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!

dsc_0491

 

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!

dsc_0151

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.

 

 

 

One Word for the Year: Discipline

I’ve been putting off writing this post. Because there is a certain amount of accountability that comes with writing things down.

I like to make goals at the start of every year, and usually I do this is a very planned-out, specific way. (You can read more about that method here: http://mops.org.au/archives/5463)

Last year, I anticipated my time would be filled up with caring for our existing little ones, and the one who was going to join the family. So I purposefully set the bar a bit lower for myself in my goals. I mean, they were certainly still a challenge, but rather than “aiming high”, I aimed lower, with simple goals that I felt I could handle. For example, in the area of “homemaking”, instead of writing something like “Get the whole house organised”, I wrote “Consistently stay on top of the dishes, laundry and cooking.” In the area of “marriage”, instead of writing “go on a date every week”, I wrote “pray for my husband every day”.

As I began to reflect on the year 2016, I realised that I hadn’t even managed to keep my goals, even with the bar as a low as it was. And I wondered – what do you do with goals you didn’t keep? Do I just discard them, and start again, focusing on all new things? Or do I write down the same goals, acknowledging that I have made progress, and working to continue that progress?

2017-planner

My pretty 2017 planner

Well, there are many different methods for goal-setting and yearly planning. And one I’ve read a bit about in other years is the idea of picking your “one word” focus for the year. Some people simply pick one word, others pick one word and use that as the basis for more specific goals.

And as I started to think about this idea more – the idea of “one word” – and talk about it with my Mum and husband, I found answers to my questions.

The thing is, I know what I need to do – in parenting, in marriage, in homemaking, etc. Of course, there are always ways I need to grow and things to learn. And the kids are always growing up and into new stages.

But where we are, right now, I know what I need to do. I just struggle in the actually doing it.

And that’s how I got to my one word for 2017: Discipline.

I want to have more discipline in my prayer life, in Bible reading, in craft projects, in reading books, in disciplining the kids, in my housework, etc.

dsc_2753

Climbing rocks when pregnant… don’t try this at home, kids.

I need discipline to get up and spend time with the Lord at the start of each day (or later in the day when it just doesn’t happen). I need discipline to consistently read the Bible.

I need discipline to love my husband well sometimes, to meet his needs not only when it’s fun and easy to do, but also when doing so requires a sacrifice on my part.

 

I need discipline in my relationship with my kids, to discipline them properly and make the most of each opportunity I have – it’s all too easy to let things slide because “I just sat down” or I just started doing something in another room. But the work of motherhood is largely the day in, day out, laying the foundations of character and applying the Bible to their little lives.

I need discipline to eat good, nutritious foods and to exercise regularly. (As an aside here, my husband bought me a Fitbit for Christmas and it has been a great motivator! I used to think, “I’m really active, I bet I’ll log heaps of steps each day!” Nope! I’m no where near as active as I thought, so that has been a great wakeup call.)

I need discipline to finish what I start, to do things well and to not overcommit.

My Bible verse for the year is 2 Timothy 1:7:

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

This is a great verse for me, because it reminds me that self-discipline is not something that I can just will myself into. It’s something that comes from God.

It is a fruit of the Spirit in the life of the Christian, therefore, I need to rely on the Spirit to develop and hone this characteristic in my life.

Honestly, I need that reminder. Because for all my list-loving and plan-making, I can tend to think that I’m the one to create change in my life… That I can be more disciplined if I just try harder.

But what I’m finding, even less than a month into this year, is that developing self-discipline takes complete dependence on God through prayer.

 

Practically speaking, I’m also choosing to focus on one “discipline” at a time. For January, this is reading the Bible and praying daily again.

I’ve also enjoyed printing off and hanging up this “Daily Disciplines for Homemakers” sheet from Young Wife’s Guide: https://youngwifesguide.com/getting-track-daily-disciplines/
I find it helpful seeing on paper what I want to get done every day, like, read the Bible, pray, read books with the kids, do the dishes, etc. For some people, these things might seem obvious and you wouldn’t need reminders, but for me… well, I really do need the reminders!


 

What are your goals for this year? Is there “one word” that captures what your focus is for 2017?

In the Twilight of the Year

Twilight has long been my favourite time of day.

When my husband and I were dating, we used to go for long walks around the neighbourhood on warm summer evenings, after the sun had set but the light still lingered. We would just talk and hold hands and explore.

Now, twilight is often my time for gathering things back together. It might be when B has the kids in the bath and I’ve put the baby to bed. Or sometimes after all the kids have been tucked in for an early night.

I wander around the house picking up the toys, sweeping up the crumbs, wiping up the messes and scraping off the plates. The slow and steady work of bringing order to the chaos.

The next day always seems to start off more smoothly when I take this time to wrap up one day’s activities and prepare for the next.

p1030632

And so here we are now, in the twilight of the year.

The sun has set on 2016, but the light lingers for a few more weeks.

I look back on all that has happened this year – all the messes we made, and the fun that was had, and the moments I wasn’t sure how I would make it out alive – and I just want to spend some time now, carefully gathering my thoughts and putting everything back in order.

I want to take the time to properly reflect on 2016 so that I’m ready for 2017.

 

The Highlight:

Definitely the birth of our third child! It’s always amazing welcoming a new little person into the family, and watching everyone grow and shift and adjust until you suddenly can’t remember what the family was like without them.

A bit of family trivia for you – we’ve now had a baby in each house we’ve lived in since being married!
DSC_0225

The Lowlight:

For sure the hardest part of this year was those 3 or so winter months where at least one of us was sick at all times, and when baby T’s feeding issues had come to a head.

He was feeding every hour or so throughout the day and yet his weight gain was slowing. I started working with a lactation consultant who diagnosed him with tongue and upper lip tie. We had those cut, but things didn’t immediately improve. In fact, because of all the problems and a drop in hormones, my milk supply took a hit. So I had to go on medication for that and then I started him on solids when he was 4.5 months.

We persisted and our family eventually got healthy again and here we are, with a happy little 8 month old boy who brings immense joy to our family! (But if I never go through another period like that, I will be glad! And yet… )

 

dsc_0402

Where did I grow the most?

Through everything that has happened this year, my faith in God has grown so much.

And I really resonate with this verse:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

I know without a doubt that the faith I have (and had this year) in God – the way that I was able to trust Him even when things were hard – was totally not from myself. It was truly a gift from God that I was able to keep believing in Him through all the pain and stress.

dsc_0082

Where do I need to improve?

I really need to grow in patience. I find myself getting frustrated with the kids (and even my husband) rather easily lately.

This is one area in my heart that the Lord really needs to take the pruning shears to.

dsc_0069

If you’ve read my blog for long, you’ll know I’m pretty big on planning and lists and the like.

So the interesting thing to me, as I look back on this year is that none of the “big things” were things I had planned or foreseen.

I’m not going to stop planning, but for me it is a helpful reminder that I am not in control, and that God has a plan for my life beyond what I can see.

 

How about you – do you like to reflect on the year that has been? What thoughts and events are you gathering back together in the twilight of this year?

 

Problem Solving as a Mum

Our morning routine has become a crying relay between my three children. They pass the figurative baton between them, each take turns sobbing, screaming and whinging, usually set in motion by injustices such as being asked to get dressed.

The main problem is that we have a lot to do in a limited time period because we all have to get out the door to drop my daughter to preschool at 8:45. And it’s even more limited on Mondays when we have to drop my son to child care at 8:15.

Because of the time limit, I feel like I have to constantly hussle the older two to keep going with getting dressed, and it is literally like trying to herd a pack of cats in a straight line through a field of mice! This is all while I’m sitting down trying to feed the baby his breakfast, which takes about 30-45 minutes. And then I have to get the older kids their breakfast and then make sure we all go to the toilet/have nappies changed before we leave the house.

Sometimes I imagine how we would all look from the outside and I just laugh. Madness, sheer madness.

I’ve wondered at times why I just can’t get it together. Why can’t I just figure it out so that our mornings (or other problematic time of day) run smoothly. “Get in a groove”, if you like.

dsc_0125

But here’s the thing about grooves. They are worn in over time, as you take the same path, again and again.

We actually are in a morning groove, a pattern of doing things worn in over time, it’s just not the one I want to be in.

And the more we wear in this particular groove, the harder it will be to get out of it.

I can remember other moments of parenting where things have reached a crisis point, where I know things can’t keep going the way they are. They say for change to occur, the pain of staying the same has to be greater than the pain of changing (and as someone who hates change, that means things often get quite bad for me first!).

dsc_0122

So it helps me, as I face this morning time meltdown problem, to remember previous times I’ve made changes in my mothering, and how I went about it.

Here’s what I’ve done previously to get out of a bad groove and into a good one :

  • Zoom out and reassess. What is not working here? What do I want this to look like instead? When my middle child got to just over a year old, I realised that his solid food intake was still relying heavily on purees. I wanted him to be eating more family foods instead.
  • Ask God.The Bible says that if anyone lacks wisdom, they should ask God and He will freely give it. Often when it comes to issues in our mothering, particularly issues we may be encountering for the first time as our children reach new stages, we really don’t have the wisdom we need on our own to solve the problem. Also, praying about it will help us to leave our anxieties in God’s hands and trust that He will guide us as we go about changing things.
  • Get input. What do others see that you might not? Are you blowing things out of proportion? I usually ask my husband what he thinks when I feel like something is not working well with the kids. He will either say, “Yeah, I think that’s an issue too” or “I think you just need to accept that’s the way things are for now”. He also has good ideas about new things I could try or strategies to implement that I hadn’t thought of on my own.
  • Set a goal. Think of a time frame in which you want to implement the changes, and decide what you want to achieve in that time frame. Back to my son’s food intake, I think I decided that I would phase out purees completely from his diet over a period of three weeks or so.
  • Make a plan. Think about the practical steps it will take to achieve that goal. What will make it possible? Reducing my son’s puree intake meant that I had to increase his intake of family foods at the same time, at first providing more of the things I knew he would eat (roasted sweet potatoes, sandwiches, risotto, etc.). If I had just reduced the purees without providing more of the food he would eat, he would have just been hungry and we probably would have gone back to purees again.
  • Make it stick. It takes time to change a habit and get into a new groove, so commit to the new plan for at least a week. And if change is hard for us as adults, it is even harder for kids, who find great comfort in familiar routines. But they rely on us as Mums to set the direction and guide them in the way they should go, so as we show them the new way things are going to be, and stick with it, they will get the hang of it.

 

Once I decided to phase out the purees I was feeding my son, and focus more on getting him eating the same foods as the rest of the family, I was surprised how quickly he took to it. I remember thinking, “That was easy!”.

Often I hesitate to make changes because I worry about making things worse or I don’t really know how to get from “here” to “there”. But once I have a proper think about it, and make a plan, the changes often follow quite naturally.

 

As I think about the steps listed above, which have worked for me before, it gives me more clarity regarding my morning situation.

I can see that my anxiety in the mornings probably comes out in my tone of voice and body language, making the whole experience pretty unpleasant for the kids.

And there are things I’ve changed already. I’ve made a habit of ironing my husbands shirts for the week on Sunday so I don’t have to do it in the mornings. I try to get up at 6:15 to spend time with God and have a coffee, rather than 7ish, when the baby and kids wake up. (But if I’ve had a particularly rough night, I’ll turn off the alarm.) I pack lunch boxes the night before.

But still, we have chaos on most school mornings.

So now over to you guys – does anyone have any suggestions for how we can break out of our morning rut? How do you handle mornings in your family?