“How do you do it?” Is a question I am often asked. Usually they’re referring to my complete inability to frost a cake. But occasionally, they’re wondering how I keep up with my various projects while having a bunch of kids running wild through my house at all hours.
It’s simple. I keep a tight schedule.
I set my alarm for 5:15 am so that I can get up, do morning prayers and paint.
My baby is usually kind enough to wake up between 4:30 and 4:45 to nurse and finishes at about 5:10 so that it’s silly for me to try and lay down and get any more sleep.
Sometimes he goes back to sleep and I’m able to get up, pray, drink some coffee and paint for a couple of hours.
Most of the time he gets up with me so I then try and catch up on things that I need to do and I can do with him sitting on my lap, like bills. But then I remember how much I hate paying bills and decide this time would be better spent bonding with the baby so I sit with him in the rocking chair and play with him for a bit. And then he gets grumpy because he got up way too early. Then I spend the next hour or two trying to get an over-tired baby back to sleep. I usually get him back to bed just as the other kids start to wake up.
There is a 23% chance I will get any painting done during “painting time”.
Breakfast is at 8 am sharp – ish. It usually consists of slightly burnt pancakes or muffins that everyone is too picky to eat.
School starts at 9 am. Well, usually there’s about a 15-20 minute period that the kids spend grumbling about doing school first, but then school starts.
This is also when I try and write.
I sit in the rocking chair with the laptop on a tv tray in front of me so that I can type with a sleeping baby on my lap, if need be, and answer questions from the kids about their school. Until my toddler insists on taking over my laptop to watch Thomas the Train while I’m telling the kids to stop discussing whether or not zombies like roasted marshmallows and to work on their school as I walk down the hallway to change the baby’s poopie diaper.
There is a 7% chance I will get any writing done during my “writing time”.
Lunch follows the family rosary that we usually forget to say because the house has fallen into anarchy once again. Luckily, the smell of peanut butter has a calming effect on the children as they all realize they need to eat in order to frazzle their mom all afternoon.
School resumes at about 1 pm. There is generally more urgency to do school as they start to approach the 5 pm deadline to get their school done. If their school is not done by 5, they don’t get their Minecraft time.
I try to get a couple of household chores done before nap time. This is also when the toddler’s meltdowns occur and also when the pre-schooler thinks it’s funny to start messing with the school-age kids. I spend a lot of this time chasing the pre-schooler away from the school table and sweeping the floor with a baby strapped to my chest and a toddler clinging to my leg, screaming because I took a bottle of baby lotion away from her because she was emptying it into her father’s boot.
There is an 11% chance I’ll get any cleaning done during “cleaning time”.
There is an 89 % chance that any cleaning I do manage to get done during “cleaning time” will get undone by my toddler.
Which brings us to nap time.
There is a 100% chance I’ll get the baby to nap during nap time, but only a 1% chance I’ll get the toddler to nap. Now that the baby is asleep, there is only a 23% chance that the toddler won’t wake him up during her refusals to take her own nap. And at the end of it all, there is a 94% chance I’ll have to dip into my chocolate stash for comfort.
At about 4pm, I start to make dinner. Coincidentally, this is also the time when the kids start to seriously work on their school and, therefore, have a ton of questions to ask me in their quest to finish before the 5 o’clock deadline. They will not be put off by statements like, “I’m making dinner now, I’ll help you after dinner.” or “Why didn’t you do this eight hours ago?!”
85% of the time, the kids get their school work done by the Minecraft deadline.
The other 15% of the time there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
After dinner, I try to get a few more things done. Maybe finish up a piece I’m writing or varnish a couple of icons, while I hang out with the kids, hear about Ninja Velociraptors and what they’ve built in Minecraft until bedtime when I fall asleep watching the original He-Man. There’s a 100% chance I’ll fall asleep before Prince Adam ever transforms into He-Man.
In all reality, there is no such thing as a tight schedule in my life and the only predictable thing about my day is that with children, it will be unpredictable. I have to be flexible. Though, if I were to credit one particular thing with “how I do it”, it would be baby-wearing. I’ve learned that babies will be a lot more patient with Mom working on a project if they can be up there with her and watching what she’s doing.
95% of the time…