Laundry sits in piles upstairs. There are two loads waiting to be folded and two are sitting in the washer and dryer. Campfire scented top sheets are tossed haphazardly on the floor so I don’t forget to wash them next.
None of these piles include my own laundry which is overflowing in a basket down the hall. I have only tackled the towels and the boys’ clothing so far and I can’t seem to even finish that task.
Piles of homeschool guides, planning pages, and books are sitting out on the table. I need to plan out tomorrow at the very least, but I was hoping to get the whole week laid out.
Our first week was brilliant, but after a weekend of camping it doesn’t look like week two is going to be quite as well-planned.
Mess is scattered throughout the house. Dishes. Shoes. Water bottles. Unfinished art projects.
People live here. That is very evident right now.
And in the back of my mind is my neglected blog, the online book club I am teaching this month, meal planning, bills to pay, and the option of a nap.
Clearly, the nap isn’t going to happen.
Neither is half of that list.
Because trying to do all the things just doesn’t work.
And curling up in a ball, watching too much Netflix with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s is only a temporary fix which leaves a bigger problem the next day.
So this year, I have just accepted the fact that I can not do all the things for all the people at all of the times.
Put simply: I can’t do all the things.
And chances are, neither can you. Unless you are Wonder Woman.
Then maybe you can. But this post is for the rest of us. You have bigger fish to fry like those bullets flying at you.
And blocking bullets is one thing that isn’t on my to-do list. It might be the only thing.
So what is a busy mom to do when the tension is high and the piles are mounting?
I ask myself this one important question:
What do I need to do RIGHT NOW so I feel less crazy?
It’s a simple question, but taking the answer seriously has a profound impact on my day.
Do I need to take a timeout to sip tea and brain dump my thoughts? Do I need to postpone school and ask everyone to help me clean the upstairs? Do I need to let everyone play Minecraft while I go on a walk?
Honestly, it isn’t always easy to dig down to the one thing I need to do at the moment, but I think about my life in categories and that typically helps.
This year I have grouped my life (in my head) into general categories:
Home includes all of the things that I do as a mom and wife: meal planning, clothing shopping, running our calendar, paying bills and taxi driving.
It also includes the fun stuff like planning adventures, being available to talk with teens, relaxing with my husband, and playing games with my kids.
School includes everything involved in planning and implementing a homeschool education for my kids. I have to purchase curriculum, plan our weeks, research field trips, and keep up with activities.
Work is a bit different this year. In the past, I have worked for myself on the blog. This year I joined the staff at Brave Writer. Working with a company that I believe in on a practical and philosophical level is a dream. My new job also allows for flexibility because I can take it with me, but in the end, it means that I have deadlines.
Fun includes pretty much everything I do for me: Mom’s nights. A good book. Starbucks with a friend. Voxer. Podcasts. Calling a friend to talk.
The big change this year is that my blog has moved from the category of work to the category of fun. I didn’t realize how hard that would be, but at the same time, I simply love my new job so it is a good thing.
Fitness didn’t really fit in any of the other categories. I was tempted to consider it part of my fun options, but it deserves its own level of importance. There are also days that a workout doesn’t feel very fun so I didn’t want to leave it as something I could just replace with a phone call, though some days I do. And some days I cover both by running with a friend.
Either way, fitness became its own category.
Now it is time to go back to the original question:
What do I need to do RIGHT NOW so I feel less crazy?
Sift through the layers and find the answer by thinking through the categories:
Which category is feeling the most overwhelming. Which is causing the most anxiety? Which one needs to be addressed by the end of the day or first thing tomorrow?
And before you lose your mind…
Make a Plan
Once you have an answer to that nagging question, attack it head on.
Sometimes I realize that I haven’t had time to workout in a few days and we eat frozen pizza for dinner so I can go for a run instead of prepping a meal.
I might realize that our day will be better if I blow off some school plans to clean the entire upstairs and get the laundry finished. Truly. I just make a mental note that school will be the top priority the next day when our home is in order.
Sometimes I realize that our family feels disconnected and I feel guilty about it. We drop everything and play a board game or go out for ice cream, or I make a plan to relax together after dinner.
Most often I realize that I have to hide my phone and turn off my laptop for a good few hours. Period.
No Hard Fast Rules
That is what makes this process somewhat difficult. There aren’t any 10 step solutions that will help you get it all done.
There is only the realization that you can’t get it all done.
Not even Wonder Woman can get it all done. My guess is her kids ate a lot of Mac-n-cheese so she could save the world.