I still haven’t figured out how to be patient, especially with the kids. On days when I’m already feeling lousy, my capacity for patience seems significantly diminished. Take today, for example…
Our new door, courtesy of Jarom’s grandma, was finally being installed, and I’d gotten up around 7:30 since the installer was scheduled for 8. I went to bed early so I’d be rested, but that didn’t happen. And I was on edge because I was worried something would go wrong with the door, or we’d be stuck at home all day while they installed it (which, I realize, is not the end of the world), and also that whole thing about Tiny Baby. The kids were fairly well-behaved the whole time, and I didn’t even notice that it was getting toward the end of the “naptime safe zone.” You know, if I put June down too late, she won’t be tired at bedtime. (By the way, did you catch that I’m talking about June’s naps? She takes them again! Daily! Thank you to whoever prayed for that!!!)
I told June it was almost naptime, to which she sweetly replied, “No, it’s happy time!” As I went to pick her up she jumped – quite forcefully for her size – and slammed her head into my nose. For the second time today. It really hurt…a lot…and I was running out of energy/motivation/positive feelings anyway, so I didn’t exercise patience. I shouted at June, which made her cry, and I unlovingly put her in bed for her nap. I didn’t even look at her, I just shut the door and went in to my bed, where I cried about being a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad mom.
Then I fell asleep.
I woke up a few times, mainly because Evan kept coming in to show me the new Lego thing he’d built, and every time I woke up I was shaking. Not violently, but still – it was weird. June ended up sleeping over 2 hours, and by the time we were both done napping I wasn’t shaking anymore. Sadly, I also didn’t have any more patience. I hoped a nap would do some magic recharge on that.
Good news, though: at bedtime I had both kids clean up their rooms, and aside from supervising, I didn’t help at all. They picked up everything and put it all away. This is big, because it actually requires a lot of patience on my part to let them clean up in their distracted, very slow way. It would be so much quicker to do it myself. But Evan and June both managed to get things tidied (eventually), so maybe I’m making progress – even if I’m far from perfect.
I wasn’t meant to be domestic, I think. I’m not a tidy person by nature, and I’m lazy. But I firmly believe that with effort, people can change . . . which is why I’m trying very hard right now to implement a cleaning routine. I love it when my house is clean – but it seldom is. At this point, I’ll be satisfied with the expected mess that comes with little kids, rather than the overwhelming mess generated by laziness and a lack of order.
I get discouraged really easily, so I often try to tackle an entire at once, end up staying up late to finish, and get burned out, which means I especially don’t want to clean anything ever again. With that in mind, I started this past week by clearing out my storage cupboard and sorting through all of the kids’ toys. I could sit down while I went through toys, and the kids were so happy to see the things I’d stashed in my closet for the past few months that they were only minimally disruptive. Today I cleaned my bathroom, throwing out lotions and expired medicines, moving the not-kid-friendly things up to a top shelf, and reorganizing the cabinets so we can actually get to the things we use most. Then, of course, there was a lot of wiping down and cleaning and taking out trash. And then I tackled my bedroom.
I’d actually made a deal with Jarom at Christmastime that he’d help me get the bedroom completely clean and keep it tidy for 3 weeks. We’ve worked on it a little at a time on the weekends, but today I got it to the point where there’s a box of stuff to donate, costumes that need a storage box, a few things to go in the shed or cellar, and Jarom’s stuff that I didn’t know what to do with. I even cleaned off the pencil marks from where June scribbled on the door shortly after we moved in. Now if I can get these last few things cleared out, I’ll just need to do quick pick-up every night and then make the bedroom/bathroom a once-a-week deep cleaning.
This is a great theory, of course . . . we’ll see how it goes in practice.
I had a second ultrasound this morning to confirm that yes, there is a tiny parasitic human being squirming around in there. Not surprisingly, given what my other kids are like, this one flipped over at least 3 times in 5 minutes.
I know that I was very vocal about wanting to stop at two kids. But what it came down to, for both Jarom and me, was that Evan and June are just so much fun – we wanted one more. We put a lot of thought into it; aside from the cost of adding another baby, having three kids is a lot different from having two. Jarom and I will be outnumbered. We’ll eventually have to get a (slightly) bigger car, though we’re going to cram three car seats in the back of our little car somehow. As a kid, Jarom worried that he – the third child – would be left behind if his family won a “family of 4″ sweepstakes. And, given how close Evan and June are in age, this new addition will be a little bit of an outsider.
But, in the end, we decided that we’ve had good luck getting great kids so far, and we’re willing to push that luck. Just a little.
I anticipate a high air conditioning bill next summer, since I’m due at the beginning of August.
Dear parenting experts,
I’m sorry for letting my kids watch so much tv today. Here’s the deal: June woke up 3 or 4 times last night, and at 5:30 this morning she was done sleeping. I was definitely not done sleeping, and 5:30am is one of those grey areas – I’m in charge of the kids during the night, while Jarom gets up with them in the morning – where I didn’t think it would be nice to make Jarom wake up, even though in summer it would be starting to get light already. So I bundled June up on the couch with blankets and pillows, a bowl of dry cereal, and her cup of milk. I let her pick something on Netflix and I went back to bed.
Every time I’d woken up to help June in the middle of the night, my throat was scratchy and burning. There’s been a nasty inversion here for a few weeks, and I think I caught a bug from Evan; I meant to get the humidifier out last night, but I forgot. This morning – when it was really morning, not 5:30 – I felt miserable. I’ve more or less been hanging out in bed all day. Lack of energy + not enough sleep + poor sleep + sick = I’m just going to leave the tv on for a while.
And I won’t feel (very) bad about it. So I guess I’m not really sorry, after all.
I’ve always had trouble falling asleep. As soon as I go to bed, I start worrying or running over lists of things I need to do (or should have already done). I compose blog posts in my head, make mental grocery lists, berate myself for being so impatient with the kids, worry slightly that someone will break into the house and murder us. And I get stressed about not being about to sleep, which certainly doesn’t help. Basically, I don’t know how to relax.
A few months ago I downloaded an app called Sleep Cycle. It tracks your movement during the night to determine the “quality” of your sleep. You set an interval for your alarm to go off – between 7:00 and 7:30, for example – and it wakes you when you’re already in a light sleep mode. Then in the morning it gives you a graph showing your sleep pattern for the night, and a percent rating for your sleep quality. Bonus: you can enter in notes to see what effect something has on your sleep quality (I learned that a sleeping pill helps me fall asleep, but I toss and turn more, lowering the quality by about 15%; having a stressful day actually increased the quality, likely because I’m so worn out that my body is ready to rest). And then you can chart your sleep over months.
When I first started using the app, it showed the expected hour or so of why-can’t-I-fall-asleep at the beginning of the night. Statistics aside, I wasn’t feeling any better about the sleep I was getting. In the past I’ve tried guided imagery, white noise, various relaxation techniques, and calming bedtime routines to help me fall asleep, but I usually only saw improvement for a week before I was back to square one. Eventually I tried a breathing technique that I think my dad told me about – if I’m not mistaken, it’s called 4×4. You breathe in, hold it, breathe out, hold it, each for 4 counts, and you repeat it 4 times. By the end of it, I was a lot calmer and after making this a habit for a few days, I didn’t have trouble falling asleep. I started in September and don’t worry about going to bed anymore.
I think the combined effect of the Sleep Cycle app and the 4×4 technique is what helps me. With nice charts and statistics, I can really see how much better I sleep if I go to bed early. I’ve had a few nights that earned me a 100% score – and they were all times when I went to bed before 10 and had Jarom home to get up with the kids in the morning. If only I could do that every night!
Not everything can or should be quantified. But sleep? Definitely.
P.S. I stopped worrying about someone breaking in because we live on a decently busy street with our “back” door facing the post office, which has motion-activated lights and maybe even a camera somewhere? I comfort myself by assuming a potential murderer would pick a less well-lit, visible house.
I’m coming to realize more and more that we don’t just help people when it’s convenient for us. Often the most helpful and thoughtful things we can do arise when we’re busy or tired or overwhelmed. But serving others, even if it doesn’t fit well into our schedule, will enrich our own lives. I really believe that most of the point of human existence is to help each other in whatever way we can.
Yesterday, my super grouchy day, I got a nice note on Facebook, several encouraging texts, and an offer of help from a sweet neighbor – who not only took my kids for a few hours but made cookies with them and brought me a plate! It’s easy to get caught up in my own daily challenges without considering how my time could be better used helping than complaining. That being said, does anyone need a pick-me-up today?