Being a mom is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I remember juggling 22 credits one semester in college, most of them physics and mathematics and engineering courses. I thought that was it, the pinnacle of difficulty. I still have nightmares that I forgot to show up for a final that semester. But being a mom takes the cake, I don’t believe anything can be more taxing (or more rewarding) on the individual.
That being said, it has gotten easier over the years as I’ve ‘debugged’ my methods. Here are 10 things that have helped me, a LOT, on my motherhood journey.
1. The Bullet Journal
I am not a naturally organized person. My bullet journal has sort of become my mom-brain. There are lots of great resources out there on setting up a bullet journal with stuff like table of contents, numbered pages, a budget section, meal planning section, important recipe section etc. Seriously look up bullet journals on youtube and see what I mean. When I started my bullet journal I tried to do all these and more (movies to watch, books to read, weekly log, daily goals, yearly goals, local store hours, a calendar, spending by week, bills by week!!! gah…) But really, in the end I use one: the weekly log. This weekly log (a 2 page spread)contains my lists and notes each week:
- shopping lists to various stores: I take my bullet journal everywhere
- reminders: appointments, important dates and the like
- quotes or info I found particularly helpful: stuff I just didn’t want to forget
- meal ideas
- goals for each room
- things I want to research when I have time
- schoolwork goals for the kids
The great thing about the bullet journal is that the lists remain. They do not end up in the trash or stuffed in the diaper bag. The lists live on, people. How cool is that. Each week I look over which items need to move forward to the next weekly log. Two of the biggest benefits of the Bullet Journal (and there have been many) are:
stresses, once named, tend to get fixed
Life with little ones can be stressful enough. Now add in that cupboard’s missing knob, the blown bulb in the laundry room, the shades that just keep getting wrecked, that dated light fixture that makes you wince. I never realized, until I began bullet journaling how many stresses I was letting accrue in my life. Now, when stresses appear, I jot them down so that later, when there is some down time, my husband or I can fix them. Family life is looking less like a circus, and more like a well-oiled machine.
Second, I began to manage the spending money more fairly. As budgeters the spending money has to cover clothes and extras for my family and the home. By jotting down the spending goals for the week in the bullet journal, I became better at prioritizing and balancing spending (it turned out I was spending lots on stuff for the kids and almost nothing for myself and my home). As a result my home’s appearance improved while still staying on-budget. And I’ve found I have much fewer impulse buys eating up my budget.
2. Personal Journal to document Motherhood
I do not take pictures of my kids everyday. Partly because as a mother I’m a participant and not a bystander. Partly because I don’t really want my kids remembering mom as always behind the lens. Once or twice a week I will pull our the DSLR and snap some pics concientiously, but mostly our life just is. But the stories, the funny sayings, the moments, those are emotions that a photo can’t really store completely (can a mom be completely enjoying a moment if she is also thinking about the lighting, composition and aperture speed?) I find memories best when stored as words. Those I store in my personal journal. This is what I imagine myself looking at when I am old and gray. Kids grow up so fast, and while that is bittersweet, I find it less so knowing I’ve stored these written treasures recording my love, our struggles and triumphs and their stories. So to all moms, I recommend easing the pangs of kids growing up with a personal journal.
3. Kon-Mari the Home
The Art of Tidying Up is an invaluable little gem especially for mothers. It has made my days as a mother so.many.times better. My home just naturally stays ‘nice’ now, with such minimal effort. I highly recommend doing this!
4. Use the Suitcase System for Clothes
Kill the clothes monster once and for all. This was a huge step forward for me as a mother.
5. Do ‘School Work’
Whether they are 6 months or 4 years, having that 30 minutes of one on one time with mama’s undivided attention calms children and keeps them content throughout the day. For baby, I spend it teaching words, building and knocking down block towers, etc. For the toddlers it is time for numbers, shapes and alphabet. For the four year old it is reading and addition and subtraction. I also like to have the children memorize poems or facts.
6. Read the Bible before Bed
Or use Bible CD’s once they are all tucked in with the lights off. I’ve found the Bible is calming and puts my children in the right state of mind for bed.
7. Hang Dark Curtains in the Bedroom (but not blackout curtains!)
That summer sun, ugh. Save the drama mama. Any dark color will do but don’t use those ubiquitous black-out curtains, as they pollute the air by out-gassing VOC’s (especially not good for a sleeping environment!) I also keep a fan or air filter running in their bedroom.
8. Spray bottle and Rag drawer
For cleanup even a 3 year old can handle, I keep a spray bottle with water and a low kitchen draw stocked with rags (e.g. cut up old t-shirts or socks). My kids run to clean up their own messes, and they do an excellent job at it.
9. Stick to a Schedule and have age appropriate ‘chores’
Kids like to know what is next. My kids know how to read the clock (and it is not digital) because they are looking forward to meal time and snack time and bed time. They also take pride in doing their chores and chores put them in a good mood.
I firmly believe Sabbath is the best, best thing for a mother and the whole family. It gives me a rest and recharge that propels me through the coming week. Saturday around our household is sacrosanct. No purchasing, no working, no cleaning, minimal cooking. Just lots of rest and quiet time. Sabbath is like a keystone that holds our family structure together.