Life-Life Balance

I have discovered a secret about motherhood that I’m a little worried might not ACTUALLY be a secret. Maybe every single other mom already knows and I’ve just been lalalalaing my way through the past 3+ years.

Having a schedule makes me better at my job.

I was going to say “makes me a better mom” but it’s more than that. I’m better at managing my time, I’m better at feeding everyone healthy food, I’m more interested in playing blocks and reading stories, my house is in better shape and I sleep better at night. A schedule is like the opposite of kryptonite to this SuperMom. Sunlight. Sunlight is what made Superman strong, right?

After I left/lost my job when I was pregnant with Evan, I realized I needed to fill my time with something besides couch naps and daytime TV. I spent hours redecorating the house, painting the entire second floor and third floor. I blogged like it was my job. I baked a lot. But “busy” is not the same as a schedule and giving birth made it worse. At home with a newborn I was just trying to SURVIVE. It took almost 5 months before I could even commit to showing up at a breastfeeding support group regularly. Since then we’ve added a lot of activities and favorite places – Stroller Strides, gymnastics, the zoo, the aquarium, playdates, whatever – but none of those are mandatory and/or took up more than a couple hours a week.

But now we have SCHOOL. And don’t tell me it’s not mandatory – my kid might read this blog one day and I have told him quite firmly going to school is The Law and Mr. Policeman would be very angry if he doesn’t go. It structures our week. It gives me a few hours during which Getting Shit Done is much, much easier so Shit Gets Done. Laundry, check! Cleaning under the couch, check! Setting up the DVR for all the fall shows, check! Organizing the kids’ dressers with fall transition clothes and dropping off old, outgrown, non-favorite stuff at Goodwill! I’ve only got 2.5 hours so prepare for some of the fastest sock-sorting you’ve ever seen. I could win the sock-sorting OLYMPICS.

For the first time in more than 3 years I have to say “Let me check my calendar” before committing to stuff because I might actually have somewhere to BE at 11 am on a Tuesday. My phone is set up with alerts like “bake for bake sale” and “preschool open house” and “switch laundry to dryer” and I love it. When I wake up in the morning with a sense of purpose – especially a purpose that requires me to put on pants and be out the door in 2 hours – I don’t get to 5 pm and think “oops, there goes another day”.

I suspect this is part of why people say being a stay-at-home-mom is so hard. It IS hard to spend your entire day taking care of small humans who don’t appreciate it in any way. It’s hard and thankless and frustrating and repetitive. It’s easy to fall into a “who cares?” pattern when it comes to the state of your hair and your floors and your life. I’m not saying there aren’t amazing, super, awesome, fun moments too. There are. Every day. But if you look at parenting as one big long stretch, those first few years as a SAHM are an endless blob of unstructured time, with days and nights often running right into each other and pants being worn for far too many days in a row.

Maybe I’m still in the preschool honeymoon period and pretty soon I’ll realize all this driving back and forth and remembering snack for Special Helper Day and avoiding PTA phone calls is for the birds, but until then I’m really enjoying only dragging ONE screaming child around Target and mopping the floors more than once every decade.

…Although right now I’m using the time mostly to deal with the Saddest Teething Baby Even In The Whole World Who Is Getting Her Two Year Molars Or At Least I Hope So Because Otherwise She’s Just Turned Into A Huge Jerk.

caroline in an apple orchard

Don’t let her fool you – she flounced off and pouted under this tree for like 10 minutes because I wouldn’t let her eat a rotten apple off the ground. WORST. MOTHER. EVER.


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14 Responses to “Life-Life Balance”

  1. merin says:

    That’s funny, because today I totally let Camille eat the bitten-into and/or rotten apples after many attempts to give her fresh ones picked from the tree.

    PS. I agree like, 275% with this post. We flounder without a schedule. It’s the worst.

  2. Jess Judkins says:

    Your saddest little baby is FREAKING ADORABLE! Ps I hope the molars come in sooner than later.

    Also you sound like me, I think I need a schedule because I dont care for a schedule anymore but I find myself totally getting stressed out over things that interrupt my non schedule (I know I am weird)

  3. Meagan says:

    Schedules make the world go ’round. I love preschool too. Who knew one kid could be so easy?

  4. Naomi Colquitt says:

    I love your posts and am most excited about school (when my kids are old enough…2.5 and 9 mths), simply because I enjoy routine! Also, I wish I still lived in CT because I might just have to hang out with you!!

  5. Scarlett Rose says:

    The kid is so cute & adorable!! It feels good to get back into routine for sure!!!

    Blessings for the little baby :-)

  6. Veronica says:

    I so agree. Sorry Caroline is teething and that youre awful and wont let her eat delicious putrid apples. The schedule thing is so true. It def helps my day fly by. Super cute photo.

  7. Maggie says:

    This post inspired me to get off the couch and do some laundry. I have learned that schedules are important as a work-outside-the-home-mom, as well. If I don’t make and stick to a plan to tackle the clothes-sorting, etc., in the hours we’re home it it so easy just to fritter the time away and end up with nothing done and kids who are owly because they are understimulated. If I say “Okay, let’s play dress up while mommy does X and then you can color while mommy does y,” we’re all happier. And cleaner.

  8. molly says:

    It’s true. When I stayed home over the summer I found I felt better about everything if we had a schedule to follow. Of course, it’s nice to have lazy days here and there. But being productive makes us all feel awesome!

  9. Christa says:

    As I sit here in the same yoga pants I have worn for 3 days straight. . .
    Love this post! My only babe is turning 8 months old next week and I think I can feel my sanity slowly dripping out my left ear. Perhaps it’s time to address this schedule thing!

  10. Alena says:

    It’s like you’re IN MAH BRAIN MATTAH!!

    I am putting Sophia and Holden in a more structured schedule, which is helped out by having a nanny come on certain days at certain times.

    In fact I am writing this on NON structured blog reading time! I must go and start the washer and clean up this mess of a living room!

  11. tricia says:

    i think you’re on to something BIG here. while this should be a fairly obvious concept for me, it’s not. the way you explained it here, saying that it gives you purpose and makes you feel accomplished? i need that in my life, big time. because at my house no Shit Gets Done. like, ever. if you saw my house, you’d probably never want me to come to your blog again because you don’t want to be associated with someone that needs “hoarders”.

  12. Kimberly says:

    Why have I never thought to put “switch laundry to dryer” in my phone?!?! You’re so smart. At least once a week I wake up to the awful realization that I have damp, smelly laundry in the washer. And I would wallpaper my house with that pic of Caroline. Gorgeous.

  13. I totally agree. After having Brayden and recovering from a C-section, it was all about survival. Add second baby and 2 day a week preschool? Schedules are saving my LIFE right now.

    Poor Caroline. Teething SUCKS.

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