Hello, I’m Danielle, and I’m a mother to two children – Ro, my girl who is 11, and Sen, my boy who is 5. We live in the lovely downtown of Ottawa with Matt, their father and my partner. He’s a busy athlete, so we don’t see him much, but he is loved and we cherish our time with him.
My weekdays are quite different from the weekend, since I work outside the home and my children attend public school. On weekdays, the mornings are all about getting up and out the door so we're all where we need to be on time, or close enough. I don’t love to hustle and I also recognize that through these daily activities and routines, which may feel boring, stressful or unimportant, we are living our life. And so, I try to keep the mornings light and enjoyable, to savour them, and to include some special moments of ritual so my children and I will have fond memories of our mornings together to look back on.
When the weather is warmer and I have a little flexibility in my schedule we leave early so I can walk the kids to school. Growing up I always wanted to walk to school, but never lived close enough, so I like that my kids can. On these days, we usually skip making breakfast at home and stop by our local bagel shop for a fresh bagel sandwich. We love living downtown because it makes walking places not only easy, but the preferred way to travel, especially since there are tasty places to visit along the way.
Once the kids are off to school I ride my bike to work, which is about 5 kilometers away in the neighbouring province of Quebec. I work as a Policy Strategist for the Canadian Government. There isn’t much more I can say about the work itself. I work at a desk and computer most of the day, go to meetings, and offer my advice to politicians and decision makers about how the government can solve social and economic problems. After 8 hours of that I ride home to pick up the kids from my parents, who collect them from school.
In the evenings we try to do something outdoors, regardless of the season, whether it’s taking a walk to buy groceries, playing at a park, going for an ice skate or riding our bikes to a picnic spot. My kids don’t do much in the way of organized lessons outside of school, and this is on purpose. I really think kids, especially my kids, need a lot of downtime, where they’re not in a situation where a teacher or adult is telling them what to do. They need to be self-directed and free to develop their self-confidence and intuition. They also need to experience boredom to develop their creativity and problem solving skills. For these reasons, I avoid having them in lessons and situations where they are being told what to do or given guidance. They get enough of this at school.
Before the evening ends we usually try to sneak in a few chores, garden work or tidying, but not much, to be honest. Then we head up to bed, we usually read a book or the kids might watch a favourite news show on YouTube. Then we snuggle up and talk about our favourite part of the day, something we were proud of, something that was tough, and then say goodnight. Ro goes off to her own bed and Sen sleeps with me. I usually stay in bed at this point and either read or write…or on very exciting days I fall asleep. I do like to watch a show or movie, but am fairly particular about what I watch and so there often isn’t anything that interests me. But I don’t want to pretend that I never watch Netflix. When there is a new season of Schitt’s Creek I will go on a binge for sure!
I have never liked the idea of “living for the weekends.” In my world, this would mean living for 2 days out of 7. That’s not good math, if you ask me. Rather, I want to live my life every moment of every day. We only have this one and we are never guaranteed another day. Despite making the most of our weekdays and work days, our days off are fairly different, understandably.
Our typical weekend involves a day, often both days, of walking around the city. We pack up snacks and water bottles and head out the door early to start our urban adventure. We have some favourite spots to visit, so often we will have a destination in mind but how we get there is the adventure. We like to discover new bakeries, painted alleys, pockets of wildflowers and art happenings. Some of our favourite routes involve passing through a farmers market, walking the path along the train tracks, which is full of trees and picnic spots, and visiting the Ottawa River pathway. The kids and I are always very content with a spot of water. On a perfect day we would eat all our meals outdoors sitting on the ground, napping when we need to, and observing no schedule at all, returning home just in time to climb into bed.
Some days we bring along paper and paints, and we always bring a basket along to collect natural treasures like flower petals, mica and snail shells. I want my children to understand that there is an abundance of nature to be found in the city. But if we only ever walked down Main Street or drove to get to the places we visit they might think that we live in a concrete jungle.
The kids love these days as much as I do. It’s the thrill of discovering something hidden in the city, finding beauty among the concrete, and feeling the freedom from a schedule.
As the seasons change and flowers start to bloom or die, we continue to explore and find new spots that we can add to our repertoire of wanders. But also, understanding that each path and favourite spot is never the same twice we try to make the most of each experience, savouring the temporary nature of a field of wildflowers or a graffiti wall that will likely change within a week. Through these experiences I am hoping to awaken that sense of living in the moment and appreciating its fleeting nature. Whether it is conscious or not, I hope my children are developing a sense of appreciation for the impermanence of things and that this will prove useful in living a full life.
Thank you for asking me to share my day!
Thank you so much for coming, Danielle. What a blissfully inspiring post!