It’s the first day of school for our son at pre-K. The weather outside is beautiful, he’s got his cute little minion backpack strapped to his back and we are all excited to start this new journey. We, as in me, my 3 year old son and his 2 year old sister.
We’re a couple of minutes late. No big deal! We’ll get the hang of it by next week, I’m sure. Well, it’s 6 weeks in, I look at the sign-in sheet and everyone else, of the 15 students, was signed in at 8am on the dot. Am I the only one coming in between 15 to 40 minutes late every single day?! For the past 6 weeks straight?!
Luckily for me, I’ve been committed to not care what others think of me, which helped to open an opportunity to face the real issue. The issue of why we are never on time. This issue must be so big that it has prevented me, a somewhat organized person, to be completely off the mark and off the timeline on a daily basis. What’s this issue, you ask? Hell if I know!
But, for the past 3 months, I have taken a reprieve from my side business, at least from the marketing aspect of it, and decided to focus on my family life, on our “family system”. Face what’s working well, what’s not working and what can we do to fix it.
Here’s what I’ve observed, the things or routines that caused chaos almost every day. That feeling of overwhelm just in the first 10 minutes of the day constantly present.
(Side note: my son recently requested to be woken up with some patting on his back for a calm awakening. HA! May I make such a request of my alarm clock or one of my dogs?)
Here’s what I observed: Complete Chaos!
Bedtime routine: out of wack. There’s a presumed order of events during the kids’ bedtime routine but the steps are not sequential in order, which causes the kids to feel no routine is present at all and they feel freedom to run around during this time. Nightly screaming, whining and crying, either from the kids or either parent, is a common occurrence.
Morning routine: husband is out the door before the kids awake. Kids don’t wake up at the same time, one wakes up randomly between 5am and 8am, the other one 7am-9am. My personal morning ritual, which was what kept me sane before, is out the window because it kept getting interrupted, so I gave it up in frustration.
Remember, I’m not complaining here, these are just the facts. Here are some positives, for some variety: everyone is physically healthy, we stick to our budget and our dogs get walked regularly since we started renting a home without a readily accessible yard. SO there, this post isn’t all negative.
Back to bedtime routine: as the kids scatter around the house like wild ants, on cocaine, I try to clean up after dinner, feed the dogs, tidy up (lol-well that’s just a bad idea, but at the moment there’s no time for intelligent thinking), and try to catch each kid and put their pajamas on, all the while restraining the urge to yell, or worse, slap.
The oldest kid goes to bed by 11pm, by which time I’m exhausted, have no more energy for tidying up or giving attention to my husband. He, of course, proceeds to take this personally, adding more drama to the plate. But that’s a different discussion.
In between the chaotic times at home, I’m at my part time nursing job, nice and calm, possibly feeling a bit guilty about not having any enjoyment or bonding time with my own kids.
I realize I keep finding myself in the mom/boss mode. You know the one, “do this”, “do that”, “don’t hit your sister”, “get off the dog”, and so on. This, in retrospect, is not the ideal state I’d like to find myself in more than 30% of the time. What happened to the playful mom or the curious/tell me about your day mom? Where’s this bonding I used to dream of?
So I set some new goals:
1. Peaceful time at home (and also I’d like a unicorn, but hey, a girl can dream and make it a goal).
2. Bedtime/lights out for kids by 8pm. Just kidding [myself]. 9pm it is!
3. Out of the house by 7:30am.
4. In bed myself by 10pm.
5. Enjoy intimate time with the husband at least weekly.
Solutions, a work in progress:
The following are the steps I’ve taken to achieve the above goals. I’ll list which goals were met at the end:
-Sleep training for the kids, read the book The Sleep Easy Solution.
-Dedicate 2 days a week, 1.5hours each, to laundry, Mondays and Wednesdays. No excuses.
-Fill up gas in the car on Sundays, so it’s not an emergency every single, damn time.
-make the bed every morning, to suggest a sense of control and serenity at the start of the day.
-Dedicate daily bonding time with each child individually, 10 minutes each, to prevent the need for seeking attention with whining and fighting (thanks to Amy Mcready and her awesome parenting tips).
-Schedule a weekly date night/lunch with husband, because the marriage has definitely been put on the back-burner. It’s important to date your spouse, they say, but it sure doesn’t feel urgent. So, we put off caring for it.
-Do dishes nightly, no excuses, to prevent pile-up. Use the dishwasher, no matter if I trust it to do a proper cleaning or not.
Sounds like a lot to do, right? Maybe, depends on who’s reading this. Oh yeah, one more thing to add: create ME time and spend time and money on myself, care for my skin, eat better, & possibly start working out at home. That sounds like a goal. More like a future goal.
Goals Reached to date, Serenity IS Possible:
1. Lights out by 9pm, YES!
2. Calm morning, no yelling, YES!
3. Peaceful time at home, Woohoo! This is usually during 1 on 1 child and parent bonding time.
Time management is tricky, depending on how you look at it. Some people firmly believe that time is always running away from them and others know it is up to them to create their own timeline. Guess which one will have a chance of improvement?
Once I created some extra time in the day, for example, 2 whole hours opened up after the kids were sleep trained and went to bed by 9pm, yes, it actually worked. But then I came up with other things to occupy that precious slot.
However, when will it be enough? At what point do we tell ourselves to stop, relax, and don’t put anymore on our plate because it’s pretty full and threatens to fall and crack?
Honestly, I am not sure. And come to think of it, most of us do prefer some variety in our lives anyways. Though having said that, I also question that if life at home is chaotic and on edge all the time, how are we to expect anything else in our life to fall in place and feel right?
The only thing that can be done by us is to prioritize what we pay attention to and what we try to fix, what drains our energy that needs to be fixed or taken out of our life, what needs to be added for a sense of fulfillment and how to actually slow down enough and ask ourselves these 3 most important questions: What went well this week? What didn’t go well this week? What can we do to work on and improve it for the future?
And though I predict I’ll still be the only parent showing up at my kid’s school 30 minutes later than everyone else for the next few weeks, or months, at least I’ll be showing up in peace, knowing that we didn’t get this far by force or by yelling and threatening, but by choice, as a team.