I found a new blog that I like, Simple Mom. It's all about practical ways to manage your home - and life - well. So far there's been no blaring surprises, but I still really like it. If you follow the link, read her series on how to be unproductive and lazy. I enjoyed it.
In the spirit of practicality, a few things have happened in my little world lately that seem to be making life more enjoyable. This is normally not at all the kind of thing I would post, because some of my fellow bloggers are missionaries or grad students or planning weddings, and the rest of you are more experienced and way better at managing homes and life than I am. So why in the world would you want to read about what kind of toast I had for breakfast, or how I keep a calendar? But I figured, you know. If microwave food can be reviewed with such success, and recipe contests can be judged online, then why not.
First, I bought new shirts. This sounds so silly, but seriously, a girl NEEDS a cute shirt in life. When I started missing being pregnant because I have more to wear pregnant than not (what?!), it's time to make a change. I've learned something about myself this week - the older I get, the more I care about how I look. Isn't that odd? When I was 23 I wore jeans and t-shirts with confidence. Now I wear jeans and t-shirts and feel frumpy. It makes absolutely no sense, except that something about turning 30, having two children, and watching my skin start to sag (it's WEIRD, ya'll) makes a cuter shirt seem like the least I can do to improve things a bit. But you really can't get too serious about how you look while toting two children around, because everything ends up stretched out and spit-up-on by the end of the day. So. I found a clearance rack and got enough new shirts that I can get dressed in the morning and not feel as though I'm still in pajamas. And when I feel like I look better, I feel better about everything else. Yay for me.
Second, I'm getting a little more organized. Organization is either freeing or oppressive, depending on your personality. I need flexible organization. I need my stuff to have a home, but that home is probably a drawer, and not a specific spot in the drawer. I need structure, but not too much. A teacher once described (something else, but it applies to what I'm saying) as tracks for a train. The tracks give both a specific path and the ability to move to the train; without it, the train cannot function. With it, the train is free to move and do what it was created to do. That's me. I'm the train.
So I started organizing my time. One of the ways I have been the most overwhelmed in late pregnancy/brand-new-babyhood has been with housework. I can generally get dishes in the dishwasher, but seriously, you don't want to know how long it had been since someone had scrubbed a toilet in this house. There are certain things that simply can't be done with toddlers around, because they want to splash and throw and play in everything, including bleach or household cleaners (otherwise known as poisons). And when I only have 45 minutes to an hour a day of simultaneous naps, I don't want to use that time cleaning house. I want to sit very still and not talk to anyone.
I think I found a remedy.
I made a list of everything that needs to be done for me to feel like the house is clean. Then I assigned a day to each chore. Saturdays I have off, and there is no cleaning during naptime. Naps are my time to do whatever I want, which is normally nothing at all. It seems to be working for me. Train on the track, you know. It adds one more thing to my day, but the truth is I was working just as much before, I just didn't have anything to show for it. Now there may still be toys everywhere, but the toilets are clean(er).
So my days go something like this: morning rush, followed by my chore of the day, feed the baby, one-on-one time with Asher, snack, nap. (By the way, Asher generally doesn't eat lunch. If he does, he eats it after his nap. I know this makes him an odd child, but have you seen him? He's obviously healthy, so I don't fight it. He wouldn't eat a snack either if I didn't push it). In the afternoons, wake up, feed everyone, kids play while I drink a cup of coffee and try to stay awake (3:00 is always the low point for my energy), Brian comes home, dinner rush, bed. Sleep, repeat. Obviously if we have things to do in the morning we do them, and on those days I do my chore in the evenings. But it helps me enjoy the down time I have without worrying about what I'm not doing, and it means that our house is generally less grimy than it was before. Less grimy is good.
It has also made for a much more relaxing weekend. Not that any day with small children is really a lazy day, but yesterday was as close as it gets. It's nice to enjoy my free time more, and to enjoy my house more because it isn't a source of stress. And this morning I had something new to wear to church, which made me a little more excited about being in public (if you lecture me about why I go to church I will come through the internet to throw something at you. I KNOW. I also know I feel better in a cute shirt. The end and amen). One thing Simple Mom said has stuck with me - it's all a means to an end. Housework, finances, groceries, playgroups - the goal is creating an environment for your family, not to win a race. It is very good for me, reformed perfectionist that I am, to keep that in mind. My goal is a nurturing environment for my family. Messiness does not impede that goal. A dissatisfied and overwhelmed mother does.
And with that, I'm off to empty trash cans (Sunday's chore) and watch a movie (Sunday's habit). Happy cleaning and resting, everyone.