Sometimes I think my greatest frustrations come from me not living into my own ideal expectations. As I have grown older I think it has only gotten worse over time.

I am someone who loves routines and rituals. Or at least I say I do. I think I do.

Some of my routines are easier to follow than others. If others participate in my rituals and routines, it makes it ten times more likely for me to follow through consistently. If it’s up to just me however, or up to me to initiate, I am good for a little while, or here and there, but I’m just not consistent. And that really bothers me. Like, a lot.

For example, I have the extreme desire to write nearly every day. But I’m the only one motivating myself to do it, so it just doesn’t happen. I love to make coffee every morning using my aeropress or chemex, and if my girls make themselves a pot of coffee, I almost always make myself a nice cup of coffee for myself as well. If they don’t, I often don’t (unless I really need one).

I’m not sure exactly why that is.

A few years back when I shot photography using Pentax cameras, there was a great online community of Pentax users who shared a daily photo with each other. We all commented on each other’s photos every day from all around the world. I loved being a part of that group and it really helped me to understand the craft and art of photography. It forced me to be creative, to notice things every single day that were around me. I felt the pressure, but it was a good pressure. I loved the ritual.

want to do that now that I’ve switched to Fujifilm, but that sort of community doesn’t exist as far as I’ve seen. So here I am wanting to take photos like I used to, at least one each day, challenging myself to notice things around me and capture them in interesting ways, but I just don’t do it without the support of others. And then I get frustrated.

But it’s not just those sorts of unnecessary routines that I don’t follow through with, it’s also the ones that I definitely should be doing. Laundry. Cleaning up after the boys. Taking out the trash when it first needs to go out. Organizing the bills and mail and emails and tasks. I’m not as good with that stuff. I also don’t have people encouraging me to do it. My wife is good at almost never nagging me about it, but there are times I wish we were more supportive with each other to get these things done.

I don’t do the necessary routines, I then I get frustrated with myself that there’s laundry all over the floor, or that the boys have their toys scattered all over the room, or that there’s now two bags of trash sitting next to the trash can that I need to go take out to the dumpster.

The other day I was super frustrated about it and I just said in desperation to Sarah, “I’m so sick and tired of living this way!” And I am. But I don’t really know how to overcome it. I could make myself artificial motivators. I could create checklists and chore lists or something like that. But I’m not sure that would even work.

I have no real solutions to my problems right now. But my frustration has opened a window into an insight about myself that I’ve been recognizing recently. I plan to write about it soon (but probably won’t because…well…yeah, no other people encouraging me to do so). But I think I’m actually an anxious person and just haven’t seen it until recently. Maybe it’s that I’ve always told myself that I’m not an anxious or stressed out person in comparison to those in my family. But perhaps if I can address this element in myself, then perhaps these other daily tasks and rituals have a better chance at coming more naturally to me and actually happening more consistently.

Who knows? But it’s the path I’m planning on taking for now.

Asking for Help

Even though we work with teenagers that struggle with their behaviors, and it is literally or job to help teach them how to change their behaviors and make good decisions, I still believe the hardest part of our job is knowing how to raise our own two boys.

Their behaviors recently have sometimes even seemed unmanageable. If we take our attention off of them for even the time it takes to go to the bathroom, they either make a huge mess or break something. It’s incredibly frustrating.

Micah, our five year old, has a genetic syndrome called Kabuki Syndrome. And some of his behaviors can be accounted for because of this. Ezra, his younger brother, seems to get joy from destroying things.

It feels overwhelming for a number of reasons.

For one, my wife and are I family-teachers, which our boss loves to tell people is being “professional parents.” So when we feel we are unable to manage our own kids, the shame feels multiplied.

Another reason is that many of the parents we know do not have this struggle with their kids on a constant basis. Yes, some kids have their moments. But it’s not a constant issue like it is for us.

Another reason is that it seems we are able to teach and help teenagers fairly well, but our own toddlers seem to be eluding our parenting and teaching.

So we’ve had to ask for help. A skill that we teach our girls on a daily basis.

We began seeing a behavioral therapist quite a few months ago to help with Micah’s behaviors. The strategies we would be using would be coming from the same model we use for our teenagers, but just adapted to younger kids.

And in many ways it has helped give us strategies with how to deal with Micah and Ezra, but it also has given us permission to address some behaviors in a way that I didn’t know to go about initially.

One issue we’ve been trying to address is when they wake up. They get up near 5:30 most days. And it’s tiring. They come out of their room and get into mischief. So our therapist suggested we get an alarm clock that has a red light and a green light. And you can set the time for the green light to go off, which tells them they are allowed to come out of their room. If the light is red, they are not to get out of bed or their room.

I set it for 6:15 this morning, and although Ezra and Micah had gotten up earlier to go to the bathroom, they both went back to their room and only came back out at 6:15 when the green light turned on.

I am thankful when strategies like this work out, even if only in the short term.