My Brain, My Life: Before M.O.M. Snapshot

I haven’t posted since my ENFP-in-desperation bit about a month and a half ago. I’m still desperate. So desperate, in fact, that I’ve taken a little leap and signed up for the Mind Organization for Moms e-course offered by Power of Moms. I’ve had at least one person recommend it, and have read many other testimonies and recommendations over the past couple of years from women who have tried it and had great success with it.

I need success. I need a miracle!

So before I even crack this e-course open, I’m posting my “before photos.” I’ve actually taken photos in the past of my kitchen buried in stacks of dishes waiting to be washed, my bedroom/office hidden under piles of laundry and boxes of papers and overflowing shelves, etc. thinking it might motivate me to make the changes necessary to live a more organized and less stressed life. But because I have no idea where I’ve saved those photos, sorry–none to show right now!

Instead, this is a “verbal snapshot” of my life at present, and what I hope to achieve with this e-course.

I think the title of the course is in itself totally appropriate: mind organization! At this very moment my brain is so clogged with its daily swirl of details about every area of my and my family’s life that I’m finding it difficult to focus enough to even write a cohesive blog post! So please forgive the erratic stream-of-consciousness journaling style of this post. Maybe in a few weeks’ time I’ll have enough margin in my brain to think and write more clearly and concisely! (At least that is my hope.)

For now, I’m battling almost momentary overload, constantly feeling I’m forgetting important details as I rove through my day, and crashing each night wishing I could somehow tame the to-dos in my head. And I’m getting really sick of saying to my children, “Not right this minute…” “Maybe in a while…” “I can’t right now, sweetie…” because I feel so overwhelmed by the tasks of managing this household. Not to mention the weight of guilt every time I knock on my husband’s office door asking him to bail me out of my latest organizational gaffe!

I’m a SAHM. I tried working full time two years ago, when we had a three-year-old and an eight-month old. That lasted about six months before my husband and I decided it was stupid. Every family has to make tough choices sometimes, and for us, the choice of whether I should work outside the home while our boys are little is a “no”–or as little as possible. It just doesn’t work for us.

So now that we have three boys (5, nearly 3, and 14 months), I teach writing one morning per week to a small group of homeschoolers. I love it. It invigorates me. I make a bit of money to add to the pot. However. Reviewing and marking (or grading) student writing is not my favorite thing. Admin is not my favorite thing. Pinning myself down to do these two chores is a tricky task, so even the bliss of my one morning of teaching each week is somewhat clouded by my lack of organization and the strain it puts on me physically–not to mention the tension it creates in our household when I’m trying to juggle my teaching work with household tasks and caring for the boys, and then my husband steps in to help, and then I feel guilty…

My husband is a self-employed solo musician who works from home. He is not a huge fan of small children in general, and while he dearly loves ours, they do stress him out quite a bit. His ideal work environment is a cold, dark, silent room only lit by his computer screen and filled only with the sounds of the music he’s creating or rehearsing. In our current situation, this is virtually impossible. Mainly because we have the three loudest boys (especially the youngest) in the Southern Hemisphere. Pretty sure.

Why do I mention all this? Because I constantly feel this tension between the need to care for, teach, train, and entertain our pack of puppies and the need to keep our household running in a clean and orderly manner so that both I and my working-from-home husband can enjoy a bit of sanity.

Currently that is not the case. In my idealist imagination I can picture what it would look like if I could only enact the plans and strategies I’ve concocted (usually while waiting for one or more children to fall asleep at bedtime), but rarely do I find the energy or time to implement them.

Instead, I move through my days in a sleep-deprived fog (despite making the most of 2-3 cups of coffee each morning), just barely keeping my nose above water. Things I’d like to implement on a regular basis include:

– a cleaning routine

– meal planning

– freezer cooking

– chore system for the boys (well the older two at this stage)

– laundry routine

– daily rhythms like a morning routine/midday “quiet time”/evening routine (for me–the boys already sort of have at least morning/evening routines that we’ve followed from the start, though there’s room for improvement I think)

– devotional time (personal and family)

– weekly scheduling for our family such that there exist:

– regularly scheduled times for my teaching work

– regular slots in which Shane and I can collaborate on music and/or his business

– regular dates with Shane

– regular dates with each of the boys for Shane and for me

– creative times for me to do things like write, sing, craft, draw, paint…

– not to mention social events like coffee with a friend–something I currently feel guilty for considering, given the piles of laundry and papers and so on that plague my mind!

An image from our first flat that evokes the sense of peace and serenity I long for in our current home!
An image from our first flat that evokes the sense of peace and serenity I long for in our current home!

I can’t post this without mentioning the fact that for the past two months and a bit we’ve had a lovely seventeen-year-old Swiss girl staying with our family. Our mutual Swiss-Kiwi friends introduced us, and we’re hosting her for a year so that she can learn English in a native-speaking family while experiencing a new culture and some independence; in return, we are blessed with a “foster daughter” who loves our boys and helps look after them during the day, helps with the housework, and babysits occasionally so we are able to get away for a date once a week or so. This is a bit of dream for us, since we have no family living nearby, and have mostly been on our own for the past 18 months, with the very occasional exception of some close friends stepping in to help.

She is absolutely fantastic. However, her presence has shone a floodlight on my shocking need for organization! She is a very mature and capable young lady, and I am quite confident that we are under-utilizing her skills. I just can’t seem to pull my brainwaves together long enough to orchestrate how she can best help us!

The list I’ve made above might imply that I don’t do much currently in the household management department. I should clarify that I DO achieve something. Our house is reasonably clean and tidy. If you were to walk in the front door, you’d see shoes and coats mostly tidied away, a clear (if fingerprinted) dining table, toys mostly in tidy bins, a couple piles/bags of mostly folded laundry in the lounge, and a mostly clean carpet. I skipped washing up after dinner, intending to crash early after getting the boys to bed late (8pm). Instead it’s nearly 11 and I’m blogging!

When I cook, I tend to cook in bulk so that I have several meals ready for the following days. It’s boring eating the same (or nearly the same) food three or four nights in a row, but at least I know we’re eating nutritious meals and they’re happening (usually) at a decent hour.

We have had a date nearly once a week for the past few weeks–unheard of! But we struggle to find time to work or do creative work together.

So our household is not in total disarray. My brain, on the other hand…

And devotional time currently is limited to praying together on the way to dropping our oldest at school and/or putting them to bed at night, and the once-in-a-great-while reading of the One Year Bible passages together with my husband when we can pull it off without boys drowning us out at the breakfast bar. It’s been at least a couple of weeks since that last happened.

Okay, this ramble will now conclude. All of this to say, here goes. I’m going to try this thing. Maybe it will end on the shelf under piles of papers like so many other nifty ideas… or maybe, just maybe, it will change my life. And my family’s life. Stay tuned…

PS: I have to add that I recognize there are two important pieces to this puzzle; organization is one, discipline is the other. My personality–the “likes to keep her options open” part of it anyway–tends toward bucking whatever organizational system is in place (even the one I’ve created) in favor of doing whatever is exciting and inspiring RIGHT NOW. It will take a new (and most likely divine) level of discipline and submission to a new way for any organizational tool (including M.O.M.) to make a difference in my life. This is what has me worried!

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