Wednesday, February 04, 2009

How DO I do it?

I get this question quite often lately. It usually goes something like this, "Wow! How do you find time to (fill in sew, read for pleasure, exercise) with 3 boys, work, grad school. . . .???"
HA! I usually respond with some smarty pants remark like, "I just don't sleep."

And let me tell you, sometimes that is the truth. . .however, I do have some secrets that don't require a big, red cape or an "S" inscribed in my chest. Also, you'll soon discover that there really isn't a Big Secret. Here's how:
  • I DON'T CLEAN my own house - we discovered that every 2 weeks is about the timeframe it takes for things to get beyond what even we can tolerate (hello, I have 3 boys - 4 if you count the 35 year old - & that means bathrooms get WAY nasty) - and I have a HUGE phobia of toilets in the first place (no, I don't crouch outside to do my business - but we're talking cleaning closeness here people). Not cleaning my house shaves off 4-5 hours of time at least - and yes, someone else cleans it for us.
  • USE DAYCARE I work 2 twelve hour day shifts a week & my youngest still goes to "school" 3 days a week. This 3rd day is my school day. Of course, sometimes this gets all messed up when I have a 3rd day of training - but I digress. . . there is a fair amount of punting that goes on.
  • SIMPLIFY MEALS - lately we've had our fair share of frozen pizza, subs & the like for quick meals. However, crock pots come in handy. A husband who is great at preparing food in the morning is also a wonderful asset. I try not to compromise health for the sake of convenience, however, as this leads to many other issues I won't get into right now.
  • PLAN & put on the SCHEDULE: FAMILY time, DATE night, out of the ordinary work & life comittments. This is so important. If something isn't on my calendar - it just isn't happening.
  • COMMUNICATION!!!!! with your spouse or support person. This is vital. Too many times my plan has gone down the crapper due to incommunicado. . (not sure if that word is appropriate there. ..but it sounds cool). I'm guilty for this as well. . . . I have a thought about how I think things should work out but fail to communicate that to my dear husband & as things would have it, he has other thoughts & then we end up butting heads & nothing actually gets done. Not good. I don't advise this. TALK, E-MAIL, WRITE NOTES (I like having proof of said communication so the written form is nice)
  • FLEXIBILITY. Not talking about not sticking with the plan here people. . .there are limits to how flexible you should allow everything to be - if you're TOO flexible, simple things can get in the way of your plan & throw the entire thing out of whack. That can lead to pure whackiness & that's no good. Be flexible but - and here is another one:
  • LEARN TO SAY "NO" - simple fact is that we can't do it all. We cannot be all things to all people at all times. At first, this felt uncomfortable. CAN I do something? Maybe. But by doing that something will I be putting other important plans in jeopardy? Even if it's sanity that you're putting in jeopardy - rethink it. We don't need to be at everyone's beck & call. There is someone else that can plan the PTO fundraiser, the neighborhood bash, the Bible study group. Take a step back to prioritize. If you must, help out with simple tasks but don't volunteer for bigger ones. Remember, things will get done without you & all will be happy. . . .and you might get some sleep!
  • Tune out the DISTRACTIONS. This one is my challenge. The phone rings - try not to answer it. Caller ID, answering machines, voicemail. . . that's what they're there for people! Facebook, email, etc. . ..electronic distractions are big ones too. . . . don't look at them. Set times to return calls, check & respond to email, linger on facebook. I know, I'm still struggling with this one. . .
  • Have a STRESS OUTLET!!!! Need I say more? Arguing with your loved one is not a good way to deal with stress. In fact, it can ADD to stress. . EXERCISE, PRAY, MEDITATE, do what you must to have a regular outlet for your stress. I'm going to do the exercise & pray thing. . trust me, exercise will require praying. Remember to SCHEDULE THIS!

Some of these things will require resources. If you don't have the resources to hire a cleaning lady or use extra daycare - come up with a bartering plan. Can you reduce the time you spend cleaning by having others help? Can you "lend" your children to a neighbor, friend or family member so they can help entertain their children? Be resourceful. People are generally able & willing to help you once they know what your goal is. Be ready for paybacks.

So, do you have something you WANT to take on? Wondering how you will fit it into your already very busy life? The key here is WANT. If you don't really want something - it just isn't going to happen. Make a plan. Surround yourself with people who can help you achieve your plan & share it with them. Then DO IT! This isn't a dress rehearsal people. . .it's life! You have one go around. If you're not doing something you have always wanted to do. . . figure out if you really want to do it. . . then plan & DO IT!!! (disclaimer: don't be reckless or stupid with that advice. I take no responsibility for anyone leaving their family & joining a traveling circus - unless that has always been your dream. . .just saying - no blaming me.)

That said - I need to fluff my cape - I'm off to work my plan!