When my kids get home from school, I want them to walk into comfort.
I have four kids under the age of eight, so chaos is a fact of life around here. But even with that factor, I want the over all feeling of being home to be a sense of love and comfort even amidst the chaos.
This starts with me. If I am overwhelmed and exhausted when we walk through the door at the end of the day, then I set the tone. Its my job, as their Mom, to keep my stuff together.
I have a tendency to make a lot of mistakes and apologize regularly for them. But what I have been realizing lately, is that accidentally losing my cool and yelling is very different than giving myself permission to lose it, knowing that I can apologize later.
Kids are very forgiving and I can take advantage of that. I take for granted that when I lose my temper, they will accept my apology. I am not proud, just being honest.
I am working on it.
Being overwhelmed tends to bring out the worst in me, so there are a couple of things I have been doing at home lately that have helped me to feel less overwhelmed. They by no means make me a perfect Mom, but they are helping me move in the direction I want to be.
There are three things I have started doing lately to help keep things more organized, therefore less chaotic, therefore less overwhelming, therefore less yelling.
1. One set of utensils, dishes, glasses for everyone. Yep, one single solitary set of everything for each family member of the house. About three or four months ago, I emptied out my cupboards and drawers and packed away all the extra utensils and glasses and plates and bowls in a box and put it in the basement.
It has been life changing. For reals.
There is no longer a kitchen sink overflowing with dirty dishes every second of the day. Now, when someones glass is dirty, they have to wash it to use it rather than grabbing another from the cupboard. Same goes for plates, bowls, and utensils.
Since I implemented this, I have never once spent more than fifteen minutes at the sink doing dishes, and thats counting baking/cooking dishes.
I marked everyones stuff, so they can't argue over whose it is and who needs to wash it. Everyone takes care of their own and we take turns cleaning the two littlest things.
We rarely use the dishwasher anymore, we just wash, rinse, put in the drying rack after meals. It takes two minutes, it's done, and we walk away. On the off chance that it doesn't get done, it takes me five minutes for me to get caught up rather than a half hour or more like before.
Now that school has begun, once or twice a week I will run everything through the dishwasher on the sanitizer cycle, but it still takes me half the time to load and unload it.
Life changing I tell you. Life changing.
And on the rare occasion that everyones dishes are dirty and I'm in a hurry, paper plates are always stocked in the pantry. Time saving, sanity saving.
2. I keep the table cleared off... 'most of the time'. I say most of the time, because again four kids. Obviously the dining table is used a lot, but I have just resigned myself to clearing it off and wiping it down throughout the day.
The reason being, if the table is clear, they will use it. If it's dirty or full, they will spread their stuff out everywhere else.
I have been making sure the table is cleared and ready for them when they come home from school. They head there for a snack and then we spread out on it and do homework.
It's a small thing, but having it cleared when they get home gives them a place to unpack and place to gather around. A place that feel inviting.
And last but not least...
3. No TV on school nights. The kids hate it, I love it. They'll live.
I would be lying if I said this one is easy for me, its not, because I have to listen to complaints of boredom and begging for "just one cartoon". Eventually though, they realize I'm not giving in and they start playing on their own.
We did this last school year too. It takes awhile to get into the routine, but once we do, it is one hundred percent worth it.
The thing is, if the TV is on, I am invisible. I have to repeat myself over and over and over and pretty soon I am screaming purple and things get ugly.
If the TV is off, then they listen, you know, by like the second or third time, instead of the sixty seventh. Improvement.
It also makes me more focused and productive, so its a win/win.
Life is crazy. Give yourself grace, apologize when necessary, love your kids, kiss your spouse, be thankful for today.
Happy Friday friends.