It's funny. My husband suggested while I was trying to get my life back together and he was getting ready to leave that I write a blog on "acceptable losses." How dare he! *laugh* You have to understand, my husband and I both suffer from Obsessive Compulsiveness. Being the parents of many little ones, many of which are boys that I end up being nauseous with for 9 months, and having moved over 9 times in the last 7 years of marriage, we've learned to tone it down... but when stress hits the family, watch out! It's not uncommon to see one or both of us frantically cleaning/scrubbing something at a ridiculous time of day, well, more like night/early morning. In one day as we were pulling something together in preparation for him to leave he suggests this topic. I really can only be so offended. Of course I want to do EVERYTHING, but let's face it, there has to be acceptable losses in your life regardless of circumstance.
For instance, in my life as I currently know it, I'm a single parent of 4 children under the age of 5 and pregnant with another boy (yay! but that also means I'm pretty sick most of the time), and I'm a homeschooling mom trying to keep her house from falling apart (I had to stock up on frozen food the week before last, that was a low point for me!). Anyway, over the last month that my husband has been away I've been trying to at least try and keep my house and family together. I generally don't go out much, or make sure that my children have earned the outings/time with friends that come up, but still I can't handle much. I think this last week I've consciously decided to shake down my expectations. Honestly I sat down this morning and thought to myself "what do I really care about?" I think when it comes down to it I realized that I need to make sure I keep control of dishes and floors, and everything else can pretty much fall away and we'd be okay! Those areas sanitary and nice has to be good enough for me.... otherwise I'm a crazy person!
My children are having a difficult time with their dad being gone this time around, and trying to motivate them to clean like they did before with very little energy myself and them having not worked at much around the house for 6 weeks has not played out well! Cleaning the house like I'd like seriously takes all week and then some. Even with very little in their rooms my children have taken HOURS to clean. Huh? Anyway, my priorities had to be shaken up before things got out of control.
Right now I'm allowing for a lot of losses! And that's okay! My home needs to feel good, be sanitary and healthy, but that doesn't mean that I have to have every spot on everything absolutely clean before we do anything else as a family. (That doesn't mean it won't be the case later on in life!) But as for this stage, I have a few things that need to be taken care of in this house, and other than that WE PLAY! :-).
With losses come gains.... what have I gained? Special time with each one of my children. My husband and I love our children so much! We love that we've been blessed with so many and we really have prayed and hope for more. With each child and each change in my life I'm constantly readjusting! Story of every parent's life right? How could it not be! Each child is different and the responsibility to raise them is HUGE! Add to that homeschooling and essentially being together 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and you can see your weaknesses real fast! I think one of the things that I've really needed is to reconnect with my children and to STAY connected. We have good days, then I have and OCD snap and I need everything cleaned. So, I have to have plans in place to make sure that I stay connected with these amazing tiny humans. That's a really long winded way of saying:
-I sat down with each child individually and asked them what goals they wanted to work on i.e. what they wanted to learn or what they'd want to do just the two of us.
They were thrilled! Everyone gets at least 15-20 minutes of uninterrupted mom time everyday. No really, everyone else gets tuned out and you have to be profusely bleeding or the like in order to be addressed. I can't have all my kids in the kitchen so this allows me to work just one on one with whoever wants to cook with me, I also have a "great excuse" to just sit and play chess with my oldest, or help my 3 year old learn how to read (his goal, not mine). Each child needs that time individually and then collectively I'm just trying to focus on reading, and making religion something that is truly a part of them and something they know is the top priority in our home.
All we do should be to keep our children in a close relationship with their Father. How can that be conveyed through a stressful home environment? While I believe a house of order is of great importance, I also know that contention is not of God and cannot be tolerated in the relationship I have with my children or the relationship they have with each other. The result is spending way more time on the things that matter most: scriptures, hymns, family relationships, working together, and trying to find opportunities to serve others.
I know, I know, I always find the most simple, "no duh" answers to my problems, but it's those things that really work. Who cares that my home is spotless if my children and I have a disastrous relationship in doing so. Repaired relationships will go a long way into getting to the point where we can have the spotless home... but first things first!
So, what else have I been doing? Well, reading of course! I've really enjoyed my latest reads:
-A Love that Multiplies, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar
-Raising Real Men, Hal and Melanie Young
-God Wants a Powerful People, Sherri Dew
-Teach Ye Diligently, Boyd K Packer
And I've really enjoyed the New Testament study guide, Scripture Study for Latter-day Saint Families, that was suggested on the LDS Mother's Education course list. I actually taught some 8/9 year olds in primary the last two weeks and this guide really helped me infuse some great questions and thoughts into the lessons.
So, that's a quick rundown of what's happened around here! (As not quick as it was :-D).
I guess the one thing that I would say to you, is in perhaps not so many words, what are your acceptable losses? I see people running around every which way taking kids here and there and are overly stressed because of it... is every activity or even any worth the extra tension in your home? Is making sure that every page or problem of a worksheet is finished really worth the struggle? I feel more and more each day that I am in a battle for the heart's of my children. I need to be steadfast and immovable, loving, and humble. *laugh* I need to be a walking contradiction! :-). At the end of the day, what was important? When I talk to my husband is it important that I give him a rundown of all that the children did "for school" that day, or is an emphasis on the gospel discussions we've had, and the out of the blue connections my children make with life and gospel principles while we go about our day the kind of things we focus on? I loved a post I read on Latter-day Homeschooling this morning by a writer who's a single mom, it's called Structuring Our Day for Eternity. She's a better writer than I, so I hope you'll bop over there and read her posts to see how she connects and talks about each subject of learning related to the gospel. Perspective is everything!
What are you willing to lose at this point in your life to help you focus on what matters most? If you don't know, I can promise you that spending some time on your knees will make it very clear!