What to do when you’re out of “kid joules”

So….I’m on empty. It happens pretty frequently, especially on the weekends.

Think of it. You wake up with energy (unless you’ve just lived through the nightmare week called “Post-Daylight-Savings-Time-Messes-With-Every-Child-Under-The-Age-Of-Seven!!”).  Let’s give that morning energy a number, such as 1000 kJ or “kid joules” (where a joule is defined as the energy expended to move one kid through the distance of one day under absolute pristine perfect conditions…which never exist).

So, on a good day, like yesterday morning, you wake up with 1000 kJ….or you expected to, but since The Little Guy was up 3 times in the 45 minutes prior to you groaning out of bed, you leave the warm comforter with 972 kJ. Knowing that it’s going to be a long day, you bribe your sister to run for mochas while you make pancakes (caffeine + chocolate = + 500 kJ for sure!).

The boys bounce around the house for an hour, tackling each other, fighting over who has which fire truck (which doesn’t really matter when you’re just racing the inside track of the house screaming at the top of your lungs anyway), and tossing a football towards the ceiling and pretending that they weren’t “trying” to hit the chandelier, really.  – 478 kJ

You text a few friends with kids to let them know that you’ve about lost it already and are heading to Chuck e Cheese. Yes, this seems counter-intuitive, but at least the boys are less likely to be trying to strangle each other or break household items when you’re in someone else’s enclosed space.   One friend shows up so you have a bit of interrupted adult conversation  + 135 kJ, and yet the presence of 38 other screaming monsters leaves you just barely ahead. – 112 kJ

You return home to let The Little Guy nap while you drug the older ones with rapidly-flashing animated scenes (“The Croods”) and sit down yourself for a minute, drawn into the drama of a  caveman father who risks his life for his family (sniff, sniff…oh, he lives).  + 289 kJ

If you’ve been keeping track, you’re at 1206 kJ at 1:30pm and you’re feeling pretty good about the day. Unfortunately, the next item on the agenda is the Circus!

– 25 kJ – getting 4 boys to go to the bathroom before leaving the house
– 55 kJ – finding 7 complete pairs of shoes
– 60 kJ – buckling in 2 boys and nagging 3 to buckle up
– 285 kJ – managing 5 boys in one mini-van for a 10 minute ride …. when they are sitting close enough to actually TOUCH each other!!
– 111 kJ – corralling all 5 yippy loose dogs in a line to enter the arena
– 2897 kJ – lights, sounds, explosions, acrobatic tensions, tigers, elephants, hungry whiners, elephantspilled popcorn, packed seats, potty breaks, toy grabbers, occasional punches, tired moans, “why didn’t I get a whirly flashing light thingy like The Rascal did?”….back in the car – PLEASE turn the video on, I say, so we can have some quiet (no positive joules, just the absence of further depletion).

Right, we’re home… It’s 6:00pm, I’m at -2227 and the boys need some dinner. Cereal sounds really good and it seems like it’s just about bed-time in this household too.

smaller chaos

Pause on this photo for a second…can you feel the energy?!?

The problem is, when I’m running in the negative….like on the day after the circus, I am naturally much less patient and much more demanding on the boys. They are likewise in a negative energy state and trying to make up for that by being particularly rambunctious and pesty. We spiral ever downwards, dragging mother and child through the maelstrom. Feeble attempts to bump the energy level are short-lived for both mother (bite of chocolate, escape to the basement to change the laundry…slowly….) and child (banishment to the isolation chambers of the upstairs toy room = worst thing in the world!). Nothing, nothing helps this situation except night-fall and the glorious sounds of snoring boys. It is then that the countdown begins… “just two more hours and it will be bedtime”…. “just 1 more hour”….. “just 45 minutes”…. “just 31 minutes”…. “just 28 minutes”…. “just 25….oh geez – get up to bed already!!” A little longer story time can soothe us all.

In these moments I remind myself that the days are long, but that we survive them.

I remind myself that I love each and every one of these crazy kids, even though my exploding face isn’t always showing it.  I take some deep breaths and back away, then hand out hugs to everyone.

I remind myself that we’re all in this mess together and when we create more mess, we have to clean it up together. And we do.

I remind myself that they will sleep, tomorrow will come, and it will give us all a new start. Each day we strive to be a little better and rest in the knowledge that love smoothes the bumps along the way.

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