I shared an update on our house a few days ago, so naturally, that meant it was time to switch things around.
I wrote this about a week ago, in the midst of our packing:
I have just gotten Elvie to stop crying and go to sleep and am sitting for a couple of minutes in the silence. It is late for the boys–usually they are up by this time–but they must be especially tired to be sleeping late. And as if on cue, that thought is followed by the appearance of Ephraim, bleary-eyed and bed-headed, dragging his blanket over to where I sit. We exchange our good mornings, huge and kisses; he goes back out, and Clive comes in for the same morning treatment. After he wanders towards the bathroom, I get up to get Anselm out of his crib, where I can already hear him protesting his brothers’ absence.
When everyone is changed, dressed, hugged and with teeth brushed, we head downstairs for breakfast, a chatty row of ducklings still clutching their favorite blankets and talking about oatmeal. We eat–I’m last because I’m waiting for my coffee to finish–and one by one they ask to be excused and trot off upstairs. Once they are all squared away with toys and a show so I can focus on another day of packing, I hear Elvie begin crying from the other room.
Some days are just like this. Not every day–yesterday wasn’t–but some days I seem to bounce from child to child to child to child, kindergartener to preschooler to toddler to infant, in a sweet and essential cycle of hugs and kisses and meals and ouchies and nursings and what’s this? and where’s that? and sorries and forgivings and several other words I could also make up right this moment. There’s no exasperation in days like this (well, except for when Elvie is inconsolable for no apparent reason) but it certainly feels very busy.
On our drive home from Kentucky, I read the book The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris.
As a full-time homemaker and mother, the frustration of the repetitive nature of everyday tasks is something I’ve grown incredibly familiar with. The doing of something only to have it immediately undone. Washing dishes to have them immediately dirtied. Sweeping the floor only to find a few minutes later it would need re-sweeping. The laundry basket that never, ever stayed empty.
Earlier this week, I ruined my light-and-airy (or as airy as possible) sitting room with a can of Gladden French Grey that I bought on a whim for $18.
This was my sitting room in the spring of 2013. I had just repainted it a few months previously (and gotten rid of the superfluous table and chairs). To my dismay, however, I accidentally rendered the room somewhat monochromatic; this meant that in addition to making it light and bright I also made it (in my taste) pretty boring. I know some people like this sort of look, but I don’t. But I had a barely-two-year-old and a six-or-seven-month-old and I didn’t feel like repainting it again. So I’ve just lived with it for the past three years.
It’s the start of another week; another day of slowly trying to find my feet again.
(I wrote that yesterday. I think it still applies?)
If I were an every-day, stream-of-consciousness poster, nearly every post would deal with the process of recovering from practically two months of pseudo-bed-rest and the literal chaos that develops when you’re neglecting every necessary task except for the ones that keep your children alive–food and sleep.
What happens is that, once you’re feeling well enough to not lay in bed all day, the insurmountable mess displayed before you makes you just put on a movie for the kids and crawl back into bed, anyway. It’s a vicious cycle that requires serious motivation and intentional actions on your part–not to mention the help of family (which I am fortunate enough to occasionally have) or a professional cleaning company (which I am not).
I’m obsessing over it because, in all honesty, I did not obsess over it after my awful first trimester with Anselm, and I never fully recovered. This meant the cycle of chaos continued into the stage of two-toddlers-and-a-newborn at home, which constitutes a few months of survival mode on its own merit. It just made things extra difficult. I really don’t want to do that this time around if I can avoid it.
“Chaos”, “survival”; these are words I point-blank refuse to use to describe my life at home with three (soon to be four) small children. There has to be a way around it.
I’ve been keeping a bullet journal for about two weeks now and I LOVE it. It has been immensely helpful in keeping me on track with being intentional about housework, meals, appointments, to-do lists, etc. Having everything in one place has been indispensable. I used to keep several notepads around for jotting down notes, shopping lists, meal plans, and daily tasks, but there wasn’t much rhyme or reason to it beyond just writing it out. I never realized how counter-productive that was until I was able to just flip back a few pages to reference a meal list instead of trying to remember what I had available in the fridge (or even search the house to find the notebook I had written the meal plan in, only to find that Clive had found it first and drawn swimming pools all over my list.)
It’s not a pretty journal. There is no washi tape involved, nor colored highlighters. There is nothing on the cover. It’s not exactly picture-worthy. It’s purely utilitarian and I love it. I pull it out while we’re eating breakfast, write out the meal plan for the day, and write a couple of to-dos (pulling from my previous days and monthly overview). I just wish it were smaller and easier to fit in my bag. I’ll remedy that next time around, probably.
a necessary evil
Speaking of the bullet journal and house obsessing, I made the terrible mistake today of making a list in said journal of all of the larger tasks that are hanging over my head. You know the kind–the ones that you think of and then immediately try not to think of.
Having them all in one place was not very helpful. Instead it only served to remind me that I have neither the time nor the energy to tackle any of them, at least not over the course of probably several days (or weeks, with the way things are going now.) They’re not superfluous, either–they’re actually kind of necessary, and some are time-sensitive.
I’m glad I wrote them down, I guess, although it basically killed my mood for the day. So I spent kids’ naptime crying and repainting the half-bath, because it’s something I could actually do. We all have to start somewhere, right?
I realize it’s poor form to post something without a photo, so here’s some coffee for national coffee day.