Thursday, December 21, 2006

Why Is This So Hard!

I've had several people tell me that they are feeling totally overwhelmed with two kids and didn't know how I could keep up with 4 1/2. I've been thinking about that because I have felt overwhelmed at each stage of parenting.

Having a brand new baby for the first time is tough because it is all so new and you aren't used to living your life for someone else. The second baby is a kicker because it is totally overwhelming to double the work but at the same time it is really exciting because you know how great the first baby is. But your hands and days are full, and you are exhausted.

After I had baby number 3 a few things clicked in my head and heart and I think that's why it almost feels easier now (I said ALMOST). I think with one or two kids you still feel like you should be able to do it all. Have them and you dressed perfectly, have a spotless house, get to every function you used to, do all the shopping and laundry in a timely manner with a toddler and infant in tow, and possibly still have a career. After number three came along I realized I could not do it all. I had to let go of some things. There are days the kids are in their pajamas or a diaper all morning, there are (I'm ashamed to admit this) weeks that go by and the floor doesn't get mopped, or at times I send Mike to the grocery store with a list because we only have some old lettuce left in the fridge. And as hard as it was to let some of those things go, I guess I really didn't have a choice. It was let go or go insane!

If there is going to be any time for enjoyment or play with the kids, some things have to wait. I always want to have the house clean when they get home or before a holiday but guess what - they don't care! I still try to live in a clean and welcoming home but don't sweat it anymore when there are crumbs on the floor for a little while so I can do something important like read Goodnight Moon again or play legos. So, I guess I learned that I can't do it all - unless I can go with no sleep because if I utilized the time between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. better I could probably get a lot of cleaning and laundry done.

I also learned to choose my battles better with the kids. In some ways I've "quit sweating the small stuff". The other day Annie ran away from me mid-diaper change. I told her to come back and she crossed her arms, cocked her hear, furrowed her brows and glared at me. Now if my older two had done that I would have been irate, but I just started laughing. That is not how I should or would handle it normally (She does need to obey) but it was kind of cute and we still got the diaper changed. I felt a lot less stressed. I don't mind if nap time gets missed or changed anymore. My friend (a first time mom) refered to herself as the Nap Nazi! I just love that. I used to be that. There was no way anything could get in the way of nap time. (Usually it was because I needed a nap too). Well, now life happens and there are days it is late, non-existent or in the car.

We made gingerbread cookies last night. It was a total mess and everyone wanted to help. In the middle of it all we had to have supper. I found myself getting kind of irritated. But it was the process of doing it that was important, not how cute the cookies turned out or how messy everything was (there was green frosting everywhere!) It was something the kids wanted to do and we had fun doing it together. They were excited to have the finished product in their lunches today. I'll finish cleaning up this afternoon hopefully!

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a clean house, routine, showers (for me) and discipline but when you have kids life can't always roll the way we planned. So going on to five kids in the house I just have to realize that there will be messes, chaos and hopefully fun. I think when I was trying to do it all, I was miserable and it made my family miserable.

So don't let the overwhelming feeling of dealing with your kids and responsibilities get in the way of enjoying the time. Find the things you need to loosen up on or let go of or get help with! My older ones that had me overwhelmed are in school full-time already! Those years went by in the blink of an eye. I don't look back and wish everything had been perfect, I'm glad for the time we spent together.

Ephesians 2:8-10
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -
and this not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God -
not by works, so that no one can boast.
For we are God's workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.

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