The short answer, I don’t.
Last night a friend asked how I do what I do; hand making gifts, homeschooling, part-time job, laundry, home, etc. My honest answer was that I don’t do it all. The first thing that came to mind is that my husband is amazing. He makes it possible for me to do the many things I want/need to do, and then some.
About a month into this new job I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. The normal everyday things were not getting done, not to mention the things I/we enjoy doing. I had to ask for help. My dear husband does his share and pulls his weight very well around here, don’t get me wrong. He takes care of many things without me even having to think twice about them. But, when I added another item to my plate I knew that I was asking for trouble if I didn’t get some relief somewhere.
So, he agreed to fold the clean laundry and he and the kids put it away.
That statement may not sound like much but oh.my.goodness. You see I figured out that I don’t mind the washing and drying, even line drying of clothes. It’s the folding and putting away that drags me down. It’s the baskets of clean laundry sitting around the house beckoning me to do something with them that drives me crazy. It makes me feel like my day’s work will never be enough if I don’t get them out of sight.
Knowing that I don’t have that responsibility on my shoulders is such a relief. Walking by a basket of clothes and not hearing it call MY name. Yes, I like that. Being gone at work all evening and coming home to empty laundry baskets…happiness is.
Ok, so that’s not the only reason that I stay sane. I do have a few tricks up my sleeve to make our life function smoothly and to make time for those little things that I really like to do like crafting and baking to name a couple. So if you really want to know more, read on.
Just say no: This year we have scaled way back on activities that take us away from home. Since the kids go to work with me or are here with me when I am working, we needed to preserve our home time in order to maintain our peace of mind. The kids are not taking any regular outside classes this year other than piano and judo or an occasional field trip. Running from here to there just stresses everyone so much that it makes the experience less enjoyable. It will not harm our kids to not play numerous sports at this age and I don’t believe they are missing out on anything.
Lists-big picture and daily: I am a huge list maker. It keeps my head from being filled with all of those plans and ideas. When I put it on paper I free my mind. I always have a long term goal list going, things that I hope to accomplish in the next couple of months or longer. But, I also make daily lists for the things that are most realistic today. Rather than being overwhelmed by the big list, I look at the day and see what I can really accomplish with the time I have.
Daily Payer: Did I mention my husband is amazing? Another way that he blesses me is by giving me quiet time to wake up and pray nearly every morning. He is an early riser, I am not. He gets up with the kids and starts breakfast while I get to lay in bed and come to my senses, pray, and mentally plan my day. What a difference this makes, and how obvious it is when that time doesn’t happen. I truly feel like I am a better mom, wife and person in general because of this.
Everyone pulls their weight: As I mentioned above, I do not do it all. We feel very strongly about instilling good habits and work ethic in our kids. They each have a couple of chores they do every day to help keep the house running smoothly. Knowing that they are at least doing some dusting, watering plants, sweeping, straightening, takes those worries from me. The house tends to stay a little bit neat and when I declare a 10-minute tidy we all kick in to get it ship-shape. It is very clear in this home that I am not a maid. Every person in this family does their part to make it run smoothly.
Structure and routine: I learned long before having my own children that kids function best in a routine. Being flexible in that routine is important but when kids know that typically things flow in the same order day in and day out their moods and overall demeanor are better. Mornings are school time, afternoons are for fun, errands, outside play, etc. Certain days are low key because we work in the afternoon, some days are laundry and catch up days because we are usually home most of the day. Seasons change as do our schedules but the general routine of day typically flows about the same no matter what.
Let them play outside: Our kids LOVE to play outside as I think all kids should. Having time to be free to explore and create out in nature is something I try to allow for every day, no matter what the weather. They know the boundaries of our yard so I can trust them to be out there without constant supervision. I can always look out a window to see where they are. Some days they spend hours out there. I try to get out with them as much as possible but I can accomplish A LOT when I opt to stay inside.
Atmosphere and Environment: We all create the atmosphere and environment in our homes. Taking time to arrange things so that they are orderly and convenient makes all the difference when time and energy are low. Keeping books on shelves where kids can easily have access for reading and straightening makes it easy to put that responsibility on them. I am a very practical person. Our home is not decorated perfectly because I don’t like to have a lot of clutter sitting around. I like simple, not busy. Less stuff sitting around means fewer things to clean and less stuff to occupy our eyes and mind.
Do it all for Him: There are days when nothing seems to happen as I had planned. Days when I literally fall on my knees and ask for forgiveness and help. Days when my to-do list takes priority over the things that really matter. Days when I think that I can do it all by myself. Days when I feel like a failure. That’s when I hit the floor. It always come back to Him, the one who made me for this life, the one who gave me these talents, the one who entrusted me with these children, the one who gives me the strength and courage to do what I do for His glory, not mine. If I look like I have it all together, I don’t. But I do have Him. I pray that when I write here and when I spend time with my friends and family that I portray what Jesus asks of each of us,
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16
I pray that I never make anyone reading this feel like they need to do what I do or live like I live. That no one reads this and thinks that I am super-mom. I am not. I pray that I never make anyone feel like they are less than me. My most sincere hope is that I can inspire, encourage and be a living example of God’s love for each and every one of us. I hope that I can help others to be their best by simply trying to be the best version of myself that I can be. I am not perfect, but He is. If we do anything for any other reason than to glorify Him, we are missing the point.