Tuesday, April 5, 2016

What Really Matters: Part 1, Parenting

So I did get a little time for deep thinking this weekend, and I jotted down a list of what areas of life are most important to me, what my goals are in those areas, and what needs to happen to achieve those goals. Of course, #1 is how parenting my boys.

  1. providing a calm, loving, safe environment for my children to grow up in
  2. having fun together as a family
  3. supporting my children in their education
  4. fostering independence
Goal 1: Strive to follow "no drama discipline" philosophy---stop (minimize) yelling, threats, "punishment". Continue working with therapist re: B's behavior and best ways to handle.
Goal 2: Once weather better, weekday evening outings 1-2 times a week. Continue to plan weekend acivities and vacations. Loosen up at home---regarding treats, screen time and other things that make kids happy and ease tension.
Goal 3: join PTA next year (so I can get updates/emails even though meetings are difficult/impossible to attend). Work on HW with both kids (alternate days?). Make time for listening to B read. Chaperone field trips 1-2 times/year per kid
Goal 4: By this summer, list of chores for each child. Making bed(I don't even do this, who cares?!) feeding dog, helping with laundry, put away dishes. Also start allowance for B (not tied to chores) to teach him about money.

Of course doing all this isn't easy. I need to also work on "self care" so I don't burn out and lose it. Sleep, exercise, therapy. But I also need to be willing to spend a little money to make things easier. I realize I can be a bit of a martyr and run myself ragged trying not to spend a single penny. I'll walk miles in the rain when exhausted, let myself get hungry (and hangry), and even listen to the kids endlessly whine and meltdown about hunger/thirst because I don't want to buy a water bottle or a snack. Yes, I try to be prepared and bring everything with me, but sometimes I forget!

When I was away last week, G only cooked breakfast and made pasta once. He decided he wasn't going to deal with cooking and cleaning every meal on top of everything else (and he did, indeed, do EVERYTHING else). It was absolutely the best decision---the boys said it felt "like a vacation". They also had more time/energy for outings when they didn't have to trek home before someone melted down from hunger! I also scheduled the dog walker after work, and they took advantage of that, plus the nice weather, to play at the park for an hour each weekday.

I realized that, had it been me, I would've used G being away as an excuse to have a ridiculously frugal weekend. And I'd have been exhausted & miserable. Its not only about the money.

I also have to...yet again...re-evaluate my time and my work schedule. Our evenings are exhausting the way they are set up right now, with all of us getting home around 5:45-6 and then having to do: dog walk, make & eat dinner, check homework,  baths/brushing, stories, bedtime for kids, clean kitchen, other chores. All in a 3 hour span. Last Monday I worked half the day at work and then came home for the afternoon since L had no school. I got home by 1:30. I worked a little. We picked B up from school at 3 and I worked some more while they ate snacks and played together. I showed B how to do his homework and he did it. Then we walked the dog and I gave them quick baths. I dealt with the mail and started some laundry, made lunches for the next day and was making dinner when G came home. We all ate and had 90 minutes to play before starting the bedtime routine! It was so relaxing.

I don't want to leave work at 1PM but I would LOVE to be able to pick B up from school a couple of times a week, take him to the park & hang out with him, help him with homework and also get through our evening chores so that we can have a relaxed evening. I also think it would be better for him. Its a really long day for him to go from full day school to aftercare where he gets scolded for "running" and "jumping" and "being loud". I know some of his evening wildness is due to having to hold it together for so long and needing an outlet. I would be willing to start work very early in the morning to do this; alternatively I could work later on other days. I need to test drive both methods soon.

So, yeah, this was useful. Nothing completely earth-shattering but doable changes that could improve our quality of life. I'll write later about: marriage, work, and health---all of these revealed similar actionable items.


  1. Very thoughtful!

    When I go out of town DH and the kids eat out every night and watch a movie at home every night. When DH goes out of town, DC1 is in charge of picking out and preparing the finest Trader Joe's frozen goods for dinner. This is mainly because I can't imagine trying to wrangle the kids in a restaurant without DH.

    That sucks that his afterschool care isn't more energetic. The one at DC1's school seems to be 100% playing outside, at least whenever we pick him up. (He doesn't go to it though. There's a huge wait list.)

    1. They play outside some, but the weather is TERRIBLE these days. They also walk about a mile from school to get to the aftercare, so there is that---but then there is snack & HW & then they have structured activities like gymnastics and karate which my kid got tired of, & he just wants to run around and play instead. the energy usage is fine, I think he really needs a break from the structure (and also, maybe, the socialization, its not his strong suit and I bet its exhausting for him)

  2. Your plan for early evenings sounds awesome. My husband came home today at 4:30 and it was so nice & yes, less stressful.

  3. I so appreciate this post.

    And yeah, for me even the small difference between teaching until 4:20 and teaching until 4:50 is HUGE. When we're not home until after 5:30, the kids are NUTS by dinner time, and I'm surly as well.

    1. even 15 minutes can make a HUGE difference in the hangry hour (the hour between 5 and 6, for us). Its the difference between being able to go at a rational pace vs. RUSH to get home & get things done so we can eat. I am really committed to making a change here, at least once or twice a week to take the edge off

    2. We also keep trail mix in the car.

  4. It's so great that you were able to come up with concrete action items to meet your goals. I know changing habits can be hard, but these seem like such good places to start that will really make a difference. I may need to do this.

  5. We were just talking about this the other day. When I'm home alone with the kids, I cook, clean, etc. and don't let ANYTHING go, but when S. is home alone with the kids there is eating out and videos and all kinds of other things. The loosening up makes him look like a good guy, but maybe I'm just expecting too much of myself?

    1. Oddly, when I'm gone I come back to a slightly cleaner house. When DH is gone, he comes back to a disaster area. I suspect this has something to do with them spending most of their time out of the house or sitting on the couch when I'm gone.

    2. "maybe I'm just expecting too much of myself?" I think the answer to that seems to almost always be YES when I examine my own life, and I would bet yours too (from reading you for the past few years!).
      To be fair, he DID do everything else---a few household projects (including taking the boys to lowes and Ikea, OMG), laundry was all done AND FOLDED, groceries bought, lunches made for the week, etc...