Boxes, Beds and Blessings

The last few days have been a whirlwind, but it also feels like they’re dragging by.  I have just been so exhausted the last week, but I added some b12 to my vitamin routine and think that’s helping a lot.  It’s so hard to keep a good attitude with four little ones when you just feel like passing out most of the day.  They all need so much extra love right now that I just haven’t had the energy to give.  It’s hard on them, and it’s frustrating for me.

Last night I felt like crying after two hours of one child deciding not to sleep, being so tired and knowing I had to to do the exact same thing tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day.  It’s overwhelming at times, but hoping that slump of a couple days is past us and things will start looking better now!  Other than the tiredness, though, things are still chugging on fairly smoothly.  And by fairly, I mean much better than I expected!

Yesterday it rained all day long.  I panicked when I woke up to pouring rain.  Four stir crazy kids cooped up in a house all day??  What was I going to do with them!?  TV only works for so long, especially with these ones.  Hope listens to the music for about one minute and then is bored (I don’t think she can actually see the screen; we really need to get her in to get her eyes checked.)  Stephen is like me, not much of a TV guy, he just runs around and causes problems for everyone else!  And my other two enjoy it, but only to a point.

So instead, I decided to introduce them to their Activity Boxes today.  This is an idea I’ve been saving in the back of my mind for a long time now, adapted from several different families’ approaches to occupying lots of littles at once when there are other things to be done.  I bought a little floor rug (the fun ones with the roads for little toy cars!) for each of the kiddos, and a box for their activities with their name on it.  I don’t have any toys in the boxes… except for the toy car that came with the rug… ahem.  But other than that, it’s just activities.  They have markers (washable!), crayons, coloring books, drawing paper, beads and threads, legos, alphabet cards, stickers, etc.

There are just two rules for their Activity Mats:

1. You may only use one activity at a time
2. You may not get off your mat.

If a child is not following the rules, the current activity they are using gets put in Mommy’s Box for the rest of the day.  Although, I have been pretty lenient about that so far until they get the gist of it.  We only do Activity Mats for about 15 minutes or so before moving on to something else.  The last thing I want is for them to be bored!  Yesterday we did it for a little longer; we spent about an hour and a half cleaning the house with these neat little boxes.  I would pick a room and a kiddo to help me clean it, the other two played on their Activity Mats until we finished.  Then we’d have a water/potty break and move on to the next room, taking turns on who got to help clean and who got to do activities.  It was a smashing success for our first go-round, and I cleaned three rooms with all four little ones awake and in the room with me!

Here are Jacob and Stephen enjoying their Activity Mats while Evangeline and I picked up the dining room:

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Hope does great sitting in her little chair and watching the others play while I clean.  I am trying to get her worked up to using the baby carrier more, but it’s just difficult.  She only tolerates it for a short time, and she is so so tall that in order to turn and look at something I have to physically lift my chin over her head.  That doesn’t make for very efficient cleaning or… anything.  So for now sitting up with some toys is our best option during chore time.

In other news, bedtime is going really well.  Some nights it’s totally frustrating that it takes at least an hour to get all four of them settled in and asleep.  But I think I might just have to readjust my expectations.  We did just double the amount of children we’re putting down at night, after all!  And we are truly blessed that all four of our children from 9 years down to 2 years have a nearly identical sleep cycle and that they all still nap during the day!  Yes, all of them.

This blog post is brought to you by nap time, the quietest and most relaxing part of your day.

So yes, we are doing well.  We are figuring out this new normal thing, repenting daily of all the many ways we’re failing as parents (opportunities for that have also instantly doubled… talk about a humbling experience), and getting up to do it all again the next day.  Some moments are harder than others, but I’m finding the happy moments are increasing and the hard moments are already getting smaller little by little.  We keep pressing on, making it through each day by God’s grace and usually a helping of chocolate (for me, not the kids).  Even in the hard moments, it’s obvious that we have been greatly blessed beyond what we deserve.

Comments

  1. Wow! what a plan! You sound organized. I’ll share a little thing I used to do with mine that you can try later on after they get used to your routine. When attention started to wander or the kids got restless, I would say” OK quick break, what am I?” taking turns each one acts like an animal and the others guess. One or two guesses each and one animal each. Not more than 5 min. total then go back to what you were doing. This worked for me when kids started to test me. It was a pretty good distraction, and saved discipline for more serious stuff.

  2. Hey, our four have been in our family for their whole lives, and it takes us an hour to settle them and get them to sleep every night. At least! It sounds like you all are doing really well.

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