I can "see" clearly now...

The last few months, I’ve been working REALLY hard to be super intentional with my days. By that, I don’t just mean being “efficient” with my time, but really focusing on my bigger goals, and enacting the many smaller steps needed to get there. Years of living in crisis didn’t lend to my having great habits. As a solo parent, despite things becoming more stable the last year, I still had the “fight or flight” lifestyle of someone just “surviving” day to day. I let chores pile up while I did other things, then would need to dig myself out of a big hole to get things cleaned up again, I’d pour myself into one project, neglecting everything else, and watch the chaos pile up around me. I didn’t see any other way; in all reality, I never knew any other way. The last time life was even a little stable, we only had one child; and she was a REALLY easy toddler. Now we are one less parent, and two more kids; the old ways simply can’t work anymore. So my desperately overwhelmed self formulated a plan…

I stopped most things that were distracting me; even if they were things I loved. I’ve barely written, gone out less, even my workouts took a bit of a back seat. I scoured advice columns and Pinterest, wrote list after list, and one day, I just…began. At first it nearly seemed an exercise in futility (after all, my life is bananas no matter what), but I’m grateful to say it’s really made a difference for us. Here’s what I’ve been up to…

1). One word: PURGED!!! 

I don’t mean I tossed an extra few garbage bags over a couple of weeks. I mean I made an extra 5-10 garbage bags every single week, for probably close to two months now. If it was something I haven’t looked for in a year, something no one in my home would ever find valuable for any reason, ever again, it went. At first I couldn’t even tell the difference. Every week more bags went out, and yet I found more clutter in every corner of the house. Then, one day, I looked around, and I could finally see the fruits of my labor when my kids were able to tidy up their playroom in under ten minutes, and I could see some space in our closets. Less stuff hasn’t made any of us sadder, just sayin’…

2). Cleaned lightly, every.single.day.

I began to vacuum at least two times a day (quickly), making sure I went to bed with no dishes in the sink, my table wiped down, and clothes put in hampers. It may not sound like much, but it was EXHAUSTING at first. Once I got on a roll, though, it seemed to happen quicker, and quicker every time. I also realized how often I walked right past things blatantly not where they belonged. Nail polish on the counter, screw drivers in drawers instead of in the tool box, pens everywhere. So, in the time after dinner, when my kids are watching their bed time tv show, when I was usually playing on my phone, instead I began walking around the house grabbing things to put away. I can’t say I get to everything every night (or even close), but every day a little more is done. 

3). Did the shit I hate right away.

For the record, I despise putting clothes and dishes away. Despise. If I could hire someone to come to my house to do these things, I would. I couldn’t tell you why, other than they are the most frequent and menial of all my life tasks, but the longer I let these things sit, the less likely they are to get done in an orderly fashion. If I don’t empty the dishwasher as soon as it’s clean, or as soon as I get up (if I’ve run it overnight), it will sit there, and the dishes will pile up in my sink until I can’t see the bottom (and I have a really big sink). If I don’t fold and put away clean laundry as soon as it’s dry, it wrinkles up, gets tossed on the floor by a preschooler wanting to play with the basket, gets flopped around the room again until I can’t figure out what’s clean and what isn’t, and I end up having to wash it all over again. So for the last few weeks, I’ve made sure to stay on top of these things. I still hate doing it, but I do get a boost from knowing it’s done for the day and I don’t have to stare at a full sink (or basket) with a sense of dread.

3). Planned ahead

I started using Sunday to prep breakfasts and lunches, get all the ironing done, and set out the kids’ outfits for Monday morning. If I know I’ll have a busy day, I’ll try to do a dinner in the crock pot, or plan a super light dinner (like eggs). I try to look at the calendar a week in advance, now, and buy/order/organize whatever is needed for the coming days. I’m usually a procrastinator, and despite the fact that it’s rarely ever worked out easily, it was a tough habit to break.

4). Got organized.

Ya’ll, I SUCK at being organized. It’s sooooo not part of my personality. BUT I’ve made it a thing I HAVE to do,  because life is so.much.easier when stuff is where it’s supposed to be. I even spent hours of my “free weekend without kids” matching all the socks in the house, because I’m freaking exhausted of spending an extra five minutes trying to pair them up before the bus arrives. When I’m done doing my make up my in the morning my bathroom screams “there appears to have been a struggle” (Thanks, Pinterest for that little gem). Despite the fact that I would really rather just not  re-organize my bathroom counter every day, I’m always glad when I inevitably need something later, and find it quickly (fifteen times a day).

Every day I do these things, now. What I thought would be a temporary “phase” of organization, turned into a total game changer for me. My house still gets messy every.single.day, but the overall task of keeping my life together has gotten exponentially less overwhelming. A less overwhelmed Mom makes for less overhwhelmed kids. Despite the extra effort, I somehow seem to have more time, and my better mood leads to more laughter in my home, which is more priceless than all the stars in the sky for me. Not ONLY did these tweaks to my routine help to get my house together, it also helped me get my head together. With less clutter, both in my home and my mind, I can see my “vision” for my second chapter with a much clearer lens. It was a lot of work for me, but now that it’s begun, I can’t envision having it any other way. 

How do you all keep your lives organized?? I’m always open for new ideas! XOXO!