Before having my son, my favorite sound in the world was birds chirping first thing in the morning. I loved waking up to a new day and hearing the birds singing outside my window. Now, after having my son, my favorite sound has become his laughter. It is simply the most beautiful sound in the world!
With a child’s laughter also comes a certain level of chaos (to put things mildly).
I like to be organized, scheduled, clean, on-time and quiet. None of that organically comes with raising children. As a type-A person, it has been difficult at times (many times) for me to adjust to his “toddlerisms”, which include: mess, noise, emotions, stickiness, rushing and unwavering energy.
Sometimes it seems that just as I crush my type-A urges and give way to his toddlerisms, he switches it up on me. For instance, the second I begin to enjoy his clinginess and look at it as extra snuggles, my little one swiftly turns on independent mode and pushes me away. I can almost guarantee this will happen during an occasion that could prove to be dangerous, like walking up or down a flight of stone steps (aka in or out of our church!!) or if we go for a walk outside and I bravely forgo the stroller. While I know that his independence is necessary and natural for him to learn and grow, it still stings when his chubby hand pushes me away as he fiercely yells “I DO!”
Instead of looking at my type-A as a curse, I consider it a blessing from God—if I keep it in check. Being type-A allows me to keep our family mostly organized, scheduled, on-time and clean. The key is not to let the chaos disturb me even when overwhelmed. To do this, I rely on the following techniques, which I think can benefit all parents, whether they are type-A accursed, I mean blessed, or not.
1. To-do lists.
I love my to-do lists and truly can’t say enough good things about having to-do lists. To put it simply, I feel the same way about to-do lists for my personal and professional life as I do about the Rosary for my spiritual life. Bearing the risk of being judged immensely by the world wide web, I will share that I use Microsoft Excel for my to-do list. Since delving further could quickly turn into a lengthy thesis on using Excel for to-do lists, I will save those intricacies for another blog post (which I imagine no one but me or other type-A individuals will want to read.)
2. Take each step, one at a time.
Just as I instruct my toddler to be careful, go slow and focus on each step that he is taking, I have to do the same thing for myself when I get overwhelmed. When I begin to feel the crushing weight of having to fold four baskets of clean laundry, clean the bathrooms, finish my to-do list for work, manage to get dinner on the table, all while making sure my little love is mostly content and not in harm’s way, I tell myself that I can’t do everything at once. I begin with one task first. To keep my mind from going on overdrive, I like to perform these mundane tasks while praying the Rosary! Focusing on the mysteries helps me to stay calm and not think of the countless other things that are waiting for me.
3. Tackle the biggest obstacle first.
When folding these four baskets of laundry, for instance, I find that if I fold the largest items in the baskets, the pile begins to look smaller faster. The same is true for my work. I arrange my to-do list with the priority items at the very top and then include the items that I really don’t want to do immediately after. As I begin to complete the priority and “I don’t really want to” tasks, not only does my to-do list become more manageable, but it also leaves me with tasks that don’t cause as much stress.
4. Try to stay calm.
I once read that regardless of what your child does, never let them affect your calm. At first, I rolled my eyes and laughed to myself, thinking this person clearly has never had children. But I then began to think of Jesus. In the Sorrowful mysteries, we mediate on the sufferings Christ endured up until the Crucifixion. Never once did Jesus waver in His love for us regardless of the torment, pain, anguish, loneliness and sufferings that He experienced. He didn’t say, “Sorry, I can’t handle all of this suffering. You all are going to have to deal with your sins on your own for all eternity.” As a Catholic, I am called to be like Jesus. This means that I should stay relatively calm when my son bites my trapezius or when he empties the recycling all over the kitchen floor. I can’t allow his toddlerisms to make me say or do something that could be hurtful. Plus, I try to remind myself of how patient and loving has Jesus been with me despite all of my sins and transgressions.
5. Try to enjoy the chaos.
Before you roll your eyes at me, laugh and imagine that I don’t have any children; I said try. Obviously, there is nothing enjoyable about a toddler biting you or causing large messes. However, children do bring happy moments and there are plenty of them. So, what I mean by enjoying the chaos is that while I clean up these large messes, I try to think about my toddler’s infectious laugh or how angelic he is when he falls asleep. Someone once told me that the days are long but the years are short. Boy is that true! Since I don’t want to realize this in hindsight, please excuse me while I go tickle my little love’s belly and revel in his laughter.
What are some ways that you manage the chaos? Please share with us on Facebook.
As always, thank you for reading. God bless you and may the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always!