Here lately it’s been very warm. Tempers have been short, and energy levels low. I’ve tended to do OK in the mornings but by around 4pm I’m looking longingly at the clock and thinking about bedtime! Here’s a few of the things I’ve been doing to help us all have a better day!
- Start the day with God and quiet. I blog and drink tea while S spends some time with whichever children are awake. That 45 minutes or so of quiet arranging of my head helps a great deal. I do have to set the alarm though to be sure to be up in time to get that time.
- Put out the children’s clothes the night before and know what’s for breakfast. I’ve done that when we were going to leave early for a trip and occasionally when I wanted to be sure to get to church on time but every night? S suggested it a couple of weeks ago and what a stress saver it is. I know what they’re wearing, they know what they’re wearing and when it’s time to dress they can just dress without anyone having to think.
- Quiet clamor: Children can be incredibly loud, I say “Clamo, clamas, clamat, clamamus, clamatis, clamant.” to mine quite often (clamare is the Latin word for shout).? Try hard to train them not to interrupt, and not to repeat their needs and questions over and over. When children sounds frantic to themselves it often makes them think that they need to be frantic, their voices and body language give off more frantic signals, and everyone feels more stressed even though the situation may be as simple as needing a cup of water. If they learn to be calm about their requests you will have a much less stressful feeling atmosphere.
- Write chores down the night before. I’ve been trying this and I find that if I write their chores on the board before I go to bed, our morning work is smoother. Because of my working style if I have to stop and think of a chore while I’m working I will often just dismiss them without having had them do everything that I wanted them too. But if I think of the chores after they are in bed or while they are outside playing, I can easily remember what I wanted or needed them to do.
- Stay home: I try hard to keep errand running and outings down to one or two days/week and not more than two or three hours. Part of that is dictated by nap and meal times, but a lot of that decision comes from our realizing (the hard way) that the children are just happier when they aren’t dragged around. They can settle into playing with their toys, doing chores and so on when they know they’re not going to be interrupted by errands or another excursion (and it is also cheaper to stay home).
- Down-time for everyone: Naps for nappers, quiet play for non-nappers and head space for Mama. At least an hour every day. You need it. They need it and you’ll be able to come together after that time and enjoy each other again.
- Clean up toys and projects at least twice a day. Children can’t play well when they have too much stuff out and you don’t feel well when the “house is a mess”. schedule regular clean up times and clean up thoroughly. Then don’t worry if it all comes out again over the next few hours. It’s still less mess than there would be if you hadn’t cleaned up.
- Take notes: if in the middle of one activity you think of something else you should be doing, don’t stop! Instead take a few seconds to write down the job, project or idea and then return to what you were doing.
- Process the day: Before bed take time with other family members, yourself and in prayer to think about the day. What went well? What went badly? Confess your faults as needed and then sleep. Tomorrow will come and you can deal with tomorrow’s problems in the morning.
- Finally (and perhaps this should have come first), stop and discipline and train when problems arise. I often resent the interruption but truly the next day will be better if little issues are dealt with at the time they arise.
Summer is more than half over and soon it will be cool enough to stay calm naturally. Stay cool!