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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

One Day at a Time

Being a stay at home mom is what I do and mostly what I write about in this space. Last week I posted about our daily routine and got a lot of feedback (almost entirely sweet).

Many of you are in the trenches with little kids and totally relate to my days. Some of you stay at home and some of you work outside the home. Lots of you are perfectly content. But I know a few of you who do one thing and wish you did the other.

And some of you do one thing and doubt that you could do the other.  

Because every now and then in conversation I'll hear a friend say, "I don't know how you do it. I could never stay at home with my kids, I don't have the patience." And she'll go on to tell me her kids are so loud! So needy! They bicker! They're messy! and that she's just not cut out for it.

And I usually tell her - me neither sister!!

I am not cut out for this. I don't have the patience for my kids. Like you, I'm not hardwired for self-sacrifice. My kids are loud! needy! messy! selfish! I like control. Calm. Quiet. I like manageable outcomes. I like to joke that the only part of being a mom that has come easily to me is the getting pregnant part - but that's actually pretty accurate. My guess is that we're actually wired pretty similarly. I like to think it's called, "being an adult."

I did not leave a corporate job because of my unique ability to function on lukewarm coffee and the remnants of a small child's PB&J. I do not stay at home because I realized one day I had the gift of patience and needed to put it to good use.

We chose for me to stay at home because we thought it was best for our family. And I've discovered it's actually best for me too. So I thought I'd share my secret - "how I do it" that is.

I do it one day at a time. One day, one incident, one child at a time. I AM LEARNING patience. I am much more patient now than I was 5 years ago. With five years of daily practice under my belt, I usually choose to respond calmly to my two year old's meltdowns. I have disciplined myself not to say what goes through my head (most of the time) when my five year old back talks. I am learning to manage the everyday chaos of this household of 6 and yes, actually find great JOY in it. My kids are like sandpaper - they rub my sharp edges smooth. They leave very little space for me to be the self-centered individual I would prefer to be most days.  I believe God is using this stay-at-home life to complete a work in me that no 9-5 ever could.

This life is developing character traits in me that I honestly would rather not.  The constant company of my children has revealed the deeply rooted selfishness of my heart. Staying at home forces me onto my knees most every day.  God is working in me daily, equipping me for this task I believe He has called me to.

Don't believe that you could never do what I do. I cannot do this either. I'm not wired any differently, I'm just choosing to do this in spite of not being cut out for it. One day at a time.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Day in the Life

Y'all it has been over a month since we "restored rhythm" over here and it is hard for me to describe what life is like nowadays. In this season I'm a stay-at-home mom homeschooling a Kindergartener, wrangling two toddlers and nursing a newborn 'round the clock.

SIX (six!!) weeks ago I chronicled my day on the home front. And then I did nothing with those pictures or those notes because uh - all of the above. I'm constantly wondering how other mamas do all that they do in a day, so for those of you who wonder the same, here's our version of A Day in the Life right now (from 6 weeks ago that is):
5:30am My 6 week old alarm clock goes off and I get up to nurse the New Kid. We have about 15 minutes of cozy time together before he finishes and nods back off.  Update: we don't do this feeding anymore, woo hoo! Nowadays my day starts at 6am...
6am I head to the playroom to work out. I've been doing P90X3 all month long and today was a cardio + weights type workout. It is brutal. It's been 8 brilliant weeks of this workout routine and I'm loving it. I still have 8 pounds to go but my pre-pregnancy jeans fit again, woo hoo.

6:30am Still sweating, I settle into my sacred corner of the kitchen with my first cup of coffee and Jesus Calling. For 20 minutes or so I alternate between prayer/meditation, reading and wondering when my old jeans are going to fit. Now that the jeans fit I spend my time wondering when Jude is going to nap longer, when Ben will drop his nap, when Britain will grow out of her defiant stage and when Elijah is going to figure reading out. Obviously I'm still working on the quieting-my-mind part of meditation. 

7am The "big" kids are up. They invade the kitchen and I prepare breakfast for everyone along with a second cup of coffee for myself. B Daddy is off to work with kisses and hugs. Nowadays this is when the New Kid gets up too. 
8am Breakfast dishes are thrown in the sink and I start a load of laundry before we head to the playroom/schoolroom. Today is a "home" day for Kindergarten. See this post for our Kindergarten plan for the Squirt. Sweet B and Blue Eyes settle in with some toys while Squirt and I fight through a reader together. After reading comes math which he loves and some letter writing practice. 
9am New Kid wakes up for his 2nd feeding of the day, so I turn on Sesame Street for the big kids, nurse him, sneak in a shower and pay bills all before Elmo ends. 
 10am The kids wander back in to the playroom to play Legoes and paint.
We also start a batch of granola before Jude finally conks out and I put him down for his morning nap around 10:30am.

11:45am I make and serve 3 PB&Js and nurse Jude while downing a green smoothie (part and parcel of the P90X3 attempt to lose the baby weight.)
12pm Aunt Anna and her crew come over!! Chaos ensues. Between us we have 8 children, the oldest of whom is 6. There is lots of running, giggling, crying. I think the kids had fun too.
2pm In theory this is "nap" time but I really need to change that label in my mind to quiet time. Squirt (5) and Sweet B (3.5) spend this time in separate rooms playing. They are not supposed to come out - a rule that Sweet B is surprisingly good at following, Squirt not so much. Blue Eyes is the only one who still consistently naps from 2-4pm. 
New Kid is fighting the system and never seems to sleep for more than 30 minutes in his crib during this period. Hence, the lack of blogging. Today as I type this, he is SCREAMING in his room during "nap" time. I just can't do it today y'all. I cannot go in there and try to soothe him back to sleep or pick him up and strap him on me again. So he screams and I hide myself away in the kitchen and we're both pissed off. The soundtrack of my afternoon is crying crying crying and it is rough

4pm I rescue New Kid from his wailing and nurse him. Then we all come together again for a snack and some game time.
UNO with this crew is an exercise in hilarity. And - more crying. 
5pm I prepare our gourmet dinner, while soothing my fried nerves with my drug of choice and alternately folding laundry. I think the kids were watching TV while I folded. 

6:30pm Daddy's HOME!!!! You can't hear it, but there are angels singing in the heavens above us. 
6:45pm Chow time. This is also an exercise in hilarity. As well as patience and toddler-dialect interpretation as we try to do high/low with the kids while convincing them to try just one bite of the exotic dinner (also known as tacos) I have served them.
7:15pm Bath time. B Daddy gets the kids stripped and I start nursing the New Kid. I hear Squirt remind B Daddy that I promised them paint time in the tub tonight. 
Oops. Love it when I make a promise that the hubs has to keep. As nuts as this looks, it is actually really good for everyone's soul. 
7:45pm Book time. I finish nursing the New Kid and put him down, then join everyone else on our big bed for a few rounds of reading. 
8pm Lights out for the kids. Can I get an AMEN!? 
8:45pm B Daddy and I finally settle onto the couch to watch an episode of House of Cards after the dishes are done and (some of) that laundry is put away. 

10pm Lights out for the adults. 6am seems to come earlier and earlier these days.

And in case you're feeling extra voyeuristic today, here's A Day in the Life from 2 years ago. 

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