A Good, Swift Kick in the Ass

After my last post whining about not having my shit together, I had complained about the same stuff to Dr. T wherein she promptly tore me a new one (albeit, nicely).

She basically said that I had a vicious cycle of having high standards, being extreme and either doing everything at once or doing nothing at all.  Of course, I would get overwhelmed and do nothing and then get more depressed.

She reiterated wanting me to consider medication because I have such a difficulty overcoming inertia that she wonders if it has something to do with my serotonin levels. Either that or exercise. I had to try not to laugh in her face at that suggestion.

However, since I didn’t want to do either, I got my ass in gear.

Nothing motivates me, it seems, like the threat of medication.*

So, I cleared out my laundry room. It doesn’t sound like a big deal except for the fact that it was so crammed full of stuff that we could barely squeeze in to do laundry. Basically, every time we had a party or had to clear the kitchen table, we shoved all the stuff into a huge bag and then shoved that into the laundry room.

Going through all the artwork and mail and bags and bags of stuff was literally like going through a time capsule of our last year. I know because the last time I cleared the laundry room was a year ago.

Bye bye, labors of love from my darling children! My entire recycling can is full of art. Whoooo!

I did remember to take pictures of them, though. I also took pictures of the art we had on the walls and took lots of the older pieces down to replace with their newer pieces. Very exciting. Cookie Monster was less thrilled and exclaimed, “No fair!” Not sure what was so unfair but hey, he’s not six yet so who knows if he even knows what that means!

Here is my glorious laundry room:

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Of course, this took ALL day (thanks, Hapa Papa for taking the kids out) and it lasted all of five minutes because I still need some place to put this:

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Not to mention my breadmaker that I bought at least a year ago that I should really move back out to the garage.

Likely I will just shove into one of my cabinets. I have to clear those out, too.

And because I wanted to procrastinate cleaning the laundry room, I also did some homeschooling (on a Sunday, too!) and began to rearrange the contents of my homeschooling bookshelves. I reluctantly moved all my nonfiction books into the bookshelf in my office/guest room closet. Is it wrong that the main reason I was reluctant to do so is because now, when people come over and browse my books, they won’t see my “intellectual” books?

I’m such a poseur.

Now I just have to move piecemeal through the rest of my house (going from biggest pain point to the next). Of course, all this means is that I will have to end up cleaning my laundry room again because I will have moved and dumped all the stuff from the other rooms there.

FML.

*A/N: To clarify: I think medication is great, useful, and lifesaving. (Whether the garden variety of antibiotics and vaccines, or the serotonin regulators, etc. for depression et. al.) I, personally, do not feel it is what I want at the moment. I may change my mind if I need to in the future.

Non-negotiables in Parenting

Every parent has a set of non-negotiables for their kids. Some more than others. I have very few because I am ultimately, a really lazy parent. It also helps me not to have an apoplexy every time my kids don’t do something the way I want it.

Here are my main non-negotiables (of course, I may discover more as both I and my children grow older):

1) Breakfast – They MUST eat a good breakfast (99% of the time, it is plain oatmeal with milk). The rest of the day may be shot to hell with snacks and stubborn toddlers refusing lunch and dinner and wanting only cookies, but dammit, they WILL eat a good breakfast.

2) Cleaning Up – Before my kids can pull out another toy, they have to put away what they’re currently playing with. Sometimes, the rules get lax when I’m tired or there is a playdate at my house (because can you honestly enforce that with 10 children running amok in your house?), but ultimately, I make my kids clean up their mess. Otherwise, it’s Time Out! (My Facebook friends can attest to my children’s constant Time Out statuses.) This avoids my house looking like a tornado tore through and prevents foot injuries from Legos and small dinosaurs.

3) Learning and using Mandarin – I try to speak to my children 90% of the time in Mandarin Chinese. It’s easy right now since their vocabulary needs are right in line with my abilities. But I do admit, I never knew I had to look up so many trucks and animals in Chinese (thank goodness for the iPhone app!).

I know it will just get more and more difficult to enforce when the kids get older and their vocabularies and interests expand. This is why I go out of my way to enroll my kids in Mandarin Mommy and Me classes, Mandarin preschool, (all provided by the awesome Po-Wen of Fun Learning Mandarin), Mandarin Language Playdates, buying Mandarin DVDs of shows, etc. I’ll likely also sign up Cookie Monster for Chinese School (12+ years of Saturdays gone – just like that!) next year when he is old enough. I am thinking of signing him up for some more Mandarin classes with other teachers as well.

If I were more hardcore, I would ban the kids from watching any shows not in Mandarin, but since I value expediency and convenience more than watching Chinese DVDs, I totally suck at this. I make the kids listen to Chinese songs and stories on CD and try to speak Mandarin and surround myself with Mandarin speakers as much as possible. But of course, we live in the real world and that will be harder and harder – especially when Cookie Monster goes off to Kindergarten in two years.

Sadly, Gamera speaks a lot more English than Mandarin, but she does understand both very well. She is also starting to speak more Mandarin so that makes me happier. Unfortunately, this is the consequence of being a second child. Cookie Monster pretty much ONLY spoke Mandarin until 18 months or so (and then I ruined it all by letting him watch copious amounts of TV and YouTube). Now, Cookie Monster and Gamera pretty much converse only in English. (Broken, Fobby English, but English nonetheless.)

When I read bedtime stories to them, I usually simultaneously translate the stories into Chinese vs. reading them in English. This does unfortunately ruin the rhythm of many children’s books, but I don’t feel bad because Hapa Papa obviously reads these stories to them in English so they’re not missing out on too much. They get both! I have a feeling this will fall by the wayside once the books advance. I’m not THAT good. hahah. Fortunately, I have a decent amount of Chinese books that my mother either saved for me, or that I have purchased – so I have that going for me.

As you can see by the length of this non-negotiable, it is SUPER important to me. I may have resented being sent to Chinese School for my entire K-12 life and missing out on so many Saturday morning cartoons and perhaps the opportunity costs of sports/arts/etc., but now that I’m in my mid-thirties, I am incredibly grateful to my crazy parents for sticking to it for so long.

And that, my friends, is the end of my non-negotiables. I think I have so few because it takes so much energy to focus really, really well and enforce them. Obviously, I have other rules, etc., but these are the things I MUST do every day. Other things can slide or fall by the wayside occasionally, but these things, I am adamant about promoting. I think that’s the only reason it’s stuck for 3.5+ years so far. After all, I am pretty flighty, and other than my goal of having four kids ~22 months apart (3 down, 1 to go!), this is the only thing I’ve ever consistently accomplished.

Ok, your turn! What are your non-negotiables? (And perhaps, why, if you are so inclined to expand in the comments.)