Monday, February 27, 2017

making your time work for you

Raising four young kids is a full time job for me right now. I had aspirations of working before baby number four was born, but now I see that's just not going to happen for me at the moment. Life is completely full and my attention spread about as thin as possible. Here's how I fit everything in.


Our day begins around 6:30 when the kids start waking up. I get up slowly as I listen to the kids start to get restless on the couch with Netflix playing. Once I know I have to get up (around 7) my first priority is coffee. One of my rules for the kids is no one has breakfast until Mommy gets coffee. I typically scroll social media for five minutes while I drink coffee and nurse the baby, catching up on events that happened while I was sleeping. I consider this time important because it keeps me connected. When you don't work outside the home social media can be a real life saver, connecting you to the outside world. After my coffee is gone and the baby is changed and fed, I make the kids a decent breakfast. I usually accommodate what they want- eggs, bagel, toast, fruit etc because I can. Sometimes Micah whines in his bassinet while I make breakfast because I had to put him down, and I don't feel guilty about that. It takes me ten minutes tops and using the sling while I do chores when he's this little is just a pain. Not worth it. After that I have the kids play for a while until it's time to get dressed for school. They dress themselves, I take care of their hair and make sure teeth are brushed and shoes are on the right feet. They're out the door by 8:30. Once everyone is at school, I just have the 3 year old and baby at home. If we're staying in (which I have to at least three days per week in order to get everything accomplished) I'll start a load of laundry. I fold and put away laundry twice a week, usually Monday and Friday, I make sure the kitchen is clean and the dining room table is wiped down as I start my day. I usually follow a daily cleaning schedule- vacuum one day, bathroom another day, mop a different day, sheets, etc. This would also be the time where I throw a bunch of food in the oven to cook all at once, or chop vegetables and fruit to have handy for the week.


Decluttering is a way of life for us. I can't afford to keep things floating around. If there's an extra sock I can't find the match to it gets thrown out. If there's a McDonalds toy no ones played with for a while, it will be donated or thrown out. I am ruthless about streamlining which means we don't keep every card that our kids are mailed and we don't keep school papers unless they're EXTRA special. Sorry kids! I try to be as low key as possible so they don't notice and they rarely do. A good chunk of my day is spent keeping things streamlined. Organization is important to me, so if it doesn't have a place its not going to stay around long. Another big question I get asked is about toys. My kids toys are kept generally organized. That means that they have bins where their toys go and they're easy to clean up. There aren't a million places where things have to be specifically placed, but all the girl's toys are put together in one big bin in their room that easily slides under the bed. I make it simple so that a four year old can clean up easily and not get stressed. I don't want to look at toys all over my house so they are VERY contained and I work hard so that they don't get out everything at once. Play in one area, then clean it up if you'd like to do something else. This has taken effort but for our sanity I feel it's worth it. During nap time (or if the kids are older, room time) I can either eat my lunch or if I've already eaten I can sneak in a workout. I can do a HIIT workout, run some miles on the treadmill, etc. To be honest it is very rare to find me on the couch during the day. Of course I have days like that (who doesn't) but in order for our family to be happy and healthy that really isn't an option. There isn't time. My time can be better spent organizing something while I have a TV show playing on the tablet, running while I'm watching my latest series, or folding laundry in the living room with my show on. That's my TV time... usually only happens when I am doing something else while it's on.


Once everyone is home from school I let them have an after school snack and we go through backpacks, sorting things out and figuring out what homework needs to be done and papers need to be signed. I keep a handwritten planner because that helps me with appointments and deadlines. If Andrew is home early after work, I will get an outdoor run in. Dinner for the kids is around 5:30, and we are rarely able to eat with the kids. In fact some nights I don't even let the kids eat together, I stagger their meal times because the fighting and noise gets to be too much. Not worth it during this season of life. Since I meal prep I can get their dinners together in about 10 minutes, then it's bath time. The girls are bathed together and then Isaiah afterwards. Baths, maybe a family game or books, bed time snack, teeth brushed, and in bed by 7. They're allowed to watch YouTube in bed with their tablets for a half hour and during that time Andrew and I eat. Again, I meal prep so we rarely eat the same thing. We have a glass of wine and catch up on our days since it's pointless to try to talk until then, and get things together for the morning. I'm nursing the baby and asleep usually by 8:30 because he's up all night and sleep is precious. Then we do it all over again.

So that's how we do it. I can honestly say we've settled into a routine and it's taken time to find what works for our family. This keeps everyone happy and generally healthy. I take time to do things for myself that keep my tank full so that I am able to give as much as possible to my family. It's not selfish to take care of yourself. Check in to make sure you're happy because that's one of the most important things for our children to see.

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