I remember when my kids were small… who am I kidding, some of them are still small.
Let’s try this again. I remember when I only had small kids at home. I felt like my life was diapers, chasing kiddos, more diapers, Thomas the Tank Engine, more diapers, endless stories, more chasing kiddos and more diapers. It was busy in that exhausting “I might sell my own mother for a full night’s sleep” kind of a way.
And then I would talk with older mothers who would haughtily say, “Just wait until they are teenagers! You’ll be twice as busy.”
I kind of wanted to punch them! First, where was my sympathy? And second, do not tell me it gets worse! Seriously, lie to me. Tell me it only gets easier from here. Tell me that my life will one day be full of rest, and clothes without boogers, and that my boobs will perky again, in a non I’m so full of milk I might burst kind of a way.
I realized this week, I’ve turned into one of “those” mothers.
In a week my oldest starts high school. My second starts middle school. Number 3 is just chillaxing in elementary school. Number 4 starts kindergarten. And Number 5 is heading out into the wide world of preschool. (Assuming they don’t kick him out for questionable potty training abilities. I swear he knows how to go to the potty. He just sometimes chooses not to!)
I’ve spent the last two days reviewing schedules, trying to figure out how to be in 3 places at once, and trying to figure out how in the world to run my business with all of this madness. And I said those words I promised I’d never say, “This was so much easier when they were small!”
I find myself missing spit up. Longing for midnight cuddle sessions. And even laughing fondly at getting sprayed by the newborn fire hose.
What happened to me? My schedule happened! I spent a day in full on panic. Then I spent a day wishing no one would ever talk to me again. And then I spent a day figuring it all out.
So here are my tips for how to stay sane during the crazy seasons of life. And please do not tell me it only gets busier as more of them become teenagers. Lie to me. Tell me they will all be lovingly respectful, well behaved, and that magic fairies will drive them around. Do not tell me that my already 4 hours a day I’ll be spending in the car as chauffer will increase! Lie to me. I’ll thank you for it.
Tip 1: Ask the magic question. I’ll be honest when I looked at the drive schedule which starts at 5:40 am. Thank you early morning seminary. And ends at 8:30 PM. Thank you Marching Band. I had a moment of thinking, “There’s no way! This just can’t work.” BUT I’ve trained myself over the years with this internal conversaion.
Me: “I can’t do this.”
Better Me: “Amy, don’t tell me what you can’t do. Tell me what you can!”
Me: “But, but WAAAAH!”
Better Me: “Amy, how are you going to make this work? Get creative.”
And then I get creative and start problem solving.
Tip 2: Who else? Last time I checked being Superwoman was not part of the job description of motherhood. Neither was being the only one who does anything for anyone. Or being the sole person who knows where everyone is supposed to be and when. It’s okay to enlist some help! The amazing Mr. Walker and I have decided to go halvsies on drive time. He gets 2 hours, I get 2 hours! We’ve also decided it’s time for a real house keeper. And one of my sons suggested we hire someone to help with the driving. We’re going to try without first, but I’m keeping that idea in my back pocket just in case!
Tip 3: Plan in advance. When you have a lot going on, you don’t adjust quickly. I actually planned out my year this morning. A WHOLE YEAR! That way there are no surprises. Everything feels frantic when it is being figured out last minute. Nothing has to feel frantic if you will plan in advance.
Tip 4: Have a shared family calendar. We have a rule that if it is on the calendar, everyone is accountable for knowing about it. If it isn’t on the calendar, no one has accountability for knowing it. Meaning, if I’ve had family pictures on the schedule, and someone tries to schedule a day out with friends over the top of it, they don’t get to go. If the hubs has a scouting campout on the calendar and I get asked to speak at an event, I have to find the babysitter or say no to the speaking gig. Whatever is first, gets priority. And if you tell me the day before you are winning a major award and it was NOT on the calendar, I don’t have to feel guilty for not making it if I really can’t rearrange my schedule.
Ahh schedules. Even though I miss the days of “What are we going to do today? How about we walk to the park?” I am grateful for the structure. I truly could not do all that I do without that structure!