26 August 2011

Mother By Day, Construction Worker By Night (And Naptime)

A lot of people have commented on how challenging it must be to work on such a major fixer-upper while raising children simultaneously.  Yep, it really is sometimes.

First of all, let me say that if we had been shopping for a home with our offspring already in tow, I don't think I would have even considered living here.  After a b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l wedding, we were hoping for a baby for over two and a half years but true to Evelyn's personality, she decided to take her sweet time.  We had no idea when we'd be able to have children so I found a full time position with Iowa State University where Jack was attending school and we dove wholeheartedly into renovations. It was a good thing too--a month after closing on the house, I found out I was pregnant.  That certainly gave us a strict timeline.
It is hard to find much uninterrupted time to labor (Amongst dirty diapers, potty training, crying, boo-boo kisses and complaints of hunger, I'm lucky to find three minutes!).  There are some tricks though that I've learned to help keep the balance between being a mother and a self-proclaimed construction worker.  The key is balance.  Funny how that transitions to life as a whole.
First of all, I do a lot of work while my kids are asleep.  It's a whole lot easier doing cumbersome jobs without worrying about small children underfoot.  From their infancy, they fall asleep to the rhythmic pounding of the hammer and whir of the circular saw.  Luckily, most days they take naps simultaneously and for several hours at a time.  I can get a good start on my work for the day while they're zonked out.  After the girls nod off for the evening, Jack and I divide and conquer until it either gets too dark to see what we're doing in the yard or we're just too darn tired.  Again, lots accomplished without little hands trying desperately to help.
However, I rarely get everything done while they slumber.  I have no qualms letting the girls watch me work--why not enjoy the great outdoors when we own a lovely sliver of it?  I spread a blanket on the lawn, Evelyn drags out every toy she owns and her and Claire entertain themselves for quite a while.
I also subscribe to Abigail Van Buren's theory: If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders. I desire that my children will be dependable, hardworking, unafraid of sweat and getting dirty.  How else will they learn unless I give them the chance?  There's plenty of things for them to help me with, even if they only think they're helping.  As long as the tools aren't sharp, the noise isn't deafening and there are no noxious fumes, I enjoy their assistance.
Perhaps hardest of all is to acknowledge that I cannot always do the home renovations when I'd like to.  As much as I'd love to finish making our home fabulous for my family, I realize that sometimes I have to put down my tools and give my focus 100% to my girls.  They need me to read them stories and watch them dance and color with them.  Children, like anybody, regularly need attention.  After all, what good would it do having a beautiful home if my family wasn't happy within?

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