Thursday, September 17, 2015

What comes after tonight?

I had a meeting last night right at bedtime. Caroline was SO SAD that when I came home I did not come straight to her room to tuck her in. In my defense, we had just bought and brought home a new (new! from a store and everything!) dresser, which we had opened minutes before I had to go to that meeting - I hadn't had any time to properly admire it! I thought Caroline was asleep while I admired, but her crying told me otherwise. So I went in to soothe and console and she said "I just never want you to go away again!" Well, poor timing on her wish and I said, "I'll also be gone tomorrow night and Saturday you're going to have a babysitter." She perked up a bit and said, "Well I like having a babysitter so I don't mind if you go away then." Sooooo, you're saying a babysitter is just fine but your own dad is chopped liver, huh? How complimentary!
But then she questioned, "When are you going tonight?"
"I'm not going anywhere else tonight, I'm already home."
"No, I mean tonight, like tonight-morrow."
Bahahahahaha! That will be my new reference of time. Tonight-morrow.

And here's the dresser that cause so much anguish. We haven't rearranged the bedroom yet, so don't mind the cramped look of it all.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Early to rise

Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise! It's probably one of the most commonly known precepts (there is bedtime every day, after all) yet maybe not the most followed. I, for instance, hate getting up early. When Patrick was very small he started getting up and staying up at 5 a.m., which he did until after Eli was born then finally settled down and slept tip 6:30, but it nearly killed me! I felt like I was ever after incredibly protective of my morning sleep, preciously guarding it, keeping it away from the prying eyes of children who don't have internal snooze buttons. I was ever grateful when the big kids were able tot ale care of Ethan in the morning, getting him a drink and helping him on the potty. The reason I needed my lie-ins was that I needed my late nights - I felt I needed a minimum of 2 hours (3 was even better) of my own time after the kids went to bed. The boys' bedtime is 8 but often they stay up talking or coming out to ask for something, so let's say the last time I would see a kid was 9:00 - I needed until 11:00 or even midnight to feel like I had completely decompressed from kids for the day. If you're up until midnight you are going to jealously guard those precious sleeping-in hours!

Then two things happened. The least important but most imminent was that summer was coming to a close and school starts at 8:00. I cannot sleep until 7:30 with that over my head. The most important thing was that I read an article from the Ensign, our church magazine, about that very precept: early to bed and early to rise. I don't need much help getting healthy, I already feel pretty smart, and I'm not the one who makes money for our family, so the blessings of the precept were about to fall on deaf ears (or blind eyes, since I was reading) but then the author promised that things that will seem so difficult to do otherwise will begin to be easy. I had a few immediate thoughts - clean house! read scriptures! scrapbook! So I decided to try it.

I set my alarm for 6, dutifully got up, read a few scriptures and went for a quick run around the neighborhood. I'd decided that morning cleaning was out of the question because a) cleaning is not a legitimate reason to get out of bed, and b) cleaning can be loud and if this was my alone time I didn't want to risk waking anybody. Well, only a few minutes after I got back kids were stirring and coming out of their rooms - how disappointing! Now I would be tired at night but had not accomplished the task of having my alone time. I tried 6 a.m. a few more times but I started falling asleep while reading, and I actually HATE running so I gave that up pretty quickly. Before the week was up I was back to 7:30.

Then one morning Joe forgot something in our bedroom before he left for work, and on his way out he kissed me goodbye. It woke me up and I felt pretty well-rested so I decided to get up. Joe leaves at 4:45. This was EARLY. I was not going to read, I was not going to go for even a quick run, but as I was lying in bed I had some ideas for a scrapbook layout. One of the things that is hard for me to find a great time for is scrapbooking - during the day it's busy with kids and meals and yard work and house projects; I need quiet and no interruptions as I work. After kids' bedtimes seems the best solution, but after a long day I am not interested in more time with the kids, even if it is just pictures of the kids. I want alone time in my headspace, too! So more often than not scrapbooking with Netflix on in the background became just plain ol' Netflix all evening. Not productive. But this morning I know the house would be perfectly quiet, my hobby would also be perfectly quiet, I was excited about it, and I would not fall asleep doing it. That morning the kids slept until 8 and I worked, uninterrupted, for 3 hours! Got so much accomplished!

I told Joe the next morning to wake me up again. He did, and I immediately headed to my craft area and began again. An the next day. And the next. I began setting my alarm for 5 just in case Joe forgot to wake me up (which he did one day, but I had gone to bed early the night before [exhausted from getting up at 5 the morning before] and I woke up on my own at 5:20). This was 2 weeks ago, and I have caught up my scrapbooks to RIGHT NOW. This is incredible! I am consistently behind 1-2 years, putting away pictures this summer that were taken last summer or even the summer before. I just kept plugging away figuring NEXT summer I would get around to THIS summer, and it would all get done eventually, but done NOW? It is obvious that the article on getting up early fulfilled its promise - I have been able to accomplish things that seem difficult (impossible, even!) by waking up early.

Other things have gotten easier, too. I don't clean early in the morning but I am finding it easier to keep my house clean. A huge shout-out again to "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," as I continue my tidying journey, but also I feel refreshed by the time the kids ARE up and I can happily and noisily put away those dishes, rather than groggily doling out breakfast and wishing the dishes would magically do themselves. I find it easier to deal with the kids - I have time to remind them of all those things I feel like they should remember already but of course they don't (get dressed before you play, make your bed, brush your teeth before we go) so I'm able to act, not re-act. It doesn't help me get things done, but it is lovely to see the sky lighten as the day comes on. Then at the end of the day, sure enough, I'm tired so I retire to my bed early, and it all begins again.

2 weeks isn't much. I look back at the many years of loving my morning sleep and worry I'll slip back into old habits. But I look at my accomplishments in just 2 weeks and feel very excited each day to get up and accomplish more, so perhaps I am more motivated than I am complacent (which, of itself, is an accomplishment).

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Testimony and self-help books

My mom and sister Elsha read and raved about "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo, so naturally I had to read it. My mom bought a copy for Kari, but I short-stopped it for 2 weeks and got nice and involved in the magic of cleaning my own home before I had to give it to the rightful owner. (But don't worry. I took notes).

2 days ago was fast and testimony meeting in church where the time is open and available to member who would like to bear their testimonies. I had some thought I wanted to share but there wasn't a spare moment, and you hate to be the person who makes sacrament meeting run long! I mean, unless you like overwrought mothers sending you eye-daggers and kids screaming in the background... but I don't, so I didn't stand up. Instead, I thought, I could share my thought on my blog.

The two things are connected! Hear me out.  The magic of tidying is that rather than getting rid of the small percentage of things you actively do not like or use, you take everything in a particular category and actively keep the things that bring you joy. The rest can go. Simple as that! You end up naturally and happily ridding yourself of 60-70% of your things, and loving the 30-40% you keep; since they are items you treasure, you will naturally take better care of them. Also, you have fewer things to take care of now, again making it easier to take care of them.

I have long loved de-junking. I have long-loved books on de-junking! It is inspiring to leave a space clean and decluttered (I am then usually inspired to mess it back up, like a clean kitchen is just crying for some cookies!). In spite of my love, my house is often a mess. There's just too much stuff, but taking out a few things at a time never got me on top of the stuff. I love this (she calls it the KonMari method) because it takes a healing approach to your home and its contents - don't wage war on your items; instead, choose the items that inspire you and bring joy. The rest is white noise and can be released - donated or lovingly thrown out, with a farewell of thanks for its hard work. While I was sitting in sacrament meeting, listening to testimonies, I realized that the gospel and my family are the most important things - they bring me joy! Sometimes my home clutters me up, though - all our projects mean saturdays at Lowe's rather than the lake. Cleaning rather than working puzzles together. There needs to be a happy medium, cleaning and projects do need to happen, but I am excited to find joy in my home so I can spend less time on my home, thus spending more time on my family the way I WANT to spend time with my family. Paring down the fluff so I can strengthen myself spiritually instead.

So read a good book today! Any good book. It's bound to give you a boost. If you read Marie Kondo, it may just give you a whole new view on your home.