I know what you’re thinking.
There is no possible way to squeeze a single additional moment into my already jam-packed day. I’m already on my feet, from morning to night – cooking, cleaning, working, driving, snack fixing, snack re-fixing, shoe tying, butt wiping, etc. It’s scientifically impossible to fit anything else in or create more time. You must be some kind of witch.
You gotta love a good Monty Python reference. Even if I really had to stretch the beginning of this post to make it work. Something about today just felt like we all needed a good Monty Python moment.
Alright, let’s get down to brass tacks. You are already pressed for time.
Oh, this one is the absolute worst. It’s torture, getting up before the sun (although, I promise it gets easier with time). And I know many of you are already waking up at the crack of dawn (or before) just to have time to wipe the crust out of your eyes before your parade of children marches into your bedroom demanding sustenance and entertainment. But here’s what I’ve discovered, there is something magical about the time before the kids get up in the morning. It’s eerily quiet. There are no (new) crumbs, no requests for milk and no interruptions. Lately, my husband and I have been setting our alarm for 4:45. In my mind, that’s still technically “last night”, but I’m telling you, the combination of getting some “me” time and two cups of coffee in my system before our kids wake up, make me a more productive and happier human being for the rest of the day.
I’ve done some research* with my own kiddos and have discovered a phenomenon that while initially taxing, pays major dividends on the back end. Whether it’s after school when my oldest gets home from kindergarten or in the morning with my toddler, I’ve found that if I give my kiddos 15-30 minutes of my undivided, full-on, super hero game-playing attention, they will reciprocate by leaving me the heck alone for a comparable block of time.
It’s great because when I operate this way (and believe me, there are days when it does not happen), we get some quality “mommy & me” time on the books and I don’t feel all mom guilty later when they need a referee for their indoor football game and I tell them to figure out a solution on their own.
Why, just last week, I cooked a whole dinner while listening to a podcast about the Babysitters Club and drinking a glass of wine without interruption. And my kids were in the house. It was bonkers.
*I like my research and while I realize the study I’ve conducted is flawed in that it absolutely does not follow any sort of data collection standards, I like to think that the tenants of the scientific method were upheld.
I don’t like to brag, but my house is pretty tidy 90% of the time. Please note that I did not say “clean”. Clean and tidy are two very different things. By tidy, I mean at the end of the day, there are rarely toys strewn all over the place – not that there aren’t dust bunnies congregating under my couch or dried pee on the back of all my toilets (thanks MEN). How do we accomplish this black magic? Ladies and gentlemen – the storage bin.
Target has an entire aisle dedicated to these little, collapsable, non-see-through cubes that are perfect for stashing away everything from dress up clothes to match box cars. Heck, you can even store both of those things in the SAME CUBE! Nobody can see in them, so who cares if they aren’t perfectly organized? These bins have cut our cleanup times in half and while we may not be perfectly organized, we still get the satisfaction of a tidy house, without the drudgery of trying to put everything in its proper place.
You may not thing this is an option for you. You may think, “My kids are way too old/young/hyper/adorable/sneaky to stay in a room, all alone for an hour” and a few months ago, I was right there with you. My toddler still needed his nap, but big brother had long since discovered that this napping game was for the birds. So we devised a plan to maintain my sanity and allow everyone to get a much needed break after lunch. These days, for 60 (sometimes 90, if I get lucky) minutes, Oliver gets to choose a few “big kid” toys and a snack to bring with him into my office. During this time, he is afforded the unique opportunity to draw, build with Legos, read books, etc. without his two-year-old shadow. You may have to start with smaller increments of time and sneakily increase it as your kiddo gains more and more independence, but I’m telling you, it is worth it!
Now, even if you implement all these strategies, you still might feel like melting into a puddle of Mom Mush once dinnertime rolls around. But maybe, just maybe you will feel like a super accomplished, checked everything off her to-do list, ready to take on tomorrow puddle of Mom Mush.
Stranger things have happened!
What are your go-to strategies for making the most of every day?
Professional photo credit: Ian Thornberry Photography