Taking Time

So, my friend Stephanie just started a blog (Follow her at stephaniecov.wordpress.com!) and she wrote about the challenges of getting back in shape after having her second (adorable) baby. And it’s really about so much more than that, cause what I just wrote sounds lame, but the post is great and you can read it here.


Anyway, now I keep thinking about bodies and appearances and motherhood and how that’s all tied together. But, I’m mostly thinking about time. How there’s not enough. How I’m supposed to take some for myself and how that never seems to happen.


Lately, my version of taking time for myself essentially consists of me being all frazzled and crazy, sneaking away from my highly suspicious family (“Where you goin’ Mama?”), locking myself in the bathroom and frantically consuming something sweet because I just don’t want to share every single bite that goes into my body, dammit. And then I feel bad about the fact that I just snuck a candy bar like a criminal and, in all likelihood, I then consume another candy bar because I’m a guilt eater. I do usually share the second one with the kids, you know, to be fair or whatever.


Clearly this version of taking time for myself is not a healthy one. Clearly.


And this bothers me. It also bothers me that I rarely wear makeup when I’m not going to work or church. Not that I absolutely have to wear it…because, let’s face it, I’m pretty hot. But seriously, it would be nice. I mean, I like to look like a human sometimes and not just an extra on those cracked out meth scenes in Breaking Bad.


And my family needs it, too. My husband deserves to come home to a wife who makes some effort, not that he would ever complain, because he’s such a good person.


Then there’s the girls and soon to be boy-child. They deserve to see their mama take some time to make herself look presentable and to be presented with an image of womanhood that isn’t self-depreciating, but self-celebrating. Now, I don’t go running around the house talking about how nasty I look, but I can’t say as I’ve ever talked to the girls about how great my body is, either.


And I know these things take time. I just go through these cycles of frustration where I’ll resolve to do better and to be better and it’ll be okay for a little bit, but eventually I’m back to my old tricks. Example: I love writing. It is SO good for me. I know this. Time and time again I resolve to blog at least once a week. And a lot of times I do a good job with this goal. Which is why some of you get a ridiculous influx of email for a few days and then nothing for like three months. And that’s sad, because this is something that really makes me happy. So, why am I not making time to do it?


“But, when?” I keep asking myself. When is there time? When is there space? Where is the peace and quiet in the day to even contemplate doing this?? Especially those days when the baby’s poop falls out of her diaper and she steps in it as she’s getting on her toy horse? You know, the days when you clean up the poopy baby and she pees on you as you’re putting her in the bath to clean the poop from her widdle toes? Where’s the time in those days, I’d like to know?


While I was having a tea party with Mags, someone helped herself to the potting soil. Oy.


According to social media every other mom on the planet has her shiz together and has plenty  of time to cut box tops and creatively swath her child’s room in handmade decor while designer cupcakes cool in her spotless kitchen. I, however, cry foul. That jazz is not real and if it is, it sure isn’t as widespread as social media wants us to think. I have proof in the form of very comforting texts I get from one of my friends. Here’s my most recent favorite: “Days are long and years are short. Blah freakin’ blah. I’ll tell you what’s short. Patience. She’s a short b-.” God bless her, she always knows what to say to make me feel better.


Now, because my three year old daughter is smarter than I am, she just waltzed in and figured it all out for me.


I’ve been doing this thing with Mags about 30 minutes before her nap time that we’re calling “Quiet Time” because we’re original around here and we come up with sweet titles for things that we do. Suffice it to say, this is a time when Mags gets to sit on a special blanket in a special part of the living room and gets to complete tasks that I give her. She’s usually required to read a few books, do a few puzzles, and if I’m feeling particularly pinterest-y, I’ll have some clever fine-motor skill challenge for her. But usually puzzles.


I laarve Quiet Time because, she actually likes it and I actually have time to load the dishwasher in peace.


Today, I plopped myself down on Mags’ Quiet Time spot and just began writing because I had to. And my sweet, sweet girl wandered in and said, “You havin’ some quiet time, Mama? Good. You sit there and when you finish on your computer you can take a little rest.” From the mouths of babes, my friends, from the mouths of babes. Because it’s obvious, right? I need Quiet Time just as much as Maggie does. And, shoot, if she’s doing it, I might as well be sitting there right along side her. I could learn a lot from this kid.


She also pretends to be Betsy Ross, so she’s way cooler than I’ll ever be.


Motherhood is hard. Emotions are hard. None of this is easy and I need constant reminders that I’m worth it and that, like Stephanie reminded me, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I’ve been given talents and gifts that need cultivating. I struggle with guilt, with the feeling that I need to be doing other more important things with my time than make up or blogging or reading. And though I feel selfish for taking time sometimes, I know that the negativity is all a lie. I am not required to live up to the false image of womanhood depicted on social media. I’m worth the five minutes it takes to put on some eye shadow and mascara. I’ve been given gifts that need cultivating and so have you. You are just as deserving as I for a moment’s peace, for some rejuvenation, for Quiet Time.


So, how do you do it, good friends of mine? Where do you take the time? And if you find the time, what is it that you’re doing?


I know this isn’t something that will be solved overnight and that I’ll probably fail about a million times before I figure it all out…if I ever do. But, I do know this: we need each other. We need the sisterhood of girls who are in the trenches everyday. We need the sisterhood of girls who did all of this thirty years ago and are still mothering everyone around them. We need the encouragement, the text messages, the blogs. We need daily reminders that we will all get through this. Because, we will. We really, really will.

Keepin’ House

If you know anything about me, you know I’m a terrible housekeeper. This isn’t something new. As a child, my mother would complain about the detestable state of my bedroom and of how she couldn’t walk through without stepping on some stray article of clothing or toy or secret government experiment.


I frequently reminded her of the fact that there were clearly marked paths that went from door to bed, bed to closet, closet to desk to bed. I then explained that venturing into my room was basically like visiting a national park; you gotta stay on the trail, man! It’s like the first rule of scouting! And then I gave her the disclaimer: “I can’t be held responsible for what may or may not happen to you if you venture off the path.”  That all went over like a lead balloon, as I’m sure you can imagine.


And not much has changed since then. I still throw my clothes on the floor, I’m terrible about cleaning the kitchen, and I despise folding laundry. So here I find myself almost 28 years old, still living like a junior high slob. Only I’ve got a husband and two miniature slobs living here, too, and all of a sudden we’re an episode of “Hoarders.”


The hubz and I decided that, with all the homesteading improvements we want to make this summer, we had better get our butts organized during the winter. And we realized that it really just all comes down to discipline. For me, it also came down to the fact that I want a home that people enjoy visiting, that I enjoy coming home to. I don’t want to dread the mess when I walk in the door. Instead, I want to create a sanctuary that gives us all a sense of safety and rest.


So, I did what any self-respecting gal would do. I found my most organized friend from Texas who keeps a house I always envy and scanned her Pinterest boards like crazy town to see what she’s up to. (Stephanie, I’m talking about you, you wonder woman, you!) Guys, she has an entire board dedicated to cleaning and organizing. She is all that is woman.


Anyway I found this:

From Tips and Pix @ tipsandpix.com via Pinterest.


Huzzah! This thing is perfect for someone like me who is not great at managing my time. I know it probably comes as a surprise to a lot of you, but my brain is like a pinball machine when I don’t have a structured plan. I bounce all over the place, half-completing tasks, getting overwhelmed with the amount I tell myself I should accomplish in 24 hours and then I get super-distracted and end up reading the blogs of far more organized people wishing for the day that I wasn’t such a loon.


What I love about this cleaning calendar is that it’s simple, consistent, and completely doable.


What I don’t love about this cleaning calendar is that it wants me to “wipe down walls, baseboards, and doors” as well as, “spot clean upholstery and rugs.” Let’s be honest here. Ain’t no way I’m getting that detailed. Baby steps, y’all, baby steps. So I amended the calendar to accommodate the fact that I work an 8-hour shift on Tuesdays and I split the refrigerator/oven/microwave day to two days because ohmylordhaveyouseenmyfridge. So far it’s working incredibly well! Granted, we’re only two days in, but I have high hopes!


Another tool I’m using is this glorious printable from Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience.  Go spend some time at this blog, in general, friends. It’s wonderful and there are a ton of great tools and ideas and encouragements to fuel your day. Endorsement over.


Image credit: Ann Voscamp aholyexperience.com


I love that this “Daily Draft” has spaces for meal planning and domestic duties as well as memory verses (my goal is to say a daily Rosary) and doxology. I truly believe that we shouldn’t separate our spiritual lives from our daily tasks. Christ is there through it all. Keeping a clean house is can be another way to honor Him, another way to pray for my family, another way to serve and to show love.


So, what about you? What are your secrets for keeping your house clean and your family sane? Do you have any awesome time-saving tricks or are you like me and need all the help you can get? If you’ve got some great insight or just want to commiserate, share in the comments! (All surly comments made by my parents should be kept to a minimum. That means you, Dad.)