“Use your time wisely.”
“Make the most of the moments.”
“Plan, organize, declutter.”
Do you feel convicted yet? Maybe a little guilty? Possibly like you aren’t ever going to measure up or get it together? Okay, whew, I’m not the only one.
I have the best intentions. I want to use my time wisely, especially after a recent lesson in the importance of this concept! I definitely want to make the most of my moments. And I would LOVE for my day to be planned, and my house to be organized and decluttered. I want my ducks all in a neat little row.
But. Can you believe it? Things don’t always work out that way. Here’s how a typical day goes for me:
- 6:30-7 am: I wake up after being woken up by my darling baby (#5) approximately 4-20 times through the night. I walk carefully down the stairs (carefully because I have Plantar Fasciitis in my left arch and after a being in bed for a while walking on it is agony) to start the coffee pot (because my coffee pot with a timer died so we’re using the backup because I’m cheap. Ahem, I mean frugal.) and use the restroom. I go back upstairs to check on the baby (almost always awake at this point) and get my Bible study stuff.
- 6:30-7 am: I wake up to being poked by my #3. He’s high functioning autistic, so he doesn’t always get boundaries. He a sweet, darling child. But he still (STILL!) hasn’t learned that poking me awake makes me crazy. Him: “It’s wake up time.” Me: “I know. I’m awake.” (I’m not.) I gently shoo him away before he can wake the baby or the three year old (#4). It doesn’t work because he dances and jives (just how he walks, nothing out of the ordinary), loudly toward the door.
So, either way I end up downstairs, waiting on coffee, trying to juggle nursing a baby and/or a three-year old that insists on being on my lap, reading a Bible, and trying to silence (or at least quiet) a constantly talking seven-year old, all with VERY limited brain activity at this point. I get coffee as soon as there is enough in the pot that it won’t be muddy.
- 8 am: I put my Bible away, and hope some of what I can’t remember reading is somewhere inside my brain anyway. I try to feed everyone. In typical fashion, the three-year old simultaneously insists she’s starving and refuses to eat anything I offer. I’m shocked when I realize that another hour has passed during this time, which means my husband will be home from work any minute (he works overnights).
- 9 am-2 pm: I help my husband decide what to do with his day. Then, I bounce between entertaining a baby and a three-year old, cleaning, preparing food, switching laundry, wiping little bottoms, chasing the cat off the table, letting the dog in and out ten million times, trying to plan things for our business, knocking items off of my ever-growing absolutely-must-be-done list (like a to-do list only scarier), nursing the baby, planning for dinner, breaking up fights between #2 (my nine-year old) and #3, reminding #1 that he needs to do his chores, laundry, school, etc, instead of playing on the computer or his phone, and standing, staring off into space trying to think past #3’s constant (Today I told my husband, Bryan, that #3’s talking reminds me of an auctioneer in hell. Judge if you will, but he never stops, and most of it doesn’t make sense or drags on endlessly repeating the same things over and over.) Also, my kids say, “Momma?” approximately every 35 seconds. Even if they don’t have something to say. Seriously, I tell Bryan that they just cue me up for when they think of something. So my thoughts go like this:
I should go switch the laundry now, while the baby is “Momma?” asleep “Momma?” and then on the way back upstairs I’ll “Momma?” grab something out of the freezer “Momma?” and make sure I have all of the “MOMMA!?!?!?”
“What? What, child, do you want?”
*Child doesn’t even acknowledge that I’ve answered*
“Yes? What? WHAT?”
“Can I have ice cream?”
*It’s 10 am, and so far all this child has eaten is “bread with sprite on it” (aka cinnamon toast)*
And just like that, I forget that I was going to switch laundry, or get something out of the freezer. It’s just GONE. Until 45 minutes before dinner when I realize I don’t know what I am making and have nothing thawed.
- 2:00 pm: I load children #’s 2-5 into the van to go meet child A (my little sister, but raised as my daughter from 8 years old, so she gets an “A” instead of a number ;-D) to go for a walk. I take all the little children in hopes that the baby and the three-year old will nap in the strollers and the other two will burn off some of their energy. Sometimes that happens. Other times the baby fusses, the three-year old wants out of the stroller every 2 minutes and the older two alternate between complaining about how hot and tired they are, fighting with each other, and drinking my water.
- 3-4 pm: I go for a little drive to allow #’s 4 and 5 to finish their naps since they fell asleep in the last 45 seconds of the walk. Then I go home, unload the kids, go into the house to make dinner, and suddenly remember that I have no dinner plan.
- 4-5 pm: I make dinner. I make it happen. Because those people have to eat, every day.
- 5:30 pm: Mon-Thurs I go to Yoga or Pilates. This is a new thing I’m doing and I LOVE it.
- 6 pm: I come home and nurse the baby, and cycle through a constant list of children’s needs until they have to get ready for bed.
- 7:30 pm: I walk the kids through the getting ready for bed process. Because you know, doing it every day, the same exact way, for the last several thousands of nights hasn’t made it any easier. At this point, Daddy takes #4 to bed to rock, sing, read, etc. She is his responsibility. #5 is mine since he’s still a nursling and very demanding at this time of night.
- 8:15 pm: I go in to pray and tell #2 and #3 to turn out the lights. Both of them suddenly want to snuggle and discuss the meaning of life. The baby starts crying out of desperation to go to bed, so I disentangle myself from their grasp and dart out the door, saying, “Goodnight, I love you,” over my shoulder as I swing the door shut. Whew. NOW I can get this baby to bed and do a few more things.
- 8:30-12 am: Put the baby to sleep only to have him wake up 10-15 minutes later over and over until I’m too exhausted to think. I give up and go to bed for the night. He wakes me up about every 1-3 hours.
- 6:30-7 am: I start all over again.
Except for Saturday (my “work” day) and Sunday (church and family day), this is pretty much how my days go. Until school starts for the year. Then the REAL “fun” starts. Also, I didn’t even mention efforts to socialize, get the children involved in activities, celebrate holidays and birthdays, etc.
So, this has been going on for years. Meanwhile I never “catch up” on ANYTHING. My attic, basement and garage (food and craft storage, not cars and tools), are always a mess, always disorganized, always embarrassing.
I never feel on top of anything. I feel like I am moving in hyper-speed, but still never getting enough done to catch up and be ready for the next thing.
As you can imagine, I want this to change.
I have been doing a little research and talking to friends, and some of the ideas I have are:
- I need a list of things to stop doing and things to start doing.
- I need a list of things that I do every day, without having to think about it. (Non-negotiables my friend called them.)
- I need to think ahead of my children and let the extra noise roll off.
- I need to figure out how to feed this family of mine every day without using all of my brainpower and time.
- I need to clean on a schedule and let everyone else clean up their own messes. Even if I have to go find them to do so.
So, part two of this post will be me filling these ideas in a little bit, trying to figure out what they mean to me. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your ideas. How do you keep it together and stay on top of things? Do you operate on a system or do you just “wing it”? Help a girl out! ;-D