Our school year routine is beginning this week, and it has made me realize that I am totally out of practice. It has been three years since we had a baby in this home school, and we had moved so far out of survival mode that we do not have the habits required to get through this very intense time with sanity intact. After a messy couple of days, here are some of the things that I will be working on:
1. Stick to the schedule – get up on time, serve meals on time, go to bed on time. If needed, even schedule in things like who is showering on which day
2. Quiet Time – with no nappers around and a higher energy mom, we had sort of abandoned quiet time. However, without a quiet time to rest alone each day, I am losing my temper by bedtime, or falling asleep during stories! Everyone in the house needs a consistent break from one another and some time alone each day, but it is going to take some discipline to get there.
3. Keep mealtime simple – I need a really simple menu plan so that I can cook dinner each night without thinking too hard. Everyone needs to eat the same food at breakfast and lunch.
4. Lower standards and expectations – our house is just not going to be cleaned up all the time. There are always going to be cheerios on the kitchen floor. We will go to Mass with hair unbrushed from time to time. It is what it is, I know for sure that it is temporary, so I need to remember not to sweat the small stuff.
5. Just say no – our calendar is full, so I really need to be disciplined about the extras, even when it is opportunities to do really good things. I also have to say no to kids who are used to being able to have their own way all the time. No, you may not go out to play right now because I don’t have the mental energy to keep track of you, no you may not make yourself something different for breakfast, No, you may not take all of the cushions off of the sofa, because it takes me too long to get them put back together!
6. Take notes – I cannot remember anything! It needs to be written down (or rather, texted in to my smart phone), if I am going to have a fighting chance. This goes for the calendar and also for a running to-do list. I am thinking of starting an evernote page just for people I meet. After all, I would love to be able to call that lovely mom I met at ballet by name, but I am sure to forget it between now and next Friday (though I will never forget her kindness in joining for pizza with total strangers when my family was clearly on the verge).
7. Count the blessings – I know that the reason my life feels out of control right now is that I am drowning in blessings. My smart, healthy children have too many activities and friends. My gorgeous little baby needs me to nurse him and hold him. My dashing husband would like, from time to time, to take me out to dinner. All of this needs to be juggled, but it helps to remember that it is all good. I like this juggling much better than the juggling of doctors appointments when trying to find out what is wrong with a sick child!
8. Cherish small moments – when time is feeling so tight, it is still worth it to take a minute to listen to a child who has something to say, or to give a bedtime kiss, to bend down look a preschooler in the eyes when he is talking to me. I need to put these precious moments into my bank, so that I can feel that I have been present to my children, not just moved them around throughout the day.