Friday, September 9, 2011

Kids and Messes

We are trying to adjust to a new schedule now that school has started again in earnest. The new things we are now accommodating are having 5 official students (up from 4 last year), a demanding but adorable addition to the home team, and (once again) a multi-grade teacher with prolactin-induced narcolepsy. One of the challenges is chores. We were just getting into a groove when the demands of education pre-empted my routine.

So here are some links that seemed related, to me, in a sequential sort of way.

Melanie Bettanelli makes a little observation the other day that gave me great pause, not so much because it was a revelation as because I utterly sympathized. I am in the middle of this tension, and it's heightening:
And then because Dom and I had been talking about the ancient Romans and military tactics over breakfast, suddenly I recalled the famous words of the Roman historian Tacitus: "they make a desert and call it peace."

Oh yes, that speaks so perfectly to the great tension in my life: if the house is very clean, I've probably been ignoring the kids and their needs.

I tend to fall on the other side of the spectrum from "desert," but I've been fighting through to the other side, not so peaceably. With nine kids, it's tough to restore order to kid-inflicted chaos all by myself, as Simcha Fisher points out. She also points out the conundrum this creates.
A priest once counseled me to make my children help me more. There are so many of them, he said, and it’s generally their messes I’m cleaning up. What a simple solution to my irritability, my exhaustion, my frustration with my duties!

I’ll forgive that priest some day.

In the meantime, let me explain, Father. When your kids help, it doesn’t help. At least, not for the first 46,923 times you get them to help. They need to be trained, and it would be faster to train an olive tree to grow in the shape of an ampersand. It would be faster to train a cocker spaniel to type in Mandarin.

It would be faster just to do the job myself.

I've been working on the training thing. And frequently I realize I need training more than my kids do. In anger management, for instance. I saw this link and clicked on it, knowing from the title that I should just print it out and memorize it: 8 Ways to Take Anger Out of Mothering
Here are a few things that help take me out of AngryMom mode.

1. Have a list of Bible Verses ready.

They can pertain to anger. Or they can just be verses that help you remember you’re loved by God. Or verses that you know you need to read at this time in your life.

I can't decide if this is my favorite tip, or #5: Pretend there's a nanny cam.

So there we are. Part reflection, part entertainment, part how-to.


Christy@OneFunMom said...

Your post was very well-timed for my life! It's a delicate balance: chores and homeschool. Especially when you have so many kids! I'm always and forever trying to figure out the most efficient way to get chores done with help from the kids.

I'm so glad my post on Anger and Mothering spoke to you. God is good.

Melanie B said...

Thanks for the link, Nicole. I'm glad I'm not the only one to struggle with that balance.

And thank you very much for the link to the Anger and Mothering post. I needed that very much.


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