Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Midsummer night's dream of organization?

My summer is really flying by. Right about now is when I start wondering, "Was I crazy to think I'd have MORE time," what with my children all home 24/7, unconstructively occupied and/or bored? And let's not forget my little job, which has somehow mushroomed from Monday-only to, well, way too many hours.

About this time I also start feeling the need to rein in the disorganization that creeps up on all of us as we are in "vacation mode."

I told you last week I'd take the second half of my friend's email (the first half was about activities). This half is mostly about getting organized when you are outnumbered and (most likely) outmaneuvered by your offspring:
Speaking of the home...I feel a little out of control here this summer. I got so used to having kids at school and being on routine, that we are the exact opposite of routine right now. It's like grasping at straw to get the kids to help out. I know I need to make up a chart (they are good with charts) for chores, or some type of system. I just don't know where to begin after the hand method. (Which worked very well for me, thanks!) You don't need to answer me via a long e-mail, but if you could guide me to a few of your posts on the subject, that would be great. I wish I could get my hands on a copy of that book you always talk about. :)

Needless to say, it's been a tough summer so far. I won't say that there haven't been great moments, because there have been! We have had lots of fun family time together. It's just that after a while the kids start getting on each others' nerves (and mine) and it's like we all need a time out from each other. Today I actually wished that there was some kind of re-set button where my house would magically be clean and organized, my children would be getting along, and I could start fresh. But there isn't, and I have to start where I am. Have you ever made a list of the things that are making you unhappy, and then tried to fix them, one at a time? Crazy, I know. I thought maybe I could pinpoint exactly what was bothering me.
Oh girl, have I ever been there. And yes, I have made lists of every kind (remember, before blogs there were JOURNALS). In fact, that's an excellent place to begin.

Lately, for example, I have noticed that my usually-well-mannered youngest two (5 and 8) have been completely AWFUL in the car together. Obnoxious-awful. Hitting-awful (I know! I can't believe it, either!). This, from the two that normally play for hours at a time together.

One day it dawned on me (I'm SO SMART) that it all came down to something very simple: FOOD. Our willy-nilly summer schedule has taken its toll on them. The older kids fend for themselves, and I? Well, let's just say I graze all day eat when I think about it, which is usually, um, a bit irregular.

So imagine that. Routine (yet again) saves the day.

I think this is where those of us "moms in the middle," or veteran moms tend to run into trouble. The big kids are on one schedule, and - if truth be told - they ARE the schedule. Those poor little ones are running behind just as fast as their little pudgy legs can carry them. They try so hard to keep up. And we - when we see that they are falling behind - instead of slowing down, we pick them up and drag them along. And through it all, they are so easygoing.

To a point.

But they sure let you know when they reach that point, don't they (do I hear the brakes screeching??!). Like my girls who just needed a decent, regular meal. They told me by fighting in the car.

Well, rats. I have to go to a basketball game, speaking of dragging little ones along. I have lots of thoughts on this, because I know the frustration so many of you are experiencing, trying to find your stride when, well, you can't find the floor for the debris. For now, I'll leave you with an old post (which links to several even older posts). We can talk some more tomorrow.

How does your home operate?


Maureen said...

This is exactly where I am this week. My brakes are screeching girl! My house and family were OUT OF CONTROL! So, I said that is enough and I rallied the troops and we spent one day cleaning. The girls handled the inside and the boys handled the outside (mowing, cleaning the pool).

Then with my house so clean it was time to tackle the people! Routines are my best friend again. It was fun at the beginning of summer to throw out the chore chart, sleep in and graze on snacks all day. But the kids (ok and me too) are ready to get back to ORGANIZED chaos. Instead of just CHAOS!


Patterned Pants said...

We moved to Texas this summer, so our routine is completely out of whack - or lost in a box - I'm not sure which. These past few weeks I have been focusing on a little work each day (for all 4 kids and myself) and some sort of fun. I asked my daughter(13) to make a list of goals for the summer and I am trying to keep her on track to accomplish them. One of her goals was to cook 4 meals, so she is planning, shopping, and cooking them. In addition to her goals, she and the 3 boys (12, 10 & 7) are helping in the kitchen, yard, and with random household chores. This morning the boys and I mowed, raked, trimmed, and swept (using the blower) the front and back yard. Then, I rewarded them with a trip to Wal-Mart (to spend gift cards), the library, and ice cream. They seemed to enjoy and appreciate the outing. and I didn't hear too much complaining about the work as they kept the afternoon's plans in mind. It's hard to move to a new town where you don't have friends, but they are all hanging in there. I'm enjoying the lack of obligation and the freedom we have to do what we want all day long! 26 days till school starts - we will all be ready when the big day rolls around!

Morgan said...

OH my word, so glad to know I'm not the only one losing my mind here. My boys are 6, 4, and 8 months. It seems like the oldest two are always fighting, I'm the only one cleaning, and everyone is making a mess including my husband! I CANNOT get ahead. I work during the day, so I only have the night to make us a scheduled routine. I lead worship at our church so one night a week is worship practice and Sunday night is church. School starts next week and I'm already so can I do all of this!?! I'm starting to rethink my want for child number four....

mholgate said...

Thanks, once again, Katherine, for your wisdom and advice! Our chore cards are starting to kick in around here and I feel like I'm re-gaining ground where our schedule was out of control.

I remember the post "How does your home operate," and it was a perfect one to re-visit! It is so true that when my kids sense that I don't have any plan at all, (i.e. for meals)they, how did you say it? "...are masters at capitalizing on your indecision."

Good stuff. Keep it coming!

se7en said...

Oh great post! I recently did a post on surviving sibling rivalry - in response to a reader question... and after giving it a whole lot of thought I came up with: You need to keep them fed, rested and getting fresh air - in order to survive the daily onslaught of: He did, She said ... etc.

Here's a link if you are interested: :

the funky mom said...

Oh Katherine....
After a LOOOOONG week, it is so refreshing to sit and read something or someone who makes me feel normal. I just love you! Can't wait to sit down and read the old posts. Gotta feed the masses first.