26 June 2013

Spilling Secrets: How I Cram It All In

I read a post written by Mumabulous the other night, which has prompted this blog post from me. In her post, she posed the following question:

 
"All you people who do manage to work, study, look after kids, do housework and maintain a successful blog please spill your secrets. How do you manage? Do you sleep?"
I wanted to reply to her post then and there but, as I was reading it on my phone, commenting seemed to belong in the “too hard basket”.  So I “liked” it on Bloglovin’, which is Francesca code for “comment later when I’m at the computer.”
I was thinking over what my comment would be, until it dawned on me that the comment would be the length of a blog post. And so this post was born (in my mind). Thanks Mumabs for the inspiration!
Now looking at the above question, I confess that I don’t study.  And I’d hardly call my blog “successful” in the scheme of things. But here’s what I do do. (Hehe, I just wrote do-do). I have three kids aged 6, 4 and 1. I have a husband who I enjoy spending time with. I work three days per week. On one of my “home” days I am a co-ordinator at my playgroup. It’s only two hours, but factor in preparing and the ridiculous shortness of the school day and that’s pretty much my day. My other “home day” I do half an hour of helping out at my big girl’s school with her little sisters checking out the scenery and then I hang at home with them or do housework. I blog. I read. I play netball once per week. I wrote a book (I haven’t published it yet, but I’m sitting on my laurels for a while. Why not?).
So yeah, I guess what I’m saying is, I’m busy.

And yes, Mumabs, I do sleep. Not always in my bed – sometimes the floor next to MissyMoo3’s (21 months) cot is as good as it gets if she’s sick and sooky. I’ve also slept on couch cushions on the floor when Felicity and Leopold were visiting my MissyMoos.
But you wanted to me to spill my secrets and I’m rambling.

So, here are my secrets:

Be organised
I’ll admit that I haven’t been as on top of this lately as I have been in the past … and the effects are noticeable. I’ve blogged about time management before (here and here) and while it isn’t the whole answer, I truly believe it is an important component of staying afloat in a busy life. I keep a diary and write everything in it - work and home appointments as well as home tasks - so it's all in the one place and I know what I will be facing each day. I schedule some blog posts knowing that I can't write first thing in the morning during the craziness of getting three little people ready for their day, not to mention getting myself ready for mine.

Routine, routine, routine
Routine isn’t just good for kids; it’s also super useful for the busy parent. We’re all creatures of habit, and keeping a routine can condition you to do things on auto-pilot – in a good way! It means that those mundane but essential tasks aren’t a chore – they’re just what you do without thinking. Just like making school lunches each morning or putting the washing machine on the night before on a delayed cycle to start first thing in the morning. I also have specific tasks for specific days to suit my routine: ironing Sunday nights, blogging Wednesday nights. I can be flexible –for example, in the interests of maintaining the health of my social life, I might blog or iron on a different night ☺

Don’t sit down (except to blog)
You think I’m joking, don’t you? No, seriously, don’t sit down. I mean it. Sitting down just invites trouble. Sitting on the couch invokes a sixth sense in your children through which they detect your idleness and begin making demands of you. You're better off doing something like wiping down the kitchen benchtops - at least that's productive. Sitting up at the table for breakfast is a big no-no too - you'll be climbed on and the little ones will suddenly want to eat your food even though five seconds earlier they had no interest in their own. You're better off standing at the kitchen benchtop and eating there - it's quicker and more nutritious for you. And now you see why it was useful to wipe them down last time you decided not to sit on the couch. Winning!

Be efficient

Whether it be in conversation, confiscation or a household task, try to get the "most" in the way of results with the "least" in the likes of time and effort. This includes housework. I do what needs doing but I don't go overboard. I also give the MissyMoos jobs of their own to do - jobs that actually lighten the load on my back, for example, tidying their rooms each night.

Multi-task

Closely related to efficiency, this is a good one. For example, I read blogs and tweet on my phone while MissyMoo3 is in her cot putting herself to sleep. She wants me near her but doesn't actually want me to do anything for her, so I do stuff for myself. I test MissyMoo1 (6) on her spelling words while I'm washing up her lunch box in the afternoon. I do my ironing in my bedroom, which is also where Hubby watches TV, so we can hang out together at the same time, catch up with each other about our days or anything we want to talk about, and have some down time watching our shows.

Use technology to your advantage

I use Bloglovin' to read blog posts on my phone and "like" the ones I want to comment on or add to Francesca's Festa of Favourites later when I have a block of time at the computer (at night after the MissyMoos are in bed). Phone apps can be amazing time-wasters if you let them, but they can also make life easier.

Find snippets of time for yourself

It's not impossible to have hobbies when you're busy, you just have to be a bit cluey about it. If skydiving is your hobby, you might be in a bit of trouble, but luckily for me, that doesn't float my boat and I can steal precious minutes for my hobbies. I often carry a novel in my mummy-sized handbag which means I can read a couple of pages in the school carpark at afternoon pick-up time while MissyMoo2 (4) is singing along to the radio, or in my lunch break at work. I also have a notebook with me most of the time so I can jot down ideas for blog posts (or a sequel to my novel...?).

Accept defeat, relinquish control

Do you like all the tips you've read so far? Yeah? Well sometimes, it's a load of rubbish. Some days, nothing works. Some days the kids are screaming, clingy, vomiting, soiling clothes, it's raining so the washing won't dry, you forgot to buy an essential ingredient for that night's dinner, you just don't have the energy. Sometimes you order in take-away, use ABC2 as your babysitter, skip the evening bath and put the kids to bed early just to get some peace. And that's okay. You can try to be superwoman. But you're not, you know. Nothing against you personally, but we're human, not superheroes. Accept that, go easy on yourself, and you'll be fine ☺

15 comments:

  1. Well said my friend - you are very wise. I have to be all of these things at the same time! I don't get as much sleep as I would like but then again I don't mind because I LOVE reading blogs! Em x

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    1. I'm not sure about wise - maybe insane for taking so much on is a more apt description! Yeah, sleep is for whimps, Em - go blog reading!

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  2. Oh I love the 'don't sit down' one. That is SO true. I also think boiling the kettle or picking up the phone induce a Pavlovian response in the kids whereby they instantly start demanding food, attention of some kind, or pick a fight with each other. Cheers to you and all the others out there juggling the so-called work/life balance!

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    1. Absolutely, boiling the kettle is like a child alarm!

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  3. I don't sit either! Unless it is 9pm at night on the couch with my laptop!

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  4. Great post and so very true !!! While I don't have little ones, I have realised that if I sit down when I get home from work - it is disaster - especially if A isn't home as it means I won't cook dinner and I won't exercise. I need to do everything that has to be done before I sit down to watch TV/crochet otherwise nothing gets done !
    Have the best day !
    Me
    PS - how did your appraisal go ???

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  5. Oh yeah there's definitely no time to sit! Great tips thank you. I haven't signed up or looked into Bloglovin yet. Will have to check it out!

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  6. Good for you. I think thinking about it makes it in control - of course I can barely keep afloat with anything, so what do I know?!

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  7. Some good points here, I especially have to agree with 'not sitting down' if only because as I get older I sit down for five minutes and it always turns into a quick nanna nap - aaargh!

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  8. I need to take some pointers from you. I am a procrastinator!

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  9. I think I need to make notes!!! Lol, I couldn't agree more on all of these post. I don't think I could cope without routine, routine and I also do spelling test while washing up and hanging washing!! Oh and I tweet or fb on my phone while sitting on the toilet watching the kids in the bath making sure they don't drown!! Great post, thanks for sharing xxx

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    1. We sound very similar in our strategies ;-)

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  10. Cara Francesca, quando guardo indietro alla mia vita mentre crescevo 4 figli e lavoravo a tempo pieno, con zero aiuto da parte di mio marito, certamente facevo tutto quello che fai tu ma ero soprattutto GIOVANE e piena di energia...

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    1. Ma come l'hai fatto senza aiuto?! Senza l'aiuto di mio marito questa casa non funzione! Sono contenta che non abbiamo aspettato per avere la nostra famiglia - essere giovane è veramente un aspetto positivo!

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  11. So now I know where I am going wrong - it is the sitting down ;-)

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