The Best Laid Plans

I had planned on posting this last week, but I didn’t get to it.  So goes my life these days.

The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.  Despite the fact that this is actually a misquote from a Robert Burns poem, truer words have never been spoken for me these past few weeks.

Every autumn when the boys go back to school, I have grand plans and good intentions to accomplish a series of projects.  Things like reorganizing the study/office and redecorating the guest room.  Once we establish a new schedule and get into a rhythm, I’m usually good to go.  But not this year.  This year, I just can’t seem to get anything done.  Or even started for that matter.  Big or small, it doesn’t matter the size of the task.  I’ve become a procrastinator.

Case in point #1:  Back in August, I bought an unfinished bedside table to paint for my son’s room.  It’s still in my basement, untouched.

Case in point #2:  My financial advisor requested a document from me back on July 1.  I gave it to him last week … on September 25.

These delays are out of character for me.  Procrastination is not my norm.  I am usually a highly organized, do-things-right-away type of person.  I make lists, take care of business and cross things off those lists.  I thrive on that.  It gives me a sense of accomplishment and makes me happy.

As a planner, I wake up each morning before everyone else so I can map out my day.  I decide what needs to get done versus what I want to get done.  I review the color-coded family calendar (don’t hate!), consult my never-ending “To Do” list, take inventory of time-sensitive deadlines and factor in time for my workout and a shower (if I’m lucky).  Before I know it, the day is full of thankless, mundane “mom jobs.”   No time to write or start/finish any of those fabulous home projects I have lined up, like painting that bedside table or cleaning out the garage. On the off days when I do have time, I seem to be stuck.  An overwhelming feeling of being out of time has me frozen.

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So what gives?  Why do I feel more overwhelmed this school year?  I think I may have finally figured it out …

I lost almost four hours of my day.  Four hours!

Having two kids in two different schools means my “work day” starts earlier and ends later.  There are now two “shifts” to every aspect of my life, from the morning routine to the evening protocol.  (Thanks to long football practices, late showers and a second round of dinner are the norm now.)  Add in those unplanned time-stealers, like having to drive back to school to retrieve forgotten text books and homework assignments (yup, twice last week!), and I have even less time to handle my business.  No wonder I’m feeling squeezed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for sympathy.  I know I’m not the only one juggling multiple schedules.  And I know plenty of moms with more on their plates than me.  I’ve just come to the realization that my life has changed and until my youngest gets to middle school in three years, this will be my new normal.  I’m saying it aloud so it sinks in.

So what’s a highly organized, list-making, get-things-done person like me to do?  First, stop dwelling on how it used to be.  Next, change my attitude.  Then, make a new plan, leave room for the unexpected and get to work!  I’m sure there will still be days when the floors don’t get swept or someone arrives late to practice, but I’ll do my best and remember that there’s always tomorrow.

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As for all those personal projects I am hoping to accomplish, there’s still time.  How?  I’m bringing in the big guns to get me started … my mom.  She’s coming to visit for a couple of days to teach me how to sew.  I don’t expect to be making Halloween costumes anytime soon, but I should be able to hem a pair of pants by the end of the week … and cross something off my “To Do” list.

Now let’s keep our fingers crossed that everyone brings home their homework so I don’t have to make that extra trip back to school again.

– LJDT

Pee on the Seat and Other Bathroom Issues That Plague Me

Toilet paper should hang over the roll, urine should be cleaned up and toilet lids should be closed.  Simple rules, right?

I taught my boys during the potty training process that lifting the seat before and putting it back down afterwards was part of the urinating “routine.”  Just like the “shake it out” move before pulling up your pants, it’s just what you do.  For the most part, this lesson has stuck with them … You’re welcome, future wives.

It is rare that a toilet seat is left up in our house (thankfully), but that might be because it wasn’t lifted in the first place.  The only thing worse than falling into a cold toilet bowl is sitting on a urine-coated toilet seat … I’m sorry, future wives.

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But pee on the seat isn’t the only bathroom issue that plagues me.  Other irksome situations include:

  • Pee on the floor — It’s just as gross, maybe even more so than pee on the seat.  Aim!
  • Pee (or worse) in the toilet bowl — Ok, pee in there doesn’t really bother me too much, but the other does.  Flush!
  • An open toilet cover — One word: germs.  Close the lid (before you flush)!
  • An empty toilet roll — This is just rude.  Replace it!   And leaving a new roll on top of the empty one is lazy.  Put in on … oh, and be sure the paper hangs over, not under.  Side note:  I read an interesting article about toilet paper here that gives a little history, a few data points and a summary of how your orientation preference (over or under) synchs with your personality.  It was spot on for me and my preference.

I’m not saying that there’s always urine on the floor or poop in the toilet, but the boys could be a little tidier.  Luckily, we have multiple bathrooms so the bad aim and other lavatory calamities are mostly limited to their own personal bathrooms, which they are supposed to clean weekly (supposed to being the operative words).  After all, cleanliness is next to godliness.

– LJDT

Why I Hate Pajama Day at School

Yesterday, it happened.  We were only on the 11th day of the new school year when my most despised day of the year popped up already … pajama day.  My nemesis.

You’d think I had some sort of traumatic childhood experience that makes me dislike public wearing of sleepwear, but I didn’t.  I just don’t believe in it, plain and simple.

The funny thing is, my sister’s middle child went through a long phase where he’d only wear pajamas — all day, all the time, no matter where he was going — and I thought it was cute.  Granted, he was only 4 years old at the time and I only had one child at that point in my life so my opinions and feelings on topics such as this were still developing.  But nonetheless, I thought Michael was adorable.  [Added bonus:  Thanks to my sister’s generosity with hand-me-downs, I never had to buy my own kids pajamas when they turned that age.]

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How cute is my nephew (far left) in his winter-themed jammies during his “pj’s only” phase at age 4?

Even now, I’m okay with little kids wearing their pj’s outdoors.  Kids are quirky and stubborn and go through phases.  Plus, it’s cute at a young age, which is why I’m okay with the younger school-aged kids having a pajama day.  Preschoolers, kindergarteners, even first graders … Don those princess nightgowns and Superman cape-attached jammies with pride.  Second grader, proceed with caution.  This is a gray area for me because some of the kids seem too old for it.  And once children reach third grade, I think pajama days should be retired.  It just doesn’t seem right anymore.

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Back in the day when the boys wore pajama sets, c. 2010

Why my contempt for pajama day at school?

  1. It looks sloppy.  I’ve stated before that I do not dress my boys, which means they are often mismatched.  And I’m okay with that, for the most part.  But there’s something about mismatched pajamas in public that disturbs me.  It just looks sloppy.  And dirty.  And wrong.  This is just my opinion.
  2. It’s dirty.  I’m not a germaphobe, but kids are germ magnets.  Wearing pajamas to school — running around getting hot and sweaty, spilling paint and milk and all sorts of things on themselves — then coming home to sleep in those same filthy clothes … Eww!  I guess if your child has to wear nightwear to school, you could at least have them change into a fresh outfit for bedtime.  Compromise.
  3. It’s borderline inappropriate.  Once kids hit a certain age, around third grade or so, they stop wearing those coordinating character-themed sets.  Sleepwear becomes more haphazard and it’s just not cute anymore.  Many boys start wearing only boxer shorts to bed — not exactly school dress code approved.  And many girls now need a training bra, something that makes wearing pajamas out in public uncomfortable and a bit awkward.  In other words, after about second grade, kids are just too old.
  4. It looks ridiculous.  With my Fashion Police badge firmly in place, I declare that wearing sneakers with pajamas looks horrendous.  Yes, I know it’s a practical option, but it still looks ridiculous (as bad as men’s dress shoes with sweatpants or high heels with yoga pants) and furthers my case for no more sleepwear days.

So did my third-grader participate in the first of what is probably not the last school pajama day?  Sort of.  Despite my better judgement, I allowed him to wear boxer shorts (that looked like gym shorts) as long as he also wore underpants and an oversized t-shirt.  And sneakers, of course.  As I said, compromise.

I can only pray this is the last public pajama battle, but I think I know better.

– LJDT

Back to School, Week #2: Reality Check

Last week, I wrote about the most wonderful time of the year … the start of a new school year.  I love routines and schedules, and of course getting my life and house back.  I get sh*t done when school’s in session!

But not everyone agrees with me.  That’s okay, I respect that.  My guess is that those in opposition to my back-to-school euphoria are probably way more easy-going and carefree than me.  I wish I could live more spontaneously … have no plans … let the days unfold as they will … but it stresses me out.  So routines and schedules are my thing and I’m okay with that.

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True words for us Type-A planners

We are now almost finished with week #2 of school and reality has set in.  In my state of bliss, I had forgotten how much I dislike some of the things that come along with the start of a new school year.  To be more specific, I do not enjoy …

  • waking up sleepy boys — Yes, they use alarm clocks, but that selective hearing gene seems to get stronger as the school year wears on.
  • making school lunches — I would have the boys make their own lunches, but left to their own devises, their bags would be filled with less-than-nutritious choices.
  • running up hill to catch the school bus — We’re only on day #7 and already we’ve had to chase down the bus three times … oy!
  • doing homework — First week of elementary school assignments always involve photos, which means it’s really my homework.
  • shopping for school supplies (with the rest of my town) — Like the great Martin Luther King, Jr., I, too, have a dream … that one day supply lists will to be issued at the same time as class schedules (read: in advance) so we can shop at our leisure.
  • the premature push for all things autumn, especially Halloween — I love fall, but it’s still officially summer.  I’m not ready for sweaters and boots yet, let alone pumpkins and Halloween candy.
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Wasn’t it just Labor Day three days ago?  Even the grocery stores are pushing Halloween too early.

So as we wrap up week #2, my eyes are now open again and I’m prepared to take the good with the bad.  We’ll find our rhythm.  We’ll get into our routines.  And I will create a way to make the crappy parts of back to school more bearable.  I’m already compiling a morning “wake up” playlist to blast and thinking of having the boys make their next-day lunches while I make dinner each night … although I’m not sure how that second one will go over.

Only 3 weeks until our next day off from school … early L’Shana Tova!

– LJDT