Monday morning, I woke up, and decided I was done being stressed-out. I don't feel like I ever was excessively stressed, or had a temper at all until I had children.
And I'm about to add a third to the mix.
This brings me great excitement, of course, but it also gets me just a wee bit anxious. How am I going to be a kind, loving mom to three kids, and somehow manage to stay calm, and not get stressed out??
Back to Monday morning. I decided to think of the biggest things in my day-to-day that stressed me out, and eliminate them.
Ok, so here's the Big Number One.
#1. Attempting to get a task done (such as washing the dishes, folding laundry, writing an email, etc.) while the girls run wild over the house. I felt constantly interrupted because I'd hear water turning on in the bathroom, or drawers opening and closing, or I had to call their names to even figure out where in the house they were located. This was incredibly frustrating. I felt like I wasn't being productive because I was always figuring out where the kids were.
So...my solution--which I've now put into practice two days in a row, and it is magical--is as follows: much of my time is spent in the kitchen--cooking or unloading the dishwasher or washing up the last meal's dishes. While I'm in the kitchen, the girls have to stay in the living room. I set the boundaries at the edge of the kitchen, and the edge of the hallway, and very clearly explained to the girls that they were not to cross those lines until I said they could. You know the craziest, most unexpected part of this was? The girls were so much happier with this arrangement, than with the whole "running around the house" ordeal! They hardly ever would just sit in the living room and play with their toys and blocks, but I think because they knew that was their only option, they were very content to just sit and play. (I also didn't have to constantly be watching to see if they crossed the line, because Rachel was very thoughtful to yell, "Moooom! Posie just crossed the liiiiiiiine!!" every time Jemima went near the "line." ;-))
#2. Taking 5 minutes to gather the girls' painting supplies, or markers, or crayons, or chalk, or bowls of snow, and then having the girls sit and draw/play for 3 minutes. My solution to that is a simple one: "Girls, you need to keep drawing/playing for a little while longer." So right now, they might have short attention spans, but--just like with the living room boundary lines--I think they will learn to enjoy drawing *more* if they spend more time doing it!!
I've been reminded recently that there are many times in my life as an adult when I need to sit still for long periods of time even when I don't feel like it. This means that our children are most likely going to deal with the same scenarios...whether it is a boring movie in the theater, or a funeral, or a wedding, or a church service... sometimes everyone just needs to sit. So--especially when doing an activity that they've just requested
--I think they should be able to sit and enjoy that activity for longer than 3 minutes. :)
#3. If #1 and #2 were behavioral stressers, let me move along to some clothing stressers. :-) Namely, white socks and stained stockings. Aaaargh. I can't stand either one of these items in the girls' drawers!!
The white socks were just an epic fail. There's no way to keep our floors clean enough so that their socks continue being *white* for very long. Every time I would put them on the girls, I'd groan because I don't like dirty-looking socks--even if I knew I'd just washed them! Folding them was also a chore, because Jemima had white socks that were only a teensy-bit smaller than Rachel's, so I'd be trying to sort through dirty-looking-white socks that were a little bigger, or a little smaller, and...I'd had enough.
So I threw away almost all of their white or even light-colored socks (I kept the couple pairs that hadn't been stained too terribly yet), and invested in some super-duper colorful socks. Jemima got a set of pink and brown socks, because guess what...brown doesn't show stains very easily, folks!! She also had a couple pairs of brightly colored striped socks, which I kept for her.
And Rachel got some new socks, too. First I bought her a very colorful pack of socks from Wal-mart, and then recently I bought two more pairs in the $1 section at Target. One pair has cupcakes all over it, and the other set is covered in brightly-colored polka dots. You're not going to believe this (hardy-har), but I now have two little girls who absolutely love wearing socks. And their mother is very pleased with the situation, too!
#4. Stained stockings. Yup, same idea, except that the "stress" here was usually on Sunday mornings, when I had very little time to look over the girls' stuffed box of stocking-wear to figure out which pairs were more stained than others. I haven't bought a single pair of stockings for the girls (that I can recall). Their stockings are a mix of hand-me-downs and Christmas presents. So I didn't feel too guilty getting rid of the stockings that were stained, because I knew there were plenty of hardly-worn stockings (or perfectly new!) that would fit the girls. What a relief to know that when I'm looking through their stocking box now, the only decision I have to make is, "Black, pink, white, or off-white?" Instead of, "Little bit stained? Very stained? Let me unfold these and stare at them in the light for another 5 minutes before I decide..." :-p