On Doing “It All”

I get a lot of comments about how I look like I’m able to do it all, how I’m able to get so much accomplished, how I can keep my house so clean.  I get so many comments that sometimes I start to feel bad.  If you go on Instagram and browse through some feeds of mothers, a common theme will be “keeping it honest” and making sure that everyone knows you are not perfect.  Then you get pictures of piled high laundry, toys everywhere, dishes in the sink with a caption about how you should leave it all and just play with your kids.  Instead of relieve me of need to clean it just makes me feel guilty for needing to clean instead of play.  I chose the word “need” intentionally because friends, if I don’t clean and keep my house clean then I am a moody mess of a mom and definitely no fun to play with.

Even as “clean” as my house looks there are a lot of things that are filthy! I’m really good at keeping my house tidy and orderly, keeping the floors clean and the bathrooms scrubbed.  I’m really really not good at things like cleaning windows, baseboards or walls.  So while it may look like I accomplish it all let me assure you that for every one thing I do accomplish there is a list of 5 that I don’t.

Yesterday morning I woke up later than normal but with a lot of motivation to get my house spotless and get a lot of my spring cleaning list completed (prime example of my “list of 5”).  Sunday I spent the day relaxing and honestly doing nothing.  My husband even made me supper and brought it to me in bed.  Due to my “day off” I neglected a lot of my daily rituals that make me sane and keep my house looking presentable.  I went to bed aware that my house was a “disaster” but vowing to get it cleaned up today.  Yet when I went downstairs this morning I was overwhelmed with just how much there was to do and how much I wanted to accomplish.  I quickly realized that my expectations of the day were unrealistic, but it took me a few hours to really let go of those expectations.  During those few hours I was annoyed more than I was joyful, I was overwhelmed and anxious about the state of my house and about the gardening that wasn’t getting done and supper that I hadn’t planned or thought of and preschool for Ezekiel that I haven’t started and the list goes on and on and on.  On top of that Eden’s reflux flared up pretty bad and she was irritable, Ezekiel was going on and on about going for a walk and I was quickly losing patience.  My expectations were driving me crazy and so while I was feeding and rocking Eden I closed my eyes took some deep breaths and released them.  I adjusted my expectations and I let go of my need to “get it all done.”  I became OK with getting done what I could and letting go of the rest.

Once I did that it was incredible what I was actually able to accomplish and how joyful I became.  At the end of the day I couldn’t believe how I was able to turn my day from a very bad day going worse to a great day – it’s usually the other way around.  The only reason that happened is because I focused on one task at a time instead of focussing on my never ending list of tasks.  I was even able to check off a few items on my spring cleaning list.  As I went about the day I reflected on why it is that I am usually able to keep my house clean and organized and why I’m not usually overwhelmed by it – it came down to 2 words:

Discipline and routine.

That’s really it.

Every day I have a variation of a routine I follow, it’s constantly being tweaked to fit our lives better and to try and fit more into a day (think walks, park play, craft time etc.) and it’s revised daily to fit the needs of a baby with an awry routine but it works.  The only reason it works? Discipline.  There are a lot of days I just don’t want to put the dishes away, water the plants, pick up after my family, do the laundry, sweep the floors or tidy the things that have been left laying around but if I don’t I know the next day is going to be an uphill battle for me mentally.  This is how I keep my mental stability intact always but especially in my postpartum days.  A screaming baby is much less irritating to me when I’m walking around my house trying to calm her if my house is clean and orderly.  An inquisitive and whining 3 yr old is a little more tolerable if I’m not staring at a disaster that I’m trying to clean up.  My routines and disciplines didn’t happen overnight though, they were slowly incorporated into my day.

So as a response to those wondering why it looks like I’m always getting things accomplished I thought I’d give you a glimpse into my routine. Maybe you can pick up a habit or two and overtime feel like you aren’t drowning in trying to get your house to a tidy state, or maybe you are truly ok with leaving it the way it is – that is JUST FINE.  Honestly – you do you, but I have to do me for the sake of my mental health and relationships with my family.

MORNINGS

I’ve always been an early to rise early to bed girl so my mornings are a huge part of my sanity.  I despise waking up with everyone else and have to work really hard to be in a good mood if it happens.  Thankfully Eden has been sleeping long stretches (6-8 hours) at night and will wake up in the early morning for a feed before going back to sleep for another 3-4 hours, this is my wake up call.  I change her and feed her and then shower and get ready for the day after putting her back to bed.  It’s never a specific time but if she wakes up anytime later than 4:30 then that’s when I get up.  I have found it much harder to shower and get ready if I don’t do this.

After that I go down and get coffee, take my medications, put away any lingering dishes, wipe off counters, tidy anything that wasn’t tidied the night before.  I also do a quick check on the plants and water them if they need it.  I prepare breakfast for Ezekiel and I and have it on the table for when he wakes up – it varies from eggs to cold cereal depending on what I feel like.  He’s not a picky eater so this works for us and he gets very very hangry if he doesn’t eat.  I’ve found that if I don’t have it prepared we both get distracted and it gets very difficult to get him to eat anything.  Then after doing all that I sit down with my coffee and usually browse social media (or write a blog!) until one of the kids wakes up.

After everyone wakes up honestly the day takes shape as it goes.  I usually have some sort of plan for the mornings – whether that be a coffee/playdate, the zoo, cleaning the house, a long walk but aside from cleaning day I try to get out in the morning.  Ezekiel is an outdoors kid, and he’s also a kid that wants me to be with him and play with him always so if I don’t do something fun for him in the morning he gets super annoying with asking to do something and wanting me by his side always.  Eden is still able to go with the flow and doesn’t have a set schedule so for now we use Ezekiel’s schedule to plan the day.  Eventually two mornings a week will be dedicated to school for Ezekiel – that will start in the next couple weeks.

Lunch is around 12:30 and this is when I am able to do a tidy of the house and kitchen in particular because I eat a lot faster than Ezekiel.  While he’s finishing his meal I’m checking off tasks (sweep the kitchen, fold the laundry, start supper prep, do the dishes etc.), I get as many as I can off the list.  Then we all go upstairs and Ezekiel gets to watch one Netflix episode – if Eden is content this is another time I can do a quick tidy upstairs which usually includes putting away clothes, picking up whatever has been left behind in our various trips up and down the stairs.

Nap time is usually 1:30 or 2 and thankfully it’s almost always nap time for them both so I get a bit of a break.  I always take 30-60 minutes just to sit, sometimes I read, sometimes I watch a TV episode but it’s usually with a coffee in hand.  After taking time for myself I start to get supper prepped – marinate meat, chop veggies etc. so it’s easy to actually prepare when it’s supper time.  If I’m lucky I’ll get to do a “one off task” like mow the grass or bake some muffins and I base that on what I feel like doing that day or what desperately needs to get done.

Ezekiel will wake up around 4:30 or 5 and I make sure he has a small snack and we usually check in on the greenhouse at this time.  I sit outside with him if Eden is sleeping and it’s nice out, or we’ll read books.

Supper is around 6 or 6:30, we eat, clean up, tidy the downstairs and head upstairs for bedtime.  Ezekiel will watch one more Netflix show, both the kids will have a bath, we get them dressed, give meds and put us all to sleep.

Throughout the day I do a lot of 30 second tidies and that’s the key to my house being kept clean.  I should mention that Ezekiel is always responsible for his own tidying so he does a lot of 30 second tidies as well.  I also always do at least one load of laundry a day – it keeps it manageable and less intimidating, it also ensures that the clothes get washed and put away instead of just washed.

What I struggle with and what I want to start incorporating into my day is the spring cleaning tasks.  I usually look at it as a huge thing that needs a tonne of time to get done and I just don’t have big chunks of time anymore.  I can’t take a day or two and just dedicate it to spring cleaning because I have two small children who would not cooperate with that plan – as I learned yesterday.  If I start to add a task or two to my days my list would be done in no time and I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed by it and then if I kept up with it – like spot cleaning walls, wiping down baseboards every few months etc. it wouldn’t have to be “spring cleaning” because those things would just be done always.  So that’s what I’m going to do – start adding one or two tasks a day and hopefully that motivates me to keep those things cleaner than they are now.

Whew – that was a long post but honestly this is how I “do it.”  I’m so far from perfect though guys, there are definitely days that nothing gets done and that breakfast, lunch and supper are a variation of baking, fruit and veggies and that’s OK.  We need grace daily to get through the day and we need to remember that we are human – imperfect and flawed. No one will ever accomplish it all, where they excel in one thing they’ll lack in another.  So instead of focusing on where you lack focus on where you excel and just let go of the rest.  Your sanity will thank you.