Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Raising a Trio

{Day after Nora's birth day. Two points to Owen for the foreshadowing.}

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about the art of raising three children.

Her brood grew to this size in March, and I asked if she knew how to handle it yet. Although I had my pencil poised at the ready to take notes, her answer was "not at all." I'd say the fact that we keep all six of these kids dressed, fed, and somewhat clean means we're doing something right, but it got me thinking about my own survival tactics. I still struggle just as much as I did when I brought Baby Nora into this mad house for the first time. However, I thought it would be good to share/remind myself of what I have found to be true since the Bauer kids outnumbered their parents.

I'm not sure what the science is behind this, but the best way to reduce my stress level is to be in a clean house. Sometimes this process gets complicated when I'm throwing toys into one toy box, and Owen is dumping out another three feet away. However, I keep my eyes on the prize, take a deep breath, and press on. Once I see the bottom of my sink, an empty kitchen table, and carpet sans Ninja Turtles, I relax. And for some reason, my kids do, too.

A clean house often leads to movie time on the couch, and an increased awareness that trash goes into the trashcan. I know, it's a mystery to me, too.

On that same note, I let them play. I know how obvious this sounds, but this is a tough one for me. In my house, play leads to fighting, blaming, tattling, and the need for a referee. But I let them. Maybe Nora and Owen are pressing buttons on every annoying baby toy, or maybe the boys are reenacting movies with Legos. No matter the possibilities of it all going south, this is how they learn, grow, and build relationships. That is, until someone takes an Optimus Prime to the head. But I digress.

Another simple thing I make sure to do, especially when Jonathan is at work, is to do things in pairs. Nora and Owen bathe together. Nathan and Owen brush their teeth together. They all line up on the bathroom counter for fingernail trimming, and I praise the Lord with all my soul when they nap together. I try my hardest not to do the same thing three times in a row, and this cuts down on the amount of crazy that can ensue while two children are running {or scooting} loose.

On a serious note, the best way I keep my head above water is by forgiving myself for the struggles. It will never be perfect, it's not always fun, and it gets hard. It's okay to leave it at that. However, if I can find joy, they latch onto it. I look as hard as I can into the faces of these little monsters and I remember what I am to them. I remember what they are to me. If I can bring my focus back to the real reason I vacuum Cheerios and wipe syrup from doorknobs, it does make things a {little} easier. They are a mess, but they are my mess.

And if all else fails, there's a lock on my bedroom door and wine in the fridge.

Whether you have one kid or nineteen {looking at you, Michelle}, what are your tips and tricks when it comes to parenthood? My life hacks are far from earth-shattering and I'm always looking for new ways to work smarter when it comes to parenting. Let me know in the comments, won't you?

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Anonymous said...

Sweet memories! :)

One thing I learned accidentally that should be shouted from the rooftops:
Every lo-o-o-ong moment you spend teaching a child how to do a chore will result in many, many years of YOU never having to do it. :) You'd be surprised at how much a very you child can do.
Another thing: Once they could read well, I made chore lists for us and chores were available on a first-come/first-served basis, which meant they nearly raced to get done with one, in order to get to the premium chores that still might be left on the list. I included every everything that had to be done for the day, realizing that they would not get it all done and I would have some chores myself. They learned that Mom does things, after all, and they learned appreciation for the lady who can make the washer/dryer go and scrubs toilets. Ha. They also learned the joy of ticking off a task and feeling accomplishment, and the great help a list can be.

Jessica Bauer said...

That's actually a BIG thing on my radar right now, Katharine! My second-grader has been asking about allowance lately and I think it's time to get a chore chart going around here. Thanks for lighting the fire under me! Hopefully I'll have a post up before too long about its implementation. Hope you're doing well!