Sunday, April 19, 2009

Goals, Priorities, Life

Well, it seems like yesterday was the pinnacle of suffering (PMS-wise), and today it's over for the most part. I did manage to get outside with the little ones yesterday for several hours and take a short walk. I soaked up some sunshine, too, and that always helps my mood.

I have so many goals and dreams. I've been trying to figure out how to tackle things in an efficient way so I can "get everything done." It's not working so far. My friend Karyn wrote a perfect post yesterday describing HER feelings, but was like she was reading my mind! I feel exactly the same way: too many crises, too much stuff to do, and why the heck is it so hard to stay on top of the housework?? You'd think after being a mom for nearly 2 decades I would have a system worked out...

Well, I sort of do. But things get in the way.

I've been trying to figure out where in the mass of "to-do's" my weight loss falls. I mean, is it priority #1? I want it to be. My health is essential for accomplishing *anything*... including being a good mother to my children. So I have tried to put my health at the top of this list. Which would look something like this:

1. Shop and prepare healthy meals and snacks.
2. Walk or bike for 30 minutes daily.
3. Get enough sleep (7-8 hours).
4. Strength train 30 minutes 3x/week.

Simple, right? But I can't neglect the basic stuff. I mean, being clean (and my kids being cared for) is ultra-important too. Like this:

1. Take a shower AT LEAST every other day.
2. Bathe the little kids.
3. Brush and floss daily AND help the little kids do the same.
4. Laundry so we all have clean clothes, towels, sheets.

But I can't let the house go to heck, either. Especially with children, it is important to stay on top of the basics. I mean, I will never have a spotless house, and toys do not always get put away every night, but the basics HAVE to be done, like this:

1. Wash dishes
2. Trash goes out
3. Bathrooms get cleaned
4. Kitchen, microwave, stove, fridge all get cleaned
5. Floors get mopped once a week, and vacuum twice a week
6. My bedroom and little kids bedrooms get cleaned
7. Dusting is done once or twice a week (allergies make this pretty important)

Yeah, ok, so if I can do all of the above, I should be great! Oh, wait, I forgot:
1. Doctor, dentist, specialist appointments almost weekly
2. Speech therapy appointments for my child twice a week
3. Dance and gymnastics for kids twice a week
4. Oh yeah, sports are starting up for the kids...
5. Yardwork! Uh oh...

But there is the general to-do list, too, of things that I can't ignore:
1. The car needs an oil change
2. The other car needs a leak fixed
3. My dog needs his heart checked
4. The vacuum needs me to fix it
5. My daughter's sandbox needs sand
6. I need a haircut and I need to color my half-grey hair
7. I have to take a load of yard waste to the dump
8. My son needs new glasses
9. My other son needs his driving permit renewed AND I need to spend time driving with him
10. The carpet needs to be shampooed

Then there's
1. School meetings
2. Helping kids with homework every night
3. Teaching my daughter to read and write and add
4. Paying bills, sorting paperwork, essential phone calls

So if I can *somehow* prioritize this stuff, what about:
1. My goal this year of getting the photo albums put together (I have ten years of photos waiting)
2. Trying to get my house decluttered
3. Working on my marriage
5. Relaxation
6. Blogging (essential to my sanity)
7. The many, many other small tasks on the to-do list that NEVER get done because they are never the top priority.. but the still should be done (replace an old burned out light fixture, fix the ceiling fan, paint the fence, shorten the blinds...)

I don't know how to prioritize this stuff. I already have my kids helping by doing some laundry, sweeping floors, helping take out trash, unloading the dishwasher, mowing the lawn, weeding with me, setting and clearing the table, feeding the pets, babysitting when needed, and scrubbing their own bathroom. I have my housework on a schedule... the basics anyway... but let one unplanned thing happen and it throws off the works.

So today, do I take my son for his back x-ray or do I walk for 30 minutes? Do I do insurance paperwork tonight or do I wash dishes and chop vegetables for tomorrow? After kids are in bed do I soak in the tub, or work on photo albums, or mop the floor, or strength train? Or just go to bed early so I can get my sleep (early meaning by 11pm)? When I am done blogging do I read with my child or vacuum, or do I take my son for a drive?

I'm always multitasking; blog and pay bills while sipping my morning tea and waking up. Wash dishes while helping my son with homework. Walk the dog and stop at the park to play on the way and pack a healthy snack to enjoy there. But at some point I have to recognise that there are only so many hours in a day.

I do not want my life to be bogged down by chores and mundane tasks. But I have to do them. I want to accomplish my goals (like weight loss, fitness, doing the kids' photo albums) while ENJOYING life, playing with the kids, building great memories swimming and hiking and cheering them on while they play soccer. I need free time. I need sleep.

There has to be a way to get it all done. I just haven't figured it out yet. I am working on it. I know millions of people all over the world have kids and chores and responsibilities. How do people do it?

Today I weighed in at 234. Not good, that's up 8 pounds. I know a couple pounds of that are retained water from the PMS. But I am back off the sugar so that should help. And I will walk or bike... maybe even strength train or try the new yoga DVD I bought. After I take a shower and wash the dishes and clean out the microwave and blow bubbles with my daughter :)


MB said...


All of life's responsibilities and chores certainly get in the way of what we WANT to do. It is the reason why my house is always cluttered because I'd rather be doing something else but eventually have to attack it all at once.

I don't know how you manage to write such great posts and do all that you do with so many kids underfoot.

It is impossible to get it EVERYTHING done so just do the best you can and enjoy the journey and treasure the time with the kids while they are young.

Anonymous said...

Goodness, Lyn. You've written very clearly about the struggle many of us have. Just looking at your lists makes me tired, because I have similar ones to tackle. You do have more responsibilities than I do, and the fact that you get as much done as you do absolutely BOGGLES my brain! You can only do as much as you can do.
I'm glad your kids help, they're learning responsibility this way. I just want to tell you I'm inspired by you!
Kori from Newfoundland (kofarq at 3fc)

Fat[free]Me said...

I need to go lie down after just READING that lot!

It is hard to schedule your own time in amongst all the chores and family demands. Do the best you can and enjoy the family, because before you know it they are all grown up and gone.

You are a great mom and you care a lot, fit in what you can and don't let worrying about the rest spoil your enjoyment of life.

spunkysuzi said...

Oh my and i thought my list was long :)If you ever figure out how to keep up with the housework please, please let me know!!

Chubby Chick said...

Wow. I really don't think any one person could accomplish all of that! So don't be too hard on yourself, Lyn. Just take it one day at a time and do the best that you can each day. That's all any of us can do.

And... how about getting your kids involved with the housework, yardwork, and laundry? I'd make charts with their names and the chores that they are supposed to do daily and/or weekly. Let them put stickers on the charts when they've accomplished their tasks, and then work out a reward system. Let them know that mom needs some help... and there will be benefits for them, too! :)

Anonymous said...

Lyn, I think part of home most parents do it is that they have support: a spouse, the other parent, grandparents, aunts or uncles, a trusted babysitter, a church group, etc.

You seem to not have the sort of support system so please, please cut yourself a little slack.

NewMe said...


Not to pry, but is there a spouse around?? If so, he's got some responsibility too. If not, are there family members who can pitch in (siblings, grandparents, etc.). And some of your kids are old enough to take over certain things (as you have mentioned yourself).

Definitely don't be too hard on yourself. You've got a very full plate!

Be well.

Lyn said...


I wish there was a spouse around. He is not. Although he may be, in the future, even if he is, he is not very helpful. (If you want to read more about the spouse situation it's in past postings...)

As for the kids, they really do help lots. They do the chores I mentioned in this post plus some others like washing the cars and even helping cook sometimes. In fact any one of my children (except the toddler) does more to help out on any given day than the husband did when he was around. Plus they have homework, appointments, stuff like that. I want to let them have some time to be kids, go fishing, and just play.

I don't have any family around either. I am an only child and my parents and grandparents are all deceased. Inlaws all live 2000+ miles away, as do cousins. So it's just me.

But ya know, if I can *just* figure out how to prioritize those lists... I will do great!!

Alice said...

Lyn, I've started reading your blog a couple of weeks ago and I've really enjoyed your writing.

I wondered if you've ever read the hacker's diet- especially I'm interested in the signal/noise chapter which looks at the dialy spikes/losses we all experiance when tackling our weight. Essentially what it says is that instead of taking our weight at face value- eg. +5 lbs but suggests recording a moving average, smoothing out a weight gain/loss curve. It's hard to describe, but I recommend reading that chapter.

Please keep writing, you inspire me!

MargieAnne said...

Hi Lynn. Life ...... never stops.

I know you feel as though you are on the run all day just keeping up but may I dare to suggest you look for the down times when you are not doing anything important. Instead of muddling through all that must be done find a way to 'smell the roses'

I know the trap of being a mum and wife to the extent of not considering self. I learned to take a few short cuts that gave me a little space. Maybe schedule a 30/60 minute STOP after lunch. stack the dishes to do when you prepare the evening meal. Don't let any of the appointments creep into your time.

I'm not trying to be a clever clogs here, just making a suggestion that I probably would have found difficult to do every day. Lol.

On the PMS front. Not sure what the problem is for you but I was literally the woman from hell and life was not worth living at least 2 out of 5 weeks until evening primrose oil came out. Not right for all PMS but worth a try if you haven't already.


~TMcGee~ said...

Lyn, is there room in the budget for a once a week cleaning lady?

If not, perhaps you could go to a few local churches or even post on a local homeschooling board that you are looking for a mother's helper (find a 12 to 14 year old girl to help out).
I know this is absolutely not a reason to get involved in a church but a lot of support can be found there. (I hope I didn't offend you saying that)
Even finding a mom that you can swap babysitting/services for. Like me, I would clean someone's house for some honest to goodness cooking lessons. :-)

Me, Only Better said...

It is so hard to balance what you need to do for a home, your family, your health and yourself. I hear you on this one!

I say look after yourself and your kids, and everything will fall into place. SO you don't have the cleanest house, I figure that no one will look back on their lives and wished they'd scrubbed more toliets!

Karyn said...

Yup...we're in the same place right now, that is for sure.

Glad you are feeling a bit better today.

Only thing I can say to the conflicts is this....if it is a choice between housework and spending time with a child - choose the child....the housework will still be there when the kids are gone (which will be sooner than you think).....if it is something that has a deadline attached (like bills or taxes) DO IT ON TIME. If it is a choice between doing something for your health and sanity or something that you would like to do but won't affect your health....go with your personal well being.

But you know I don't have all the answers here, so take my advise or leave it.... LOL

Karen In Tennessee said...

I think you are back in the game!!! All we can do is keep trying. Thanks for encouraging me to try again this morning. Its after 6 pm and so far I am hanging in there. :)

Lauren said...

While I have no where NEAR your level of responsibilities. But I'll throw in my little nuggest of wisdom. List the things that ABSOLUTELY HAVE to get done every day or on certain days. Like, Life will not go on and be worth living if you don't do those things. Then (if you have time) alternate stuff that you feel like you Have to do, with stuff that you WANt to do. All things on your list.

Marie said...

I would schedule it similarly to this.


Make weekly menu
do weekly shop for menu
strength train
bathe kids
everybody brush & floss
all dishes
whatever's on the calendar


walk or bike
bathe kids
everybody brush & floss
all dishes
whatever's on the calendar


walk or bike
strength train
everybody brush & floss
do all the laundry, every scrap
all dishes
whatever's on the calendar


walk or bike
bathe kids
everybody brush & floss
all dishes
whatever's on the calendar


walk or bike
strength train
bathe kids
everybody brush & floss
all dishes
whatever's on the calendar


walk or bike
everybody brush & floss
all dishes
serious bathroom clean
whatever's on the calendar


walk or bike
everybody brush & floss
all dishes
serious kitchen clean
bedroom cleaning day
whatever's on the calendar

Put full trash bags right by the front door. Next person to leave the house takes them out.

Calendar the rest. That's how I do it.

PatriciaW said...

What are absolute necessities? What can you live with NOT getting done?

Lyn, you do what you can to make sure your children are well and you can sleep at night. Whatever you do, put sleep at the top of the list. Sleep deficiency affects your ability to do everything else on that list.

Ness said...

Wow!!! That is an incredible list. I think you are a supermum just for wanting to get all that done, and if you get through even half of it on a regular basis I take my hat off to you!
Go easy on yourself, no-one could do all that and stay sane. If you and your kids are happy and healthy then your to-do list is fully checked. As for the other stuff, may I recommend having a good browse around There's heaps of good tips there for setting up routines to make housework easier.

IRJessica said...

This site helps people maintain sanity- I have been a subscriber for about two months now,

Keep on going, you are doing it one bit at a time.

Anonymous said...

I like your lists and think they look really well prioritized already! When I'm a bit overwhelmed sometimes it helps me to remember how good I'll feel when I get to cross a task off my list.

The only time I can fit in my exercise is to get up early (4.30) and get it out of the way before my day starts at 5:00. I'm way too tired (not to mention lazy) to do it when I come home in the early evening.

Good luck fitting it all in; I know you can do it!


Anonymous said...

definitely flylady!! that site has changed my life ( and house stress) try and get the daily digest of reminder emails though...the other way is a bit overwhelming :)

Keri said...

I used to think my house was the only one with cluttter and not as clean as I want it. I am beginning to find out that a lot of us are in the same boat. I have a wonderful husband though. Sometimes I don't think I deserve him. This weekend he did several loads of laundry and put them away. He did the dishes a couple of times. He cooked dinner. He is awesome. I have been major slacking lately. Maybe a little bit of depression or things are just too overwhelming. There are a lot of things that I need to do. Your blog is inspiring to read. Thanks for sharing your weight loss struggles and triumphs!

Anonymous said...

There will never be more time in the day. to prioritize, I think its important to write out what you do everyday, try it for 3 days, to see exactly how much time you spend on everything you do. Assess this see what you can cut out, and add some of the things on your list. (Just like calorie counting, but with time).
I enjoy your blog tremendously, but you do post quite a bit, not to mention the other blogs you follow. I hope you don't take offense here, but in your list of options, you don't suggest taking any time away from the internet or tv (not sure if you watch tv, if not, then just the internet)
It can be pretty eye opening to realize the time the computer can suck from you. You mention that your blogging is essential for sanity, but so is a bubble bath-notice I didn't add dish washing.
As for the photos, I don't knowone person who doesn't have this on their project list. and that's what I suggest, keep a book where you describe all the projects you hopw to do someday, that way you don't forget them, but they don't really belong on a list (whether mental or written) that just looms over you day-day. The photos could be a family project.
It is possible to get everything done, but maybe not perfectly and definatly not in one day, or one year, -thats why we get a whole lifetime.

Anonymous said...

A big thank you to those of you who suggested Flylady. I'd never heard of it and am enjoying it very much!


Anonymous said...

You may have heard of it already, but my father acted like he'd found God after reading 'Getting Things Done' by Dave Allen. Me, I thought it was a load of rubbish, but it seems to work for a lot of people :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, I think I have one of those lists too, under a pile of bills or something. Writing gets the stress out, but there is nothing like doing it to get it done. I have found that using a PDA, not a paper organizer, keeps my mind from falling apart with the 2dos. Good luck!

rooibossieka said...

Hi, I don't have all the answers to your problems, but I can share my experiences. I tought my kids to cook since they were 10 years old, we have a schedule and they each get a turn to make supper, so I only cook on Sundays.

The same thing with the chores, if you cooked, you wash the dishes
(then they don't dirty so many) and the others help by drying dishes, cleaning the counters, sweeping the floor etc. Flylady works well for us too.
It also helps to do some of the prep for the meals ahead of time, I would take one morning and make a couple of meals and freeze them, use these on hectic schedule days - in that way you could still be in control of what is good for your diet. I usually take one Sat. afternoon and work out a menu for a month, next month you only need to make a few changes and it seems all new to the family.

You kids seem old enough to help with other cleaning & tidying up around the house, if my kids dont clean their room, I just close the door, they soon fall over their mess & start cleaning up!
Good luck