Amy Nelson, Yankton, South Dakota
When my oldest child was a toddler, I stayed at home and my husband worked out of town, returning home for three days each week. Our nearest family was hours away. While I did have a small circle of friends with small children that I met up with on a regular basis, it was just the two of us most days.
As it is with parenting, some days passed quickly while others seemed to stretch on and on. I remember that my daughter was struggling with napping consistently. Some days she fell asleep easily in the early afternoon, while other days she resisted all attempts at rest and would fall asleep over supper. It was during those no nap days that I especially needed just five minutes to myself – five minutes to breathe in silence, finish reading the magazine article I’d been trying to read for the past week, or just sit on the front porch lost in my thoughts.
On days when rest wasn’t coming easily to either of us, I knew I needed a way for both of us to recharge. I found that way quite unexpectedly in our back yard. At the time, we had a simple wooden swing set with a red plastic bucket swing. My daughter loved that swing. She would impatiently wait for me to lift her into the seat and start pushing her back and forth, back and forth. It didn’t matter whether she’d been zooming around the house at supersonic toddler speed or dissolving into tears just before that; within moments of sitting down in the red swing she was calm and silent, soothed by the rocking motion.
And there were my five minutes. I think those were also my daughter’s five minutes. Neither of us spoke. Our minds drifted, enjoying the view of the black locust tree in a corner of our small yard, watching the family dog sniff a random spot in the grass, thinking back over the day.
Often, those five minutes stretched to 15 minutes or more. By the time I lifted my daughter out of the swing, we were both refreshed and ready to take on whatever the rest of the day brought us.
That daughter is now a young adult, her days filled with work, class, and dance instruction at a local dance studio. My youngest child is now 10, far past the days of being pushed in the red swing that lasted through four children during those intense and long ago toddler years.
How do you find your five minutes? What do you do to fill your cup and recharge? We’d love to hear what works for you. Send your story to Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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