Friday, January 17, 2014

My Battle Cry for Order in This House (5 rules for people like me)

I just found this on my phone. Looks like the 5 second camera tutorial paid off.

I had a morning so awful this week it brought up vivid memories of last summer when I was acclimating to stay at home motherhood for the first time, balancing the needs of a talkative three year old and thirsty bebes, and myself starving for any inkling of sleep to just not die.  Seven months post-new babies and most days here are fairly calm. We have our moments (or string of moments) of "peak stress", wherein I take another gulp of coffee and do a lot of embarrassing self-talk to get through it, but overall things are pleasant. Having a morning where I felt like I was once again on a bus tour of the 1st circle of hell (where there just happens to be kids riding on my lap who are so cute, cute, cute that I love, love, love and kiss, kiss, kiss), was a great reminder that there are seasons of life and we get through things that are hard and are sometimes amazed by ourselves once it's over.  Moral of story: gratitude.  But also... how did we get back here, people??

After several failed attempts at regrouping, I battle-cried to the kids, "New Game Plan!!" and then unceremoniously grabbed some of Thomas's sketch paper nearby and inked out the most important tools I had learned since starting my stay here full time. 

Is it only me that happily tailspins into chaos and then remembers again and again and a hundred times that doing whatever feels good does not qualify as a healthy work ethic? Or no? Speak now or forever hold your superiority over my head. 

I resisted the urge to tattoo my must-haves across my arm (with, you know, that beginner's tattoo kit I bought that one time), so posting them here is the next  best  worst thing.  Assume that as of January 2014 I average getting one of these right on any given day, but I give you my certified promise, or your money back, that if practiced, these five rules can reign in even the craziest mix of peoples stuck inside a house together. 

1. Wake up before kids.  
It is some kind of magic that will never be fully revealed to me but this "rule" is by far the most bang for my buck. Even ten minutes before the 1st whimper or request for breakfast is enough of a head start to keep my head above water.  Jen has said it before, about staying ahead of the curve, so I'll just let you go there and reap all her wisdom.  Wake or be woken is akin to eat or be eaten here. 

2. Keep it clean.
I made excuses before staying home about keeping the house clean, and *surprise* I still make them, but really it's not an option with kids.  Time can't be wasted looking for socks, wiping down counters amid cries for food, or quick-snatching the choking hazard off the floor.  Most of all, my brain in a cluttered house is something completely foreign to me. Cognitive functions shut down. My ability to discipline reduces to groaning and yelling "don't touch THAT!". My joy takes a sharp 90% decrease.  I get that with kids there should be spaces for messy, creative play, but last time I checked, my boys were not reenacting Sharknado in my laundry room.

No, stand to the side. No. Stand to the side. Okay. Good enough.

3. Follow the routine.
Schedules at home are unrealistic what with kids and their wild unpredictability, but routines are such a very, very good thing.  We tweak ours a little bit each week and have quite a bit of work to do, but with nursing twins blah blah blah excuses excuses blah blah whine. There are anchors Thomas can count on to feel secure: "school time" during the twins' 2nd nap, no screen time until after his nap, and reading books before going to bed. My sister-in-law suggested I post a pictorial routine for him and I think that's brilliant, so I'll be drawing that up and plan on putting the most artistic effort into the time mid-day when the babies and Thomas sleep at the same time which will be represented by me lounging on a beach modeling my cute bikini and charming figure while holding a daiquiri and soaking in the sun when in reality I typically sit on the couch and stare into nothing stunned numb with exhaustion for surviving the 1st half of the day.

4. Say it and mean it.
Discipline... Gah. Let me scrub toilets instead. Moving on. The worth of words probably is the best kept secret of happy parents and happy kids world wide. Well, if so, I just let it out the bag. But words mean more than just ushering consequences for hug-squeezing-attempted murdering little baby brothers. It means me putting the cell phone away and really listening.  It means quality one-on-one time, making promises and following through (both on things good and bad), and having conversations with little ones. Good stuff--being fully present with Thomas! It usually means I hear nuggets of questions like "Why did you say "shit" the other day?"  or statements like "Pah. Pah. Pah. Penis. Penis starts with "p" too!"

5. See people. 
Oh man, I really am horrible at all of these. I'm still not sure which is more difficult for me: clothing these little guys and making us look presentable and out the door with our chariot of stuff to go see people OR welcoming people into my frantically cleaned home so I can stress out in between being thrilled to talk to adults and a nut case about remembering I've still got kids to take care of so not so fast on the sipping carefree, Ashley! However, seeing people, and I mean that in loose terms (going to a store counts as defense against my mommy brain turning to mush after the hundredth rendition of "twinkle, twinkle, little star" because I can't for the life of me remember more than seven kid songs I actually know the lyrics to) always puts more pep in my step and I can use all the pep available.  

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So there you go... my 5 rules for happy mommy, happy home orrrrrrrrrrrrrr.....chaos, death, and destruction. 

There's also coffee, chocolate, dancing with the kiddos, and a whispered Hail Mary. Those do a lot of good and are visited much, much more often than all the necessaries I just listed.

What's on your list? I'll add it to the five things I'm already not doing. Oh yeah!


  1. Love these! Didn't want to hijack your fb post but here's my thoughts on getting up early in my new anti-procrastination phase: this week, with Matt gone and me trying to anticipate crazy car-loading mornings, in lieu of getting up early---just doesn't happen since we already have to get up early to get Lizzy to school---I set out the breakfast things (bowls, spoons, drinks, coffee in the filter,) outfits, lunches/snacks for tommorrow at before I go to bed, which helps take the edge off the guilt if I do sleep "late" but also gives me extra "me" time if I do get up early! I plan to continue this a few days a week, alternating "sleeping in" until 6:30 with all the stuff prepared with getting up early at 6:00 with all the stuff already prepared but more prayer/coffee time for me to luxuriate in ;)

    1. This is so smart. I need this, especially food prep done in advance, so I'm not wasting time there. I'm glad our guys are back home now! :)

  2. I keep hearing good things about waking up before kiddos. maybe I should give it a shot, even though I'm the furthest thing from a morning person. I totally agree with all the other tips. All I would add is remember to feed everyone regularly including mama. Sometimes I get through half a day and I realize all I've had is coffee!

    1. Laura, I think I should offer the disclaimer that the morning time is largely for my introverted personality. If I haven't had a few minutes for me to get quiet, all the noise just seems louder than it should. I'm weird like that. ;)

  3. I love the last four!!! I do those with kids all the time! I am so glad there are other total coffee junkies out there too. Lots of coffee and Jesus is the only way to get though!

  4. I came over from conversion diary. Loved this! I keep telling my husband that I just need to get up before the girls do (who are 17 months apart, sleep in the same room, and the 7 month old is teething like crazy = still getting up at night) because then I'd feel betting about conquering the day, not getting woken up and then feeling like I'm playing catch up all day!
    My excise is that I'm still so tired because I'm getting up at night but I'm hoping to implement it this week so I can start to be more sane!
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Sarah, I'm right there with you! I know what's good for me, but I'm too tired to do it. Something like that. :)