When I wrote this post, I received a question from a reader. I figured I would go ahead and answer it here, just in case any of you were interested in finding out how I *attempt* to get things done around here.
So...that is quite a list!!Practically speaking- how will you go about it w/a houseful of kids and life, laundry and dinner still going on? Do you choose one or two, Start it all? I REALLY want to know- this list is intimidating but exciting!
If you notice, I finished off that post with the disclaimer that I will NOT get all those things done! I leave myself plenty of wiggle room and know that with all the variables I have at work in my house, my best-laid plans can very quickly get pushed aside. I have found, however, that it does help me to stay on task if I make out a list such as the one I posted-- especially when we are going to have a long stretch of time at home. This list helps me in those moments when I am between tasks to be able to see what needs my attention next. Instead of frittering my time away reading blogs or aimlessly watching old tv shows on YouTube, I can get busy with something that needs doing!
In the last few days as I have worked towards that list, I have taken a little piece of paper and made a "sub-list" with enough tasks for that day. I recently read somehing Tricia Goyer does that I thought was a good idea. She knows that she can only realistically get three big jobs done per day-- so she writes those three things down and prioritizes them. Then she assigns them to herself in the order of priority. She has found that prioritizing the thing she wants to do least as first (I hope that makes sense!) helps her to go ahead and get it out of the way-- then she doesn't spend the day with whatever that is hanging over her head. (My apologies to Tricia if I didn't quote her exactly right-- I am quoting from memory, which is sometimes reliable, sometimes not.)
I don't work exactly that way, but I do find that going ahead and doing the things I don't want to do first makes my days much more pleasant. There are some things I can't let slide and they are-- as you mentioned-- dinner and laundry and dishes and keeping the house tidy. Notice I didn't say clean. I usually assign a few chores per day to the kids to keep the dirt down to the "barely noticeable" level-- but I have found that clutter bothers us more than dirt. Keeping the shoes by the back door put up so we don't trip over the pile, putting away stray Legos and dolls, sorting and filing papers so they don't pile up, and putting away laundry instead of leaving it in piles all goes a long way towards making our house feel cleaner. As long as the floors get vacuumed every few days, the kitchen floor gets mopped when needed, and the bathrooms cleaned weekly, I am good with that. I also rely on my kids to "do their part." Many hands do make light work and we can get the house clean in no time when we all work together. See? There is an advantage to having a lot of kids!!
Another thing I do is sort of mentally divide the day into segments. Mornings are meant for getting school done and taking care of housework. Afternoons (naptime) are meant for quiet activities and that's my time to pursue more personal interests like writing, blogging, and returning emails, etc. Evenings are meant for dinnertime and winding down. This is when I do things like catch up on blogs I like, read books, work on my visual journal, etc.
One final thing, I am rarely idle. I only sit down when I am writing or reading emails. Otherwise, I am typically up and around, circulating through the house doing stuff. If I find I have nothing to do, that's where that list comes in. I grab it and see what I can do right then. Then I get busy. I rarely talk on the phone or watch tv. And I *try* to resist the temptation to waste time on the internet.
As for how I juggle motherhood and my other duties, I just include the kids in most of what I do. If I am doing housework or cooking in the kitchen, typically my kids are right there with me, talking to me while I work and occasionally pitching in. Or they are outside playing or watching tv, or playing indoors while I am working in the next room. The older ones entertain themselves so we are in a good place with me being able to do my own thing from time to time. Many times, I sit on my bed and write with my laptop in my lap and a child or two or three piled on the bed beside me drawing, or reading, or doing schoolwork, or having loud and boisterous conversations with each other. I have learned to write with a fair amount of activity and noise going on. You can ask my friend Karen, as she has witnessed this with her own eyes! I didn't start out being able to do this, I just had to learn to block out noise and distractions over time. Even as I type this, the phone is ringing, the neighbor's dogs are barking, music is playing, and my daughter and her friend are playing loudly in the next room! Also, after dinner usually Curt spends time with the kids and this is a pretty consistent time for me to return emails, finish up writing projects, etc.
Sometimes I look back over a day and wonder where the time went. Other days the minutes drag by. Every day is different and I have learned to take them as they come, doing as much as I can with the time I have been given and letting the things that don't get done go. I carry quite a few items on my to do lists over to the next day, and have learned that that is the nature of my life. I can't get it all done-- I won't get it all done, ever.