Have you ever watched Wife Swap? Or Trading Spouses? I'll admit first hand that I am addicted to these shows, no matter how trashy or ridiculous they may be. Most of the time, it makes me feel much better about how our little family runs things. It's also interesting to see all the different family dynamics, even though I know a lot of it is played up for the camera. I'm a writer, people watching is my favorite activity!
Anyways, Almost-Husband and I have joked around about applying to be on one of these shows. In fact, we've joked about having our own reality show and it's always fun to think about. However, in both of these scenarios we would probably be the most boring family on television.
The fact that we are painfully average hasn't stopped me from writing a play book, however. I'll be honest, both of those shows kind of bleed together in my mind, leaving me unable to remember which one of them has the mom write a guide to the running of her household. I am also to lazy to Google it, because ultimately it doesn't matter. What matters is, I'm going to share with you a condensed version of what my rule book would say.
As tempting as it is to write out how things would ideally run, I'm going to go all out and be entirely honest about what my life looks like.
|The rules are simple, really.
Perhaps too simple.
A Guide To The Blaze Household:
So, you've decided to take on the challenge of becoming me. Congratulations! Ditch your bra, put on your yoga pants, slip on an over-sized concert t-shirt, and throw your hair into a pony-tail, you're in for a hectically lazy ride!
I wake up when I wake up.
Most times, this is whenever The Princess (2 years old) decides to wake up, somewhere between 7am and 9am. A note of importance here, even if she sleeps in until 10 or 11, I wake up around our usual time. Consider this a bonus and use this time to write or dick around on the internet. If you wake up with The Princess, she will require a sippy cup of milk IMMEDIATELY upon waking. While the two of you slowly acclimate to being awake, take the time to cuddle on the couch and watch cartoons. If you can position yourselves properly, you can work on the computer or read a book while she snuggles on your lap.
Do NOT lose sight of this thing.
Trust me, it's more for your sanity than hers.
Breakfast comes whenever the little one decides she's finally ready to eat. This generally occurs after about 8 repetitions of "are you hungry?", or about an hour or so after the morning sippy-cup/diaper change routine. This meal generally consists of dry cereal and/or some fruit. However, there is always a chance that she will refuse everything you put in front of her. In this situation, just grab some fruit snacks, crackers, cookies--whatever she will eat--and hand her a "juice box". Under no circumstances let on that this "juice box" is a squeezable packet of baby food that contains both fruit and vegetables. As for you, a bottle of Coca-Cola and a few bites of the food The Princess refused to eat will suffice.
Next, dress the child. This can take a considerable amount of time, as she will insist on doing it
herself, and only on her terms. While she's dilly-dallying, brush your teeth, straighten your ponytail, and throw on a sweatshirt to conceal the fact that you are not wearing a bra. Once you are both ready for the day, it's time to make your morning run to the grocery store. The store is only a block and a half away, which will drive you nuts as you battle the Princess over getting in her car seat. In all actuality, you could have walked there and back by the time you load her up. At the store, try to grab only the essentials for the day and then head back home.
Continue to do your own thing, working on some writing, checking emails, or what have you, stopping to play when approached by The Princess or to change diapers, until 11:30 or so. At this time, you will move to the kitchen (most likely carrying The Princess) and start a pot of coffee for Almost-Husband, who is still in bed as he works until 2am. While the coffee is brewing, you can attempt to get a little housework done (more on that later).
Around noon, take the prepared coffee to Almost-Husband. Gently wake him up, telling him his coffee is ready. Set it by the bed and move on, working on the house a bit more or chasing the toddler around.
At 12:30, attempt to wake the man again. This can continue until about 1pm. At this time, all three of you will pile into the bed for family snuggles. Almost-Husband will put some music on his phone and you will play with The Princess, talk about the day ahead, and be surprised when the clock says 2:30.
At this point, you will remember that The Princess probably needs lunch. Lunch can consist of anything from a pre-made Gerber meal (particularly the ravioli "pick ups"), a lunchable, last night's leftovers...whatever you can get her to eat. *See breakfast ideas above. Again, you will probably not eat at this time.
Once Almost-Husband is out of bed, he will turn on the Xbox, head over to YouTube, and play some music (generally heavy metal) at obnoxiously loud levels to pump himself up for the day. This is a great time to dance and sing with the little one and teach her important things about the various bands you're listening to.
|Our family motto.
While he showers and what-not, continue attempting to do housework or work on the computer, again, pausing whenever approached by a tiny girl wanting to read or play.
At 4pm, Almost-Husband will go to work. Turn down the TV, lament over the fact that it is too late to put the little one down for a nap, and either put on more music or turn the TV to cartoons. Resume trying to work around the little one, being sure to include her whenever possible and to stop to play frequently.
At 7pm, try to involve the little one in a movie so you can start dinner. This will last about 10 minutes, so plan accordingly. Turn on some music in the kitchen and realize you forgot to take meat out of the freezer to thaw. Pop it in the microwave and work on prepping the rest of the meal and/or straightening up the kitchen while you wait. You will also be fighting to keep the 2 year old out of the cabinets and off of the counters. She will want to be held the entire time. You can either do it, or listen to her
scream for the next hour. Try to involve her as much as possible.
|In all actuality, you will be performing most of your tasks like this.
I really wish I was exaggerating.
At 8pm, Almost-Husband and one of his best friends will come home for "lunch". They only have a half-hour break, so be sure everything is ready to go. Dinner is served at the table. This is a great time to catch up and remind your child 18 billion times that food belongs in her mouth or on her plate, not on the floor.
Once the boys leave, it's time to pick up the dinner mess and take a shower, making sure you have a sippy cup of milk ready by the bed before you get in. Of course, The Princess will accompany you. Put the plug in the drain so that the tub fills up and she can play in the water, maybe run some bubbles for her. She may refuse to let you wash her hair. This is acceptable for up to three nights in a row. After that, you're just going to have to force it on her. It's about like giving a cat a bath, however, so be prepared. Once you have hurried through your routine, step out and let her continue to play in the water while you dry off, brush your teeth, put on a fresh yoga pants/t-shirt combo, etc.
Once you've gotten The Princess out of the tub and done the tooth and hair brushing, spend a good 20 minutes fighting her to put on a diaper and another 15 or so minutes fighting her into her PJs. At this point, she will remind you to shut the doors, turn on the fan, and turn on the TV. Convince her to read a book while snuggled on the bed, then sing her a medley of Beatles songs, beginning with "Yesterday" and ending with "Golden Slumbers". If she is still not sleepy, continue to "Amazing Grace" and "People Get Ready". If this fails, simply refill her sippy cup, give her kisses, tell her goodnight, and then tell her to quietly watch TV. Under no circumstances should you put on a kids show. Watch whatever you want, the idea is to bore her.
Play around on your phone, work on the computer, write in your journal. Don't engage with her. Each time she tries to get up, lay her back down and remind her it's sleep time. Sometime between 10 and midnight she will finally crash. If you haven't already fallen asleep with her, sneak out to eat some chocolate, cookies, or anything else you didn't want to share with her during the day. Finish up whatever you couldn't accomplish before she crashed and then get yourself some sleep.
Do what you can. That's it,
Make sure trash gets put in the trash can. Make sure dishes go to the kitchen. Clean up spills as the come. Scoop the cat box in the morning when you empty out the bathroom trash. If you're feeling ambitious, run the dishwasher. If you decide to do laundry, make sure it sits in the washer a full 24 hours before it makes it to the dryer. Do not take it out of the dryer until you need to put a new load in. Let the clean clothes sit in baskets until they are all full, then spend most of a day putting it all away.
If you can fit it in, do a quick pick up and sweep. Don't worry about where things actually go or making sure your shelves are neat. Just shove things anywhere. Out of sight, out of mind. Make plans to thoroughly clean and organize over the weekend when Almost-Husband will be there to help with the little one. When that doesn't happen, reschedule for next weekend.
Bills and Errands:
Payday is on Thursday. Ignore the carefully laid out bill-pay schedule you've created and do what you can while making sure you have money for groceries and other incidentals. Toys, new clothes (for the adults), and other "fun" stuff are not in the cards. Don't even dream of them. Almost-Husband knows next to nothing about the budget, so be sure to remind him of what bills are due and that you're strapped when he inevitably asks where all the money went or mentions something cool he saw online that he would like to have.
Try to do all your errands and shopping on Friday in my hometown 30 minutes away. My mother gets off at noon on Wednesdays and Fridays, and it is much, much easier to get everything done with a more seasoned mommy to help with The Princess. Ignore your meal plan as much as possible so that you have a reason to run to the store each morning. Put off at least two errands for "next week" to maximize the time you get to spend chilling out with Mom and to be sure you are home early enough to "get stuff done".
Ha! This is not a thing. Avoid any and all social interaction, rationalizing that once you get caught up, you will make plans with a long list of family and friends. Have a drink to ease your guilt over not spending enough time with the people you care about.
|"It's OK. I'm here for you."
--My bottle of Moscoto
Sunday nights are family night. Snuggle on the couch as a family and watch the newest episode of The Simpsons, along with the rest of the Animation Domination block. If it's Walking Dead season, watch the late replay to avoid scheduling conflicts.
Sundays are also a great time to show your unfinished to-do list to Almost-Husband and have a good cry about how you don't have enough time to accomplish anything. Get unduly upset when he reminds you that you're doing a good job and points out all the things that you did, in fact, accomplish. Whine about how it was all stuff you "had to do" versus things you "wanted to do". Rattle off a list of complaints and ignore all suggested solutions, except the one about wine. Have some wine and allow yourself to relax.
This is the perfect time to revise your to-do list for the coming week. Make sure it is longer than necessary and includes vague items like "get better at using social media" and "figure out your plan". Also be sure to include large goals that cannot possibly be accomplished in one week, such as "deep clean and declutter entire house" and "finish first draft of book". Be sure to add things to the list throughout the week so that by next Sunday you can be completely overwhelmed and stressed-out.
|I'm pretty sure everything is an understatement.
In conclusion, my life is beautifully chaotic. It's loud. It's messy. It's entirely disorganized and inconsistent. We go with the flow, but are far from zen. We put things off until we absolutely cannot avoid them any longer. We create more problems for ourselves than necessary, but we love the challenge. We live, we love, and we laugh as much as possible.
As tired as I always am and as much as The Princess and Almost-Husband can drive me absolutely, certifiably insane, I wouldn't change a thing. We may not be "conventional", but we do what works for us. We have a little girl who is happy, healthy, and loved to pieces. We have an almost-marriage that may look like a train-wreck from the outside, but is built on the kind of love and trust only years of ups and downs can forge. We're all in this together, one cohesive unit of craziness. We're far from perfect, but we're perfect for us.