Making Time (& energy!) For It All

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Making Time (& energy!) For It All

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Making time and energy for it all: a look at a day in the life of a stay at home mum from
Strictly speaking, I know this isn't one of my typical blogging crash course posts. Instead of looking at things you can do to your blog to make it better, I wanted to talk about balance. One aspect of Anyonita Nibbles that is missing from this blog is a bit more insight into who I am and what my family life is like. While thinking of ways to share more of me with all of you, I thought starting at the center would help. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into my life.

There's one comment that about 95% of people say to me and it is: "Wow. You always stay busy!" For a long time I would bite my lip and apologetically make excuses for my busyness, almost shamed by their comments and feeling guilty for having varied interests and ants in my pants. It took me a while but I came to realize that being busy is who I am. It's my default. I do a lot of stuff; I always have projects on the go and I'm always sticking my hands into eight different pots.

I've always been like this: terrified of keeping still. Driven by the poetic unction not to go to the grave with un-lived lives in my veins. As a result, I've always leapt at opportunities, snatching at them and ingesting them, eager for experience. It's what drove me to move abroad when I was 20 years old and it's what keeps me here.

In high school, I was diagnosed with insomnia.I had been living off of four hours sleep a night for years because that was all I needed to function. I didn't realize that this was wrong or that it signified that I had an illness. I thought it was natural to be jittery with anticipation, to be anxious for doing and exploring. In those late hours of the night, I'd stay awake scribbling my life away in journals, researching all the countries I wanted to visit and pushing thumbtacks into the world map hanging on my closet wall of all the places I'd visited.

Insomnia's not something that you grow out of. It's relentless: no matter how tired you are, if you've got insomnia, then you'll be awake. The only time I really got any proper rest was when I was pregnant. The insomnia seemed to lessen during those nine months and for the first two months of Callum's life, but sure enough, it came hurtling back and even as a busy, rushed-off-her-feet mom, I average 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night.

I think the blessing of insomnia is that it's granted me with varied interests. When I can't sleep, I research things. I learn about stuff and I borderline obsess over it. It's natural that during the daytime, I'd want to incorporate as much of the stuff I'd researched into my everyday life. That's where the juggling started: first out of interest. When I became a mom, it became necessary to juggle everything purely to function.

Since my husband works full time, I'm the one who stays home with Callum and since I'm home the most, I've taken on the brunt of the housework and the meal planning and the cooking and minding Callum. I love it all, but I never wanted to be a stay at home mom. As I've explained, my interests have always been so varied--too varied for me to find being at home relentlessly something positive. In true me style, I've taken on projects and I've kept myself busy in between the housework and the toddler chasing.

If I didn't, I would lose who I am and as someone who has struggled with and received treatment off and on for depression and self-injury I know how dangerous being stagnant can be for me. I know what my triggers are and one of my biggest triggers is feeling unhelpful and not being able to contribute to something. So I pile on the projects and the commitments and I honestly enjoy the juggle of it all. Being busy is being at peace.

So how do I do it? The only way I know how: with overly anal organization and plans and charts and lists.
I've got lists and charts for everything and that's what I want to share with you!

Home Organization
We don't have one of those family notebooks or anything like that. I'm not that organized. Well, that's not true. Our living situation means that we ... don't have household bills in the traditional sense. So there's no need to create a schedule of payments for water, electricity etc. So we've skipped over this. Besides, husband handles the money because it's one of the things that I'm particularly bad about. Having all those hobbies and interests means there's always something I'd happily buy whether I need it or not!

My domain in home organization is the cleaning. I loathe to clean the tub and shower and I hate vacuuming, so those have been delegated to husband. For everything else, there's a list and specific days when I do the laundry. On my list are my laundry, Callum's laundry, the kitchen laundry, the bathrom laundry and the bedding. Husband takes care of his own laundry.

I've also delegated days for cleaning the bathroom and doing the kitchen's big clean and general tidying away. Because there's never enough hours in the day, little things always pile up and clutter and I'm really bad about consistently tidying away the little niggles. So once a week there's a big clear out of all the things that have managed to stray (usually with the help of a certain toddler) from their typical homes. That's it. Things like dusting happen once a month, unless they're really dusty.

Here's the chart I use for household tidying:
A chores chart from

Love that chart? Download your own Customizable Chores Chart! Print it out & get organized!

Meal Planning and Cooking
The kitchen is my domain. Once a month I fish out some cookbooks, magazines and of course, my secret Pinterest board with all the recipes I want to make and share with you. With a calender, I go through and I meal plan for the entire month. Then, I break down the shopping into two lots: the first two weeks of the month and the last two weeks of the month.

Once the meal plan has been set on my paper calender (which hangs in the kitchen) I assign the meals I want to blog to my blogging calender and set days for them to be posted. Then I write out the menu each week on a whiteboard in my kitchen.

There's a lot of steps and, consulting my blogging schedule, I'm planning on doing a proper post on how I meal plan in December. If you can wait that long! :) To make all this easier, I've devised charts and lists again that are specific to my tastes and processes. I'll work on saving these in PDF form so you can download them too!

I've hinted at it, but the thing that keeps me focused with blogging is being organized. Monthly, I keep track of my blog stats and record information from things like number of followers to number of posts. I also keep a calendar of the posts I intend to write and schedule any giveaways or competitions as well.

I don't blog everyday. Just Monday to Friday, typically. Every now and then, you might find a weekend post from me but these tend to be rare. For us, weekends are family time. It's when we can relax together and I love the stress of not having to worry about blogging. This is the reason I'm such an awful link party participant on the weekends! I never remember because I'm never at my computer!

When I can, I try to get drafts of the upcoming posts started or done and scheduled to publish. With a toddler you never know what's going to happen from one day to the next and since I'm a slave to my lists and schedules, I like to stick to them or I have a tendency to get anxious.

Running a Business
My "business" is tiny. It's just me and my domestic oven and again, it's one of those hobbies that took over. Running it is dead easy because I don't have a budget! I don't do any paid advertising, I don't employ anyone I don't do paid marketing. It's me and my laptop and it's pretty passive.

I get less than 10% of visitors to that business than I do to this blog. And that's perfectly fine by me. It's a sideline, something meant to keep me busy more than anything else. But it's still a business and it still requires work and effort. I'd like to set aside a certain day each week to focus on it and always have good intentions of doing so but that's hardly the case. Instead, I do it when I can but I make sure to do it to the best of my ability.

Because we've funded everything for it, seriously guys, I started this business for about £60, it's pretty laid back. There aren't any costs that I can't cover from orders. It's probably unfair to call it a business. It's more of a ... swap.

This is the bit that is very important to me. I've never really been one of those stay out all night kind of girls. Luckily, my husband's not that kind of guy, either. We do enjoy going out, but it's not something that we feel we need to do weekly. We barely do it monthly. So balancing relationships can be difficult. When he's not in work we're always together, so we've got that part down. We're still working on balancing getting out more and utilizing the generous offer from his mom to babysit when we need.

Because I spend the most time with Callum, I'm always happy for Wayne and Callum to have that important father/son time when he gets home from work. From the very beginning, Wayne was the one getting up with Callum to do the night feeds and Wayne was the one who put Callum to bed each night. That's carried over to now and I love that that gives them a few more precious moments of time together.

Living as an expat means my very best friends aren't around me. Since we're all married and since most of us have children, balancing our time is especially difficult and the silence that can exist because of busyness and distance is probably the thing that gets to us the most. But the key is finding time, no matter how fleeting to keep the connection alive.

Actually, that's the key with any of the stuff I do. Yes, I do a lot, but it never seems like it. It doesn't seem like it because I don't spend every hour of every day doing this stuff. Apart from minding Callum. But prioritizing and seizing each moment means I have time to blog and to do the cleaning and cooking and playing with and teaching Callum each day.

A quick outline of our day:
5:30-6 am Mommy wakes up, showers & dresses etc
6-7:30 am Mommy blogs, does prep for dinner & get done any last minute things that can't be done with Callum knocking about
7:30-8 am Callum and Daddy wakes up (Our flat is spread over three floors, with most of our time spent on the ground floor. So unless I take the baby monitor with me, I wouldn't hear Callum at all. Wayne waits for Callum to wake up usually before getting out of bed.)
8-1 pm Wayne gets Callum's breakfast while I finish last minute things then he gets ready and leaves for work. Callum & I have our day. Either we stay home and play and do Mommy School stuff or we go out for a bit.
1-2 pm Wayne either comes home for lunch or we meet him somewhere, unless he has a meeting
2:30-4 pm Callum falls asleep at some point during this period and naps while I get a couple of chores done
4-5 pm Mommy makes dinner while Callum plays/watches Peppa Pig or RaaRaa
5:45-6 pm Daddy comes home & we have dinner or go out for dinner if I've not made anything
6-8:30 pm Family time, no set schedule; Callum & Wayne spend some time playing
8:30-9 pm Callum's bedtime routine: bath, milk, we all read two stories together then Wayne puts Callum to sleep
9:30 pm I have a nap! Wayne does the dishes & then wakes me around 11
11-1 am Mommy Daddy time
1 am bedtime

Of course this isn't set in stone and there are times when we deviate from the schedule, but this generally what happens. It works for us. What does your daily schedule look like?  What tips do you have for getting everything done and staying organized?

Don't forget to download my Customizable Chores Chart!

Making time & energy for it all From

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