As 2015 came to a close, my prevailing thought was this:
“My life is not working. I need to make some changes.”
Last year felt very chaotic, for many for reasons that were outside of my control.
But there are many aspects of my life that I can control. If I exercise thoughtfulness and discipline, I can make my life easier.
I’ve come up with a list of 8 things that didn’t work for me in 2015.
These are pretty boring things.
Every day things.
But life is made up of the every day stuff and I realized that it was the every day stuff that was overwhelming me and needed to change.
So, here’s what I’m doing about it in 2016.
- Dinner Dishes.
The Problem: I hate doing dishes (pretty much housework in general) and after dinner I am exhausted. I just want to veg on the couch and scroll through facebook after I’ve done the 3 hour homework-snacks-dinner prep-eating with 4 children-marathon each night.
So my habit has been to leave the dinner dishes in the sink over night. I even made this one of my “bad housewife” rules, telling guests who want to help me clean up after a dinner party that “Oh, don’t bother. I never wash dishes after dinner.”The thing is, the full sink in the morning completely overwhelms me. And doing the dishes before I made the boys breakfast made our mornings tight and tense. I needed a change.
The Solution: I started having Micah and Benji load the dish washer after dinner. Yep, good ol’ child labor. 😀
It solves the morning mess issue and it teaches the boys some “life skillz”
Do they love it? Nope (but really, they have had good attitudes).
Do I love it? Heck, yes.
I was chatting with one of my babysitters a few weeks ago and she stated in an awed voice, “I bet you do laundry every day!”
I laughed and said, “Yes. Yes, I do. Because….family of 6.”
The thing is, this was a half truth.
The real truth is that I SHOULD do laundry every day.
My real habit is to let the laundry pile up, get overwhelmed when the boys tell me they “have no pants” and then do 5-6 loads in one day. I’d get burnt out around load 4 and let it sit in the washer overnight …or for a few days. Then I’d have to do the ol’ sniff test and re-wash the load.
Then I get bogged down with the folding and piles upon piles of clean clothes loading down the couch. I then transfer the clean piles into laundry baskets where it is picked through until we have so many dirty clothes that we have to empty the clean clothes to do more laundry.
(Please tell me I am not alone in this).
The laundry monster has been devouring me.
The Solution: Do one load of laundry a day, start to finish. Wash, dry, fold, put away.
I’ve been doing this for about a week and a half and it is going ok. I’ve had to do 2 loads a day to keep up (not bad). My goal is to start one load in the morning and never leave it in the washer overnight.
I do great with the folding. The putting away is my Achilles’ heel, but we’re working on taming the Beast.
- Bedtime Routine.
The Problem: Like I said above, I am completely exhausted after dinner. My children, on the other hand, eat and are apparently revived for a full evening of shenanigans and wrestling. This makes mama a little bit crazy. haha. Who am I kidding…a LOT BIT crazy. I usually get so fed up with them that I count down the minutes till 8 pm and then holler for EVERYONE TO JUST GO TO BED I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE GOODNIGHT.
I hate this for multiple reasons. I mean, I really want to enjoy my kids after dinner. Plus all those mom blogs talk about spending those sweet moments with your little ones before they go to sleep, blah blah. #momguilt.But my boys, (read: my twins) are literally bouncing off the walls, into each other, and generally wreaking havoc. Sweet moments were few and far between.The Solution: My kids thrive on routine (who am I kidding? I do too.) and we needed to develop a better after dinner/ bedtime routine to redirect some of their energy and provide some hard-core “calm down” time.
Doing the dishes has provided a productive energy outlet. They don’t love this so they let off a great deal of steam complaining too (ha!).
But with a well placed incentive of ipad time (cough…bribes #noshame), they are able to focus and get their work done.
I have also started nightly bath routine. I know a nightly bath is a no-brainer for most families but I have avoided this because it was another crazy-maker in the Meng household.
For efficiency sake, we used to let them all bathe together; at a minimum, the twins would bathe together. However, the bath or shower would turn into a wave-maker or sauna wrestling match, which usually ended with more yelling and JUST GO TO BED from mom and dad.
So, we started the Progressive Bath-Sleepy Time ritual.
Around 7pm, when Eli starts to get cranky, I start the bath with a healthy amount of Epsom salts with Lavender essential oil. Silas and Eli take a 10-15 minute soak (enough time to let the bath salts work their magic). I get the little ones out and while I am getting them ready for bed, Micah soaks for 10 minute and gets out. Then Benji rounds out the Progressive Bath with a 10 minute soak. The big boys add more hot water to the bath as it starts to get cold.
After the bath, the kids are (relatively) calm. We read some stories, or they watch TV with Daddy for a few minutes and then go to bed at 8ish. Our evenings have gotten so much better since we’ve started this routine.
And the best part? The boys go right to sleep. We have been doing the Epsom salt baths for about 2 weeks and we have not had one night where we’ve had to go in and holler SETTLE DOWN NOW GO TO SLEEP, which was pretty much a nightly thing for us before starting this new routine. It’s a miracle.
(If you are wondering about Epsom salts, they contain magnesium, which works to relax tense muscles. I took daily Epsom salt baths when I was pregnant to help with aches and pains and to help me relax enough to go to sleep. They really work. The Lavender is like a double sleepy-time whammy. Those kids are OUT).
Wow. Writing down these very basic problems makes me hope that you have your life together more than I do.
Here’s to cleaner dishes, more pants, and conked out kids in 2016.
What is not working for you right now?
What are you doing to make a change in 2016?