Monday, February 27, 2012

How I juggle Jam and Kids

Pretty much as soon as I started selling my jam, friends and acquaintances started asking, "how do you find time to make jam?". I'd usually smile, laugh and say something witty in response. Haven't most mom's learned their own tricks to keeping their ship afloat? Why are we afraid to ask or to hear how another mom does it? I felt as sense of shame when I'd see a mom with more kids than I had who always seemed to have it together, always kept her cool and had a clean home all at the same time!!

I thought I'd give a little insight into my own little world. It's not perfect, it's life. Life is not perfect, but I love it! For starters, we're pretty much alone out here. All our family is either in New Jersey, Virginia or somewhere in between. A two-hour drive is pretty standard for a get-together. As lovely as it is being out here, it can be lonely. With it just being us, all the pressure seemed to fall on my shoulders.

 So I'd push myself to be better at the things I used to do well, but after I had babies I had lost touch with (keeping a spotless house for one) and it was the most frustrating time. No matter what I did, something was getting forgotten. I felt defeated and deflated. What I thought was getting back into a groove was making me feel like I was failing at everything.

Finding the Balance

When I became pregnant with Liam the same year we'd bought our house, I had to find a balance. For me, it was either clean house or play with Connor. I couldn't figure out how to do both. He seemed to know when I was hoping to get a load of laundry in, and that would be the day he would scream bloody murder the moment I left the room, or he wouldn't nap making vacuuming or dusting difficult. Knowing baby #2 was on the way, I couldn't let him "win" any more.

SO I started to write down what I wanted to get done in any given week. Simple things such as: water plants, dust den, vacuum second floor...and so on. I broke down each floor of our home and the things that I'd like see done.
I took that list and broke it up among the 5 weekdays (weekends I like to keep things up in the air).

For example:
Monday: vacuum first floor
Tuesday: mop kitchen
Wednesday: vacuum den
Thursday: water plants
Friday: laundry

Suffering a little less than I did with Connor, this was doable. Mostly to make me feel like I was still accomplishing things throughout the day other than getting out of bed and Connor not burning the house down. ( you know what I mean ladies!)

Slowly though, the laundry especially, got out of hand. My anemia was so bad I could hardly walk 30 feet, let alone up and down two flights of stairs with the laundry basket.

When Liam was 6 weeks old, I'd been to the doctor and given the go ahead to get back into my routine, I rewrote my routine!!

What Works For Me

With new ambition I went from a routine to a full on schedule! It revolved completely around the kids day, but still made it possible to get cleaning, cooking and fun all done. I sat down with a notepad and wrote down how the day went, when I was upstairs, when I could fit in laundry without making an extra trip upstairs (risking waking up the baby unnecessarily) and such.

For example:
wakeup-10am: Breakfast, dishwasher (either load or unload), free play
10am - 12pm: Liam up for nap, laundry down and into washer, activity with Connor on and so forth. I have broken it into code though so it isn't so wordy


just because I have a system, DOES NOT mean that my
world isn't full of chaos. The photo to the right is a perfect example of this. I had gone into the dining room (two rooms away) to package up an Etsy order. I could hear the boys talking to each other and having fun, so I took the 3 minutes and got the box taped, labeled and ready for shipping. When I returned to the den, this is what I found...hundreds of little foam letters all over the floor!!

The long of the short of it is, even with a system, kids = chaos! Just today Liam completely emptied out Connor's dresser before he decided he was ready for his nap...clothes everywhere.

A friend of mine said "Cleaning up after kids is like shoveling while it's still snowing."

My Tips For Anyone

We're each in a different season of our lives. My routine wouldn't work for a mother with a newborn who isn't sleeping through the night, or someone who works full time. It's what works for me.

If you are struggling to find balance I have a few tips which may help.

1. Write your goals down!
Seeing what you're hoping to accomplish in a day, week, month; whatever you've written out helps put it into perspective.

2. Start small!
Instead of writing out a goal of "clean the house", try "clean off the dining room table" or "wipe down the kitchen counters". A simple task that won't take more than a few minutes can do wonders for your spirit!

3. Set a timer.
10 or 15 minutes per task. When the timer goes off, you stop or if you've finished before the timer, head to the next thing on the list.

4. Breathe.
If you're kids have full tummies, clean diapers (if you're in that stage still like I am) and are've accomplished a lot! If the sink is overflowing with dishes, Breathe. Wait until there's time to do it. Even if that means waiting until the next day.

I'd rather sit on the floor and play Go Fishing than scrub toilets anyway!! Wouldn't you?

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