10 January 2012

OMG Mom is Home... All Day Everyday: A Week-Long Experiment in Connecting

Welcome to the January 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Experiments in Natural Family Living
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have reported on weeklong trials to make their lives a little greener and gentler. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

This month's Carnival of Natural Parenting is pretty cool. Take a crunchy concept, seemingly somewhat foreign, something that piques the interest, and go with it for a week. We're moderately crunchy as it is, and with winter settling into full force, some of our "let's try that!" options were a little... eh... bleh. So, perfectly coinciding with my week off, I decided to "reconnect" with my son in an experiment we called "OHMIGAWD MOM IS HOME ALL DAY EVERYDAY!" I will preface all this with this - I just wanted to do Mama Cloth. Thank you, Breastfeeding, for my immaculately difficult-to-track, non-schedule-adhering menses, yielding not so much as a drop in the 7 weeks I thought about doing this. Of course, I'm sure as I type this, to spite me, my period is on its way shortly - more fodder for a later post, I suppose.

Presentation of Experiment:
One normally highly stressed mother will be removed from her normal work week and given an extended period of "time off." Her 16 month old son, accustomed to being juggled through caregivers throughout the week (literally, a different one each day...) will be expected to interact with nearly solely his mother for a minimum of one week's duration. Highly attentive parenting, reconnections, and lots of love are expected to ensue.

I initially hypothesized that Nikola and I would have an uber-relaxing, chill-sesh of a week - playing together, coloring, taking naps, petting the dog, playing dolls (or whatever... with his dolls), etc. I then revised my hypothesis to, "I will survive a week with Nikola." Just kidding - I keep the "uber-relaxing" hypothesis all week. Since I am seldom afforded a day off (weekends not excluded), I wanted to make the most of my time off and reconnect and enjoy his company a la Maternity Leave.

-One Mother (Me)
-One Child (Niko)
-One Week, No Work (Because I DID cheat a touch and have my mom take him for his normal Thursday overnight - so I could go out for New Years and go into work for a few hours - we'll count the week from Saturday 24 December through Monday 2 January)

Niko had some "I can feed myself!" Time...

1. Remove Mother from Work-Week Scenario and place at home.
2. Cancel babysitters except for Thursday overnight so Mom can have some holiday celebratory time... I mean, so Nikola can get his "Baba"-fix.
3. Observe.
4. Repeat for 7 full days.

Mother - Thoroughly enjoyed sleeping-in and cosleeping-in; Picked up many many many toys; Chased constantly; Tried teaching new signs; Taught new words; Heart readjusted to handle larger incoming loads and exporting at a higher frequency; Patience chip updated; Memory space cleared for names of toys, characters, movies, and books; Many, many hugs and kisses administered and received.

Son -Learned at least two (2) new recognizable words ("Snow" and "Woody" - yes, like from Toy Story), possibly more bases; Worked on Potty-Training - going well; Pleasantly surprised with the abundance of boobage available on demand; Many, many hugs and kisses dispensed.

House - The house was pleasantly kept clean(-er than usual).

Ginger got oodles of cuddles from both of us...

An abundance of quality time was spent. Tangible evidence includes the addition of two new "whole" words and at least two new "partial" words to Nikola's vocabulary ("Snow" and "Woody," and "Water" and "SpongeBob" aka "Bob"); use of the potty for both #1's and #2's at least twice per day; soreness of nips from exuberant nursing; huge smiles and a relaxed attitude in Mom. The responsiveness factor of Mom to Son went up considerably, as did the overall demeanor while care-taking. Love factor did not increase dramatically, although robustness capacity was greatly enhanced. Pride and joy were made evident, as was unconditional and deep-rooted love. 

"Hey! You're not usually here! Don't you have work to do?!"

Toddlers are exhausting yet immensely loving creatures. This week off has really given me perspective into just how tiring taking care of my monster... I mean, son... is. It was really nice to spend a lot of time bonding with him, though - being able to nurse on demand (and past patience at some points... really, do you need to be attached for 70 minutes straight? I know the thing was bled dry after 20...), being there to put him down and wake him up from naps, just being able to play with him without being exhausted, irritated, and over it before it begins (This all sounds kind of bad to say, but trust me, I do it all with a smile at home - despite being exhausted and usually in a unfortunately not-good mood when I come home, sometimes at 18:00 or even later - I force the smile and make sure to be in a good mood for my son - and occasionally countdown the seconds until bed time...). I am so proud of Niko as he buds into a little cognizant being, and I think we were both really fortunate to be able to spend a mostly uninterrupted week together.

If you could take a week to experiment, what would you try? Share with me in the comments or on the FaceBook.
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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama

Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 10 with all the carnival links.)


  1. "Pleasantly surprised with the abundance of boobage available on demand" Bwahaha! Love this :) I'm so glad that this experiment gave you time with your little Nikola - I'm sure you had the best results of all of us :)

  2. The first week home can be an intense adjustment. But it's nice too. As a stay at home mom, sometimes I really yearn to work full time for a week - in part to escape the madness I'm probably responsible for creating, and in part to remind myself what a stinking blessing this dependent creatures really are.

    It's nice though, to imagine a few hours without having to nurse - even for most of the day! wow, lol, sounds fun. Glad you enjoyed your time home!

  3. I've recently come off of being a working mom to a SAHM and your post resonates with me. I spent the first month in kind of a frantic "must have as much fun and quality time as possible" mode because that's how I opperated on days off when working. It takes some time to relax into slower days and just enjoy the space between the "moments".

    I'm glad you had a wonderful week and I love the creative way your wrote your post!

  4. I just noticed your in Cleveland Heights! I live in Cuyahoga Falls and I used to work at NASA in Brookpark. We should get together sometime! I have an almost 3 year old and twin almost 1 year olds.

  5. @Dionna - Thanks <3 I feel like I took an easy way out. I was really really looking forward to the Mama Cloths (I handmade them, too!) but I guess I'll just have to put that up another time.

    @mamapsalmist - Oh how I wish I could be a SAHM! I think the grass IS always greener... It was so nice to spend the whole week with him and really connect. I wish I could do it more often!

    @Paige, Absolutely!!! Friend me on the FaceBook (I have no FB at work, where I'm at now, otherwise I'd add you) and we should definitely meet up sometime! Small world : ) I don't always make connections on where all of us live...

  6. I think I need to do this experiment! I mean, I'm home anyway, but the connecting & not-working parts. It really is exhausting to be "on" all day, every day, isn't it? But I find that when I get into that mindframe, my thoughts eventually slow down to match the new pace. I just need to go for that goal again!

  7. What a great experiment ... and I love your experiment "report"! Sweet photos, too! Deb @ LivingMontessoriNow.com

  8. Love your writing style for this! Glad the two of you had such a wonderful time together. What a beautiful Christmas gift!

  9. You know, I am sure you will treasure that week with Nikola. What a successful experiment!

  10. Oh, *sigh*, what a lovely lovely lovely week you had. I really want one of those....

  11. What an original idea for your experiment! I also love that you wrote this in true experiment form!

    Even being a SAHM now, I think I could use an experiment with being more present for my littles.

  12. It think you did a great thing staying with him trying to get him more used to be with the same person at elast for one week. Last year I had two weeks off and decided to rent apartments in buenos aires and fly over there with my family for us to bond and reconnect. It worked!