Leave Some Room for Later

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photo source: D Sharon Pruitt

My dad always said that my eyes were bigger than my stomach. He was referring to the food I piled on my plate.

You see, I’ve always been a glutton foodie. Food has always been of supreme importance to me. And as a child, I always put more on my plate than I could possibly stomach, because it all looked so good! And adults would often caution me to save room for later…. for dessert, of course.

As I get older, I’m realizing that, yes, my eyes are bigger than everything: my to-do list, my refrigerator, my house, my car, my life, and yes, my stomach, too.

I tend to buy more than I can reasonably fit in the car. I tend to think I can clean more rooms in my house than I reasonably can. And I tend to attempt more in a given day, week, or month, than is reasonably necessary.

Jamie’s post last week about balancing flexibility and structure was particularly convicting for me. When she described herself as a low-output mom, that got me thinking of how much I’m doing — or trying to do.

My eyes are bigger than my stomach.

More than I can manage

I woke up on a recent morning thinking that I would get the entire house clean, go grocery shopping (at four stores), bake my husband’s birthday cake, and have dinner on the table at a reasonable hour. There were even thoughts of laundry and some batch cooking in there!

By ten pm I was utterly exhausted and feeling like I hadn’t got anything but the grocery shopping and some meal prep accomplished.

The reality? What I accomplished was good. It was my aspirations that had been unrealistic. And those aspirations, or failed aspirations as the case may be, were what made me feel spent and defeated.

Time for a reality check

As I reflected on the day, I realized that I had simply piled too much on my plate.

My eyes were clearly bigger than my stomach.

So, I’m on a mission to leave some room for later. Lately, I’ve been methodically going to bed much earlier than usual; I’ve delegated some jobs; and I’ve even taught my sons to clean the bathrooms!

I can’t do it all — or even half — and neither can you. So, let’s leave some room for later — so that there’s some of us left when later comes.

How do you limit yourself from over-doing?

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  1. I have this same problem. I tend to have unrealistic expectations about what I can accomplish. And I have trouble telling people no. One thing that helped me was reading “When you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else.” Now I think, if I say yes to this, how will it affect my husband, children and home. I still have a long way to to, though!

  2. I think this was written just for me. My eyes are definitely bigger than my stomach! I try to put so many things in one day it is unreal. At the beginning of this year I vowed to limit my To Do List to a certain number of items and out of those items to pick my Top 3 Priorities. The idea for me is if I get those Top 3 completed and nothing else, I am to feel accomplished. So far it is working 🙂

  3. I went back to work for 20 hours each week this fall. I wonder now what I did with all of that time when I was at home? I now get more done with less time. My first item? Time for me. I work out for an hour each day, 6 days per week. I now have more energy for everyone else. I’ve delegated laundry and bathrooms. The rest of the house is cleaned in 15 minute increments on a schedule. I also started using e-mealz- hours off my list every week. Smaller budget, planned meals on the table every day. Check it out.

  4. I have an issue with asking for help. I like doing things myself. Well, in the end, doing things myself, especially an overload of stuff leaves me quite grumpy. This is a whole learning experience for me. I am putting myself in the mindset that it’s ok not to vacuum the house daily (our dog sheds something fierce!), it’s ok if I leave my kids arts & crafts out. My eyes are always bigger than my stomach, & I am realizing I cannot do it all.

  5. Really LOVED this post! It’s important for all us busy moms to stop once in awhile and realize that what we are accomplishing everyday is good and that we don’t have to get EVERYTHING done! One step at a time!

  6. I realized this same thing lately! (Actually I realized it a while ago, it just took some time to process. SIGH.)

    I have a schedule with blocks of time for various aspects of my life – work, school, family, etc. I started picking one “priority” for each slot and then have a running list of other things I can pick from if I have time left. Works GREAT and I’ve gotten way more done than I ever thought I could – and I’m not frantically running around and then beating myself up afterward for not accomplishing my unrealistic dialy to-do list.

    Thanks for this post – I needed it today!

  7. As some background: Went I was just newly married, no job, husband in the military (NO KIDS!) I use to get the house cleaned in 1 day. Every Friday was house cleaning Day. Then I had a baby. When she was 13 mos old we moved into our first house. For some reason I found that I couldn’t get the whole house cleaned in 1 day, I can’t remember what I started doing – but I do remember that at some point between baby #2 & #3 I was trying to clean the house in 3 days. I broke the house cleaning down into 3 seperate chores and was trying to do that all in those 3 days. While Prego with #3 I realized I was too tired to even try for 3 days – so it became 4 days. Every Other week I cleaned the house from top to bottom in 4 days. Baby 4 has come along, and she’s a year now, and I still have not changed that schedule.

    Here’s how I break it down: Kitchen on Tuesdays (includes moving everything off counters and wiping down surfaces and appliances, dinning room table is cleaned, dusted, high chair etc). Wednesday is Vacuuming and Moping all tiled/vinyl floors. Thursday is dusting, wipe down Master Bath Shower Doors (cause I”m washing towels/sheets on that day) and if I’m feeling really froggy – while kids bath I cleand down 1/2 bathroom while in there. Friday is Bathrooms. It breaks down my cleaning to no more than 2 total hours a day

    Now my oldest is only 7.9 and she does quite a bit of chores already (folding all clothes, putting away big towels, drying dishes (clearing), sometimes washing, sweeping kitchen floor after dinner and putting on sheets when I wash them in the kids room.) Recently though I graduated her to dusting – because I HATE dusting and could never seem to get it done. She likes it! It helps! I was also thinking I might teach her to help clean the smaller bathroom (minus the shower). The other 3 are 4, 2, 1 so they don’t exactly do much to help. They can set forks and stuff – the 4 yr old helps put away clothes and folds dish rags and small towels.

    All of this helps me to not get overwhelmed or think I can get more done than I can. Granted, I still sometimes can end up piling so much on my plate that I can’t possibly get it all done – or I’m exhausted from doing so much all day long. Kids helping does help to get more done!

    Washing for me is done on 2 Days! Yes, my kids are little right now, and it means washing all clothes (on Monday) back to back to back. I do about 3.5 loads right now. Sheets and Towels are done on Thursday’s.

    On the opposite weeks when my house is not cleaned, I run errands so that it doesn’t end up running into my house cleaning schedule and I don’t feel like I’ve put too much on my plate.

    Life can still always get away from you and trying to keep it down, means sometimes throwing things out – like the least important of my priorities!

  8. I’m limited to small quantities physically anyways, but I purchase really small plates and small forks to remind me to slow down and to give the feeling of having a full plate. I had surgery so I have to do this but it actually helps with the mind part of it!)

    BTW I have been making at least 2 of your recipes weekly over here and the meatballs and gravy and taters last night won me Best Mom of the Year! Even my special needs kiddo had a bite..which is huge for him!

  9. I think Jessica described every women in America we all think were super mom and wife. (I wish) but it isn’t happening. I too have issues in delegating work out to others. I noticed most don’t volunteer in my home. Hum! I do believe its time to teach an old dog a new trick, and start delegating. Thanks for the kick start.

  10. Soooo timely and so true. I can get a long list of things done only to dwell on what I DID NOT get done that same day.

    I think we all need to learn to cut ourselves a break!

  11. I really appreciated reading this post! It’s a great reminder to take all things in moderation!

  12. You have got me pegged! This is such a struggle for me but the Lord always sends me just the thing I need to help me reevaluate and prioritize. For now, it’s another season of pregnancy that’s slowing me down and I am trying to relax and enjoy it without a huge list of things to do before baby arrives. I loved what you said about there being some of us left for later. I think I might type it out and hang it prominently in my home to remind myself.

  13. Oh wow. The epidemic of ‘busyness’. What makes busyness so epidemic and catching is that it seems all the other moms are so busy and that is the norm, in this society we almost feel like a slacker if we’re not doing-doing-doing, the result is a ‘herd mentality’ of people in busyness, people so busy they don’t have time to love one another.

    One thing that helps me, is as another writer above put it, only schedule the must-dos for the day. The rest can wait. Make sure and schedule just being time…Just sitting with some tea, maybe reading, maybe doing nothing especially in the afternoon. I’ve also found just a 15 minute nap time is a huge help for my health. Prayer time with the Lord first thing in the morning no matter what is vital for me. Of course with little babies sometimes you have to schedule that at other times, maybe pray while nursing etc.

    Hang the cobwebs and extras I say…Love your family and have a great time of it all!