Thanks for those of you who posted yesterday. I can't wait to hear some more tips today! Since everyone else is probably giving organizational tips, I just thought I'd cover one thing: Changing my thinking.
My personal experience and observation is that our generation of women spent the majority of our pre-children years going to school and working. We knew how to prepare for an interview, write a research paper, put on a good face for the boss, and burn the midnight oil to meet a deadline. All while having hair done, makeup on, and wearing very uncomfortable high heels.
Meanwhile, home was regarded as little more than a place to crash. It never got very messy because we were never there, except to change clothes and boil up another bowl of Ramen noodles.
At some point after the first baby comes, we have to come to grips with the idea that it takes work to keep a house going. Babies won't wait until the end of the day to get fed, and can't wait until semester exams are over to have their sheets changed. Home is now a workplace - and an essential one - not just a stop-off on the way to somewhere more important.
SO...one thing that helps me is to look at what I do at home LIKE IT'S A JOB. I ask myself, What would I expect if I paid someone to come to my house to cook (clean, care for a baby, etc). I would be appalled if I saw someone wasting time on my dollar!
Here are some random thoughts along those lines:
- Get up on time. I can hear the groaning now. Roll with me here. Mothers of newborns can ignore this (or if you a three year old who has night terrors), but I have found if I let the kids determine my wakeup time, they often begin to determine how the rest of the day goes. It feels good to sleep in sometimes, but I virtually always regret it. No business could function well if the boss were constantly walking in late. Neither can my home.
- Shower, put on makeup, and get dressed before the kids (including shoes), as if you were going to work. There's nothing more demotivating than looking up at 3:00 p.m. and you are still in your pajamas. Just pass me another bon-bon, please. You might have to make the kids' bedtimes a bit later, or omit naps if you have one that likes to get up at 5:00 a.m., but it is worth it to have a few moments in the morning before the onslaught begins. On my best days, I like to get up, make coffee, then shower. I keep my Bible on my counter and have a short devotion time while I'm getting ready. Are we being transparent here or what?? =)
If I get nothing else done, and the house is a disaster, hey, at least I look good and smell good when my husband walks in the door. It's easy to think your husband loves you for what a good job you do keeping a clean house, but a wise wife knows otherwise (*smile*).
- Have a plan. I like to figure out what days I'm going to do what (laundry Monday, grocery shopping Friday, etc) to give structure to my week. Then a bit of a daily plan for the kids, which includes cleanup times at natural stopping points in the day ("As soon as these toys are picked up, we can have lunch!"). Nothing big, but those who aim at nothing are very likely to hit it. My brain is too tired to remember everything, so tack a piece of paper to the fridge, or jot things down on your hand as you think of them - whatever works.
- Little ones love structure, and - no surprise - so do big ones. If you don't give THEM some structure, they will begin to structure YOU. Suddenly your plans for getting work done are thwarted by a child who insists on painting (swimming, going to McDonald's, etc). And that, my friends, leads to a constant feeling of being manipulated. When you have a plan, you reinforce WORK BEFORE PLAY. A lifelong skill. Here are some posts along those lines: