Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spring Cleaning

We have been flailing in our day-to-day life again. I am getting crankier and less productive by the day. And by productive, I mean as a mother: instead of enjoying my children's company, I am viewing them as a nuisance. How can I waste these precious years with that nasty attitude?!

It is time to get radical.

For myself, this means that the computer, unless required for a particular duty, will not be turned on until the afternoon. It isn't that I am spending so much time on it, but that it affects my attitude. Having that much opportunity for information and socializing at my fingertips is the cause of much distraction and impatience in my daily life. No more.

For the children, I will be implementing more structure into our daily life. We already have Special Time in the afternoon - after lunch and before pre-nap Reading Time - which has been terrific. [Special Time is 20-30 minutes where I get down on the floor and play with Diego (and Truen, peripherally). The timer is set, so we have a definite end. Without the timer, Special Time would go on into an infinity.] Special Time has been very good for us, forcing me to set aside time for focused attention; and of course, Diego just loves it.

So that is our afternoon: lunch, Special Time, reading, nap; but mornings are a different matter. Last winter, Diego would hit the ground running after breakfast and make a bee-line for the play table in the living room and play. Play, play, play. He would play by himself while I was able to clean up the kitchen and other miscellaneous activities. But that isn't happening this winter. He has a hard time finding things to do by himself, unless it is sitting on his potty chair and reading books for a half-hour (love it). This winter he is usually pestering the baby or creating mischief of some sort or the other. It really puts a crimp on things, as I am usually unable to do much of anything due to the circumstances (and it makes me mad).

He needs something to do. He needs a directed activity for the morning, after breakfast. I've decided to call it Work Time, where he will sit at the kitchen table and do whatever he wants: cutting, painting, coloring, pasting, play-doh, whatever. This will free me up to clean up the kitchen, prep for future meals, color with him, or whatever else pops up. Truen can sit at the table too, or run around. We started it yesterday morning and it went rather well.

New House Rules:

  • Work Time after breakfast
  • A skipped nap will result in Quiet Time
  • Half the toys will be going into storage, for rotation
  • Always keep a Star Chart on the refrigerator (a tool to look for/encourage the positive)
  • A "bad" day will result in keeping Diego at my side

Working towards:

  • More time outside
  • A more organized daily routine
  • A greater emphasis on craft/art projects
  • Less of a focus on ME and my varied interests
  • More attention to nurturing my wee ones
  • Less clutter

A lot of this has been tumbling around in my mind for the past week or so. I have been crafting my plans while staring at the ceiling in bed, until the big picture finally came together. Ultimately, if I've learned anything as a parent it is this: most of my angst is my own fault. My children act up when I am not totally present with them. Sure, I'm with them all day, but when I am distracted and intent on my own agenda, they suffer - and misbehave to get my attention. A lot of problems would be avoided by providing them more focused attention and structure throughout the day. Even though I recognize this fact, it is very hard to implement change. This is part of my strategy: to allow change to happen naturally, once the structure is in place.

I'll keep you posted.


Sandy said...

Fabulous. Excellent. (I hear you on the computer thing) Rotating and setting out new work projects to "accomplish" in the morning will keep his interest. Great idea to rotate the toys. I need to freshen up Ripley's assortment myself. Currently I do it about once every two weeks. I should probably do it once a week. Speaking of Ripley -- time to go and pick him up from school!!! Be well my friend. Great planning.

BigK said...

wow. good for you. its so interesting to me that what you write is almost word for word what's going on in my life. maybe its just the ages of our kids and our parenting style. anyway, you give me so much motivation. thanks! Good luck.

Jenell Williams Paris said...

I love your blog. The conditions of our daily lives are very different, but you describe the pressures of parenting, and the urgency of problem-solving, in a way that resonates with me.

Structuring time is a similar issue for us --

a. borealis said...

Kristina: Isn't it strange to read something directly out of what you are currently experiencing?! It is like, whoaaaaa whenever it happens to me. And it gives me heart, to know that I'm not alone. This comment encouraged me, sista.

Jenell: Ditto. The urgency of problem-solving. YESSSS. That is so right on. The problems always need to be addressed A-S-A-P before things spiral down the toilet. I was looking at your kid blog the other day...and oh my...you/they are hilarious. Your "pack of dogs" quote left me giggling. Oh my... I can't even imagine!

a. borealis said...

Sandy: Hiiiii!