Friday, September 26, 2014

Striving...To Surviving…To Thriving

Many people say that the first year of any new job is always the most challenging. This was certainly true for me the first year I taught English. A colleague told me that my second year of teaching would be light-years easier, and that by the third year I would have settled into a comfortable, familiar rhythm. She was right!Here I am now at the beginning of my fourth year of being a stay-at-home mom. The first year was unbelievably difficult, to the point that many days I would sit paralyzed in a fog of overwhelm. I certainly have had my fair share of sleep deprivation and depression to contribute to that, but finding some natural supplements have helped to lift me out of the fog enough to be able to get some systems and a game plan in place for making life with "3 kids ages 3 and under" more manageable. 

I have read countless books and blogs on housekeeping, parenting, goal setting, etc. and have tried implementing many of the suggestions and techniques presented in them. I have talked with moms who walked in my shoes and survived, listened to family members offer their ideas, and even sat through one life-altering counseling session during which I was so broken and emotional that I could hardly muster the composure to speak.

I have gathered and gleaned, and I have finally had a breakthrough that has made life with toddlers SO much easier. There are so many mamas in my shoes that I wanted to share this nugget of information, in the hope that it might help someone else. Are you ready for it? Here is what I have learned…


Hours of organization was destroyed in 30 seconds when they broke past the childproof lock 

Woohoo!  There, I said it!  It is such a freeing revelation! It is NOT possible to keep a straight house all the time. It is NOT possible to keep the laundry caught up all the time. It is NOT possible to cook an organic meal (or let's be honest…to cook ANYTHING) every day. It is not possible for us all to look presentable every day. It's just not.

Order and predictability are not aspects of life that fall under the realm of toddlerdom. So, why am I striving? Constantly working against their nature?

So many times I have thought to myself, "But SHE can do it. She has it figured out, so why can't I?" Well, maybe all of her kids sleep through the night or take naps in the day. Maybe her kids haven't figured out how to get around the childproof locks. I don't know what her situation is, but whatever it is, it is different from mine, and, therefore, I cannot compare myself to her.

And so I have finally decided to give myself permission. I give myself permission to serve the kids Sonic corn dogs in the car if all of the dishes are dirty.  I give myself permission to leave the house without makeup on. I give myself permission to hold a sleeping baby instead of folding another load of laundry.  

 I want them to look back and remember a mom who truly enjoyed this season of their lives. I want to go play in the sprinkler with them, even if it means another load of laundry. I want to do fun crafts with them, even if it means more mess on the kitchen table.  I want to decorate for the holidays, even if the decorations won't survive the season. It is time to soak up the magic of their childhood, or I will miss out.

Have I found a rhythm for the housework now that I have been doing this for three years?  No. But there will always be another mess to clean tomorrow, so I won't let it stifle me today.  I choose to live in harmony with their sweet little spirits. No more striving!