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
- 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.