The last month and a half has been difficult. It’s not the kind of difficult that needs fixing, it’s just one of those periods of rough transition that inevitably comes and must be weathered in order to emerge with the tools you need for the next season. I call this a ‘desert time,’ referring to the many times in the Bible that God led people into the desert for a period of difficulty and growth, like Abraham, Moses, Elijah, David and Jesus.
Factors in the mix include:
- the kids’ adjustment to the new baby- which brings emotional and behavioral parenting challenges despite the fact that they are both in love with their little brother
- our family’s adjustment to June’s ongoing and changing medical needs- which also brings emotional and practical routine changes for all of us constantly
- a few recent emergencies and hospital trips with June (which all resolved well)
- the irregular schedule that comes with a new nursing baby
- the difficulty of having energetic young children under the same roof as elderly dogs
- the need to adjust physical limits and teaching/discipline strategies as the kids’ abilities and independence increase each day, not the least of which is June being able to remove her pulse ox and HME at will (more on that soon)
- the kids’ love of “sensory play,” and the soap, water, pom pom, toilet paper, cereal, coin, fabric, dirt, paint …. messes that result, often as a surprise discovery for me due to the previous point
- never-ending adventures in potty training ‘interest’ from the kids that I *try* to patiently encourage and help them with, but that doesn’t seem to be developing into actual training
- the typical holiday busy-ness with related events and tasks (though seeing family and friends was a very welcome treat)
- time spent launching my baby sign language business which was time well spent, but definitely a tight fit into our schedule and routine
- the normal end-of-the-year paperwork for the house, taxes, insurance, banking, career, etc.
This month and a half I’ve been mostly praying a variation on a specific part of the Lord’s prayer- “give us our daily bread-” by praying for manna for the day. By prayer I mean words mumbled with a palm on my face when the newest parenting challenge presents itself, as an alternative to breaking objects out of frustration- not prayers done formally during a serene, set-aside time. This is a reference to the Old Testament when God provided daily food- manna- to the Israelites every morning in the desert, but only enough for that day or that day plus the Sabbath. Similar to my favorite slogan, “One day (or hour or minute) at a time,” I find it comforting to focus on God’s provision for the current needs, even if the future needs and provision are unknown. And, like manna, I’ve had just enough energy and patience each day during this time to compete the bare essentials.
But I think and hope the ‘transition’ period is over and the ‘new season’ has begun.
A few tools I have emerged with, and have big hopes for, include:
- Prayer/meditation/alone time which I strive to capture once a day
- Continue to prioritize my own self-care and non-parenting activities like seeing friends, being involved in several church activities, and learning sign language
- Toy rotation (see this wonderful series on it)
- Rotation of the chore magnets, so that the often-skipped chores move up in priority the longer I avoid them
- Updated homeschool schedule– we’ve been pretty unstructured so far, which I feel is a good fit for the kids’ ages. However, I think a little more structure will help curb the conflicts between the kids and the surprise messes.
- Reorganization of several common “problem areas” of the house, which are no longer functional or which aren’t a good fit for the kids needs right now
- Expanding the use of “toy jail” to include temporarily losing toys that aren’t picked up at the end of the day
- Rehoming my sweet dog, Sahara, with my parents, perhaps temporarily until her hip problems and the kids’ spontaneity aren’t such a dangerous combination
- Playdates or outings- I plan to try my best, but it may not result in many trips because of our need to keep June away from sniffles/coughs, our need to be near to June’s medical equipment, June and Miles’ sensitivity to cold air, and having to work in/around June and Miles’ feedings
- A part-time return to cloth diapering, which I love but I avoided when June was young due to her health; I hope it will help with potty training and the challenges of having three kids in diapers
- Breathing. I’m surprised how often I catch myself nearly holding my breath when I’m stressed. Seems like breathing is good. I’d like to do more of it.