Yesterday morning I hired a sitter so I could go someplace offsite and dig into writing without being interrupted by children bashing each other , wailing over toys being taken, or making epic messes. Example A: Nicholas is beating on the box to Alex’s toy using a stick. This annoys Alex, who decides the best way to stop Nicholas is to beat on the stick using the box. I know. It doesn’t make any sense to me, either. And in the process, he lands a blow on Nicholas’ temple which is still swollen two days later. Example B: I come home from a generally successful writing morning to discover that Julianna has dumped out all the Anomia cards, all the Memory cards, all the Crazy 8 cards, all the Snap cards, and part of the Uno cards. And that was only Julianna’s part of the mess. Example C: When I come upstairs after making her clean it up, I discover that Michael has been playing at the table with the water pitcher, a cereal bowl and two glasses, all of which had liquids left in them.
Christian was gone from Saturday through Tuesday, and during that time I basically did no writing at all. I simply accepted that my life was about being a mom and keeping all of us sane. And it was successful, which was very revealing. During this weekend I also began reading a book: Organized Simplicity. Since chaos and disorderliness seems to be my life, and since these things stress me ridiculously, and since I spent the whole last half of the school year wailing to my husband that we were doing too much and we couldn’t keep this pace up, it seemed like the answer to a prayer.
Of course, I haven’t made it very far into the book, but the initial task is to come up with a family mission statement to direct everything else you do. Her discerning process involves a questionnaire. Here is part of mine:
Collectively we are at our best when we are…organized and not overscheduled, when we don’t have commitments piled on top of messes needing to be cleaned. That’s when we can enjoy each other’s company. We are at our worst when we are…fighting to juggle all the commitments: baths and cleaning and writing and lessons and practices.
If we had a completely free day as a family, how would we spend it?
We would do something outdoors–bike ride, playground, pool, etc.–and have both family breakfast and family dinner. Otherwise we’d probably do about what we do now, just at a more relaxed pace. Go get ice cream. Go see a movie. Something fun.
Name three things we think we could do better as a family.
1–home organization, i.e. cleanliness
2–starting early, so we don’t end up doing things in a rush all at the last minute
3–“unplugged” time as a family
What would we like people to say about our family as a whole in thirty years? I’d like them to say, “What a great family. Look how much they love each other. I want to be like them.”
If we could name one principle from which we want our family to operate, what would it be? Seeking God in each other and in all life’s situations.
What are the top priorities we want our family to value? Stewardship of our material things, of the earth, of our gifts and of our talents.
What is the main purpose of our home? To provide a safe haven and a place of rest and unconditional love for all our family members.
All this adds up to my first attempt at a, well, at least a personal mission statement, since I’m not involving the whole family:
To use our activities, our home, and our possessions in such a way that we can live in tranquility amid busyness, not let love be overwhelmed by the stress of chaos, and be an inviting example of what a Godly family can be.
That book sounds intriguing!
That’s exactly what I thought when someone else mentioned it online. I have it from the library. Put in a hold request. 🙂
I think you are an amazing mom. Yes, i hear the frustration of not having quiet time to write but that’s part of being a mom. From 1991-2006, I read maybe a handful of adult books (my passion) but now have time for at least one a week in addition to volunteering at our local children’s theater.
🙂 One of the things the author talks about is the fact that certain seasons of your life make it impossible to hold the ideal of simplicity. (I’m definitely there!) But she is quick to also point out that it’s wwwwaaaayyyy too easy to use the “season” as an excuse to load up and have a life that’s permanently too busy and cluttered with unimportant material goods & commitments.
I am so glad you posted about the book – we’ve been talking and talking and talking about a mission statement for years. I look forward to digging into this one!
Good luck! I haven’t broached the topic with my husband, so I’m kind of going it alone right now, trying to keep in mind what I know about his beliefs and preferences. But he tore into the kids’ bedrooms yesterday, so I think we’re more on the same page than it would seem, not having talked about it!
Great things to think about! With two teens, I especially like the “unplugged” idea; in fact, my husband and I were just talking the other day that we are going to plan one electronics/computer/phone free day in the near future.