01 March 2010

How do you do it all?

Let me start by saying that I am not tooting my horn here.  I don't think I am any more amazing than the mom next door.  But I do get asked, often, how do I do it all?  It makes me feel a little self conscious, because I don't want to be seen as that woman.  I want to be seen as a real person, who struggles and simply does her best.  Not some overachieving perfectionist.   It is true, I enjoy having a nice, clean house and I enjoy going all out for my children's birthday parties.  I have a lot of energy and I will try my hand and work to excel at a lot of things in my life.  It's just who I am.  Not something I am trying to portray or some image I am trying to maintain.   But there are a few things I've discovered along the way that have made my life easier.  Some of them are probably already habits for many of you!  But here they are.

I do not have a set cleaning schedule.  I clean as I go.  As tired as I may be, I do not put off clearing/wiping down the table after a meal.  Or vacuuming after the kids have tracked in a bunch of dirt and grass.  Or putting away the toys at the end of the day (and my kids help with this). 

If you had to pick one area of your house that you want to keep spotless most of the time, what would it be?  Perhaps a visible area to all drop in visitors?  Perhaps the area you spend the majority of your time?  For me it is my kitchen.  I like having a clean table and clean counters and a clean floor.  That means I clean it every day.  My living room is a close second since it is attached to the kitchen, so I always clean the floors in both rooms.  Having an area that I feel is always clean makes me feel like I keep a clean house.  Even if the playroom is a disaster.

Chuck the junk mail immediately (preferably into the recycle bin).  If you cannot afford it, do not browse the catalog.  Or they will begin to pile up as you "hope" to be able to make a purchase sometime soon.  I hate piles.  I usually have one, inevitably, but I go through it regularly and anything I haven't looked at in a week gets tossed or shredded.

Every time I go usptairs, I take a pile of stray toys with me.  Our playroom is upstairs, but that doesn't keep my kids from wandering downstairs with a toy every once in a while.  If I didn't do this, by the end of the day/week there would be a huge untidy mess downstairs, and it might have only started with a few legos!

Always have a calendar with you.  In all honesty I am still working on this one.  It never fails that I double schedule things if I do not have a pocket calendar with me as I am scheduling a check-up, appointment, photo session, teacher conference, etc.

Wipe down the faucet/ sink area with the hand towel after you wash your hands, and wash your hand towels often.  My kids haven't quite caught on yet, but this reduces how often I have to clean the bathrooms.  We also squeegee our walls/shower doors every day.

Plan a girls night with some friends every week.  Just do it!  Don't think about the million thigns you should be doing, give yourself a break and you will come home with a better attitude and desire to stay on top of your to-do list.

Have a hobby.  Or two.  Something that makes you feel like you.  Personally, I have 7: music, photography, interior design/crafts/art, reading, baking, party planning, running.  But I am not doing them all at the same time!  Music and photography are my main source of income, and running is how I stay fit.  The others fit into my life as I have or make time for them.  And sometimes they fit nicely into mothering.  What kids don't like to run?  Sometimes I take mine with me.  What kids don't like to make stuff?  Sometimes I give my kids a project to work on while I am working on mine.  What kids don't like to bake?  Sometimes I let them help me with new recipes.

Say no once in a while.  "It is not requisite that a man run faster than he has strength."  Easier said than done, at least for me.  But the world will not fall apart if you don't help out with the school carnival.  And while I believe it IS important to give back, nobody will think anything of you for not getting involved with every little event. 

Be flexible.  Nothing makes an inconvenient situation worse than an unbending personality.  Things happen!  Try not to whine about it.  Just keep moving.

Be grateful for a supportive husband.  This is key for me.  When I get asked how I do it all, I should be saying: it's not all me, that's how!  I have a husband who encourages me to do what I love, what will in turn make me a better mom, wife and self.   He thinks I am a great mom, so when I am feeling inadequate I know he doesn't think that of me.  I show him gratitude by spoiling him a little... bringing home his favorite drink from Sonic, letting him pick out a favorite dinner for the week's menu, giving him a break from the dishes (one of his many contributions around the house), encouraging him to go see a pointless violent movie with some friends, or even just saying "Thank you, I couldn't have done it without you."

Take a deep breath.  Getting overwhelmed is easy for a mom.  Realize you have to let something go once in a while.  Sometimes I think that if I took the time to sit down and write a list of what I want to have accomplished that day, and then alongside it what is realistic, I'd save myself a lot of frustration.

Most important, enjoy yourself.  Life is meant to be enjoyed.  That is why I try and make the most of every moment.  There is joy in every little thing if you take the time to recognize it.


Lara said...

Excellent post, Lei.

It's all about balance and making time. It's not always easy, but you do make it look like it is! I need to steal some of your energy I suppose!

Joyeful said...

This is such a great post, Lei! And full of wonderful advice. You definitely stay busy and you are a great mommy!

Lee said...

Great post Lei! You do a great job!

Amy said...

Wow, you have inspired me. Thank you. I now see a game plan, and a way that I can actually accomplish more of what I want to do (clean house is one). Thank you!

Clark Mills Family said...

Hi Lei, Good advice! I needed it about 10 years ago. I love learning about you talents and ability to stay organized (not one of my best traits) but I do love the calander idea. Oh I love making lists too! Yes you are INSPIRING! HAVE A GOOD WEEK! XO

Yvonne said...

Such a wonderful post, Lei. I love all of your thoughts, especially the "say no once in a while." That is so necessary.

Artes Laura said...

great idea!!!

mississippi artist said...

Great ideas. Of course it's just me and the hub making messes now, but sometimes I think we generate more dirt than ten children!

Justin said...

Thanks for your honesty Leilani; I really benefited from what you had to say! Amy C.