Friday, May 27, 2011

Home(school) improvement, week one progress

This wasn't this week, but now our art time is a little different after reading The Heart of Learning. I used to hand them the supplies and run off to do other stuff, but now I stick around and help. Suzi comes up with an idea and I help, or even make a project of my own (see snake above). Getting involved makes a huge difference.

Anyway, we started the week with a big burst of energy and enthusiasm. On Monday I took the girls outside for a while in the morning, had a great time doing circle time, and read 20 or more books. We had a wonderful day, and at the end of it I was so, so tired.

Tuesday I was tie-dyeing at my parents' house, a project we are doing for Suzi's 4th birthday party. I was not present with the girls, but my parents were and they had a good time visiting.

Wednesday was our best day. I took the girls outside from about 8:45 - 11:00, which was the only feasible time to do so because it was so hot. I got laundry going in the house and walked around with Robert while they played. Near the end of playtime, Suzi started a little game of pretend and told me I was the king. She wanted me to "talk like a king." We had fun. I tried to get some of my make-believe skills back. Then Ivey helped me hang the cloth diapers on the line. When we went inside, we tried to do circle time but Baby Robert cried through a lot of it. I decided to cook bulgur wheat for lunch, something we'd never had before. When I looked for bowls, I discovered we were behind on doing dishes. We would have to use a couple of bowls out of a graduated set that were really more for cooking. That left us with small, medium, and large bowls and I took the opportunity to tell Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I told Suzi I was Daddy Bear, Ivey was Mama Bear, and she was Baby Bear (according to bowl size) and we were eating porridge. She loved it, requested a repeat performance of the story, and ate all her "porridge" without complaint. Then she ran off and continued to play Baby Bear for the rest of the afternoon. Days don't get much better than this.

Case in point: Thursday. I took the kids to the botanical gardens to walk with a friend and her baby. This is our new Thursday activity, and last week the girls loved it. This week Suzi whined through most of the walk, telling us she wanted to go home. (Clearly she doesn't appreciate that it would be ten times easier for me if we stayed home in the first place!) Every little thing seemed to irritate her. It was just not Suzi's day. We went home, ate lunch, and she took a nap. Then we read "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." I was so tired after this one. Trying my hardest to get my kids some exercise and outdoor time and be present with them and only getting whined at in return makes my head hurt.

Today hasn't been any better, unfortunately. It rained too much last night for us to go outside, and the baby has wanted to nurse and sleep all day and cries every time I put him down. I don't really want to wear the baby after doing it so much already this week. The girls wouldn't pay attention when I tried to do circle time. I also had to get up really early this morning so I'm tired. The girls are wrecking the house and fighting and I am yelling.

Oh well. I knew I wasn't going to be perfect, especially right off the bat. Clearly I need to work on techniques for handling stress and keeping patience on a difficult day. I want to figure out how to start over fresh when things get off on the wrong foot in the morning. I also know that some of my objectives are intertwined, and once I establish a good daily rhythm and get started earlier in the morning, this will be easier too.

Stuff I learned:

1) Make the kids the center of the day, and all the chores will fall into place. Worrying over chores all day won't get them done any faster.
2) Right before circle time is a good time to pick up toys together. I told the kids "oops, there is nowhere to sit!" We all pitched in so we could move on.
3) Suzi will do lots of things if I speak in a "king" voice and command it.
4) Don't freak out over sand being dumped out of the sandbox, just give Suzi a tiny broom and dustpan and let her put it back in.
5) I have a long, long way to go.

I'll close with a picture of Ivey. One afternoon recently she fell asleep eating. This is about how I felt by 5:00 today! Hopefully next week will go a little smoother.