Dec 9, 2008

There's A Self-Help Book Somewhere With My Face On It.

Something has got to change.

And now.

My life has become a vicious cycle of organized mass destruction. Is that even something? Probably not. And that's my point.

Look, I'm an artist. Not an actual artist, mind you. But an artist in the sense that my creativity and, shall we say, zest for life seem to determine everything I do and the way that I do. I am 100% right brained and not one little ounce left brained. (What are you?)

Some days I wake up at 4, some days at 7, some days at 10.

Some days I shower. And some days I don't.

Some days I get no laundry done at all. And some days I get half the laundry done. But I never, ever, ever get all of the laundry completely finished.

Some days I cook. Some days I plan to cook. And some days I cook the first dish and get tired and give up - so we sit down for dinner to a plate of ham.

Some days I have a quiet time. And to be quite honest, lots of days, I don't.

Some days I start writing my thank-you cards for the baby gifts people gave me MONTHS ago. And some days I give up and push them back under my bed.

Some days I return calls and check emails. And some days I lose my computer and forget to charge my phone.

Some days my house looks like a tornado tore through it. Some days it looks like the tornado won. But it never, ever looks like I won.


Never had it.

Have to get it.

If I could get my hands on a little discipline and organization I could be the woman that my mind sees. I'd like to meet her, she seems like a great woman. A lot of fun. Her clothes match and she's proud of her accomplishments. Instead I wear clothes that still have dried marinara on them from two weeks ago. I haven't renewed my drivers license after two warnings from two different officers on two different occasions. And my daughters shot records have yet to be turned in to her school - and she started in August. (But I personally see this as all their fault. They know I need reminding.)

Several months back some of you emailed me concerning your weekly menu planning. I started it. And I loved it! It has helped not only our time but our budget. (Tonight? Eggplant Parmesan, thankyouverymuch.)

So what other tricks do you have up your sleeve?
If your house if full of kiddos then when do you fit in that quiet time?
When do you start and - gasp! - finish your laundry?
Do you have particular days of the week that you do certain things?
Oh, and here's a good question. If you have over one child, how do you get them and all their things in the car under 2 hours and without breaking out into a dripping sweat?

Share with me. I am a desperate woman.

I'll be taking notes. As soon as I can find where in the wide world I left my journal. Or a pen.


ugagirl30 said...

Oh gosh! You sound so much like me. I covet quiet time. The laundry is never finished, but quite frankly, we are for maybe the first time ever 1 load from having it all done. But here is a scary thought--the laundry is never done--you've always got what you are wearing that day.

My poor husband is responsible for getting the kids up, fed, dressed, and off to school in the mornings. Our routine is for me to have the kids lay out their clothes, socks, undergarments, shoes, jackets the night before so he does not have to go through the stress of picking it out. That helps alot.

You are not alone in this. You sound so much like me it is not even funny. I, too, have so much potential, but am too overwhelmed to reach it.

Jenn said...

I have NO idea...but I'll be checking back to see what tips you get! I seriously feel like I'm always a step or two behind.

I blame the internet for my laundry issues, and my boys for our messy house! LOL ;)

Melissa said...

Oh, sweet friend, listening to you brings back flashbacks I'd rather not remember, but they were a part of my life not that long ago. I always gritted my teeth when people (esp my momma!) said, "It's such a short time, before you know it they'll be all grown up. Treasure, treasure, treasure this time!" Well, 3 years later I do see that so I will tell you to hold on, but I know that is not what you want to hear.

Being a natural-born organizer myself I have a handful of tricks up my sleeve, but many are hard to implement unless you have the supreme to desire to override everything in your life to make it work. If you are like that, let me know and we can get together. If not, don't beat yourself up, here are a few things that works for us even now (ages 4.5, 7, 9 -- all girls!!):

1. Get up early no matter what. (again, this takes serious help from Jesus and I started this when my youngest was about 2?) I get up between 4:45 - 5:00 to make coffee, get lunches ready, a start on breakfast, and, most importantly, QUIET TIME!! For me and my body rhythm, I need this calm time before the circus of girls get up and running crazy, blah, blah, blah.....I also go to Curves about 6:00 3 or 4 times a week.

2. Have lots of frozen food in your freezer and the wonderful new mac 'n cheese cups that kids can make. Maybe not yours, but last night when I was sick as a dog on the sofa with a stuffed up nose, my sweet 7 year old cooked 3 of those for the girls for supper. This day will come for you, I promise.

3. You must start 3 days before you leave to go anywhere getting ready. We started working on Sunday morning on Thurs. night with diaper bags, bags for the car, etc. We are not there yet, but I have had a vision of one day when there will be NO CAR SEATS in my van and everyone can just jump in and buckle themselves up and we can go! A vision that has yet to come to fruition, but getting closer every day!

Hang in there girl. I read somewhere that God has to have extra mercy on mothers of babies and toddlers because He knows how hard your life is. I didn't do it, being the natural-born organizer, controller I am, but just hang on for the ride. And call your momma a lot to cry on over the phone.

I will say a special prayer for you today for grace and mercy and that you will "ooze with peace" (our new favorite phrase around here!)


Shelley said...

Well, let me just say that I'm no organizer. It has taken lots of practice. I get up about 30 minutes earlier than my children do and have my quiet time then. I check my on line devotional and honestly, most days I race through it. Then I get the little one up and get her lunch fixed and by then she is ready for breakfast. After she is out the door for school, I wake the older two and get them ready for school. Now that they are all gone to school during the day, it has it's perks. Then I had to go and volunteer at the schools. Pfft! What was I thinking? It's not so bad.
Hang in there, it does get better.
Oh and here's my day list:

Monday - Laundry - ALL OF IT
Tuesday - Vacuum carpets
Wednesday - Clean up LR and Family Room
Thursday - Clean bathrooms
Friday - Grocery shopping- ALL OF IT
Saturday - hang out day/mop kitchen as needed
Sunday - Lord's day

Each night kitchen is clean and swept and floor is spot cleaned.

My house is not perfect. And our motto is, We love you here. If you can't take a little mess, maybe you don't belong.

As for getting everyone in the car, it takes a lot of yelling. I know, I try to be a good mom, but most of the time, yelling ensues cause I hate to be late for anything.

Smile, Jesus loves you.

Amber said...

My kids go to bed at 7:00--that's the secret! Which also means that we are up by 5:30 or 6:00! I don't plan to get anything done during the day, so if I do its a bonus! I do, however, do ALL the laundry on Mondays. I only do heavy cleaning when Randy is here on Saturdays and he has to help.

Saturday nights consist of baths, diaper bags packed and EVERYONE'S clothes out--mom and dad's too! There is nothing like scrambling at the last minute for the "skinny shirt." I have a fabulous husband, who does so much for us on Sunday mornings. He finishes dressing the kids and combing hair and brushing teeth while I get ready.

Early bedtime and a good man--those are the secrets!

Sheri said...

Er, I don't have kids but since I'm never home, it seems it's weeks and then the house is a disaster.

As a kid, Mom had specific laundry days. Like, Monday was for whites, Tuesday, lights, Wed, Darks, etc. It was never all done, but she was also only doing one load a day. More manageable. And, we helepd at a very early age with sorting clothes. It was a great time to learn our colors.

My favorite friends houses to visit are the ones that are in constant chaos. Love hits you before you even get through the door. Enjoy it!

Ruby Red Slippers said...

I am probally your opposite-I am a little too organized. I like everything "just so" at my house-but God gave me three boys (!) and a husband, so life can't be "perfect"...and I love it. I still have to have the house picked up everyday, and stuff put in their place, but the laundry-It is currently a mountain you could much for perfection!
Find the jobs at home you are good at, then have A.G. help you out-I bet he has the opposite gifts-that's how it is here...I don't cook or do toilets, but my hub. does...I am the dish washer, and "pick up and put away". Good Luck!

Denise said...

I am no help whatsoever....I am the most unorganized person I know. So I will be looking for tips and suggestions along with you. The only thing I can say is that I send my kids to bed at matter what. After 8 is my time.
Good luck!

Sidney (Sixy Mama) said...

Well, I gotta tell ya, I'm gonna be searching for the menus post! As a single mom to six kids, it NEVER all gets done. And really, is cereal bad for you, say, four nights a week?? I think not.

Laundry...the very bane of my existence. I had often contemplated hiring someone JUST to do my laundry for me on a daily basis, then my oldest daughter quit her job, so that {unpaid} task now falls to her. She's actually done it for two days in a row now (and it's mostly ALL done), and after making my nightly run to Wally World last night, I came back to a very neat and organized laundry...even the floor was vacuumed! And my kitchen was somewhat clean.

Quiet time....I've heard of it....actually, since my youngest is now six, I do get a little more than I did, but it seems like my 17 year old is always interrupting me now...I just try to go to bed, close my door and read. I do get some quiet time during the day when my daycare kids are napping, but that's about it.

Good luck in your journey! I'll be watching to see what others recommend!

Leah H said...

My trick for laundry is to do all of the things that go together at once, and I'm not necessarily talking colors here. I don't separate things on purpose normally, but when things really get piled up (which they always are!!) I wash all of my daughter's clothes in one load. At least it's quicker to put away. Then I'll wash all of my husband's t-shirts. Trust me, it's the only way I ever get anything put away at the same time it's folded!!

Kelley said...

I can hardly wait to hear everyone's suggestions. I have tried to manage it different ways never with total success. I do mine and my husbands all on one day, then do my boys' separately; one one day and one the next.

Tracy P. said...

It looks to me like Shelley needs to clone herself and send one to each of us.

Best comment quote:
"My favorite friends houses to visit are the ones that are in constant chaos. Love hits you before you even get through the door."

I think you'd feel right at home here!

One new idea I just got for quiet time, which is my biggest need: Light a candle near you when it's your quiet time. No one gets to talk to you while the candle is burning. I haven't found the candle yet.

Amy said...

My approach is simple...I include my kids in everthing from sorting their own laundry to vaccuming. They love to do it believe it or not! My hope is that one day they will work me out of a job!
Seriously though:
I feel like I am always working for tomorrow, trying to make tomorrow easier...but the truth is I never get to enjoy being a little ahead because there is always a tomorrow to work toward.
I do laundry everyday!
I make menus!
I make to do lists and stick to them!
I load the car the night before!
I cook 5-7 nights a week!
With all of this I still feel like I'm running crazy and behind, so if you figure out how to do it all and revel in it you must pass it on!

Sarah W. said...

My advice is probably not what you want to hear, but I say be who you are. God created you perfect. Even though you may not be super organized, I imagine your home is fun and full of laughter.

I clean because I love to clean. It is just how I am wired. This comes at a cost, though, because with two kids 2 and under, my house is messy all the time. So when I should be sleeping, I am not.

Also, there is no way in the world I would get up before my children. I pray like every night they will sleep til 9 (which never happens). They both still take naps, so currently, I have my quiet time during their afternoon nap. Or sometimes while my daughter takes a morning nap, I let my son watch TV (or try to force him to sit with me on the couch) while I spend time with Jesus. However, that started when Chloe was like 9 months old....before that, it was totally sporadic.
The best advice I have ever received (which especially applied with having an infant) is to treat God like you do your husband. You do not set aside 15 minutes with your husband, spend that time with him, and ignore him the rest of the day. I had to get outside the paradigm of what spending time with God looked like. Sometimes its turning on worship music while driving. Sometimes its praying while feeding an infant. Or turning on a sermon to listen to while playing with your kids. I had the thought that unless I could give God 100%, I gave him nothing. What mom has anything left to give? He is so happy with any part of us.

This is getting long, but I have found embracing who you are is so helpful. Knowing you are not as organized as the lady down the street. But knowing she has her weaknesses too.

The laundry never stops anyway. And, I know you've heard it all before, your kids will never remember.

Amy said...

WHen my kids were the ages yours are now, I worked fulltime, had a clean house, supper cooked every day and I don't know HOW in the heck I did it all.

Now, they are pre-teens and I am again working fulltime and it's a little harder to keep up. For one thing, I invested in a slow cooker. I throw everything in there in the morning before work, and it's done when I get home in the evenings. (one less thing to do) We eat, I do dishes and clean the kitchen while they bathe. I do the laundry early, so I can have at least an hour of ME time before bed, once they are done with homework and get tucked in.

My house stayed a mess when I was a stay at home mom...go figure.

I do laundry EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT! I have to. I do two loads and it is all done. But I do it. Again, Cause I have to.

Good luck!

Emily W. said...

Check out the fly lady. I have been a lurker for a while, I know it is creepy but my internet friend Becca got me hooked on your blog. Thanks Becca! And now I feel like you are my friend. Anyway, check out She has some great, easy ideas. Hope that helps, oh and I read the e-book and loved it. You have a lot of talent and opened my eyes a little bit about my foxhole. Thanks!
Emily W. :)

NC said...

This too shall pass! Your kids are about the exact distant in age that my first two were and truly, it was a shock to the system! I will say that it is much harder to go from one to two than any other. It's a new adventure trying to figure out getting multiple kids ready. Here is what I do.

First, I have had to accept that I am not perfect and my house will not always be perfect even though I want it to be and I get anxious about it all the time. This is why I am loving the Beth Moore Esther study I am doing right now. IT IS AWESOME! I don't always get my quiet time done, especially when they were young. I pray alot especially when I am feeding the baby. That is my only alone time. This study is the first one I have done since before my 3rd was born and he is 3 1/2. Do what you can and don't beat yourself up about it.

I do ALL my laundry on Monday's and clean up as much as I can. After the husband is home all weekend, the place is just a mess. I usually do full cleaning on either a Tues. or Thurs. when all the kids are at school and just the little man is here with me sleeping. I am horrible about meals. I do real well for a while and then I just fall off the bandwagon. Mainly because I have very picky eaters in my house and I get frustrated.

As far as getting out of the house, if I know I have to go somewhere the next day, I am up before everyone that means around
5:30 a.m. and get myself ready first. That way I can just focus on everyone else the rest of the morning. Pack the bags the night before and I am a HUGE list maker. I always have a pad of paper and pen sitting on my counter that I just write things down that I have to do or remember to do. If pops in my head, I write it down because I know in ten minutes, it will be gone. I also have my kids in bed at 7:00 p.m. Even my older ones no later than 7:30 p.m. during school. The latest they go usually is 8:00 pm I need that time. They need their sleep. Oh, and they nap until they are done with kindergarten. That's just how I survive.

After the older ones started school, I got a white board calendar and each person has a different color marker and I put EVERYTHING on the calendar. School stuff, dr apts., sports, church stuff. You name it. That way everyone can see it too.

It is much easier now that the kids are older. Even having the little ones it gets crazy but they can help out so much more. I don't have to get the older ones dressed and do all that stuff. It will get easier. You just have to think ahead. Trust me, I am in my pajamas at home most days if I don't have to go anywhere. Why get dressed? You know!

Paige said...

Well, since the oldest now is 21 and the youngest 14, the only way I can ever get in my quiet time is in the morning. I get up 45 minutes before they do. I always say that it is easier to face God with coffee in hand than a possibly grumpy child. The laundry and the other things, I do not have a formula. Lately I have tried to do at least four things a day to keep organized or keep the house clean!

Love your blog! You always make me smile, giggle or LOL! Hugs!

Lynda said...

Laundry is simple in our house. My husband does his own on Saturdays. I do my daughter's on Sunday (after church) and my own and towels, etc...on Monday.

Sissy said...

I have no tips other than plan for mornings the night before. It helps to plan ahead.

Also, I thought of you last night cause Paula Deen made deep fried asparagus with a creole dipping sauce! Seriously, I thought of you...don't you feel special.

Melissa said...

Melissa. Melissa. Melissa.....
you are my hero. I love honestly. I love transparency. I think sometimes we are so convinced that everyone else has it together and we are the only ones who are in the "crazy cycle" of young motherhood.
I have no routine. It's bad. I know. I was doing really well with having all the laundry done, but once you get out of the routine, it's so hard to get back into it.

I start things with gusto, but I fizzle out once the new wears off. I've done the menus, the star charts, the "if-then" discipline charts, the crafts with my kids, etc. I've tried it all, but it all takes consistency. I. don't. have. it. I'm not making excuses, I'm just being.....honest. I love honesty. I get exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically. I get overwhelmed easily. I look at things I have to do sometimes and I just want to cry. Prozac helps a little, but discipline is a hard pill to swallow. I want the easy way out. I don't want to have to work at it. That's just the plain honest truth.

Now, that doesn't mean it's okay to be this way. I believe we can do all things through Christ. I just asked Him this morning to help me just focus on Him that lives within me. It's nothing I do that makes me worthy. I must decrease and He must increase. That's the only way it will all work out. It's hard to crucify our flesh. It hurts. And frankly sometimes, I just don't feel like doing it.....but I persevere and so will you. I love you sister.

Me said...

Well, my house is dirty, my laundry is clean but unfolded in the baskets, but I did get a quiet time done. I had to just make that my main priority otherwise, I'm just a mean mommy and grumpy wife. I don't wake up before the kids because two of them will wake up no matter how quietly I tiptoe down the stairs. I wait until I have fed them breakfast, I put on some "kiddo shows" and I sit on the couch and talk to Jesus. The kids no that when I'm on the couch I am talking to Jesus and they can come to me if it's something really important. Also, I don't allow my self to check email or blogs until the quiet time is done. That helped me ALOT!

P.S. I'm always looking for a pen. And I'm just now starting dinner and it's 5:45pm. Oops.

Anonymous said...

I would have to second the suggestions to check out Flylady ( She has ADHD and had to learn the hard way how to clean her house and get herself organized so she wasn't missing appointments etc. She has a great website with suggestions and ideas and amazing support. I'm a little 'scattered' myself and I have incorporated many of Flylady's ideas with great success. My kids are older now so it is much easier. You are at the toughest stage now and for the next few years so just hang-in. When the youngest is 3 life gets easier - my opinion anyway. Have a look at Flylady and then go clean your kitchen sink (it is one of her mantras - one thing leads to another and before you know it your whole kitchen will be clean). Some of her ideas sound strange, but you really have to give them a try before you shoot them down.


katy said...

You're crazy woman! (in a good way, mind you)
First of all...I need the menu/budget/plan a sista out! Second...who, with kids, ever "finishes" laundry...that's an ongoing I might have two piles, tomorrow I might have ten, but I am never ever "finished". I'm just gonna keep an extra close eye on your blog and take some of these good tips these ladies are passing on to you, LOL

katy said...

PS...Am I allowed two comments? Fabulous, then here's my 2nd one... "Your personal coach to help you gain control"

Lula! said...

Right. There. With. You.

Today I accomplished 3 full loads of laundry--start to finish, including ironing. Know why? Season 4 of Lost came out on DVD. I watched the first 3 episodes while sorting, folding, ironing, and repeating.

God is good, Melissa. He always a way. And I know that you, of all people, will realize that I am 100% pure of heart in sharing this with you. I do not kid about Lost. Or the laundry. Or my Lord.


Anonymous said...

My house still isn't perfect, but my organizational skills have improved over time. I realized that the laundry wasn't going to go away on its own, and I just had to get over it. And yes, menus and ongoing grocery lists on the fridge help. I'm sure the flylady can help you with those skills, but I have a question about that left brain/right brain link you gave. What does it mean if the lady keeps switching back and forth? I was wondering if they were just doing that to mess me up, or if I'm just real balanced or something.


Finding Normal said...

I third the flylady, although I'm off the wagon right now.
My suggestion for getting out of the house is to keep an emergency diaper bag in the car. Just put in a few diapers, some wipes, a spare outfit per kid, feeding supplies, snacks, a juice box. And KEEP IT IN THE CAR. Do not remove it from the car. The day you remove it because you don't need it, you'll need it.
I'm really big about getting everything ready the night before. I would pour Noah's cereal if I thought the stupid dog wouldn't eat it. The clothes are laid out, and I sometimes even get all 5 days semi-ready on Sunday.
I need to assign chores to each day, but I know I won't stick to it. Flylady would tell me to get over my perfectionism.
And I'm weird that I enjoy laundry. King sized bed covered in cute little piles - heavenly to me.

Leighann said...

Here's my compromise between being uber-OCD and uber-filth:

1)laundry: i bought a three-bin sorter and when the bins are full, I do those loads in one day and put them away the next.

2) house: i have my 4 and 2 yr olds help me clean up their playtime mess after dinner each night. takes about 10 minutes of constant harping, but then i'm not stuck doing it myself after they go to bed. i also put the dishes in the dishwasher as we use them throughout the day and clean up every night after dinner.

3) deep cleanings: the first week of the month i take each day and do the sheets, bathrooms, floors, etc. so i know it's been done and don't stress about it the rest of the month.

4) quiet time: scripture reading while i'm going to the bathrooom, praying constantly but esp. in the shower and as i'm falling asleep (nothing better than having the last person you spoke to for the day being the Lord), reading while the kids are watching a video.

good luck!

Teri from Indiana said...

Finish The Laundry?!?!?! ROTFLMFBO!! Are you serious? ROTFLMFBO!!! Quiet time for myself? ROTFLMBO!!
You slay me. LOL

Heather said...

That dancer is going clockwise and there's NO WAY in you know where that she's EVER going to change direction! ;)
So, I'm in the SAME BOAT! Probably why I have piles of crapola on my kitchen counter and piles of magazines on the living room table. And it probably explains why I have 1,000s(OK, only a little over a hundred) of college credits and no degree!! ;)
And tomorrow? Not only is it Friday, but it's my birthday! My 38th birthday, and I STILL DON'T know what I want to be when I grow up, whenever that is! ;)
My laundry issues revolve around the whole "putting up" process. Yeah, it's sad!
So, hang in there and know that you're not alone.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I know this comment is late but hopefully you'll still see it. I have to do all the laundry on Saturdays. It's such a good feeling to wash it all and put it all away. My method is to sort it, if I can, on Friday evening when I get home from work. Then Saturday the first thing I do when I get up is put a load in the washer. Now here's my trick...I then set the alarm on my cell phone for 45 minutes and I rotate the laundry every 45 minutes. It's amazing how it all gets done, I put each load away immediately, and I do other small chores in between (or surf the net!). I make sure that Sunday is my day of rest. It's my way of honoring God and I get some down time as a perk. Good luck, I know it's not easy but it really does help me.

DysFUNctional Mom said...

I am so much like you that I have no advice.
Except maybe, embrace it.