Waking Up For My Family

Waking up for my family instead of waking up to my family.
A friend posted this quote on Facebook, and I’ve thought about it many times since. You know, my days start out much better when I wake up before everyone and prepare my mind, and heart, for the day ahead. I am better equipped to handle the ins and outs of parenting and homeschooling. I am usually able to accomplish more of the housework. I don’t feel nearly as beat down by the end of the day.
I think the biggest improvement I could make on this habit, would be to spend my morning time (or part of it) reading scripture or praying. That’s not a habit that I’m very good at. I usually spend the morning time writing, editing pictures, or playing on FB. Sometimes I start my cleaning, or breakfast, but usually, it’s me time. Time that I do what I want, without anyone looking over my shoulder, asking a bajillion and one questions. I just indulge. I write. I decompress my brain and put my thoughts on paper.
As we are growing together as a family and also as individuals, I’ve learned something valuable about the kids, too. When I wake them up, and have them get dressed in “day clothes”, get them started on chores and breakfast, then school just happens almost naturally. I have a tendency to let the kids sleep in, and waste time in the morning. Then, school starts late, with a fight, and our whole day seems to crumble.
The days are often long, and sometimes I question my ability as a parent and teacher. So, when I find something positive, that works and improves things for all of us, I try to hold on to it. It is easy to feel like the battles are never ending and the victories are far apart. The idea and practice of waking up for them, and getting ready for the day, seems to very often come with a sense of victory.
When I wake up to them, and they are jumping on me, tackling me, waking me up when I don’t want them to, then I am a grouch. And when Momma’s a grouch, everyone else quickly turns into a grouch, too. Which is very bad. Very very bad. When we are a houseful of grouchiness, everyone starts bickering and fighting and Momma begins hair-pulling-out. Watch out then!
Conclusion: I’ll get up first and try to keep the score for positive days higher than the score for negative days.
What habit helps you start your day off right and end your day strong?



Overwhelmed, Under-achieving, Vicious Cycle

If any of you are like me, sometimes you take on too much. It can be hard to say “no” to the never-ending requests for our time and attention. And, if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself worn and haggard at the end of each day (or even the middle).

In case you missed the news, we just had a baby girl at the beginning of February. That makes beloved #5 for our blended family – 4 incredible boys, and a healthy baby girl! We are overjoyed. And I got overwhelmed. I’m your average stay at home, homeschooling Momma. I have dishes and laundry to do, a house to keep up with, 3 boys to educate, meals to make, and now I’m nursing a little one, on demand (and she demands to eat often!). Plus, for the first time ever, I’ve joined the ranks as a cloth-diapering Momma.

I couldn’t get through a whole day without missing something, without feeling like I couldn’t keep up, without stressing. I also had a part time writing job. Now, I like to write, so this would seem like a great idea. But it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I just couldn’t do that, too. Recently, I have been blessed to be able to take a break from the writing job, along with a couple other things I was doing.

I can breath! I can get up and face the day, the boys, the baby, and my hubby without the burden of guilt, or without feeling utterly overwhelmed. I spent last week reorganizing the house, really pushing the limits with school, and enjoying it all a bit more. See, I’ve always felt called to stay home and raise my precious kids, and take care of our home, and all that comes with that.

Somehow, though, I always feel like I should be doing “more”. As if being on call 24/7 isn’t enough, I feel like I have to find measurable ways to contribute to our family. Mainly, I feel this way when it comes to money. I often burden myself with an enormous amount of guilt for my lack of a paycheck. So I take on odd jobs, trying to make up for what sometimes  feels like I’m failing our family.

You know what’s crazy? That whole thought sounds stupid to me on paper. But it can be crippling to me mentally. Equally, or more severely crippling, is when I have too much on my plate. I have known a few people in my life who, when they get overwhelmed, they crank up their efforts, get up earlier, go to bed later, and just GO-GO-GO. I’m the opposite. I cannot get out of bed to face it when it’s too much. I don’t know where to start. So I just STOP.

You know what happens when I stop all forward progress? I get behind. And I feel overwhelmed. So I don’t start anywhere. So I get more behind. So I feel more overwhelmed. Plus, now I feel guilty for being behind. So I’m more overwhelmed. And behind. See the vicious cycle?

So, now that I’m taking a break from the writing gig, and I’ve let go of a few more odd jobs, I’m caught up on the house and I feel more at peace. Now, don’t get me wrong, the guilt bug still lingers, waiting for those moments where I might get a break to attack me with the thought that I’m not doing enough. But I’ve decided to tell that guilt bug that even if it isn’t enough, at least I’m now doing what I’m doing well. Instead of behind, or barely, or not at all, I am doing it well.

I thank God every day that my dear husband supports me in this at-home endeavor and does all he can to make it possible for me to be home. I am beyond blessed that he never accuses me of not doing enough, that he supports all of my endeavors and hare-brained ideas, and that he loves me well.

 Have you noticed a vicious cycle in your life? How will you break the cycle and how will you encourage yourself and put a stop to any negative self-talk?

Recognizing Change

Sometimes change is hard to recognize, especially when it happens gradually. The thing I found is, I often try to function based on “old” information, and am not functioning based on the changes. This can be frustrating for me, and the people around me.

Currently, the change I’ve noticed is personal, and is a huge shift. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but since I’ve acknowledged it and quit forcing myself to function based on how I used to be, I’m a lot more at peace.

See, I used to be the “on-the-go” girl. In fact, the kids and I were rarely, if ever, home. Between church things, friend things, play groups and what not, I had something to do, somewhere to be, every day. I would load up my kids, kids I was watching, any kids, and go.

I was usually the one that went to a friend’s house instead of hosting a get together. I just never stopped going, going, going. And I wanted it that way, in fact, when I didn’t get to go, go, go, I went crazy. I got cabin fever, and felt cooped up and stressed out.

Fast forward to now, and I’m home schooling once again. I have errands that occasionally need to be run, and trips to the library to make. Yet, I never want to go anywhere. At first, I was trying to function with the “go, go, go” thought, even going so far as to beat myself up and accuse myself of being lazy. But it’s not like I’m staying home to nap. I just don’t want to go to the store. Or anywhere, really.

I never used to understand my hermit friends…especially when they gave lists to their hubby’s and sent them shopping. I could not for the life of me fathom why one would do such a thing. Even if I had to go with 4 or 5 kids in tow, I wanted to go. But, guess what friends? I get it!

My hunny came in two nights ago and asked what was for dinner. I told him sloppy joes but that I needed to go get veggies to go with dinner. He said “I’ll stay here with the kids so you can go.” Instead of jumping for joy at going somewhere by myself and having a solitary moment, I was pouting because he didn’t say he would go to the store. When I confessed that I didn’t want to go to the store, he took a list and got everything I asked him to. Well, he came back with 6 less eggs than I asked for…but I think I can overlook that.

I stayed home with the kids, happily – even passing up the moment of solitude that I could have had. And I am realizing that I’ve changed, and our home is where I want to be, even with all of the chaos, all of the messes, and all of the crazy boys.