It is now February and, as much as I hate to admit it, we are still recovering from the holidays.
The lack of routine, the lack of sleep, the lack of control – it has left a lot lacking in our daily lives.
Add to the chaos, a trip to the hospital for my son, and no less than four doctors appointments in three weeks, and we are a total mess.
Because it has been such a tough transition (sing with me – Back to life, Back to reality), I find I am grasping at anything, and everything, that will make life a little more doable.
Here are 5 things that are making my days easier right now.
Giving Up and Going To The Aquarium Store
No joke. We have been to the aquarium store at least twice a week (and more like 3-4 times a week) in the past month. When we just aren’t doing well here – the anxiety levels are rising, the school work is overwhelming, momma is crying again in the bathroom, and too much screen time is taking its toll – I find that calling a time out and heading to the aquarium store, re-boots our day.
My eldest son (who has a serious obsession with them) has now convinced my youngest, that fish tanks are cool. This means that both of them consider it a treat to walk around, and discuss all the finer points of fish care for an hour or so. Moreover, they are engaged with each other (read: not fighting), and even with the folks at the store. Yesterday, the owner actually called my son over to the register and asked him what the technical name of an aquatic plant was, because he needed to look it up in the system and couldn’t remember.
It takes only an hour or two to get us back on track. I am learning to accept, and even appreciate the fact, that these trips have become a necessary part of our routine.
You don’t even know the amount of stress this one has saved me. Amazon Fresh is Amazon’s grocery delivery service. (It is not available in all areas, yet. But I think any grocery delivery, from any store, would likely have the same, anxiety reducing effect.) Every single week, I was struggling to shop for groceries. My son hates the grocery store, mostly because the lighting gives him a headache, and if it’s busy, forget about it. I found myself either forcing the boys to come with me, and then rushing through in a mad dash, forgetting half the things I needed anyway in an attempt to avoid a meltdown, or taking my very, very precious time alone to shop for food. Both were overwhelming me.
Enter online grocery shopping. Oh my land. I thought it was going to cost more. I was WRONG. An item or two might be higher, but overall, the prices are comparable, and even less sometimes, than my local store. Moreover, I actually spend less. A lot less. Because I can actually think about what I am doing, I can take my time. I can walk over to the pantry and the refrigerator, to check if we have any ketchup left or need more pasta. Also, there is a running total on the screen at all times, so I can see how close I am to my weekly grocery budget.
I am serious when I say, this one has changed my life for the better.
Forcing Myself to Get Up Before My Boys
Something about the holidays got me way off on this one. But waking up to “MOMMMMMMMMAAAAAAHHHHHHH,” is not my favorite way to start the day. Plus, I am a better mom when I am not resenting my children for taking up my every waking moment.
As much as I resisted it at first, getting back into the practice of getting up an hour or two before the boys has made me less anxious and more joyful. Because I feel like I get the time I need first, I can freely give and care for them without anger and resentment building.
Reading Games Everyday
My youngest needs to practice reading every day, no matter what. Dyslexia requires a consistency, that our life just sometimes doesn’t do very well. I find I have been really stressed about finding ways to keep him engaged and learning, when everything else is a little crazy.
A few weeks ago, I took some time on a Sunday afternoon and wrote down every reading game I could think of (I even made up a few – like sight words written on ping-pong balls that he can toss into a basket after he reads them – because necessity clearly is the mother of invention!). Now, even if our day gets off track, I know I can just play one of the games with him for review, and not feel like I am ruining his chances of adult literacy. An added bonus is that he thinks its fun.
Seriously, I am not sure how we would ever make it anywhere in the car without audio books! Every single time my two boys are in the car together, an audio book is on. The car used to be a place of stress and meltdowns. Now, everyone is quiet, engaged and even enjoying quality literature.
Some days, I load them into the car and just drive around, so we can all relax a bit. Audio books are my favorite.
So, this is what’s working for me right now.
What are you finding makes your life a little easier? Share with us below, or snap a picture and tag me in it on Instagram – @NotTheFormerThings.
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.