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Mama's Priorities -OR- How I Will Probably Win the Worst Mother of the Year Award, But I Don't Even Care

Yesterday's post was pretty much a downer, but that is who I am right now, a downer.  But I think I have found a way to make my life easier to cope with.  No, I am not going to start drinking first thing in the morning LOL.  I am going to live my life with PRIORITIES!

I have always had a mental list of priorities for my someday family, but somehow lost track of them in all the mess of going from zero to three kids in less than a year.  My priorities list probably won't sit well with some of my readers (actually I deleted my Facebook, so who knows if anyone will even read this...?) because it is decidedly NOT child-centered.  I have always wanted children, and I have always wanted to be a "fun mom", but have NEVER wanted to be my children's friends.  I have done A LOT of internet reading on old fashioned parenting and have decided that the best way to train "my" children correctly is to demonstrate to them how to be an adult, not cater to their every whim and fancy.  This is NOT an exhaustive list, and only include things that are in my literally everyday life.  Some things, like friends and family, are fairly high on the list, but because I don't see them everyday and they are always prioritized highly, I don't have them on the list.
    1. My Relationship with God
      God should always come first in importance.  Many people start their day with Bible reading.  I don't intend to do that since I have to start my day with diaper changes and feeding the children.  Plus this is a very important area to demonstrate to the children.  So from now on, after breakfast I am going to sit down and have Bible time.  I am not making a huge commitment, I am just going to read the children a Bible story, then have them sit and look at Bible story books while I read a devotional.  Then I will read a chapter of the Bible outloud, followed by reading a chapter of "Leading Little One's to God".  Also at least most of the time, instead of listening to Oldies or Pop music, I am going to turn on Christian music.
    2. The Children's Well-being
      This is NOT the children's entertainment, or even the children's happiness.  It is their physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being.  Meaning that I need to make sure the children are safe, fed, clean, and dressed.  I also need to make sure that they get affection and know that they are loved.  This is an area that I already do pretty good in (except for the dressed part, sometimes it seems like a pajama day).  This area also includes training them in morals, values, manners and behavior.  I try really hard in this area, but I lack consistency.  Starting now I am requiring first time obedience or its a trip to the corner.  I don't actually believe that time-out is a valuable form of discipline for small children, but since corporeal punishment is not something I am allowed to use, it has to do.  I will not reason or argue with the children.  I will only yell if what they did scares the crap out of me (because when a small child steps into the street, its terrifying and I can't really help but scream).  I will teach them right from wrong.  I will not allow them to be rude, to me, my husband, each other, or other people.  I will teach them to say "Yes/no ma'am/sir" not "okay/uh-uh".  They will display table manners appropriate for their age or they can be removed from the table.  I will spend at least 15 minutes a day (I know it doesn't seem like much, but with 4 kids during the day that is one hour) having individual time with each child doing something fun.
    3. My Husband
      Although I believe that your husband should be more important than your children (abusive circumstances are an exception), the fact is that small children cannot survive without parental input.  Also the children are home with me all day,   For this I need to stop doing things that annoy my husband, stop complaining about my husband, and do what I can to make his life pleasant.  One thing that I really need to work on is not letting the children interrupt discussions with my husband, as that is teaching them rude habits, a self-centered attitude, and is placing their desires above my husbands.  Also included here is personal appearance.  Not in a vain, must be fashionable way, but in a wouldn't it be nice if Michael came home to a wife that had brushed her hair and wasn't wearing yoga pants way.
    4. A Clean and Tidy House
      Many people say that you can't have a clean house and kids.  I beg to differ.  Not because I have a clean house (remember my house hasn't been clean in at least a month and a half) on a regular basis, but because my mom did, and my friend's mom did.  If I am doing my job of training the children properly, then I can clean my house.  If I am not doing my job properly, then I am to busy distracting and entertaining the children to do this important part of my job as a stay at home mom.  From what I can tell from reading on the internet, mothers used to be a lot more hands off.  I have VERY fond memories of my childhood, and a great relationship with my mom, but I don't remember her playing with us on a constant basis.  She spent lots of time with us, and we knew we were very loved, but we played mostly with our siblings or by ourselves.  I am going old-school, and I am NOT going to feel guilty about it.  The children are going to have two choices: playroom or blankets.  If they can play nicely (not calmly, they can run and jump (not on the furniture) and yell and have fun, but they have to be kind to one another and to their toys) they can play in the playroom, and if they cannot, then they can come sit and play quietly or read on a blanket in the family room so I can get my house cleaned so we can all have a nice home to live in.  The baby will spend this time split between the playpen (I know, I am getting worst mom of the year award here!) and being worn on my back.  
    5. Fresh Air, Exercise, Learning
      These are things that I feel need to be done with the children.  It is important to me that the kids get lots of time outside.  Since I don't have a fence, or a visible backyard (big old detached garage in the way) the kids can't just go play outside while I watch them as I do dishes.  So they don't get as much time outside as I would like, but I aim for at least an hour a day, even if its raining.  As the weather gets nicer I am planning to have many of our meals outside so we can get more fresh air and sunshine.  In addition to time outside, I think it is important that they are learning about, well everything.  They are very small and don't know much about how the world works.  The main way that I work to impart knowledge to the children is by reading to them, which I need to prioritize more often.  My goal is to read to them for 45 minutes a day, split into three 15 minute sessions.

    6. Productive Entertainment
      Next on my priority list is the hobbies and interests that result in some positive outcome.  Examples of this would be sewing, baking and gardening.  They are things that will teach the children good ways to spend their free time.  Children need to learn that their are better ways to use their time than watching TV or some other screen-centric activity (I say as I blog :P)  
    7. Children's Entertainment
      Yup, way down towards the end of the list is entertaining the children.  I am putting my foot down.  I am not an entertainer.  I am a nurturer, I am a cook, I am a maid, I am a teacher, I am an example, and I am an adult.  I do not enjoy playing imaginative games with the children, because somewhere along the line I lost a good portion of my imagination.  I want to spend both quality and quantity time with the children, but that can be done in many, many ways that do not involve me playing with cars or Barbies.  I eat meals with them, I read to them, I do puzzles with them, I run around outside with them, I snuggle them, I tickle them, I take walks with them, I pray with them, I color with them, and in the evenings, I watch Gilligan's Island or I Love Lucy with them.  I spend a lot of time with them, but I am not going to play with them on a regular basis anymore.  As they get older I will play board games with them.  I might even have a tea party or something that boys like to do (I can't think of anything at the moment...) sometimes, but if you want to play Barbies or cars, find a friend/sibling or use your imagination.  The reason this is on my list at all is because of two things:
      1. It is important to me that they learn to entertain THEMSELVES.  I have started limiting the toys that they have at any given time, because I want to have them actually use the toys not just throw them all on the floor and step on them.  I am hoping to build enough trust that I can leave them with some art supplies, puzzles or workbooks and know they are not just going to tear them up or color on the wall or some other awful thing.  I want them to have attention spans and not have a constant need to be entertained.  I don't sit them in front of the TV very often (one old TV show a night, and a kid's movie on Friday afternoon) and I almost always watch with them and I always require that they sit still and actually pay attention.  I fast forward the commercials and am teaching them that they are designed to make you want things you don't need.  I take the batteries out of all their battery operated toys because not only do they drive me crazy, but I don't feel that they are beneficial for the children's growth.  I care A LOT about the quality of their entertainment, but on a day to day basis, it is a low priority activity, because i am not very involved in it.
      2. It is a higher priority than the last thing on my list.
    8. Lazy Entertainment
      Bottom of the list is the stuff I do while sitting on my butt that serves no practical purpose at all.  Wasting time on the internet, watching TV, playing video games, etc.  These are things that are not being a good example of an adult, and are literally just a waste of time.  From now on, my goal is that the children do not see me zoning out in front of a screen.  If I have time to zone out, then I have time to clean, read a story, call a friend, or bake some bread.  I want to teach them to be the best adult they can be, and to do that, I need to be the best adult I can be.  
I am going to work to come up with a schedule that fits my priorities.  I am also going to write up a list of rules for the children, which will be meaningless to them since only Hadlee can sort of read, but will serve as a reminder of what I want to teach them, so I can be more consistent with my discipline.

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