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Prioritizing

The first couple months, I felt like I focused mainly on our schedule. I of course still enjoyed the moments of cuddling or the sweet first smiles, but the babies themselves were much more enjoyable when on schedule. And, let's face it, Momma was much more enjoyable with the prospect of a full night's sleep up ahead. C and O are coming up to the 7-month marker. They sleep much better at night; they adapt to minor changes in their schedule; they eat foods and do well with different consistencies; they play with toys and talk to the world. The newborn days are past and we have interactive babies on our hands. Some days I just want to sit on the floor with them all day and watch them pick up toys and attempt to figure out what they do, or record the babies laughing at the antics of their older brother D. Other days C and O are not happy because they want to be in Excersaucers, then on the floor, then sitting, or have me hold them to stand; they want this toy, that toy, their brother's toy... On top of the frustration entertaining of almost 7-month old babies, D wants me to push trucks with him, take him outside, push him on the swing, play tic-tac-toe. You know, also get some Momma time.

I absolutely love the relational aspect of motherhood, teaching your children how to interact with others through your interaction with your children. Watching D sing "Beautiful Boy" to his brothers brings tears to my eyes everytime (I really am becoming my parents). But sitting on the floor with the boys, either to comfort or play, does not get the laundry done, the dinner made, the bedding changed, the clothes and dishes put away, get us anywhere on time, the family website updated, phone calls returned, or the dog walked. It is easier to pull myself away when they are content, but the days that they are screaming are exceptionally challenging. Trust me, there are far more days when they are screaming then all three boys happily playing the evening away. Whether selfish or not, even with a long list of to-dos, at the end of a long day, the last thing I want to do after putting the boys to bed is clean my kitchen.

The first thing I do is prioritize. When the boys need their momma, but things need to get done, what can wait? Busy days, I really do make a list in the morning:
  • Doctor appointment 9 am
  • Laundry (must wash W's uniform)
  • Clean kitchen
  • Unpack luggage from weekend trip to grandparents'
  • Tidy house (especially kitchen table)
  • Make grocery list
  • Call M back
I like to know what I am doing that day, first thing in the morning. Everytime an appointment comes up or something must get done a certain day, I write it in my calendar. Believe it or not, I do not have a smartphone. I write it in my trusty Moleskin 18-month planner. After morning feed, I flip it open to double-check I know what my plans are. Mornings are good for the babies. They play until their morning nap time, almost two hours of awake time before it is back to sleep. Big tasks, I do in the morning, during naptime or when they are happy. Tackling a kitchen full of dishes and dirty bottles while the washer runs is one thing I like to get done first thing. That way if guests come over, my kitchen isn't an embarrassment.

If we are going somewhere shortly after they wake up from nap, I get lunches ready. Bringing snacks or a full lunch for the 3-year old is the best way to keep everyone happy. Feeding the twins can take a long time, especially when out, and if we don't end up near a place to buy food until 2 pm, D will already be in full on meltdown mode. And I do apologize doctor offices with your "No food or drink" signs, but you see that I have three young children, and you still feel good about making me wait 45 minutes in your lobby and 40 minutes in an exam room before you deign to enter? No matter what time our appointment, I never go to a doctor's visit without a full lunch for each of the children, food and bottles for the babies. Well-fed babies make those visits much smoother.

The mornings and afternoons can usually pass peacefully, but the evenings... Laundry has a way of going in the washer and dryer and ending up in huge unfolded piles on my bed that get shuffled around until thrown back in the dryer to "fluff" and start the process all over again. Dinner has a way of leaving a wake of dishes for me to do the next morning. My husband leaves early and gets home late. No matter how sweetly he asks, I still want to scream when he jokes, "There's the laundry pile! Right where I left it." Prioritizing. I can manage to make dinner, but the dishes are a chore. Fine. Do them when it works. At least we ate a homemade meal all together. And that suitcase that's been on the floor for a week now? What's one more night? It's not going anywhere. If it is truly offending, throw it in the closet when company comes over. Some nights are hands down overwhelming when you are making dinner, taking care of the dog, and doing bedtimes all by yourself after a busy day of life with three kids. Those are the nights where I think of what must absolutely get done in order for the kids to go to bed. Sure, I fool myself. "Once I lay them down, I will fold those clothes. After I fold the clothes, I'll do those dishes..."

This may sound like a cop-out, but who can do everything? Why can't the dishes wait when your preschooler runs up with a book announcing he found 5 W's and 2 O's on a page? And wouldn't two screaming babies much rather have their momma hold them and sing a song than a kitchen table clear of Target bags? And I do make time to call back my friends (aka support network), but those friends also understand when I send them text messages or emails because my kids are screaming or my mind is all over the place. I put my best foot forward and I organize what I can. I do the big tasks at good times for the kids. I involve them where I can, "D, can you carry all your clothes to your room and put them on your bed?" These are the days that we will never have back. As frustrated as I feel when they are fussing all evening or the nurse is telling me, "You know, we really don't like food in here," it is all worth it when the boys are laughing together over socks or listening to Momma recite Jamberry.

I recently visited my parents' house over the weekend. All four of their children are grown. My momma told me when I was there that the house is so clean when we aren't visiting, but the clutter of baby things and surplus of laundry always means the people she loves are there. Coming back home, I walked in to a tidy house. My husband surprised me by completely cleaning up. After we unloaded the mini-van, the apartment was once again overran by high chairs, baby seats, and bottles. One day my house won't be full of these things. It will move from bottles to baseball bats and books, and finally to graduation caps and acceptance letters. Right now we have challenges, but they are good challenges, labors of love, and I savor each day with this little family of ours, whether I am sitting on the floor reading books or washing bottles to a chorus of hungry babies.

Comments

Lindsay said…
I love reading your blog!! I truly have no idea how you do it all... You are, as always, an inspiration to me. :)

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