Monday, 5 January 2015

Mommy Mental Health: Home Organization

New Year's Resolution: Get Organized

Whether you're just starting that nesting anxiety of pregnancy, or have been off work for a while and are staring at what's left of your living room, what every mother craves more than ice cream and arm chairs, is a clean house. Time is limited, and with all the distractions of life in the modern age, you don't exactly want to be bent over a sink or attached to a vacuum at all hours.  It is a constant battle to simply stay on top of the bare minimum, and seeing Martha-quality rooms on TV can pile on even more guilt than motherhood normally dishes out... Relax, you are your own worst enemy.  We judge ourselves far more harshly than any guest, who is probably just impressed to see you awake and dressed. Even still, a clean home makes you feel more at ease and together.  In that spirit, in this post we'll look in to 3 things you can do today to feel more tidy and at peace with your surroundings.

First things first - your opinion (and maybe your spouses...) is the only one that matters. If you consider the house to be clean - even though it's a little untidy - then it is. Ignore your mother-in-law, and host your mommy group with your chin held high. Don't worry about the Joneses, that only leads to more stress and for what? Maybe your friend has a cleaning service, or a nanny. Maybe she gets up at 5am everyday. Whatever the reason, there are things that people sacrifice to be pristine. It's your time or your money, and you have to find the balance that works for you.

Next, be realistic.  As nice as it would be to have those catalog-perfect linen closets with all matching towels facing the same direction, those tastefully decorated front rooms with coordinated décor, and those shiny hardwood floors you can eat off of... I mean, I have an infant. If I'm not feeding, changing, or bathing him, I'm usually trying to accomplish one of those things for myself. There are days when it feels like an accomplishment to have showered and eaten both breakfast and lunch before my husband gets in from work at 4pm.

I do like to have goals, however, and this is how I do it:
  1. Buy yourself a note pad or white board for a prominent place in your home.  Mine is on my refrigerator.
  2. Take a moment each day, as early in the morning as you can manage, to list at least 5 things that could use doing ASAP.  Things like emptying the dishwasher, throwing in a load of whites, vacuuming the playroom, etc.
  3. Aim to accomplish one thing every two hours.  Cut yourself a little slack if you've been out of the house, or if teething causes a few balls to drop, but try.
Another advantage to this clear task list is that you can get help. Friends and family that pop over know what they can do to pitch in with the most impact. Plus, hubby can't pretend he doesn't know how to help, and you can avoid the nag to get things accomplished. This doubles really well as a message centre between my spouse and I. If something occurs to me during a bottle in the middle of the night, I have somewhere to write it down that I know he will check. This could also serve a new mother tracking feedings and changes.  In the haze of the day, it can be tricky to remember the exact time your little one finished!

Finally, choose one day a week to dig in.  I mean, really dig in.  If you're pregnant, rest up and hydrate first, then get in to it.  For mamas, pass your little one off to grandma or send daddy and junior on some errands.  Just find a few hours to take care of the big stuff that makes a big difference in the home maintenance for the rest of the week. Clean the bathrooms, change the bed sheets, give the whole house a quick once over.  If there's no way to get help with baby; find a nap time, baby wear, or whatever you have to do to knock off some nagging chores. Put stuff back in its place and give counters and shelves a quick wipe down. Even if you spend just 10 minutes in each room, scan it from left to right and fix whatever you can. I find a made bed and a clear dresser makes the whole bedroom look better.

Being a parent means some sacrifice.  It means playgroup, instead of the bar.  It means good sneakers, instead of Manolo Blahnik.  It means cuddles, and messes, and toys all over... But maybe that's not such a sacrifice after all.

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