I yearn for down-time, feeling jealous of others who have the time and ability for quiet reflection or pursuit of interests. I feel like a some kind of emergency director, barking out orders constantly: "Yes", "No", "Please stop!", "Tell me why I am asking you to stop X, Y, Z", or "Pick that up and put it where you know it goes, please", or "That's fine, but you're going to need to clean that up as soon as you are done with it", or "Please leave your brother alone" or "Stop!" or "Green chair, red couch" (my version of "time out", the proverbial "re-set button") and so on and so forth. The endless minutiae.
Where's Shawna? Where am I...? Sometimes I get tired of being "the mother" all the time...
And then . . . my little cherubs. Those sweet little boys, who love us so much. They can't help that they are unbelievably energetic, excited little things who love to be with us constantly, want to tell us everything, make messes wherever they go, and have the burning desire to explore and discover everything around them. God bless their dear hearts. I hope I am good enough for them.
* * * * *
That being said, I went through a bit of a crisis this past December. After the ferocity of the garden harvest and food preservation, houseguests, travel, and a newly mobile baby (literally . . . just 10 months old at the time), I was whooped. My homelife felt like it was spiraling totally out of control. (Take this with a grain of salt . . . this is a. borealis speaking here . . . I tend towards the grand and overdramatic.) Things needed to change.
I reflected on the problem and rested. I brainstormed. I checked in with friends. I grounded our little tushies and tried to stay home as much as humanly possible (that in itself helped a lot). I spent a lot of time re-working things in my head. Over a period of weeks and months, I feel like I've finally worked into a very effective rhythm. I feel happier and more connected with my little guys. It is such a relief.
What did I change? We stay home more. I started doing a weekly menu outline. I assessed my goals for each day and week, then incorporated them into a revised (AKA "new and improved!") daily routine. On my daily To Do List, I incorporate both necessities, i.e. "clean the bathroom" or "vacuum sunroom/bedroom", and desires, i.e. "Memory with the boys" or "read aloud" or "post on blog". Having a more structured routine also helps me know how to direct the flow of traffic without being sucked into the bog of "I've got to do it now!", which usually results in the boys running wild and general daily timeframes spiraling beyond my control.
I've also started seriously incorporating the boys in clean-up, more than ever before. Sure, they put their dishes in the dishwasher. With my assistance, they pick up around the play table on a semi-regular basis. They pick up the "storage toys" as soon as they are done with them, things like Tinker Toys, Magnetix, or playdough. They put their paper and crayons and scissors away when they are done with them. All under my direction, of course.
But what I have changed is adding them to the responsibility of keeping the entire house picked up and clean. I can't take the toy-strewn mess anymore. The sandbox-like kitchen floor. The rubbish-flecked carpets. Junk everywhere. I can't. take. it. Now I have them come with me from room to room, picking things up and putting them away under my direction. I have the baby in the backpack, assisting them, then vacuum. We do this on an almost-daily basis. I don't have to do it alone anymore. Alone, or not at all.
I also posted my New and Improved! routine in clear view to help keep me on track.
The Daily Flow
- 8:00-ish AM: Breakfast, Clean-up/Cod liver oil, Get dressed
- 9:00-ish AM: Free Play (them), Clean/Catch-up (me) . . . depending on the day/level of focus, include them in on the work
- 11:00-ish AM: Table Time OR Directed Play OR Clean/Tidy together
- 1:00-ish PM: Lunch, Audiobook, Clean-up
- 2:00-ish PM: Free Play, Read Books
- 3:00-ish PM: Nap/Quiet Time
- 4:00-ish PM: Game Time w/ Diego
- 5:00-ish PM: Dinner Prep (me), Quiet Play (them) i.e. playdough, Magnetix, Leapster
I finally feel like I have a grip on life: able to manhandle my living quarters into submission, I feel happier and more connected with my children. I even get a little bit of a break in the afternoon on most days.
It feels so good.