Friday, April 4, 2008

On my mind today ...

I'm trying to sort out my priorities for this season of my life. This was prompted by a chat today with a good friend (who happens to be 15 years older than me), as well as the actions of my children the last few days.

I think I've been trying to do too much. I hate to admit that because I love to be busy. Nothing grates on me more than having to sit for an entire hour with nothing to do and nothing to occupy my mind. I had this revelation as I was trying to put both of my kids to bed last night - for two solid hours.

I'm sure no one enjoys having nothing to do, but it was a wake-up call for me. What is more important to me - my family or running this house? Are my children clingy at night because I've not really "been there" with them during the day? I always have something to occupy my mind, whether it's a pet project, a book, whatever ... Maybe I've been "checking out" intellectually. I never thought of it that way, but you know how kids have a way of picking up on things like that.

Now, this is not to excuse the two hours I spent getting them to sleep. I think my next "pet project" will be to sleep train both of them!

However, I've always been told that a mother sets the tone for the household. If my children are whining, clinging and crying a lot, I need to step back and see what I might be doing (albeit unconsciously) to affect them this way.

So I started a list of things that I absolutely must do in this season of my life. So far I've come up with
  • cooking,
  • cleaning,
  • shopping for groceries and household essentials,
  • spending quality time with my husband,
  • and loving and training my children.

Some of my current activities that might need to be curbed greatly include

  • scrapbooking,
  • cardmaking,
  • general crafting,
  • and a lot of my online activity.

I also have several responsibilities at church which include

  • teaching youth Sunday school,
  • organizing and hosting monthly ladies' meetings,
  • and being the church pianist.

I've been trying to think of things I could change to help me focus more on my family.

For starters, I could switch back to once-a-month menu planning and grocery shopping. I know I wouldn't be able to get as much with my grocery money, but I could still feed us for a month on $120 with the monthly menu I designed in my pre-couponing days. I'm not saying I'll go back to that, but it is an option.

My husband has been volunteering to keep the kids while I do the weekly shopping on Fridays, but I can tell it's beginning to wear on him. He isn't able to get much done during that time, and there is so much that a pastor needs to do! I think it might be time for me to start training my son to help me shop and training my daughter to simply behave in the store. Crystal has some good ideas here.

I also need to find a trusted baby-sitter (preferably from our church) to watch the kids at least once a month - maybe more often - so my husband and I can have some time alone. At the beginning of the year, we decided to try to do this. The trouble is that baby-sitters are hard to come by in a congregation of people who are either elderly (and in poor health) or have dogs (which my children are both scared to death of). So we haven't had our monthly "date" since February. Maybe it's time to call on my friend (the one I talked to today)!

As for the kids, I need to focus more on them during the daytime. I think it was Home Grown Kids that mentioned how parents used to raise kids without all the toys we have available in our generation. If I'm thinking of the right book, they recommend involving your children in work around the house. I'm guilty of being too efficient! I need to slow down and take the time to teach my children how to do things around the house.

We're in the process of re-instituting naptime for my son (he's four). My daughter (two years old) requests naps, but we have to force my son to take them. For about a year, we haven't been making him nap. But it's been during that time period that we've noticed poor nighttime sleep habits developing. After reading Home Grown Kids, I really do think he's overtired and that's a big part of the problem.

Once I get them onto a nap schedule, I can start doing some of my "mom" things while they nap. It would give me a little breather in the day, yet still allow me to devote most of my attention to them while they're awake.

As far as my church responsibilities, I'm afraid I'm stuck with being the church pianist. I'm not an accomplished pianist by any means, but I am the only one who can play!

I'm also "stuck" with teaching the youth Sunday school class. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy our teens! The problem is that preparation takes so much time.

I think I am going to delegate a lot of my responsibilities for the ladies' meetings, though. Several ladies have expressed interest in helping me out, and I'm ready to accept.

This all sounds like a lot of change. I'll probably implement it in increments so I don't completely upset the apple cart. I guess the important thing is to simply change. I don't know about you, but I don't want to have my children raised and on their own and then wish I had spent more time with them while they were little. I want to be able to feel good about how I raised them, knowing that I gave them my all. After all, my parents did the same for me.

This post was mainly for me to sort out my thoughts, but I decided to post it because it might help someone else who is struggling with similar issues.


jemilyea said...

Thank you for sharing what was on your mind. It helps me to know how to pray for you and other people in your situation.

When my niece was old enough to want to quit taking naps, she was taught she didn't have to lay down and go to sleep, but she was to stay quietly on her bed and look at books. Her parents would say, "Stay there till the big hand on the clock gets to --, and then you may get up." I think she may be allowed to play with little toys, too, but she must be quiet and STAY ON HER BED!

While you start training your children for public shopping behavior, maybe your husband could just keep one child at home to help you. You could take the other and have some one-on-one time.

My family didn't have a two cars until I was in 6th or 7th grade. I think we almost always went shopping as an entire family on Friday. We thought it was fun. We girls took turns riding under the carts or standing on the end. Sometimes I would grab a bag of rice or beans and carry it all over the store, pretending the bag was my baby. (Friday meant eating out then shopping, while Saturdays were better--Trip to the library in the morning, then shopping on the way home.)

At some point in time, it's good for children to shop with their parents. My dad is the one who taught me how to figure out the shelf labels and how to check the price per unit to find the best value for my money.