On the outside, it seems like a lot of moms have it all together. We look at them in awe, wishing we held it together as good. So I asked a few of the moms I know how they manage.
One mom said, “I just don’t (manage).”
Another said some days she just cries.
This really pulled at my heartstrings, because it’s hard enough being a mom, and even harder when you feel like you can’t keep it together. I have felt that way and it’s not a good feeling.
The kids are running around, there’s dishes in the sink, a ring around the toilet, laundry to be put away (we cloth diaper, so there’s ALWAYS laundry to be put away), grocery shopping to do, the car needs to be cleaned (because it always has crumbs from my kids) …. it’s just total madness. Some of it just comes with the territory when you have kids, but it’s a big difference when the chaos is managed and organized, as I’m able to do now.
I felt completely tickled pink a few months ago when a friend told me she loved how organized I am. I felt like I had officially accomplished something that would allow me to maintain some sense of sanity. I get overwhelmed really easily, and I needed to figure out how to keep my household not just running, but running smoothly (without seeming like a total nut).
When I had my first child I was really rigid when it came to when he took a nap, when he went to bed, meals, everything. Second time around, I’ve had to ease up on being so rigid and having an exact time for everything, but the basic principles I started off with are still very much there, as well as a host of other practices that keep it all together. When you have kids, a wrench is always going to get thrown into the mix. But mark my words: It is possible to manage the chaos!
I know not everyone is a scheduler, but I would highly suggest adopting some kind of schedule, even if it’s a loose one. I’m a firm believer that kids thrive on a routine; and even without that, some consistency is good for everyone.
It definitely helps me a lot to have at least a plan for each day. During the school year my son is in school, but my daughter is home with me and she gets up at 10, naps from 12-2, eats lunch at 3, dinner at 6. Then bedtime for both of them is at 7:30.
Now that it’s summer, the wake-up time is a lot more lax, and lunch is between 12:30 and 1:30; but dinner and bedtime are the same. This eliminates a lot of the bedtime struggles for us, as well as the “when’s dinner” whining from my son, because everything is set and it is consistent.
They know when to expect to eat, and that after dinner they have about an hour and then it’s time to go to bed. It also helps my husband and me enjoy our time together a lot more because we know what to expect as well, and it also allows us to plan some time for just the two of us (which is important in a relationship). Everything runs more smoothly because we (the kids, my husband and I) are all on the same page.
Cozi Family Calendar/List
Cozi is everything you need and more to help keep your family organized! It’s available as an app for iPhone and Android, or in a web browser, and the basic version is FREE!
We use the app version and if anyone in our family has an appointment, we put the information in the program to help keep our household running smoothly. I include all our family activities and meals as well, so my husband isn’t bugging me about what we have planned for the day, when the next doctor/dentist appointment is, what’s for dinner, what do I need him to do, etc.
In this program you can create:
- an appointments calendar that tracks and color-codes each family member’s events
- meal plans for the week or month
- a to-do list that can be shared by everyone in the family or tailored to individuals
- shopping lists
I didn’t start meal planning for my family until a few months ago, and boy, am I glad I did! I can’t tell you how much money I wasted buying ready to heat foods and things of that nature, because I didn’t have a clue what to feed everyone. When I first started putting our meal plans in Cozi, I was only including dinner and that just didn’t cut it. Then I started adding lunch and dinner and that didn’t cut it either, because my husband’s idea of breakfast for our daughter when he’d get up with her was, let’s just say, not the most nutritious. So now all meals are on our friendly family calendar, Cozi!
On Sunday night, I take a look and see what we have in the house and make the meal plan based on those items. I’m pretty good at keeping the house well stocked, so if I’m stumped, I can usually go to Pinterest and pick out a few recipes that we’ll enjoy. I make breakfast and lunch the night before as often as possible, and when I can, I make breakfast for the week as well. This cuts down on the hustle and bustle.
Every day for two GLORIOUS hours my kids — both of them — have to take a nap. I know a lot of people say their kids won’t nap, but no nap has never been an option in our household. We’ve been successful with keeping our lives really structured, or at least structured enough that when it’s time to lay down and rest, or at least have quiet time, we don’t have any issues because it is a consistent, every day part of our routine.
These two hours give me time to recharge (which we all need)! I write, I read, I enjoy a snack ALONE (you know we all have those snacks we don’t want to share), and sometimes I even sit there and enjoy staring at the ceiling.
So even if nap time every day isn’t an option for your family, make quiet time a priority. This is something I think you will love making a habit of. It is my most prized time of day … besides bedtime!
Take a Load Off
Sometimes you really just have to sit down and take a breather.
Like I’m doing right now.
As mothers, we have this constant feeling that there’s always something we need/want to do, and it’s all go, go, go. Sit the kids down next to you on the couch and take a load off when you need it.
Although those two hours of quiet time to yourself during nap are great, sometimes in the midst of the rest of the day you need to take a load off for a moment — like when the kids are running around and asking for juice or a snack, all while you’re trying to do things around the house.
Remember the laundry will be there later, and chances are dinner is already in the crock pot. Keeping things structured gives me a lot more wiggle room and time to be able to just SIT when I need to.
It Pays Off!
I’ve definitely had days where I’ve almost dreaded going to bed because I knew when I got up I’d have to do it all over again. It wasn’t until I started writing this blog post that I realized I haven’t felt that way in a long time, and that is really freeing. All it took was enforcing some family rules, and turning my inner organizer up 100%.
With just a little bit of fine tuning, I really do believe the chaos is manageable. I couldn’t do this thing called motherhood without some organization in my life. These few simple tips keep things at an even keel and my anxiety to a minimum. There’s no scrambling to figure out what everyone is going to eat, what the kids are going to wear the next day (I lay out their clothes for the week on Sundays), what our plans are, or when are they going to bed?!?! Things run pretty smoothly for us now, and they can for you too!
What tips do you have for helping managing the chaos?