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Posts Tagged ‘just a note’

So, what have I been up to?  Nothing much.  Everything. Our lives are pretty normal and routine; they’re crazy and anything but boring.

Isn’t that how life seems to go?  Have you ever felt like you’re just getting by – doing everything, going in all directions, using up every possible minute, and yet, you have nothing to show for it?  Like you’re just living day-to-day, the same mundane routine, over and over.  Overwhelmed by the ever-present to-do’s.

Maybe you don’t, but I get that way sometimes. My work load at my job has increased, we try to participate in every church activity we can, and we have a growing, very active boy.  Keeping up with routine is what gets me through from day to day right now.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and though I have come a long way in “embracing the chaos“, I still have my limits!  I’m not quite so spastic about keeping things in impeccable order, but there are some things that still drive me bonkers: a cluttered kitchen table (the bane of my existence), laundry on the floor (apparently, the bathroom floor makes a dandy laundry hamper), and dirty sinks… there are more, but those are the main ones. 🙂

So, a few weeks ago, I started to do something that has helped me keep a handle on things without getting overwhelmed.  It may be overly simplistic to you, so if you’re way ahead of this, my apologies!   I’m just one girl trying to catch up with the rest of you!

Anyway, what I started doing was just adding one thing — one — to my routine in the evenings.   I don’t mean that I add on a new one every night and end up with a longer and longer list each night.  The whole point here was for me to cut down on the crankiness and stress!  I just got the basic stuff done and then I picked one more “big” chore to do.  Like clean one bathroom, or file, or tackle the 15 loads of laundry that have been piling up all week.  Thankfully, I have a husband who is willing to help, so sometimes I actually get more done, depending on what else is going on that evening.

I tend to leave certain things until Saturday to work on because I’m tired at the end of my day.  But seriously, who isn’t?   Then my Saturday (the one day I get to stay home – and the day that I try to devote to concentrate on being a mother more than housekeeping) is completely eaten up with stuff that cannot be put off.   And there goes the whole day, wrapped up in laundry and shower scum. (That sounds so gross – but I think some of you can relate.)

At first, this “one thing at a time” idea was slow-going, because, lets be honest – doing ONE thing doesn’t have much of an impact.  However, by the end of my first experimental week, I had noticed a few things: usually that one extra chore took a max of 30 minutes to complete.  Usually more like 15 minutes.  However, by the time Saturday rolled around, I had shaved off at least 2 hours of house work from my weekend.  Fantastic!  I was also less cranky and stressed because while things were not immediately immaculate, I was at least ahead of the curve when compared to “before”.  Also, my mentality changed a little bit.  I didn’t berate myself quite so much when I didn’t get a big list crossed off at the end of the day.  Because there wasn’t a huge list to begin with!  🙂  (If only life in general could be so easily de-cluttered!)

So, now it has been… ahem… several weeks, and I decided that today, my “extra” thing would be writing.  So, here I am, sharing my oh, so non-revolutionary thoughts.  If you read this far, thanks.  It was nice talking with you!

And just maybe, if you’re a worn out mommy trying to figure out how to get your mega-list checked off, the idea of chopping your list down dramatically for a few weeks might be a welcome idea.

P.S.  By the way I don’t want you to get the idea that my husband doesn’t help out – he actually does most of the bathroom cleaning at our house, he usually spends time with the kiddo while I make dinner, he is the primary put-the-kid-to-bed-er and grass-mower, and vacuum and diaper duty falls to him half the time as well – just to name a few things.  He can pretty much do anything… as long as we don’t count cooking. 😉

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I know – so much easier said than done! But seriously, once you have a child (or two, or three – but I only have one right now), you have to come to terms with it at some point, or you’ll go crazy. It’s been close to a year and a half since Little Man was born. And it has taken me nearly that long to look past the chaos which occasionally sometimes often besets my house. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I knew that a baby would mean letting go of my need for a clean kitchen every night, ordered rooms, and squeaky clean bathrooms. But I still fought it. I still tried to keep everything picked up, and clean, and organized while at the same time feeding, playing, diapering, and bathing my baby. Not to mention working full-time. At the beginning it wasn’t such a terrible thing, since new babies mostly eat and sleep. I did have some time to work on things around the house at that stage. But once kids can move on their own – it’s a whole new world!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good thing to want a clean, orderly home. But there are limits, and for the sake of my sanity, the sanity of my husband, and the wellbeing of my child, I had to recognize that. Having clean floors every evening is not worth missing out on special moments or having a spat with your partner. Little Man is in such a fun stage right now. I love hearing him say “yay!” and clap when I walk in the door after work, seeing his excitement when he discovers how to work a zipper, watching his face as he absorbs Mickey Mouse Club House, or listening to his jabbering and giggles while he plays in a cardboard box. Those are the things that make life special. And he needs me to be there.

Yes, there are times when he just has to be patient while I finish dinner. We are working on the concept of picking up his toys when he’s done playing, and I usually sneak in some kind of chore while he’s playing happily with his books, but my focus is slowly improving. When I find myself getting irked about the laundry pile, dirty front porch, or toy-covered living room, I try to purposefully decide what is most important: getting things back the way I like them? Or spending some time with my Little Man? Am I being obsessive again, or does this really need to be done immediately? There are times when the laundry HAS to get done. For example, when he has peed through his last set of sheets and pjs, (We’ve been struggling with that lately because he has started pulling at his diaper, which loosens the tabs. Sigh.) or when the last towel was used that morning to rescue the carpet from spilled apple juice. But lots of times, it really can wait or a “good enough” version will suffice. Here are a few examples:

  • I’m not a dishwasher fan, but the one we have has definitely seen more use lately – and I’m so thankful to have it!
  • I detest leaving dirty dishes in the sink over-night, but it has happened more in the past 3 months than it has my entire previous married life.
  • A quick swish with the toilet wand and some cleaner can hold me over until I have time to properly clean the porcelain throne. Usually that means during nap time or after bed time.
  • Do we have clean undies? Yes? OK, then I can piece together an outfit for tomorrow if the laundry doesn’t get done.
  • Guests are coming over for dinner – time to make a decision. Do they have kids? If so, I just make sure they can tell I made an effort – they’ll understand if things don’t meet Good Housekeeping magazine cover standards. If they don’t have kids and I’m not particularly comfortable with them seeing my pigstye house in such a state, I pick up the random junk, put it in a laundry basket, and stuff the whole thing somewhere they won’t look. Horrible, I know. But it works. I manage to salvage a bit of dignity, and they are spared the challenge of overlooking the tornado alley that has replaced my living room.

I believe I reached a new level of “embracing the chaos” just last week when a friend came over with her two boys for a play date. I hadn’t had a chance to go grocery shopping, so lunch was a conglomeration of left overs. Chicken strips, apple slices with caramel, pizza, and some other bits and pieces I’d rather not talk about. It was a bit embarrassing, but, gracious angel that she is, my friend cheerfully complimented me on how I had seasoned last night’s chicken strips! Bless her soul! That’s a true friend, right there. Or maybe she’s been there herself, so she spared me what was really going through her mind. Whatever the case, it was downright lovely of her to say it!

Life is so much more than clean sheets and gleaming countertops. I don’t want Little Man to grow up thinking he has to be perfect or circumstances have to be perfect for me to be happy. The fact is, he isn’t perfect, and never will be. I’m not perfect and never will be either. So, I might as well learn to embrace the ensuing chaos, and be happy!

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I knew that having a baby would change things. Big time. I knew I wouldn’t have much time for my little hobbies. I knew that sewing, kitchen experiments, and pleasure reading would be pushed aside in favor of laundry, diapers, and picking up messes. I knew that writing would have to be put on hold as well, but I was secretly hoping I’d be a little better at carving out little bits of time here and there so I could indulge in my blog. Mostly because it’s fun. Sort of therapeutic for me, really. That may be an odd reason to blog, but, hey, it’s the truth!

Anyway, just wanted to let you know I’m still alive and kickin’! I’m actually starting to get more sleep… A has just started sleeping through the night at 15 months. 🙂 Although, last night there was a regression. We’re blaming it on his first set of molars. He’s a terrible teether. And slow at it to boot!

But, I’ve gotta say, even with all the sleeplessness, crying, and flat-out screams, he is so worth it! I have several friends who have just had their first baby or are close to their due date, and it makes me a bit nostalgic. The following expresses what I feel every time I think of our little buddy.

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I took this picture a few nights ago during one of his rare quiet moments. He was looking through his books and puzzles. I just gazed at him in wonder and thought about how blessed my friends will be with their own little ones.

Since I’ve had my little guy, I’ve had several friends ask me how I do this or that. How do I make his food? How did I decide about what kind of diapers? What games do you play with him? I figured since my current life leaves my crafting and decorating tendencies in the dust, I would adjust my focus and write about what I’m learning now: How to be mom. Maybe answer a few of the questions I’ve been asked, and voice my opinions. I know I will never learn it all, and I know there are many out there who are better at this game than I am, but I figure maybe I can help one or two other parents out there. And in the mean time, I’ll get in a bit of therapeutic writing! 🙂

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