Fake it Til Ya Make It

It’s my first week flying solo with a new baby. Three under four years can be a daunting task, especially since I hold myself to some standards. Yesterday went well, and so far today is going smoothly too. Some people would say I’m writing this to brag, and maybe I am a bit, but mostly I want others to know how I survive motherhood, so they can do the same things.

I learned a long time ago that it’s very easy to waste away days in a row if I don’t have some goals each day. In high school I started writing down 3 simple goals each night, that I wanted to complete the next day. It might have been “finish 2 chapters in XYZ book, take the dog for a run, and start studying for the history test.” Or it might have been something bigger. Regardless, I wrote down 3 goals each night, and the next night I would write down three things I had accomplished. Many nights the accomplishments were the same as the goals. Some nights I hadn’t completed the goals but I had done 3 other things. If you are struggling to get a grip on housework, paying bills, laundry, and all the other mom-tasks; this may be just the trick you need to get all those things done.

I don’t write down goals and accomplishments anymore (though some weeks it would help if I did.) Now, I work on a loose time schedule. I say loose, because with toddlers nothing is written in stone. My typical day looks something like this:

  • 6-7:30am get up with the kids, and eat breakfast. Cereal, moms. We have survived on a daily ration of cereal for a couple of years. It really hasn’t killed us.
  • 8-9am get everybody dressed. Make it a non-negotiable that you will put on real clothes everyday. I say skip the yoga pants or sweats and go with jeans or something instead. Look good, feel good. I’m not saying make up everyday (or even ever) but wear real clothes.
  • 9-10:30am start laundry on laundry days. Do laundry regularly. Waiting for it to pile up only makes the task worse. I wash shirts, pants, and white things (socks, towels, etc) every Monday, sheets get washed on Wednesday, and on Friday I do shirts and pants again.
  • 11-11:30am feed the kids and put them down for naps. Do what works best for you. Maybe leftovers are easy, or sandwiches. I fix lunch meat and cheese, yogurt and fruit, or something else equally simple. My kids just don’t eat much at lunch time so there is no point in creating stress.
  • 11:30-12pm ME TIME. This is another nonnegotiable. I’d love to say I read, do a Bible study and pray, or something else productive, but that would be a lie. I use this time to eat my lunch (alone, in peace) and play solitaire on the computer. Maybe that sounds awful to you, but it makes a good break for me. After a few games my brain has reset and then I can go read or something while the kids sleep… or I can nap too.
  • 1:30-3pm kids get up from nap. Some days we get a snack, or read a book together as the kids get moving again. Often we go outside to play if the weather is nice.
  • 4:30-5pm start supper to have it ready by 6pm. Notice all the free time in the afternoons? This is when I can do things like pay bills, play with the kids, or work on projects for myself.
  • 6pm supper.
  • 7pm start directing kids to clean up toys.
  • 7:30pm kids into PJs and read some books.
  • 8pm bedtime for the kids.
  • 10-10:30pm bedtime for me. Notice how the schedule gets tighter closer to bedtime. This keeps the kids on routine and makes tings go more smoothly at the end of the day, when we are all tired and cranky.

Your schedule may look NOTHING like mine, because all families are different, and especially if you have older children in school, or you work outside the home you will have other things to do. But figure out a routine so that you know what is expected when.

I’m no expert at parenting, or time management. But I have learned I can fake it until I make it. If I write down a schedule and stick to it religiously for a few weeks, then it becomes habit and I can get things done more easily. I can set some simple goals and aim to get things done. Sure enough, I get more done than if I had no plan. I encourage you to try the same. Plan your work, and your time; before it just gets away.

Your Phone is Killing Your Family

I recently wrote about parenting with grace. I made it pretty clear that is not my area of expertise, and because of that it was a very hard subject to cover. Today’s topic stands on my toes just as hard. But the thing is, I can often go back and read my own blogs and learn from them as though some one else wrote them. I’m hoping that is the case again today.

We live in a time where technology surrounds us. In a time when we have the capacity to be the most connected generation ever, we are instead the most disconnected.

We all know it to be true. We have all sat in a restaurant, looking at our phone, then looked up and thought “look at all these people, staring at phones instead of talking.” We have all answered a call, or opened a text or app when we should have been focusing on something else (human, or otherwise.) Many of us have engaged in some type of battle of words on social media, that has stolen a few minutes of our day. Most of us are guilty of checking our phones while driving; despite the risks. And so, we are less connected to the PEOPLE around us, than any other generation before.

Your phone is killing your family. My phone is killing my family. Our phones are killing our families. Fast.

Let’s think of all the wonders a smart phone can bring to our finger tips. We can, obviously, call family or friends. We can text others. We can post pictures or funny things that have happened to a plethora of social media sites. We can buy or sell things via Facebook, Craigslist, Ebay, and any number of other sites. We can design our home interior, or find recipes and craft projects on Pintrest. But what do we do? We put off calls. We text to whine or brag, rather than converse. We gripe and argue. And we stare at useless content and waste our time.

Meanwhile our families suffer.

I think all of us are guilty of looking at our phones when we should be engaged in something else. When we stare at our phones (for any reason — Facebook, or reading the Bible — ANY reason) and only look up at our children to fuss or yell because they are loud, messy, breaking things…whatever. All we communicate is “you are distracting me from my phone.” Ouch…. “you, small, mold-able, learning, growing child — are distracting me from my phone.”

When we go out to eat, or even sit at the table at home scrolling through Pintrest, we aren’t focused. We are off in our own worlds. We are saying “sorry, family. You bore me.” Yikes… “Family, you have nothing to offer me right now. What is happening here and now is not important to me. I really don’t care.”

When our phones are in the bedroom (raise your hand if the charger is on the night stand…*hand up*) we devalue our marriage. We try to talk, and hear a ding. Even if we don’t pick it, we stop talking for a split second. We heard a ding so, however briefly, we consider responding. Oh my… “We are married. And that’s great, but our time isn’t as valuable as what exciting thing might have happened on my phone.”

This list could go on. But I think we are getting the point. In a world full of connections we have lost the art of connecting. I don’t know the stats. Maybe no one has done a study on it, anyway. But I would guess intimacy levels (true intimacy — not just sex) are lower in this day and time than any before. We have the ability to communicate so easily, and yet, even the words we say are muffled by, either our own distraction, or the distraction of those we speak to.

As soon as I stand up from the computer (and right after I change a diaper) I plan to go find a new home for my phone charger. I’ve worked for a long time to not take my phone to the table for family meals, but today I won’t take it while the kids eat their little lunches before nap. I could easily put my phone away and talk to my husband in the car (whoa! Crazy speak!!)

How will you address this for your family? What changes will you make?

Because we can’t keep killing our families with our phones. We cannot be that generation. We must make changes.