|My mischievous joy...|
Problem is, I rarely include myself in the list!
I've gotten good at predicting who needs what to keep order. I'm not saying that our days are always smooth...they are anything but! But, I've learned that anticipating my children's individual needs and limits helps me (and them!) stay sane.
If only I was as good at recognizing my own limits! I will often let myself get too hungry, too tired (well, not much I can do about this!), too overwhelmed...and then I take it out on those around me. How fun for everyone (not!).
For example, I am very good at packing snacks for the children. I always have a freezer pack and four cheese sticks in the van. I have found that a protein-packed snack on-the-go does wonders to stop/prevent blood sugar related meltdowns! I rarely remember to pack a healthy snack for myself. If only I liked cheese...
I have learned my limit about outings. I have found that taking all five kids out (almost) anywhere is just too much for me alone! I still try it occasionally...like a recent trip to Lowes to pick up one thing...but, I feel like a time bomb until everyone is safely buckled into their car seats again! So, I do my errands when my husband can stay home with some or all of the kids.
I do take all the kids to playdates at friend's houses often. I am blessed with wonderful friends who have us over regularly. These outings make all of us very happy!
However, I am learning that I now have limits for playdates too.
For example, yesterday afternoon we were supposed to go to a playdate at a friend's house. The kids knew about it, and they were very excited. I was looking forward to it all day.
That is...until I started to be filled with a dread-like feeling. It wasn't that I didn't want to see my friends and their kids...
Rather, it was the knowledge that around 20 children were going to be there. And, there was going to be water (baby pools, sprinklers, etc.).
And a trampoline (and I have children who are not used to trampolines or the correct/safe way to use them).
And, I have a young toddler who wants to be inside...no outside...no inside...no outside. And, she's short and not very steady on her feet...so she gets knocked down...a lot (especially by older kids who aren't looking for her).
And, there is a basement door that would be left open (because that's what kids do when they're having fun and running up and down the stairs having a blast!)...but, my toddler does not know how to go down stairs yet.
And then I would have 5 tired, wet children who would insist on putting dry clothes on again (and even my oldest tends to get tangled up in her wet bathing suit).
I was getting the children ready...and I started hyperventilating (well, not really!). As I was getting more overwhelmed and tired at the thought of going, I started being just awful to my children...snapping at them about the littlest things. It wasn't fair...
So, I called my husband to vent. And, as he has MANY times before, he brought me back to my senses. He reminded me of knowing my limits...and said that I was crazy to bring that much stress upon myself (the two of us had gone to a soccer party last weekend and it was stressful with BOTH of us chasing the kids!).
I felt great relief, and I knew that I would not go. But, I instantly felt sad too...for my kids (because they were super excited to go) and for myself (because I desperately crave time with my girlfriends!). I quickly created Plan B in my head (put on the sprinkler at home and let them have some ice cream!).
This will not always be my life. The kids are growing so fast...and, some day soon it will only be my hunger, tiredness, and sanity that I have to manage :).
But, for now, I am working on remembering that my family will greatly benefit from a mother who knows her own limits! Please God, help me to be the mother that these children deserve. They may not be able to have everything they want (like such playdates), but I can strive to give them a happy childhood filled with Plan B's...and a sane, happy, and grace-filled mother!