For your dust bunnies.
This month’s Just Ask the Wemmicks question is a variation on a question that I’ve gotten a number of times from moms who feel like they’re just barely squeaking by. I think readers might sometimes get the impression that because my blog is well-edited, my life must be, also. I think this post ought to put that notion to rest for once and for all.
The reader question:
How do I teach each child their lessons AND cook 3 nutritious meals a day AND nurse the baby AND keep everyone in clean clothes AND keep the dust bunnies at bay, all on very little sleep?! Did I mention that right now I’m only teaching 3 out of my 6 and we are focusing just on phonics and math?
So let’s talk about how I do all that for a moment, and then I’ll send you on your way to some mothers who (hopefully) have more helpful input to offer. I’m afraid my sole purpose in this life might be to give other mothers a feeling of comparative accomplishment.
Just get them reading. This might sound too simple to a more hands-on, buttoned-up kind of mom, but once my kids know how to read, I put most of the work off onto them. Now the teaching is up to them, and facilitating their self-teaching is my job. I assign quite a bit of independent work to my readers, but until a child is reading, phonics and math is enough. Let me repeat that: It is enough. You’ve got this already! Of course we do sciencey stuff together, and field trips, and handicrafts, and life skills, but the only regular mom-sits-down-with-one-kid-at-a-time things are math and phonics.
Healthy meals. Keep it as simple (read: lazy) as possible. Have a meal plan, but not an ambitious one. The crock pot is my best friend. As for health…well, there are a lot of health nuts who would rather die than belly up to our table, I’m sure. I buy sandwich bread at Walmart, and my kids have never heard of kombucha. We eat like hillbillies, frankly. Beans and taters, cornbread, and biscuits and gravy are common fare. When lunchtime rolls around and we’re in the middle of something, I am not ashamed to plunk down some hotdogs and call the pickle relish a vegetable. It’s fast, it fills their tummies, they like it, and shut up.
I also cook large batches of whatever is for dinner and have leftovers for lunch frequently. Beans are the gift that keep on giving. (In many, many ways. Toot!) Even a large family can get several meals out of two pounds of pintos. We eat them straight up one night with macaroni and cheese and a vegetable, then with rice and salsa for lunch the next day, then make beef and bean burritos another night, then the dregs go into the slow-cooker in a vegetable soup another night. Just stick with simple, familiar foods, get fast with a chef’s knife, and buy those labor-intensive tortillas pre-made like normal people do.
Nursing the baby. This is the one thing (for me) for which all else must stop. Since everyone in the family knows that, we have all learned a measure of patience.
Clean clothes. I really can’t over-emphasize how important it is to me to have a routine and stick to it with laundry. I hate laundry so much that if I didn’t have a schedule, I’d never do it. For us, it’s two loads a day, every week day. I fold and put away right after lunch. (OK, unless I’ve got pregnancy fatigue. The last couple of weeks, I’ve washed every day and then folded and put away every other day. Gotta have those naps.)
Dust bunnies. Learn to love them. I’ve named some of my bigger ones. We think they’re cute.
Sleep. Here is, I think, a clue as to why this mama feels like she’s not doing well enough. I suspect that she’s doing a fantastic job, but that sleep deprivation is coloring her perceptions a little bit. Moms, get enough sleep. You owe yourself and your family a well-rested mama. During the newborn months, I co-sleep, so there’s not a lot of waking up at night. If you move baby to a crib after a while (and I do), or if you don’t co-sleep at all, you probably can’t expect to always be well-rested until baby figures out how to sleep alone. I know that. It’s just a little while, and then you’ll have good sleep again. In the meantime, muddle on through. There really isn’t much to be done for it at these times.
But we moms do sabotage ourselves sometimes, don’t we? I have caught myself sitting up until 11:30 when baby was asleep by 8:00. I could have been sleeping, like a responsible person! I stay up and read or write because it’s my time to wind down and not have anybody need me. It seems like a good thing to do, until I wake up at 6:00 a.m. and have to do all that on less sleep than I need. So go to bed! I certainly don’t always go to bed early enough (working on that), but my tiredness is often due to my own choices, not my children’s needs.
And now, I will send you on your way to some ladies who most likely have more helpful things to say than I do. Be sure to click through and pay all the Wemmicks a visit!
Pssst! There’s an affiliate link in this post. Here’s your mommy blogger grain of salt.