that piece of quiet, not talking, before a busy school day. I decided to surprise them every now and then with something tasty to take to school and would cook a bit more for dinner, because they loved to take left overs for lunch.
What made an enormous difference is being there after school and have an open mind during the evenings. They started to discuss more topics with me and asking my opinion. Also there were quite a few important decisions to make in their live and we had time to explore and visit information sessions together. I had always spend a lot of time with them on important events like soccer games and concerts. And of course I was going to continue to do that.
Occasionally my daughter enjoyed sitting on the couch and watching a particular tv program with me. The greatest was to have some food or snacks with it. I had sometimes considered this a waste of time, but now I made sure I wasn’t distracted by phone or internet.
I encouraged them to bring their friends over so I would get to know them better and just provide them a safe place to meet. Though we had had many sleepovers I decided to always say yes, unless there was real big reason not to.
We all love food and like to explore different dishes. We decided to change our eating habits and not eat meat. Occasionally there would be some fish. This made our habit of trying out different restaurants more interesting, but necessarily easier. At home we would all try to cook something vegetarian. We had long conversations about how to eat healthy, cut sugar and stay healthy by eating a variety of foods.
One of the things they had always enjoyed was travel. Their wishlist of places to visit was rather long. We had been doing this regularly, but I was always a bit concerned about how tiresome it would be. Rather than recuperation before getting back to my demanding job. Now that I was on sabbatical I could start a trip well rested. And it wasn’t a problem to get things packed or drive longer distances.
It didn’t feel that different to the time before my sabbatical, other than really having the time to explore topics with them which resulted in very interesting conversations and have ample time for making arrangements, which reduced my stress level. I was less tired and therefor more present. The fact that we were not doing totally different things than before made me feel I had at least not been doing a bad job. When you are a single parent you always feel you are not good enough as you have to make up for the other parent too. Perhaps a topic for another day.
This was post number 6. If you enjoyed reading it, please come back or have a look at my previous posts. I am curious to hear from you, so please leave your comments.