I have taken an unintentional blog break. From both blogs. It is for many reasons, one of which being that my baby is now 13 months old and his favorite pastimes include dumping, throwing, mixing, or pulling down everything in sight… so that has me on my toes. But another reason has been a pretty major readjusting of priorities.
For the last 6 years I have spent a lot of my time mourning a ‘normal’ family day due to my husbands abnormal schedule. I fought every step of the process for him to be on swing shift (noon to midnight) and lost, year after year after year. There were things I did to adjust to it, such as doing school in the afternoon, which never worked and so I would find myself, over and over, being the ‘on duty’ parent from the second I woke up and started school to about 10pm when my 10 and 15year olds would finally go to sleep. My evenings when I was alone were often haggard and kinda miserable. Not that they were always awful… just always really tiring because I was the sole parent responsible for:
- dinner and clean up
- helping with leftover schoolwork,
- get everyone changed into pj’s,
- tv to be watched that night
- small group/youth group at church
- evening chores
- cleaning of the house from the day
- setting up of schoolwork for the next morning
- public school friend playdates
- Alex’s drivers ed classes
- and much much more.
About a month ago, something snapped inside me. I spanked my 5 year old son for something that was so dumb that I didn’t even recognize myself. (We don’t normally spank… it was a reflex that I am thinking was probably 90% mental exhaustion.) I decided, as I held my shocked and crying child, that if something was going to snap it just could NOT be me.
I made a few new rules that night. Rules for myself and rules for the kids. Here’s what I came up with:
#1: Dinner will always be done at 6pm. Hungry kids are unreasonable kids and if we eat later than that, the whole evening just doesn’t go well. For nights like Alex’s class night (from 3:30 - 6pm) that means a crock pot meal because I have to be on the other side of town at 6pm so dinner has to be ready the second we get home.
#2: All chores will be done by 7pm. This means that 1 hour is for eating dinner, getting the house cleaned up, putting on PJ’s and teeth brushing, etc. This is also the time I set aside for filling the kids school boxes for the next day if I can.
#3: The baby will get a bath every night. Something sorely lacking in his routine was a routine. lol! He always nursed, I always rocked him, but there was no real routine to it. He would often get put to bed in whatever clothes he had on (always a clean diaper though) and be expected to fall asleep… no matter if we had just finished dinner, or if we had eaten at 5pm. Now he takes a bath, gets on clean onsie and pj’s, waves goodnight to everyone (who is busy with quiet time (#4)) and then he nurses, we rock, and he gets put down.
#4: Between the hours of 7 and 8 is quiet time. If everyone got their chores done by 7pm they have the option to use our portable tv (only brought out before now for very long car trips) in one of their bedrooms to watch an episode of something quiet. (Little House on the Prairie is the current favorite we own quite a few of.)
#5: No tv on school days except in that 7pm - 8pm hour (unless educational and presented by mom) . This makes that hour something to strive for and protect. It’s great incentive to get their stuff done on time.
#6: No one comes out of their rooms except for bathroom use after 8pm. The big kids don’t have to sleep, but they can not be outside their bedrooms.
I sound so OCD on paper… but really, before this new schedule and me sticking to it (and making them stick to it) we were having serious issues with getting enough sleep (me included), eating before 7pm (esp on nights when we had groups or classes), inconsistency in chores being completed (is it time to do chores or am I so beat I just want everyone to go to bed so they can go away?), and most of all it gave me NO time to do anything by myself. I had no space because the kids would come out for hours after bed time was over. I would have to stay up until all hours just to get a little space. It was just too much!
I have gotten very protective over the time I am getting and I am happier for it. For the whole first week I posted on Facebook over and over about how wonderful it was that I would be alone by 8:45pm each night, or that I had the time to do small simple things… like read a book or take a bath. Twice I wrote “Sanity is oh so sweet” and I meant it! These were truly revolutionary concepts for me. I think it’s been years since I have been this ‘selfish’ (by which I mean self-preserving) and it feels amazing. I don’t think I will ever go back.
What types of things do you do to keep your sanity?