Maybe it’s that school – or the prospect of school – is once again on the horizon, but I’m feeling the need to build train tracks and read stories and invite the boys into the kitchen to help out more often. (The girl needs no invitation, and she finds her own ways to help – most of which involve pointing out where I have failed to child-proof my home.) Time is running out. Manchild will *fingers crossed* be at school next year. It’s time to slow down and savor the days we have left a little bit more.

Or maybe I’m simply tired of feeling stressed and I’m happy to put my projects in the back of my mind and play. Really play. Like, yes that hardwood floor is hot lava and there’s no way I’m touching it kind of play. So we’re playing more.

And we’re growing, too. Little Miss has taken a couple of steps here and there, and it’s exciting to get down on the rug with her and encourage her to try again. Squish is showing interest in reading, and it has been amazing to sit down with him and help him sound out words. I never got to do that with Manchild, and while it can be a little tedious, it is always a thrill to hear him make the connection that the sounds he is saying actually make a word.

I don’t know how long this stage will last. But I do know that this is what I’ve been trying to do for a long time. Play with my kids, be with my kids, hug my kids. Give them my time and attention. Listen to them, laugh with them, look them in the eye. And then, when they are asleep, switch gears and do my own thing. It’s so much harder to do than I expected. But it’s the habit I want to be in: when my kids are home, so am I. Not just in the house, but present, available, listening.

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This week on Babble:

Do you shop when you’re hungry? You may want to re-think that strategy.

Believe it or not, you don’t need to go to the gym to get a good workout.

Eating disorders are serious business. Here’s what you need to know.

Confused about whether white vegetables count when you’re trying to “eat your colors”? Wonder no more.

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