This whole idea of “being on top of your game” in motherhood is a loaded topic. It is also one that I have strong opinions about. And before we get down into it I want to warn you that my opinions are not gently held lambs of encouragement. The friends that mean the most to me are the ones who tell me the truth, even if I don’t like it. I was asked how I do all the things I do (pattern designing, gardening, blogging, at home with 2-under-3) and this series spells it out. I really hope that as you read this you’ll be encouraged not by flowery words, but by the tools that are available to each of us to take charge of our position as “mother”.
Mindset & Method
Before we can dive into the weeds of this topic we need to go in with the right mindset. All versions of motherhood are full-time jobs. If you chose to stay home and raise your children then you chose this version of this job. I am not going repeat the overused quotes and statistics we hear about how hard it is to be a SAHM/WAHM because a) we know them already and b) they aren’t going to help you. I didn’t start to feel accomplished in this roll until I stopped thinking about how hard this is and started thinking about how I could make it easier for myself.
It took a real attitude change for me. I would spend weeks struggling to make it through each day, waiting for whenever I would be motivated enough to actually get ahead of things. Then when I finally turned off The Office and got down to it, my lead would only last for a week or so until I lost motivation again. The cycle would repeat. It wasn’t until I looked around and reminded myself that I signed up for this job. And I had the choice of being a victim of it or making the best of it.
Motherhood is a bit of an entrepreneurial career in that we don’t have anyone to answer to but ourselves. This is why personal responsibility and discipline are so important. My favorite excuse use to be that since I’d had a hard day the day before I deserved to sleep in today. But what would end up happening was sleeping in would turn into not getting dressed, which would turn into not doing chores, which would continue to snowball until all of my responsibilities had piled so high that I had no choice but to spend 3x the energy and manpower to bring them back under control. I finally realized that when I was stressed out and overwhelmed by the work ahead of me there was no one else around to put the blame on. I chose to be the one responsible for babies and home.
It was my job to make it work for me. I had to change my mindset from “I had a bad day yesterday so I deserve rest today” to “I had a bad day yesterday so I should take extra steps today to make sure tomorrow isn’t the same.” Was it a pain? Yes. Did it mean more work on already hard days? Sometimes. But everything you want is on the other side of hard work. And what do we want as mothers? To be able to get through our days without it being impossibly hard.
Alright so I took responsibility for my role as mother, but how do I make it easier on myself? That is where my method comes in. The method doesn’t have a name, but this is how it is executed: take care of me, take care of them. The first way I take care of me is to make myself ready for the job. So that means getting up at 5AM which is insanely early but it gives me time to read my bible and do a little work before breakfast. I get fully dressed for what the day’s work will require. (Sometimes this is jeans, sometimes it’s a more comfortable pair of jogging pants, but never leggings and always something I can leave the house in if necessary.)
Another way I prepare myself for the job is listening to podcasts during the day. I love a good podcast. But I am incredibly picky. I only listen to shows that teach me or encourage me. Some of my favorites for home things are At Home With Sally, Homemaker Chic, and The Daily Gardener. For work and personal growth I like Jocko Podcast, Free Range American (not kid-friendly), CoffeeBreak French, and MindPump. (It didn’t occur to me how many podcasts I listen to until just now – and these are just my favorites.) The point is that when I am consuming media I am always taking in things that push me to be a better person.
Once my kids are up I am prepared to meet their needs rather than being forced to react to their needs. This method is applied throughout the day. The 3 year old will be hungry for dinner by 5pm, I start making dinner around 4. About to run out of clean dishes? Better run the dishwasher after lunch. I am always looking around to see what I can do to keep myself ahead of the needs.
Here’s a situation I used to run into a lot. I often have computer work that can’t wait until naptime. If I try to knock it out “real quick” right after breakfast my 3 year old is going to be interrupting me constantly with questions, requests, and random updates about what her doll is doing. I preempt this in a few different ways. First we do morning chores together right after breakfast; this kills 2 birds with 1 stone, she gets quality time, the chores get done. Then I usually have some sort of read-aloud time where I read a book out loud while she does something creative like coloring. By the time we are done with this she is begging to play with her toys and I get to work (mostly) uninterrupted.
I use all of these tools throughout my day to not only make things easier on myself, but also to create smooth sailing for the rest of my family. My next post will be going into the gritty details of my day and what I do to keep ahead of
everything most things. I wanted to use today to lay down the foundation for how I got to where I am now. Without changing my attitude and mindset I would still be looking around for someone else to help me out.
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