And instead of picking myself up and going on with our routines, minus one, I’ve been trying to take stock. The last two years have been chaotic and busy. Little babies that hardly sleep do that to a person. I feel like I get nothing done, forever stuck in doing housework, school runs, feeding, homework and kids activities. That’s not meant as a whinge, it just means I’m busy with four young kids. But it also means I’m lousy with priorities and that I need a kick under my bum!
While staying kind to myself after another broken night.
What helps (for me)?
* Turning off the computer in the morning. Only turning it on again after dinner, when the kids are in bed, or on the planned afternoons to get some work done.
* A reminder list on my phone and a to-do list made up in the morning. Keeping my head from overflowing, making my planning and routes through the days a lot easier. You get more done with the less fuss.
* No sweets in the house other then fruit, they slow you down and make you grumpy!
* I’ve got three friends with 10 kids, homeschooling them. Just having a look at their day, is enough to get some Perspective, when I’m having a bad day.
* Drinking plenty of water. Tiredness, headache and dizziness are all signs of dehydration. I have to keep reminding myself to drink, lots, constantly lugging bottles with me so I’m never without water.
* Sports. Get the blood going, keep your strength up, meet some other people. Doing it by myself doesn’t work. As you might have noticed, I put myself second place to the kids, there is always so many other things that need doing.
I’ve started a group class, just twice a week. They’re enjoyable and very social, you work with a set time and they come with childminding.
The gym I used to go, does mostly cardio based classes. They were great a couple of years ago, but now my mornings are adrenaline based enough. I do miss my yoga classes since I can no longer bring kids along, but have found a gym that does BodyBalance. Relaxing, building your balance, flexibility, strength, focus and breathing. You still get a good sweat going, get those muscles working. But you end with a sigh of contentment and a lot more focus for the rest of the day.
* Daycare. With no family around and a fulltime working husband, it makes it possible for me to go to the dentist, optometrist, hairdresser, accountant,... without a tow of kids. I’ve got Alex in with a family daycare mum once a week. He loves her dearly, and the other three kids she cares for. With us speaking Dutch at home, it’s also helps a great deal to improve his English. David won’t start until he’s weaned and walking. It gives me some time to do some work from home as a bookkeeper.
* Get out of the cave, that you often find yourself in with little kids, social interaction is too important or you end up with verbal diarrhoea... Internet is great, you can meet many fantastic people, but it shouldn’t come instead of live human contact. For me, the easiest way to get social is playgroup. A safe place for kids to play together and parents to meet.
* After the first three months with Alex, my husband arranged for a cleaner to come every fortnight. I just wasn’t coping, while my husband was slowly getting crazy in the piling up mess. It still leaves me with laundry, cooking, cleaning, vacuuming,... But at least the big things like mopping, cleaning bathrooms, windows, vacuuming the whole house, cobwebs and blinds gets taken care off. And even though it doesn’t last very long, a tidy house is truly relaxing... Although I still feel funny about it, at this stage, the luxury is worth my sanity.
* Focus on one aspect for the day. Something that you start and finish (!), the feeling of accomplishment will make your day. Make the tasks small and doable. One block to quilt, one garden bed to weed, a bike ride, archiving that wobbly stack of paperwork one handful a day, making a loaf of bread, baking a cake. Just one thing that combines pleasure and need. Some days will be too busy to add things to, but when some spare time creeps up at least it doesn’t get “wasted” on watching cute and funny animal videos on Facebook, or looking at all those gorgeous craft projects on Pinterest that you never get around making. Because well... you’re too busy gathering them...
And before you panic not knowing where to start, there is just too some much you want to do and can’t choose. I’ve done this before with weeks. For now, I’ve given each day a focus in my calendar. Monday=Gardening, Tuesday=Shopping/Sorting/Sewing, Wednesday=Cleaning, Thursday=Cooking/Baking, Friday=Admin.
These youngest two are so much fun. Both on the move and discovering the world around them fully amazed. Bugs, lizards, swimming, jumping, music and new heights make them incredibly happy and tired enough for an afternoon nap. Giving me a little bit of time for myself.