If universities ever wanted to teach their students how to multitask or if corporations ever wanted to train their employees in effective time management skills, all they would have to do is offer hands-on work studies or off-site training seminars in parenting. Looking just at this past week, my job functions included being chauffeur, short-order cook, soccer coach, artist, woodworker, housekeeper, teacher, accountant, nutrition specialist, etc., etc.
I’m not saying this to pat myself on the back, but to collectively pat the back of all active parents. Sometimes I wonder how parents have managed this since the dawn of mankind. I will admit, however, that much of my free time lately has been spent planning a mostly kid-free vacation.
Yet, we still find a way to manage, to embrace the chaos that is raising kids. And, no matter how hard we plan, there is always something (or somethings) that happen unexpectedly to push our delicate hold on sanity to the edge.
Case in point, my third and first graders have had a record number of snow days this year. It’s amazing to think that I actually don’t mind getting up most mornings to get four kids fed, dressed, and loaded in the car (yes, I do mean ‘loaded’) with the knowledge that I get a relative break for six hours during the day while they are at school.
This relief goes both ways, as Alexis (8) has been genuinely bothered by how many times school has been canceled this year. When choosing between being at school with her friends or being trapped in the house with her younger siblings, she’d choose school every time. Cameron (6), on the other hand, would be content to sit on the couch all day in his pajamas and play iPod. Alexis is just far too social of a creature for that.
So how to manage the chaos? I decided to map out all of our planned activities for the month on a whiteboard we have hanging by our kitchen. So, I listed all soccer practices, after-school activities, dentist appointments, etc. When I was done, there were only four days in the entire month that didn’t have anything scheduled. I thought surely I was forgetting something on those days!
But, even with all of the daily stress, the endless piles of dishes and laundry, and transporting kids in ridiculously cold temperatures, there have been some unforgettable moments that I have been blessed to share with my kids.
Clare’s vocabulary is increasing by the day. She’s learned how to say her brother Cameron’s name, so now all the kids are “Cameron.” She’s started mimicking (i.e. mocking) me when I tell her to stop causing trouble. She’s also perfected her sliding down the stairs technique (see below), and she’s started leaving trails of food (pre-tasted for quality assurance) for us to follow.
Cameron has his first Pinewood Derby this weekend, so I spent much of last weekend working with Cam and his uncle on building his car. What do you think of the finished product? He’s named it Pythor after the Ninjago character.
And, of course, no week would be complete without building train sets with Grayson (3) and then watching him destroy them when he’s “done.”
Or, finding clever ways of using tape to stop him from taking batteries out of everything!
So, how do you manage/embrace the chaos? Let’s hear your suggestions and time-tested techniques.
Until next time – Chris (active dad at home)