Nothing says mommy is absolutely done then coming in from a long weekend getaway, pulling into the garage, leaving the kids in the van with daddy and going straight to the kitchen to procure a long awaited glass of wine, with purse still on shoulder. I judged myself for approximately 30 seconds then proceeded to pour with absolute resolve. I had plans of grandeur that involved pacing the activities we scheduled and making sure all home must-haves were packed and ready to go. What happened instead involved me still being overstimulated by the activities we did plan (a city bike ride in the middle of a hot summer day is just not not wise girl) and running out of diapers (really at this stage of the game, smh.) From the time the kids got out of the van, I knew my name was the only thing that was going to come out of their mouths for the next 4 hours. I'm sure they were overstimulated as well and calling my name would be some sort of knee jerk reaction to their little minds trying to seek some comfort and normalcy, but it would be absolute torture for me, so I decided to make a little plan to help me recenter and keep myself from resorting to shutting down and consuming any more alcoholic beverages, at least until after I put the girls down for bed ;)
Make a plan: It was Father's Day so I knew that Daddy did not have any plans to be involved in any of the night-time routine. So I needed to set expectations with the big girls and create some space for them to get all the feels out. The solution was Landing Laugh time. While daddy was unloading the van, we went up on the landing and just laughed. The big girls tickled the littles. We rolled around on the carpet and just sighed and laughed about any and all things that came to us. The girls needed to be "plugged" in about 90 minutes so I could get dinner together and unpack the suitcases. I gave them an option of 30 min screen time with 1 hr free play. It ended up being 1 hour screen time with 30 free play which was totally fine with me. The littles were watching their favorite show and the bigs were on their tablets playing their favorite games. My name was only called a handful of times to trouble shoot device issues. I made an effort to be completely present in the moment, feeling the fabrics, observing all the colors it made unpacking somewhat cathartic. I was taking steady breaths when I noticed each breath starting to increase in frequency. This coincided with the increase in interruptions and mediations involving which sister can sit next to whom. I felt the irritation rising and I still had to make dinner. I wasn't going to finish these clothes and I had to move on. The peace of the evening was at stake and in that moment the clothes were sacrificed.
Push through and be present each step of the way: The kids were supposed to be in "free play" time. I came downstairs and I kept looking in the fridge and freezer, back and forth realizing I have no idea what I was going to feed these kids. We should have stopped somewhere on our way back in town, kept playing over and over in my head. It was too late for the shoulda, coulda, wouldas. I threw some chicken breast, broccoli and baby carrots and French fries on a sheet pan in the oven. I drizzled olive oil on the chicken and veggies and sprinkled on garlic powder, salt and pepper. That was as good as it was going to get. The food was taking longer then expected and one melt down after another ensued, from the oldest to the youngest. I was about to lose all institutional control. The two year old kept asking for cheese and the 10 year was in the fetal position on the kitchen floor. I imagined a shield of light around me, energizing me to finish the evening strong and insulating me from the onslaught of noise and requests. I comforted who needed comforting and left alone those who needed to be left alone.
Recover: After dinner, we took baths and I put the girls down for bed. I sat down on the couch and realized just how tired my body was. I felt achey and my whole body had a low ebb buzz vibrating through it. My face was even tight and I had to consciously relax my cheeks while I laid my head back into the plush pillows of the sofa. I listened to my body speak to me and instead of completing a number of other tasks I had on my to do list, I decided to go to sleep. Sleep is a built in repair and recovery system that I have to remember is there to work for me. I usually take off the day after a vacation so that I am able to do the business of getting ready for the week and building in self-care time to prepare myself mentally and emotionally to get back to business. I was so glad I had taken an extra vacation day and very proud I had prioritized myself. I went to bed knowing that in that moment everything was ok. Everyone was safe and sound and tomorrow will definitely take care of itself.