How do you have the energy to keep up with them? - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-10-2010, 10:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have 3 boys (7, 5 and almost 2) We began unschooling this summer (as soon as the public school year ended) I had been watching a 4yo boy and my 18mo niece which is just comming to and end. I have been thinking my energy for the kids would get better when i was back to just MY kids, but I'm beginning to wonder about how I'm going to face this challenge...

Especially with my 7yo. He is not a sit-down activity kind of guy. we could return from a day (or a weekend, or even a week) away from home full of activities and he immediately is asking for more action/stimulation ('can I go to so-and-so's house?' or 'can we go to the park?') which is completely opposite of me.

I need quiet time, time alone, and time to work on my own stuff (the book I am writing, reading, or sewing) in order to not burn out. I usually do okay (barely) with stating that I am 'off duty' starting at 7pm and they have to do things with dad, play quietly in thier rooms or go to bed so I can hole up in my room and decompress- often with a beer or herbal tea to help me relax& sometimes all i have energy for is TV, but I NEED that time...
my main concern, though is that I also tend to escape into the internet or watch tv during the day when I am feeling overwhelmed rather than trying to plan activities, get out of the house, or follow through on one of the kids ideas for a project (especially when i know it will be a huge mess that will likely be abandoned due to lack of attention span.) If I let them do whatever they wanted, it would mostly be running around the house full speed screaming and wrestling in the same room as me as often as possible- which is really overstimulating and draining for me. in otherwords, any activities/projects really need constant guidence (which comes with the age, I'm sure) and speaking of age, some of the stress is that whenever we do go, for example, to the park I am literally chasing my almost 2yo around... so I know that will get better with time.
We do have a lot of great things that we do together. We have wonderful conversations, my 7yo has begun to show an interest in cooking, he takes swim lessons, we'll be going out to a wilderness camp for an entire month of living a native-inspired lifestyle. Dad takes them to a lot of museums, parks and historical sites on the weekends. My friend has offered to tutor all of us in spanish once a week.... I think we have a lot going for us.

I just wonder: those of you who are sensetive to the constant stimulation/needs of your kids, how do to make sure that you are meeting THIER needs and YOURS? I'm worried that my need for quiet time and my kids (especially the oldest) need for stimulation will put us at odds...

I want to make sure to establish good patterns now and I'm trying to balance that with the realization that there are things I may need to self-preserve while the kids are little that won't be issues in a few years. I'm interested in some perspective from your experiences

Thanks
Lia

Lia Joy Rundle CLD                             Self Directed Woman                                   Self Directed Childbirth
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Old 08-11-2010, 02:15 AM
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i would take a page from waldorf. in fact, i do take such a page.

use a rhythm. a rhythm is not a rigid schedule, but a gentle place throughout a day, a week, and a season. you have times of activity and times of rest built into the days. everything can get done, because there is a time in which to do everything. everything has it's place in the rhythm.

our rhythm goes like this in a given day:

rise, toilet, breakfast.
daily chore.
activity (usually outdoor active play/learning)
move indoors for more passive/quiet activity (reading time, art projects, etc)
lunch time, clean up after lunch.
quiet time after lunch (DS is still of napping age)
activity (usually outside again, with his father since we split work and i do afternoons at work)
coming in before dinner for some quiet time (this includes a short reading time, then DS usually does art on his own)
dinner prep, eat, clean up.
bed time rhythm for DS
we have two more hours of adult time before bed.

it works out really nice, having a rhythm.
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Old 08-11-2010, 02:16 AM
 
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You've been watching 5 kids, 2 that are still in diapers or needing EC guidance, you have a million activities you are involved in, and you have no energy? Good lord, woman, I want some of YOUR energy. I have two kids 4.5 and 2 (today's her birthday) and I barely have any energy. It's getting better as my little one is getting older. Also, what helps a lot is that I figured out that whenever she gets whiney from boredom that I need to direct her to a toy or a book instead of hanging all over me. The whining makes me crazy and zaps all my extra energy.

It sounds to me like you are a great mom that wants to do right by your kids. Your life will get easier as soon as you stop watching your 6 month old niece. (The 4 year old probably plays with your kids so may not be so energy zapping.) The common practice after kids have been taken out of school and brought into unschooling is to allow them to deschool. Let them get their energy back. I've heard some kids take 18 months for that. Well you've got to de-diaper. You've been taking care of two little ones. Put your feet up for awhile and direct your eldest to science experiment books he can do on his own until you feel more energized. It'll happen, but be gentle with yourself until then.

Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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Old 08-11-2010, 12:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks.

zoebird: I do think i need to focus more on some kind of routine... We are planning to go to my friends house monday mornings for spanish lessons starting in sept & I like having certain things on certain days like that.

SundayCrepes: IDK how many times I need to hear that to give myself a break! lol. I meant to write that my niece is 1 1/2 years- but actually she was a little easier (less mobile) at 6mo Anyway.... Yeah, that's why I need perspective. Cause I can easily see myself getting 'lazy' & spending way too much time on the computer- or just as easily putting way too much pressure on myself to be DOING stuff all the time.
It's hard to decide what is 'reasonable' when my friends think it's crazy that i'm still BF my 2yo, and don't get why i'd homeschool much less unschool. If they can't get past the 'why the heck would you do that in the first place??' their response is going to automatically be that I'm taking on too much, KWIM? Even though my husband is supportive, he doesn't completely 'get' why it's so important, either.... So it's good to hear some input that isn't 'send them back to school' or 'wean him'

And to add more complication, I just got a phonecall last night from an acquantance looking for morning daycare for her daughter!! I was actually laying awake last night thinking about this because I feel like the responsible thing to do for our schedule would be to say 'No' But the responsible thing to do for our finances would be to say 'yes' and work on paying off some debt that really needs to get taken care of!! Ugh. I hate it when it seems like top priorities are at the expense of one another!!!

Lia Joy Rundle CLD                             Self Directed Woman                                   Self Directed Childbirth
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Old 08-11-2010, 04:07 PM
 
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Lia, I know exactly what you're talking about. I run out of energy at around 3pm these days and then all I seem capable of is lounging on the couch in exhaustion, scrape myself off the floor to make a dinner, water the plants and make a dinner. But inspiring my kids? Doing anything creative? Or even reading a book to them in the afternoon or evening? Ha! I wake up every morning full of energy and ideas, but it all deflates in the afternoon.
I spend all my energy on the kids and activities, and any fussing, sustained loud noises and demands zap my energy, just as yours.
What helps me (though I won't be your primary source of help here as we're in the same boat ) is insisting on quiet time in the afternoon, and I still take naps at the same time as my girls. If my older one doesn't want to nap, I ask her to play silently until I and my 3 yo wake up. I also ask them to help mommy to be happier by doing quiet time, clean up in the evening and slowly but surely taking on the responsibility of maintaining a semi clean work/crafts space. Yes, it sounds a it a bit manipulative, but it actually helps them understand that they can do something specific to help balance our living experience and be proactive in helping each other out. Of course that is age dependent
Naturally I am responsible for my own happiness, but as they get older, they can contribute in making the days run smoother, which will relieve some of the pressure of "mommy doing everything".
This morning we had a little pow-wow on the living room carpet and I asked everyone to do help with one chore after breakfast, and my 3 yo enthusiastically wanted to clean up the kids room, whereas my 5yo was a bit disgruntled, until she realized that making a meal plan could also be considered "chore" and she took photographs of the foods we were going to prepare, we wrote all of this one a big paper and that is our plan. She can then help me prepare today's meals
And my hubby vowed to clean up his dirty underwear and put it in the laundry basket
I'll be lurking for more answers here

unschooling mama with Toots'n Fruits (6) and BeenzieBoo (3)
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Old 08-11-2010, 04:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It actually is a great help to know that i'm not alone!! To 'see' others following through with even a few creative ideas while fighting exhuastion makes me feel like I am not 'failing' by feeling worn out and I think that's really the biggest part of the struggle for me- recognizing and accepting my limitations while also striving to do better...


eta: we also have got the boys doing dishes (even though it's kind of a crap-shoot when you pull something out of the drawer if it will really be clean) and after the summer activities slow down, I think we need to schedule some "put your clean clothes away" time to get them in the routine of getting thier clothes in their drawers without it being another drain on me... I might be OVER-aware of the fact that I'm raising 3 boys who may someday be husbands and any housework they take for granted from me may be expected of their wives!!!

Lia Joy Rundle CLD                             Self Directed Woman                                   Self Directed Childbirth
                                                           Womanhood is not a destination. It is an archaeological dig. 

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Old 08-11-2010, 09:22 PM
 
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My kids are a bit older now (8 and 5.5) and they are pretty darn easy at home (social situations are where I work my butt off with them, lol). But I do remember when the little one was a toddler and it was very draining. So with all the kids you are watching I agree with SundayCrepes that you sound like you are doing great!

Here's my bit of advice: your children are still young and could easily take time off from any formal work or even planned projects-at-home etc for another year. I wouldn't worry so much about taking on another daycare child, at least in terms of feeling like you'd miss out on your kids' education. Play is such an important part of learning and if they are just free to play and nothing else that is great for this age. Of course, if the issue is more about you having time and energy to take time for yourself then you will need to think about that some more.

We don't use a routine but that's because my kids tend to be fairly mellow at home and like to do quiet play. When they are rowdy I just kick them outside, lol. BUT, I do think that in terms of balancing things out for yourself, a routine could be helpful. I have a loose routine for myself and the housework/domestic stuff I do and I find it helps me avoid getting sucked into the computer, etc.

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Old 08-11-2010, 10:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quiet play? What's that? Lol. I grew up with one sister in a very quiet house there was a family next door with 3 boys. I always thought their parents were loud people. HA! I get it now. They were just yelling to be heard I never thought I'd relate to "Louis" from Malcom In the Middle, but I actually see myself in her some days!!

To add to the comedy, we recently got new nieghbors with 6 little kids (4 boys, 2 girls and the oldest is 9!) So now when I send them outside, they're likely to come back with 5-3 MORE kids! The universe must think I need lesson after lesson in patience

Lia Joy Rundle CLD                             Self Directed Woman                                   Self Directed Childbirth
                                                           Womanhood is not a destination. It is an archaeological dig. 

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Old 08-12-2010, 07:36 PM
 
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right there with ya mama! the hardest thing for me on a daily basis is that they get louder and wilder as they get tired, and I'm exhausted by the end of the day of course! this heat is NOT helping either!! then any other time I'm really tired or frazzled anything they do seems to suck the life right out of me... and nice mommy goes right out the window my 7.5 ds has only recently begun to sometimes do things that aren't loud during the day, just in time for 3 y.o. dd to start in as the resident screecher! then there's the mobile 10 month old who mouths everything and yeah, I'm fried. I write too, and need down time, which is ALWAYS taken at the expense of something-- the kids, the housework, or my sleep! not much writing gets done as a result. I keep trying to figure out ways to make it work better, but so far all I've figured out is to work on streamlining more and more of our lives so that the kids can sometimes safely entertain themselves and there isn't as much for me to do...
oops, sorry, that was a bit much about me I'll be lurking for ideas too

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