It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Refreshed. Aaaah.

How rude! Mary vanishes for a week with nary a word of warning. Sadly, I have no excuse. Nothing dire happened, except plain old bad manners: I had a week off!! I also, without any advance planning, too my week off immediately before two short weeks, given that I also take Good Friday and Easter Monday.

And now I am all refreshed and ready for action, and I have a gentle return to regular-type work. Love it when holidays work that way.

I knew I was ready for work on Sunday because I was able to sit down that night and come up with a list of activities and crafts for the week in about ten minutes. The previous week took an hour, and my list was mediocre. So sad.

I knew I was ready for work on Monday, because the kids were just so CUTE, and FUNNY, and SWEET!!! … all day long! A week ago Monday, they were cute, yeah, but they were also WHINY and SQUABBLY and just a bit EXHAUSTING, frankly. All day long.

Part of that is perception, of course. When I’m happy and energized, the bad stuff doesn’t grate, and I can see the good stuff. When I’m tired and irritable, I feel the bad stuff, and it’s the good stuff I gloss over. It’s not that they’re doing anything different, it’s just what resonates most with me.

There’s a lot more to it than that, though. I noticed this when my kids were little, I notice this in the daycare: So much comes down to me. The truth of the matter is that the adult in the room, to a very large degree, sets the emotional tone of the daycare. If I’m happy! and friendly! and funny! … so are the children. If I’m gloomy and cranky and thin-skinned … so are the children.

It’s not a 100% correlation, of course. They are human beings, not programmable robots (darn it), human beings who come with their own moods. Sometimes a kid is stuck in “funk” and no amount of jollification in my soul is going to shift them out of that. (In that case, I put them in bed. A kid stuck in funk is almost always tired.) But it’s the rare child whose chipper happiness can survive in the face of adult surliness, and that’s a sad, sad thing.

Generally, though, children want to have happy interactions. They thrive in emotional sunshine. Have you ever seen a bunch of toddlers fake-laugh with each other, just because they love to laugh? They want to be happy. (This week, that’s ADORABLE! Last week? It was just LOUD.) If I’m upbeat and positive, the whole tenor of the room changes.

And when I don’t feel all sunny? Then I do my damndest to fake it till I make it. Did you know that studies show that when you put a smile on your face, no matter how cranky you feel, your mood improves? I noticed that for myself years before I read those studies. So, to the very best of my ability I smile, and I am gentle, and I am kind. A lot of the time, it works (remember my Happiness Project?). It works to the point that my mood genuinely turns around, and the smiles and laughter and play are not fake at all.

Sometimes it doesn’t, and the smiles and laughter and play are borne of effort. Effort that must be maintain All.Day.Long. In the face of the constant demands and emotional volatility of the average toddler — times FIVE. That’s exhausting. I had reached that point the week before last. But!! A week off, with a little travel, a lot of friends, a little shopping, a bit of sewing … and I am happy once more! Genuinely. No fatigue.

And the kids?


Love my job.

Now I just need to arrange to have a week off, oh, every other month. That’d be perfect!

March 26, 2013 - Posted by | daycare, holidays, socializing, the dark side


  1. I see that as a benefit of the trend around here toward year round schools. Our calendar year has been quietly stretching until we get out now before the end of May and start up in early August. Many people complain, but I see it as a way of rejuvenating our teachers, our kids and even parents. I’m pretty tired of having my kids around every day by the end of summer- this shorter schedule gives us weeks off at other times of year so the total ends up the same.

    Comment by My Kids Mom | March 26, 2013 | Reply

    • That’s interesting, here in the UK the summer holiday starts in the middle of July and ends in early September – children get about six weeks, maybe seven. How long were you having before the shift toward year round school? We also had two weeks at easter, two at Christmas, and a week half way between each long holiday.

      Elementary schools here (Ontario, it varies from province to province) go from early September to late June. There are long weekends in October (Thanksgiving), February (Family Day), March or April (Easter), May (Victoria Day), two weeks at Christmas, and a week in March (March Break). (Other holidays: Labour Day in Sept, Canada Day in July and the bank holiday in August, are part of normal school breaks.)

      Comment by May | March 27, 2013 | Reply

  2. I worked for a while in a Minnesota, USA school where our part of the building had a year-round calendar – same number of in-school days as the rest, but we started end of August, had a 3 week break in November, usual around-a-week at Christmas, 3 weeks off in March & then ended in middle of June, so we had about 6-7 weeks off for summer, plus various other one-day holidays like Memorial Day on occasion. I LOVED it. We had breaks when we were getting tired of each other, the kids lost less knowledge over the shorter summer, and folks could take vacations at less busy times without missing school. Plus we offered special optional week-long classes during the breaks (I did cooking, creative drama, & sewing on various years).

    That sounds wonderful! I would have really enjoyed that when my kids were in elementary and high school. Wow. Was it a pilot project or something? Why only part of the building?

    Comment by MsHuisHerself | April 3, 2013 | Reply

  3. Hurray for feeling rested!

    Comment by IfByYes | April 4, 2013 | Reply

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