Homeschooling, laundry, grocery shopping, balancing the checkbook, getting three meals a day on the table, keeping the house reasonably clean and tidy. . . . the list could go on and on; how’s a body to get it all done? Well, in the first place, “getting it all done” is a misnomer — it’s never all done, is it?!
Remember the old saying, “A man may work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done?” Now, I know the sun to sun part doesn’t apply anymore in this day and age, and men work around the clock just as much as women, etc., etc., but the gist of this is that a woman’s job, when that woman is a mother and her job is managing a household, extends beyond a set amount of hours; there’s never a time to call it a day and go home. (Actually, this is true for both parents. Dad may call it a day and go home, but home to what? Peace and quiet on the La-Z-boy? I don’t think so!)
When I was a new mom, this feeling of never getting it all done was often overwhelming. I no longer could see a task through to the end without interruption. Interruptions like cleaning up spills and changing diapers and wiping runny noses and filling sippy cups and settling sibling squabbles and holding a crying infant who wouldn’t sleep unless she was swaddled and swayed and bounced — in my arms — all day long.
As time went on, I gradually started realizing that my perspective was in need of a makeover. Maybe I shouldn’t view these constant interruptions as hindrances to getting my work done. Maybe they were my work. Of course — that was it. God gave me these precious little ones to love and care for, so who was I to think that my so-called “work” was more important?
Now, to be honest, that realization wasn’t one that solved all my problems right then and there, with never a wrong expectation about my work again. Even after thirteen years of parenting, I still have the same tendency — to begrudge the interruptions. I still need grace everyday to remember where my priorities lie.
All that being said (and being very true), there actually is real work that goes along with being a mom and managing a household, and it really must be done, at least to some extent. Part of loving and caring for a family is making home a comfortable and inviting place to be. Clean clothes that are folded and put away where they can readily be found, comfy couches to relax on that are free of clutter and piles, good and nutritious meals placed on the table in timely fashion. . . these speak love to a husband and kids.
So how’s a mother to find time to get it all done? I’ve found that it helps to view my day in chunks. Instead of feeling like all the work needs to be done all the time, I find it extremely helpful to allot blocks of time for specific tasks. For me it goes something like this:
Early morning — blog
Breakfast and dishes
Morning — school
Lunch and dishes
Right after lunch — nap time for 3yo, quiet time
Afternoon — housework and/or errands
Right before supper — tidy up the house
Supper and dishes (always dishes!)
Evening — relax (or fold laundry!)
This kind of schedule is a very general one. Things like school and housework, etc. are broken down further into more detailed schedules and lists, but having an overarching, bird’s eye view of my day helps me greatly. If I lose sight of this kind of general plan, then everything becomes a jumble and my mind feels frazzled and chaos characterizes our day more than peace and order.
But how does one fit the myriad of tasks a mother juggles into a neat and tidy little schedule? How do you make sure the whole house gets cleaned…..eventually? What about the cobwebs in the corner and the dust bunnies under the bed? I don’t know if I’m the only one, but things like this can stress me out if I don’t find a slot to squeeze them into. (Actually, they stress me out less than they used to — I might be getting old and tired. But I have my days!)
Well, I have a wonderful little tool called a to do list that I didn’t create, but that some other thoughtful and clever moms created who knew just what kind of things mothers everywhere need to get done. It comes from the website Motivated Moms, and is available in e-book form for printing out and hanging on your fridge or putting in your day book. It’s also newly available as an app for your phone or iPad.
It breaks down all the tasks you could ever think of doing (seriously!) into daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or yearly chores. Some of the tasks don’t always apply to my household and some of them I’ve already delegated to the kids. I also put some of the weekday chores off until Saturdays (which the schedule usually leaves open) if I’ve had a busy week. Most weeks not everything gets done, and that’s o.k. too.
When I remember to make a list like this my servant and not my master, it really helps me focus and be more efficient. I do need to remind myself often, however, that it really never all gets done, and that my primary calling is to love my husband and children. God will give me grace to fulfill all that he wants me to do! Let me rest in that truth always!
Still to come: Finding Time to Manage a Household, specifically — kids and chores.