With every story there is a beginning. This one is no different and starts right there.
Yawn! The alarm on my phone has gone off which means it is 6am. I don’t even hit snooze to be awaken later, I just turn it off and wait for the kiddos to crawl in. Here they are not fifteen minutes later (I assume, because I’m not checking the time). Without even raising an eyelid, I tuck whomever is closest into my arms and try to coax that child into resting a little bit longer; my husband snuggles the other (the third is lying in her crib). Then comes the constant dinging from the phone on the other side of the bed. That means it’s 6:30am. The kids pop up from their “slumber” again we pull them back down to us and try to squeeze in a few minutes. Finally, around 7am they’re so restless, one of us has to get up. Who is that? The one and only momma.
Since they’ve really been awake for about an hour, they’re starving so I find some dry cereal and hand it to them and turn on the TV to occupy them so I can grab even more sleep. My husband finally decides to get ready for work. When he’s about to walk out the door, I trudge behind him only to find cereal all over our living room floor and crumbs all over the couch… I’ll get that later (maybe). Let’s not forget all the toys they’ve drug from every nook and cranny of the home. The TV shows go on and on. The third baby can eat food, but I don’t feel like making any, so I’ll give her a bottle. I justify it with the fact she’s too hungry to wait for me to make something. She can always grab some of the cereal on the floor anyway, perhaps that will entice her to crawl. Soon enough it is 9am and everyone is still in pajamas. I finally decide to get ready, then I get them ready. We go somewhere briefly, like the playground, but we must return in time for lunch.
Home from lunch and I walk in the house only to hear a crunch from under my shoe… cereal. The house is a disaster. I make something for lunch, they eat and go down for naps. The filth piles up but I’m still tired so I rest, work on photos, or watch a movie. I’ll pick up right before someone wakes up, but as I’m thinking it someone actually wakes. Now I’m frustrated because I don’t feel rested, the kid is too tired to be awake, but too awake to go back to bed, and the house is dirty. Fast forward to dinner, aka the witching hour, all the kids are at my feet as I try to make a decent dinner, it inevitably turns out horrible and puts me in a mood because I can’t even deliver something my husband would want to come home to at the end of the work day. He already saw the house in shambles at lunch when he came home, so I should at least rearrange the mess to make it look good enough for now.
The end of the night ends up as can be expected. The house is unacceptable, but I justify that too, by saying we didn’t have the time. I’m grumpy, because ultimately, I feel inadequate, and the husband is grumpy because I’ve become testy now. What a rotten day, and it will all be the same tomorrow. Why in the world am I doing this to myself? I have to fix it for me, for the kids, and for my husband. We all deserve to live better than this, don’t we?
So I created two very important routines that changed my life. That isn’t an exaggeration, it’s the truth! I created a morning routine and an evening routine and currently speaking, after a month’s worth of testing it out, our household is much happier. The hardest part about it all is getting started, though. I’ll say, I didn’t want to be responsible for so much around the house, and it was even harder doing everything and watching my husband just roll in and out of the house whenever. The best thing I did was decide I needed a routine, but the biggest mistake I made at the beginning was assuming my loving spouse would also be okay with the routine and want to do it too. So before I even begin, I just wanted to mention it would best serve you to start the routines alone, and then after awhile give your directions to your kids and to your spouse based off of what you have been doing. Don’t think about how unfair it is, think about the selfless love you are giving to your family. It helped me to think about how I would be if Jesus was at our home, would I get aggravated with him for not helping? Be aware of how difficult this will be at the beginning, but less than a month in and I can do it joyfully.
This method may not work for all mommas. I fell like this works best for me because I don’t work, and my husband brings the one kiddo to school on her school days. Feel free to tweak this to your liking, because even if you are a working mother, then I think there are some routines here that could be helpful.
Without further ado, let’s begin.
I still haven’t chosen to wake with my alarm. The alarm is set just in case I get a fire lit and I plan on using that time for something very special, but I have to develop routines slowly. When the kids come in to say good morning, I get up (still reluctantly) and go straight to the laundry and put last night’s wash in the dryer. After directing the kids to the toy room to play, I then make my way to the kitchen for breakfast making. There is no more eating in the living room. While the kids are chowing down, I empty the clean dishes from the dishwasher. By the time I’m finished, the kids are bringing their plates to the sink and I can load it back up (and continue to do so at lunch) so my counters are cleared off all day!
After washing up the kids’ sticky fingers and faces they brush teeth, get dressed for the day (you understand that’s really me doing that right?) and head back to the toy room or I put on some television. This is the time I wipe down the table and sweep the floors and the proceed to get myself ready. When I’m finished primping and prepping for my day, I allow them to finish whatever show was on before turning it off and asking them to play while I fold the laundry in the dryer. The clothes are put away and I’m done! At this time. it’s usually about 8:30am, so we plan our 9:00am outing to a park, an indoor playground, etc. Yahoo!
The rest of the day we play, hangout, read books, etc. I’m free to work on some photos and work-related stuff occasionally. The kids pick up the toy room while I’m prepping meals, then everyone goes down for a nap after lunch. Hey, sometimes, I even wait to clean up lunch until I’m making dinner. While the kids are sleeping, I usually try to get my one big chore done for the day, but afterward I get to read a book or watch something on TV for relaxation, so it is still good.
My evening routine usually begins around 4:30pm or 5:00pm depending on what I’m making for dinner. While I’m cooking, I’ll clean up lunch and do some general kitchen cleaning as I cook. It is a bonus day if I have something in the crockpot, or our meal has to bake for awhile because I usually get to cuddle with the kiddos, because I turn on a movie during dinner making unless they are already engrossed in playing. As the kids set the table, their dad walks in the door and he gets to hug and talk with the kids while they work, which often turns into him helping with getting dinner on the table (I’m sly like that). Now we enjoy each other and our food, a very treasured time for us.
Dinner is over, the kids clear away as much as they can, we wipe them down or they wash their hands and off they go to the playroom! Their job is to always keep the toys in that room (okay, not always, but 99% of the time). We tag team the dinner mess, wipe down the table and chairs, sweep up, load the dishwasher completely, wash whatever is left, wipe down counters and stove top, and done! The husband goes off to play with the rugrats or he gets in his gym time. The kids bathe around 6:30pm, the littlest goes to bed moments later after two or three bedtime stories, and the big kids do the same thing about an hour or an hour and half later. Everyone is tucked in at 8:00pm. I start the dishwasher at some point, and load up everyone’s dirty laundry at the end of the day into the wash. I start that up just as soon as my husband and I have our evening wear on (I won’t say pajamas, because I’m not sure I’ve ever owned a set). Then we get to relax for the rest of the night.
It may seem like a lot, but it isn’t. You can begin by doing just a little bit here and there and work your way up to this, but once you start doing it fully, you’ll notice how it doesn’t take much time at all. The morning routine seems to be the heaviest in my opinion, because I’m getting the house ready, the kids ready, and myself ready for the day. It is a good amount of work, but I have benefited from this emotionally. I’ve become a more pleasant person to be around, and there are perks to feeling happy than just being happy. We invite people over to come play all of the time now, at least once a week, but most likely more! I can feel comfortable doing that because my house is picked up and after our guests are gone, our house isn’t much dirtier than it is when it is just us. That helps me as a stay at home momma because I desire conversation from other adults. We also have started having families over for dinner because it can be hard to get away or grab a babysitter, but as a couple, we still want to do fun and interesting things. While the kids play, we can hangout in a group and enjoy other couples’ company. The best part in inviting people over is that most likely it is enjoyable for the other person or people as well. It feels good to be able to do this for others as well as ourselves, but it all starts with a routine.