Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snippets of time

I don’t have an excess of time (like most mothers with young children at home, I guess), but recently I realized I do have some time when I’m not doing much and could be doing more – only it comes in very small snippets, of perhaps five to ten minutes, and the trick is to utilize these short periods of time to do something useful.

Right now, most times I can’t dedicate a whole uninterrupted hour to cleaning, cooking, ironing, whatever. Most likely, ten minutes won’t pass before I have to change a diaper, clean up a mess, attend to a kid who’s simply claiming attention, or sit down to nurse. It slows down everything, but that’s how I work these days, because otherwise I might as well give up and allow the house to sink into mess.

The solution is to complete small tasks (such as wiping the stovetop) in the rare free minutes that come up during the day, and split up the bigger tasks into small parts and do them as well as I can, during that free time that means five minutes here and ten minutes there. Otherwise nothing will ever get done.

I draw some comfort from the words of older and wiser women, who tell me no period of their life was as hectic and time-consuming than when they had little ones at home, none of whom was yet old enough to lend a helping hand or at least take care of themselves some of the time.

So sometimes I feel as though I’m not good enough. And sometimes I feel as though I’m not even remotely adequate. But at least I’m trying, and not letting go of the simple, beautiful and so important things I’m striving to achieve – happy children, a good family life, a reasonably orderly and clean home. Such simple things, yet not attained as easily as it may sound.

I don’t know whether you’ve been in situations when you visit a home that is so orderly and beautiful (even if it’s not large or luxurious), and say to yourself, “oh, I’ll never be able to have a home like that.” It has happened to me. Most of the times these weren’t the homes of young mothers, though. :o) I’m not sure anymore whether it’s possible to attain any level of orderliness at all, when you have toddlers around. Well, at least my furniture isn’t turned upside down. Yet. :o)


Catherine R. said...

This is exactly where I am in life too. I think my 2 children are almost exactly the same age as your 2 also. I can totally relate. Lots of times I feel so discouraged wishing I could do more than just survive each day. There are so many decisions and challenges to be faced each day and it's hard to be capable, strategic and consistent when sleep deprivation and non-stop interruptions are the norm.

I too feel encouraged by older women who know what it's like and have come to a better place, knowing that God used these days for good. But sometimes it is just so hard to see through the fog. Thanks for being honest and I'll hang in there if you do -- this is very important work we are doing!

momto9 said...

I have 9 children and when I read this post I had to smile:)So much of what you thought you knew goes straight out the window when you begin haveing more children. I'd like to say I have all the answers for you but truth is I dont and msot likely never will! Go with the flow and enjoy your life the way it is...not comparing to anyone else....that's the best advice I can give....the advice that makes for happiness.

Heather said...

Mine weren't as close as your two, but it was still hard to get everything done especially when you have an infant, once they are older it will get easier. My youngest (of three) is now almost 3, and it is amazing how much he can entertain himself and I can get things done again. Good luck and just keep going.

Jamie said...

I think I can relate, thank you for sharing!

Rose said...

Those snippets of time are still important later on, you are training yourself well Anna. The other night I was reducing a sauce and ready to serve dinner but the sauce wasn't quite ready. I used the time to sort the second (junk) drawer, something that would have stayed on my list for ages.

Five minutes half a dozen times a day adds up to half an hour.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lot of the advice you gave in the past was a bit premature.

There's nothing like experience to change people's views.

How about a post on all the things you've learned and the things you've changed your mind about?

Laura said...

Yet. A very accurate word at the end of a very familiar sounding message. :) There has been much overturned furniture with my two little boys!

As a young mom myself, we need to make sure we cut ourselves a little bit of slack (not into slothfulness, of course!). Our homes will not be perfect, sometimes it will be even way less than orderly... in fact, there might be times when we would be scared to look underneath the beds because of the monstrous-sized dust bunnies that have accumulated. But first and foremost, our family (husbands, then children) come first. While I totally agree that some amount of cleanliness/orderliness is vital to their sense of well-being... we have to sometimes cut out the things that are not important. Such as the ironing (always an easy thing to let go!). Or the bigger project deep-cleanings that we'd like to do.

My two are spaced much like yours, and you know what? That was a tough year. Now my oldest is 4, and we are expecting our third. It's a LOT easier then you have a little mind and a willing set of hands to say "hey buddy, go get me a diaper! FAST!" and he can do it! Or simple commands like Get Dressed! Those are things I couldn't do 2 years ago... and that you can't do now. It's a lot, and you're doing great!!

Life is hectic and time-consuming right now when your a mom of littles... and just plain exhausting. Everyone says that this is the best time of my life, I hope I can stay awake enough to enjoy it! ;) I hope the same for you too!

Maria said...

This is just what I needed to hear. Thanks!

Mrs David W said...

I think you are doing a wonderful job Anna :) What an honest yet, encouraging post.
As a fellow mother of 2 that are close in age, I am beginning to see as I meet more and more moms.... that we are all running the same race.
I think you are on the right track. Doing what you can, giving of yourself to your children.
For me, when I get frustrated I remind myself that God is in control over all. I have spent a lot of time meditating on the words of Isaiah. I will be praying for your continued endurance, good health and for more simple joys :)

justme27 said...

Have you tried using a baby carrier that lets you nurse the baby in it? You can use 4.5 meters of cotton crinkle gauze (from the fabric store) to make a "no sew" baby wrap. Just look on youtube for "nursing in a wrap".

Michelle said...

It seems like you're dealing very well with a challenging situation. I'm wondering, though, whether you still believe having as many children without birth control is the right way to go for all women. It seems to me that someone who is less mature and focused than you are might snap under the pressure of sleep deprivation and demands from taking care of children--if not with just two, than maybe with a baby plus three older ones who are only spaced by a year or two. Do you really thing everyone can be successful and fulfilled with this experience?

Anonymous said...

"I don’t have an excess of time (like most mothers with young children at home, I guess)" Oh dear. I'm chalking this statement up to sleep deprivation.

Katie V. said...

Hi Anna,

That's exactly it. Trying to accomplish little things in little spaces of time. As a mother of a 4yr old, 2 year old and 6 month old, I can completely understand. There are days where you feel discouraged, and feel like things are so disorderly etc... Sometimes, I feel good if there's one area that I can count on being clean...such as my kitchen counters. Then I don't feel quite so overwhelmed.

My sister-in-law, a mother of eight, recently told me that an older mother told her upon visiting her, (paraphrasing) - she could see that she was a good mother because the house wasn't perfect - meaning, with little children, sometimes putting their needs first means that the house won't always be perfect. I find it's a balancing act - trying to maintain order while enjoying and being attentive to my children.

I believe that these challenges are precisely why many women would rather get out and work. I think our vocation as mother and wife offers great opportunity for sanctification, trying do all of the little things of our day with a lot of love. Embracing domesticity, is a hidden life, that often goes unrewarded in the worlds eyes, but is building mountains in ways we can't imagine. God bless you Anna! Count on my prayers and I wish you 'mucho animo!' (go for it, you can do it!)

justme27 said...

Eek. Some people aren't the kindest...

I know just where you're coming from. I only meant the wrap suggestion as a possible help. When I got my daughter (through adoptipn) I had 2 two year old boys. I couldn't put her down for fear of one if my foster sons squshing her or something. That's why I loved the wrap. Ok, still love... now I can nurse my new one in it.

Blessings to you. And if your youngest is keeping you up more at night, maybe it means that nusing her might put your fertility off a little longer? Just speculating. My youngest two are 21 months apart, so I'm hoping for a little more space this next time (if there is a next time, Lord willing). This is my first time breastfeeding so we will see. :)

The Professor's Wife said...

You completely have the right priorities - your children need love and attention more than they need a perfectly clean house!

I am not get a mother, but I have been a preschool teacher. With ten 3 year olds, it was very hard to keep the classroom clean. I got to be strict about things like, "you can only play with one thing at a time and then you have to put it a way". And ANY little thing they could do for themselves, I had them do (like hang their own bags on a hook, throw away their own trash, etc). Even two year olds can be taught some of these things. They take time, but in the long run, they really help! Plus they teach the kids responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mrs. Anna T,

Thank you for keeping up this blog even though you are busy. I am a 22 year old stay-at-home daughter but I try to learn what I can to prepare for mariage and children (if it is God's will). Thank you for sharing about your journey in this life. And for having such informative articles.

Miss J.

Anonymous said...

You are not alone! I have a 2 year old son and 5 month old twins, and life is extremely BUSY, but also so very blessed. I am truly loving this part of my life, even though it can be challenging! I know you would agree. Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

Hello Anna,
Dear heart, do not compare yourself to anyone else! You are doing EXACTLY what you said was important, taking care of your family and not foisting off that job to someones else.

Yes, spans of time become much more sparse with two tiny tots. Once your newest little blessing is a little bit older, she will not be in NEED of quite so much attention every moment of the day. That is when you begin to have a few more moments all together, but even then it's just a few.

Have you heard of "blanket time training"? That can help you with little Shira now by giving you a few moments to do 'something' while she is busy, and not getting into anything. You basically have a blanket (or piece of fabric)and a few toys that are only for 'blanket time'. You have her sit on the blanket and play with the toys quietly. Start with 1 - 3 minutes and work up from there. Praise, praise, praise her efforts!

I have ready every single post you have written. I can not recall a single instance where I thought your advice was wrong or off base in any way. Don't let the "anonymous" turkeys get you down!
~Mrs. R

Anonymous said...

right there with you (found your blog surfing other blogs). I have 5 little ones ages 6,5,3,2,1 and expecting. I just take what I can!

I figure this is training ground at my house, this whole house is a classroom to teach the children, so if it's not perfect that is just fine...I am here to be a mother and teach!

Rei Khalo said...

Oh , My husband expects the house to always be super tidy. It was very hard to learn to do it "just so" but it was a very pleasant challenge to perfect it. I can't even imagine trying to do it w/ children. But that is a challenge I look forward to yet.