The question “how do you do it?” embarrasses me. That anyone could possibly think I have my act together amazes me altogether. I am perpetually behind. I have more than my fair share of clutter and piles around my home. Most of my days feel scattered. And I know I have my fingers in too many pies.
But, for some reason, I occasionally leave the impression that I have “it” figured out. That I can magically balance parenting teens, a teaching job, running a small business (actually two right now), writing two blogs, contributing here, squeezing in exercise and time with friends, and nurturing my marriage. And I realize that just because I don’t think I have “it” figured out, doesn’t mean I don’t manage my life in an okay fashion.
Here is a typical week day for me:
6 a.m. – 7 a.m. — read devotional and list gifts from God/check email, read a few blogs, finish a post if needed, schedule tweets to promote various posts or business activities.
7 – 7:45 a.m. — shower/get teens up and out the door/head to work.
8 a.m. – 2 p.m. — teach (this is a “black out” time for me in terms of technology — no email, texts, etc.)
2 p.m. – 4 p.m. — run errands/check on antiques booth/exercise/blog/work on projects or items for posts or booth/Willow House/yard work/housework
4 p.m. – 5 p.m — time with teens (this is also a “black out” time for me)
5 p.m. – 6 p.m. — meal prep/project wrap up
6 p.m. – 8 p.m. — teen shuttling for practices and meetings/time with hubs/dinner (mostly “black out” time unless I’m in the car and make calls or check email waiting for kids)
8 p.m. – 10 p.m. — supervise homework/household paperwork such as paying bills/laundry/blog writing or reading/clean kitchen/lesson planning
10 p.m. – shut down
Not a lot of “free time” in there. Not every day is as jam-packed, but most are. And as the school year wears on, it gets even busier. So for those of you who are also chasing their tails during busy times, I came up with a few strategies that help me get through.
1. I keep a basket beside my favorite arm chair in the family room that is home to my Bible, my devotional, my list of 1000 (+) gifts, a note pad, my calendar (yes, the old fashioned day-timer type), and magazines and catalogs to be read. The only thing that moves in and out of the basket is my calendar. This is where I begin and end each day. It fuels me, centers me, helps me organize my world.
2. I grocery shop once a week and Costco shop once a month. Yes, you read that right. That’s it. No more, no less. The key to making this work is planning. I plan each and every dinner at least a week out and I use my Publix circulars and coupons I clip to help me do so. If we run out of something mid-week, too bad, so sad. Now obviously my kids are older and can make themselves a pb & j for a snack if that’s all we have to choose from. But I also cook enough to ensure left-overs, so they can reheat last night’s lasagne if they’re that desperate. Not only does this save me time (you can see that my errand-running time is limited!) but it also saves me money! So much easier to stick to the budget when you’re not running into the store every other day to “pick up a few things.”
3. Enlist the help of older kids. My boys set the table, empty the dishwasher, take out the trash, fold laundry (and sometimes DO laundry), cut the grass, keep their rooms straight and their bathroom bearable. Now, I do go behind them at times (especially in their bathroom), but as our world has gotten busier, I’ve off-loaded more of the simple chores to them. While there are the grumbles and huffs and puffs to deal with here and there, by and large they are helpful. Even they realize that everything runs smoother when they pitch in. The life lessons learned are another post altogether. 🙂
4. My MVPs are my calendar and my iPhone. My calendar is my bible of our daily activities and schedules, sticky note reminders, and a critical planning tool that fits into my purse. My iPhone has become invaluable for scheduling reminders when I know I may not have my calendar handy, checking email when I’m on the go, snapping photos for posts or the booth, and keeping me in touch with my scattered brood. They work hand-in-hand.
5. This is the most important strategy I employ: Black out times and shut down times are sacred. This is no small feat with all of my online activities and all the social media outlets there are now to promote my businesses. But I have realized that it’s critical to respect these in order to keep my household running smoothly. On rare occasion, I will have to make an exception late in the day, but it is rare. My time with my kids is fleeting and my time with my husband crucial. Unplugging doesn’t kill us, it only makes us stronger and better at keep our worlds spinning.
You will still find piles on my desk and kitchen table that need decluttering. You will find dust bunnies under my sofa I”m sure. I will scramble to pay bills I’d shoved aside and forgotten. And I will get frustrated and feel pulled in too many different directions. But the core of my household remains solid. And these days won’t last forever.
Now your turn!! How do YOU do all that you do?? Come on… I know you’ve got some suggestions for the rest of us!
Visit me over at Decor & More for a Willow House giveaway going on through Friday, March 9th!
© 2012 – 2014, Heidi Milton. All rights reserved. Love it? Please share, pin, tweet or email but do not use my work without permission.