Tuesday, May 8, 2012

If Momma Ain't Happy...

You know the saying. "If Momma Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy." The problem? Sometimes there ain't no one but Momma makin' sure that Momma stays happy.

Sometimes I have a hard time figuring out just what it is that I need to stay happy. For me, it's NOT shopping. (Unless you give me a good, used bookstore!) It's not getting fancy and going out for a night on the town. (Although I do like to eat out with dh occasionally.) I like to be at home. I don't like to spend money. But I do try to do a few things to stay sane. Here's my list:

1. Exercise. Seriously, I'm a basket case without it. I try to jog almost everyday. When my kids are too small to be left alone, they go in the jogger, rain or shine. (If it's dumping rain, I don't go...mostly because I can't see with my glasses on!) Recently, they're big enough to ride bike alongside me. If someone is home who is big enough to babysit, I go alone. But I go, no matter what. (A slightly embarrassing side effect from daily exercise? I often stay in my jammies until I put my jogging clothes on. So I might greet you at the door at 11am with my pjs on because I'm still debating about when to jog.)

2. Rest time. As soon as my kids were too big to nap, they started "rest time." Frankly, I didn't care what they did, as long as they were in their rooms and I couldn't hear them. I introduce it by saying, "Would you rather take a nap, or have some quiet time on your bed with some books?" They think they're very big when they tell me they are big enough to rest. If they aren't big enough to be quiet during rest time, they still need to "nap." (Sometimes that means they "rest" with the light off.) Whatever. I just need an hour of quiet.

When my kids got bigger, on nice days I'd give them a choice between rest time and outside play. I prefer them to go outside to play because I think it's healthy. (And because it makes them more tired so they sleep well...and go to bed on time.) They don't know that. I always say, "Today you can choose between rest time and an hour outdoors. I don't care which." If I cared, they'd probably pick the one I didn't want. I keep my poker hand close. :) During outdoor time, I keep an eye (ear!) on them, but they know that if they interrupt my rest time, I'll probably choose to have them rest in their rooms. During rest time you stay in your room.

As they learn to be quiet during rest time, it gets more and more flexible. I've been known to let them play together as long as they stay in one part of the house and stay quiet. If they've been having a bad day, I separate them. On those days, they don't have much to do but lay on the bed and look at books. Either way, it doesn't affect me. I still get my hour.

3. Bedtime is around 7pm for anyone that I have to put to bed. My "kid" workday ends at 7. I go to bed fairly early myself. So if they're in bed around 7, I still have a couple hours to myself. (Or to dedicate to the big kids and husband.)

4. Work. I've always had some kind of little job. Not big. Just something. Sometimes for pay, sometimes not. But it was always something that gave me job satisfaction/something to think about that was not just about the kids. (Although I've almost always chosen jobs--usually writing jobs--that somehow connect to my kids' current developmental stages.) In order to do this, I usually give up my free time. Often early in the morning. In the last several months, I've worked almost daily from 5:45-6:45am. My little kids aren't supposed to get out of bed until 6:45am. They are up on the dot. Sometimes I also work during rest time. For me, this is brain stimulation. By the time I've worked hard for an hour, I'm only too happy to sit down and read to the kids about dust bunnies.

That's it for now. Rest time is over...   Off to make the kids ride their bikes while I jog...

So what makes YOU happy???

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