Growing up, I often heard new moms share their woes of how little they got done in a day. “I’ve been busy all day, and yet I’ve got nothing done,” was the cry. Soon, my own friends and family started having babies and sharing the same sentiment. The common response I heard, which usually came from an experienced mom, was, “You’re caring for a baby! That’s what you are busy doing. And they take a lot of time.”
This is true. And I’d like to unpack that a little more. Then, assuming you’re reading this blog because you’re a new mom – or are about to become one - I’d like to offer some very practical advice for the times you wonder how you were busy all day and seemingly got nothing done.
First of all, I’d like to point out how much of our lives – mothers or not – are spent simply “maintaining.” You know – getting food out for meals, doing dishes afterwards, unpacking your car after running errands, putting laundry away, taking the garbage out, getting dressed, making the bed, throwing out past due items from the fridge. These are all tasks that take up our time, and yet don’t “count” for anything.
No, what “counts” for something is a project or a task that has a beginning and an end. Rearranging the linen closet, getting out clothes for the next season, better organizing the “bookmarks” bar on your web browser, picking out recipes for the next month, and the like.
This latter round of examples is what often doesn’t get accomplished once a new baby comes. Therefore, it’s easy to feel like you are getting nothing done.
As I promised, I want to “unpack” this a bit more by encouraging you to take notice of how much of your time is spent maintaining. Start to pay attention to how many minutes are spent at the kitchen sink doing dishes; in front of the refrigerator pulling food out or putting it away; picking things up; wiping counters. I’ll add a layer now – grooming. How much time is spent picking out clothes, showering, getting dressed, putting on make-up, brushing teeth.
Then, add on the all-important (HUGE) “layer” of caring for a baby. Where to begin? This little human needs every single one of his needs cared for! It is up to you to feed, burp, bathe, change, hold and play with this precious little one. It will of course take time!
And now comes the fun part – imagine what would happen if you didn’t “maintain” – even for a day. Just think of the messy countertops, the spilled dog food on the floor, the mail that remains stuffed in the mailbox, the orange peel left in the sink…I won’t even mention the bad breath.
And again, take note of all that happens in a baby’s life in a single day. The diapers that get filled, the milk that gets consumed, the giggles that get spurred on.
Do you get my point? You are busier than you even know. Which leads me to the promised “practical advice” part.
This “maintaining” stuff will TAKE YOU DOWN, if you let it. It will take over your whole life, and you will NOT accomplish a single task…. if you don’t take heed.
My exhortation is to take on the “if I only get one thing done today….” mantra. By this, I mean – “If I only get ________________ [one thing – fill in the blank] done today, I’ll call it a good day.” Then fill in the blank. You might fill in that blank with “folding the laundry” or “cleaning all the sinks in the house” or “paying bills.”
This helps to bring much clarity, as everything else in the day comes flying at you, like debris in a windstorm. The diaper changes and emails and text messages and scattered toys and dirty dishes will keep “flying” at you. And will take up your entire day if you let it. That is why you must dig your feet into the ground and pick that one thing that you are going to get done today, if it’s the last thing you do.
Being the Type A person that I am, I came up an Excel file for myself when Dylan was a toddler, to keep myself on track. I will share it here, in hopes that it can help another momma. (The pink part is my “if I only get one thing done” section.)
Just keep in mind two huge “tips” to understand, as you read the schedule. (That I swear by, I might add.) 1) I do laundry only one time/week so that it doesn’t take over every single day 2) I do one store run/week.
Here it is. I hope it helps: