Our family has gone through some serious upheaval over the past two years. We’re talking big city to small town relocation, major job changes, the birth of our youngest, and the final resignation of my job as I officially became a stay at home mom (SAHM) for an indefinite period to deal with our children’s special needs. Whew! I can feel my stress level rising just thinking about it.
Our family embraces change with the best of them, and we tend to take many things in stride. Dealing with two children with complex needs is just something we do. Homeschooling to support serious academic needs? Done. Countless medical appointments and therapist visits? You got it. An active and healthy life style? It’s even better, now that we’re relocated to a small town surrounded by forest and farmland.
The kids are happy, my husband’s happy, and I’m happy. So what’s the freak out about?
*gulp* I’m turning forty. Like really soon. (more…)
Parents watch their child grow and exclaim that ‘Time flies!’ Or, on those endless afternoons where the cranky and over tired toddler simply will not nap, time drags on for an eternity.
As former residents of a major city and newcomers to Smalltown, Ontario, we’re adjusting to a different type of time – time without traffic.
Oh sure, we have traffic. Cars, trucks and boats (on trailers) go up and down the streets. And a friend told me about parents of kids at a school in the next town over picking up their kids on snowmobiles, but it’s a different kind of traffic than the choking gridlock that paralyses the Greater Toronto Area on a daily basis.
Our family is adjusting to life without traffic and on a more reasonable timeline, which only highlights how ridiculous our city life was. Two working parents with two kids in two different daycare facilities meant that we had to leave our home by 6:20 am every weekday to make the prerequisite drops just before squeaking into work just on time.
This meant the kids had to be up by 5:30 am to eat breakfast and stumble into clothes for the day. The birds weren’t even up! No wonder my oldest had serious behaviour issues – poor guy was exhausted.
Now as our family has grown to three children ages 6 and under, we’ve streamlined our efforts. One parent stays home, the other goes to work. Oh, and the oldest still has to be at school shortly after 8:00 am. Adding two children with special needs – with different therapist appointments and medical visits, and you have one busy family with serious time management issues. We’d have to drive for about 45 minutes (one way) to make those medical appointments (which were in the same city as we were; only traffic slowed you down to a crawl). So our family got used to leaving to go anywhere about an hour early.
Life in Smalltown, Ontario sure is different. If I drove for 45 minutes here I’d be in another township (or two)! Hubby and I find we do more in less time, and actually enjoy our drive through the town’s streets. A recent major shopping trip (one of those big box adventures, that required you to pick up stuff at other stores because it’s on sale) found Hubby and I sitting down for lunch with our toddler, wondering what to do with the rest of the day. We’d done a month’s worth of shopping in less than three hours, and been at three different stores too!
This is in sharp contrast to our city life, where lunch is a slice of pizza gobbled by kids strapped in car seats as a parent races to the next appointment or errand, all in an effort to save time. I’m not even going to talk about quality of life here. Check out my post, the Busy, Busy Month of May for more on this one. But back to time.
My daily commute is a perfect example of how time creeps away. Last year, for the first time in ten years my commute was under 20 minutes – without traffic. For ten years I’d been driving for an hour or more to work, and an hour or more from work. Around two hours each day, spent in my car. For ten years.
It makes me sick thinking about how much time was wasted, sitting and waiting for the car in front of me to move. Never mind the delays of an accident or construction – even my little 20 minute commute would balloon to over an hour if there was construction. (Which, as GTA residents will tell you, is nearly constant in summer time.) So as a family that has dealt with time-sucking gridlock, we love the freedom and new found time life in Smalltown brings. The kids are happy, parents are happy, we’re all relaxed and so much less stressed.
Some of the things we’ve been doing include:
- Spending time outdoors: Playing in the backyard kiddie pool after school! Playing in the backyard BEFORE school (unheard of!) Enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, instead of watching videos constantly. In the winter we’ll be outside playing in the snow.
- Visiting local Farmer’s Markets, Pow Wows and festivals.
- Becoming active in the community – the library, museum, YMCA and Sports Complex and Ontario Early Years Centre are only a short walk away.
I just signed up the oldest for Boy Scouts (Beavers, actually for his age group) and my daughter for dance classes – all on weeknights, and all only a short drive or walk away. I wouldn’t even dream of this in the city. We’re doing more, with less.
In short, we’re living life, on our own time.
What do you do to save time or make the best use of your time in your day?
Angela blogs about her super-powered, special needs family at halfpastnormal. They’re recently moved from Toronto, Canada to a small town in Ontario.
Toronto traffic jam photo credit to James D. Schwartz. This photo has a creative commons attribute license.
Achoo! Can someone pass me a tissue, again? It seems like not a week goes by without someone in my family being sick. It’s ‘cold and flu’ season in Canada, and we sure have had our share. The whole bunch of us went through countless colds, a couple episodes of a gastro virus, and a brush with the flu and high fevers.
We’ve had so many visits to the doctor’s office to check the kids’ cold symptoms (Is it an ear infection? Is there a wheeze in the baby’s chest?) that the receptionist recognises my voice over the phone.
Yes, it’s me again. I’m bringing in this child, this time. No, the other one is doing better now, thank you.
I have three children ages five and under. Someone is always sick or getting sick. We live in the land of the runny nose. Two of my children have serious special needs and they have their own unique medical concerns. So we go to the doctor, a lot.
And we remain grateful. Because all those trips to the doctor do not cost me a dime out of pocket. (more…)
Childcare. No word conjures such stress and anxiety in the mind of a working mom as “childcare.” There are countless little things that can cause enormous problems. Your child is too sick to attend. Your child care provider is too sick to care for your child. Your child care provider is late. You are running late to pick up your child. Never mind possible personality or caregiving style conflicts.
Stress. Anxiety. Too many problems to solve while juggling too many plates. Eventually one of those plates will drop, and who picks up the pieces?
For me, just the experience of searching for a childcare provider for my oldest child was the single most stressful experience of my life. I spent hours on the phone, calling centres, trying to be put onto their waitlists in hopes of getting a childcare spot. I visited centres and caregivers, asking about programs, schedules, and meals. It was harder to plan than my wedding, and as it turned out, more expensive.
In the Greater Toronto Area parents who hope to have licensed childcare for their child are told to put their child on waitlists – when they are about 3 months PREGNANT with that child. You might have a chance at a spot by the time your twelve month maternity leave is over – that means your wait is at least 18 months. (more…)
Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?
I live in Toronto, Ontario in Canada. I love living here because it is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. There are countless shops and restaurants that reflect the many different people who live here. I can find food from Ethiopia, Korea, and Peru by just walking down the street or hopping on a streetcar. It is like traveling the globe without leaving your hometown.
What language(s) do you speak?
Embarrassingly, I only speak English. I’ve always wanted to learn new languages and have a smattering of French. I can ask for the washroom and count to ten, and that’s about it.
When did you first become a mother?
I first became a mother at the age of 32. My oldest son (now five years old) was born and my world changed completely. He was a jaundiced, colicky baby and I was head over heels in love with him.
I now have a three year old daughter and a one year old baby boy as well. Our home is very busy, but it’s wonderful to have the children playing together. Although it is challenging to have young children so close in age, I love (almost) every minute of it.
I was unprepared for how intense motherhood is, and I have made many changes in my life to spend more time with my children. Before children I was very career focused, and it took a couple years of trying to juggle my children’s and work schedules for me to realize it is not working for me. I now choose positions that compliment my family life. (more…)