A couple of months ago I was feeling motivated and posted on Facebook that I was looking for organizing tips. Much to my surprise, my friend Paige replied, telling me to look at her blog, It's Easier to Clean Someone Else's House. Now, I knew Paige looked like a supermodel, was great at floral design and decorating, and was an awesome mom, but I did not realize she blogged about cleaning. It's an awesome blog for organizing/cleaning ideas because she is so easy going about things. You don't feel like a failure if you haven's Shined Your Sink lately. Check out her blog; I especially needed the post about setting up a schedule!
So I asked Paige for a guest post and I love what she came up with. Thanks Paige!
Being a mother is not always easy and not always fun. I can honestly say though that I absolutely LOVE being a mother. One of my biggest challenges is keeping up with everything that I expect out of myself and staying sane in the process. I can drive myself crazy because I tend to set my expectations at an unrealistic level. Because I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mom I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking I should have time to do everything and do it all perfectly. The problem is that I am not perfect, I get tired and sometimes doing everything is really not what is most important.
My husband goes to work and he works hard, goes to school, volunteers to coach our kids teams, etc, etc, etc. So needless to say he has a very busy schedule. It's lonely sometimes being home with no adult interaction but I have found a few things make my days a lot more enjoyable and organized. I am very grateful that even though I am home all day my sweet hubby really doesn't expect me to do everything. Often, it takes his reminding me again and again before I remember that as long as the kids are taken care of and happy, everything else will be fine. To date I have never sent any member of my family out of the house with no clothes on - so I have to remember not to let something like staying 100% caught up with the laundry rule my life. It always gets done, eventually.
So on to my list of things that help me enjoy life, stay sane and keep my life reasonably organized. I include being organized with enjoying life and being sane because for me when life is chaotic it is hard to enjoy much of anything. I need order and my kids need order.
1) Have realistic expectations.
Mantra #1: We live in our house. Duh, right?!? Why then whenever I go visiting teaching or to a Pampered Chef Party everything in my friends house's are clean and perfect and blissful? It seems like everyone else lives in what looks like a model home. I want my house to look like a model home. There is a reason why a model home looks 100% presentable at all times - NO ONE LIVES THERE! There is also a reason why when you go visiting teaching it seems perfect - they knew you were coming. I have learned to accept the fact that kids play with toys, cooking dinner creates a mess in the kitchen and spills happen. If someone stops by and there are dishes on the table and food in my baby's hair - it's fine. That's what real life looks like and we are real people. I believe if a room can be made to look decent in 15 minutes then it isn't really messy.
2) Keep it simple.
We've all heard the saying 'a place for everything and everything in it's place.' I love this but for me I have to keep it simple. Sorting is my friend and I am in love with baskets! When we clean up at our house it usually consists of finding a basket and throwing our toys, shoes, mail, etc inside. If you keep your organizing so simple that a 2 year old can understand the system, guess what happens? A two year old can clean up. It's amazing. I've had many extended family members ask me how I taught my boys to clean up so well? It wasn't that hard - I showed them what I expect and worked with them until they understood. Now, when we are getting ready to leave Grandma's house they know what to do and they don't complain about doing it.
My favorite organizing set up is in my boys' room. They have a designated basket for cars, guns, dress ups, balls, and one for games. When it comes time to clean up I don't have to worry things will get lost or shoved under the bed in one big mysterious heap. They know where things go and it is so easy for them to do it right that it always looks perfect when they are done. Even though their room doesn't always look clean it only takes 15 minutes to have it looking great so I say it isn't really that messy. Fool proof system, love it! Plus did I mention that I think baskets are super cute? The other thing I love about baskets is that if you say it's time to sort your toys it doesn't sound as scary as saying "go clean your room." Sorting is fun, not a chore.
3) Have a plan.
Mantra #2: Make a list. I love to write stuff down. It's therapeutic for me. If I write something down I know I won't forget. Even if it takes me a month to get to a certain task, it will be checked off at some point in time. Making a list also helps me to know what to expect. You can call it goals setting, a "to do list", a chore chart, whatever. I don't care what you call it but the key for me is to write stuff down. I usually have a list in my planner, one by each phone and one on the fridge. It might seem excessive but if something I should be doing isn't on a list somewhere I can pretty much guarantee you that I will forget. Lists save my life. My kids need to know what to expect as well. They LOVE it when I make them a list of "chores" that they can check off. Really, who doesn't love putting a big check mark next to something that you won't have to think about again for a long time? Check lists are my fave.
4) Get in a rhythm.
I need consistency. I hear all the time that children need consistency and routine in their lives. It's how they learn responsibility. Well I must still be a child at heart because as much as my kids need a routine to life so do I. This can become as detailed or as simple as you like. The key is finding a routine that works for you and stick to it. Rather than routine sometimes I think of it as a rhythm. We don't necessarily eat lunch everyday at 12:00 noon but sometime between 11:30-1:00 when my baby is up from her morning nap we have lunch. I just need to know what comes next. When I have a rhythm to my day it is easy to know when to schedule Dr. visits, run to the grocery store, etc without messing up naps, meals and chores. We all know that tired or hungry kids are gRuMpY kids!
I have tried so many schedules in my life. I've done the kind where you plan out every minute and have a to do list 2 pages long single spaced for one day (yes I type out my to do lists - I'm nerdy like that) to the very vague, Monday I will do some laundry and Tuesday I will clean a toilet or two... Currently I'm somewhere in the middle. I don't plan every second but I like to have a few specifics mapped out for myself.
5) Refresh yourself.
Whenever I feel a case of the crazies creeping in I can usually pinpoint one of two things that I'm neglecting. First, I have to feed myself spiritually or I get worn out. Making time to study the scriptures/Ensign helps me be more prepared to deal with the challenges of being a mom and it recharges my battery. Second, I have to exercise. Going to the gym sometimes feels selfish but if I don't do it I get grumpy and that doesn't help anyone. I know I will never be Miss Fitness USA and honestly that isn't my goal but I have to take care of my body and make the time to work out. Finding what I love has helped. I can't set fitness goals or regimens according to what other people do or like. I love yoga so I do yoga. It isn't trendy but it's my me time so it's about ME. Lots of girls keep inviting me to Zumba - I'm sure it's great if you are coordinated and spunky - but I'm not. Zumba isn't for me and I don't have time in my life right now to do things just to please other people. Find what you love and do something that's all for you. If it works out that it is something you can do with friends, great!
Mantra #3: Have fun with your family. The best part of being a mom is being able to spend time giggling with my kids. As much as I love having a clean house and an organized life none of that compares with having fun with my family. Kids grow up way to fast. I know I take for granted how much time I have with my children because my husband who sometimes goes days without seeing them at all has to remind me. It won't be long before my boys don't want to play Candyland with their mom so I have to take what I can get. I try to spend quality time just playing with my kids everyday. I cherish our time together. For example, this morning I spent an hour playing with a balloon and reading a book with my baby. It was so simple and I can pretty much guarantee you that it will be the best hour of my day no matter how much I get accomplished from here on out. I think it is so important for our kids to see us let loose and have fun. I know I am the mom - it's my job to teach and to discipline but it's also my job to love them. I want to make sure that my kids have memories of their childhood they can look back on and know that mom loved them because she played with them.
I am so grateful to be a mother. It is the biggest blessing in my life. No matter how big my children grow or how smart they become they will always need me to be there for them because I am their mom. I hope and pray I can be the kind of mother that they need.