One year into my staying-at-home adventure, I’m reflecting on the past year and sharing my journey and lessons learned thus far. Check out my previous posts on staying at home.
The majority of women who opt to stay at home likely do so after their first child is born. Because that wasn’t the right timing for us, my adventure staying at home started out with two kids. If I would have started staying at home after I had James Michael, who has always been a great napper, I may have gotten a better handle on the art of getting it all done, especially when it comes to keeping up my home while caring for my kids.
Or maybe not. Admittedly, I’ve never been a great cleaner. Just ask my old roommates. Obviously, I place more value on a clean home now than I did in college, but with more distractions (aka the Rowdy boys), I feel like I do just enough to get by. I have learned the art of mad-dash cleaning to prepare for company and overnight guests.
A few months ago, I tried to make a daily checklist for cleaning: mop the floors on Monday, clean the bathrooms on Tuesday, etc. And while that worked for a couple weeks, it was short-lived. The boys and I are always on the go and every week, especially since May, has been unique. Every day we have at least once place to be, some days, two or three places. So in between outings, I feel like I get the kitchen and living room picked up, and then they are both a mess again and I never get to the deeper cleaning.
When Beau was younger and I was enjoying two cups of coffee a day (before I got pregnant again), I used afternoon nap time to get a lot of chores done. But then Beau got sick this winter and I was barely sleeping, and once he was well I hit the first trimester exhaustion. So I gave up that approach and tried to rest for the hour or so they boys’ naps overlapped in the afternoons. Now, well into the second trimester of my third pregnancy, not much has changed, as I still try to preserve this time to sit down since it’s my only guaranteed chance (for more than 3 minutes) during the day. I usually prepare and eat my lunch when they both go down for naps, then I’ll blog or pay bills or do laundry or read. But whatever I’m doing, I try to take it pretty easy.
Being the morning person that I am, I know my best chance of getting any cleaning done means it has to happen before noon. So while Beau is still taking a morning nap, I try to use that time to get daily tasks checked off my mental list. Keep in mind, this still means James Michael is running underfoot (and now three mornings a week he’ll be at school), but when he is home I’ve got some little activities that he can pick out from the playroom to hopefully keep him occupied. And he loves cleaning anyway, so often he wants to help.
When I start to fill out my weekly calendar, I typically write things down starting with highest to lowest priorities: kid activities, errands and appointments, meal plans, Mom tasks and cleaning. So for me, you can see that cleaning falls last. And I know some moms out there may be appalled at this, but I’m much more concerned with what I’m cooking for dinner than whether it’s been 7 days or 9 days since I’ve mopped the floors 🙂 #justbeinghonest
I feel like I could go on about how I’m a horrible cleaner forever, but I’ll spare you. Like I said, I do enough often enough to eek by. Though I will admit that I clean my kitchen a couple times a day because I prefer it to be clean when I cook.
Speaking of cooking, we’ve never been big on eating out or ordering take out. I love to cook (and bake), and this blog actually started off more as a recipe blog. Then I started having kids and all that changed 🙂 I no longer come home to an empty house and have all the time in the world to be creative with dinner. I have to think ahead just a bit; I don’t create strict meal plans each week, but instead try to figure out a few main proteins, then wing the side dishes.
Our freezer is currently stocked with prime beef we purchased from a local farmer, as well as chicken I bought in bulk from Costco and fish from Trader Joe’s. If pork loin is on sale at the grocery store, I’ll typically buy a few to freeze. I love having frozen proteins (especially in bulk) because it means less small runs to the grocery store. And I feel like I go enough as it is without going back for meat.
Now that we’re getting our Nature’s Garden Express boxes, I focus on using that produce as sides. So typically that means thawing a protein and whipping up a side or two for dinner. This keeps things fairly simple for me so that my issue isn’t having options to cook as much as being so exhausted by 8 p.m. I lose my desire sometimes.
So that sums up how I cover the cleaning and cooking aspects of staying at home. Whether you stay at home or work outside the home, there are so many hats you wear just being mom: nurturer, teacher, disciplinarian, referee, nurse, etc. I’ll be honest: I have my high points and my low points when it comes to all my roles. Some days, I’m great at preparing healthy home cooked meals, but impatient with my kids. Other days, I’m great at taking the time to teach my kids, but the house is a wreck.
During the past year, I have learned that you never get it all done, never cross off all the to-dos on your list. And coming from the corporate world where merit is based on performance, this was definitely a new mindset for me when I started staying at home. It bothered me the first couple months, but then I tried to refocus on my kids and vow to take care of them to the best of my ability. After that, all the other to-dos just kind of fall into place wherever and whenever there is room. And I’ve learned to be OK with that.