Tuesday, April 2, 2013

a good, good day

patrick & i recently went through some of sam's early photos.  in between being struck by his ridiculous cuteness and his gigantic birthmark (which has almost gone away already!), i found myself bewildered to notice that 12-month-sam was a truly happy kid - pleasant to be around and filled with joy.  24-month-sam just ... isn't.  he's sweet, and dear, and we have a lot of fun - but it's like he's been kind of ... frayed.  he whines.  he shrieks.  he sulks.  what happened?
i know, i know.  the terrible twos.
but i also know there's been a change in my parenting since - well, since he's not a baby anymore.  i feel like i got into a great groove with him in infancy, but this whole big-kid thing staggers me.
i cried when i told patrick last night, and we prayed that God would help us to parent sam wisely, positively.  he deserves better.  God gave him to us, and i want to be like the good steward who multiplies the trust he was given.
in the middle of the night, growth-spurt-vava woke up for a bottle (she doesn't normally).  i was planning to just snuggle up with her on the couch and feed her while drifting in and out of consciousness.  but last night i heard a still small voice.
'go read that book.  right now.  just do it.'
so i pulled toddlerwise down off the shelf.  i bought it way back when sam was just turning 1.  i'd started to read it, but it wasn't applicable at the time, so i just shelved it partway through.  my bookmark was still in it.
i opened where i'd left off, and read one chapter.
it was the schedule-chapter.  i'd forgotten about that - when sam was a baby, we had a pretty decent, predictable schedule through the day. we rolled from one activity to the next, with lots of care given to his eating and sleeping times, outdoor time, playtime with mama, and playtime alone ...
as he got out of the multiple-naps phase, i guess i got out of the schedule phase.  i still made sure he ate well and regularly, and his sleeping routine was firmly in place - but the rest of the day just kind of happened.  whatever.
the thought of trying to stick to a schedule with two kids seemed kind of overwhelming - but when i read their description of an unscheduled-mom, i started to cry again.  that was me.  always running, never getting anywhere.  lost in a messy house, cranky kids, buried under a landslide of exhaustion.  not enjoying her kids at all.
i kind of laughed at their contrasting description of the peace-filled, in-control mom who had a schedule.  happy.  productive.  enjoying her toddlers.  ha!
but ... it sounded really nice.
so i got out my coloured sharpies and made a schedule.  plotted out the day in half-hour blocks.  stuck it on the fridge with sam's letter magnets, and carried vava upstairs to bed.
it took me a little while to fall back asleep.  i was kind of excited.
we followed the schedule today - along with a few other tips they'd slipped into the chapter - and it was like i was in a different house.
sam was happy.  really happy. 
and helpful.  and funny.  (i changed vava's bum, and usually he loves putting things in the garbage can, so i held out the diaper and asked him to throw it out.  he considered it with a grown-up, calculating look, then said "um, no. yuck.")
and when patrick came home, we actually were like that schedule-mom in the book.
the house was clean.  the kids were happy.  i was happy, and - most shocking of all - not exhaustedly counting the seconds til bedtime.  supper was humming away on the stove, and the table was set.  and it wasn't just a show we'd pulled off for patrick, either - it had been like this all day.
it was an awesome evening.  after bathtime, sam zoomed downstairs, grabbed monkey - and headed up to bed, completely unprompted.
my little fighter.
my zany monkey-man.
went up the stairs to bed without being told.
i got down on my knees and thanked God.  i feel like our family did a 180.
and after sam was kissed and prayed with and sung to and kissed again, i came downstairs to tackle the hurricane-mess in kitchen and livingroom ... and there was none.
oh yes.  cleaning up as we go was built into the schedule.
this rocks.
i'm so grateful.

i really really really want to bring my kids up happily, gladly, full-heartedly.
today was a good, good day.


  1. hey janelle, thank you for doing this! i really wasn't expecting the happiness and tidiness that i encountered when i came home. it was super good. it made my evening SO much better. we put the kids to bed and i wasn't exhausted from trying to nag and cajole sam into behaving. instead, i had fun doing stuff with him. dinner time wasn't as much of a battle. it was just... ahhh! super cool.
    i love you lots

  2. Mmmmmm...can you come do my life? lol. I am really enjoying my schedule of sorts, too. I'm reading Laurie and Marcella "The Secret Garden" now on Monday evenings and I so wish you were here to do the accents! I'm supposed to be teaching esl on Tuesday mornings now - this morning I completely forgot - it so felt like a Monday. I'm glad I'm still observing and not doing my own class yet. xoxo Thanks for sharing!

  3. You are such a good Mama! I love that you actually put into practice the things that you learn. I am so not good at that. I read about it and realize that I need to make the changes but then I sort of drift back into the old rut and never do quite make the changes I need to.
    You rock!

  4. Aren't schedules wonderful?? I think it's normal after a baby comes for everything to get shifted around! Noah and I have a schedule right now that we follow, but I'm not sure how well it'll work once Asher arrives!

  5. love the sound of your day :) I can also relate to your mom's comment... I read lots... implement?? Not so much. Need to do better! THanks for sharing :)

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