Living Intentionally with a Toddler (Notes from a Blue Bike)

It’s here! Tsh (from the Art of Simple, aka Simple Mom) has written a fabulous new book–Notes from a Blue Bike– and it’s being released today!

I’m a huge fan of slowing our lives down from the frenetic, never-ending days that so often characterize life in America. I first slowed down accidentally–moving to a town where you know only three people besides your husband (two of those three being college friends of said husband) will do that to you, whether you like it or not! (And thankfully we have broadened our circle of friends since then. :) )

I found out I really love the slower pace of life that we have here. It’s pretty easy right now with no school-aged children and a small church to keep activities and appointments from overwhelming us. (Seriously, life with a toddler can be stressful enough even if you don’t go anywhere!) I know that as we add more children (hooray!) and as they get older, I’ll have to start being more intentional with our choices of what we do and don’t do, or we’ll be right back to that crazy, run-here-and-there-and-grab-dinner-on-the-way that I so want to avoid.

But that’s years down the road–Camon won’t be joining any homeschool coops, starting music lessons, playing sports, or going to Lego meets anytime soon. :)

How can I live intentionally¬†now, as a stay-at-home mom with one toddler and a little one on the way? In each of the five sections of Notes, there were definite takeaways that I can apply now, even though my family is at a different stage than Tsh’s.

Food

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Tsh talks about several different aspects of intentional food, from the slow food movement to sourcing ethical coffee. I was reminded of the importance of taking Camon with me to the farmers markets, letting him try in-season produce he’s not familiar with, letting him help in the garden, and planning my strawberry picking trip for when he’s awake instead of during his naptime.

I would *love* for him to grow up viewing fresh fruits and veggies as treats and as comfort foods. Intentionally exposing him to those things now will go a long way towards that goal. As he gets older, intentionally teaching him basic cooking skills will become important as well.

Work

Although I’m not really a work-at-home mom by the standard definition, how many moms do you know that don’t work?! :) Tsh mentions how it’s hard to know when to stop her online work, but it can also be hard to know when to stop housekeeping work. (Wait, I’m not sure that statement really applies to me. I usually have no trouble finding excuses to stop housekeeping work. ;) )

“Sometimes not being caught up is okay.” (pg. 73) Although I have had very few times where I actually feel “caught up” with housekeeping chores, keeping my attitude correct about their true importance is key to staying sane.

Education

We don’t have any education decisions to make in the next two or three years (besides deciding against preschool!), but I loved the encouragements to make reading habitual at a young age. Not only should reading to my children become habitual, they should see me reading for enjoyment or enrichment as well. I want to keep being intentional about reading with my kids and reading “next to my kids” (pg. 125-126).

Travel

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This is an area that fills me with dread. I am not a traveler–I like my routines and I like my clothes in my own closet. But the times I have traveled are filled with amazing memories. I guess I love the travel memories more than the actual travel itself!

Camon is a notoriously bad car-rider (our recent 9-hour car trip at the holidays was literally filled with screeches), and I get carsick so easily that long road trips aren’t ideal for us. But that shouldn’t stop us from exploring all the fun areas around us locally. Within an hour’s drive are tons of places we’ve never explored. Maybe we can hit a few of them this year!

Entertainment

I loved the section on boredom. Jumping in to entertain my kids every time they’re bored (although Camon doesn’t know that word yet) could be stifling some creativity. I’m planning to try to notice more often when Camon actually needs my attention and when he just needs some guidance as to an activity to begin. I know, he’s only two–he needs me a lot more than 5 or 7-year olds might. But I definitely think there’s room for growth in this area–for me and for him.

Any of you veteran parents have tips for when he says “Mommy do it!”? He’ll want a circle on his paper (which he can actually draw) but sometimes he won’t. He wants me to do it for him. Should I give in? Is that reinforcing that his way isn’t good enough? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts :)

In Conclusion

The titles of three of the final chapters really sum up what I took away from this comprehensive, thought-provoking new book:

“Slow down, live in the real world, and live for the real world.”

And if you want to know the rest of the story, you’ll have to read the book. ;)

(P.S. I purposely did not include my Amazon affiliate link this time. This is a great book and I know many, many people in our day and age would benefit immensely from reading it! Spread the word! :) )

7 comments to Living Intentionally with a Toddler (Notes from a Blue Bike)

  • Great post – it really is an amazing book isn’t it? I’m not a veteran, but I am in the thick of it with you. On the “Mommy do it,” I’ve found that sometimes “Let’s do it together” works. Mine is almost two and a half, and unfortunately if/when I say “No, you do it” it often results in a tantrum.

    I’ve resorted to an incredibly complicated .5 second mental rundown for my response. 1) How tired is he? (ie how likely will it lead to a meltdown if I say no?) 2) How much energy/stamina do I have to follow through if it does result in a tantrum? 3) Is he being stubborn, or does he just want more attention from me? 4) How much of a hurry are we in and how important is it?

    All of that to say, I think the response is very situational. Sometimes, I immediately say, “Okay buddy, Mommy will do it.” Sometimes we do it together, and sometimes he needs to buck up and do it himself (or do without).

    • You are brilliant. ;) I love the idea of “let’s do it together.” Definitely going to be pulling that one out! I also try to account for tiredness–either his or mine–because that does make a huge difference for both of us. Thanks for your advice!

  • Sometimes not being caught up is okay. That’s the one that stuck out at me, but I’m sure there will be more when I read the book, which I am looking forward to! I came here from the art of simple and enjoyed hearing your takeaways.

    • So true, and maybe it’s providential that I just found your comment tonight! I am sitting here at 9:45 pm and none of the supper dishes got washed due to aforementioned toddler and his new baby sister and a hubby who was outside helping a friend with a car problem. But it’s okay–it’s not like I did anything wrong. Kids were more important than dishes tonight. No need to beat myself up, but just go out there and do it now that I can. (Hear that, self?!) I hope you’ve gotten a chance to read the book and that you enjoyed it! It’s definitely time for a re-read here :)

    • P.S. I love your art! It is beautiful–I love, love lettering and yours is fabulous! Will be subscribing and taking inspiration :)

  • Kim

    I like your thoughts and the book sounds great, I am a stay at home MiMi ( Grandmother) who keeps my 18 mo old grandson 3 days a week. I’ve had him since he was 6 weeks old. It’s been wonderful and challenging! He is a happy guy, but a busy guy! Colin is a burst of Sunshine in my day. :) I have found the most challenging thing of having a toddler around is keeping the house work caught up. They seem to need alot of you and alot of supervision so they don’t get hurt! I am coming up with ways to let him help me do little chores….I will sweep the floor and he holds the little hand vac and helps me suck up the piles. He LOVES to help! I praise the heck out of him for it and thank him and we both walk out of the kitchen smiling! :)

    • Oh, how fun! 18 months is a hard age since communication skills aren’t fabulous but they have definite, firm opinions on what should be done :) Sounds like you are doing a great job! I don’t regret one minute of teaching my son to help with chores–he’s now great at switching laundry, cleaning the lint trap, bringing me things, and taking folded laundry to rooms. I love that you let him use the little vac to suck up the sweeping piles–what a great idea! Boys and machines ;)

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