I got asked the question today, “how do you balance kid’s, preparing homemade from scratch meals, spending time with the hubs, and cleaning”. The answer I gave was, well, you don’t always have balance. True story. It’s a good goal, there are cleaning schedules, you can meal plan, but the saying, “you can plan but God has the final say” is pretty accurate. I am often telling my husband that I feel that I can either love on my family really well or I can keep up with the house really well, but accomplishing both at the same time, is definitely a challenge.
One of the things that does help is to train your kiddo’s to do as much as they are reasonable able to do for their age. As soon as you see your kiddo ready for a teachable moment, jump on that band wagon. Teaching your kiddo’s to pick up their toys, put their clothes away, and tidy their rooms in the morning and in the evening before bed gets them in a routine of organization. Dusting is a fairly easy chore that can easily be trained and past on. I bought a dust buster vacuum cleaner at a garage sale so when my three year old’s spill crumbs they can easily go get the little vacuum and easily clean up their mess. We are a family and as a family we work together to keep our house tidy, because a organized, tidy house lets our brains feel peaceful and we can find what we are looking for when we need it! I need to note: organization and tidiness is not my natural gift and if anything I am down right awful at it, but as life would have it Mark is the complete opposite and his brain cannot handle a cluttered, messy house. I have learned and worked very hard to gain ground on a tidy, organized house.
Another thing that helps, is to throw out all conceivable notions and any
expectations you had for what you thought your super woman self could accomplish before you had kids. Give yourself room to learn how you jive and groove, give yourself room to have weeks were you love on your kiddo’s and husband and put the messy house blinders on. I do have to say developing and following a cleaning schedule revolutionized my life! When the twins were born I needed a doable plan that I could break up through the course of the week! Cleaning the whole house in a day wasn’t going to happen and I needed some guidelines, a game plan (I still use this game plan because it keeps me on tract). The first week I simply went through each step, not doing more or less than what that day required, but keeping to the plan. Then as life and time went by I felt freedom to let a week go by here or there were I could skip a step or two or three. The fabulousness in having a plan is that the next week I jump right back on the cleaning wagon and because I had followed through the previous weeks, it wasn’t horribly, nasty, disgusting. A simple wipe of the counters, a sweep here, and I was back on track. It has also allowed me to deep clean and declutter my house. Two things I would have broken down on a heap on the floor and sobbed my little eyes out in overwhelmedness. I want to encourage you not to get discouraged by what works for someone else, but doesn’t work for you. You are not other women or other people, you are you, and I promise if you give yourself time you will find the way that you jive the best! For example, I find for my sanity that doing a load a day helps me keep up with laundry. However, my best friend Laurie hates the thought of having to do laundry everyday, so she does hers all in one day. Neither are right or wrong, it’s what we have found that helps us jive the best with our families needs and how we work. No biggie, but I need to not try and push myself in someone else’s box. So, if what someone suggests doesn’t work for you, keep praying and seeking, and trying until you find the way that jives with you!
Meal planning and grocery shopping according to the meal plan saves time and money. I know what to put in my cart and what to keep out and I know what I will need to prep when I get home. I try to grocery shop on a day when I know I will be able to prep the groceries the same day I bring them home. Whether it’s chopping veggies, cutting meat, or both, I want as much done ahead of time as possible. This allows me to cook meals easily and efficiently during the course of the week. If I am making a stir fry that week I will chop all the veggies I need and put them all in a baggie marked stir fry, I will start marinating meat, to get the flavor into the meat and to tenderize the meat. Planning meals that I can make one day and easily roll over into another meal is another great time saver. Taco’s are a great example of an easy meal that can be turned into taco salad the next day, a stew or a chowder can easily be made into a pot pie and frozen for a meal later down the road when you are too tired to cook what you had planned.
Meal planning and cleaning schedules help greatly with family life, but there are still going to be times when you have to let one go for a while so you can tend to the other area. It does not mean you are a horrible mom or a horrible house keeper, it simply means that there are times in life where as much as you try, balance isn’t going to happen. Times when you have a newborn and all you can focus on is trying to stay sane and that is an accomplishment in itself. There are going to be moments when you get so wrapped up in having fun with your family that your house gets a little neglected, and that’s ok! You have the rest of your life to tidy your house, you only have today with your little ones.
The biggest and greatest thing I can encourage you with when you feel off balance is to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to bring you back around. Ask him to show you how to make balance happen and ask him to show you how your life and your family jive best. God cares so much for you, if you ask him, he will show you! God cares even about overwhelmed, unbalanced wives and mommies!
I am still learning balance and there are times I seek out the Holy Spirit asking him to straighten my path because I got it a little crooked or sometimes a lot crooked. He is always faithful to steer me on the right path again and I am confident he can steer you straight too!
May you find encouragement on our journey, know you are not alone! Shalom!