Don’t worry. This is not going to be another post about how you need to buy baskets to put inside your baby’s cupboards to contain his socks and then baskets to put on the closet shelves to hold her jackets and then more baskets for the floor to hold the dirty laundry. Nor is it going to be a post telling you that you don’t need that rocker or glider or crib or basket, because after all babies are simple creatures and we only need three diapers and a lambskin throw to take care of them. This is not going to be a post about (organizing) stuff.
I can’t tell you how to organize your dwelling because, after all, I don’t know you. I don’t know if you live in a mansion, an apartment, a shack or a house. (Anyone else remember the game MASH?) I can’t tell you how to organize your possessions because I don’t know what you possess!
This is a post about (organizing) life.
As a mom to three young kids, with a busy family schedule not to mention interests of my own, I use the following principles to help guide my life. Things aren’t always sunshine and roses, good mama and happy kids days. But the ‘M’ rules do help me get things done, enjoy my children and maintain a semblance of sanity. I find that if each day has a bit of each of the ‘M’ rules, I feel balanced and successful in all that I do.
Morning time or Midnight time Are you an early bird or a night owl? Using these two distinct blocks of time well and appropriately can will help you be more productive. I like to get up early, before my children, so I have time to wake up and face the day. This is the perfect moment, for me, to unload the dishwasher or bring in or hang up the laundry. I’m not quite awake enough yet to attack my inbox or work on my blog, so mindless tasks fit the bill. In fact, if I don’t do these chores then, the chance of them getting done is much lower. After my kids go to bed is when I’m most creative. I do design work, polish the posts that I’ve been mentally writing all day long. I feel resentful if I have to use this time for mundane routine tasks. Knowing my strengths helps me use them wisely, and use my time well.
Me time Remember you? That you who existed before this current incarnation? That other you does exist and you need to take time to nourish it. To do so, I try to do something that is a real break from my normal activities, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes. For example, my kids are all taking their midday nap so it’s the perfect time for me time. I lay on the couch for a while and read a book, a book that I’ve read a thousand times before, but that seems like an old friend. It could be listening to music, reading, exercising, crafting, DIY- whatever replenishes You. Doing something for myself, myself and no one else is a necessary part of my day.
Mama time In the same way that I need to take time to take care of myself, I need to take the time to take care of my kids. I’m not talking about diaper changes and serving meals, but taking the time to really focus on them, to give them my undivided attention. This can be difficult to do- I work at home, so I don’t really have a separation between the two activities. I also have three children so giving them each my undivided attention can be tricky. But they need and deserve Mama time every day, as do I. Sometimes we work on stories together, or we read books. My two oldest are into drawing at the moment, so we often draw together. Often I just go and sit in their room with them while they play and just by being there, they integrate me into their imaginary worlds.
Multi-tasking time There often aren’t enough hours in the day. No, strike that: there are never enough hours in the day. So the final, and perhaps most important, ‘M’ rule is multi-tasking time. Why do one thing when you can do two? An often sited example is cleaning the bathroom while the kids are in the bath. You could also take advantage of your commuting time if you commute by public transport or help your child practice their ABCs with refrigerator magnets while you are cooking dinner. I sometimes fold laundry on the rug while the baby is playing nearby. I’m sure that you have your multi-tasking time tricks as well.
You might say that it’s easier said than done to follow all these rules, but I find that they help me keep my life and family in balance. And in my house, a cranky mama quickly leads to cranky kids. I don’t like living my life that way- I’m sure you don’t either.
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Kelly is an American who has been living in France since 2000. A mom to three young kids, she is also a writer and a crafter (check out her Etsy shop). As if that weren’t enough, she’s going to be a full time student getting her MS in Marketing as of September 2008! You can follow her journey at Almost Frugal.