No day is the same, but I find recently that our days at home certainly have a rhythm to them. Here's a peak at a typical morning.
Theia, our child who needs the least sleep, is usually the last to fall asleep at night and the first to wake up in the morning. If she wakes up and Joe or I are still in bed, she crawls in bed with us to snuggle. Snuggling is the only way I actually enjoy waking up. If we've already vacated the bed, sometimes she moves in anyway
for some quiet reading before the day begins.
After everyone is awake for the morning, the whole family enjoys oatmeal with bananas and a glass of milk. If daddy's home, he eats his with brown sugar, no bananas and a glass of juice. If daddy's not home, sometimes a bear joins us for breakfast. He's just there for company, he doesn't eat.
At some point before, during or after breakfast, the girls help daddy pack his lunch.
The argument over who gets what and how much is also part of the routine. After daddy's lunch is packed and everyone has stopped him at least three times to give him a hug and a kiss, usually with him forgetting to kiss me in all the chaos, he heads off on his scooter for work. At least one of the girls is still convinced he works on his scooter.
After breakfast, I try to sneak in a quick clean up of the kitchen, a load of laundry or some other chore. The kids are generally happy to play on their own or complete their own chores during this time. In early September, I made a more intentional effort to include the girls in the completion of some of these daily chores with a new chore chart and reward system. I've been pleased with the results, thus far, as the cat gets fed, outside lights get turned off, plants get watered, peed in diapers get put in the trash can, and teeth get brushed with minimal nagging from me. Candy is a wondrous bribing mechanism for small children, and for me, come to think of it. One of my favorite surpirses with our new chores is that the two older girls can now completely empty the dishwasher, minus reaching the high, breakable items, of course. Theia takes the job most seriously:
(Nothing like the removal of an impacted wisdom tooth to give you a swollen cheek, an inability to smile, and a real spring in your early-morning step.)
Since September we've also been incorporating some school-type activities into our routine, at least three days a week. It usually involves: a calendar time where we fill in a large wall calendar with dates, days of the week, weather, etc.; some very hands on math that all three girls enjoy; and
reading time where Xandra is learning how to read. We also spend time working through our Cubbies books. New to our Cubbies routine is a supplemental book called Character Builders. It's got extra verses to memorize each week and a few activities, too. The kids are really enjoying it and it's a good challenge for Xandra, our third year Cubbie. Joey doesn't really care for our school time, so he finds other ways to occupy himself and generally cause mayhem and grief to his mother.
The bathroom cabinet with feminine hygiene products seems to be his favorite stop on his morning rounds between the tupperware cabinet, junk drawer, sippy cup cabinet, crying at my legs, pulling numbers off the calendar and push pins out of the wall, dumping toys, magnets and who knows what else into the trash can, eating Cheerios in his high chair, climbing on the dishwasher
and dipping whatever he can find into the toilet.
After a break to clean, check email, clean up Joey's messes, wash some laundry, break up a few arguments, etc. sometimes we play a game or read a few books before lunch. A new favorite game around our house this month has been Zingo! It's a pre-reading game similar to bingo.
Even our littlest girl enjoys it and can win on occasion.
Lunchtime is last for the morning. Between doling out food and keeping Joey sitting in his highchair, I've been reading a chapter book to the girls during lunch most days. So far we've tackled Charlotte's Web, The Trumpet of the Swan, and are now finishing up our second Pooh Book by A.A. Milne. Lunch is followed by a much needed rest/naptime for the entire crew.
It all sounds so perfect and idyllic when I type it out. Many days it really is nice. It's never perfect, however, and sometimes it's crazy and chaotic and I wonder what in the world I'm doing. But I'm learning, ever so slowly, to take the good with the bad, to enjoy the moments playing with my children, watching them learn, grow, and interact. They're growing up before my eyes and I don't want to miss it just because sometimes it's exhausting, frustrating, and everyone's grumping, fighting, complaining, whining, and I can't get anything done. I wouldn't trade the joy of learning and living with them, watching them discover the world and be delighted by the simplest of things like a game played on the living room floor, a lunch packed for daddy or an early morning snuggle in bed for even a few less tough days. Someday I'm gonna miss these days, even the frustrating ones, I suspect. I know I can never have them back but thanks to Joe's suggestion I will be able to read about them and remember again what it was like when Joey, Aliyah, Theia, and Xandra were 1, 2, 3, and 5.
Thanks God for these precious gifts. Give me the grace to properly love, train and enjoy these precious ones you've entrusted to me. Help me to remember that our lives are but a vapor, here for a little while and then vanishing.