Thursday, April 17, 2008

Season Of Life

I am feeling bogged down by this season of life. Life as a stay-at-home mom with 3 little ones. Having 3 children under 4 years old is so different and difficult. I don't think a lot of people understand what it's like. I was just remarking the other night to Brian that I cannot imagine how much time I'm going to have when my children can ready themselves for the day. I know I spend at least an hour every morning just getting them ready by dressing them, washing faces, brushing teeth, fixing hair and preparing breakfast. And that doesn't include feeding Reagan. That's an additional 20 -25 minutes.

I am frustrated because I can start at 5am and never get everything done that "needs" to be done.

I try diligently to get up when Brian leaves for work which is usually between 5-5:30am. Do other stay-at-home moms do this? My dad thought I had a screw loose when I told him what time I get up. If I don't get up before everyone else, I don't get a chance to take a shower. I don't get a chance to read my Bible and I don't get a chance to exercise. Doing those things are very important to set the tone for my day. But I don't want to get up that early.

I am definitely having a difficult time keeping up with everything that should be done. I can tell you the last time the kitchen floor was mopped (last month), but it really needs it at least once a week. (Toddlers are messy eaters.) I can't tell you the last time the wood was mopped and as a result, there are dust dinosaurs lurking everywhere. Keeping the house clean and supervising the girls are activities that are just at odds with each other. The activities that I have for them to do are losing their appeal and they spend a lot of time getting in trouble because they are bored. I just don't know what to do with them that is new and exciting and will keep them stimulated. Especially table-type activities.

I am a fan of FlyLady, and her method of doing things is helpful. But with 3 young children, I am just having a hard time making it work. Which makes me feel like a failure. Every day I look at the wood and realize it needs to be mopped desperately, but I just can't seem to get to it.

How do other people do it? I know I can't be the only one who has these struggles. Lily is getting bigger and bigger and is able to help more. She is able to almost completely dress herself and can make her bed. She can use the potty and wash her hands with a minimal amount of supervision.

Some people might say that I am being too hard on myself or that I am expecting too much of myself. But is it too much to ask that the floors have some attention more often than every six months? When Brian is home on the weekends, the last thing I want to do is spend all weekend at home. Of course, after he's been working all week, he'd like to spend some time at home. I don't know if my problem is a lack of contentment or boredom or what.

I live with a huge measure of guilt all the time. If the laundry gets piled up, I feel guilty. If Brian helps me by doing the laundry, I feel guilty that he has to help. Isn't that my job? I shouldn't need any help. I'm a failure.

Today, Lily didn't have any clean panties because I am behind on laundry. You can bet I felt like a huge failure. I can't even manage to keep the laundry done. As for me, no shower today so far because Brian went into work late this morning so I woke up when I heard Reagan. It's time for her to eat again and Lily is still waiting for her panties (that are in the dryer) so she is still in her nightgown. The kitchen is a mess from yesterday and I really don't want to have to go mess with.

I don't want to feel like I'm on autopilot all the time, but I feel like I am a hamster on a wheel with all of these activities. Laundry is never completely done. The kitchen is never completely clean and there always seems to be a meal to prepare. Oh, and to add to it, Brian and I haven't had a real date in about 6 months, maybe more. No babysitter.

I really could go on and on, but I think I'll stop. However, lest it seem like I am just complaining, I am open to suggestions. Real suggestions for activities or schedule changes or something. This is a cry for help.


Lindsay said...

I don't know about suggestions, but I do know that I could have written this post!! (Well, other than the part about getting up at 5am...7:30 is about the most I can manage.) Add "homeschooling" to that list, and you've got my life.

I CAN say that parts of it get easier, though, when the kids start to get bigger. 6 years old is a great age! Matthew can empty the dishwasher - whatever he can't reach, he just sets on the counter. It's not "put up" but at least the dishwasher is ready for more dishes.

It's also easier when they can get themselves completely dressed (including brushing teeth) - and Matthew is even old enough to take a shower - by himself! Hallelujah!

The only "fix" I think is just to pick: you COULD get it all clean - IF that's all you did with your time. So, is the time you spend NOT cleaning worth it? To me, the answer is yes. It's worth it to have a messy house when I have happy kids, a lower stress level, and more energy (which translates into less crankiness).

I hope it gets better. But if it doesn't, then I'm gonna at least enjoy my kids and (try to enjoy) my husband. =)

cool mum said...

I can relate to a lot of this--and i only have ONE right now! Amazed that you get up soooo early. I aspire to that at times, but it doesn't happen. I agree with previous comment--having fun playing with your kids is more important than cleaning up constantly. With one, at least I can put him in a backpack carrier and get stuff done while he's entertained looking at everything. I am very curious to hear the suggestions on keeping kids entertained. My little guy is already totally bored and not even a year yet! =(

Anonymous said...

You are completely normal in your concerns, your ability, your house cleanlines status. Add to that 3 children in close proximity, none of which are school age and it would take a miracle to accomplish what you want to accomplish.
Your children are loved and cared for.
Hire a maid for heavy cleaning every week or every other week and forgo a Hokey Pokey dinner to pay for the costs. There are plenty of reasonably priced women who do it on the side.
By the girls an extra pack of underwear. They change them a lot anyways.
Your the hero of your girls and your husband but your are not a super hero. Don't beat yourself up.
Your children will never remember the laundry or the dust bunnies and you are entitled to weekends off!
Love you,

JLP said...


Look at it this way:

20 years from now, are you going to wish you would have done a better job keeping your house clean?

Although it may be difficult, try to enjoy your life just the way it is. God has put you in this position for a reason. Enjoy it.

Georgia said...

I certainly don't want to be misunderstood on this topic. It's not that I'm expecting the place to be spotless, but that I could somehow find the balance in it all. I don't think it has to be an either/or proposition. I truly believe that there are consequences to laziness and I think my housework being left completely undone is due to a lack of discipline and just outright laziness. That is the problem to solve.

The Bible has many harsh things to say about laziness and I don't want those things applied to me. More importantly, I don't want my daughters picking up those bad habits either.

To that end, I am working on my schedule to find some balance. I am looking for a babysitter who can give me some relief during the day. I am searching for new activities to keep the girls entertained. And most importantly, I am limiting my computer time. I am committed to this deep focus for a month. In a month, I will re-evaluate. If I have given it my all and I am still unable to accomplish the bare minimum of what I require, I will reset the bar. Until then, I think it can be done.

Anonymous said...

I struggle with this too! Having 6 (4, 4years and younger) is hard. I found a wonderful book called Managers of their Homes by Steven and Teri Maxwell. It is full of scripture and how/why we should order our day. It has helped me to have a schedule, even when it doesn't get followed some days. The book emphasizes praying and seeking what God would have us accomplish during the day. It also suggests asking our husbands what is important to them to see done daily. Sometimes I stress about things getting done that Aaron doesn't even care about. Life changes daily and the biggest thing I have learned is to be flexible. Just when I think I have a great schedule and have it all figured out -- whoosh, the rug gets pulled out from under me. The other thing I have found helpful is to get ideas from other moms. I ask for scheduling, cleaning, and recipe ideas from friends. Some I use, some I don't. I organize everything in a huge binder I call my "Household Organizer". I definitely don't have it all figured out but I keep trying!

Anonymous said...

House work will be with you long after your babies are gone. That said, the girls would probably think it great fun to run a dust mop for you ("dust mops" could even be socks worn on their hands to dust the furniture for you). Sure, they wouldn't do as good a job as you would, but what the heck, as the Fly Lady says, "It's more than it would have had if you'd done nothing."

Find out what Brian thinks is IMPORTANT to have done on a regular basis.

Most importantly, your girls are nothing short of fantastic kids. I know that from first-hand experience with them, so you're doing the most important things right!!!! Love ya, GSUW

Anonymous said...

These are the "good ole days" trust me.

Happy Birthday.

Unckle G

Lindsay said...

My 7yo already cleans the toilet! He's also a great organizer. Yeah, he doesn't get it "perfect" - but as was commented above, it is DEFINITELY better than nothing. Best of all, he still thinks it's fun!

I like the way you titles your post "season of life" - it's a good reminder that this is just a SEASON, and even though it may feel like it lasts forever, in the long run it is only a very short amount of time.

One thing I am learning, and being constantly reminded of with a fourth (and last?) baby, is to ENJOY even the moments that could seem so frustrating. It makes the season at least seem shorter! =)