Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lessons From My Kids

You can plan for nothing or you can plan for anything and everything. Either way you're screwed. Wait, what?? This is what I've learned from my kids??? Admit it reader, you were expecting something sappy and sentimental. Instead you're getting a "no matter how prepared you are you're screwed." And that's the truth when you're life involves children.

I am a planner. How much of a planner you ask? It's May 1st and I have already bought, washed, and hung up my children's 4th of July shirts. If all goes according to plan (which the odds are not in our favor that it will) there will be parades, bbqs, and fireworks.

I like to have some sort of a game plan for each day. Before I had kids, I had no idea how to handle a rift in everyday life. Car wouldn't start? End. Of. The. World. Now if the car wouldn't start? Quick change of plans and somehow keep all three minis calm, sane, entertained, and the meltdowns to a minimum during the chaos.

Take for example our perfectly planned out day last Saturday. Leave the house before 9 a.m. so we can pick up my new glasses at 9:00, go to the bank and deposit money. Grab coffee and a morning snack for the minis at Starbucks. This should put as at roughly 10 a.m. Run errands at Target. 11:00 a.m. nephew's birthday party. Be home by 12:30 for naps. Be to grandma and grandpa's by 4:00. Sounds easy enough considering my hubby was around to help. Instead, our Saturday morning turned into this:

At 9:35 a.m. we hadn't left the house because every one of the kids needed to poop and needed help wiping. The boy's room seems to have experienced some kind of explosion--this is the only explanation. I attempted to shower and was interrupted at least a dozen times. The 'I might explode moment' came when I was rinsing my hair, the curtain was yanked back, and I was greeted by my middle child asking me to "get out the shower to make oatmeal right now." We finally left the house at 9:45. We got the glasses picked up, bank visited, and groceries bought at Target (although it was later discovered that we forgot to plan dinner for the week ahead so we did not complete grocery shopping). We arrived at the nephew's birthday party literally hot messes from dashing around with three kids. I'm actually surprised one of the five of us didn't experience some kind of meltdown at the birthday party. Home and down for naps at 1:30. Biggest surprise bonus of the day: we made it to my parent's house by 4:00 for our belated Easter celebration. Yet very little of our morning went as planned.

It's not just this particular day that very little went as planned. It's pretty much every day. I don't know how working parents are able to make it out the door on time every morning when we can't even make it out of the house to go grocery shopping in under 3 hours. I plan activities every day for the daycare kids, but sometimes they have no interest in those activities. Some days crayons are the coolest things and other days only paint will do. On numerous occasions our Music Monday's has had to be switched to Music Tuesday's. Naps have had to be moved up or skipped all together. Routines and activities have had to been altered to fit the kid's moods.

Then there's the fact that literally half of the time we make plans one of the kids comes down sick or there's some kind of big (no, make that huge) meltdown. Play dates, parties, and other special privileges have had to be taken away or skipped. When my kids are suddenly overly tired, entire weekend plans have had to be put on hold. Vacations have been missed. Friends must think we're the biggest flakes ever when in reality, at least one kid has some kind of issue on any given day. Think of it as a rotation: On a Monday: kid #1 has issues, Tuesday: kid #2, Wednesday: kid #3, Thursday: 2 of the 3 have issues, Friday: all 3 kids, Saturday: usually by Saturday, either the hubs or I have the issues, Sunday: maybe an issue free day if we're lucky. Not necessarily in that order, but this is how our week's seem.

I've now developed a new "we'll loosely make plans but don't be surprised if we wind up doing something completely different" outlook on things. As my mom would say, it's called "rolling with it."  I now know that totally unexpected things happen (daily here) and not to expect an everyday life fairytale where everything goes as planned. Usually if I have any expectations for a day, they're significantly lowered ten minutes into the day.

So how can a planner such as myself just let go of those plans? I've learned too. My kids taught me how. I've had to let go of many expectations in life in order for my kids to be happy. I've been warned by my friends that even as their children age, shit still hits the fan everyday. Some days they're all hot messes. Some days they get through it with a laugh. But typically, they just roll with it. Take things as they come. This is not a lesson I would have learned easily, if at all, without my kids.