I woke up this morning to this question on FB Messenger …
Hey, I really don’t know who else to ask. How do you balance kids, work, life, etc.? I’ve been struggling lately with balancing everything, and I think I’m failing at it all. Lol.
First, I am confronted with feelings of gratitude that she would consider asking ME for help. Then, I feel worried … how could I possibly help her when I feel the exact same feelings of overwhelm WAY TOO OFTEN???
But maybe that’s just it … maybe this fellow-Mom just needs someone to “get it” … and I DEFINITELY “get it” … she has two little ones (I have three) … and, frankly, being a mom is so dang hard sometimes … being a mom, having a job, and trying to keep some order in our lives is even harder, despite how easy some people try to make it look sometimes!
Just two short sleeps ago, I was in such a state of overwhelm again that I just sat down and cried. My big girls were spatting … all … morning … long … I had just put the baby’s crib BACK together after a failed attempt to get her to sleep in her big-girl bed (since she’s recently taken up climbing out of playpens and cribs). I had also just got off the phone with my husband who (probably rightfully so) squashed my plans to shuffle EVERYONE around in the whole house. I mean this quite literally … I wanted to move our bedroom to the basement, giving each of the girls their own room (and their own bathroom) along the main floor hallway.
In my mind, this switch would bring ORDER to our home … everything Mom- and Dad-related would go downstairs AND we would have a bathroom that was only ours. Everything kid-related would be in the “back hall,” and they would all have more room and more freedom to use their spaces how they liked. But my husband said “no,” because he’s not ready to be so far away from his little girls yet. So I cried … BECAUSE I … JUST … FEEL … SO … OVERWHELMED. My attempt at “order” was squashed, and it was just TOO MUCH for me.
This house is SO FULL of stuff (despite my incessant efforts to purge and get rid of things FOR YEARS NOW); every time I try to bring order to a space, it gets messy again in no time. Every time I get something checked off my to-do list, it’s back on again before I’ve even had a moment to savour it … clean the kitchen … check … do the laundry … check … vacuum … check … Turn around and the kitchen is a mess again. And there’s more laundry. And, yep, you guessed it, it’s time to vacuum again. Ugh … it’s all so neverending … and apparently, for me anyway, so OVERWHELMING.
And I berate myself … Why can’t I keep it all together? Why can’t I bring order to my home? And I feel like a failure … as a homemaker and as a mother … and I spiral down into “the pit.” And it’s ugly down there. In the pit, it’s hard to be the mom I want to be. It’s hard to even know where to start or what to do … BUT, I know I’ve GOT to do … SOMETHING (and I’m not “allowed” to stay in the pit for long). I change the energy (maybe with music, maybe with an essential oil, maybe with 10 jumping jacks, or with a tickle fight or by tossing the baby in the air ten times and hearing her squeal), THEN I tackle a category … maybe it’s the dishes or maybe I sweep the floor or fold and put away a load of laundry. Do just ONE thing … completely …
Sometimes, this is also the time to just get out a bucket or a box or a laundry basket and just go around collecting items that are NOT in their rightful place in your home … then just put the laundry basket “up” for awhile until I have the time and energy to do something with it … this might also be the time to go around my home with a black garbage bag labeled “rummage,” ruthlessly tossing in items no one actually uses, needs, or plays with … think clothes, toys, shoes, bags and purses, kitchen items, and the like. And once you have that bag full, take it out to the car IMMEDIATELY. OR maybe this is the time to tour the house with a garbage bag for just that … garbage … got a plant that’s dying (repeatedly reminding you what a failure you are)? Toss it. Wrappers in the living room? Toss them. Old art projects that no one really cares about anyway? Toss them. Broken toys? Toss. Dried-out markers? Get rid of them. Stained clothing? Toss it. Toss it. Toss it.
Any or all of these things will help you feel “lighter” almost immediately …
My feelings of overwhelm about the state of my house are completely legit, and they stop me in my tracks again and again … they prevent me from seeing the joy of having three beautiful children in my life, they keep me from being present with my kids, they rob me of time I could be spending with my kids … because … I … just … can’t … cope when my environment is in such a state of chaos … and yet it is CHAOTIC … all … of … the … time … even this morning, as I write this, the living room is littered with books and stuffies and pillows and remnants of a blanket fort and a checker board …
I read recently, in Rachel Hollis’ Girl Wash Your Face, to EMBRACE the chaos. To quote: “Embracing chaos might be the journey we take to finding peace.”
I get the IDEA of embracing chaos, but I definitely need to work on LIVING peacefully within it all … and actually, I don’t think she means living peacefully in a messy house, because she also preaches the importance of “cleaning up our sh*t” … in our homes, our cars, our offices …
In that same book, Hollis also tells women that work life BALANCE is a myth … it’s just ONE person’s (seemingly widely-accepted) opinion of how life should be, but it sets up an impossible feat for women all over the world and leaves us feeling defeated again and again. There’s no such thing as a BALANCE … if this myth were true, a mom who works 40 hours per week would have 40 hours per week to spend with her family and 40 hours per week to work on her dreams and passions and 40 hours per week to spend with her husband, but, of course, that simply isn’t true … or possible … people sleep, they have meals to prepare, they have commutes, they go to school, they need time to play, they have household chores to complete, they need time to care for themselves … the list goes on and on and on … and it’s suddenly apparent how much of a myth this so-called “balance” really is.
We’re striving for the impossible … ORDER … and … BALANCE … day after day after day, and because we’re striving for something impossible, we all feel like we’re failing over and over and over again.
Imagine if we invested our energy into what’s possible INSTEAD???
First and foremost, women (and maybe moms in particular) need to take care of themselves. I CANNOT stress this enough …
- drink lots of water
- eat well
- get enough sleep
- set aside a few minutes to get yourself ready / presentable for the day … because I hate blow drying my hair, I often get it wet first thing (like 5 a.m.), so it’s mostly dry by the time I have to “style it” at 7:15 a.m.
- get up an hour before your kids usually wake up (for me, this means setting the alarm for 4:45 a.m.); of course, this means I have to get to bed at a decent time each night (usually 9:30ish) … use this hour FOR YOU … this is the time to work on those “special projects” you’ve been dying to do; to write in a gratitude journal; to dream; to make a plan for your day; to stretch; to pray … whatever will “fill you up” (at least a little) for the day … NOTE: this is NOT the time to scroll your fav social media sites.
- get some exercise … EVERY DAY … keep it simple … normally, I just go for a 20-minute walk each morning (anyone can do that) … sometimes, I add in a bit of running just to amp things up … the combination of a bit of exercise and the early morning fresh air is a great way to start the day (I usually head out at 6:30 a.m.)
- construct a “framework/routine” for your days … this is mine for summer holidays … (I will have to create a new one for once we’re back to school / work in just a few short weeks)
5:00-6:30 – Me Time (right now, mine includes some reading and a special project I’m working on)
7:15-7:45 – Get Myself Ready
8:00-8:30 – Decluttering / Tidying; Kids’ Breakfast
8:30-9:30 – One-on-One Kid Time
11:30 – 12:30 – Lunch Prep / Lunch / Kitchen Clean Up
12:30 – 1:00 – Kid Time; Group Tidy
1:00 – 2:00 – Nap Time / Big Kid Quiet Time
4:45 – 5:45 – Supper Prep / Supper / Kitchen Clean Up
6:00 – 7:00 – Bath / Bedtime Prep
7:00 – 7:30 – Reading w/ Kids, then Bedtime
7:30 – 8:00 – Evening Tidy; Plan for the Next Day (including food)
8:00 – 8:30 – Special Project
8:30 – 9:00 – Time w/ My Husband
9:00 – 9:30 – Get Ready for Bed, then Bedtime
- alone time – once a week or so (sometimes NOT quite often enough), I escape … I leave the kids with my husband for a couple of hours and just go do what I want … lately, this has meant going for a bike ride or a walk, then doing some reading or writing or reflecting … I personally love to be outside, so I usually find a space to be outside (like the Regional Park or something). I actually know that I need to do a bit more of this, as I am still finding myself completely overwhelmed at times … my husband isn’t always available, so I’ve been working on getting some babysitters organized too, so I can still get away sometimes.
I’ve made great strides in my life to be sure that I care for myself each day, but I COULD (and SHOULD) be doing EVEN MORE … I am blessed with a husband who “gets it” and NEVER questions my need to look after myself or “tap out” for a bit to regain my composure … this is a GIFT that I KNOW many women do not have. BUT I encourage you to NEVER let ANYONE make you feel guilty about taking care of yourself …
You can’t pour from an empty cup … women (and maybe MOMS, in particular) need to fill their cups FIRST!
Get filling … TODAY! Take ONE self-care baby step, then another, then another … until you’re feeling a little bit better … then keep doing it, BUT ALSO keep in mind that perfect order and perfect balance is total BS!