Today, like most days, I was straightening up the house—putting away toys, starting the laundry, cleaning off the counter—with my kids trailing behind me. From the 3 (almost 4) year old: “Mom, what are we going to do today? Where are we going to go? Can I watch a show? Can we do a project?” The questions keep coming, like they do from curious preschool-aged kids. And then there’s me, trying to answer the questions as they’re asked, still while trying to clean up: “I don’t know what we’re doing today. We’re not going anywhere until the house is clean. No, you can’t watch a show right now, I need you to help me clean up. We’ll do a project when your brother’s asleep.” Meanwhile, the 19 month old is pulling out all the toys I just put away and dumping blocks all over the floor. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?
While browsing Pinterest one day, I found a little diagram that looks like this:
And I laughed at the truth of it!
Do you want a clean house and your sanity? Then forget having happy kids.
Happy kids and a clean house? There goes your sanity.
Your sanity and happy kids? No clean house for you.
Of course, we need to have all of these things at some point or another, but achieving them all at the same time can seem like an impossible task.
Here are some of the things I’ve found that help me:
Write it down
I am definitely a task oriented person. I like lists and I like checking things off my list. I feel much more likely to do something if I’ve written it down, almost as though it makes me more accountable. The times when I feel like I’m not getting anything done are generally the times when I’m not making my lists. I think the reason this helps is because it gives you something you can actually see. And then when you accomplish the things on your list, whether it is one thing or five, you feel good, which is positive reinforcement and you are more likely to keep doing it. I talk all about how I use a paper planner to help me stay organized in this post.
Take advantage of naptime
Many days, when my kids lay down to take their naps, my initial reaction is to sit down for a minute and just breathe. There isn’t anything wrong with this. In fact, breathing is good for you and kind of essential to your well-being! *wink* But sometimes I sit down in front of my computer and start browsing my newsfeed or watching videos on YouTube, and the next thing I know, my kids are waking up and I’m feeling stressed out again. Any kind of release I had is gone. However, if I set a limit for myself, such as a certain amount of time browsing Pinterest or watching a couple of videos on Facebook, and then get up and do some of the things I’d rather not do, I feel like I get them done a little faster because I have regained a little piece of my sanity.
Accept offers for help
This one is really hard for me. I don’t like admitting that I can’t do it all myself. But let’s stop and think for a minute. How many times has someone offered to help you, and you could really use it, but you brush it off and tell them you’ll be fine? I would guess that everyone has done this at some point and regretted not letting someone, who is truly willing, help out. So the next time someone offers to help you, whether it’s by watching your kids for an hour while you run to the store or coming over to help with a project, take them up on it!
Ask for help
Sometimes we can’t wait for someone to offer their help, so instead, we need to ask for it. Just like accepting offers for help, it might be a little uncomfortable to ask someone for the help you need. A couple of options to consider:
- You can pay for a sitter to come, maybe even on a regular basis, so you can get out of the house and run errands without your little people tagging along.
- You can work out a system with friends/family. You watch my kids for an hour, I’ll watch yours for an hour on another day. Win, win!
Make it a game
Growing up, I remember having a regular list of chores that needed to be done before I could go out and play. The faster I got them done, the sooner I could do the things I wanted. Sometimes, if I was dragging my feet, my mom would turn on the stereo so the music filled the house and then me, my sisters and my mom, would dance around as we got our chores done. It made it so much more enjoyable and created some fun memories too. I still do this, both with my own kids and by myself. (Grab your dish scrubber and sing your heart out, friend!) Another thing we’d do is put a timer on and see how many of our chores we could get done before it went off. It sounds a little Mary Poppins-ish, but it’s true! If you can make something fun, it doesn’t seem like work and it will likely get done faster too.
Find what motivates you
There have been days where it isn’t even lunch time yet and I’m counting down the hours until my kids go to bed. On these days I find that I have to try extra hard to find the balance I need to make it through the day. So I ask myself: What will motivate you? What will help you move forward through the day? It’s different from day to day. One day I remember getting into my secret stash of chocolate–the really good stuff–and telling myself that I could have one piece at the end of each hour until my husband got home. And guess what? It worked! Other days, it is knowing that I have my weekly dance class in the evening that gets me through the day. Think about what motivates you and use it to your advantage.
While I am far from perfect at doing these things all the time, I’ve found that when I do, the odds of my sanity staying in tact, a clean house and happy kids all happening at the same time is much more likely (at least for a little while!).
What do you do to help keep balance in your life?