Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Falling to pieces

Where is the right balance? Between keeping everything in the air, and just letting everything fall to pieces?

Today has been busy pretty typical. Here is my day so far:
06:30- wake up, shower, take care of referee kids while showering and getting ready
07:00- breakfast. Pancakes for Jack and Aidan, cereal for Abigail, egg omelet for me.
07:30- get kids dressed, brush teeth, referee.
08:00- start laundry, empty dishwasher and load it up again, put away folded clothes.
08:30- get kids bags ready, prepare a decent snack for each, pack bag with change of clothes.

**in between all this I take one or both boys to the potty about every 15 min, which involves taking off all clothing, using potty, getting re-dressed

08:45- negotiate appropriate dress for Abigail to wear, get every ones shoes on, re-pack bags that someone got into and spilled everywhere. Find shoes. Negotiate Abigail's shoe choice.
09:00- get them in the car, chase Jack around the house and get him in the car, buckle 3 car seats, find and distribute toys, because heaven forbid we sit in the car for 5 min. with no toys. Referee arguments over who got which toy and who wanted the toy that someone else got.
09:30- Take them into their gymnastics class. Drop each off, say goodbye, make sure they each have the right bag.
09:45- begin errands. Attend a meeting, go to Lowe's, find just the right vent cover that was the wrong size when I got home and will have to be exchanged tomorrow. Go to the grocery store to get the one ingredient that I forgot yesterday.
11:30- show up an hour early to observe the gymnastics class. I wanted to verify that they were actually doing gymnastics, since yesterday the only things the kids could tell me they had done was eat snack, play duck-duck-goose and watch tv. Making sure I am getting my moneys worth. I was able to see them doing many gymnastic-type activities, and now I feel much better about sending them.
12:30- collect each from their class. Put shoes on, clean up spill from Abigail digging through Aidan's bags to get his leftover snack while I was putting on shoes. Go to the potty, get everyone re-dressed.
12:50- arrive home, cook hot dogs and cut-up veggies for lunch. Referee. Help with potty. Throw some food down my own throat. Make sure everyone has equal amounts of ketchup, mustard, and veggie dip. Unless they don't like ketchup, in that case, make sure that No! Ketchup! Touches their plate!
1:15- clean up lunch, empty dishwasher, reload. Change laundry over. Set up a quiet activity at the table (putting together nuts, bolts and washers)
1:25- put away cool activity, since they had no interest in it and are now taking all the toys and throwing them over the deck.
1:30- put together train toy for Aidan, since he is flipping out and can't do it himself.
1:45- put away train toy since Aidan is now ripping it apart and throwing the pieces all over his room and making dents and holes in the walls.
2:00- find swimsuits, put them on, referee, gather pool toys, sunscreen, floats, towels, get myself ready.
2:20- get them in the car (see above)
2:30- arrive at pool, put sunscreen on all 3 while trying (unsuccessfully) to keep them from getting it themselves and spilling/spreading it everywhere.
3:45- force get them out of the pool, change into dry clothes, gather pool toys, floats, sunscreen. Set up towel with snack and drinks. Get shoes on. Get myself dressed.
4:00- get them in the car.

I will pause here. Around 2:00, I checked my phone messages, and there was someone from church who wanted to meet with me. Tonight. Since Kydon is out of town, I could meet, but only if we did it at my house. I called her back and left her that message. So while I am doing all of the above, in the back of my mind I am thinking about what to do to have this meeting at my house. I *have* to clean the bathroom. Totally embarrassed if someone needed to use it, and it was as dirty as it is. I would need to clean up all the toys/clothes/shoes/various crap from the front room and the toy room (basically one big room). I should vacuum, but I doubt that would happen. Dishes needed to be done AGAIN. And I need to run some sort of wet cloth over the kitchen floor, to clean up all the spaghetti sauce that I didn't clean up last night. They would probably be coming over about 6 or 7 (I still hadn't heard back, so I was needing to be ready), so I now had 2 hours to get the kids home, changed, cook and serve dinner, read books, drink their milk, get in pj's, and settle them down for bed. THEN do all of the above cleaning.

How in the world do you do that? The answer is you don't. I could have normally had the meeting in my dining room, which is usually the one room I can pretty much keep always clean, but right now I am in the middle of painting, and it is a huge mess in there.

So, to continue my day:
4:10- decide to get fast food for dinner, and told the kids if they helped me clean up when we got home I would also give them cookies.
4:30- arrive home, clean out the food from the car, throw away 1.75 hamburgers, all the chicken nuggets, and 90% of the french fries. Fume.
4:45- Start on dishes, try to convince kids to help. Flip out when Abigail decides to help by dumping out a huge bin of toys.
5:00- call the girl from church, and get the news that they will find another time to meet. Whew.

5:20- finish some basic pickup, give the kids their cookies (no, they didn't earn them, but I was not up to dealing with the fits).
5:30- pajamas, milk, read books. Referee. Potty. Repeat.
6:00- convince cajole carry the kids one by one upstairs to their beds. Read a few more books, and get all stern to get them to stay in their beds.
6:20- all are asleep, and here I am.

Still to do: work on painting the dining room (at least do some taping and prep for tomorrow), dishes, clean the afore-mentioned spaghetti sauce, email, make some phone calls for upcoming adoption conference, clean up the toys from the deck-throwing incident, find something to eat for my dinner, since I was good and didn't eat the fast food crap, and workout on the bike.

So despite my busy-ness, I have been thinking all day about balance, and juggling all the many roles I have. I want my house to be in order. I want to say "sure, come over and have a meeting here", and only have a few things to pick up/put away. I don't want an impromptu visit from someone to make me cringe with embarrassment at the state of my bathrooms. I feel more at peace in a clean, organized home. And Kydon really wants our house to be clean. It makes him a little crazy to come home to chaos. But we have 3 kids. Who are young. And destructive. And (shall we say) spirited. I like them that way. I'm glad they have spunk and spirit and wildness. But it does make for a messy house. I don't mind messes here and there. Clutter, if not out of control, is ok. But the dirt and grime and dust have got to go.

I have a quote hanging on my wall that says "My house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy". I love that idea. But where is that line? How much time do I spend cleaning? Nurturing? Playing? Cooking? Taking care of myself? All these things are important to me. How do I balance them? I want my house to be clean. I want to be a full-time mom, and do fun things with my kids. I want them to enjoy life, and not stress about any little mess they might be making. I want to give them good, healthy, home-cooked food.

But where do I find the time? We are done with naps. No one goes to school. This week they are in gymnastics camp, but it is just this one week from May-August. I am struggling to find the time and/or energy to do all these things!

So please, leave me a comment and tell me how you find balance! How you juggle all the many tasks you have! How you find time for all the things that are important to you. How you find the time to nurture those you love. Help! :)


Kydon said...

Hey, my phone call didn't make the list!

I'll add it for you.

2:10 - Talk to Kydon on the cell phone on the way to the pool.

Colleen said...

I hate to tell you this, but that is what life is all about. You are the juggler and you can't hold all the balls at the same time. The key is figuring out which balls need to be in the air, which ones in your hands, and which ones can be shoved under the couch until tomorrow! You do that through pray, and following the promptings of the Spirit, as well as your own common sense!

Melinda & Matt said...

I always try to remember something I heard when I was in college "You can have everything--you just can't have it all at once". I like to remember that when I am feeling overwhelmed with things...some days cleaning is my priority and the kids are a little neglected--other times it is running the kids around to climbing, or t-ball or going swimming and the cleaning just has to wait for another day...

Adam and Lisa said...

I struggle with this too! Even just one can throw you off! I used to try to do all my cleaning all the time and feel like everything had to be cleaned every day. Now, I just do one job every day. If there is time for more, great. If not, at least I know I folded one batch of laundry or vaccumed downstairs or cleaned our toilet. Somedays, the task is just emptying the dishwasher and starting a new load. I like mom and Melinda's comments too. Remember, clean is in the eye of the beholder. I always think your house looks so good compared to mine. And this is when I don't have kids messing it up! Nobody to blame but me (and maybe DH!). And I think in the end, your kids will remember more about the fun days at the pool and playing with each other and you more than some random person from church will remember if your bathroom was clean or not. I know that doesn't fix it, but I think the perspective helps.

The Petersons said...

With your current "situation" I'd say you are doing just fine! Just reading this post makes me tired. You'll have plenty of time for cleaning later in your life when your kids are a little older. And, I don't think anyone would judge you over a messy house especially knowing you have three small children. I know I would expect it and think it was a little strange if everything was spotless. Just do what you can and forget about the rest! I'm just enjoying the fact that my "baby" still takes naps. My house would be a disaster right now if he didn't.

Rebecca said...

I don't have advice because I'm right there too. Balance is hard to achieve. Throw in being on your own for a few weeks like you have and you just have to hold on and go with it. I like what all the other commenters said.

By the way, I am sitting here at midnight because I can't sleep and I probably should do something useful since there is laundry to fold and the floor is dirty. Instead, I read your blog :)

Lisa said...

Wow, Shanna, I got tired just reading about your day. I thought I was busy!

I think I go in cycles with balance. It feels like I am constantly reassessing what our needs are and how to manage it all. I think that's the way it should be. Nothing stays static--life is always changing.

I can say that I probably don't go out with my kids as much as you do (if this was anywhere near a typical day). We are homebodies. If I do an outing in the morning, like taking Dallin to the summer movie that the school sponsors, you can bet that's our only outing for the day. I was amazed that you did gymnastics camp AND swimming in the same day. So I would say that this is one area where I've chosen order and a bit more simplicity over making memories and being the "fun" mom. But there's no right way. It's just a matter of choice.

And if we do have day where we are doing something fun that takes us away from home for an extended length of time, nothing else gets done. The house will be trashed, etc. I guess I don't try to do it all on a daily basis, but I do try to plan time on a weekly basis to cover all the bases. Monday is my big cleaning day, and I try not to plan any outside activities on that day. Fridays we often go into the city to shop and do errands, so not much cleaning or other activities happen on that day.

amy said...

such a great blog. WHen we get home from China we are going to be in trouble!!!

You get your kids in bed by 6:20, how?

What time do they do get up

Shanna said...

Thanks for all the comments! It is about choices, I just need to remember more about life being in 'stages'!

Lisa, I usually stay home a lot more. Typical is usually 3 outings a week. Since Kydon is out of town, I am trying to keep the days busy so that the time goes quicker, and also so they are really tired and bedtime is a little easier!

Amy, the early bedtime is one of the best things we have ever done. We started when the boys were not quite one, and every time we try to make it later, we regret it. We usually do more like 6:30-6:45, but I did it a little earlier due to no naps and a lot of activity. They usually wake up between 6 and 6:30, which I am amazingly getting used to.

Shanna said...

Oh, and mom, good ideas! I just need a little more room under the couch to throw some balls! :)

And Rebecca, you notice that will all the things to do I still took time to to write a really long and detailed blog post, LOL!

Lisa said...

3 outings a week still seems like a lot--we do more like 1 a week. I think you're doing great, though! I wish I was more like that. Part of it is that we live in a small town and aren't close to many places to go on outings (especially with gas like it is).

My saving graces are 1)nap time (even though I'm lucky to get 1 hour) and 2) that Dallin is old enough that he spends 4-5 hours a day playing with neighbor friends.

Mary Kate said...

I remember one time the pest control person was over spraying the house. She was looking at the kitchen counter for a place to write on as she filled out my ticket....ummmm....there wasn't one! And I only had one child! Don't know why I shared that with you but maybe it made you feel better:) I have gotten better about keeping them clean since then! (at least when the bugman comes calling!)

One thing that helps me find balance is to not worry about what I can't do. I have learned to just not worry about the dirty bathroom or messy floor(or countertops). About 2% of the visitors notice stuff like that and the ones who remember aren't your friends! I have also learned to say "no"....which isn't always easy!

Give yourself credit for what you are doing and hire a maid! :) you deserve one for sure!! Not saying you need one but I sure could!

Lisa said...

Speaking of maids...have you ever considered hiring a cleaning service? My sister-in-law, who is VERY frugal and far from wealthy, has a housekeeper come in once a week. I think she actually hired someone in her ward who needed some extra money, so she's not paying as much as she would for an "official" cleaning service.

When my dh was put in the bishopric, she sat me down and told me that I needed to do whatever I had to do to make my life easier, even if it meant spending a little money. That's why I hire a company to come and fertilze my lawn and stuff, and I don't feel the least bit guilty for not doing it myself. That's why my sister-in-law has a housekeeper.

Astarte said...

I think the whole concept of 'balance' was put out there by Oprah to make everyone worried so they'd watch her show more to find out how to get it. I think it's impossible to be balanced when you have three small children, when children are the DEFINITION of imbalance!

For me, though, staying as in-balance as I can means cutting down on what I do during the day. If it feels like a stretch to get X,Y and Z done, then I only do X and Y. Rushing around is so un-zen, and all it does is make me feel pissy and throw off everything else. It took me a long time to accept that things don't all have to be accomplished NOW, and I really do try to live by that, even if it means saying 'no' to people or re-scheduling things until later, like that woman from your church. It was unreasonable of her to expect you to be able to drop everything and have her over at the last minute, anyway.

Valeni said...

I enjoyed reading the comments people gave. I agree with all of them and know everyone has a different insight and perspective on this age old problem of balancing life. I like what Colleen said, "remember to pray and follow the Spirit as we go through our busy days." The scriptures say not to run faster than we have strength, so don't expect too much of yourself and remember to enjoy this time while the kids are small. I often wish I had my children back to spoil a little more and give more individual attention. I wish I had done that more... Anyway, You are doing great. They are so cute and fun to be with. All this hard work is paying off. Love you all!

Sue @ My Party of 6 said...

That is an exhausting read... and yet, very similar to my own day (except for that early bedtime - DARN I wish I had done that!)... I don't know how to do it. Many days I don't feel like I do it right at all. Some days I have the kid thing under control, other days I have the house under control. It's never both on the same day though!