Friday, April 25, 2014

Reader Q & A ~ Balancing Life

Hi Katie
I LOVE your blog. Since I admire your organization as a new mom (who works and teaches like me!) I would love to hear how you balance things over the course of the week. I feel like I leave so much until Sunday afternoon! This means lesson plans, kids clothes and laundry, etc. How do you balance it all? Thanks!

Hi Nicole,
    I wish I had the perfect answer for you, but all I can say is that I just try my best. When we decided to start a family, I knew I was about to board a one way ticket on the crazy train. Whenever I feel like complaining or am totally stressed and overwhelmed, I remind myself that this is what I signed up for and this is what I so badly wanted. So here I am, living this crazy, beautiful life!
   Being a mom isn’t easy. Period. Add the stress of work, household chores, and day-to-day activities and you quickly realize there’s not enough time in the day to do it all. Honestly, no one can do it all and no one should expect to do it all. The only way I keep sane is by surrounding myself with a great support system and keeping as organized as possible.
   I’ve read that the key to staying happy is to throw away “to-do” lists. Well, I believe it’s just the opposite! As much as I would like to simply remember everything that I need to do at work and at home, my brain just doesn’t function that way. My first tip would be to get organized and create a “to-do” list. You can break it down by daily tasks, weekly tasks, or long term goals.  I love this FREE printable and use it to organize myself at work and home. Don’t stress out if you don’t complete everything on it. It will get done at some point!
     My second tip is to ask for help. I really struggled with this at first. Being a total perfectionist, I want to do everything myself because I know it will get done the right way.  I finally realized that I needed to ask for help and get over myself. Who cares if it’s not done my way…it’s done!  I was starting to resent my husband for not helping out as much as I would like. Then I realized that he’s a man, and can’t read my mind. If I don’t tell him what I need, then it won’t get done. Once I finally asked him for help, he gladly accepted the simple tasks and life has been much easier. I can’t expect him to do the dishes or vacuum if I don’t ASK!
         A few other things I’ve come to realize that are necessary in my life are a housecleaner, family support, and help at work. When we bought our house a few years ago, our real estate agent told me that a housecleaner should be the first thing in a budget and the last thing out. Ha! Well, she was right and I couldn’t be happier about having some extra help around the house. I know this isn’t feasible for everyone, but if you cut back on Starbucks, eating out, or other unnecessary purchases, you might discover that having a housecleaner isn’t an outlandish concept.
      I’m also fortunate enough to have my entire family living within five minutes of my house. It’s pretty amazing and has been such a lifesaver. Just last weekend our daughter spent six hours at my parent’s house so my husband and I could do extensive yard work and deep cleaning around the house.  There are many times I’ve dropped her off with family so I can have a few hours to be insanely productive and work on slashing tasks off of my “to-do” list.
     At work, staying organized is absolutely essential! Again, I have a “to-do” list with meetings, lesson plan prep, copies, etc. that needs to get done. Teaching special education, I’m fortunate enough to have a classroom aide who does all of my copies, helps run stations, and allows me to get so many things done! My students also have classroom jobs, which gives them a sense of responsibility and pride within the classroom. Don’t waste your time after school erasing the white board, filing papers, cleaning up, etc. Those are all tasks that I have my students do. It’s mutually beneficial and makes everyone happy!
      In regards to time management, simple things like planning meals, prepping frozen meals, assigning tasks to your spouse, etc. can make a big difference. At the end of every day, I make sure to wash bottles, load the dishwasher, make lunches, and pack my bag for the next day. I plan my outfits for the week every Sunday, lay out my workout clothes the night before, and get everything ready for the next day. I also wake up about fifteen minutes earlier than necessary so I can do simple tasks, like unload the dishwasher or fold some laundry before my daughter wakes up and I have to go to work.
   To sum it up:
·      Make a “to-do” list
      Keep track of exactly what you want vs. what you need to accomplish
·      Ask for help
      Surround yourself with a good support system and don’t forget to ask for help when you need it.
·      Prepare in advance when possible
      Plan dinners, make lunches, layout clothes, etc. as best you can.
·      Prioritize your time
      Don’t get so consumed in your “to-do” list than you neglect your life! Be present with your family and friends and carve out some time for yourself.

How do you balance your life? Is there truly a way to "do it all?" Feel free to add some great suggestions and leave your thoughts!