Luckily, camping in the front yard doesn’t require a lot of supplies. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Luckily, camping in the front yard doesn’t require a lot of supplies. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Sarah Simpson Column: Is Spring Break breaking you, too?

The problem is that was only the first three days of the break .

The sun is not yet up but I don’t have a lot of time. The children will wake any minute now and once that happens I’m at their mercy.

It’s Spring Break. (By the time you read this it’ll be over, though.)

We’ve already had Happy Meal picnics. We’ve played Minecraft online with the cousins and rode bikes and scooters with the neighbours. We’ve walked to the store and tried to select and purchase a cool toy with a $5 budget from Grammy. We’ve checked in on our Geocache. We’ve had a family walk and played in the neighbourhood creek. We’ve been to The Big Scoop for Toonie Tuesday. We’ve played with the neighbourhood dogs. We have played baseball and soccer and hockey and a game I hate that may as well be called “pull every outside toy you have out of the garage and spew it all over the front yard”.

(Once that happened I figured I may as well Spring Clean the garage. Now my mess is bigger than the mess they’d made originally.)

We’ve made a pie from scratch. We’ve read books. We’ve watched Ranger Rob, Rusty Rivets, and Hope for Wildlife. We’ve revisited Transformers toys and blocks. We’ve jumped on the neighbour’s trampoline, have brought out water guns and chalk and have spent roughly five hours outdoors each day.

It’s exhausting. They’ve slept well. So have I. The problem is that was only the first three days of the break. Just 13 more to go. But who is counting? (Me.)

I’m so tired.

I used to think that the little lumps of newborn and immobile-baby were needy. The first six months or so. They needed me for everything. I’ve changed my mind now. They were so easy. The difference is satisfaction. Newborns and babies are often content once you give them what they need. They’re happy to just exist after they’ve been satisfied.

Older young children, however — and I’m talking the age range where kids love to have some independence but still need supervision and aren’t yet embarrassed to have parents — they are the real needy ones. That’s where my kids are.

“Mom!” they yell. “Mommy!”

They’re relentless. They don’t even give me time to finish my thought and open my mouth to reply before they’re already getting annoyed at me for not responding. “MOOOOMM!”

My kids love the idea they can do things on their own. Slowly but surely we broaden their limits and responsibilities but it all comes down to one thing:

The three endearing words that moms love to hate:

“Mom! Watch me!”

These three words prevent moms from getting anything done. (I’m using “mom” because I’m a mom but it also applies to dads, grandparents, caregivers and who knows who else.)

“Mom! Look! Mom! MOM!”

Now, I love Spring Break. I love having my school aged child home all day playing with and cheering on his little sister. It makes them both so happy. To be honest, it was a good time for a break from school. My little guy, still just in the first grade, needed the rest, mentally and physically.

Well, at least I thought he was physically tired. He’s actually non-stop. He has also recruited his little sister to be some sort of energy booster to his usual operating system. It’s not that I can’t keep up. It’s that I don’t want to. Not all the time, anyway. I’m a busy lady! I’ve got things to do!

“I gave you a sibling so you’d have somebody to play with,” I like to tell them. “Go play together.” I hear my mother’s voice coming out of my mouth, but now I understand.

And they do play together. They just want me to watch.

Why I need to watch my kids jump off a rock and onto the deck furniture cushions is beyond me. Do I really need to be paying attention when they take the plastic deck chairs and craft a fort in between the cedar trees? As if they want me to spell-check their chalk work. Why? Why? Why?

When I was a kid we’d get up and once we were outdoors, we wouldn’t see mom until it was time for lunch. We weren’t feral or anything. We were trained. She needed to know where we were, what we were doing, and who we were with. The same things I teach my kids.

I trust them to stay in the yard. I know if they’re noisy they’re fine, and I perk up when they’ve gone quiet. And let’s be honest, they’re young so I’m always nearby and aware of what they’re up to. Do I really need to be fully present 100 per cent of the time, watching them with my complete attention while abandoning the rest of my household/work/other tasks? According to them, yes.

It’s stressful to be a modern parent. I’m not complaining about it. I’m just noting that it’s darn near impossible to “do it all” well and anyone claiming to have found balance, I believe, has only found balance by having dropped balls on both sides.

So, if you’re a parent trying to juggle it all and feel like you’re failing miserably — you’ve been seen. You’re doing your best. If you need a break, ask your kid to watch you do chores… I’m pretty sure you’ll quickly find that all of a sudden they’d like to play on their own.

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