Some days I think I am doing it all wrong. We have no routine, no schedule. The boys eat when they are hungry, and then chow down on whatever I can make in less than a minute. Usually these meals happen on the couch so that we can continue to feed the ant family in our living room.
There is no specific nap time. No specific quiet time. No specific meal plans. No specific activities. It all runs together in a loud and sticky whirlwind.
If I have a writing deadline or a business phone call, Netflix gets turned on so that there is only 5 seconds of screeching before the next episode starts. If I need to go grocery shopping, we grab McDonald’s on the way home from the park. If the boys need a bath, it is a good day to take a trip to the pool.
Some people might call me lazy, and I can’t disagree. I am lazy in some aspects of my life so that I can focus on other aspects. I love pursuing a writing career, but I also love spending time with my children. All of this means that there is very little time for anything other than barely contained chaos.
Work and spending quality time with my kids take precedence over some of the more housewifey tasks. I work and play instead of cooking dinner. I work and play instead of mopping the floor. I work and play instead of reading a good book in the evening. I work and play instead of being Carol Brady.
Balancing work and children ultimately means that there is no balance, and some days I swear that I am going to get it together. In my mind, I picture myself morphing into Super Nanny. We will create a poster board full of family rules – hitting = time out, meals are eaten at the table, everyone helps to clean up, bedtime occurs promptly at 7:30 p.m., TV and video games are limited.
Everything would go much more smoothly, right? I mean, at least after the first month, when both boys would fight every step of the process tooth and nail. It would be better for everyone, right?
Right after I go through the struggles of being hard on myself and feeling like a total failure, I realize the upsides to flying by the seat of our pants …
We can snuggle on the couch while we eat some breakfast. We can meet friends at the pool on a beautiful afternoon and push back nap time. We can avoid a lot of tears and frustration by watching a movie during the long hour before Daddy gets home. We can go do family activities in the evening without worrying about missing bedtime. We can take the boys on trips without worrying about how they’ll react to the change in routine.
Some days life seems harder without a daily schedule and rigid rules. But more often than not, I am glad to be raising children that can adapt, be independent, and are genuinely happy. My worries that my children are not getting enough sleep, enough attention, enough nutrition, enough learning experiences creep in from time to time …
But then the 2-year-old gets himself an apple, picks out a book, and happily “reads” to himself … on the couch of course. Because, you know, the ant family needs to eat too.