OK, I know everybody has been there. They are home and the house looks like a tornado went through it and that tornado is your kid. I have 4 boys so I know exactly what you are talking about. The baby has been crying all night and you are so tired that you feel like you are going to fall over. The kitchen is a mess. There are piles of stuff all over the house that you have meant to get to “later”, there are food crumbs all over the house and just looking around makes you feel even more tired. Believe me I have been there. Just thinking about unloading and reloading the dishwasher or doing a load of laundry and actually putting it away is like asking me to pull the hairs out of my arm one by one or worse. I just wanted to leave the house or just see if it would “accidentally” catch on fire and we could just get a new home.
People ask me how I have time to do it all with 4 kids. The answer is that I don’t. But my home is picked up, the dishes get done (most days), meals get made, kids get dropped off and picked up. Here is how you can do it too.
I know that there are days where things are just not getting done because the baby is nursing every 30 min but at some time they are going to sleep and as much as you think sitting down and watching a show will help you rest it will actually do the opposite. Unless you are laying down and closing your eyes you are not resting. The TV will not help you unwind. It will help you escape for a few min but your unconscious will keep making you feel even worse knowing that the mess in the other room is still waiting for you. So if doing the task just feels like it will take FOREVER set a timer for 15 min and see how much you can do. If you are anything like me the dishes almost never take longer than 10 min. Each time you have a task to do set the timer for 10 or 15 min and get cracking. See how long it actually takes to do these house tasks. When I did this it really helped me mentally to just do it because it only takes X amount off minutes.
It is time to treat yourself like your children and turn the internet off until you are done with your chores. If you are anything like me then someone messaging me on Facebook or liking my activity on Instagram will drag me into the internet black hole where time gets sucked away. I know being a stay at home mom is lonely and talking to friends is so tempting but you will be able to focus on them so much better once you have finished all the things you need to get finished and then you might even not be ashamed to invite them over for coffee. Same thing with the TV, especially Netflix, I tend to start watching a series and suddenly 4 hours are gone and nothing got done. Oooops! Now if the TV is on it is to keep the 3 year old occupied for a few min so that I can get something done and it is by far nothing I want to sit down and watch.
Are you a morning, afternoon or evening person? When do you feel the least draggy. Mornings are my time because afternoons are spent doing kid pick up, homework, snack, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays swim lessons, then dinner and bedtime. After the kids go to bed I need me time. I need to clock out of work and veg out in front of the TV with knitting or just a cup of tea and a favorite snack. So in the mornings I pack in as much work as I can possible do. The dishwasher gets emptied and filled with dishes from breakfast, a load of laundry gets washed, animals get fed, the bathroom gets wiped down, one clutter pile gets tackled and I vacuum and get stuff done. This is just on the mornings that I am home which is Tuesdays and Thursdays and on the weekends. MWF are the days where things just get done when they get done because I have too many other things going on like grocery shopping, Dr.s appointments, orthodontist appointments and getting together with friends. But usually I manage the basic Unload the dishwasher and start a load of laundry while the coffee is brewing in the morning. Mind you I might be restarting a load that I washed the day before because life go in the way.
If you think hourly planners are just for people that work you are dead wrong. I use mine to keep on top appointments, my menu planning, my to do list, and put in all the time spent picking kids up and other things done so that I see that even if I feel like I didn’t get much done that day I can look at my planner and see that I was quite busy. Menu planning is important both to save money and to know when to start dinner and to have everything you need on hand. To do lists help you stay on top of your goals for your self, your family and your home. My organizer is always with me everywhere I go. I have my Google calendar too but my pen and paper organizer are how I survive and never feel like I am forgetting something. If you start using pen and paper make sure you use an erasable pen or pencil. I like the Frixion erasable pens because of their gel ink, the many different colors and when you erase it looks like nothing was there before. I also get the erasable markers to highlight the different things in different colors. If it is just me it is pink, if it is a weekly appointment or pick up it is yellow, if it is a family thing is it is blue, if it is just my husband it is green. But I will write a separate blog post about how I use my organizer (The Inner Guide Planner). But spend one day a week planning the coming week. Thinking about what you want your week to look like. Thinking about what you want your week to feel like. When and how you will make time for you. This will help you feel more centered and ready to do what needs to be done for the family.
From this day forward each time you pick something up to put it away ask yourself if it brings you joy or if you really need it. If not LET IT GO. If you thinks someone else can use it then give it away, if it is worn and ugly then toss it. As you start letting go of all the things cluttering up your home you will start feeling lighter and there are fewer things to pick up. There are many books out there about simplifying your life here is a link to just a few. If your kids have access to more toys than they can pick up in less than 6 min then they have access to too many toys. Get rid of the ones that don’t mean anything to them and Make a toy library for the toys that they enjoy playing with. Keep them in plastic bins that you can see through so that it is easy to identify what is in each bin. If they want to play with another bin they need to return the bin that they have first like returning a library book before getting another one. This will make clean up much easier and less stressful on both you and your child.
Now that you know how long it really takes to do your tasks make a master list of what needs to be done every day and then another that needs to be done weekly and spread it through the week and then another that needs to be done monthly and then the ones that need to be done every 3 months or every year. Use your organizer to schedule these things like oil changes and washing the curtains. Having a list to refer to with the most important tasks first helps me stay on track and remind me of what I was working on. I am horrible about getting distracted by a dirty diaper of hungry child and the forgetting what I was actually doing so the list keeps me on track. I also forget when oil changes are due and when the taxes need to be paid on my vehicle so when I mark that in my calendar every year I don’t forget anymore. I spend 15 min in the morning with my cup of coffee and my daily journal to write down my thoughts for the day, my gratitude and my progress on my ongoing projects and figure out how I will work my day around the things that need to be done. Giving myself a vision with out over planning.
This has always been the hardest for me. My mom was the only person that I was comfortable with really helping me. But now my mom is gone. I still need help. I need my village. So this year I decided that I was going to accept all the help that came my way. I am worth it. My children deserve it. It is amazing what comes your way when you open the doors for it. My in-laws have been very helpful but they also live 3 hours away. My friends have really stepped up. One comes and cleans my bathroom, windows and floors for only $40 every 2 weeks. I wouldn’t be comfortable not paying anything for something like that. I have 4 gross boys and only one bathroom. We also made the decision to put our 3 year old in preschool. It is a $210 investment every month for 3 days a week from 9am-2pm but it helps me go grocery shopping and taking the others to their appointments with out having a very active 3 year old that has no self control and a 2 month old with me at the same time. We are lucky that my husband’s work has a childcare fund that you can put your money in pre tax to pay for childcare. Plus the 3 year old loves going and playing with is friends for that time. He gets to do crafts and go outside while I am running around getting things done. My friends have also come to watch my children for me when I have had to go to the Dr. But if you don’t have family close by to help then build your village.
I’m sure you, like me, have a friend, or two, that has a hard time getting stuff done. When I am especially not in the mood I have a friend that I text my list to and she texts me her list and we take before and after pics of what we are doing and then celebrate each other’s success when we finish something even if it is just a small thing like calling to make an appointment at the dentist. But don’t start chatting. Chatting is not OK until the list is finished.
Nobody is perfect. Especially not me. Right now I have spent a decent amount of time writing this post on a Saturday with everybody home and snack time has come and gone. The dining room table that I am sitting at is covered in leftovers from snack time and since I have not been paying the living room or my feral children any attention, since my husband is home to watch them, toys are everywhere and the clean clothes are sitting in the washing machine from this morning waiting to be put in the dryer, floors have not been swept or vacuumed and just because I have not been on top of things for a couple of hours the house looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in days. No worries. It will only take me about 30 min to get on top of it again. I will have my cup of coffee. Make my list. See in my minds eye what I want my home to look like before dinner needs to be made and make it happen. So can you.
What are your favorite tools to get stuff done? How do you make your chores easier to tackle?
If you really have a hard time doing the things that need to be done and no amount of pep talk or planning can get you motivated enough to get off the couch and this has been going on for more than 2 weeks it is time to go to your Dr. and discuss what is going on. But be warned, do not automatically believe that you are just depressed. Have the Dr run a complete thyroid panel (not just the basic one), check your vitamin D, iron and B12 levels, and check if you have sinus issues that can cause the feeling of being tired and unmotivated. When your body is not in a good state it is hard for your mind to work properly. Believe me I know. I had sinus issues that I did not know about and I felt so tired all the time. Come to find out one of my sinuses is completely blocked and would get infected on a regular basis with out sinus pain. Just a low grade fever for about 3 weeks that the Dr.s could not explain on a regular basis. Now after the CT my Dr ordered they saw how extensive my sinus troubles were and I am about to have surgery. So figure out what is wrong physically before you start taking antidepressants but see your Dr. Figure out what is wrong. You deserve to feel better. You deserve to be happy and healthy and should fight for it just as hard as you would for your children.