Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Rewards of Persevering --Take 2

(Elodie went and sent this before I was ready to publish, and then Blogger went and lost the rest of the post when I did re-publish. So here is the complete post, re-posted AGAIN to prove that I have what it takes to persevere!)

Today was a productive day in a number of ways. The kids and I blasted our way through a bunch of grammar, my bed was made and bedroom tidied up as well as the ensuite, I thoroughly cleaned the half bath downstairs, my mudroom/laundry room was spotless, the laundry got done, Garnet did all his homeschooling, I went for a walk in the morning, I had a client in the afternoon, and it looks like he might be interested in becoming a business partner with my husband and I in our rapidly expanding home-based business and most of the housework is completed and it isn't even 7 pm yet.

One of the questions I get from time to time is "how do you do it all?" And then I have to sit down and think, "How DO I do it all?"

There was a time when I didn't do it all and I couldn't have managed the amount of children or work that I am doing now. When I only had one child, learning to manage her and my other duties consumed my time. Then 14 months later, another baby was added, and again I was stretched to accomodate two little people plus all the work they caused on top of looking after my home, cooking, etc. I didn't have the benefit of grandparents who were able to help out because they were 3 000 miles away. In addition, we moved around a lot which meant not being able to get to know anyone well enough to feel safe leaving the girls with them while I ran errands or went on a date with my husband. My husband also spent a lot of time away from home due to work, so single parenting was often something I had to do.

We hit critical mass when baby #6 was born and I had 3 in diapers (all cloth, the kind you had to fold) and my eldest was 9. At that point, I was not only doing most of the cleaning (with the children learning to do dishes and easy chores), I was also doing a load of diapers daily, several loads of other laundry, all the cooking, most of the cleaning, homeschooling, and baking bread and all other foods from scratch (meaning grinding the flour, etc.) and managing a garden. The pace was exhausting and somehow homeschooling was done in between it all. It was about this time that I began to read books on home management and to try and find ways to streamline what it is that I had to do. Books like Side-Tracked Home Executives (the same system adapted by the Fly Lady), and Don Aslett's Make Your House Do the Housework, were read and devoured and applied by yours truly. I also took his words about de-cluttering to heart and to this day try not to keep around things that are not being used on a regular basis because they only create more work in keeping them nice, storing , and cleaning them.

A few years ago I found out what all this sort of activity forced me into when my husband took an extended trip across Canada with four of my boys. All of a sudden, the number of hands I had available to help with chores went down, but so did the work. The laundry load dropped, the amount of food needed to feed people fell, as did the dishes and all sorts of other things. Cleaning the house with only five children left at home, including a toddler and baby, was a breeze and it was amazing how fast and easy it was to accomplish this. I was able to clean a
3 000 square foot home in half of the time it took me to clean a 1000 foot condo with only two children back in my young mothering days. In other words, I had grown into the job as it had grown, and the hardships and hard work had served to make me more efficient and proficient at what I was doing.

Another thing that happened along the way was that a lot of the fear and angst about babyhood and toddlers fell by the wayside as I became more experienced with having babies around. Instead, all my anxiety was reserved for the teen years, and I can honestly say that it has only been in the last few months that even that is beginning to give way as my husband and I have gained experience and counsel from those who have gone before us. Bear in mind, that it has taken us five teens to get to this point. Short of booting all the children out at the age of 13, we have had to persevere in learning the skills necessary for raising teens.

To sum up what I am trying to say: mothers and fathers should take encouragement from the fact that they can learn to be proficient at being parents and all round citizens if they stick with it. As a wise friend once told me, the only way to fail at this is to quit.

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