Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September 25: Time Management. Or 'Having Four Kids is Going to Be a Logistical Nightmare'

So I worked until we moved to Connecticut.  When I worked, things were rigidly scheduled, and more importantly, no one was home all day, so the house basically took care of itself.  Then all of a sudden, I found myself at home all day with three children under the age of four, with toys and laundry and shit and just JUNK piling up on every side.  What the hell happened?

Anyway. I didn't know when I started that most stay at home moms don't actually stay at home.  Did you? Apparently, a lot of gals spread their errands out so that they have something to do, somewhere to go, every day! And they join play groups and stuff, which I did know, and they go to the gym and take the kids to all sorts of sports and clubs...

Yeah, I didn't know that.  So I stayed home.  And I still do.  I order most of my groceries online (that's like a thing here!!!) but I do usually have to run in once a week for a few things.  But I make a point to only do that ONCE a week.  And I'm trying out a Friday morning Bible study.  But other than that, I truly do STAY HOME.  And I know it sounds like I'm looking down my nose at girls who run run run all day, but I'm really not, I swear.  I'd tell you if I was.  It's just that for me PERSONALLY (and it's OKAY to be different ladies!!) I get stressed and icky if I have too many things to do.  I'm a home body.

Anyway.  Because I don't go to the gym, my day starts at five.  Gag me.  I've tried every single thing I could think of to NOT have to wake up at five, and nothing works.  If I'm going to work out, I have to get up at five.  That's just all there is to it, so instead of crying about it anymore, I just do it.  Life goes on, right?

I usually hit snooze a few times and don't make it downstairs till five twenty.  I've considered backing up my alarm to four forty to make up for this...but I just can't.  That's TOO early.  There's a line, and the number FOUR is on the wrong side of it.  Before I start my workout tapes, I throw in a load of wash, which I like to 'prep' the night before.

 Obviously, by 'prep' I mean 'throw in front of the washer in a giant smelly pile.' Washing machines in the UK are just as tiny as you've heard, but we're very lucky to have two full sets, one inside and one out. They hold two towels, or an outfit for each of the four kids, or jammies for each of the four kids, or an outfit for me or Nick.  VERY SMALL.  So I do three loads a day, but the day before this picture was towel day, so I'd only done one load of clothes, hence the HUGE pile.  It doesn't help when those stupid kids wear a full uniform AND a full set of playclothes and get crap all over each, therefore sending down two FULL sets of clothes a day.

Anyway.  Start the wash, workout, lay on the floor wondering if I'm going to die or recover from the workout.  Thus far, I've recovered every time, but there've been more than a few close calls.

One or two of the kids usually gets up and comes down right before I'm done, around ten to six, and if I'm lucky, he or she will throw a bottle of water my way as I writhe on the floor.  Sometimes she'll even toss me my phone and I can check instagram while I wait for feeling to return to my legs.

Then I take the world's longest shower while Nick comes down and makes breakfast and unloads the dishwasher.  I pretend that I wake up early to work out, but really, it's so that I can take a thirty minute shower and no one will bother me because Nick is still here.  Except Daisy has the worst head cold so she's been taking showers with me to clear out her nose, but honestly, I barely notice.  She just lines up all the shampoo bottles and knocks them over for half an hour, she doesn't even whine about wanting her turn under the water.

Now, here's where the time management conundrum comes in.  Every. Single. Morning.

By the time I get back downstairs, it's usually between six forty five and seven.  The kids have either finished eating, or they're all pretty close.  I'm showered and 'dressed' and coffee is ready and Nick usually makes me a plate of eggs.  We leave at eight ten.  So we have AT LEAST an hour, usually about an hour and twenty minutes.  Alls that's left is get the kids dressed (everyone but Daisy dresses  him or herself) pack lunches and get in the car.

That's it.  Three things.  In an hour.

But every SINGLE day, it's a last minute race.  I don't get it!!! I really don't. I've tried everything I can think of, so please, feel free to offer any suggestions.  They're not allowed to watch tv until everything is ready, but I guess they all must lie to me or something, I don't know.  No one is EVER ready to get in that car at eight ten.  Never.

I have a special Morning Music playlist full of embarrassing songs to get me pumped and excited about the miracle of another day of life.  Hooray life.

I usually have to nuke my coffee two or three times in this hour.  Which is stupid.  I should just start in a travel mug, that would keep it hot the entire time.  And I always get my second cup in a travel mug to drive with, so it's not like I'm worried about getting it dirty or something.  In fact, the way I do it, I'm actually getting TWO cups dirty.  Ugh.  Idiot.  What can I say, I like having an actual MUG of coffee, you know? Luckily, my lover is the same way.  He gets me.

Packing lunches is the bane of my existence.  Yes, I know I should pack them the night before.  But it just makes me so mad, and I don't want to go to bed mad.  Ava's badass school doesn't even give you the option, everyone HAS to have hot lunch.  It's not like hot lunch in America either, it's GOOD.  Restaurant food.  I made that up, I don't know how good it is. But I do know it's uber healthy and Ava loves it, so what else matters?  Scott's school just started offering 'heated dinners' this year, he gets one on Monday Wednesday Friday right now to see if he likes it, but God willing, after half term we'll bump up to all five days.  Leaving me with only ONE lunch to make.  Of sweet Jesus, I can taste that victory and it is GOOD.

I used to refuse to cut the crusts off the sandwhiches.  I somehow felt very superior, very Better Than.  Ohhh, my children? They EAT the CRUSTS.  Idiot.  No one cares.  And kids are dumb, they love having the crusts cut off.  And it literally takes two seconds.  However, that's as far as my Creative Lunches go.  We (OBVIOUSLY) don't do bunny faces out of carrots and cheese roll turkey or make fun bento boxes or anything like that.  Ever.

And this? This is why Scott is my favorite.  While everyone else is nagging me about food and clothing and shelter, Scott dragged Daisy into the office and made cat masks for shadow puppets.  Yes, he made a mess and got into the art bins, which he's technically not allowed to do...but look at that face. You can't see that he's not wearing socks, which he continued to not wear all the way to school, and his tie is under his shirt, but whatever.  Look at that smile.

We somehow always make it out the door, although rarely on time, but then we magically have never actually been late for school.  I like to call that the Jesus Works conundrum.

This is the best I could do for a selfie.  I wear the same thing every SINGLE day- yoga pants, long tee shirt, cardigan, and either shoes that resemble slippers or my wellies, depending on the weather.  I used to get down about the fact that I didn't ever get 'dressed' but then I decided that was dumb.  I'm too fat to be comfortable in a pair of jeans, and I REALLY like to be comfortable.  You might say I'm obsessed.  So this is my uniform.  I personally think I look acceptable enough to run to the grocery store or post office if needed, but you, of course, are entitled to your own opinion.

See my new bag?!?! Squeal.  This was my reward to myself for potty training Daisy! After EIGHT FUCKING YEARS of non stop diapers, I can officially leave the house with NO DIAPERS.  None.  Do you have ANY idea what this feels like? Unless you had back to back kids, you really don't.  It's indescribable.  It truly is.  Anyway, I snagged a new bag that DOESN'T NEED TO BE BIG ENOUGH FOR A DIAPER last weekend.  These are sort of like Vera Bradley bags back in the states, all the moms around here have them and they're sort of so ugly that they're cute.

No? Just me? I can literally FEEL Angela rolling her eyes ;)

Because Nick's job here is part of the Personell Exchange Program, we're entitlted to be reimbursed for Private School, which we take full advantage of.  We didn't know this until we got here because the dude that Nick replaced was sort of a douche, but this sweet girl he works with told him as soon as he got here, so we scrambled to find schools.  Ava was accepted immediately to the first school I found....but it's an all girls school.  Scott got into one that I could have moved Ava to, but his is only year one and two, so she would have had to move again this fall.  So she and Scott go to different schools is my point.

Well, in England, they apparently start school at four, instead of five like we're used to.  But since the reimbursement (obviously) comes from an American company, it doesn't start till the fall after the kid turns five.  Meaning next year for Warren.  So he goes to a completely separate school.  (As a side note, next year, Scott will have aged out of his school, and Warren will be old enough to go to Scott's school for free, but rather than try to find Scott a new private school and move Warren from where he is to Scott's school, both boys will be going to the public school that Warren goes to now {assuming Scott is placed there, they don't do it by where you live like in Hawaii} and Ava will stay at her amazing girls school because I love it so much.)

My point is, I drop off three kids at three different schools.  And they all start and finish at basically the same time.  So we pay for Early Care for Scott, he goes first, then I zip over to Ava's school, which is on a nightmare of a street, and slow down just long enough for her to jump out and walk herself to class.

I know.

World's Worst Mother. If you could only SEE the traffic situation there, you'd understand.  And no one has ever actually SAID specifically that you HAVE to walk them in.  They did say that for last year when she was in the 'infant' school, and I did it, every day.  And it was brutal.  So now I don't.  Call CPS if you need to, but I think I've got a pretty good case.

Then I go up around the block to Warrren's school.

I keep some surf wax in the car run through the boys' hair right before they go in.  On this particular day, Warren got into the jar and helped himself.

He used about a hundred and fifty seven thousand times more product than I typically use.

Very stylish.

I do walk him in.  His parking situation is a little (but not much) better, and he's four.  So he gets the royal treatment.  Side note about parking and traffic, is this an England thing? The no parking lots for schools, no car pool lines, people driving like assholes thing? Or is it because we live on the outskirts of such a big city, is there not enough room for parking lots or something?

It's very annoying.

When I finally get home, it's just a tad past nine o'clock and this is the lovely sight that greets me.


I just KNOW it would put me in a better frame of mind to take care of this BEFORE we leave for drop offs, but I just can't.  No idea why.  I cannot for the life of me figure out what happens to my hour in the mornings.

My life is also full of bullshit like this.  I washed my extensive collection of cardigans LAST WEEK.  Why haven't I taken care of them?!?!? I keep them in a drawer, I don't even hang them up.  So all I have to do is carry them upstairs and shove them in the drawer!! Yet, here they hang, cramping my style and cluttering my mind.  Ugh.

So Daisy spends twenty minutes eating everything in the fridge (every day! Regardless of what she eats for breakfast, girl is ready for what can really only be described as LUNCH at nine in the morning) and I try to clean up the counters, run the dishwasher (it's really small and has to be run two or three times a day, gag me) sweep up the cereal that they throw on the floor instead of actually eating, and swap out the laundry.

Then I would love to say that Daisy goes outside for fresh air or we read books or do other enriching, soul building activities...but usually we reheat my coffee and sit on the couch so she can watch Wonderpets while I play on the computer for half an hour.

But then I do (usually) draw the line and get up and try to do things with her.  It's weird having just her, and it's new, AND she's been sick, so we don't really have a routine yet, but the end goal, of course, is to get some chores accomplished during this time.  Today she helped me organize a little in the craft room, clean the playroom (read: throw out two bags of toys) and sort through the piles of clothes all over my bedroom floor.  Then she was all snotty and whiney and gross so I fed her another tiny lunch and stuck her in her bed.

Now, you know how I can't figure out where my hour goes in the mornings? I never seem to accomplish anything, blah blah blah? Well, I know EXACTLY where my two hours goes during naps.  I accomplish EXACTLY what I want.  Which is almost exactly the same, every single day: make lunch, eat in peace with no one wanting a bite only to spit it back out, and drink my one and only Diet Coke.  Best time of day EVER.  Oh, and I watch tv.  Right now I'm binging on Fringe on netflix, but sometimes I watch whatever's on the dvr, or old Friends.  I usually pick up the kitchen, but not always. This is MY time.

And this day, I also happened to be working on my quilt, so I laid out FOUR ROWS during naps!!! That's a LOT for me.

Then, in an instant, it's ten to three and I've got to start driving again.  GROAN.  Warren and Scott get out within ten minutes of each other, and Ava and Scott get out at the same time, so Ava goes to After School care on the days she doesn't do extras, which this year ended up being just one day. So I go get Warren, race to Scott, then either go fight traffic for Ava on Tuesdays, or head home and Nick gets her after her clubs.

Curious? She's in Speech and Drama (? no idea) some sort of Karate, and Art Club.  I love her school SO MUCH.

Then we're home.  Most days (don't kill me) Nick is home before four.  I know I should make the kids do chores, but I just can't.  I feel bad that they've been in school all day, so I want them to play. I don't even make them do homework.  I'm such a sucker.  Over the summer, they were doing their own laundry, and Nick still enforces the ol' clean your room before we watch tv rule, but honestly, I'm a pushover.  In my mind, they've had a horrible, stressful day at school and I usually give them whatever they want whenever they want it.  Ugh.

I use this time for meal prep, playing on the computer, and sitting in front of my sad lamp if I need it.  Nick is pretty amazing (duh) and lets me bum around doing whatever, but he's especially understanding if I need to take half an hour and sit in front of that fake sun.

This day was especially awesome because it was Leftover Day, which means NO MEAL PREP.  Hooray.  I do actually love cooking, but I need a break.  Look at that gorgeous Diet Coke up there waiting for me.  I love you, tiny silver can of heaven.

Then we eat, try to do homework, clean the kitchen, Nick gives baths, the kids watch a show, and they all go to bed by seven thirty.  We've tried later bed times, but they still wake up before six, they're just miserable, so seven thirty it is.

By this time, I'm usually exhuasted from a long day of basically not doing ANYTHING, so we veg out, watch a show, play on the computer, fold laundry, read books, whatever.  Nothing overly productive, but we like what we like.  We're usually in bed by nine thirty (Nick gets up at four and he actually DOES stuff during the day, so he's tired) and I read until ten thirty or eleven, then it's over.

So.  Any ideas on how I can have a better morning? Get more done? Yes, I know the obvious answer is to cut out my tv time, but honestly, that's just not happening.  I've cut back a lot, and I don't see any more coming any time soon.

What do I do when we're not at Ava's amazing school, where everything is built in? What if all four kids want to do four different activities at four different places? What do I do when Nick goes back out to sea?

Why oh WHY did I have so many kids?!?!?

Ohhhhhhh yeah.  Now I remember.


  1. man. I don't know how I could do it with one kid, let alone FOUR. I'd probably drink a lot more vodka.

    1. Don't have kids. They ruin your life and eat all your steak.

  2. Running four kids to 2 different schools then volleyball, horseback riding, running, tae kwon do, soccer, chess club, etc. is tough! And technically, other than school, only 3 kids are involved in extra activities.
    Oh, and I went and picked up Night Circus today due to your rave review. I'm not gonna be freaked out scared or anything, right? I'm a wuss. I don't like creepy, scary stuff that will keep from sleeping for the next 6 months!

    1. It had a few moments of suspense, but I wouldn't say it even comes CLOSE to being scary. It's just so BEAUTIFUL. I don't know what about it is beautiful...but that TRULY is the only word I can use to describe it.