Finding My Bliss

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 7:40 PM


I don't have a lot of time tonight.

(I feel like I never have a lot of time. Is it just me?)

But I have a request of all of you, dear readers. This isn't just for the parents - I would love to hear advice from teachers, aunts, grandparents, anyone who has worked with children on any kind of regular basis.

I am struggling right now to be happy. I start off every day well, with good intentions, in it for the long haul. But by the time my big kids have been home for, well, anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the day, I am out of gas. I'm a grouch, feeling selfish and defensive and fiercely protective of my sanity, which seem to be attacked from all sides.

Even if I did find the energy to paint Iris's fingernails today.

I found myself nearly in tears tonight at a restaurant, because the waitress was ready to take our order and, between Eve repeatedly wanting me to validate her page for the coloring contest, Devlin needing to use the bathroom - twice - from his position against the wall in a very deep booth, and Iris leaping down from her bench every few seconds to pirouette in front of the hostess stand, I hadn't even had a chance to process what restaurant we were at, let alone read the menu and make my selection.

It seems like everything fun that I try to do backfires. If I tell a joke, they laugh obnoxiously at wildly inappropriate volume, and tell it back to each other and me so many times that I wish I hadn't said it.

If I try to make something into a game, they turn it into a cutthroat competition.

The only thing that works, strangely, is to forbid all audible sound from all of them. They will do it, and it is absolutely HEAVENLY. But a vow of silence seems like it's going too far, even for me.

Iris has dropped her last nap, so she's ready for bed around 6 pm, but with two older siblings and a father who usually arrives home from work no earlier than that, it simply isn't possible. When Devlin was a baby, if he was ready for bed at 5 o'clock, we just put him to bed then. He got all the sleep he needed, we got plenty of downtime, life was good.

Those days are loooooong gone.

Iris doesn't want to ride in the cart, but is so busy, impulsive, and determined that I absolutely cannot allow her to free-range. Watching her brother and sister have the run of the toy area at Target while she is captive is an intolerable injustice, and she makes sure everyone knows it.

This post is so disorganized. Just like my brain.

The thing that works the best is to never, ever, ever try to leave the house between the time Devlin and Eve get home from school, and bedtime, and to keep everyone so busy with chores that they don't have time to interact or become destructive. But I can't swing that every single day, and the more fun I try to have, the worse it goes.

So, gentle readers, I am here begging for your best tips, tricks, games, follies, mantras - whatever works for you to keep your spirits up. Because, like it or not (and I don't like it) if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. I know I am responsible for setting the tone and the mood of this household, and I am failing miserably.

(Get it? Miserably? Like, we're miserable?)

I'll give you an example. I was on the way home from picking up my CSA bag tonight. It was a huge brown paper grocery sack, with all the fruit and vegetables stuffed inside, and the kids were very eager to know what was inside. I stuck my arm way down to the bottom and rummaged around by feel, calling out "sweet potatoes!" "tangelos!" "hmmm, feels like kale!"

After bedtime, it occurred to me that I should have the kids play this game next week: each take a turn trying to guess, by feel, what our produce roulette had dealt us. It will be fun, teach them to become more familiar with these foods, and hopefully even make them more excited to eat the, over the coming week.

And I don't think they could turn it into a competition, but I've been wrong before.

Do you have any better ideas? What are your tried-and-true ways to keep things fun and lively, but not out of control? I need some new tools in my toolbox, because the ones I have are feeling mighty dull.

Comments (10)

B is having a helluva time with his need for validation. After 4pm, Cash is always at least 2 seconds from an emotional meltdown. When the two converge I usually send B away. But I also have Jeff to help me out. Like you, I try not to go out after 4pm. It's unfortunate, because it isn't fun.

Can you move up bedtime? On days that B doesn't make good choices he goes to bed at 6:30-7pm with the baby, instead of 7:30-8pm.

This isn't helpful; I am just trying to commiserate. I'm excited to read the comments.

If you're looking for someone who has it all figured out, you may have to wait until we're all dead.

But I'll offer what works for me in terms of Patience. Honestly, it's nothing more than just trying to see what they think is so exciting/ amusing/ frightening/ overstimulating/ understimulating through their eyes. And while I'm trying to figure it out, I appear on the outside to have the patience of a saint. Sometimes I get an answer, and I feel okay about how I can help them overcome or I got equally excited for and with them. But sometimes I still can't see what is making my kids so annoying. But at least I got a couple of golden seconds lost in thought in my own brain.

I try to keep the kids' spelling list with me and we'll do impromptu Spelling Bees. They have to do the normal say the word, spell it, say the word again. If one kid misses a word and the other gets their next one then the kid who got theirs wins. Bragging rights are usually enough.

I also let the kids take turns holding my shopping list and the pen. I let them write the price down and mark things off. If it's just me and the youngest then he gets to hold the pen and the notepad on a different page so he can doodle his own stuff.

I know exactly how you feel. Most days I'm completely spent by 4 PM. Emotionally and physically exhausted.

As another harried mom I give you full permission to put the kids to bed early every once in awhile. It won't damage them permanently to miss eating dinner with Daddy for one day. Your sanity is much more important. That extra recharge time can be a lifesaver. (Mine went to bed about 45 minutes early on Saturday night. I couldn't handle them any more. It was a choice between a Massive Mommy Meltdown or early bedtime. I took the high road.

Not having older kids, but three little ones, I'm not so sure I have anything to help you. But I too am exhausted by the end of the day. Since I have all three of them at home with me AND we're homeschooling, they are restricted to their bedrooms for 2 hours for quiet time. I don't know if you can instigate any kind of quiet time when the big kids get home, but it helps me to relax.

I agree with the earlier bedtime. We do that too around here when the kids are just too much to handle. Hey, maybe I'll get some good advice off of here too!

I am right there with you most days! Our older kids (now 7, 6 and 6) turn absolutely everything into a competition. The babies are too little for that, but they are too busy climbing on every surface in the house and literally hanging off chandeliers to care about competition.

Anyway, here's a few things that work for us. We definitely have quiet time. That can be whatever they want to do. But they can't come out of their rooms (we do it for an hour) or come inside if they are outside (well, unless they have to pee). They can read, play on the computer (we have a few educational websites they are allowed to go to - everything else is blocked on their computer), play quietly. But no bothering mommy.

We also do early bedtimes- 6pm is when the boys (who are almost 2 now) go to bed. The older kids start bedtime at 7 (although it takes them a while to brush their teeth and they don't usually actually climb into bed until 7:30 or so. If we want them to go to bed earlier we declare it a sleepover night, which means they can take the little portable TV/DVD player into the girls' room and all sleep on the floor. That gets us an extra hour of adult time and we use that when we simply can't take another minute of the screaming.

When their fighting gets really out of control I pull out extra homeschool work (not that you need to homeschool to do that). They have millions of worksheets online so I just print a few off and they sit down in the kitchen and do that for a few minutes. It breaks up what they were doing and gets their minds off of it.

I wish I had a magic wand for you, but I don't (if you find one you'll definitely have to let me know!) It does get easier in a lot of ways as they get older. Some days it just feels like it's going to be this way forever. Oh, and in Target? We don't even walk past the toy area - even if it means doubling back. I can't stand the "gimmies" and it's easier just to avoid it completely.

My youngest has to keep his hand on the cart the whole time if he wants a treat at the register. He can still look at everything but just can't leave the cart area. Car rides are awful. Silence is not a bad thing in the ca. Play more soothing music in the car and tell them that this needs to be a quiet place. If my youngest is in my face yelling for validation I tell him that I will talk to him in a minute and to stop. He usually listens once he knows he'll get attention in a minute. Your time is just as important as their's. Sew something. Good luck!

I have the same issues. I do lots of outside play after school. The children ride bikes, play with friends, play basketball in the driveway, etc. Having friends over really helps. I've watched kids after school because when I have another kid in the house, my children behave better. They are more aware of the actions and thus, they are on their best behavior (and so am I, quite frankly). Another thing I do, as inconvenient as it may be, I go to the gym at 6:30 every night and let the 3 younger kids play in the kids club. We are usually home around 7:45. This helps with the bewitching hour, where all the kids want to do is fight, complain and eat junk food. You are an amazing mother with super bright children. Can't wait to hear some of the other ideas coming. Hugs.

Well, I hope you are feeling validated! The after-school hours are just so hard.

I don't have any proven tactics that work all of the time (or regularly), but for me the underlying principle is to have the Spirit with me. When my soul is settled (because I have prayed and read the scriptures and made conscious choices to be properly influenced), I am better equipped to handle the chaos.

I love you guys. I've gotten lots of food for thought here, and I feel like I'm making a lot of headway in sifting this down in my mind to *what is the problem* and *what do I do to make it better*.