Okay, here’s my confession. My typical day starts with the snooze button. I only hit it once, but it’s like my 10-minute reprieve from the juggling act of the day.
Once I’m up, it’s a mad dash to get my son ready for school (complete with lunch and library book), get myself ready for work, appease my toddler who just wants Mommy cuddles at that time of day, and figure out if I need to thaw something for dinner that night. And did I mention picking up the seven Legos I stepped on along the way?
It’s insane, it’s overwhelming, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
People sometimes ask me how I do it all. How do I balance a full-time job, small children, writing, sports and activities, volunteering, chores, and family time?
Here’s my secret: there is no secret. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. But just like I tell my kids, all you can do is your best.
I have found a few things that help, and I’d love to share them with you. But they’re not going to cure the hectic-ness that is Mommyhood or somehow create more hours in your day. Remind yourself that this is the life you chose, this is the life you love, and treasure as many of the crazy moments as you can.
Make Un-Fun Things Fun
Picking up? Not really my favorite thing to do. But it’s amazing how much fun my kids and I can have doing nothing more than cleaning. Toddlers + dusting cloths = pure entertainment, by the way. My kids and I sing songs while we clean, we make up stories, and we talk about back when there were no dishwashers, vacuum cleaners or washing machines. And we enjoy each other’s company, which makes even the most mundane of chores enjoyable.
Plan Ahead for School
This one seems pretty obvious, but it’s truly worth doing. Pack your kids’ lunches the night before so it makes for one less task in the morning. Pick out clothes for yourself and your kids before you head to bed. Make sure your kids’ backpacks are ready, you’ve signed anything you need to sign, and they have their library books packed or their show and tell ready to go. If you have sports after school, make sure the equipment is easily accessible (for me, that means the back of the van, although it drives my husband crazy).
Cut Down on Cooking Time
Learn to love your freezer and your slow cooker. Both will save you a lot of time and energy if you use them effectively. I try to buy meat in larger quantities and prepare several freezer meals each weekend. It adds a few minutes to my morning prep to throw it in the slow cooker, but after work goes much more smoothly when the only thing I have to do is plate our meals. Have a few quick-cooking options on hand for those days when you forgot to thaw anything. Because even the most organized mom (and I don’t know about you, but I will never claim that title), will sometimes forget. My favorite quick-fix is breakfast for dinner, and it’s always a hit at my house.
Recognize Your Limitations
Sometimes, we put truly unreasonable expectations upon ourselves. So, if you’d tell a friend to relax and let the vacuuming wait another day, remember to take your own advice. Sometimes, you just have to let some things go. I used to always sacrifice sleep to get everything accomplished. Add the baby bump and that’s simply not a possibility. Apparently, I’m now sacrificing the whole putting away clean laundry thing. But really, who is it going to hurt in the long run?
Make Time for the Little Things
This is my single most important tip. Don’t forget what’s really important during that mad rush of everyday life. Take the time to read your kids a bedtime story every single night, no matter what. Watch a movie with your husband occasionally. Take a bubble bath. Get a pedicure. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that chores, work and chaos are all necessary, but that enjoying life is not. It’s the most important thing of all.