Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I suppose it's true for most people right now, and it's certainly true for me. Back to business. The holidays were fun, but it's time to get back to life (and, uh, plan a plane trip. AAAAHHHHHH!!! Ehem. As I was saying...). HOWEVER, I have not yet taken down my Christmas tree or decorations. Leaving them up is my one homage to the fact that Christmas is not over yet. It's not. Epiphany (January 6) marks the true end of the Christmas season (all that time before Christmas when the stores were playing obnoxious psuedo-Christmas music was actually Advent). I wish I could keep celebrating all through the 12 days, but I just don't really know how. Like it or not, I'm sucked into the cultural traditions as well.

So tomorrow I'll take down the tree and pack away the Christmas stuff. Seems like it'll be here again before I know it. The years are doing that now-- whizzing by.

The one Christmas thing that will remain long after Epiphany is past is my massive sugar addiction.




A nice way to start this new year is with some energy! For the first time in a year and a half, I have a little disposable energy. I've always struggled with low energy and stamina (I seem to have lowish thyroid function) and I'm not sure why I have any now (considering that there's been little improvement on the sleep front). I theorize that it's due to these new minerals that I'm taking. And no, it's definitely not the extra sugar, as sugar usually makes me more tired and I feel better when I avoid it. Whatever the physical source, I thank God for it. It feels really good to be able to get some things done around here.

I've never done New Year's Resolutions, per say, but I am definitely trying to start this year with some better family and household management.

These little guys do seem generally happy and fairly well-adjusted...

...but this Momma has had too many days of just wanting to run away and hide lately.

It isn't pretty.

I don't want to be a mother who yells a lot. I already raise my voice in frustration way too often and I don't like it. I want a cheerful house.

Okay, I'll admit it. I heard the same tones echoing back to me from my 5 year old's mouth and it scared the crap out of me. Ack! He sounds like me! Whoa, horsie! Let's make some changes around here.

So during our break from school and normal activities, I've been pondering.

Two things that really make me want to pluck out my ear drums:

1) Whining about food. Jonah has a tendancy to ask every other minute if it's time for lunch/snack/supper or "I'mhungrymomIwantsomethingtoeeeeeeat" or "butIdon'tliiiiikethaaat!" I know it's actually boredom and general dissatisfaction and primarily an attention strategy. It drives me to drink. I'm working hard to establish good eating habits and banish pickyness. Grazing all day does not fit into that equation.

2) Throwing fits every time I tell him to do something, or tell him anything for that matter. "Take out the compost" results in World War III and you should see what happens when I factually answer some simple question alla "Why is the sky blue?". Again; attention, control, boredom.

I'm also struggling with managing my time, keeping the house in order, and staying cheerful about it all.

Here's the solution(s) I've come to.

Routine, routine, routine.

Also, working together, ALL the time.

Jonah has always been extremely routine-oriented (pretty much all kids are, in my experience, but Jonah seems to need an extra dollop). He needs to know what's coming next (and after that and after that and after...). My first thought was to make a color-coded chart of our daily routine/schedule and post it for him to follow each day. The drawback is that then it's carved in stone as far as Jonah is concerned. I like routine, too, but I need some flexibility. So I wrote down my own list of approximately what I'd like our days to look like. Jonah has not seen this list. It's only for me. But each morning after breakfast, he and I make up a list together. We write down each thing we want/need to do that day (including three meals and one afternoon snack). Bonus points if he does some of the writing. We discuss which are most important and what can give way if we run out of time. We talk about what may be done out of order depending on how the day goes. I, without telling him, try to choose manageable things, and I alternate schoolwork, housework, and fun activities.

And then we set to it. He loves crossing things off the list. He cheerfully tackles each item just for the joy of crossing it off, and it helps that he knows what's coming next. Does this sound too regimented for a 5 year old? I don't really think it is. It's just a tool to make our day go more smoothly. It helps me to be more productive. The morning is generally all work/school (which all runs together, this being kindergarten and all) with the afternoon having more free time and quiet time and work-on-project time. We do each job together and this eliminates complaining, distraction and frustration. My work goes on the list, too, because we do it together, rather than my sending him off so I can get something done. Paradoxically, I get more done.

Jonah is a very mature and capable 5 year old. Because of this, I tend to forget that he is, after all, 5 years old. While he may be physically capable of a lot, he does not have the mental discipline to follow through on things. I really can't expect him to be able to work steadily on his own at this age. Working together completely solves this problem.

And we're both happier about it all. The house is cleaner, there's less whining and disobedience. Meal times come and go, and supper is eaten with little complaint.

And we're having more fun. We have time to sit and read aloud or play a game together because it's on the list. The chores get done quickly and efficiently and they're even fun because we're working and talking together.

Okay, so this system has not been enacted for very long, and maybe it'll all fall apart-- new systems usually go that way. But I'll fix that when we get there. My main goal right now is to develop good and efficient habits, and not only in my children.

So for now-- so far, so good.

1 comment:

  1. I did a lot of home schooling and you are right on the right track. After a very frustrating start with a college level kindergarten course, I tossed it and started reading about how kids learn. Then I set about the task of assessing what kind of children was I trying to teach? Everybody is mad uniquely. Knowing that Jonah likes lists and planning is fabulous information for you. He may be a little administrator. Way to go mom. How is the baby doing? I hope he doesn't have a neck injury, very easy to happen in a sunny side up delivery. Rough on both mother and infant. The boys are so beautiful. I HEAR you on the sugar addiction, all it takes for me is one bite!