Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tales of Juggling and Surviving

As a mom of many, there are these common statements that I hear... frequently. Personally, I think they're a bit funny. Because, really, they can apply to anyone. Everyone has challenges. Maybe mine are more obvious?

Anyway. It's the "I don't know how you do it" and "wow, you must be busy" comments that kill me. I really do think they are funny, if not a tad annoying out of repetition. My thought is, "do I have a choice?" or "well, you just do" and then "yes, there isn't usually a lot of quiet or lazy time." In return I wonder, wow, how do you do it - work AND have (one or two) children, work and go to school, work and go to school and have children, survive being a single mom, live with chronic pain or disability, juggle so many activities and obligations (swimming lessons, soccer, library time, youth group/awanas, bible study, volunteering for the food shelf,...), how do you have such a clean house? How are you so patient? How can you manage to homeschool? Where do you get the energy to do all YOU do?

Cuz really, I'd. like. to know.

One thing that helps me, I don't overschedule our life. I don't believe that's healthy for kids or the family but in our house it also has to do with age/ability, age/ability of others, cost, and proximity. Where we live, there is no grocery store, our church isn't here, and there's nothing "to do" but go to the park which we live across the street from. If anything, I underschedule them, but the payoff is that they learn how to use their creativity and entertain themselves. And not with tv or video games either. (I rarely hear "I'm bored." So far.) All those combined are reasons we have to plan and limit what we do "in town". And that includes what I want to do, too. So that buys me time. Now, energy and patience?

It's all about juggling, and often times, there are balls we have to set down for a while. My balls (teehee, that sounded funny, giggle) are usually in the area of housekeeping, personal grooming and maintenance, and meals. Well, and patience. That's probably the first to go out the window (and the one I fight the hardest to keep). My trips to the beauty salon are few and far between (last haircut was July 2009), I regularly forget to brush my teeth, or occasionally put on deodorant, or both. Sometimes I don't get dressed until well into the afternoon, some days not at all. Many times I defer to mac-n-cheese or frozen pizza, and there are a few very troublesome areas in my house that are just  n e v e r  going to be clutter-free - It's more of an avoid-the-landslide tactic. (Yes, it's that bad. No, I'm not a hoarder and yes you can walk through my house, the garbage is in the can which is taken out when it's full, we are pet free minus Squirt, I'm not a shopaholic or free-loader, and we don't get the newspaper so there are no stacks of papers from decades past.)

Sometimes it's about surviving. Like when clothes get washed because no one has socks/jeans/underwear (though now I'm doing great on laundry) and frequently the floor sees a mop when you can't keep shoes on in the kitchen (currently sticky-free - yay!). Sweeping and vacuuming are pretty daily occurances though. As goes with dishes. Sheesh, I'm not a total slob! ;)

So when you juggle and survive, you might have mornings like this...

This summer I have worked on giving my kids chores, which means I am teaching them how to do chores. Make your bed, put your dirty clothes in the basket, pick up some toys, put away any clean clothes. Easy. But I usually have to check, monitor, instruct, and hound. Three-year-olds need a LOT more instruction and supervision than five and six year olds, that's for sure. Two-year-olds? Forget it. It's purely survival.

So to amuse the destructive undo-as-you-clean Boots, I stuck him in the bath, while I "assisted" Cheeks (and a bit of George and Koko) in her chores. It was a great plan. All were accounted for and occupied.

All freaking month morning long Koko has been tattling. About everything. All. the. time. It's endless, as are my comments about "are you the mom," "I can take care of it," and "stop tattling." sigh. She picked this up... ahem... somewhere. She even makes special trips upstairs to tell me that Cheeks didn't pick up the books (yes, but I didn't ask her to pick up books), and so on an so forth.

The two olders get their chores done, I call up Cheeks, she comes and begins her share, and Boots is happily, or so I thought, splashing in the tub.

Koko comes back upstairs asking to go swimming and put on her suit. Great. All the while commenting on the things Cheeks hasn't done, etc. After being up the for at least 5 minutes, just about to go back down herself, she decides to mention that, oh yeah, Boots is outside.

WHAT?!?! Naked? Alone? Why didn't you TELL ME!?! GO GET HIM (because I'm not wearing pants)! Tell George to help bring him in?!?!

So much for my plan. sigh.

And she chooses this one. important. thing. to wait to tattle about? And who unlocked the door? Nevermind.

I go to the bathroom in search of my shorts from yesterday so I can go outside and gather my naked son from riding his little tractor thing down the sidewalk, when I see that there is something funny, er, gross, floating in the tub. Yay! He pooped, too! sigh.

I find my shorts, grab the naked kid who now has mud on his feet and legs and has to be rebathed, scoop the poop out of tub and rebathe the turkey toddler.

Yes. Juggling and surviving. Good times.

I know you have days like this. Please tell me you have days like this.


  1. Um, yes. Just about every day. Sigh. Oh, and I totally feel you on the "you have your hands full" comments. I did get a "your children are so well behaved" comment at Target the other day. Guess that lady wasn't in Target two days before that when we had to leave because Ethan was disobeying...

  2. You gals are both amazing moms...and I probably don't tell you this nearly enough, but watching you both parent often inspires me...just the complete love and thoughtfulness you show for each of your kids as an individual person...YES even and especially when things don't go as planned. And Kelly - I have more days like this than I can count, but some of my "kids" are of the grown-up variety. ;-)