My White Board

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 10:11 PM


The heart of a home is the kitchen, and the heart of my kitchen is my white board.

Whatever is on my mind, goes on the board.

This week, it is full of ideas, thoughts, and inspiration that have come to me concerning how to create and maintain an atmosphere of peace and happiness in my home.

I have felt very blessed and guided through the last few days as I turned out my pockets, held open my hands, and pleaded for something to fill them.

I started making a list of things that I could do better...but then came a corresponding, and just as helpful, list of things that I already do well, that work for our family.

In the event that it might help spark someone else who needs this too, I will share:

Things that are working

mornings - after the low point of Tuesday evening, I awoke on Wednesday morning feeling refreshed, calm, and capable. I am not a morning person. I don't do anything special in the morning to promote an atmosphere of calm. I don't get up 2 hours before everyone else to pray or meditate or work out. I get up as late as I think I can reasonably get away with, having stayed up as late as I think I can reasonably get away with, and this day was no different. I just woke up, helped the kids with their breakfast, and saw them out the door like I always do. But I did it happily, without a struggle - and as I realized that, it helped me remember that I am not a mean, grumpy person. I love my children, and I am thrilled to pieces to be their mother and to fill that role. I am only struggling with a relatively short period of each day, and I have a lot of good ground on which to build!

routines - I have struggled recently with frustrations - kids asking to watch TV every couple of minutes all day long, asking for snack after snack after snack - and at first I didn't quite know exactly why I was annoyed. After some careful thought, I realized that it was not the TV itself, or the content of the snacks, but rather the constant nagging - and the resulting repeated demands on my brain to assess that situation, make a decision, and then enforce or negotiate that decision.

So I instituted routines, or schedules, for those things: Iris watches one "show" of her choosing after the big kids are off for school and I have tidied the kitchen to my satisfaction. Then when the older two are home from school and have discharged their various duties (homework, chores, piano practice, etc) they are each allowed to choose one "show" (they usually watch separately in two different rooms), and if Iris wishes to hitch along and watch with one or the other, she may do so. But she may not choose, because she has already had "her" show for the day. It doesn't feel like too much screen time, they don't hound me, I love it!

chores as consequences - I'm a big fan of "natural consequences" too (i.e. you dawdle too much at bedtime, I don't have time to read you a long story) but when some little person pushes my buttons and I feel like yelling or throwing something, I find it to be extremely satisfying to call out "job!" and assign the offender a household task. It keeps me from losing my temper (mostly!), it keeps them from pestering each other, and I pretty much never have to unload the dishwasher or make my own bed.

don't get involved - I could still do much better on this, but I find the more I can stay out of their business, the happier we all are. If they're playing together in a way that I find irritating, inane, or just plain loud, then I just get out of earshot and read a book or something. If they're all okay with it, and they're not breaking things, who am I to argue? This works well for sibling arguments, too - after all, if I didn't see something happen, how can I make a good judgment on it? Unless someone or something is on fire, I make it their responsibility to come to a solution everyone is happy with.

(Although if they take too long or can't agree, I can usually reboot everyone with a rousing chorus of "jobs!"

Things to do better

limit computer time - I spend a lot of time on my "rectangles", as we call them in our house. Reading, socializing, recipes, grocery lists, my calendar - it's all on my phone, my iPad, or my laptop. Or all three! But Iris, at this time in her life, needs a lot of attention, and it is distressing for her when I'm plugged in. She acts out, in various unpleasant ways. And, let's face it, there are plenty of other things I can be doing. So, for the present, I am going to limit my time whenever possible to during her shows, after bedtime, and at red lights.

Just kidding about that last part.

Kind of.

do a little bit - Spots on the carpet bugging me? Clean 'em. Got the dusty dresser blues? Wipe that puppy down! Backyard an oppressive, overgrown wasteland? Take 10 minutes, whenever I have it, and go pull a few weeds. Whatever small amount of time I have, use it to knock out a thing or two, or one or two percent of a very large project. It gives me a lot of satisfaction, keeps me off the computer, and eventually, that yard will be presentable. And then I have permission, from myself, to paint a few rooms inside.

Yes, again.

(We'll come back to that later. I know this is long, but don't get distracted.)

speak up for myself sooner - I try really, really hard to do as much as I can, myself. I want to be strong, and pull my weight. Oh, I ask for help all right - usually about two hours after I have reached my ABSOLUTE LIMIT and have lost my temper with my husband, the children, or all of the above, several times. I need to see this coming much earlier, and head it off, instead of pushing myself over the edge and then backtracking.

stop trying to act like a mom of one - I used to have one child, and that child was an infant in a sling. He went wherever I did, without complaint, and all I had to do was keep him from eating the merchandise. Now I have three children - all quite opinionated, intelligent, talkative, and so much more. Things that used to be fun, and still sound fun to me in a vacuum, are often not enjoyable for Rachel And All Her Kids. I need to realistically account for my current life circumstances, and choose my activities wisely.

have friends over more often, or go to friend's houses - why am I not doing this??? I still feel "new" in this neighborhood, but my kids each have several good friends nearby that I could be doing more to cultivate relationships with - and at the same time, they would be out of my hair! Simple, simple genius.

don't be in such a hurry - There is so, so much that I want to accomplish in any given day. I want my home to be welcoming and beautiful, I want to whip my yard into shape, I want to make healthy delicious food, I want to read, I want to make music, I want the kids to fulfill their obligations and have plenty of free play time - but I still want everyone in bed at 7. Clearly, not possible. I can't do it all, all the time. I have to prioritize.

But so often, in the pursuit of productivity and efficiency - trying to maximize our positive footprint at the end of the day - I feel like we Don't Have Time. I don't have time to paint little fingernails and allow them to dry thoroughly. I don't have time to let Eve read the bedtime story, at her adorably excruciating pace. I don't have time to let the kids measure out the flour, crack the eggs, roll the cookie dough.

Where am I going in such a hurry? Why am I rushing through my life? Because all this stuff that I Don't Have Time for is my life.

Tonight, my wonderful mother-in-law watched the kids while David and I were at choir rehearsal. Tonight's setup was not our usual routine, and by the time we came to pick them up, it was almost 8 pm. I value an early bedtime for the children very highly, and my instinct was to collect everyone and their belongings as quickly as we could manage and, if possible, throw them into bed from Granny's house, 3 ZIP codes away.

But they had been peacefully watching Wall-E in a sea of pillows and blankets on the living room floor, and there were only 5 minutes left until the ending. They begged to be able to finish the movie. So I took a deep breath, scooped up Iris, and said "sure, let's stay to the end".

What's 5 minutes later to bed in exchange for happy kids, seeing a great movie all the way to the closing credits, and the feeling of generosity? Giving myself permission to not rush to accomplish as much as possible, as quickly as possible? Declining the exhausting race to arrive at the end of the day with the absolute maximum amount of leisure time?

That habit might be hardest of all to break, but it sure felt good to give it a try.

Comments (3)

There you go, inspiring everyone again.

Yay! This is awesome. Your white board is awesome. We all have things in our life that we know could be better, and I love that you seek those things out and make a change. I'm with Renee, way to inspire!

I'm not going to lie I'm alittle freaked out right now... Wondering why??? I can't believe how much alike we are. You pretty much hit every thought and struggle that I'm facing but you word it so much better than me!! ( :