Last week I got to spend some time with a friend who doesn’t have any kids yet. As I was packing up the boys to head back home she asked me (a bit bewildered, a bit frightened, a bit curious), “How do you get it all done?”. It’s a valid question.
I didn’t know quite how to answer her. The short answer is: what needs to get done, gets done…and everything else can just wait. The long answer is that I have several systems and routines in place that get me through each day and each week (some weeks better than others). Here’s a little glimpse into how I get it all done–or, I should say, how I attempt to get it all done!
I usually prep dinner while the boys are napping (most days I can get both boys to nap for at least an hour at the same time in the afternoon. If not, I just prep when one of them is napping so there’s minimal chaos). If there are veggies that need to be chopped, meat that needs to marinate, spices that need to be measured out, whatever–I set it all up while the house is quiet. Kind of like how those cooking shows on TV have everything sitting out in bowls and all they have to do when it’s show time is throw everything in a pan, cook it, and–voila!–dinner! I usually only cook “hands-on” a few nights a week. The other nights I just reheat frozen meals or leftovers (and pizza is never a bad option for a Friday night, either).
I literally do laundry every day except Sunday (Mama’s gotta have a day of REST!). It’s easier for me to do one normal-sized load of laundry to completion (washed, dried, folded, put away) every day than to do a marathon session attacking the dirty-laundry mountain when it gets too monstrous for me to handle. Between Jon and I having our everyday clothes and work-out clothes, the boys needing “costume changes” multiple times a day for multiple reasons, and needing to wash linens on a somewhat regular basis, I am always able to fill a whole load of laundry. Jon likes to look nice for work (*grin*) so I actually iron his shirts once a week. It’s one of my least favorite chores, but I do it out of love (and it helps that I can watch Hulu while I’m tediously ironing away).
I am not a particularly clean person. I like having things tidy and organized and not disgusting, but I’m not the lady who scrubs her toilets every day (yes, I know someone who scrubs her toilets every. single. day.). I have a loose schedule of when I will do the required cleaning each week: Mondays I clean the kitchen and pay bills, Tuesdays I vacuum, Wednesdays I clean the bathrooms, Thursdays I mop the wood floors, Fridays I pick up the yard. I just do the basics, and it only takes me 10-20 minutes per day to do my “chore-o-the-day”.
I love being busy–probably to a fault. I’m a stay-at-home-mom who can’t stand staying at home all day. So, we have little outings most days. In a typical week we’ll go to Stroller Strides (my exercise class) or a run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings; either park play time or library story time on Tuesdays; and BSF (Bible study) on Thursday mornings. Our little outings last for about 1-2 hours. The boys (usually) have a lot of fun on our adventures– and I need the breaks in our day for my sanity. It’s really a win-win. On the weekends we do our bigger adventures that require more time or more adults: hikes, swimming, shopping, day trips.
NOT Getting It All Done
There are some days where I’ll just decide a nap is more important than whatever chores were on my to-do list. Or the boys will actually sleep past 6:30 AM and I decide that we’re going to stay in our jammies all morning instead of working out. Or I’ll be cleaning up what seems to be the hundredth mess of the day, and I’ll call Jon and tell him to pick up dinner on the way home so I don’t have to cook. Or I will be in the middle of packing up my life to move half-way across the globe (NEXT WEEK!!!). Every now and then, I don’t get it all done. And that’s okay. In the end, what needs to be done will be done–and sometimes a break is what really needs to be done!