Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The woes of winter

I will admit that my stay-at-home mommyhood has seen better days than this past week. Last night I was sneaking a few precious bites of Rocky Road ice cream with my slotted serving spoon because I haven't done my dishes in...a long time. I am sitting at my dining room table at 1:12 p.m. with breakfast dishes still on the table and feeling pretty good about that. At least last night's dinner dishes made it onto the kitchen counter. My lovely newborn's diaper leaked onto my pajama pants this morning forcing me to bathe her AND my three year old who wet her bed last night, leaving just enough time for my own pee-stained pant leg to dry. I'm still wearing those same pajama pants, so sue me.

In addition to my dirty pj pants, I am fashioning an unruly hairstyle, an unwashed face, and my ski jacket because it's COLD outside and our old house (which I love) just doesn't heat up as well as our budget would like it to. Which leads to the point of this post: winter can be tough on parenthood.

I think what pushed this winter over that precarious edge was the fact that we had a baby. In the winter, when viruses are multiplying and spreading with every sneeze and handshake. I'm already a bit particular and edgy when it comes to cleanliness, but give me a newborn to take care of and I'm irreparably freaked out. Despite my best efforts, all of us but the baby and my husband caught a nasty cold virus over the holidays and are just now recovering. But now that we're healthy, I'm hesitant to go anywhere! What if whooping cough germs are sitting on that library table? What if that runny nose at playgroup is really something contagious? So we're quarantined. And it's starting to affect us a little...negatively.

Now that we've eliminated our usual "routine" of getting outside at least once a day or so, I feel like I'm working overtime. I feel as if I'm becoming an employee within my own household instead of a beloved member of the pack. Everyone must be entertained, dressed, fed, loved and kissed, pulled off of one another, disciplined with patience, listened to, read to, fed again and again, and given something mentally stimulating to do to make up for an unruly amount of TV time. All of this action makes it harder to keep up with my other household chores like laundry and dishes and getting down at floor level to wipe up the orange juice that was spilled...a while ago. All of it has started to give me a permanent pain in my neck.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being home with my kids. I just don't like having to spend so much time with them. Sitting beside my computer right now are four books I ordered as soon as the holidays were over:

The Power of Positive Parenting
Positive Discipline
Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World
Serenity: Simple steps for Recovering Peace of Mind, Real Happiness, and Great Relationships

Can anyone see a theme here? As I mentioned, a brutal virus knocked out half the family that had gathered in Denver for Christmas. While I was quarantined in the back bedroom with the baby (and a face mask, since I too was sick), I had all the time in the world to think, worry, and read. I perused my sister-in-law's books and picked up "Christlike Parenting" by Dr. Glenn Latham. It was a fantastic book that caused me to perk up my ears and listen more closely to the way my husband and I were disciplining our three year old. Of course there was room for improvement and I started making a mental list of things I wanted to do better. Number one on the list: stop yelling. It makes everyone feel like crap, so why do it? Thus the frantic Amazon order ensued and I am now in possession of over 1000 pages of parenting wisdom.

Now I just have to read and implement them. I'll tell you how far I've come: if I don't yell at my kids for a week, I get to splurge and buy myself a little something. I've put a little box in each day on my calendar with a "PP" for positive parenting next to it. So far, I've made it a total of four days. That was last week. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of this week were losers. Today is better. I was reminded by a good friend yesterday that we shouldn't expect a perfect 100% on our goals right away. Shoot for %80 good behavior and then when you achieve that, go for 82%. I thought that was excellent advice and so applicable to parenthood.

We all can use some help and improvement (especially during these long winter stretches). But don't shoot for giving up all your imperfections at once. You'll wind up in pee-pee pajama pants and a stack of parenting manuals, eating oatmeal cookies for lunch because you've spent all your time and energy on trying to be the perfect mom! (Not that I know any of that from experience.)

I promise this isn't a plug for my blog, but I couldn't survive any of this without "activity time" with my kids. I can't--well I won't--tell you how many times I've started our activity with a scowl and very unenthusiastic attitude, but I'm always glad we did it. Then I know that even if I fail miserably at everything else that day, at least I played with my kids. That sustains me through the bad days.

So please, stay healthy, stay warm, check out some of the winter activities I've posted, and do help yourself to an oatmeal cookie. Despite what they say about sugar, it really does make you happy.

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  1. Thanks for being so honest and willing to post something like this. Winter time is always hard for me, but I feel like I'm failing miserably. But 80% is better than 0. We'll take whatever we can get and just try to get better. Thanks for all you do!

  2. Hey, you don't know me but I was Camille Garrison's roommate at Utah State so I found your blog through her. I used to read your family blog before you went private and I loved it! I love reading this blog too, but I was wondering if you would send me an invite so I can still read your family blog?

  3. Rachel! I love you! Haha. Just had them over for dinner.

    And Janelle--I love YOU!! You are top 5 in my "Best Moms" folder. I can't wait to be close to you to share and help in our times of need:) Love you!

  4. HA! I think you just described me! Thx for the honesty. I'm going to start doing activity time with my almost 3 year old - I'm sure he'll love it and I'll feel a whole lot less guilty about things. Love your blog :)

  5. a little extra tv time is totally appropriate for a while after number 3...and that pain in your neck is probably from nursing... oh how I wish we lived closer! love you Janelle...oh, and I also need an invite to you family blog

  6. Hi Janelle!

    I love your writing voice and your honesty about motherhood. You make me feel better about my quarantined PJ days. (And I only have one kid!)

  7. Janelle,
    I can't believe I didn't notice this post of yours until now. As always, you never disappoint in the motherhood honesty we all experience but never articulate. How has the reading of those books come along? I could read books like that all day long...except for the part where I don't have time to, so it's picking up snippets of them here and there. Maybe by the time my children are all grown up I'll have read all the books I need to raise them well. Until then, trial and error. :) Your girls are so lucky to have a mother who cares about them and loves them so much that you keep getting back up and trying. THAT is success; it's not never failing. I love you! Happy anniversary almost!