Juggling School with Babies

I’m still on a blogging break, but just wanted to share my latest post on the MOPS blog.

It took me by surprise how fast my daughter’s first year of school went by.  Weren’t we just here, settling her in for her first day, a month ago?

I currently have a primary-schooler, a pre-schooler and a toddler. They are quite close in age, and yet their needs are still so different! While much of our time with kids in the early years seems to pass by quickly, there’s something about the school years that makes time go even faster.

I was thinking about this the other day – what made the year go so fast – and I realised that it’s because all my time is now divided into “blocks”.
The day is divided up into the morning routine, school drop off, morning tasks, toddler’s nap time, school pick up, after school routine, dinner, kids bedtime routine and then (finally) adult alone time and sleep.

The week is divided into school/work days and the weekend. And the year is divided up into school terms and holidays. When time is broken into these clearly defined blocks, it’s easy to go on ‘auto-pilot’, moving through the blocks of our day and week and year without really thinking about how much time is passing.

So how do we make the best use of our time? How do we make sure we are using these “blocks” of time effectively and intentionally? Here are some principles of time management for when you have a school kid as well as little ones at home:

Continue reading here: http://mops.org.au/archives/9074

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Pockets of Beauty

Something that has often saved my sanity is the concept of “seasons”. When I understand the whole of my life as being made up of different seasons, it frees me from the pressure to have everything perfect, all the time. It frees me from desires I have that conflict with each other.

Often these will be all good desires, but they can’t all work at the same time. So I hold onto some things and I let others go, because it won’t work for me in this season.

One way I apply this is acknowledging that in this season, it doesn’t work for me to have the whole house clean at the same time.

So I try to stay on top of the basics and I focus on different areas as I can. One day the bathroom might be looking (and smelling!) great, but the kids’ bedrooms are a mess. Another day, the kitchen might be clean and tidy, but the bathroom has clothes and dirty hand prints every where.

My house might not have the decorative finesse of an instagram feed, but there are corners of the house where I have used my creativity.

I like to think of these as “pockets of beauty” – little spaces that just look nice and bring a smile to my face as I pass them, even when there is mess all around.

Since I spend quite a bit of time in the home at this stage, I find that having beauty in my surroundings helps motivate me in my work.

Of course, with little kids and toddlers around, it’s always a challenge to find the right balance between “functional” and “beautiful”. But generally speaking, I find it works best to keep “functional” stuff down low, and “beautiful” stuff up high. 😉

 

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When I bought this from the shop, it was silver letters on a plain white canvas background. I coloured in the canvas with fabric markers to give it a bit more contrast.

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This is a nice little shelf just outside the hallway to our bedroom. I keep my CDs here, my wedding bouquet (it’s made from foam roses) and my Bible and prayer journal.

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This is the window ledge in the bathroom – I recently cleared away all the bottles, toothbrushes and products to make room for this little display. Fun fact, this twine-wrapped vase was the first ever MOPS craft I made!

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Probably my most frequently changing display area, this is the top of my microwave. At the moment, it has a jar of olives from our back yard, a lovely ceramic Christmas tree, some candles and a fake flower display (another MOPS craft!).

Organisation is not a Luxury

For me, it is a necessity.

It’s be organised or live in complete chaos (and I definitely go through periods of each!).

I’m sure there are people out there who are naturally organised, and they can “go with the flow” and cope just fine. But when I don’t make lists and plans, things get forgotten and left undone all over the place, we are late to events, and I become a frazzled mess!

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I used to sit down each Sunday evening, put on some nice music and write out a plan/loose schedule for the week ahead. I would start by writing in the “set in stone” events and appointments (Bible Study, MOPS, etc), then I would add daily tasks/activities (like reading the Bible, doing dishes, etc), then housework chores (vacuuming, cleaning bathroom, etc) and then anything else like exercise or writing time.

Now, I certainly didn’t always stick to this plan. Things would crop up, and I would just go with it. But having that plan there as a guide for the week really helped in those times when I would fine myself between activities and think “what now?”. Instead of just defaulting to a time waster, I could quickly look at my plan and see what I was “supposed” to be doing, and get right back on track.

I’ve really got out of the habit of doing this, and just decided to get back into the groove recently.

I told my husband this on Sunday night, and he said, “I think that’s a good idea – you’ve been at a bit of a loose end lately.”

So there you go – when I don’t take the time to plan, it has implications for my external demeanour and behaviour!

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The other thing I find helpful every now and then is a “brain dump”. That’s where I just grab my notebook and write, in point form, literally everything that is on my mind. Last time I did this I filled three pages in one sitting!

I find doing this really takes the mental load off my shoulders, because I don’t feel the pressure of retaining all that information – I’ve written it down so I can let it go.

 

How about you, is organisation a necessity for you? Or do you go with the flow?

 


 

Other resources:

Work What Works for You – A helpful blog post by Elspeth

Organise Your Home and Your Attitude – A fantastic podcast by Jess Connell

 


 

And, my most recent post on the MOPS blog, Successful Breastfeeding.