Friday, April 27, 2012

Running Hard.

Note: I wrote this post last night and have included at the bottom an addendum from this morning's perspective.


Seriously, I don't know how other mothers do it...much less single mothers or mothers who work even part-time outside the home or mothers who h/school more kids than I do.  I'm in awe of so many mothers out there.  How do you do it all?  I'm at home all day long and I'm barely keeping up.  Well, let's be honest, I'm not keeping up.  I'm falling falling farther and farther behind each week.  There is hardly a room in the entire house that doesn't need a major tidy up right now, and there are so terribly many little de-cluttering jobs that need doing, but I'm so exhausted by 9:30pm when the last kid is tucked in that the only thing I have the energy to do is to sit here in bed and write this.  What I should be doing, what I feel guilty about not doing right now, is attempting to make the house a little more liveable.

I truly don't mean to complain, but there are a lot of days when I just don't get how to hold it all together.  The atmosphere in our home has improvement almost dramatically over the past couple of months as life as a family of five has settled in and as things have slowly smoothed out.  But it's the maintenance of everything that's so hard.  It's trying to hold a semblance of sanity while juggling h/schooling, household management (cooking and cleaning; laundry - oh the laundry; endless tidying that never seems to make a dent; errands; etc etc); extra curricular activities; field trips and other 'special events' that seem to happen every week; and trying to do it all while

the kids are always, always (did I mention always) with me

Seriously, people, the state of my house is horrifying.  I've even (mostly) stopped apologizing for its state when people come through the door because it's become a broken record already.  I just keep inviting people over and hope that they'll chalk up the state of my house to the fact that we adopted two children eleven months ago and turned our lives upside down (I'm hoping that excuse lasts for at least another year, friends!).

How's this for a confession...

My kitchen still has dishes on the counters and in the sink from yesterday and I just noticed before trudging upstairs that the pot where I cooked last night's shrimp still holds congealed juices that need to be cleaned out.  Sigh.  My kitchen counter surfaces are full of:  dishes; papers; artwork; a bunch of paper cutout 'games' that Matthew invented and then left on my counters to deal with; pieces of 2x4 board that have screws screwed into it in a pattern resembling Matthew's initials (one of several wood-working projects lying around); a grocery bag filled with empty plastic easter eggs (used for our chocolate hunt) that have yet to be taken downstairs and placed into the 'Spring/Easter Bin.'  When I set the table for breakfast today, I strategically placed plates overtop of the crumbs from yesterday's dinner...because there was simply too much to do other than wipe the table or sweep up under it.  Isn't that pathetic?  I'm so embarrassed.

It seems like the past several weeks have simply flown by in the scurrying about that we do around here.  Mornings and half of the afternoons are usually consumed with reading to the little kids for an hour first thing in the morning, getting breakfast on the table and cleaned up by 9:30, getting dressed and tidying rooms, doing school and/or other learning-related stuff and/or field trips that usually happen in the mornings, eating and cleaning up lunch, and reading out loud again (this time books more of Matthew's liking).  By this time it's usually about 2:00 or after and we're well over  halfway through the day and I haven't used the bathroom for hours or even started my to do list for the day.  And it's almost time to get ready for whatever else happens next.

The fact that I took the kids to gymnastics late afternoon today and then raced off with all three to the boys' cycling club meant that I had to have clean laundry ready for gymnastics as well as for their cycling club ('cause they always manage to come home dirty from that!), had to have a healthy supper ready in little containers for all four of us to eat in the car as we flew from gymnastics to the park outside of the city where the cycling club met.  The 90 minutes there were relaxing because the boys were gone and I spent the time with Lizzie and a couple of friends, but then we had to race home because we were out waaay past Lizzie's bedtime; and it was a 40 minute drive home.  Then, of course, all three kids were starving, so we pulled out muffins and the fresh fruit salad that I woke up early to cut up this morning knowing that they were going to need something for snacks throughout the day (and sure enough, they finished up over two litres of fresh fruit salad between their morning and evening snacks!).

It is crazy.  How do you folks do this??  What are your tips, your short cuts, the things that save the day?  How on earth do you manage?


So it's now Friday morning and things are still pretty chaotic around here, with no end in sight.  But Geoff at least loaded up the dishwasher when he got home late last night, so I was able to empty and reload it this morning.  The kitchen's looking a little more liveable now.  The kids tidied up a couple of rooms between story time and breakfast.  And I ran two loads of laundry through this morning, so the tip of that iceberg has been breached.  Finally, I decided that since it's been a month since our last movie night, tonight the kids will eat pizza in front of a movie and I'll fold laundry while they/we are thus contained.  I woke up this morning thinking about a verse in the Bible that talks about not worrying about tomorrow because because each day has enough trouble of its own and tomorrow will worry about itself.  That's what I decided this morning - not to worry about the weekend because all I need to get through is today.  The other thing that I have been noticing over the past couple of weeks is that, although I'm quite overwhelmed at times by the sheer volume of stuff that I need to get done (or not!), I'm not emotionally depressed about it all as I was just a short couple of months ago.  I'm so thankful for that...I have so much to be grateful for.

But still...if you have any tips/short cuts/things that save the day, I'd love to hear about them!


  1. I have been in your exact same place wondering how others do it, and you know what surprised me when I started asking around? All of the "supermoms" I know have regular (as in weekly at around 10 hours per week) respite/child care and a massively high number of them had some level of maid service (this SHOCKED me!).

    I only just found a part time respite worker who is going to do about 6 hours a week for me. She has not started yet but I am hoping this will help me find more balance.

    As for the maid, I am super jealous and hope maybe one day I can have some sort of maid or service come in and at least do my kitchen/floors/bathrooms. It would make my life so much easier!!

    I hesitated for years to bring in help, but after 2.5 years struggling since my youngest came home from Africa, it became obvious that I simply can not do it all myself. It was hard to find the money and the right person, but I think it will really help our whole family.

  2. Thanks so much for the comment...and for the empathy!

    And I'm one of the lucky ones...about a year ago, my parents (bless them) offered to bring someone in to clean my house every two weeks. It's been huge in our lives. I still clean bathrooms, wash and vacuum floors on the alternate weeks because I absolutely NEED to, but that incredible gift of my parents has been a huge benefit for us...and I don't have to dust any more (because that CAN wait for two weeks until she next comes!).

    I decided a while ago that I'd love to have someone come in every other week to be with the kids for a few hours, but it's frankly really hard finding the right which I mean, someone that my eldest will like!

    ANyway, thank you for the thoughts and encouragement and insight. Much appreciated!!



  3. Lowered expectations help us, plus as they get older, they help out more. A cleaner every two weeks. A good sleep for energy during the day. A husband who shares the load. Coffee in the AM and a nice glass of wine at night. And reminding myself that this is just a season in my life.

  4. It is REALLY hard, especially if you have a child with special needs. It took me about 3 months of intensive searching. In the end I used a pay service, but it was well worth it (only $24). My kids have not met her yet, but with the right introductions even my son who is terrified of adults (my special needs boy) will get comfortable with her. They have to, for the good of our whole family, but especially for my own mental and physical health. I need this and I deserve this, and my family deserves a mom who is able to give 100%. Myself, my husband and our new Nanny are committed to making this work. I just must have faith that it will work out. But it has taken a long time getting here. I was sure I could be supermom, turns out that super power is as fictional as invisibility and being bullet proof.

    Just a thought, but your son seems very empathetic, if presented in the right way, I am sure he would be very supportive of giving you such a special gift as regular respite. Especially if he understood how important it was to you and how happy it would make you. He seems like a loving boy. I am guessing if he understood he would be very adaptable.

    I hope you can find a better balance. Just do not wait too long. I kept thinking "it will get better" and "its just a phase, it will pass", I finally had to accept after 2.5 years that this is our new normal. It was not going to change, something else had to.

    Sorry to ramble, know you are not alone, it is a tough road!

  5. Oh, goodness. Story of our lives here, too. I have always found it hard to keep up AND I need order and an asthetically-pleasing environment, or I combust (which I have been doing - combusting, or on the brink - since buying our fixer-upper 12 years ago, accumulating way too much stuff, and never keeping up with even the most basic organizational projects - and yes, we have had kids for only 11 months of that time, and I worked only 20 hours/week for the 2 years prior to having kids, and therefore have no good excuse other than that there is SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME).

    We don't even over-commit (I actually feel like a slouch in the community involvement and social connections department, because aside from weekly church attendance and occasional in-service activities, and far too infrequent get-togethers during the day with my sis and her girls, we don't do anything regularly). bedroom has suffered for at least 8-10 weeks with piles of clothes I need to put away...which get destroyed as I scavenge for things to wear, and hence the vicious circle. A nook in our upstairs hallway is a perpetual junk-pile which gets cleaned out every couple of months, only to pile back up...because I never have the chance to get up there long enough to work at it (even now that my husband is on parental leave, I still feel a combination of time shortage & guilt leaving the main floor - e.g., the kids I both do and don't want to hang out with - to go do it). Or, days like today happened, where my husband and I both crashed in a daze during rest time after a physically and emotionally draining morning of rage & drama from one child. And then later, we tend to escape rather than face what really needs to be done.

    The irony is that I feel guilty (or too stressed and exhausted) tackling the "work" around here, because I feel like I should be with the kids more (even though I firmly believe in kids occupying themselves for chunks of time), but then I hang around where the kids are get frustrated and don't really focus on them well because I'm upset about all the stuff I really need to do. Really, the clothes need to be off my floor, and I should likely occasionally sweep and dust the hair of two cats and two hounds out of the kids' rooms. It doesn't feel optional, but I sure act like it is...and get more disgruntled and hopeless all the time (uh oh - just realizing I have been totallym engrossed in this comment, while I am actually home alone while my husband walks the kids so I can get upstairs and get to work...yep, this is often how it happens).