i'm panicking.

each pregnancy has come with its anxieties about the upcoming unknowns; i've been surprised at the fact that i've never gotten to a point where i feel like i know exactly what i'm doing when it comes to newborns.  if anything, each baby makes me realize more and more that i clearly don't have a handle on my life, and i'm less of an expert than i assumed i was. 

this time around, i'm not (yet) freaking out about making freezer meals, or having all the cupboards in the house cleaned out.  maybe those freak-outs will come, maybe they won't.  maybe it will eventually be like when i was pregnant with finneas and on the edge of a legitimate break down because one of the bedrooms was yellow and i needed todd to paint it RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND so the baby didn't have to come home to yellow walls or i would LOSE IT.  (and it wasn't even the nursery.)  i'm not there yet either - our bedroom is in the middle of a non-urgent paint/redecorating job right now, and i'm fine taking it slowly.  this time around, i'mostly freaked out about our lack of structure, and my need for the big kids to grow a little more independent and responsible with their school and chores.

so i've been doing what i do best: trying to solve all of life's problems with books.  i've been reading books by mothers of large families, by cleaning experts, by organizing experts, by children from large families, by homeschool moms.  because wisdom-by-osmosis is a thing, right?

so i'm currently working on a few things in preparation for the upcoming school year, to hopefully allow me to feel a little bit more prepared for the chaos that's coming with the baby:

*a semi-flexible school plan for the year.  i'm learning about myself that i err on the side of too flexible, rather than too rigid, when it comes to our school schedule, so i need to be more disciplined about that.  i'm thinking we'll do six weeks on, one week off, because it's more realistic for me to hope to stay on track for six weeks at a time, and then have a week to spend time with other moms or meeting with younger women or whatever, without that stuff always taking precedent over our school time.

*a family schedule, which outlines what each member of the family is/should be doing during certain blocks of the day.  it may seem like overkill or micromanaging or something, but i'm learning that, in a house with a lot of people, there is a lot less bickering when everyone is given some direction about what they are supposed to be doing at a given moment.  and that seems to be the consensus among older moms with lots of kids, unless the books are lying to me.

*chore charts for the kids.  for certain blocks of the day (before and after meals, etc), the big kids now have specific, explicit responsibilites.  we're doing a clipboard system right now, because they can carry their boards with them around the house, and unlike a printed/laminated checklist, i can add or take away jobs on their lists pretty easily.  the downside is that there are a lot of clips to manage and keep track of, but once i figure out an efficient (and decent-looking) system for that, it should be smooth sailing.  here's what we're working with right now, although the clipboards are destined to become a lot cuter with scrapbook paper at some point.  but you get the jist:

early morning jobs.

after-meal jobs.  they also have some weekly jobs i sprinkle in there.

*blanket/pack-and-play time for the little kids.  last year, our biggest obstacle in homeschool was how to keep the little kids occupied and not distracting during school time.  i really don't want this year to be a repeat of that, so we're trying something new.  it will take some training, though, which i have low hopes for.  i'm guessing it will be a long and arduous process, though the payoff will hopefully be worth it.

*a daily and weekly schedule for me.  i need to get back on track with having specific days for doing household tasks, etc, instead of just being like, 'there's a lot of crusty pee around the base of the toilet.  i guess today is bathroom day,' and, 'todd owns 20-odd pairs of underwear, and precisely zero of them are clean.  that means i haven't done laundry in three weeks, so i should probably get on that.'  i used to be much more systematic about that kind of stuff, and i think it would be good for me to hop back on that train.

so there you have it.  i'm basically overhauling our whole lives, which is how i can tell this is baby-induced anxiety.  normal-person overhauls tend to be smaller and more realistic in scale, but go big or go home, right?


todd said...

more like in your case, go big while being a home

you are still to this day Penelope's favorite house for a baby!

Our life in pictures said...

not sure if its helpful but my sister also has a large family (7) and homeschools and has babies and preschool and elementary, etc. Anyhoo....she has done blanket training with the littles and it goes amazingly. She also has a drawer tower plastic thingy that she has only "school time" toys in for the pre-preschoolers (2-3 yr old)that they get to play with during school time. She sets a timer or something and they can play with their toys for 15min, then goes and gets a fresh one out so they don't get bored while she's in the midst of something with the big kids. Anyhow....if it's helpful. All kids are different and it may not work for your littles, but worth trying! Good luck!