Not that comfortable either. But, every day, three times a day, the peacefulness of this household was torn asunder by 4 children yelling "Prayer Chair!" as they raced to the sunroom. (Well, actually three were yelling, the fourth was just running along with the others, babbling whatever, delighted to be part of this fun game!) Let me tell you, nothing kills the serenity of family prayer time like a "knock 'em down, drag 'em out" over who gets to sit in this chair. It sort of reminds me of the days when my brothers and I would all go running to the car yelling "Shot Gun!" in hopes of being the one to get the front seat. So, I finally came to my senses and created, can you guess?... a schedule for the prayer chair. So now, on Monday and Thursday, Social Butterfly gets the chair.
On Tuesday and Friday, Jetter gets the chair,
and on Wednesday and Saturday, Builder gets the chair. (Beany enjoys sharing the chair with whomever happens to be sitting in it.)
Which brings me to another change for the new year that has brought some peace. Lunchboxes! Night Owl goes to highschool and takes a sack lunch every day. My other children have been very jealous of this because taking the sack lunch means some sort of treat (usually a power bar since Night Owl is all about beefing up for football these days.) Anyway, in response to their whining about Night Owl getting something better I said, "O.K., if you want a treat every day at lunch, you have to do what Night Owl does which is basically eat the same thing every day for lunch - a sandwich, chips, and the treat. Which, I might add seems so boring compared to the hot lunches you kids usually get. Night Owl would love macaroni and cheese for lunch, or leftover barbecued chicken, or hamburgers!" I was trying to convince them that they really had the better deal, but no, they still wanted that "treat" at all cost. So, I rummaged around and found four lunch boxes, all of them from Night Owl's early years in grade school, all of them with his name written on them somewhere. They each picked the one they liked and now each of the kids has a lunch box. So, every morning, when I make Night Owl's lunch, I make a lunch for the other 4 as well. I have to admit, while I was resistant at first, this has made our afternoon lunch time so much more peaceful! Instead of the kids running off to play while I cook something, then coming back to eat while I clean up the mess from the cooking, they just grab their bags, sit at the table and eat, and I read to them! It's a beautiful thing. AND, there's very little clean up. The "prayer chair person" collects all the empty bags and puts them in the cupboard and everybody is responsible to throw away their own trash. Wow, why did I resist this for so long?!
The third peace bringing change has been the restoration of our afternoon prayer time, and with that, quiet time. This has always been just a normal part of our day until this year. For some reason (probably several) I just couldn't make it work. I finally decided this was a matter of the will, not the circumstances. So, I told the kids that everyday, after their after-lunch time to play (we don't call it recess, but that's what it is) we will come back to the sunroom and pray. Period. So, we did! Once again, it's a beautiful thing. After our prayer is the perfect time to send them off to seperate rooms for some quiet time. The point of quiet time is that they read, or catch up on school work that they didn't finish that morning. I have to admit, I think Jetter spends most of his time drawing and Social Butterfly will often organize something in her room. But it's apparent that this is good anyway because the kids are so much more kind to each other when they return. It's like morning when they are actually happy to be in each other's company. It's good for me too. I would like to say I get all sorts of reading done at this time, but since Beany is resisiting his naps, I usually spend the time with him. This is a great time, when the rest of the house is quiet, to read to Beany, which he loves. We also work on his speech a little, but very little. When he turns 3, if he's still not talking we will get more intensive with that.
Number 4 is "No Work No Eat". Doesn't that sound mean? Don't worry, my kids aren't in danger of starving and they never go without a meal. The reason for starting this is that they were all becoming a bit sluggish about helping around here, or even picking up after themselves. When four kids are home all day, eating, playing, learning, etc., a house can get really messy really fast if no one but Mom is cleaning. So, I simply started saying things like "when you're beds are made and bedrooms tidied, you may have breakfast", and, "when you've all finished your afternoon chores we will have our tea time snack". Works like a charm! I suppose I should prepare myself for the child that says "I don't want a snack" because I'm sure it will come. I think though, that waiting from lunch all the way until dinner without a snack will be more difficult than they think. I'm guessing, after having to wait one time, they will probably do their chores readily the next time.
Number 5 was nothing I did on my own, but it's been an unexpected blessing. First I should give some background... Our relationship with the TV has been a love-hate thing for a long time. My husband and I enjoy sitting down, after the kids are asleep to watch a show together, or, in the fall, a Steelers football game. But during the day that black box continues to yell to my kids "come watch me"! All day, I hear things like "I'm done with my Math can I take a break and watch ___ (insert name of some silly show). Or, when I really think they should be playing outside in the afternoon when school is over I hear "But Mom, Cyber Chase is on" (or some other show). It drives me crazy. I have to be very stern with my "no" or I am badgered endlessly. Worse is when I allow them to watch what looks like an okay show and then some commercial pops up enticing them to buy some sort of toy that they don't need or we can't afford. Then they start feeling sorry for themselves because they have "no toys". Oh Puh-leasssssse! So, I've been praying about this. It seemed kind of extreme to get rid of the TV completely. There are good things on and on snowy mornings, it's the quickest way to find out about school closings. I could just say "no TV" and that's that ... but I'm weak. Well, God answered our prayer and the Cable Company did the work. All of a sudden we only get a few channels. The only channels for the kids at all are PBS channels! Wow, life is okay without Dora! The kids don't even turn it on now, except for the hours just before dinner when it's dark outside. And that's okay!
So 5 things that really didn't take all that much effort and we have so much more peace in our day. I'm always about "big plans" and "huge projects" that I never get to. These are just minor changes that have made some major differences around here. I am truly thankful!