A new school year is approaching, and with it comes contemplation of how in the world I'm going to tackle the next several months. I have a lot of juggling ahead of me: three children in school (including a dramatic and emotional almost-teenager who would be involved in every activity imaginable if we let her), blogging, new photography business, and starting my master's degree program. Which then leads me to wonder what exactly is wrong with me. Clearly I am insane to take on all of that, willingly. And yet, I am taking it on. And I know I will make it work somehow. I will pull it off by using one very simple, and yet very significant, approach.
Every year in late August I do a little survey of how things have been going, and how I envision the school year going. An important part of my own preparation for the first day of school is setting up a routine for the household. I think about what went well last year, and what didn't go well, and I usually think about all the tips I've read concerning how to manage my time. And then I throw it all out the window.
All of those ideas, tips, and life hacks are great. I'm positive they work for many people. But the reality is, I need to set up a routine that works for me and my family, which might fly in the face of what the popular opinion is. For example, I've read a lot about the value in getting up early and doing something just for you first thing in your day. This idea makes a lot of sense to me. I think it's a great idea. And I know it works beautifully for many people. But I'm not a morning person. I haven't been a morning person since the day I started Kindergarten. So for me, getting up extra early in the morning doesn't work. It's just not sustainable. Believe me, I've tried. I love the idea, in theory. But I know myself, and I do my best work late in the evening. So why would I pull myself out of bed at the crack of dawn and be exhausted and miserable by 10:00 in the morning, just because it works for someone else?
You see, my friend, it's your day, your family. Your life. You get to decide how to spend it. You can plan your days however you want to. You can also choose NOT to do something if it doesn't matter to you. My husband and I make our bed when company comes over. That's it. The rest of the time, we really don't care. We also don't require our children make their beds. It's just not important to us. They have other chores and we do enforce those. I'm aware that making beds is a big deal to many people, and that's totally fine. As Amy Poehler says, "Great for you. Not for me." We do, however, require that our children put their own clean clothes away. Even our four-year-old can do it by himself. They also strip the sheets off their own beds and put the sheets into the washing machine on Saturday morning. My husband and I decided that those tasks were important for them to learn. But you don't have to do that. You do what works for your family.
Learning to listen to, and trust, my intuition has been a lot of trial and error. I've tried a lot of approaches in the past. I can't even tell you how many schedules I have spent a great deal of time creating, only to throw them out because they didn't work for me or my family. I have wasted money on white boards and printables, when I was certain this THIS time it was going to stick. And sometimes, honestly, I do stumble on one that really does do the trick. It actually happens a lot more now, because I've learned to honor what I know about myself, husband, and children.
I don't have confidence in my ability to manage everything because I am just so great at juggling. I'm not. This isn't about me bragging that I can "do it all". I can't. It's me being realistic about what really matters to me, and what doesn't. I know that this school year, my laundry will never ever be caught up. My house may not get dusted even once. My children will probably watch way too much television, and we will order about five times the amount of pizza that we should. I'm deciding right now that I'm not going to stress about it. Because if we are ordering pizza and not dusting so we can cuddle together under a blanket on the couch, then all is well with me.
The next time you are feeling overwhelmed by having a lot on your plate, and you don't know how on earth you are going to manage it, do yourself a favor: close your eyes, locate the kind voice in your head (tell the critical one to shut up) and do what it says. Forget what anyone else says. It's not that they are wrong--they aren't. They are living their life the best way they know how. Great for them. But you are not living their life. You are living yours. Go live it, the best way YOU know how.
It's nice to meet you! Welcome to my blog. My name is Amy, and my husband and I have three lively kids. We are so happy to share our journey with you. Come along as we learn to embrace the messiness of life, and maybe chase a dream or two along the way.