Monday, September 1, 2014

Why Moms Struggle to Prioritize and A Flowchart w/ All the Answers

Staying home with kids and managing a family is such a unique job. It requires 10,000 skills (half of which you don’t know you possess), does not include a salary, and can be strangely rewarding despite the fact to-do lists often go unchecked and chaos frequently ensues. Your ‘co-workers’ are the most important thing to you on the face of the earth, but you find yourself daydreaming about ways to escape them - just for a little while.

Getting things done and prioritizing is so nearly impossible some days. SAHM’s know efficiency is supposed to be the name of the game, but it’s a struggle. Plus there is debate over what the “name of the game” is. Are we here to keep house or raise our kids? Crying toddlers and whiny preschoolers make it really difficult to do any of the above. And I HATE starting a project knowing that at any moment I’ll probably be interrupted by one childhood drama or another.  

My Messy Kitchen
Ugh.  Makes me want to just turn around and go somewhere else.
In addition to these conundrums, I’m also regularly wondering if I should be working (part-time) more or less than I already am. Probably I’m NOT the only one out there also looking at a budget wondering how we can live with less or pay for more. One of my girlfriends tells me that about every 4 months I have a meltdown about getting a job and feeling guilty that I’m not bringing in more/any income. (After she told me that it helped me calm-the-freak-down and now whenever this happens I remind myself that it’s just a little glitch in my crazy and it will pass.) 

This summer I took a few weeks off from my farm job, and I got to be home full-time. I loved it. (It’s not the same as it was when my kids were 8,4, and 1!) Regardless of the age of the kiddos, it is still a challenge to prioritize. Prioritizing might be at the core of every SAHM's daily struggle. We call it “balancing,” we make binders to help us stay on track, we follow A Slob Comes Clean for help cleaning and prioritizing, we schedule and schedule and say things like, “well, if I was at a ‘workplace,’ then…”

But of course we are not at a traditional job. Our kids require a great deal of attention. That’s why we’re here with them after all! And there’s an awful lot of debris left behind whenever they settle into a room for more than 90 seconds. 

All of this is SAHM reality. It’s a crazy job unlike anything I have done before. 

One day I was looking for a different perspective on getting things done around here. I started making my lists and I found myself going about it a little backwards. I jotted some things down that I want out of my SAHM days. My list looked something like this:

  • To eat healthy. 
  • To work efficiently. 
  • To get up and get going in the mornings - this means my kids too. Self-sufficiency is a bonus. 
  • To feel dignified as we go about our business here. 

For our family, me being at home means we need to cut the convenience foods out, because they cost too much. It means at some point during the day I have to get some writing done. I have presentations I need to prepare and communication that needs to happen. Another thing I prioritize is having the house halfway decent and a dinner plan so that when The Builder comes home, he feels like things are taken care of and he doesn’t have to stress. (Does this always happen? No of course not! But it’s a goal and I figure three or four days out of the week is better than zero. If you want help with this, A Slob Comes Clean does have a set of books on sale thru today that look great!)  

So it occurs to me that in order to eat healthy, my kitchen needs to be clean. What happens around here is it gets to be lunch time and the kitchen isn’t clean (at all). So then I want to clean it before I make food. But my kids are already starving and so they start snacking or passing out or whatever because they don’t want to wait for me.

That means, 1. To eat healthy, my kitchen needs to be clean.

If I’m going to get any work done, I have to use the office. I love writing in my bedroom, but my back kills me after sitting on my bed at my computer for more than 20 minutes. The kitchen table is fine, but there are LOTS of distractions in there. For goodness sakes, I HAVE an office! Ok, but that means the desk has to be cleaned off at least some, so I have a decent space to work in. Which means I have to have places for all the books and papers that come through there. Which means I need a system. (Oh man, the cycle never ends.) 
Well, luckily I spent a solid day on my office not long ago and did put some systems into place. So it doesn’t take too long now to get the desk at least halfway cleaned off and the books and piles to where they go.

2. To get some writing/speaking done, my office needs to be in decent shape.

Next thing. Mornings are rough around here. I’m not a morning person and neither is child #2. One thing I notice that slows us down even more is when all the clothes are in laundry baskets and not in our drawers. UGH, I know. But at the very least it’s helpful if they are folded. My girls are old enough now if we get to sorted&folded clothes they are responsible for putting them away. I’m terrible at all this, so don’t get worked up if you are too. I’m just noticing if we have clothes in our drawers instead of piles, it helps the morning go smoother.

Goal #3: To have a better morning, laundry has to be put away more often.

Last one. As we are going about our business in this house, I’ve noticed something that makes me feel gross. This varies for all of us, but for me it’s nasty toilets and sinks. I want to feel dignified as I work in my home and take care of my kids. A messy kitchen and piles of laundry don’t help, but the icing on the cake for me is toilets screaming for attention. GROSS.

Goal #4: To feel like a respectable person, I need to clean the toilets regularly. 

I’m sure some of you who have been to my house are thinking, well you didn’t clean them for me. And you are right, and I’m sorry. I didn’t say these things will be done or else I’m not going to bed at night or leaving the house when it’s time to go unless they are done. I’m just saying it would be nice. We all know I’m not OCD. However, I think it’s fair to say, clearly I AM analytical. Which means I like to have reasons for doing things. I need to have clear-cut motivation. So I’m excited about my new list.
If a list like this doesn’t help you. Maybe a flowchart will. Sometimes SAHM days are so chaotic, I just want someone to tell me what to do. Flowcharts can do that. Messy kitchens are no fun, but flowcharts are awesome.

Cleaning the Kitchen Flowchart
I'm sure this can help you. 

No matter what choices and decisions you have to make today, I pray that at the end of the day you know you are not alone in this. Know that you are in good company with thousands of other moms who are trying to figure out what their day should look like too. And guess what? You get another chance tomorrow.

Godspeed, Mama.

1 comment :

  1. Awesome flow chart! :) And I can definitely relate. Also, A Slob Comes Clean is one of my new favorites, since a few days ago. ;) Thanks for the post!!


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