How do we parents (Moms & Dads) manage to raise our children, work at our careers, keep the house clean, have a strong marriage, be a friend who is ever present, take “me” time, have date nights, and always be caught up on the laundry and the dishes? The answer is: we can’t.
Throughout our lives all things will rank in one of four places. And they are:
- Immediate Need
- As Soon As Possible
- Eventually This Needs Done
Now, many things will ebb and flow all over this list. Some days paying a bill or taking your child to practice may be sitting at number one. But let’s say you’ve scheduled time after that to see a movie with a friend, but she cancels. Well now you have 2 hours, and sometimes you’ll fill it with a #3 – or perhaps it’s a great time to finally tackle a #4. How you prioritize and handle your business is up to you. The important thing to remember is this – it is absolutely impossible to have all of it sitting in spot #1. You CANNOT possibly be everything to everyone at all times while simultaneously doing all of the things that need done and fit in some me time.
Not long ago I saw an article that a mother had written about how hectic things were for her. It started out with her morning, her getting up and getting her child ready – but then she said the housekeeper showed up. And I stopped reading. It’s not that she isn’t still busy, but that’s not something I can relate to. As a stay-at-home-mom, while I do have a small job also (it’s just a few hours a month), we can’t afford things like housekeepers or laundry services or a Nanny (we do have a babysitter we use from time to time – but still, not the same.) I think most of us are trying to do it all and all by ourselves. If we are lucky, and I am, we have a partner who is in it 100% with us to take half the load. Even then though, there are challenges.
I do little things to try to stay on top of things. Every night before bed I do the dishes. Once everyone is in bed I do the dishes so that in the morning they are done and I don’t have to find time. I will also not go to an area without taking something that needs to be put away. For example, if I need to run upstairs to get the baby a diaper, I take with me something that belongs up there and put it away. And when I come back downstairs, I do the same thing. If I’m going to the kitchen, I take the dirty dishes with me from the living room, etc. It takes no extra time really since you’re going there anyway. Another trick I use is this. I’ll set a timer. Say I want to clean up the living room. I’ll set a timer for 10 minutes. It helps me to stay focused on the task at hand and I find that I work faster and get more done because I don’t get sidetracked and also because there’s just something about that timer running that makes me haul a little ass!
You’ll see a lot of pictures and eventually videos in this little blog of mine. And the pictures will be nice and of clutter-free areas in my home. But rest assured – that’s not what my house looks like all the time. I typically have to move things out of the area. It’s what my house would look like if no one actually lived here.
So the best advice I can give you is to give yourself a break. Find joy in the little things and know this: your children are only young once, and I can tell you that that time goes by faster than you can possibly imagine. Though you’ll have days where the minutes seem like hours, suddenly you’ll be standing beside them in their cap and gown on their graduation day – and you’ll be wondering how it could have possibly gone so fast. Please believe me, I speak from experience. So if the mess and chaos is getting to you on certain days, remind yourself of that. Someday they will grow up and move out. And your house will be clean. And oh, so quiet.