Saturday, October 23, 2010

Parenting efficiency?

Efficiency as a parent?

I had to chuckle this morning reading Sweet Eventide's column on her rough adjustment to life as a working mom. Is there such a thing as efficiency as a parent?

Yes I know there are super moms out there, like my former coworker, a single mom, who juggled four kids, a job and nursing school. But chaos lately seems to rule my life.

Take the other morning, so typical of my week.

My daughter wakes me up around 6 a.m. by snuggling in my bed. A few minutes later she goes back to hers. I eventually get up.

By 6:45, I've showered, dressed and asked her to get her uniform on.

By 7, I've done diaper duty, dressed the toddler and have gently reminded my daughter that while the Barbies are now dressed, she needs to be too.

By 7:15, I have a toddler begging for breakfast and am praying for patience over my daughter, who's figured out how to get a shirt on but that's all. I order her to get dressed (which she mostly does) and head downstairs for breakfast negotiations. Negotiations fail. I get a confirmation of what the toddler wants to eat, only to have him get upset when he doesn't get the same cereal as his sister. (Nevermind that he finished off the other box.) I try to remember my own breakfast while I fix breakfasts, get refills on milk and fix a lunch despite my daughter's insistence that this week she should have an additional day of hot lunch beyond the Mondays already promised.

By 7:45, I realize I've lost my morning, despite best attempts. We scramble upstairs, attempt to locate where the Elmo toothbrush has snuck off to now, let my toddler spit into the toilet, then race back downstairs.

There, I realize that our systems have once again broken down. My daughter has no socks on. One or both kids failed to put their shoes on the shoe tray last night. The backpacks have been relocated from their spot. Somehow we make it to school on time, and I just thank God for those days I don't have to be there at a specific time.

Evenings, however, are more relaxed. We benefit from the down time offered by after-school care or the daddy-daughter time on his days out of class, but the toddler is ready to eat by the time he hits the car door on his way home. Thankfully, we've worked out a meal system to feed the beast by the time he gets home. Evenings are filled with long walks, homework (yes, even the toddler gets "homework," coloring on the backs of old school papers), story time, library visits and the occasional Thomas movie. Now that the garden is largely to bed for the season, that's one thing off the worry list.

Bedtimes, like for most parents, are a challenge, and I admit there are more days than not where we're exhausted by the time little ones are asleep! (By then, my husband is in bed as well - the result of a 4 a.m. work schedule.)

Those quiet hours (or hour) is usually spent with laundry or other "quiet" chores, but more often that not it means catching up on a growing workload.

Weekends are treasures. And while I don't offer people exciting news of travels or big nights out at the start of my Monday, I get 48 hours to savor my family without the burden of schedules. And at this age, a little less adherence to the clock is just what they need.

I admit I envy those parents who work from home (and can just pop in a load of laundry while they're working) or are at home full-time (and are exempt from the harriedness of getting young kids to and from daycare and mealtime madness at the end of the day).

But for now, our chaos works. Would I like to streamline it and remove the daily headaches? Of course! But that's what makes us real.

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