Saturday, November 29, 2008

This post has been sloshing around in my head for a while, probably since this summer. The problem is that I don't know how to type it without sounding negative about my kids or ungrateful or at worst, like I don't love/like my children. I assume that only readers of my blog are my friends so you all know me well enough to know how totally upside-down, crazy in love with my kids I am. Therefore I will take the aforementioned risk and type this blog and show a small epiphany at the end.

On normal days, we have a morning routine that gets clothes on, hair fixed, teeth brushed, tummies full, and all of us out the door by 7:00 AM. Then Trey and I go to work and do our work thing. Then we have an evening routine (complete with graphics!) where we come home, fix and eat supper, have baths, playtime, stories, prayer, and off to bed at 8:00. So what's the problem? The problem is that I'm a teacher and that allows for 2 months off in the summer, 2 weeks off at Christmas, and random days off throughout the year. Still don't see the problem? The problem is that the days leading up to those days off, when I'll be home alone with 3 toddlers, yes I know they're my own, sends me into a complete panic. We don't have a daytime routine. We don't have a schedule telling us what to do, when to do it. Sounds great to an adult. A whole day to do whatever you want. Not so great to toddlers who thrive on structure. It totally throws them into a tailspin, and they don't know what to do. So what do they do? They follow me around wanting to be picked up and held most of the day. It's very difficult to hold three kids all at once. You almost have to be sitting on the couch, with one on each side and one on your lap. But that's no way to spend the day. Who wants to spend a whole day like that? Then comes when one of them has to use the bathroom, or I need to fix lunch, and they're still hanging on to my clothes wanting to be picked up. By the end of the day, I'm totally stressed, ready to scream, watching the clock so we can start our evening routine, where they know what's expected of them!

Now I'm not one to lay around and wallow in self-pity or throw my hands up in defeat. No...I did some research on stay-at-home moms since essentially on those days throughout the year, that's exactly what I am. Know what I discovered? Those stay-at-homes who love staying home, who have no idea how work-outside-of-the-home moms leave their babies, they have schedules! Just like we have in the morning and evening and just like I have for my students at school. So I made one. I wrote it out and put it on the refrigerator. (No graphics yet.) It has free-play time, where they can play either in their rooms or in the playroom; table-play time, where we get out puzzles, stickers, pencils, crayons, or play-doh; outside play time, because here in Texas it's still nice enough to play outside; and even a little cuddle in front of the TV and watch some Barney time. They love it! They even come ask me what time it is! They're napping better, eating better, getting along better, and they're more independent. I have no idea why it took me so long to try this or come up with it. Maybe they're just now old enough to even understand a schedule. I don't know. All I know is that I've enjoyed this time off with them, and thinking ahead to Christmas break doesn't make my heart race!


The Henrys said...

I know exactly how you feel. I'm lucky enough that Nathan is also a teacher and we share the vacations together for the most part. This past summer, we developed a schedule too and it made a huge difference. I can only imagine what it's like with 3 toddlers! I'm glad you've found something that works for your family

Robyn said...

I can say I have a hard with schedules and I stay at home all the time, so as you know it can get rough for me about half the time. I can set schedules just not stick to them. I am doing much better with baby3 though. I realize that there is just too much that can throw a schedule off if you let it so I no longer run to the store when we are out of things because that throws off the whole day. I am just a sucker because if Blaire gets sick or Brynlee sleeps longer or not at all I have no plan for it, I just go with it so sometimes I find things get hairy. I will say that Brooke starting school has helped us all get up and stick to more of a schedule whether I want to or not. As you know I was a teacher and loved routine and schedules so I nearly caved my first year as a stay at home mom because I was waiting for someone to schedule me! I am so glad you found a way that works better for you. I just keep telling myself things will get better/easier as they all get older-until the teenage years!