March 17, 2013

How to Live Like the Shenanigans

Curly at 18 mos.
Our family home is organized chaos.  My blog family name 'Shenanigans' may be a pen name,  but it accurately represents the spirit of our family.  With six kids - four of them boys - ages 5 - 14 years, the term 'organized' at times is admittedly a stretch.  "The youngest one in curls," is as close to a Brady bunch reference as we get.  Our last name perfectly fits us, and comes in handy when trying to make light of our hectic lifestyle. 

People ask me regularly, "How do you do it?"  My standard response is, "It's never pretty."  They usually laugh, but a lucrative reality show titled, 'The Six Shenanigans,' could be in our future.  After all, our attempt at getting to school on time alone is entertainment. 

Because many people have inquired, I have written a small list of tips. 

Tip #1:  Be organized.  Recording all my to do lists in a tattered notebook helps me keep pace with whatever we have going on.  While it adds nothing to the aesthetics of the kitchen, my enormous dry erase board serves as a calendar and a job chart. 

Tip #2:  Allow for a wide margin of error.  Despite tip #1, over the past few months I've missed birthday parties, overdrawn the checking account twice, forgotten to cancel a hotel room that we never used, and received notification that I neglected to file State income taxes a few year back. 

Tip #3:  Prioritize!  Translation:  some things will just not get done.  In my world, housework is the first thing skipped.  I don't have a cleaning lady.  If you use your imagination you might be able to grasp the disaster area we navigate through daily. 

Tip #4:  Put kids to work.  My kids have chores.  They scrub sinks, dust rooms, pick up toys, strip beds, put laundry away, sweep the kitchen, and vacuum.  When I check that they've done these tasks properly, it can help alleviate the mess.  This only seems fair, since they create the clutter and the sticky floors in the first place. 

Tip #5:  Rely heavily on a sense of humor and creativity.  When my seven year old launched his older brother's brand new, borrowed-without-permission Notre Dame football onto the roof of the commercial building where the kids take Irish dancing, it took some time to view the humor in the situation.  I placed a call to the local handyman whose office shares the same commercial complex as the dance studio.  I promised a plate of my delicious, chocolate chip cookies for retrieval of the football by way of their extension ladder.  The call came a short time later that the ball was accounted for.  The cookie for football exchange took place before the ball was even missed.  Now we laugh about it, or at least those of us who didn't almost lose a football get a chuckle. 

Tip #6:  Let some things go.  Shaking things off is not my strong suit.  If I can't laugh about it - I yell.  I'm not perfect, and I prove it daily.  People often compliment me for being calm.  They haven't witnessed my reaction when one kid accidentally shaved his brother's head in a reverse mohawk, or when the pet frog got loose in the basement for several hours before being found and released back into nature, or when a package of rotting lunch meat was discovered in a desk drawer in the boys' bedroom.  So, how do I do it?  Trust me, "It's never pretty!"