The last month I’ve been trying to be flexible. I’ve let go of a lot of our schedule and slacked on routines. For me it has been a healthy way to manage postpartum anxiety as well as “Come what may and love it.” It has become apparent, however, that the majority of the Jacksons here really need structure.
Now we are focusing on consistency. Consistency in routines, in discipline, in reactions. It has required digging deep for patience and energy. Currently the kids are waking up before 7am and sometime before 6am, not taking naps during the day (except Laura but she is still unpredictable and sometimes only sleeps in 10 minute bursts), not falling asleep until around 8pm (or later), and feeding Laura every 3 hours during the night. It feels good to get to the end of the day and be tired from working, but my introverted self is being stretched.
Last week was particularly unusual and busy. I figured I could do my part by giving up my weekly solo trip to the library. As the days went on I became more tired and significantly lower functioning. By Friday I was an empty bucket and when Andrew made it home for dinner I was fuming. It took a few days to dig myself out of that one.
For years I’ve heard that taking care of yourself is not selfish. Well I’ve learned that with three young children it is vital. I’ve met my match. For me this looks like taking hot showers, reading my scriptures, exercising, writing in my journal, planning each night, going to the library once a week for a solo planning session, reading a book, making progress on the blog/podcast/family yearbooks, and sleeping as much as possible. I used to try and do all those things each day. I’ve started to look at my self care in the span of a week and hit everything at least once (except scriptures need to happen daily). Lately sleep has trumped everything else and I’m going to bed with the kids at least half of the week.
This week has gone much better now that I’m not letting my needs go to the bottom of the list. I’ve realized that I’m the adult around here, and I have to teach the kids with healthy boundaries look like. I don’t necessarily know what those look like, but it feels like a step in the right direction.
Our family is settling down a bit with this focus on consistency. I’m amazed actually on how much behavior and listening has improved after just a week of “boot camp”. Adding the phrase, “my answer is not changing” and being decisive has also had an important impact on me and the kids. I’m feeling more confident and they seem more secure and quicker to respond.
Really we have no idea what we are doing. I bought a few of my favorite parenting books this week so we have them as a reference (The Whole Brained Child; No Drama Discipline; How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk). I was reminded today of the principle of manna. We only need provisions (in this case strength, patience, and inspiration) to get us through one day, not for days/weeks/all of childhood.
Moments from this week so far:
One of Emily’s many paper projects. She made colored cards with sticky notes to write our days schedule. She saw my mom talking about her card system and worked on creating her own for two days.
Emily wanted to play bananagrams this week. When I told her you make words with it she immediately said she wanted to write Grandma Moose. First she made stacks of letter while Nathan lined up the tiles, then sounded out Grandma Moose.
The big discovery this week is the brooms. While they were used for sweeping for a few minutes, mostly they have been airplanes. The kids fly all over to visit grandparents. Emily often connects Nathan’s broom to hers so they fly at the same speed. Sometimes they ride on the same broom.
We set up the teepee downstairs. At some point during the day Emily and Nathan set up the curvy boards for a garden. Nathan spent a lot of time cleaning and working the garden.
Sister snuggles. Laura, who only spits up once a month and has only had one tiny diaper blowout, had two major blowouts and a huge spit up resulting in three outfit changes for the day.