Monkey is Back

One major change in my little house is that a few days back, Monkey came back to live with us.  Buddy and Bug were SO excited to see her.  The excitement of having another playmate at home was quickly replaced with the understanding that she is back to stay (at least for a while).  Back to stay means sharing toys, having less time with me, more driving and having a more stressed out version of me.  Picture a new sibling, who you didn't expect when you went to school but just have to deal with it from now on.  But, not only is it a baby, its a walking, talking, sometimes screaming 8-year-old who has always been an only child.

So, needless to say, we've had our share of growing pains and adjustments.  Buddy, Bug and I had just settled in, worked out the kinks and gotten used to being a family of three when our fourth came back.

My brain needed some adjustment time too.  Two kids is a comfortable number of kids for me.  They can come with you on errands.  Visits are all at the same time, with the same family.  One general set of issues and landmines.  One general "way" they did it at home.  But, three kids, from different families are a lot of work.  They fight.  They bicker over silly things to grown-up eyes.  They haven't yet learned how to communicate in a healthy way...  Yesterday, I decided something.  I was going to choose to love the family and the children I have NOW.  Not looking back to the "quiet" old days of two kids.  Not pining for kids who aren't with me anymore.  Choose the life I actually have.  The THREE kids I actually have.

Here is how I deal.  Yesterday I went on a mad cleaning spree to help my physical space feel more organized for a family of four.  Monkey is very, very high energy and doesn't need much help making herself known, so I also took out all of the overly noisy toys that Buddy and Bug never even touched.  Then tonight, I finally got enough time and mental capacity to journal about what is working and what is not.  The difficult part is knowing how much of the hard stuff is transient because it's new again or is here to stay and something I need to buckle down on.

Still not sure of the answers, but my brain feels more clear having gone through the mental exercise.
  1. First off, its my goal to spend 30 minutes cleaning the kitchen/living room after the kids go to bed every night so that I can a) wake up to a clean slate in the morning and b) spend more time with the kids in the evening knowing that my kitchen will be cleaned and swept.  The hard part of this, of course, is that I am exhausted at night and when they crash all I want to do is veg out - I am hoping the time limit will help my tired brain know that I will get to veg soon - after cleaning.
  2. Meal plans have never been my strength, but lately, I have found myself just staring into my fridge, looking for the easiest, fasted meal possible.  It works, we eat, but it adds to my feeling scattered - I like a plan.  Thus,  I just did a meal plan for the next two weeks with the food we already eat and I know the kids already like.  A plan.  Now to go grocery shopping.
  3. Another thing I want to do is set up some kind of schedule for TV/Wii time.  Who gets to choose what when so that it is fair and predictable for my predictability driven children.  I am thinking of doing "Kid of the Day."  My sister used to do this (she has 7 kids) and it seemed to work.  Every kid got a day - then they got to choose which shows to watch first and also pray before meals.
  4. Be more intentional about seeing and rewarding GOOD behavior.  I few weeks back I set up a marble reward system for Buddy and Bug - for every chore they get a marble, for every extra thing I see them doing - a kindness, doing a chore extra well, or an extra chore - they get a marble.  It works slick - but now I need to extend my eyes to see the good tone of voice, good respect and good using your words.  They might get a reward quicker - but I am ALL for that!
There is an update from our house and from my crazy head.  G'night world.  My 30 minutes of cleaning is over.  I sleep.