Thursday, June 6, 2013

If you can't "do it all" - do some well

I'm not afraid to be honest about how I don't do it all, and how in some things, I actually fail rather miserably. In fact, at this very moment, I have yet another pile of unfolded laundry, mocking me from behind my desk (I'll spare you the photographic evidence). Perhaps it is somewhat hilarious that my thoughts this morning have wandered to writing about, "how to keep up with things," but in an effort to at least partially redeem myself, I offer these tidbits of wisdom.

(Wisdom? I suppose that will be debatable.)

If your life is as busy as mine, and if you have kids I'd venture to guess it is (whether you educate at home or send them to school), and the little details of life can pile up and feel overwhelming. From the literal piles of laundry and clutter, to the more figurative piles of responsibility for nurturing a family, we shoulder a lot. And if you work outside the home, my hat is off to you, because I remember wandering into my house after a long day at work and thinking, "I don't know how I would do this if I had children," just before plunking my butt on the couch and flipping channels because anything else seemed to require too Herculean an effort.

That said, life still happens, clutter, laundry and dishes happen, and those kids seem to want to eat multiple times a day (seriously, what's up with that - like they are growing or something?). So what's a busy mom to do? Here are a few of my tips for not drowning in the sea of to-do lists and tasks that threaten to overwhelm the day to day life of a busy mom (or dad!).

1. Let some of it go. My laundry pile? I let it go. I know I will get to it eventually, and in the meantime, at least we all have clean clothes to wear. Whether it is leaving the dishes overnight, the stack of papers and mail on the kitchen counter, or a floor that could probably use some attention - sometimes it just isn't going to happen. And that's ok. Unless you have someone coming to your house who will run white-gloved fingers across your mantle, checking for dust, chalk it up to your house being "lived in" and let some of it go.

Don't ever do this at my house. Seriously.
2. On the other hand, prioritize what matters to you. I don't want to live in a sh*t hole any more than the next gal. At some point, stuff's just gotta get done. If having a clean kitchen is what makes you calm, do that first. If the laundry neatly folded and put away makes you happy, make sure that gets done. If you can't stand clutter, keep up with it. Make the things that have the biggest impact on YOUR state of calm and happiness a priority and keep those things in check.

3. Consider the needs of your husband and family. (If you have a husband and family, obviously). One thing that has helped keep me from drowning is knowing what is important to my husband. In our case, he hardly notices if there are toys scattered around and doesn't really care if he has to fish for his clothes in a laundry basket. It is far more important to him that he has good food to eat. So I know that if I have to choose between getting something clean and making dinner, dinner always wins. I do my best to prioritize food shopping and cooking so I know I can throw together a decent meal, even at the expense of other things. When you can't do it all, do the important things well, and the rest will catch up eventually.

When in doubt, cook something with bacon

4. Don't be afraid to value nurturing your family. This is probably the most important piece of the puzzle, honestly. When I first quit my job after having my oldest, I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about being a stay-home mom. I was quick to point out that I still worked part time from home, even though it was (and still is) a very small part of what I do all day. I was quick to say I "didn't quit my job to be a maid, I quit to be a mom." It took me a while to realize that the mundane tasks of running a home are actually incredibly valuable. Creating order out of chaos, providing nourishing and comforting food, even just keeping up with the daily tasks of life - they all create a home that we all want to live in. Home should be our safe place, the place where we want to be. It is the cornerstone of our family, the place where we gather, rest, play, and enjoy each other's company. Maintaining a home that is comforting, peaceful and just generally a nice place to be is an enormous gift to my family. Whether or not "society" agrees is largely irrelevant. And having that kind of home doesn't mean everything is spotless and perfect. It means that the work I do, even when it is just scrubbing toilets or reading "Green Eggs and Ham" for the zillionth time, or throwing together something for dinner - that work has value. It means something to my family, whether they know it consciously or not, and nurturing them is important and fulfilling.

Bottom line? Prioritize, get done what you can, and always keep in mind that you have the privilege of nurturing your family.

And when in doubt, make cookies. Cookies make every mom a rockstar.

Love on a plate.