the weekday formula for sanity during summer break

OMGEEEEEEE four kids 24/7 under my roof for the next seven weeks! (that’s what the bad part of my brain says when I think about the monstrosity of summer break.)

Because if you’re pleasing the 3 and 1 year old little boys, you’re probably failing the 8 and 6 year old little girls. And it goes vice-versa…

But the rational part of my brain says to break it down. Every day, hour by hour  – until you read that glorious hour of last kisses and bedtime.

Homeschooling moms? You’re probably rolling your eyes at my ridiculousness. And I to you? I bow down. Because we’re totally not wired the same way, not one single bit.

So for the past two summers, basically since Piper has been in school, I’m come to adopt my own little plan of attack to keep all parties happy, while still maintaining my WAHM status. And by golly, the plan actually works, so I’m totally going to blog about it (obviously).

It’s a plan that if you can touch on each of the four points, even just a little, it will leave you feeling accomplished. Or hopefully at least that the day didn’t suck completely.

The formula is totally simple, and I assure you it works well (for me):

1. Do something fun.

2. Nap something

3. Clean something.

4. Cook something.

5. Write or read something.

(it doesn’t have to be done in this order, although this is the order I do them in)

Breaking it down…

1. Do something fun (is a relative term).

For instance, every morning we get dressed and “do something fun” from around 9am-11am. Today “fun” was having the big girls go to art camp at The Harrison Center down the street from our house from 9am-noon, while the boys and I ran errands which included a trip to the City Farmers Market where I let Gage ride his “gooter” and pick out a Nicey Treat.

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Tomorrow’s fun will include having a babysitter in the morning (because babysitters are so much more fun than parents) and swim lessons in the evening. Fun can also include trips to Target, and picking up holds at the library. Fun basically means whatever you do when you leave the house.

2. Clean something.

And I’m not talking anything epic. Today’s “clean something” includes doing 40fajillion loads of laundry and having the girls organize their craft closet. On rough days, “cleaning something” basically means wiping toddler butts.

CLEAN SOMETHING UPDATE: Piper just spilled a fresh jar (the entire dang thing) of that hellacious Mod Podge craft glue stuff onto my dark grey carpet while trying to make a bed for her American Girl doll.

3. Nap Something.

This is the most important part of the day. Something, someone, needs to nap because mama loves not being touched for a few minutes. Preferably it’s two little boys napping at the same time while the big girls have “quiet time” in their bedroom. This happens only 1% of the time.

4. Cook something.

We rarely go out to eat, and I’m admittedly somewhat picky about what I feed the crew. So everyday, I try to cook or bake something. I meal plan on Friday night, get groceries on Saturday, and then I follow the plan.

And because yesterday I made a few dinners for the week, today I’m focusing on all the little stuff that isn’t exactly a meal, but still needs to be prepared. Such as: a dozen hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruit Popsicle, roasted beets, a loaf of banana bread, and a jar of salad dressing. It’s totally a get every bowl in the kitchen dirty type afternoon, but totally worth it because tomorrow is eat of out the fridge “leftover” Thursday.

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5. Write and read something.

Since I freelance from home, I pace myself with a post (or two) a day to get my work done. If I can write something every day, my work gets done easily without too much burden on the family. If I want till deadline day, I will loose my mind under pressure. Also worth noting, I cannot work at night, or my brain will have a hard time shutting down and I’ll still be up at 2am. And since we don’t have a real tv (although we do have netflix), I read until around 11:30 every night.

Last night I started David Sedaris’Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. the weekday formula for sanity during summer break And as long as he keeps writing books, I’ll keep reading and giggling accordingly. So inappropriately funny, trust me.

So there you have it. This is the plan, and we stick to it (loosely), until someone looses their poop which happens frequently.

 

 

 

In a world where it’s always Friday night, and always Monday morning.

Him: “Saturday afternoons are really killer around here, aren’t they?” and “Sunday mornings are the worst lately…”

Me: Um, do you think this is just the way they act when you’re here? That when you’re off working during the week the kids are magically easy and always pleasant to be around? That it’s not hard when you’re gone?

Him: So it’s always like this? Wow.

The thing is, when you’re a stay-at-home mom, every night is Friday night. And everyday morning is Monday morning. Sure, the schedule varies slightly from day to day, but it all still kinda melts into the same day by the time bedtime rolls around.

Parenting four little kids day-in and day-out is for the completely insane. Sure, they might be small, but they mighty. They will beat you down, humble you to your core, and let you know who’s boss.

Right now with the big girls in school, I have a fantastic rhythm going on with the little boys. We get the girls off to their school day, we do something fun for a couple hours, we come home for lunch, they take naps (& I work), we pick up the girls, go to the park, eat dinner and off to bed.

It’s predictable, it works, and the boys know the drill.

But today we’re on the eve of of summer vacation eve. Two lunches before school lunches turn into picnic lunches in the park. Two mornings before we swap out our uniforms for swimsuits. Two early morning wake-up calls before later bedtimes begin.

48 hours before it’s me vs. them for the next 8 weeks.

You guys, I know summer vacation is suppose to be all beautiful sidewalk chalk masterpieces and sprinkler awesomeness. But I gotta be honest, I’m not really looking forward to the next 8 weeks. Not that I don’t love my kids, (because I totally do!),  I’m just really scared I’m going to fail at summertime.

8859306335 530532e56c In a world where its always Friday night, and always Monday morning.

Piper is so active, and needs constant change and stimulation. Nola is just so, um, spirited. Gage is three and wants to hunt you down with a light saber 24/7, and Paul continues to act like a baby.

I’m refusing to make a summer bucket list for a few reasons:

1. Piper will make the list too long and ambitious, and then she’ll be disappointed when it doesn’t all get checked off.

2. I’m scared of hot air balloons. And if we make a bucket list, some hot air balloon type activity will show up.

3. Bucket lists are things you want to do before you die. If I complete all the Bucket List items I’m imagining would be on the list, it will surely kill me dead. I don’t want to die this young from epic summer fun.

Basically, my summer vacation feelings can accurately be summed up in a conversation I had with Gage just a few hours ago:

Me: “Wow Gage, I’m so exhausted today.”

Him: “I know. I don’t care.”

**********************

Pray for me friends, it’s going to be a long hot summer in the city. Also, school starts again August 5th (I think). And our first craft of the summer will be making one of those tear-off chains counting down the sleeps till 1st and 3rd grade.

You hatched and the slide is slippery

We were sitting around the kitchen table. It was a typical weeknight evening, and dinner was winding down. Baked salmon, a favorite. I told the kids to finish their last bite, listen to Uncle Charlie, and we might have a sweet snack  if they played their cards right.

But then then the conversation took a turn for the funny:

Hey Nola, what did you learn in school today?

“we learned about animals (oviparous, what?). They lay eggs and hatch babies”…

yadda yadda yadda…..the chicken and the egg story…eat your asparagus or else…. blah, blah, blah…

One thing led to another, everyone got to talking and joking at once, and now Gage somehow believes I sat on him for 8 months. Yes, he thinks he hatched from an egg. Because naturally, he did.

Sure thing, I’ll correct him tomorrow. Or maybe the next day.

But for right now? My boy thinks he hatched from an egg.

It’s funny, no?

(I’ll fix this before he starts dating, promise)

(it’s only temporary, I’ll show him The Business of Being Born You hatched and the slide is slippery sometime before he goes to high school)

**********************

And not at all on the same subject, but equally frightening is baby Paul’s love for being outside.

He’s brave enough (but not graceful enough), to go sliding down the kiddo slide by himself.

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Greg Louganis, you have competition. This little dude is smooth. A perfect “10″.

Amirite?

Also, you’re welcome.

 

she told me less would have been best

I was recently asked point blank why I had four kids, given that I’m an introvert who suffered from anxiety.

The constant noise, the always touching and neediness, the endless worry and to-do list that comes with raising a large (young) family. Why on earth I would do that to myself?

Not skipping a beat, she stated that my personality type was probably better suited to raising a small family. You know, just one child – maybe two if there was an age gap between the siblings.

One child? Maybe two? Never.

I always knew I was going to have four children, lord willing of course.

This life I’m living? I wanted it badly. Because it’s the only family life I’ve ever known. I am a product of a large family, and so is my husband. Lots of kids, this is how we do it.

The funny thing is, when I was in the midst of this conversation with this lady, I wasn’t at all upset by her words (although my better judgement tells me I should have been).  I had no desire to scream any “how dare you’s” or “you’re way off base’s”. Because when I think about it, she’s probably right.

My anxiety would be less without so much chaos and worry.

I would sleep better and more frequently with less of a to-do list.

Less people needing me and constantly yelling my name would be nice, some days.

Less. There would be so much less in my life, without these four kids. But you guys, my heart would be less full.

But why are we even having this conversation? I can’t turn back time, and my family is my family. I have four kids, and while it’s often overwhelming, it is what it is. I don’t regret my decision to have a large family, but yes I could use some fresh coping skills.

(Why do I feel ashamed that I’m having a hard time dealing with my current life stage?)

She said it’s important to know how we’re wired and what makes us thrive, in order to parent successfully.

I thrive in quiet. I like to talk instead of shout. Solo sports instead of team sports. Communication? I’m oftentimes not the best at.

So what’s an introvert mom like me to do in the chaos of her life?

Make the quite happen, she said. BWHAHAHAHAHAHAAH was my response.

But maybe she was on to something. If I hear here correctly, maybe she was giving me permission to tape my kids mouths shut and lock them in the basement. Because that’s about the only way quite will happen under my roof.

Yeah, no.

Less chaos, make it happen, she said. My kids need, I need it.

Last weekend, Gage and I went on a date to the movies. Just the two of us, we say an advance screening of The Croods. Sure, I could have taken the girls with us too, but to be alone with just him was so amazing.

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And last night, Nola and I went to pick up her new glasses (isn’t she the cutest). Sure, I could have taken Piper with us as well, but Nola and I are never alone together. Sometimes I wonder if her behavioral issues aren’t because she’s begging for attention, feeling sandwiched in the middle and ignored. Because when it’s just the two of us, she’s so happy.

And when she’s calm and happy, I rest easy myself.

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Tonight, PK and I are going to run some errands after dinner. Quality time one-on-one time can happen in the deli section of the grocery store, right?

I think what’s wrong is that often feel like I have to be with all of my children, all of the time.

Why “waste” time with just one of my children, when I should be at home with all four of my children. Messed up thinking, right? Because it’s not wasting time at all, and I’m slowly figuring this out.

My life, my family, and how God created me wasn’t a mistake at all.  But just because someone decided that my personality lends itself to thriving in a small family, doesn’t mean that’s the life for me. I’m here to prove (mostly to myself) that I can be a successful and happy introverted mom in a large family.

Gah, why is parenting so hard? And when’s my next therapy session?

 

 

 

We’ll have an adventure, someday.

I’ve been reading Gage the same bedtime story for over 3 weeks. It wouldn’t be that out of the ordinary, except it’s one of those look and find Well have an adventure, someday. books. Waldo? I need to dig you out of my parents basement and revive you back to life. Because I have a boy that would adore you. Also, I know exactly where you’re hiding. Night after night, page after page. IT’S THE SAME, ALL THE TIME.

I could get bored and annoyed, but instead I’m relishing in the fact that we’re getting really good at finding Big Baby, Mr. Pricklepants, and the Headless Doll. The bedtime rigamarole? It’s getting shorter and shorter as the days go by. BECAUSE WE KNOW WHERE YOU’RE HIDING. And there’s value there….

This kid? He’s hilarious in the most unassuming way. I’ve always said that if his dry sense of humor sticks, it will serve him well throughout his life.

Yesterday, I found him around the corner, counting to ten while playing hide n’ seek.

8553785631 5f16690c65 Well have an adventure, someday.

No blindfold, no problem. Monkey and Pooh got it covered!

You guy, I can’t even. I know it’s not a big deal to you, but he’s my kid, and my heart swells and surges full of love for this little nugget.

I don’t want to forget these days. You know, these days that feel just like the day before. And also the day we will live the day after tomorrow. ALWAYS THE SAME.

I would be ashamed and embarrassed if I compared how ordinary and just like the day before each and every day truly was. But to my kids? I believe it’s comforting and grounding. And that it’s a good thing. Right?

These days I want to pass faster than they do? The days I stalk the clock until 7:45 pm? They will be gone fast, I know this.

I’ve recently found myself lusting over other people’s lives. Lives that I’ve deemed “better” than mine. Lives of people the exact same age as me, but not necessarily in the same life-phase as me. Life-phase, it’s a word, right?

They’re doing exciting things, things that people notice. Making things happen, going places. Being named on important lists and stuff. Me? I’m reading the same bedtime story every night for a month, and it’s so very boring. (pokes eye out with a dull pencil that should have been used for 2nd grade homework)

But the thing I have to remember, is that I’m home every night to read the same story over and over and over. And that’s not such a bad thing. Heck, it’s a desirable and coveted thing for a lot of people.

There will be days to make “the list”, even if it’s a geriatric lists instead of “young people” lists.

Comfort in the everyday, it’s not to be taken for granted, even when it feels numbingly mundane. It’s important to my kids, and it’s important to me (this I chant).

There will be days for adventure and the unexpected, and when that day comes, I will be ready. But today is not that day. And that’s OK.

 

 

so let’s talk about *hypothetical* homework bribery.

Not that I ever would, but *ahem* I have a friend who’s hypothetically considering it. 

Say your kid recently switched schools and her new curriculum was suddenly extremely homework intensive. And let’s assume your kid would rather go play lego’s than work on homework. Because homework after a long day of schoolwork is dumb.

But let’s just say there was a way your kid could get out of 90% of that homework, just by passing a test that’s given every Monday morning. Wouldn’t that be glorious? No homework during the week, and more time to play! (also, so much more relaxing for everyone)

But in order to ace the test, your kid would have to study just a bit over the weekend so she would be prepared. Like, a solid hour or two, tops.

And your kid? She’s so smart and easily motivated by incentives.

So what if…

You enticed her to study by offering her a book of her choosing in exchange for a test well passed.

Yes, bribery.

I mean, you would be bribing her with something educational. So it’s totally ok, right? And it would only cost you about $5 a week, but would take away so! much! stress!, which is worth it’s weight in gold and the end of an exhausting day.

And since your kid currently does not get an allowance, it would be a nice way for her to get something she wants, without you just going out and buying her something “just because”.

So is this a totally bogus idea?  Is bribing a kid to study totally taboo and a huge parental no-no?

Please, discuss.

I’m asking for a friend, who’s dealing with a stressful (purely hypothetical) situation.