Managing the crazy

Sometimes I feel like being a mom is like running a factory. It takes strategy and efficiency and planning and meticulous execution to keep it all running on time. And by on time, I don’t really mean on time (because that rarely happens anymore), I really just mean running… barely. Oh yes, motherhood, one of my two full time jobs. Just because I’m not home with my kids during the day doesn’t mean I shirk any of the other mom responsibility. Nope. The daily housekeeping, laundry, dishes, meal planning, grocery shopping, hauling in and putting away all the purchased groceries (as I was reminded of this weekend when I brought home a huge haul from Costco and the hubs wasn’t home to help – holy freaking cow), packing lunches, sports, team mom duties, oh my gosh it goes on and on and on. And somehow all that “stuff” has to get squeezed into my nights and weekends. And throw into the mix that I’m 27 weeks pregnant, not sleeping well and beginning to waddle. However, I’m pretty certain that I should relish in the “easiness” (haha) of just 2 kids, because come 12 weeks from now, it’s really going to hit the fan… but back to the now.

So how does one keep the factory running? It’s a good question, and while I don’t think I’m coming anywhere close to Six Sigma certification, the place is running. I’m churning out clean (well most the time), loved, fed, clothed and healthy little boys into the world each day. But to say it is easy would be a lie. It takes hard work. It doesn’t allow for many “I just don’t feel like it days.” It means coming to “work” whether you feel like it or not, through sickness and fatigue and all out exhaustion. Because once you get the machine running, it takes effort every single day to keep it going. Sure, I could decide on any given Tuesday that I just don’t feel like loading and running the dishwasher. Which would be fine on Tuesday. But come Wednesday when there’s no room for the dinner dishes and I’ve got no clean sippy cups, Houston, we’ve got a problem. This means that at some point I’m going to either run the dishwasher twice in one day, hand wash the darn things or live with a continuous sink full of dirty dishes until the weekend. And it’s easy for husbands to forget this ripple effect. I can’t tell you how many times while complaining about the monotony of the nightly dishes that Blake tells me, “it’s okay to not do them every night.” And then I give him one of those wife stares… and he thinks I’m dramatic… and I think he’s delusional (and perhaps were both a little right).

There is no doubt more than one way to skin the proverbial cat when it comes to running a family. And while I don’t claim to be an expert (at all), I am sometimes asked, “how do you do it all?” And so here is my two cents on a practical approach to managing the crazy:

  1. First off, I don’t do it all. No one can. Some of the things I do may be more visible… because I blog about them, but it’s impossible to fit it all in. What I do is prioritize. I’ve thought about what’s important to me and my family and I make an effort to make those things happen. What causes you the most stress if it doesn’t get done? What can’t you live without? For me, eating home-cooked meals (even on practice nights) is really important.  So I plan my week’s meals on the weekend, go grocery shopping once (assuming everything on my list actually makes it in my cart, ha!), write the weekly menu on a board in the kitchen (to keep me honest and help me remember what I need to pull out of the freezer), sometimes make an extra meal on Sundays and go for the 20-minute options that I pre-prepped the night before on practice nights. It’s a lot of effort, but it’s important and so I make it happen.
  2. Figure out what’s not that important to you, and cut yourself some slack when those things don’t get done. Maybe it’s okay that the kids want to pick out their own (unmatching) outfits for school. Or that they leave the house with bed head. Or that the house isn’t picked up each night. Think about it, own it, don’t stress about it, and use the extra time to focus on what is important to you.
  3. Do things now. You’ll never think back and say, what a bummer that I already folded and put away the laundry! But it is highly likely that on a Sunday evening, when you opted to ignore the dryer buzzer (not once, but twice) and the clothes are cold and wrinkly that you think, why didn’t I take care of that earlier! This is a personal challenge of mine that I’ve been working on for the last 6 weeks. Let’s just say I’ve been successful 4 of those weeks, and the feeling of accomplishment was awesome. You’ve got to cut the procrastination, because in the end, it takes less time to handle things in the now than kicking the can down the road all week long and dealing with the side effects of the undone chores.
  4. Decide what days you want to tackle your chores, and then don’t worry about it on the other days.  For me, this means that I just do laundry on the weekends. Yes, there ends up being a lot of it come Saturday, but I’ve found that once you’re in the mode of doing it, it’s easier to keep it going… rather than trying to find the motivation every single day. Sure, sometimes I run a load during the week. But it’s just because I want to get ahead for the weekend, and I don’t feel a sense of obligation to do it. I’m sure the luxury of this choice will eventually be gone, but for now, I’ve made sure that we’re stocked with enough socks/underwear/practice attire for a full week and I just let it chill till the weekend. On weekdays, all I ask of myself is to cook dinner and do the dishes. If I’m feeling spunky, I pick up the house – sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. This is one of those lower priority things that I don’t stress about if it doesn’t get done (and so please don’t stop by unannounced during the week unless you don’t mind wading through the sea of toys and promise to check your judgement at the door!).
  5. I know planning is not everyone’s thing… but having a plan makes the crazy much easier to handle.  Whether it’s a meal plan, a grocery list, or a to-do list, a little forethought goes a long way. For me, planning out what I’m going to make for dinner each night is the only way I’m able to sustain cooking on a nighty basis. Before I wrote it all out, I’d forget to thaw meat from the freezer, I wasn’t efficient with my prep (if I need onions chopped tonight and tomorrow, might as well chop them all tonight!), I would grocery shop multiple times a week – mostly when I was hungry… and would wind up with a much larger grocery bill than necessary. All things that are frustrating and made weeknight cooking a much bigger chore than it needed to be.
  6. It’s really all a mindset.  I’m a firm believer in being intentional with your thoughts. I feel that if you spend all your energy saying you’re overwhelmed and out of control, you sort of make your own bed. It’s hard to not be those things when that’s what you tell yourself. However, if you focus on getting things in order and think I’ve got this, you probably will. Yes, there will be days where you feel overwhelmed, but it doesn’t mean you are overwhelmed. Make those feelings a blip on the radar of a life where you are in control. Yes, my boys get the best of me at times. Multiple times a week, as a mater of fact. But I don’t dwell on being overwhelmed – I make it a temporary feeling. I remind myself that my attitude on the situation is my reality and I choose not to live the life of someone who is a slave to their kids and their home. I take control. I figure one of these days my boys will behave and things will get easier and so I will keep my eye on that prize.

So now that I’ve got a system to help keep things running, I’m about to tip over the apple cart with a third child. I guess that’s just my MO – always chasing a challenge. I’m hopeful that even with the changes coming to our family, I’m able to find my sanity long enough to keep the factory running. Maybe not as smooth as it is now (haha) – simply running will be just fine. And because I know me, I will. Things will change, I will regroup and then get another plan in place. And then my kids will do everything in their power to throw me off my game, but I won’t let ’em! 😉

DSC_0016

Mother’s Day

Mothers Day – a day where moms everywhere get to kick up their feet. A day where they are fed and pampered – where the world revolves around moms and all of their desires come true. Well I’m sure that’s how mother’s day went down for some, but for me, mother’s day was spent… being a mother.

This is one of the last weekends of Blake working in the restaurant business, and obviously, today is a busy restaurant day. So the Sundays off that we’ve become accustomed to fell by the wayside, and from early in the morning till late in the afternoon, I got to play the not-so-glamorous mother on mother’s day.

Apparently kids don’t come out of the womb knowing that this is the day they should take it easy on ole mom. Oh no. Despite the “happy mother’s days” this morning, they spent the entire day needing things.  Mommy, I’m hungry. Mommy, come wipe me. Mommy, he’s messing with me. Mommy, restart Frozen. Mommy, come push my on the swing. Mommy, I’m hungry again. Mommy, I’m cold. Mommy, I’m thirsty. Can you believe it – the nerve!

And so while I didn’t get breakfast in bed, or a pedicure, or a nap, I really think I got something better. I got to spend the day being mommy to two precious boys, who (while they drive me crazy sometimes), are the sweetest little guys around. I got to gain some perspective too. In the midst of me feeling frustrated about the lack of pampering going on, I reminded myself that I am so, so, so lucky to be a mom – their mom –  in the first place. And at the end of the day, so long as I am a mom, there may not be many days that revolve around me and I’m okay with it.  I’m okay that they need me to care of them. I’m okay that they want my time. I’m still not okay with the back-talking, meltdowns, or fighting, but I supposed we can’t have it all. So Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. Let you be reminded of why you get to celebrate this day in first place – and remember that last I checked, moms don’t get the holiday’s off. 🙂

P.S… if you’re feeling sorry for me, just know that when Blake got home, he took over kid-duty, did the dishes and put away some laundry. It really was a good day.

Me and my boys

Winning the New Mommy Game

I’ll never forget in the first days after bringing Brogan home from the hospital, wondering how you manage to do anything other than care for your baby.  And secondarily, how in the world does anyone ever do this with two?!? It was completely overwhelming; my entire day was wholly consumed with this new little being. I found it hard to do anything for myself – eat, pee, shower, you know, the basics.  But eventually I was able to care for myself again.  As time went on, I’d get in the groove feeling in control, routine down pat, and then guess what? The damn routine would change. But I found that each time, no matter what the change, I was able to roll with the new stage. I slowly gained confidence.  And what was in the beginning incomprehensible – going back to work, actually cooking a home-cooked meal (while home alone with a little one), keeping my house clean – gradually became something I could do. (Well, except keep the house clean, who am I kidding?)

And then Beckett came along and my frame of reference was totally different.  Compared to my very active two-year-old, here was this newborn who actually stayed where you put him! How easy! But it wasn’t all that easy, because now there were two and I was recovering from a c-section. I needed a lot of help and I was fortunate to get it. But then one day, I had both boys all by myself all day, and a funny thing happened – we managed!  I was able to feed them both, feed myself, no one was injured and my sanity remained intact – win.  It was affirmation that whatever was thrown at me, I could handle it. I don’t always handle it with grace, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t all have to be perfect, and sometimes the kids are just gonna eat goldfish off the floor. No biggie.

Beckett and goldfish

Yes, now we’re in a place where I feel really in control. Sure there are days when they push me to my limits, and I know I’ve not seen all they have in store for me, but whatever the future holds, I’ve learned that I’ve got this.  If the new mom I was in Brogan’s first week could see me now, she’d be impressed. At that point I didn’t understand how some moms did it all (or anything, for that matter). I never would have thought being a working mom would fit me so well; that I would actually cook dinner almost every night; that I’d be writing a blog. But here I am doing this mommy thing and loving it.

I write this because I know there are many new mommy’s out there in those first couple of weeks feeling like the task at hand is daunting.  It is, but you can do it.  You’ll amaze yourself with all you are capable of; how much you can actually handle. I’m not going to tell you not worry about everything with your first, because you will. At least in the beginning. But I will tell you that it doesn’t stay completely overwhelming forever. Normalcy will return.  And when it does, you’ll forget all about those first couple of weeks and be insane enough to want to do it all over again. But you should. You can totally do it.

Love These Guys

Do you ever have a night where your kids just exhaust you? Like, completely wipe you out?  They push every button, get on your last nerve… get you plotting a 30 minute earlier bedtime?  Yeah, that was tonight.  Blake has been working late every night this week, so I’ve been doing this thing solo.  While it has surprisingly been a really good week, I think my nerves were just shot tonight.  But funny thing about being a parent, as crazy as they can make you, they still bring you so much joy it’s unbelievable.  When I tell Beckett it’s time to go night-night, he instantly lays his head on my shoulder and wraps his little arm around my neck.  It just melts me.  And as I laid in Brogan’s bed cuddling with him for a few minutes, that time of hugging and snuggling and talking is absolutely priceless.  Clarification – by talking, I mean where I ask Brogan questions, and he responds, “I don’t know…”

Me: Brogan, did you have a good day?

Brogan: I don’t know.

Me: What did you do today?

Brogan: I don’t know.

Me: What did you eat for lunch?

Brogan: I don’t know. Mommy, can we stop talking?

OMG he is his father’s son.  I digress.

Those five minutes I lay with him each night are some of my favorite minutes in the day.  Although he can barely lie still, and although he doesn’t want to talk to me, I tell him how much I love him, we say our prayers and it is such a special moment.  So as crazy as they make me, I love my boys beyond words.  They redeem themselves (almost) each night with their sweetness.  Life is so good.

Me and Beckett

Me and Brogan

The Difference Between Moms and Dads

Let me preface this post with a couple of statements.  This is not meant to belittle the role of dads, or to say that dads don’t pull their weight.  This is not a rant post or me complaining about all that I have to do.  I am sure there are families where my theory does not apply.  It is simply an observation of the roles within my home, as well as many of my friends’.  But here goes.  I realized soon after the birth of my first son that there is a distinct difference in the roles of moms and dads.  Sure there are the stereotypical ones about moms being more nurturing and dads being more disciplinary, but this goes deeper.

They say raising kids is a full-time job. I think it’s more than that – to me, it’s like running a company.  Your household is like a business, and it takes a similar amount of effort and maintenance to keep it running.  And just like with any company, there has to be someone in charge – someone who takes ownership of the process and whose responsibility it is that everything is done.  And that is the role of a mom.  Sure the big decisions are made together, and the ultimate success of the household depends on teamwork, but the moms are the ones that keep the ship sailing.

My husband is an awesome father.  He has been very involved with our boys from day one – I think he actually changed more diapers than me in the first couple of months with our first.  We would take turns getting up in the middle of the night; when there was only one, he did all the baths.  He has totally been a hands-on dad.  But his role is more of a participant – he looks to me for what to do and when to do it. I pick what they’ll wear – he dresses them. I decide what they’ll eat and he feeds them.  I set their routine, and he follows it to a tee; I make sure we have diapers on hand and he changes them.  I go to bed at night thinking about what they need for the sitter’s the next day, but he gets them ready and out the door. I’m thinking about their next doctor’s appointment, but he will take time off work when they are sick. I worry that we’ll run out of milk – well, never mind, I do all the grocery shopping too :).

So what it boils down to is that most moms don’t do everything, they are just responsible for everything. They steer the ship. They worry about it all. They take the micro-management approach, feeling that if they aren’t involved it won’t get done.  But here’s the thing.  While it can be exhausting to carry this weight on our shoulders, would moms really want it any other way?  I wouldn’t.  If the roles were reversed, I would go crazy.  Now this may have something to do with my Type A personality, but mostly I think moms are just wired to take charge of running their family. It’s not fair. It’s not equal. It’s just the reality.

Family pic