Twelve weeks of San Francisco and not one blog post?! It wasn’t a lack of inspiration. Neither a writers’ block. It was a lesson my daughters of two and four taught me. And it was a good one…
Upon our arrival in San Francisco with two little girls, I started nervously looking for a “structured life”. I knew then already that these three months would not be our last in San Francisco, I knew our life in the next years would involve a lot of traveling between Germany and the US. I was convinced I needed to organise our time in San Francisco as well as our time at home; having a preschool, babysit services and hobbies. That’s where they would meet friends, where they would learn to understand the language and where they would feel well – by having a daily plan.
It didn’t turn out that way. Finding a preschool in a city as San Francisco is already hard for locals, so let’s not even discuss temporarily residents. When I did found a private preschool wanting to host my girls, I felt bad – putting them five days a week in a system where even the youngest one already had to sit down and learn how to write numbers? Off course, there was play time, but there was also a lot of learning already – in the middle of a strange city and a language they did not understand. I decided to look into other activities.
Taking our time – just because there was nothing else to do
So, we started hanging around – me and the girls. Walking the streets in the middle of a city we did not know. Just taking our time, because we did not have anything else to do. And then this happens:
Walking down the street, I take out a magazine of a newspaper stand. “Mummy, what are you doing?”, asks my four year old. “Remember what mummy does for work? I’m writing. And by reading magazines and newspapers, I get inspired. I get new ideas.” We sit down in the grass and I show her my magazine. I show her the newspaper stand and explain her how it works. I talk. She looks at me, and suddenly she takes my hand and says: “Mummy, do you know how much I love you? I love you so much.”
I have been thinking a lot about it. Why did she tell me that in this moment? And I think I understand.
In our daily life with a daily plan, there is so little time to sit down in the grass to explain simple things. Off course, I do try to take as much quality time with them as possible – and I am convinced I have found a work-life balance to do so. I am always there when they return from Kindergarten, doing the rest of my work in the evening. But I am not always there. There’s a play date we have to run to, or ballet. There’s a swim course where I need to bring them, but I first have to get the swim gear out. If we want to go for a pick-nick, I have to run around and pack food and blankets and… Even if we want to hang out at home, I see things I need to clean up or wash.
Not here. Not during our time in San Francisco. I wanted a plan, but it did not work out that way. And this little four-year old girl is teaching me that’s a good thing. For all of us. I have the time – or if you want, take the time – to sit down in the grass and answer every little question my girls have.
It was only after reading a blog post weeks later, that I learned there is a definition for this; slow parenting. After twelve weeks, I feel really happy. We’re back in Germany and I can see how my girls have grown through our trip. I can feel how I have grown. How much I have learned about them; how much better I know them now. I am so surprised to realise how little we know about our children, running through our day.
I looked so much forward going home again, but after a week I miss the time I had with them. Without any appointments, taking our time for everything. I give my best to do the same here, but I can feel how difficult it is. After Kindergarten, a play-date or a ballet course, dinner, bathing and bed-time, it is so difficult to give them that one thing what is good for all of us; time.