Jennifer wrote me awhile ago with these words:
I have two kids, 4 and 2, and feel like I can’t get anything done! We eat from scratch but lately I can barely get it together at meal times. The laundry is overwhelming and cleaning my house even to bare minimum standards is impossible. I work one day a week but otherwise I am home with kids who seem to need constant attention. Most days I can barely get the dishes done. As I write this, there are bags of groceries sitting in the kitchen waiting to get put away but I am so exhausted I can’t fathom getting off the couch.
(Did I mention my son likes to get up at 5am???)
Whew. I know that feeling all too well. In fact, as I type this, I’m wondering if I wrote myself this email and just forgot how old my kids were. There are minions running through my house undoing everything I just did. I thought we just cleaned up this mess?!
Kidding. Sort of. I feel your pain. I do. Having little ones can be challenging. I was lucky to get a shower when my first two were the ages you’re talking about. Nowadays, I can shower and even go to the grocery store — by myself. Yes, really. The day will come for you, too.
In the meantime, here’s what you can do to close the gap between what you think you should be doing and what you really can pull off.
1. Be gracious.
Give yourself much grace and don’t compare yourself to what you THINK other moms are doing. They are probably NOT doing all that. Your insides and their outsides look different, and it’s not an even comparison. Apples to oranges, as they say. No woman is Wonder Woman.
If you have a gracious attitude toward yourself, it will show. You will have a peace about you that will make your mothering and homekeeping much more beautiful. You’ll look like a success because you’re not being too hard on yourself. Trust me. It sounds weird, but you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more.
So will everyone else.
Figure out what you really need to do. Many days that means food and clean underwear. Figure out what your bare minimum is. Maybe it’s a shower, a cup of coffee, a meal plan for the day, and a load of laundry.
While we all dream of getting ahead of schedule, life happens. None of us really gets it all done. Shoot for the most important things.
3. Teach your kids.
Though your little ones are still pretty little, you’ll be surprised at how much they can learn and do. Those groceries in the kitchen? They can help you put them away. Include them in your tasks. Seriously.
When my people were little and wanted my attention all day, they went where I went. That meant they helped change the laundry or they wiped up fingerprints while I mopped. They were pretty thrilled with their “helping” even if it was really just to keep them occupied while I worked.
4. Establish some routines.
Routines add rhythm to our days and keep us from going stir-crazy. They mark the passage of the day and teach kids about time management. Weekly routines such as a trip to the park or library are also a great way to break up the monotony.
I’ve found that being productive through routine helps me not feel so tired and defeated.
5. Do things that make you feel rested and energized.
I’ve said this before. Naps are good for you! But, if you don’t want to take a nap, find activities that really will boost your energy. Make steps toward a healthier lifestyle. Stay hydrated; exercise; eat healthy foods; get some rest; drink herbal teas; take your vitamins. All these things can work together to give you energy and help you feel a little more with it.
Be sure that you’re taking care of you.
While these tips certainly don’t help you cross things off your to do list, hopefully, they’ll help you create a more effective list of things to do. Set yourself up for success. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Do what you can do.
Tomorrow’s a new day. You’ll get a fresh start tomorrow.