Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: North central Vermont
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Quiet time. You need to recharge if at all possible. Take into account temperaments; my older two and I are all introverts. We NEED time alone every day. My youngest is extroverted. She would like to talk and interact from the minute she wakes until she sleeps at night. The introverts win, because we are all too foul without downtime and it seems very valuable for the littlest to learn it.
My kids are 9, 7, and almost 4, and I had many days that felt out of control until the youngest was more like 18 months or even 2yo. Now, we have a nice routine; we can even dabble in unschooling without feeling like we're careening off into the void.
Suggestions- Reading and games are school. Anything that involves you sitting and interacting will probably help your kids SEEM better behaved. I do not mean to imply that you are not interacting with them; I am just suggesting things that worked for me. This one was/is hard to do when I was/am feeling tapped out; however, I kind of fall in love with them all over again as we sit reading or playing a game. Suddenly, their behavior seems fine, and I think it's my attitude rather than their behavior that's changed.
Pick sign posts for the day, like breakfast, outside, snack, reading, art, lunch, quiet time, outside, snack, clean up, dinner.... At first, I only had three, but I was able to add more as these got established.
Bath time before dinner is a great way to entertain/distract one or two kids while you get dinner together.
Back carriers for the littlest. This was HUGE for me. I could tolerate fussiness so much better with the baby on my back rather than in my face or at my feet. And, sometimes, tolerate was the best I could muster, but it meant she was close, she could hear me sing, she was out of the fray, and occasionally she even fell asleep.
Sing, if you like it. It can be very soothing. It can create a zone of peace immediately around you even if the kids are darting in a hundred directions.
Enforce outside time, especially in the morning. This can create peace. The things to throw outside are probably safe. The youngest can play more freely if the older ones are outside. Even if you have to supervise, they will not be running all over each other.
And know that this is just a stage of life. Really. You might look back and laugh; you might look back and sigh with relief. But, it will end.