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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Clutter — Mess — Melt down

December 28th, 2009

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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I have a 19 month old that makes me want to pull my hair out – if not worse – just about every day. It really has nothing to do with his personality; I recall having similar feelings with all of my 19-month olds.  Most of them weren’t very verbal, which is frustrating for them, and for me.  In some cases, nursing has also been a factor, and it certainly is one now.

It really isn’t his fault; my current baby nursed constantly as an infant. I coped by nursing and typing (as mentioned in an earlier post). Only now every time I sit at the computer it is construed as an invitation to nurse. And I sit at the computer a great deal of the day.

The truth is that he is active, curious, and has a very reasonable expectation that someone (meaning me) will play with and entertain him all day, and take care of the house, the other kids, the bills and work – all during his hour-long nap.

I blame myself and get quite harsh with the “ima guilt” over how little that interests me. I do drop everything and play with him — so that I can jump back to “getting things done”. It doesn’t help that I know that his proper development is the thing I am supposed to be “getting done.” I wish it did.

I dealt with this issue with each of my children, and I had one simple solution that worked every time. A mother’s helper. With so many little children so close in age it was easy to justify a second set of hands to give me a break now and again. This way, with frequency depending on the child, someone would take said toddler to the park, or play trains, or spend an hour over lunch, etc… and that someone didn’t have to be me.  This was not only great for my endless pursuit of doing too many things at once, but it allowed me a pause in the constant desire to pull out my hair – or worse.

My circumstances no longer make it as easy for me to justify the help.  I am going to have to see if delaying getting help with him will result in my needing help for me. In the meantime, I am resolving to do “work” as much as possible after he goes to sleep.  All of the rest of my work, i.e. taking care of my family, he will just have to do alongside me.

I  did some digging into whether there are other moms with 19 month olds that want to pull their hair out  — or worse.  And that is how I was reminded (I really did already know) that the terrible twos are just like everything else in the development of a child; “on a scale”. Every child comes to things in their own time. Including being infuriating. They don’t wake up on their second birthday being difficult… getting that way is a process that takes time; growing out of it unfortunately is too.

I did find it redeeming to read that time-outs are not too sophisticated for a child that a) understands verbal commands and b) is clearly defying them on purpose in order to test his/her parents. This is really nice to read, since we have been doing it anyway.

One other way I cope is to blog. While perhaps not even my friends will actually read through such a long posting, I have at least had the chance to record it.

I like newborns and elementary schoolers better than “difficult toddlers”, “terrible twos”, or whatever inappropriate label we want to give them.  It doesn’t mean I don’t love my child, of course. It means I have enough honesty to recognize that some phases work better for some of us than others. And who would have thought I would enjoy my preteen and my teenager more than a cute little toddler? I think that is something to feel good and proud about.

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