What we do during the day shapes our nights, our sleep, and then the next day. As a mom sometimes we don’t get as much done as we would have liked. No, let me correct myself, we hardly ever get as much done as we would have liked. I have learned after having 4 that life is a balance and small accomplishments are something to be proud of. This is especially true when your children are young.
Keep a List
At the end of the day sometimes it’s difficult to remember what you actually accomplished. I have a whiteboard that I write on but a calendar or even a sticky note will work just fine. Keep your goals small and be focused on simple things you can accomplish. “Clean the whole house” does NOT count as one thing. “Clear off kitchen counters,” “Spend 5 minutes cleaning the bathroom,” “Pick up all toys through the house,” these things do count because you can be focused and finish them in about 5 minutes. On normal days there are no excuses to get these types of things done.
I generally pick 2 things for my house, 2 things for my kids (or 1 big thing like take them to the museum), and 2 things for myself. This is my list for the whole day. I do one load of laundry a day and the dishes throughout the day so I can run the dishwasher at night. That’s it. That is my whole plan on normal days. At night I feel productive, I feel like I am moving my family forward in a clean-yet-lived-in-home. I feel that I teach my children that a little bit every day keeps things from going to chaos. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it is balanced.
Enjoy the In-Between Times
If you have read any of my other articles you know that I am big on my 5-minute timer. I can do anything for 5 minutes even with needy children and you can too! 5 minutes makes a difference in your mindset and you can do a lot in that amount of time as long as you are focused.
The time in between “getting things done” is precious. When you spend time with your children you are teaching them so much more than you think and giving them so much more than you understand. That realization is a gift that every parent should strive for.
Revisit Your List
Before you go to bed, take a look at the simple list you wrote down earlier. Cross off what you accomplished, write down what else you accomplished that day, no matter how small. Cross those things off too. If you didn’t get as much done as you would have liked set your timer for 1-5 minutes and focus on one thing on your list. When you are finished take a deep breath. It’s time for you now, get ready for bed, crawl into a soft, cozy bed, consciously relax every one of your muscles, and fall asleep knowing that you were productive today.
The days never go as planned. The sooner you can recognize that the more fluid you will be able to become. Knowing what your priorities are will help you to focus your energy on things that deserve it. Balance is something every one of us will always struggle with, and that is ok. One day my accomplishment might be “read books to the babies for 1 straight hour” and “showered.” Another day I might get the whole house cleaned. As a mom, you get different amounts of time each day. Make the most of each moment. When you lay your head on your pillow every night, however, feel accomplished, feel productive, you have made a difference in your babies’ lives and in your own. Check off the things that happened today that you can be proud of. Accept that things are not perfect, but they are balanced.
Accepting whatever it is you accomplished is the key to going to bed confident. It’s time to figure out that life is a balance and you don’t get everything you want. But you prioritize things that are necessary, without realizing it. If your baby is especially clingy today, then you get to love on them a little more and those clothes probably won’t get folded or that phone call might not get made. If the kids are being particularly independent tomorrow, I can guarantee that you will get a lot accomplished, and if you are anything like me, you will keep going until you are interrupted. It’s a wonderful feeling.
This article isn’t for the days you get a lot done, it’s for the days you must convince yourself that cradling your baby all day, helping the older kids with their homework, saving the toddler from jumping off the furniture and injuring themselves, feeding everyone, and not pulling your hair out IS an accomplishment. It’s OK to have those days, in fact, it would be pretty boring without those days. Those days you won’t get as much work or cleaning done but take a look at everything you DID accomplish without realizing it.
IMperfect, Balanced, and Peaceful
Whatever you get done through the day, that’s what you have done. Philosophical right? You can’t do anything more about it now except right it down for tomorrow. Life is a balance, remember. If today was particularly unproductive, tomorrow may be better. There was a time in my 4th baby’s life that he was sick, a lot. On the bad days I would write down on my board “Get Dishes Done”, “Wash My Face” and that would be it. I had to accept the fact that my baby was sick, he wouldn’t always be sick so later (whenever later came) I could do whatever else I felt like I wanted to accomplish. And That Had To Be OK.
Let’s put this into a little perspective. So what if the laundry didn’t get folded; Your baby may be sick holding him lets him know that you are there to comfort him when he isn’t feeling good. Homework is done (an accomplishment for the older kids), they learned something about the topic at hand, and they learned that they can rely on you to be there for their needs (even when things are crazy). The toddler is alive and uninjured and you got to try out that “No” word that they don’t quite understand yet, setting boundaries is a good thing, another subject for another time. Everyone is fed and happy and got what they needed today. You have accomplished SO much!
This song by Steven Curtis Chapman speaks volumes. Listen to the lyrics. Everything little thing you do is important.
Peace and Balance,