Saturday, 15 February 2014

May you live in interesting times...

The old joke is that the Chinese "blessing" quoted in my title is really more of a "curse". Interesting times definitely aren't boring, but I think interesting may be overrated. At least boring would involve a certain amount of peace..

I can't say we're settling in, as there's always a new change in the works, when you're living in a time of transition. I long for the day when I can say that finally, finally, we aren't in transition anymore. But that may be a bit yet.  There does seem to be a routine shaping our days, however. I have learned the secret to minimizing my stress is to be extremely flexible. Flexibility is a must when you have young children!

My day starts with a good morning chirp from my 10 month old. (She turned 10 months yesterday!! How cool is that!?) She usually wants to nurse a bit, then play on my bed next to me while I alternately doze and check emails/blogs on my phone to wake up. I'm a slow waker, especially when I've been up 2 or 3 times to nurse her through the night. By the time I'm awake, my middle three have woken, and are busy playing/yelling at each other in their room. My oldest sometimes is woken by their shrieks, and sometimes she sleeps through it and wakes up later. 

It usually takes us an hour or so to get everyone dressed, beds made and room tidied before we come downstairs. Then I'm busy getting breakfast. It's usually a choice of 3 things: cold cereal, toast (the girls call it "munch") or oatmeal. They really like it when I make them oatmeal, though I don't do it frequently. We also have vitamins and "Peach Mango Tango", an Omega-3 syrup for brain-boosting that I give them every morning. Call it the modern-day version of cod-liver oil, only better tasting! 

While the girls are eating, I usually get some dishes done, and sometimes even a load of laundry. I typically try to get one other major chore done during this time. When do I eat? Not first thing in the morning! I often make a protein shake and take it with me as I'm doing chores, and that's my breakfast. After breakfast, I'm training my little girls (now 2, almost 4, and 5) to clear and wipe the table, and get their pencil boxes, so they're ready for school. 

My oldest comes down while the little girls are eating, so by the time we're done all our chores, she's usually done eating. I get her school ready first. We're trying a new way of doing school, and it is really really working! I'm loving it. It keeps me accountable to give my oldest feedback, and makes it easy for her to get finished. I keep all her work for the term in one binder, separated by dividers, and then give her the pages/assignments I want her to finish for the day in a clipboard folder, that she can take with her wherever, as she works through them. Sometimes she'll need other books or materials, but all her work is given in that one folder. I mark what she's completed, and give her back pages to be corrected right away. So she finishes up her corrections from the days before, and then works on the new stuff every day. 

After I've gotten the oldest's school work ready, I get my little girls' work ready. They're in kindergarten and preschool, so its only early phonics, numeracy and just a little bit of early science occasionally. It only takes us about an hour or so to do everything, depending on how much they play with it. Sometimes my almost-4 yr old gets the idea to be extremely detailed and careful, and then it takes her much longer, but that`s only occasionally. 

The little girls will go play while I do some more chores in the morning. Often it will be homeschool-related, but sometimes it`s a bigger project in the house -- like rearranging a room, or sorting out toys or clothes for them. There's always something to be done around here, of course. Lately, my theme is getting the house decluttered and ready for some cosmetic improvements, with the idea of selling it this summer.  The home staging experts call it "pre-packing". It's as good a name as any, and helps with motivation. 

My oldest will most often make lunch for us, and after lunch, the youngest ones nap. It's usually my time to sit down for a bit, as my baby is still nursing, so I will sit and nurse her and catch up on emails and facebook then. While I'm settling her, my kindergarteners will either be looking at stories, playing on the computer or watching a video, and my oldest will be working on her school. This varies, of course, depending on who's sleeping and how behaviour is. 

Once my youngest is sleeping, I'll come down and work. My afternoons are generally devoted to my business activities. Every couple of weeks, I take an afternoon off and catch up on housework, or put a big push on to finish a project I'll have been working on. By 4, I'm thinking about supper and either defrosting something or planning a quicker menu, depending on how work is going. 

Supper is a team affair. My oldest helps, my middle child (the almost-4 yr old) loves helping, and the baby keeps me company in her high chair. I'll usually get another load of dishes washed while I'm making supper, and sometimes, on a good day, another load of laundry. The kids' father usually joins us for supper, and he'll often bring a side or dessert (per my request he contribute to the meal), or, if he comes early enough, he'll help make it. 

After supper, my girls clean up. I honestly can't wait until the day they are old enough to handle doing the dishes too! But so far this is good enough. Then I either go back to working, or do chores again, while the girls play with their father until bedtime. 

Bedtime is mostly a noisy affair. PJs are a must, and regularly, though not as often as I'd like, we get their teeth brushed. Then it's in to bed  with hugs and kisses, and lots of requests for more hugs, drinks, "I gotta go to the bathroom", and finally, finally the lights go out. My oldest and I are working through a read-aloud story, though not nearly as often as I should!, and then she goes to bed too. I am working on getting this to be more of a routine, but I think it'll have to wait until my youngest is weaned. 

My baby is the last to go to bed, as she gets up way too early as it is! I push her to stay up later, so she'll sleep till a half-way decent hour, and our day isn't completely out of whack. But by the time I get everyone asleep, I'm exhausted. My evenings are usually my rest and leisure time, though I often work too. I don't tend to do chores though, unless I absolutely feel it's necessary (like mopping floors!) 

That's my day in a nut-shell. I am constantly running from one activity to the next, and though I probably spend more time on the computer than I should, it's a never ending struggle to balance between work and play, chores and fun, and quality time with my girls. 

I think whoever wrote that proverb was a mother of many little ones!

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