Monday, February 18, 2008

Enjoying Motherhood but Burdened by the Work

Monday mornings... oh! I love them! Just kidding. I am not a I-hate-Monday-morning-kind-of-person but lately, I could do without them very much, thank you.

Today began in earnest around 6AM. The phone was ringing, the radio was on, Toby was running around turning on lights, getting half dressed to get a fax, couldn't find his cold-weather overalls and leaving his alarm beeping endlessly. After a night of fitful sleeping (thanks to a teething 8 month old) I felt rather shell shocked. Or like adrenaline had been surging all night and thankfully was still in effect. Or like I was stunned. Or dazed. I should've felt tired but didn't. It suddenly dawned on me that I needed to make coffee and Toby's lunch so I groggily realized the brevity of this Monday morning and faced it bravely while stumbling in the dark trying not to wake the baby. Again.

The baby is still zonked and the kids are still sleeping so at least it's quiet. I can make a slow adjustment to the day without feeling like I opened my eyes to the earth crashing down on my face.

The house was a wreck. Notice I say "was." Groceries still sat on the floor from the late night shopping trip the other night. Dishes still littered the sink from the late night shopping trip I was on while my family enjoyed supper at home. Laundry lay scattered everywhere from my late night shopping trip that I should've skipped in order to get the laundry done. Sunday School papers lay unread. The Sunday paper looked like it had taken over the house. It was a disaster. A few minutes of uninterrupted cleaning and picking up made the house look transformed.

And I guess that's what I was thinking about when I came to my blog today. How can I get everything done in a day that I need to get done when I have 3 little kids pulling me 3 different directions all day long? I can get up early and spend 5 minutes getting something done alone that normally would take me an hour to do after the kids are up but once they're up, a lot of stuff gets un-done. Even with constant surveillance! It is a source of frustration because it makes the effort I put into work pointless. Like I'm wasting my time trying to keep things picked up.

A few of the things I've tried:

A toddler "chore" chart.
(this takes a lot of MY concentration that it fails to really contribute to the day in a positive way.)
Locking all toys except Legos in a closet.
(literally, locked the door and forbade entrance to anyone but an authorized person.)
Do it myself.
(this fails to teach the kids personal responsibility.)
Repeat doing it myself.
(this also fails to teach the kids personal responsibility and can produce a lot of maternal frustration.)
Ignored the work and played instead.
(this can be relaxing for about 2 minutes but after that, the chaos it ensues is not worth the brief relaxation.)
Do it when they're gone/sleeping.
(this is the only thing that works but considering my kids are not usually gone and don't sleep all day, this isn't a very reliable choice.)

I noticed a lot of young moms with young kids put a comment on my "Knock, Knock" post. I need advice. What have you guys found to work? Any seasoned mother's advice would be great as well.

A few contributing factors would be:

-Toys are all stored in childrens' rooms; continually spilling into living room. Our house is small so this is a big thing-- toys seem to be everywhere and my kids only have a few they play with.

-Another thing that is an issue is the size and set-up of our kitchen. I used to have Landon (Janae was still pretty young) "help" me in the kitchen. He would stand on a chair at a work area and peel potatoes, dump flour, stir dough and batter, "cut" veggies, etc. I have no work place in this kitchen so the only thing I can have the kids do is line muffin tins with papers... out in the diningroom. Otherwise, if they bring a chair into the kitchen (make that 2 chairs now since Janae likes to "help" if Landon gets to) there is hardly room to work let alone counter space to work at. It is a good source for frustration.

So, I am greatly looking forward to a new kitchen. We had even contemplated making a work counter below standard in order to make it more "kid friendly" but decided against it since they'll grow into a standard height soon enough. I can't imagine having all those counters to work at and can hardly wait to make use of everyone of them just for one meal. It will be glorious.

In the meantime, I am looking for ways to incorporate my kiddos into the daily affairs of this household and not make them just another "thing" on my to-do list. I think a 3 yr. old has a lot of capability for small chores but it's been a challenge to figure out how to do those without losing order somewhere else. Bear in mind that anything Landon does, Janae has to do... or at least be distracted somewhere else while he does his work. Also, a baby added to the mix makes me feel pulled in 3 directions at once. Sometimes I simply function on reflex and put fires out all day instead of being a step ahead of the kids. I need creativity and tact. My kids need order.

What would you do?

1 comment:

Pat VE said...

Keep plugging away. I was a neat freak and often put that item before the kids, though I spent lots of time with them. I wish I had been more laid back about the house, but at the same time, chaos was nerve-wracking. Well, 25-30 years from now, your memories will fade and the best of the kids will give you delight and their worst will sometimes either give pain or a laugh. Your house will be in tip top shape and you might long for a little one to leave toys spread out, find socks and toys under the furniture or just hear cheerful little voices at 5:30 in the morning. Even be willing to wipe up a few spills. You're doing a good job. Just do what works until the little guys figure you out and you have to change tactics. I know what it is to have a parent that liked to do the work by himself/herself. I know how the other parent drew me into whatever job there was and made it fun and a learning experience. I know the latter was best for me. I might make a disclaimer on the "fun", but definitely that parent was patient in seeing me through it. Have a good day, Courtney