Monday Motherhood: Order vs. Chaos

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I’m not totally convinced there is a wrong or right way to parent (with the exception of abusive or dangerous situations, of course). Our differences are what make us unique and beautiful. However, I wonder if there isn’t a way to make parenthood a little less chaotic. I say “less” because I’m pretty sure chaos is unavoidable. I recently read two (almost) conflicting articles about parenthood: order vs. chaos. Of course, I DO NOT claim to be a great parent, but I do try. I think there just has to be some kind of order and schedule that helps me keep my head on straight. Here are a few of my own methods/suggestions to help things run smoothly in my house:
1: Keep a schedule, even if it’s very broad. Schedules helps kids anticipate what is going to happen and they take comfort in knowing the plan. My schedule looks something like this (ideally):

6:30 – Time to get up and read my scriptures

7:00 – breakfast for my family, put away dishes, switch the laundry

7:30 – the kids can watch an hour of tv while I exercise and shower (I put gates up to keep them out of the kitchen, and my bedroom)

8:30 – my breakfast time

9:00 to 11:30 – my time with the kids to play, run errands, etc., etc.

11:30 – lunch, and clean up (dishes, toys, switch the laundry, whatever)

12:30 – nap/quiet time. This is when I study or catch up…or take a nap too 🙂

3:30/4:00 – cook dinner and clean up

5:00 – dinner time

6:30/7:00 – get kids ready for bed/bedtime routine

8:00 – my time (unless I’m in school, then that’s when I’m in class, sadly)

2: Plan – weekly and daily. My mission taught me that planning is crucial. Even if things don’t end up going as planned, it is good to at least HAVE one. Every night, sit down with your planner and map out how the day should go, then make preparations for the next day’s events. Every week, go over the general schedule and bear in mind your limits. If you can, sit down even each month and plan what that will look like.

3: Hold family council. You have maybe heard of Family Home Evening where you have a night each week that is JUST for your family to play games, have a spiritual lesson, sing songs, pray together, and have a yummy treat (it’s doesn’t even have to be that elaborate). Well, just tack family council on to your FHE plans, or pick another night where you can discuss important things with your family: scheduling, budgeting, family rules, etc., etc.

4: Have a meal plan. It is so frustrating to have to rush around at dinner time trying to figure out what to feed everyone, especially if you don’t have all the ingredients for what you think you will make. Have staples in the house for nights when you forgot something or need a quick fix. When you have a plan, you can pick up everything you need at the grocery store and you won’t have to make any “quick” runs to the store midweek (we all know there is no such thing as a quick run to the store with two toddlers in tow).

5: Make mealtimes more bearable. Read “Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family” by Ellyn Satter. The food relationship with kids goes something like this: parents decide WHAT and WHEN to eat, and kids decide IF and HOW MUCH. It makes mealtimes such a chore when it becomes a power struggle over whether or not your kids will eat. Serve them the food you prepared and hope they try it, but then always have two (healthy) things on your child’s plate you KNOW they will eat.

6: Make bedtimes more bearable: Read “The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems” by Tracy Hogg. The pattern to start out with is SLEEP, EAT, PLAY, SLEEP. This has been a miracle for me. I followed this pattern with #2, and now he sleeps almost on command. Of course, #1 still fights me, but I used a method in this book that prevented things from being A LOT worse.

7: Don’t overextend your poor tired/hungry children. I avoid going out when it overlaps nap time or bed time. It just makes life easier for everyone. Then when we do go out, I always have some snack or drink for my kids because when they’re crabby, it’s either fatigue, hunger or thirst. Life is much less chaotic when my kids are not screaming at me!

In my opinion, parenthood takes a fair amount of SELFLESSNESS. That’s just how it is. There are lots of things I would rather do than plan out every minute of my life, but I have to give up things I want, especially my time and energy to help things run more smoothly. That’s just how it is.

I hope this helps someone. What do you do to make your day run more smoothly?

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Monday Moments: Say Cheeeeeese!

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On the first Sunday of every month we have family records day. On that day we take pictures of our family, collectively and individually, and videos if we can get them. Then we write in each of the kids’ journals and update any records we need to. So far it has been a great tradition!

Sunday (S)elebrations: Easter!

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(Pictured above: “Easter garland, “Bunny Bait“, “Bunny Boxes“). I’m not usually very good about preparing for most holidays, but when it comes to Christmas and Easter, I try to do my best! This year the kids and I have been making all kinds of fun stuff, and it has been great fun!20120404-234202.jpg
(Pictured above: “Feather your nest with papier-mâché“, “Daffodil candy cups“, and “No glue favor boxes.”)

Easter traditions are so much fun. Easter egg hunts and candy and presents are always a good time. I hope that my children really grasp our holiday traditions and enjoy them as a means of family togetherness, joy, and creativity.
Still, as awesome as traditions are, what I really pray my kids grasp from our holiday traditions is the importance of the reason we are celebrating in the first place! Easter will always be, first and foremost, a celebration of the sacrifice that was made for us by the Savior, Jesus Christ. For me, the image of the empty tomb will always be the symbol of the Atonement. My testimony arose in the midst of trials when I needed His strength and comfort the most. I didn’t receive immediate ease from my care but I knew that I did not have to bear my burden alone.
The Atonement is the hope and faith in the Resurrection and the reality that everyone will return to God’s presence after death. But, more than that, the Atonement is my daily grace and my strength. When I arise in the morning I pray for the strength of the Savior to bear me up and get me through it in spite of myself and my weakness. Before I retire to my bed at night, I lay my burden at His feet and pray He forgives of my weakness. Because of His suffering I know He will comfort me for even those troubles that are not associated with sin. In faith, I believe He stands beside me in this life, and He will be there right beside me when I stand before the Father to evaluate my life in the end.
Some of my favorite scriptures on the Atonement are Alma 7:11-12 “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” (Book of Mormon, Alma, Chapter 7).  Helamen 14:15-17 “For behold, he surely must die that salvation may come; yea, it behooveth him and becometh expedient that he dieth, to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, that thereby men may be brought into the presence of the Lord. Yea, behold, this death bringeth to pass the resurrection, and redeemeth all mankind from the first death—that spiritual death; for all mankind, by the fall of Adam being cut off from the presence of the Lord, are considered as dead, both as to things temporal and to things spiritual.  But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord.”  And SO many more!  Happy Easter everyone!
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