Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday Tip: Lower standards = happier mom

Last week we had to get all five kids out of the house by 7:45 not once, but twice.  I realize that for some folks, this wouldn't be a big deal but around here, we're used to operating in shifts, especially in the morning.  The first shift belongs to Liam and Ciara and lasts from roughly 6:45-7:30; during this time, they are roused from bed, hastily fed and hustled out the door for the school day ahead.  Shift Two starts at roughly 7:31, when Kevin, Declan and Cormac bounce down the stairs, into their chairs, and demand some cereal with a lot of fanfare.

This two-shift approach works extremely well for us -- it's our solution to managing morning chaos -- but last week, on the days we had to get them all up and out for an early school play and class breakfast, all bets were off.  Despite our bad habit of routinely arriving places at least 15 minutes late (see my recent post about the 10:45 mass!), we actually got to the school on time.  In fact, we were even a few minutes early!  As folks straggled in, one after another said something like "OMG! I can't believe you beat us here! We barely made it out of the house and we only have two kids.  How did you ever get out the door so early with FIVE of them?!"  The answer?

We didn't feed them.  Well, we fed Liam and Ciara, that seemed only right -- especially on the day of the school play.  But our trio of three-year olds didn't have breakfast.  Sounds crazy, right?  But really, it's not.  We fed them eventually.  We knew that the 8:00 play would be over by 8:30 and indeed it was.  And our little fellas were at the kitchen counter with a bowl of cereal by 8:45.  Were they hungry?  Sure.  But,I assure you they were no worse for the wear by eating an hour later than usual and, on the upside, we were on time for Liam and Ciara's big days -- a rare occurance which didn't go unnoticed!

It was these experiences that led me to realize that I've lowered my standards.  Just a bit.  I have strong perfectionist tendencies that I actively battle on a daily basis but I think this admission of not feeding our kids breakfast is not only evidence, but potentially good shareable advice.  Relaxing your standards a bit just might make for a happier mom and I think will definitely make for happier kids.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating for having your kids skip meals, I'm pretty sure there's another mom in the press these days whose cornered the market on that one! (Here's a bit about that in case you missed it: Mom puts 7-yr. old daugher on diet).  In any case, now that I'm juggling so much at home and at work, I find that I'm accepting things I might not have before and going with the flow a bit more; maybe it's going too far to say that I've truly lowered my standards but, in the spirit of sharing, here are a few more examples I think you'll relate to and hope will give you a chuckle.
  • Snot on sleeves: ok.  Snot on walls, not so much. To elaborate just a bit, I used to yell at the kids for wiping their noses on their sleeves.  Then they started wiping them on the walls.  Our house doesn't have a hall of fame; it has a wall of snot.  In retrospect, using a sleeve as tissue seems a pretty good alternative.
  • Better late than never.  This applies to church, most social gatherings and thank you notes.  Speaking of which, I just found a pile of notes Liam wrote after his birthday in November.  If you're waiting for one of these, well, I'm sorry, you may be waiting a bit longer but I promise to make it to the post office before his next birthday.
  • There are more than four (or five?) basic food groups.  The new one that we've embraced (though pre-kids swore we wouldn't!) is the group that includes chicken nuggets and Mac&Cheese.  This is a staple now and that is a-ok.
  • Bathing is overrated. I'll give you that on some days, a bath is a requirement -- if there is mud, blood or an abundance of the aforementioned snot, a bath is a very good idea.  If not, well, there's always tomorrow.  And in our house, there's an excellent chance tomorrow might include mud, blood or snot!
  • Life is not a fashion show. Though it pains me at times, I've stopped fighting with the kids over what they wear. So, if you see the triplets in shorts on a cold, blustery day or wonder if Ciara has gone color-blind or Liam only owns Yankee shirts, well, you'll know that they dressed themselves and I am giving myself a pat on the back for not sweating the small stuff.  Which is probably the best tip of all!

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