As I’m peeling pears at the kitchen sink and preparing them for water bath canning, I hear a my youngest daughter’s small voice behind me saying, “Mommy, can you turn on Cinderella?”
“Give me 2 minutes” is my quick reply. I hear a quiet “Ok, mom” and get back to my pears.
My 5-year-old son comes in a few minutes later and asks “Mom, can you please get me a chocolate chip cookie and can we play?”
I respond with a “Honey, mom’s busy for a few minutes. I will get you one as soon as I’m done with these pears and no, I can’t play right now, I need to finish up my work!”
Fifteen minutes later I feel a tug at the bottom of my t-shirt. “MOMMY, CAN YOU PLEASE TURN ON MY CINDERELLA!”
I sigh with frustration as I dry off my hands and think, “I’m trying to work here! How can I get all of these pears canned when I have to stop every 5 minutes for something! Why can’t you all just leave me alone and let me finish!”
I’m not proud of my thoughts or actions in this situation. In fact, I almost didn’t publish this because I felt like a bad mom. But I also know that if I’m struggling with something, most likely someone else is, too.
Sometimes I need a reminder of what my “most important work” is right now in this season of life. I am a mom of many littles. I am not Martha Stewart, Betty Crocker, or Suzy Homemaker. I am Jenny, mom of 5, and wife to 1, usually frazzled and always needing God’s grace (thank goodness it never runs out!)
I saw the above quote from C.S. Lewis earlier this week and it really made me stop and think. I am evidently a poor multi-tasker. I always thought I was pretty good at multi-tasking. I can get a lot done in usually a short amount of time. However, when the work I’m doing is laundry, dishes, and other housework, and my kids are truly needing me, I’m not giving my children the ample time they need. Therefore, I’m focusing on the wrong work!
Don’t misunderstand me on this, housework, cooking, and cleaning are essential. If I don’t do laundry, my children will be running around in filthy clothes. If I don’t clean, we would live in an unsafe environment. I’m not saying to disregard all chores in order to play with your kids because that is not what we’re called to do, either. However, there are times that I need to be a mom and let the housework go. These are the times I’m referring to.
We must learn to balance the workload of mothering and all of the other tasks we have on our to-do list. This can be difficult.
The hardest part for me in balancing children and the home is deciding when enough housework is enough. Dishes continue to accumulate in the sink after I’ve loaded and started the dishwasher. The laundry monster never completely dies because we are always wearing clothing.
Here are a few ways I’ve been trying to balance my most important work with everything else. These aren’t perfected and may not work for everyone, but they are a few ways that have been helping me balance our lives (I’d love for you to comment your suggestions for balancing at the end of this post!):
- I’ve been training the kids to do more of their own work themselves. This includes teaching the 1st graders how to put dirty laundry into the washing machine, taking clean clothes out of the dryer, and how to unload the dishwasher. I am working on an age-appropriate printable list of chores for children and will have it available in the next few days!
- Set a timer. If I set the timer for 5 minutes and actually quit when the timer goes off, I work harder and faster. It also lets my family know that I will be done and available them when it goes off. (Obviously if there is an emergency, the timer is forgotten, but a snack or toy can wait until the timer goes off).
- I keep my calendar open so I can see what else is going on throughout the day to keep myself on task. I will also set up reminders in my phone to keep me on track with time management.
- When it’s “family time” I do not do chores or housework. I also turn off the computer and ignore the phone. I focus on our family. This has actually made spending time together more fun as well because I’ve intentionally given myself the “ok” to have fun. (Sad, I know but that’s how my brain works!) We’ve been doing projects together, reading, and playing more now.
- We’ve been cooking together more as a family. This not only is good conversation time, it is good teaching time on how to measure ingredients and hopefully some basic cooking!
Do you have the same problem that I do- balancing your “most important work” with all of the other work you need to do? How do you balance family and your other work?
Have you enjoyed what you read here today? Do you have friends or other women you know that could benefit from this resource? If so, please do me a favor! I have included the links below to share with other intentional women! They’ll be glad you did!