Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Balancing Mommyhood & Your Sanity

Mommyhood is no joke. It's a role that teaches you how to manage 45 things at once. Sometimes with a smile on your face. It's a role that inevitably means at some point in your life you will be covered in someone else's bodily fluids. Perhaps for an extended period of time. Sometimes multiple times a day. It's a role that leaves you feeling raw, sometimes depleted, frazzled and frumpy. Putting on makeup for me means slathering my face oils on as fast as I can while getting toothbrushes ready for my kids. I live in yoga clothes, and am barely recognizable when I put "real" clothes on. It's been years of this. It's a job that often leaves women feeling unappreciated - little people demand all your attention and care yet somehow you repeatedly seem to fall short of their expectations. Despite pouring your heart into each of them, you cannot extend yourself to the length they desire, and they voice that failure to you when they are caught up in their whirlwind of emotions. Yes, the appreciation is there, they may just be too young to fully understand and communicate it. So you choose to focus on giving, giving, giving...because you know you are helping shape their worlds and ideas of what happiness, fun, passion, unconditional support and love are. You know the payoff to your efforts may not be seen or felt until years from now, but you keep on going anyway. It's your job.
It's hard. Every single day of being on your game, putting on a happy face, oozing energy and embracing changes and loving fully and authentically. It's hard.

Throw in a constantly messy house, an overflowing laundry room, and healthy dinners to somehow cook with a fridge full of rotting leftovers. Lunches need to be made, breakfasts prepared, clothes to pick out for school, homework to complete, diapers to change, garbage to collect, small mountains of crumbs to vacuum (seemingly after every single meal). Not to mention fitting in workouts, reading, studying, quality family time, quiet alone time, hobbies, work, organizing closets and drawers that contain thousands of missing items somewhere in their depths. I'm telling you, by the time my kids are in bed, I am just DONE! So how the heck is this all possible to manage? Better yet, how can it be managed without feeling like you're struggling to stay afloat? While I'm no expert, I have learned some tricks along the way to make it feel that my life is balanced. At least 60% of the time. On a good day.

1. Let go
This is a BIG one for me - a typical Type A personality. I'm driven to do it all, and usually all on my own. Such a flaw of mine that has served me well on many levels yet also comes as a curse. There are things/people/expectations/responsibilities that need to be let go of. Clear the plate so to speak. Delegate what you need to, especially those tasks that are time consuming which aren't allowing you to maximize time with your kids. Let go of believing you can, or SHOULD do it ALL! Hire a housekeeper, even once a month. Hire a Nanny or babysitter to watch your kids while you're home to allow you uninterrupted time to take care of household tasks. Can't afford it? Barter with someone. What can you offer for them to clean your house or babysit your children? Start a group with your friends and every week one of you can babysit all the kids to give everyone else a break. The following week switch, and you can have a break. And don't feel guilty about it! These things will allow you to focus on your children in a meaningful, authentic way without your mind wandering to everything you are needing to accomplish

2. Clean the Kitchen
Making sure the kitchen is clean at the end of the night will save you time and grief during the morning rush. I don't know about you, but when I wake up and wander into a messy kitchen, my whole morning begins on a sour note. One thing I have been doing lately that saves me some sanity is filling the sink up with hot water and soap in the morning and throwing in all the breakfast dishes or leftover dishes from the previous night until I have time to wash them or put them in the dishwasher. This serves two purposes:
First my kitchen has the appearance of being tidy, which prevents feelings of overwhelm and consequently, stress
Secondly, my dishes will be quick to later wash, or ready to load right into the dishwasher without having to rinse every single one, saving me time in the end

3. Crockpot it up
I have been loving my crockpot lately! Such a time saver when you aren't spending time creating elaborate meals. An easy way to figure out what to do with it is to find something you already have in your fridge or pantry and browse through Pinterest by searching that ingredient. For example, if you have zucchini that you want to get rid of, type in "zucchini and crockpot" into the Pinterest search bar to find recipes. Add the word "quick" if you're really strapped for time. I shared on Facebook a week or so ago a recipe I randomly came up with after seeing a butternut squash in my pantry that needed to be cooked. Sometimes I put off cooking squash because I absolutely hate cutting those darn things. So much effort is involved! So I put the entire squash in my crockpot for 4 hours on high, took it out and peeled the skin off (which basically fell off) and removed the seeds. I threw the rest in my Vitamix and added in some full fat coconut milk, cinnamon, garlic and vegetable broth, blended for a couple minutes and voila! Quick and easy soup. So pull out that crockpot (or go buy one!), dust it off and get ready to fall in love

4. 10 minute cleanup
At the end of the day, when the kids are in bed, set a timer for 10 minutes and tidy up. 10 minutes isn't a daunting amount of time when you'd rather kick your feet up and call it a day, but it's enough to make a good dent in an ever-accumulating pile of stuff. You'll appreciate it in the morning

5. Recruit your Spouse
If you feel you are drowning in responsibilities 98% of your day, it may be time to reach out to your spouse or significant other. Decide which tasks he or she can take on for you, or help with. I expressed my overwhelm with my husband months ago. Specifically in regards to the state of our house. Since then he will unload and load the dishwasher every night and tidy up the kitchen. It's not a huge task for him but it makes a big difference to me. Having the load lightened even a little bit can do wonders for your stress levels. Communicate. Delegate. Celebrate. This is my new mantra for survival around here.

6. Brain Dump
I recently participated in an online program and this was one of the tasks we needed to complete. It's one that I enjoyed a great deal. A good time to do this is before bed, so you don't have scattered thoughts and ideas keeping you up at night. Take a piece of paper and set your timer for 15-20 minutes. Write down everything you need to do. Personal...business...everything. If you need an additional 5 minutes, continue on. Fill that page (and gasp at how full it is!)

7. Prioritize
Expanding on the brain dump idea, at night before you go to bed, spend some time deciding what needs to be done the next day. I will get into this in more detail in another blog post but for now, star the 3 most important things from your brain dump that need to be done. The next day focus on accomplishing those three things first. If you have time, continue on through your list, but if you aren't able to tackle anything else you can still feel accomplished that you completed those most important things


I hope those tips are helpful. Comment below with any tips you have of your own, I would love to hear them. I have been asked a lot lately about balancing various aspects of life and I will happily share ideas and tools I have been using to manage my 3 children and an at-home business. It doesn't have to be impossible or daunting, it just takes some implemented strategies and systems that are known to be effective. And a little bit of effort of course

xxoo Rachel

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