Maybe you have one child. Maybe you have six. Maybe you are pregnant with your first, but already know you will stay home with the baby. Our tasks are never ending, and our homes are never spotless. Let us pause for a moment and give praise to God for the blessing of being at home with our babies. It doesn’t matter if your family makes enough money so that you are at home and comfortable or if your family makes great sacrifices, we are all blessed to be able to personally witness each and every milestone our children make. Maybe this is not an “ultimate” list. Nonetheless, it is a list of things I deem necessary to keeping a happy home, and my sanity, as a stay-at-home-mom.
1. To-Do Lists
This is a given, but let’s evaluate it’s importance in the home. Currently, I have a dry-erase calendar on my fridge, a small pocket calendar in my purse, and written to-do list on my kitchen counter. The dry-erase calendar is, by far, the family’s communication hub. Let’s face it, we are way too busy. Even on the days when we don’t leave the house we are just busy. I will often forget to tell my husband about plans made or upcoming events. This way, we can all see what’s planned and what’s coming up. He has often said, “I see we have such-and-such on Wednesday night, do I need to ask my mom to keep the kids?” Having everything in one central place allows us to keep tabs on helping one another. Also, don’t be afraid to put common household items on there. One or two, or four, weeks of house cleaning have gotten away from me, before. When that happens I will literally pencil in “CLEAN HOUSE” on a day we don’t have anything planned. That way we actually make a plan to get it done.
My pocket/purse calendar is just a carbon copy of the main calendar. The only reason I keep it is for when I am out and about and make an appointment. That way I can just transfer it over to the fridge when I get home. It has also come in handy when I am out of the house and my husband calls to ask if we have plans for a particular date. I can quickly check to see….with the disclaimer that, “I will double check the fridge when I get home, but my pocket calendar says No.”
The written to-do list is already a household basic. My life revolves around lists. I have literally made a list of all the lists I need to make. With that said, be sure to take a few moments to mentally organize what you would like to accomplish for the day and WRITE IT DOWN! I find that the best time, for me, to do this is at night right before bed. Writing the list before bed helps me do two things: include items that I didn’t complete the current day; and empty my ever-running mental to-do list before going to sleep. I don’t know about you but there are always items that I never had the time to do and cross off my daily to-do list. I usually evaluate if it’s something I really need to do, versus just wanted to do. If it’s something I actually need to do I will put it on the next days list. (Side note: Don’t be afraid to put small detailed items on your list. If you were supposed to call your best friend three days ago to catch up, make it a priority and put them on the list! I always get too busy and forget to make tea. When that happens I’ll put it on the list. You get the point.) Making the list at night really helps me sleep better. Have you ever lay awake at night thinking of all the things you need to do the next day? You, too? For some reason, I have found that writing those things down helps tell my mind that I have prepared to tackle them and can now not think about them. It seriously eases my mind. I highly recommend making your to-do lists before bed.
2. Have-Done List
Don’t tell me you haven’t heard of this. Actually, scratch that. I hope you haven’t heard of the have-done list. That way you will have learned something from this blog. I’ve already mentioned how much I love lists. The have-done list is my very very favorite. No matter how much I support and understand the to-do list, the have-done list will be the one that saves my sanity at the end of the day. My husband is amazing. He works so hard so that I can stay at home with our children. I try, but let’s be honest, I could never repay him for that. Yes, I sacrifice a lot (my time, my multiple degrees, my career, myself, etc.) but I cannot put a price tag on this season of being home with my children. But…I am willing to bet that your spouse has come home from a long day’s work and ask you “what you did today.” Nothing would get under my skin more, than this question. I immediately wanted to respond with, “What did I do all day?! Keep your children alive, clean up spill after spill, fight a kicking and screaming child while changing their soiled diaper, watch Elmo all-freaking-day, etc. etc.” But I choose not to. Instead, I would usually respond with, “Oh, you know, I was a mommy all day.” After a while of wanting to claw my husband’s face off, in response to this daily question, I started realizing that he was just being polite. He was just asking me how my day was. It’s not the way I prefer he ask, but still. Why was I being so defensive? Why didn’t I have a list of things that I felt were significant enough to tell him? I think it’s because I didn’t feel like the torture of watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse ten times in a row was enough to satisfy his request when he had been at a “real job” satisfying a boss and leading a team as a manager. And to be honest, I couldn’t remember what I really did all day…..I mean, what DID I do? So one day, I quit letting my to-do list stare me in the face, at the end of the day, with only one or two items crossed off. Instead, I put a sheet of paper on the refrigerator and started writing down everything I did. I still had a to-do list to help guide me throughout the day, but I found that the list of what I was actually doing was MUCH longer than the list of things I had planned to do. I think my first have-done list had almost 25 items on it.
My husband came home that afternoon with his usual question and, with a smile on my face, I got to point him to a list. I can’t describe to you the feeling of hearing him say, “Are you serious? You really did all this today? While watching the kids?” Success! It had some really silly stuff on it, like : made tea, unloaded dishwasher, loaded dishwasher, wiped down all door knobs and light switches, changed diaper geanie, organized children’s books/puzzles, etc. Looking at a list of what all kept me busy throughout the day was liberating. No matter how insignificant it was. It gave light to “what I did all day.” I will never spend another day without a running have-done list. I highly recommend you make it part of your daily routine. Speaking of routine…
I have a confession to make. This is my current weak spot. God blessed us with a beautiful new tax deduction a couple of months ago. She is simply amazing. Since she was born I have yet to get back to a permanent routine. I am trying. But, for purposes of this blog, I cannot express how important a schedule is. Children thrive on them! You don’t have to be so regimented that they panic at the slightest off-set. As a matter of fact, I recommend routine non-routine days in your schedule. Pick a day of the week where you and the kids all know there is no time-flow to their activities for the day (with the exception of things that always need to be at a specific time- meals, naps, bedtime- whatever applies to your family). Think of your day like a kid’s school day: there is a specific time they need to wake up in order to be ready and at school on time, they have specific times for certain subjects/activities, there is a specific snack time, more subject time, lunch time, play time, nap time, go home time, snack time, homework time, chore time, reading time, family time, bedtime. You get the idea. Having a schedule keeps your days from slipping away from you.
There have been plenty days that I have looked up at the clock only to see that it’s 3:30 p.m. and my kids are still running a muck in their pajamas, with appropriate bed-heads. Ugh. Thirty minutes ago it was just 9:00 a.m. When I first started scheduling my day, I quickly learned the art of setting alarms. They didn’t include the sound of an obnoxious morning alarm clock, but instead sounded like a pleasant reminder that it was time for a change of scenery. (Tip: Scroll through the many alarm sound options on your phone and choose one that is pleasant.) After I started setting alarms for my schedule I figured out that I needed a warning alarm, with a different sound, to help tell me that it was time to wrap up what we were doing, because the next item was just 5-10 minutes away. Some kids actually need this transitional warning. It’s like hearing a teacher say, “In five minutes we’re going to the lunch room, be sure to start wrapping up your projects.”
……Okay, HUGE confession time here. I wrote everything you just read back in February of 2016. Almost an entire year ago. And I’m here to tell you one thing.
You. Need. Alcohol.
Love in the real world,
Your Mediocre Mom