A mom who likes to live outside the norm

Do you ever find yourself stretched too thin?

I know I do, A LOT.  And I justify it by comparing now to when I used to work 50+ hours a week.

But this last week, starting to feel down and realizing Bilbo’s quote of “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” totally fits how I feel.

So I looked at all I am doing:  SAHM to 3 kids aged 7, 5 and 10 months.  That should be enough right there.  Add homeschooling, trying to cook everything from scratch, babysitting 2 boys 2-3 days a week, trying to make sure my house isn’t condemned…

Then add to the difficulty by being a 1 car family, so any day I babysit and any days with classes or field trips I bring my husband to work at 7:30am (with the 3 kids) and pick him up at 4pm (with an occasional 2 more boys).

Then there’s church things.  Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings, occasional Sunday evenings.  And then the ministries I participate in: coordinating children’s church, taking turns in nursery, 2’s & 3’s, children’s church, praise band, etc.  And my husband’s a deacon, so there’s a lot of planning and such from home.

Add to the craziness: babysitting for a women’s Bible study once a week, field trips, homeschool co-op.  The list can go on and on.

I’m not sharing this to get sympathy.  I’m sharing this to come clean and to let you other moms know you’re not alone.  I think about some of my friends who add on a child with special needs (which I’ve done when I fostered), regular doctor’s appointments, etc.

I went to a homeschool support group meeting a few weeks ago that really spoke to me.  It was led by a mom who has 7 kids, with 4 of them being twins (so 2 sets of twins and 3 singletons).  She home schools, is super involved and seems to have it all together.  She stays “sane” by prioritizing and organizing her responsibilities.  She recommends:

  • List out everything you do.  I just did that!
  • Prioritize.  That’s what I’m going to do this week.  Rank according to priority.  Some things I cannot or will not give up like staying at home, going to church, homeschooling.  Some things I need to do to help my family financially like cooking from scratch and babysitting.  Some things will be hard to give up, but I need to do for my family (by regaining time and sanity) like coordinating children’s church and giving up 1 or 2 of the ministries I serve in.
  • Scheduling.  Actually put things on the calendar.  See the busy days and see if there’s something you can move or cut out.  Or if you like to have 1-2 crazy days and get them over with, schedule grocery trips and other errands in-between other events to maximize the trip and give you freedom elsewhere.

This also works with daily projects and to-do lists. List out everything you need to get done and then prioritize A, B, C &  D

  • A’s need to get done today,
  • B’s can get done today but can wait up to 36 hours,
  • C’s can wait until the end of the week, and
  • D’s good things, but they can wait indefinitely.

At the beginning of a new day, take your previous day’s list add any new things, make all of yesterday’s B’s now A’s, and re-prioritize.  You get things done, check things off, and you move forward.

Scheduling and lists are where she keeps her sanity and where I totally fail.  This is how she schedules her time, and my goal moving forward:

  • Spiritual life – Schedule daily time in the Word and for prayer.  The kids can fend for themselves for 30 minutes and know to be quiet.  Also, it’s a good example and  you can have your kids reading Bible books during this time.  (I need to confess this, I hardly ever read my Bible.  I never find the time with the craziness.  I need to put this first.)
  • Exercise and pampering – If mom’s not healthy, she doesn’t have the ability to care for her family.  If mom’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy!  This is another area where you lead by example and the kids will be okay while you do a video or paint your nails. (I’m getting the nutrition part down, but never find time to exercise.  I need to put this second.)
  • Husband – She schedules time with her husband to do things without the kids.  All her kids, even her teenagers, are in their bedrooms at 7:30 and can’t bother them.  They do bedtime routine at 7pm, the littles go to sleep, the elementary school aged can read, and the teens can talk to their friends and play video games.  There is a level of trust here, but I think it is amazing!  If there’s not a good relationship with your husband, it doesn’t matter what you do for your kids.  (I’m better about this one, but like the idea of an earlier bedtime so that I can spend more time with my husband and not be ready to pass out 30 minutes after the kids are in bed.)
  • Girl time – And I don’t mean time with your daughters.  Time out with girl friends.  Go dancing, watch a movie, go to a house party, get pedicures, anything to get a break from your kids.  Mom needs time to be a friend and have friends.  Especially for SAHMs, this may be the only chance to talk about something other than kids and let loose and laugh with friends.  (This is an area that I’ve never prioritized and I’m starting to feel the effects.  I miss spending time alone with friends.)

Soon I’ll share my successes and failures in these areas.  I’ll also share what’s worked for me and my progress.

What de-stressing and organization ideas do you have?

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6 thoughts on “Do you ever find yourself stretched too thin?

  1. These sounds like great tips! I can totally identify with your list… right now I feel like I’m “stretched” a bit thin too and I’m looking forward to a few things changing soon. I write everything we do down on the calendar. I’d say it’s also important to talk with your spouse about what both of you are doing, as my husband also has a super busy schedule and we only have one vehicle too, so sometimes it gets complicated coordinating who is going where. Communication is important! He can also help me decide what’s important to do and what maybe isn’t. 🙂

    • I totally agree about talking it out together with your spouse! We were considering him stepping down as a deacon, but many of our friends want him to stay on and are going to try to help us out more. We’re also stepping down with a few of the ministries that take us out of church and are going to try to find more ways to stay “fed” ourselves! We have always had a rule that we won’t add any regular activities that take us away from the family during the evenings (other than Sunday and Wednesday church activities). We both have a couple of once a month meetings, but we stopped doing evening events because we need down time as a family since we’re so busy during the day.

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  4. I felt like I was reading my schedule on someone else’s blog! lol…it is so true how most of us Mama’s like to stay busy, busy, busy. Since beginning homeschooling this past school year my life has gotten even crazier so I have had to do a number of the steps you mentioned in the article- for example I have this HUGE calendar on my fridge that tells us all that we need to do and go!
    But I did glean some new tips; such as putting the kids in bed earlier so hubby and i can have some time. Good one 🙂
    Thanks for sharing, and I found you through Fellowship Friday blog hop!!

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