When it comes to being a mom, sometimes there are not enough hours in the day to do all we need to do. Those moms that also have to work outside the home, and then still have all the home responsibilities to take care of, I don't know how you do it!
Today I'd like to discuss the ways I've learned to optimize my time and feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.
I've been very blessed with the ability to stay home with my kids. Mark works and takes care of our financial needs, while I take care of the household needs and make sure the kids are taken care of. Some may look at what I do, and think I have it easy. I can do whatever I want during the day. I could sit and eat chocolate and read a book all day if I so choose.
Guess what? They are right! But I don't choose to do that. In fact I don't know any moms that choose to do that. From my personal experience, moms often get pretty down on themselves for not doing enough. They may not have gotten that last load of laundry folded, or they let the kids watch television while they attempted to get a shower. Perhaps dinner wasn't on the table and ready when their husband got home from work, or one of the kids missed doing some homework because mom forgot to double check they had it all.
By the end of the day, moms are stressed, and feeling inadequate. That chocolate and book are sounding pretty good. The kids are in bed, so why not? Oh wait, look a sink full of dishes, the tables not cleaned off, shoes are all over the place, and school lunches need to be made.
To all Mom's out there, STOP! Really, it's ok if something gets left undone. With the addition of our 4th child, I'm finally learning to let some things go. My first week home, I felt like I was being really lazy. I posted about it on facebook, and had some nice responses reminding me I had a newborn, and I didn't need to do everything. I'm so glad for those friend, because I've been able to take it to heart. Let me share with you how I've been able to slow down, and optimize my time with 4 kids.
1. Plan. At the beginning of the week pull out your calendar and plan what is going on that week. Who has to be where and when. Take the time to think about each day. Plan dinner for the whole week as well. This is something I was already doing, but has been so handy with the addition of a newborn. I don't have to think each day what I'm going to cook, because I already know. I can then work around baby's feeding schedule and any other plans for the day.
2. Sleep. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. If your kids nap, nap with them. If your kids don't nap, have a set quiet time. I know we've all heard this before, but really sleep is very important. For me, my kids don't nap (except for the baby), BUT the baby happens to be the best night time sleeper I've ever had. So my nights are full of pretty quality sleep.
Once you're kids are in bed, ignore the housework. Really, it doesn't need to be done at 10pm. It will still be there tomorrow. Go spend some quality time with your husband. By giving this time to my husband, it strengthens our marriage, and in turn strengthens our family. You don't have to stay up late either though. Watch a movie together, read a book, or play a simple game. Just make sure you both get to bed at a decent time as well. You're husband needs just as much sleep as you do.
3. Prioritize. Are you out of clean clothes? Run out of clean spoons? Make a list, in writing or mentally, of what is the most important chore than needs to be done. Get that done, and be happy. You've accomplished the most important thing for the day. Anything else you do will be icing on the cake.
4. Spend time with your kids. Take a look at your day. How are you spending it? Have you focused so much on keeping everything cleaned and picked up, that you've forgot to play with your kids. Sure they may be happy playing with their toys, they may be playing nicely together. What I've learned though, is when Mom or Dad gets down on the floor and plays with them, their happiness lasts longer, and Mom and Dad are more patient as well. You may go to bed that night with your house looking like this...
|(yes this is my house, right now. Yes it's been like this for a day or two.)|
But it was worth it. Trust me! By spending time with your kids, you will find you have more energy, and joy in cleaning up afterwards. The messes will bother you less, and the joy in your house will abound.
5. My last piece of advice for optimizing your time, is to find the little things that can be done. Are you headed to check on your kids in their room? Grab those kids books that you read on the couch the night before, and take them with you. Don't walk past those pieces of garbage on the floor, take them to the trash can. Have 5 minutes of quiet time? load the dishwasher and get it started. Eventually you'll find your house is cleaner, you feel more accomplished, and the stress is minimizing. You're happy, your kids are happy, and when your husband walks into the happiness he can't help but smile as well.
You're House is now a Home, and you've learned to let go, step back, and enjoy life. You know what you do is worth it every day. That chocolate and book still sound good, AND you actually feel like you deserve them. You're able to take that time for yourself, because you spent time doing the little things that matter.
Now tell me please, what do you do to optimize your time? How do you keep the feeling of inadequacy from hitting you?