Although I now consider myself to be fairly organized (at least most of the time) this has definitely been a work in progress. Before kids, I had no problem staying on top of work, exercising, and maintaining my house. At the time we rented an apartment that the owner was trying to sell, and we had to keep it show ready every day. It was a breeze. I had plenty of time for dates, dinners, and downtime with the hubby. But of course, as anyone with kids knows, life before children is a no-brainer. It’s almost a mystery how people find things to fill up the days (although I would have been hugely insulted by that at the time – I certainly felt extremely busy, and complained about it at length, probably to the annoyance of my friends with children!).
When I got pregnant with my first child, I naively imagined that I would be exercising within a few weeks, losing all of the baby weight and getting back my abs within four or five weeks. Six at the most! I pictured an idyllic scene wherein I enjoyed my restful maternity leave, glowing and blissful, while my contented, giggling child cooed the day away. I would return to work rested and fabulous (after all, I would have all that time to do manis, pedis, and plenty of shopping). I would have time to do all the projects we needed to get done in our newly purchased home, not to mention the home cooked meals I would have ready for my husband when he walked in the door.
So, as you may have guessed, my idyllic little fantasy was swiftly shattered. I gained over 80 pounds with the pregnancy, and returned to work a few months later with at least 30 of them hanging around my waist and arms. It’s a little surprising I didn’t lose more, considering I spent my entire waking moments pushing a stroller in a figure of eight around our house, the only (semi) proven method to calm my screaming, colicky baby. And the only cooked meals my husband arrived home to were the TV dinners still sitting in the microwave from lunchtime.
I’ll skip over most of the gory details of my firstborn’s infancy, and just give you some highlights – my husband became a stay at home dad during the day, and works his full time job at night. Shortly after returning from maternity leave with my firstborn, I took a new job and a big promotion. A while later I got pregnant again, and swiftly added to that left over baby weight. I swore that this time, things would be different. In a way they were…baby number two was a happy, sleepy baby and fit right in to our family. Adding a second child seemed so easy…and yet I still couldn’t get to grips with a single area of my life!
Being more of a researcher - ok, ok, a procrastinator - I spent a lot of time looking for ways to be more organized. I spent hours googling all kinds of systems, tips, and tricks and yet I really couldn’t find anything that actually helped.
In my search I found a lot of articles encouraging me to “just let things go” and “stop trying to be perfect”. But I wasn’t trying to be perfect, I could barely stay on top of the essentials. You know, things like making it to my kids’ activities on time and still getting those important projects done for work, while somehow actually watching said activities and not getting stressed every time I fought off the urge to check the relentlessly buzzing Blackberry. Forget about actually enjoying the moment.
I’m not even going to mention the disaster that was my house during this time. The laundry room quickly turned into a dumping ground for clothes, a wasteland through which you would have to dig through the 3ft piles to find a sweater. I can’t even tell you the sheer amount of time I wasted on a daily basis just looking for items of clothing. Shoes were sprawled in the shoe closet, and every morning before work I would spend at least 5 minutes searching for the missing half of a pair before realizing the toddler had stashed it behind the couch. A teething baby had bitten chunks of wall off my windowsill while the other scribbled in permanent marker on their shoes. I cleaned, straightened and organized the house from top to bottom on numerous occasions, only for it to return to a war zone by the end of the week.
I “never had time” for exercise, hadn’t had a date night for months, and we would randomly forget to pay bills which had sunk to the bottom of the “to do” piles on the kitchen counter. Our finances were a mess because we never knew what charges were pending or how much was really left in our account. It was an exhausting way to live. I wondered, often, about people who seemed to have it all. I couldn’t imagine how they managed to fit everything into the day. Even with my husband doing far more than 50% of the household chores and childcare, I could not get to grips with it. I tried flylady, and other organization methods without success, and I got frustrated.
Eventually, over the last year, I have found a way to “have it all” (well, kinda!). Through trial, error, and sheer dumb luck, I have ended up in a place where my house is always clean, tidy, and company ready. I found a way to prioritize my kids so that I can be there for their important events and spend good, quality time with them on a daily basis. I’m on top of my work and feel good about my contribution to the company, am in the process of fixing my finances, and I even find time to squeeze in some daily exercise and regular date nights with my husband. I’m hoping to use this blog to share what I have done in case it can help someone else. When I was looking for a solution, I was desperate to find something that would work for me. I never found it…so I’m writing it myself. I was so used to feeling that mom guilt, employee guilt, financial guilt, and getting organized has helped me to be free of those feelings for at least 5 or 10 minutes a day : )
I will be sharing the ways in which I have organized my life, diet, finances, schedule, work, kids, marriage and more, and I hope to hear from others too because this is definitely a path I’m still learning. I’ll be including tips for making extra money that won’t impact your home life, legal and informational resources to ensure your employer is providing the family friendly policies you’re entitled to, and tips for date nights even if you don’t have, or cant afford, a babysitter.
However - it remains to be seen whether I’m organized enough to fit in this blog!