I seem to have hit a selfish phase lately. I think it has been brought on, like most things, by a combination of factors. I am not saying it like it’s a bad thing, it just is.
Pesach was a long two weeks of break from school, with my husband spending a lot of the time home.
I turned 38, which I already blogged about, but feels, well, older, for some reason.
I got sick, and it took a while to feel better.
And my youngest child turned two.
For some reason I have yet to understand, something happens to me in my subconscious when my littlest ones turn 2. It is as if an alarm goes off in my body that screams “enough!”. I give a lot of time and attention to my kids, not as much as some, but a lot. I nursed a lot of my kids until 2 or close to it. And after two years (not even including pregnancy) of giving up so many of my own needs and desires, I get restless. I think the restlessness is good. It helps me allow my children to become more independent and grow.
So, with all of these reasons brewing, I have taken half of a day off for a massage and manicure / pedicure. I have taken naps when I feel like it, including at 7 pm. I have planned an overnight trip, on the weekend, without my family, just to spend time with friends. (I can’t wait!)
I am sure that many of you cannot see what the big deal is. “Me time” is an important given for many. But it hasn’t always been easy for me. My guess is that moms of a large number of kids are a self-selecting group for whom this is often true.
I know the old idea that I am taking care of my family by taking care of me. It doesn’t go down that way with the troops in my house. Especially since taking care of me lately means getting away from them. : )
I have mentioned before that this year I am feeling older – and wiser. I think the selfishness is part of that unfolding wisdom.
It isn’t that I haven’t done things for myself before. The selfish phases do come.
More often then not, when I have a child that has recently turned two.
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1. Peel a clementine/tangerine. If you start it, they can peel off the rest. It gives you more time, and they are sooo happy, with a yummy reward for a job well done.
2. Putting the silverware from the dishwasher basket into the drawer. So it won’t be sorted properly. You can always do that later. Just take out sharp knives first.
3. Turn off the lights in their room at bedtime. Very empowering.
4. Put their own shoes on the right shelf, in the right drawer, or in the right closet.
5. Push the stoller… okay maybe only for fives steps, but still.
6. Get out of the car, once mobile. They like the extra time it takes once you have taken them out of the car seat to climbing out of the car — sometimes it is a lot of extra time.
7. Putting the groceries into the back of the cart. (Bet you already knew this one.)
8. Play with push pins. No; it isn’t too dangerous. Tlhey can put them into the top (or side) of a cardboard box, especially if you do it first and make holes. Great for their dexterity, and keeps them busy and out of trouble for a number of minutes. Works best when they are in a high chair, so you don’ t have to worry about push pins everywhere. They also get that the ends are sharp, and avoid them. This is also a great lesson. Not for every kid, I admit.
9. Sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar. I use this instead of honey and syrup on food. Much less sugar. They love to do it themselves. A one year old can sprinkle it on unsweetened apple sauce without any help.
10. I was waiting to post this until I came up with a tenth. But I think it would be more fun if you sent me your suggestions….
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... and how do I get this off, exactly?
I like the idea of hiding my housework from myself…. in theory.
In what has to be the all time highlight in my career as a mom, this morning I have managed to melt plastic all over my oven:
what I wasn't able to scoop out, soft, with a wooden spoon...
Someone in my community taught me this great secret she learned from our rebbetzin; if you can’t stand looking at the larger pots and pans that are dirty for all of Shabbat, hide them in the oven.
First of all, if you are lucky enough to have two dishwashers then you usually won’t have this problem. You can hide everything in there. We have one dishwasher, and it is dairy because we eat so much more dairy during the week.
Second, if you are going to use this little trick you have to either: make sure to wash your dirty dishes motzei Shabbat instead of relaxing, hanging out, or just being tired; or at least have to have the presence of mind to NOT TURN IT ON UNTIL YOU HAVE TAKEN THINGS BACK OUT.
Come to think of it, one probably should have the sechel (wisdom) not to put a plastic cutting board in the oven to store, ever, no matter how messy the kitchen is, or how much it bothers you.
I would love to tell you that this is the very first time I have preheated an oven and then realized I had left things in there. I wish it were the second time, or even the third. This is the first time I have ever been stupid enough to put a plastic object in there, never mind forget about it completely.
I think the holy and wise rebbetzin who uses this trick to hide her pots and pans is much older than me, gets a full night sleep, and has older children who help her DO the dishes motzei Shabbat instead of hiding them and leaving them there.
Now my house smells like melted, toxic plastic. I have no idea how I can safely burn the goo off without causing my home to become a toxic hazard too dangerous for my own children. I have no doubt it is going to be one of those lessons I have learned the hard way, with a lot of time, money and energy wasted.
Truly, mother of the year. : (
PS – if I figure out how to safely get rid of it all, I will write an update.
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I am starting to begin the process of losing it. I cannot find two important keys in my house. The keys, for me, were the proverbial straw on the camel’s back this evening.
I usually don’t make it all the way to losing it. I try to stop somewhere before rock bottom. I don’t like what the downward spiral does to me or my behavior, so I usually see it as a wake up call to change something. Or some things. And there are some things that definitely have to change.
In the earliest part of my marriage I had to adjust to living with someone who was less interested in order and neatness than I am. I wish the consequences of the chaos were all trivial, and issues of toothpaste covers. But they weren’t. We worked through it a lot, and we have both adjusted over the past eleven years… but most of that adjustment has been organizing everything on my own and making DH stick to it, and/or taking his stuff and finding places to hide it where I won’t have to look at it.
We have been in our current house for six years this week. Wow. Six years. There was a time when I didn’t know if we would ever be able to buy a house. And there was a time when I didn’t think we would be able to fill it. Hah! The amount of places we have managed to stick clutter would be downright impressive if it weren’t so painful to live with.
I do the very best I can to stay on top of seven kids, but I am far, far outnumbered. There is too little sleep, too little time, too little help, too little supervision, did I mention too little time? and way, way too much stuff to keep it all in order the way I would like.
It is no longer just a matter of the toys not being put away properly. Someday, SOMEDAY I WILL find all of the Othello pieces and put them back in the board.
Now it is a matter of filing 2009 as we go, not sometime before April 15th in 2010. It is knowing where my keys are. It is the feeling that I know where important stuff is, and that it is in the places it should be, so that I don’t have to get so stressed about the placement of the unimportant things. I have a drawer with crafts, markers, scissors and glue in the eat-in part of my kitchen. It isn’t very orderly, but it is quite useful for now. I am okay with that.
I have a pile of cassettes on a bookshelf that is full of books… I don’t think it looks very good, but I can live with it being in the “someday” category for now.
I have done FLY lady – who I like and am not knocking – and ask anyone who is around me in my house. I am picking up while I do just about absolutely everything else.
Perhaps the tipping point as of late is because we have been in the same place for so long now that the accumulation has gotten really bad.
Perhaps it is because my children have all taken a big leap forward this year, and I know intuitively that the time for my picking up after them constantly really has to come to and end. And the only person I can blame for allowing everyone to get used to that is me.
I am determined to find a place for everything this year, or throw it out. Then I am going to actually expect my children to start putting things in those said places, and my husband too. I might even have to start expecting it more of myself. I am going to have to NOT achieve neatness by doing it for them quickly and efficiently, but by having the patience to make them get in the habit of doing it themselves. I will have to hope that the 20 month old, at the height of the “destructive” phase of life, thank G-d, starts to copy them in this behavior as much as he does all others.
I know intellectually that this ‘training’ will require more energy in the short term, but greater returns with less work in the long run. It just feels like a lot of energy in the short term.
New Year, new changes. We are no longer in a new house. We are no longer a house full of toddlers. Time for a new set of rules, a new way of doing things…..
… it sounds good now while they are all asleep and I am able to sit down…. but I would rather be determined, than having a melt-down.
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