How I work at home with young children

Sometimes people ask me how I get any work done at home with five little kids running around.  I thought about this the other day when two of them were arguing and came to me at my desk in order to plead their cases against each other.  I told them I wanted them to work out their differences between themselves and hoped for the best.

I was actually listening to a guided meditation at the time from the “In the Vortex” CD from Abraham-Hicks publications.  I had it playing on my phone and just happened to be sitting at my desk when they tried to pull me into their argument.  Fortunately their scuffle dissipated when I showed firmness in staying centered and not taking sides.  Sometimes one or two of the kids will even join me when I listen, that’s always nice.

I read “The Vortex” book, but the most useful tool to me has been the guided meditations with background music which I copied onto my computer and my phone (and my next phone and the one after that – they don’t last as long as computers it seems).  There are four different topics to choose from with positive affirmations about each topic in 15 minute “songs” on the CD.

I can pick one and play it on my phone sometime in the morning wherever I am (usually somewhere in the house) in order to help me relax.  Then I’m able to get into a good feeling place that helps me to be focused and productive in my work so I can enjoy time with my family when I get to a stopping point later.  It also helps me to be more flexible and understanding of interruptions throughout the day, both from my kids and from clients calling about issues to be addressed.

How I got my son to take a nap

I feel very proud of myself, because I was able to get my 3 year old son (who doesn’t like naps) to go to sleep while his 8 year old brother was playing in the same room next to his bed and all three other kids were up playing as well (even coming in the room on occasion to ask me something). If you have children who don’t like to take naps or even sleep at all you’ll understand how big of an achievement this is. But first I’ll provide a context to help you understand why this was so important for us today.

My Son - Napping

In the morning I had spoken to their grandma who wanted to take the older kids to see a movie in the afternoon. The last time I tried to take Hani to a movie I almost lost him because he kept wandering off and wouldn’t stay in a seat (even in my lap). Apparently Popper’s Penguins were not as interesting to him as the lights on the floor (for the walkways) or the rows of folding seats or the multitude of people (including many children, some his age that he probably wanted to play with) sitting and staring at the screen. Or even the curtain under the screen or the hallway outside the theater or… just about anything but the movie.

I took the kids to the children’s museum in the morning to give them something to do since it was too hot to even swim before sundown. I packed a lunch this time so we could eat when we wanted and we wouldn’t have to wait in line for it. After arriving back home I got a confirmation call from grandma to decide on the movie and the time she would pick them up. It was about an hour away so I told her I would try to get Hani to sleep so he wouldn’t see everyone else leave for the movie. We had already had lunch but I made a fruit/veggie smoothie for us to share as a snack. Then Hani brought me a snack pack of fig newtons and asked me if he could have it. I told him he could share it if he laid down with me afterwards (I wanted every advantage I could get).

After Hani finished the fig newtons I asked him if he was ready to lay down with me in my bed. He said no, but I reminded him of our agreement and ushered him into his room (as the alternative to my bed). I was a bit disappointed because I was tired and wanted an excuse to rest, but I stayed the course, undaunted by his resistance and change of plans. I put him into his bed and was going to try and lay down with him, but he told me to get off his bed so I agreed if he would lay down and close his eyes. Then I pulled out my phone and started a lullaby app which I had installed a few days ago. He complained that everybody else wasn’t laying down (the other kids were up playing, throughout the house) but I just empathized with him and turned up the music.

Less than 10 minutes later (after trying to relax while sitting against the wall) I realized he had fallen asleep so I got up and started reminding the kids to get their shoes on. He stayed asleep until about an hour after the others left for the movie when he woke up crying, but I just went back and turned on the app again (I had removed my phone in case it would ring) and he fell right back asleep.

So how did this work? Here are the six things I did to help manifest this much needed nap for my son amidst a cacophony of boisterous juveniles:

  1. The trip in the morning gave him plenty of stimulation and got him tired
  2. I made sure his tummy was full but not stuffed
  3. I made an agreement about him laying down (for the fig newtons) that I felt good about holding him to later
  4. I stayed with him until he went to sleep and made sure he stayed in bed
  5. I gave him empathy without trying to ‘fix’ whatever he protested about
  6. The soft piano music (lullaby) helped give him something to focus his attention on besides the joyful noise of 4 other kids playing in the house

Born to be Free

We had a birthday party for our youngest child yesterday and something happened which reinforced the middle name we gave him.  Candice had bought a birthday cake that morning and I put it on the counter by the stove pushed against the back wall in a corner of the kitchen.  About an hour later, while I was outside cleaning up the yard, Candice came out of the house holding Hani out by his arms while he wiggled like the whirling dervish that he is, and said:

Hani - Born Free

“This is why you don’t put cake on the counter!”

While Candice was on the phone, Hani had come to her holding the cake upside down (luckily it was in a plastic container he couldn’t open) and shaking it, saying “Cake!  Cake!” – apparently he had moved a chair from the table across the room to the counter right where the cake was in the back corner, then just climbed up and retrieved his prize.

Hani’s middle name is Fungasa, which means “liberate yourself”.  I took his picture (above) a few days ago while he was practicing his Harley style of freedom. 🙂

You can get help finding your own freedom here.

How to get your kids to clean the kitchen table

First let me provide some context for this story. As you can see below, we have a collection of messy eaters. We leave food on the table after meals because the kids may return to finish it later. In this picture I found Hani cleaning up after everyone’s breakfast (he was hungry that day). There’s a tablecloth on in this picture but Nickalus used to use tablecloths to pull everyone’s bowl to him (the ones that didn’t fall off the table on the way) before he learned to get out of his seat, so we stopped using tablecloths except for special occasions.
Hani Eating on the Table
As you can imagine the table gets layers of encrusted food (sort of like stalagmites) that get thicker over time and become very difficult to clean. One day when Candice was talking with a preschool teacher, she learned about a good way to clean up tables with shaving cream.
All Five Kids Cleaning the Table
I even saw Demitri’s kindergarten teacher using shaving cream on a table with the students so they could write letters in it at the parents night last fall. So we decided we would make a game of it and have all the kids clean the table one Sunday morning before breakfast. We put all the kids at the table and squirted a bunch of shaving cream on it and told them to play in it. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I got a few good pictures.

Nickalus having fun with the shaving cream
Nickalus got some on his face and decided to try and lick it off – luckily his tongue is not long enough to reach. He must have gotten into some leftover pizza before breakfast that day, which explains the red sauce all over his face.

Demitri wants to wash his hair
Then Demitri had the great idea to wash his hair with the shaving cream – which is fine since then we didn’t need to use shampoo later 🙂

Nickalus wants to wash his hair too
Then Nickalus wanted to be like Demitri – or was it Nickalus who started it? I can’t remember. But Nickalus’ hair is so fine that he didn’t need any water to make suds.

Table is so clean you can see your reflection
Finally, after about half an hour of “cleaning” the table and subsequent baths in the sink for at least a couple of the kids (the ones with shaving cream in their hair also got their hair washed), we wiped up the table and it was so clean you could see your reflection in it!

Relief for Sinus Infections

I had a sinus infection a couple weeks ago that actually helped me feel more confident about my health.  I have a lot of personal experiences with sinus infections but this time I was able to overcome it without the need for antibiotics and that feels good even just to think about.  So here’s my story:

The kids had been coughing on me for a while due to illnesses being passed around at school (and our ear infection episode), and finally I felt my throat getting sore and my sinuses began to hurt.  One morning I woke up early with extreme sinus pain and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I decided to mix up some of my natural nasal decongestant, and that felt like it burned up the infection in my sinuses – it was great, there was much less pain!  But I was busy at work that week, and the next day I stayed up until midnight finishing a project.

That intensity brought the infection back, much stronger, and the ginger mix didn’t help as much (though it did some, I took it twice the next day).  The pain was so bad the next night that I couldn’t even go to sleep, so I stayed up watching Jackie Chan movies to try and distract myself.  In between movies I would sit still and try to meditate for a little while until the pain became my focus again.  I also drank some water and ate some corn tortilla chips (I hadn’t eaten much that day except for some soup, and corn is drying so I hoped it would help reduce the mucus drainage).  I also ate a few ginger chews that night (a candy made of basically sugar and ginger, with the consistency of taffy).  Candice bought those ginger chews for me a few months before but they were too strong for me then, that night they went down easy. 🙂

So after a few movies the sun came up and so did everyone else.  Candice suggested I try using a hot/cold compress to help with the pain, so I did and I felt so much better that I was able to sleep (sitting up) for 4 hours!  Here is how that works (we learned this from a Naturopath in Oregon a few years ago):

Take 2 washcloths and get them both wet.  Put one in the freezer and one in the microwave for 30 seconds to one minute (or if you don’t have one – like us – you can put it in a pan with some water on the stove and heat it up).  You want to get it hot enough so you can barely touch it but not so hot that it burns your skin.  Then put the hot wet washcloth on your face where it hurts (sinus area or forehead if you have a headache).  Hold it there for about 2 minutes (if it doesn’t stay warm you may need to heat it up again during that time), then put it back in the hot water or in the microwave while you grab the cold one from the freezer and put that on your face (I usually stand up straight and press on the painful areas through the washcloth to focus the heat/cold on them).  After about 30 seconds, put the cold washcloth back in the freezer, make sure the other one is heated up, and repeat the process one or two more times.

So after I had a good nap, I felt much better and was able to eat some more that day and get to sleep that night (after using another hot/cold compress before bed).  I was feeling even better the next day and life got back to normal a bit, but I still had some drainage in my throat and I was still coughing up some mucus in the mornings.  The mucus had become clear and my sinuses felt much better (though they were still a bit tender) so I thought the infection was over.

However, when Candice took a look at my tongue a couple days later she said there was still an external pathogen in my system (which made sense because the mucus became colorful again the next day).  She told me to take some triphala, so I took about half a teaspoon mixed with some water twice a day for 2 days.  On the third day I had a loose stool, so that’s when I knew I needed to back off with the triphala (it has a laxative effect).  Candice suggested I cut back on the triphala and add a pinch of trikatu, only once a day.  So I did that for a couple days and then stopped.  By then I had no sinus pain (not even tenderness), my bowels returned to normal (after being loose for a couple days), and the mucus drainage had stopped altogether.  Life is good 🙂

Here is a before and after picture of Nickalus eating some of my home-made nasal decongestant – he actually seemed to like it, he had four bites before spitting any out!