Every morning I awake at 6am to a lovely noise: my crying baby. For some of you, lovely might be the last word you’d think of to describe it. But for me, it truly is a beautiful sound. This call to nurse says I am wanted, needed, and about to get some coos and cuddles.
At approximately 6:12 am, while still nursing, I hear the second most lovely sound of my day: my nineteen-month-old calling out, “Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy!” Before I know it, my bed is full of laughs, tickles, and the not-so-lovely sound of our alarm clock (which still rings at 6:20 every morning, as if we actually needed it).
These priceless moments soon morph into some groggy form of me that I hardly even recognize, adorned with an ever-present (yet so unwelcome) messy bun, flip-flops, and the tank top I slept in, forging my way into the kitchen to make breakfast. And then from 7:35 onward, Papa Bear (looking sharp in a tie) works hard at the office, and I (still in something I’d consider sleepwear) work hard at home.
I love my life. Every part of it. But sometimes I feel like I’m in the perpetual state of falling behind, and this is a feeling that in other stages of life I have never really experienced. The harder I work, the more things seem to be undone. The more I organize, the more messy our apartment appears. And probably the most shocking fact I’ve had to come to grips with is that there are days (sometimes even great ones filled with laughing, baking, cleaning, singing, crafting, learning…) that I look down and realize my “sleepwear” has now become a work uniform of sorts, along with that persistent messy bun.
Maybe you know what I am talking about. Or maybe you don’t. But as pleased as I am with my life, I’m not okay being overwhelmed with what I’m not getting done, so I decided to give it a bit of thought.
I’ve come up with 5 strategic steps that have really made a difference for me.
They aren’t magical or profound by any means, but their simplicity has helped me set my day straight and accomplish the basics.
1. GET DRESSED.
This sounds so simple, in theory. But by repeatedly failing to achieve it I learned something valuable about myself: I didn’t know how to just “get dressed,” because my whole life I had been “getting ready.”
Wonder what the I’m talking about? To me, “getting ready” means getting ready to make a good impression; swapping out glasses for contacts, plugging in the flat-iron and actually styling my hair, applying makeup, accessorizing – making sure that I appear the certain way I want others to view me. “Getting ready” has been my consistent standard throughout life.
As a result of this mentality, I would often fall into the trap of putting off getting ready until the girls napped or other points in the day when I knew I’d have ample time to accomplish it. But more days than not that time just never came.
Well, friends, I’m over it. “Getting ready” is for church and parties, not mopping or the grocery store. I am trying hard, instead, to just “get dressed.” I have recently realized I can get dressed (and sometimes even lose the messy bun) in under 5 minutes. And I feel SO MUCH BETTER.
2. MAKE MY BED.
There is nothing that can transform a room so quickly as making a bed. The entire task takes less than 3 minutes and starting my day off with it has helped me feel like I got something done, especially on days when chaos seems to ensue in other areas. This small task somehow motivates me to pick the towel up off the floor too, scrub the toilet, or clean out the fridge.
3. OPEN THE CURTAINS.
This, too, might seem over-the-top-obvious, but the reality is that if numbers 1 & 2 weren’t being done, then I wasn’t about to expose that shameful truth to all of our apartment neighbors who have a clear view of our windows. The thing about shame, though, is that it often squanders motivation. But sunshine, on the other hand, when sunshine barges into a home at full force it’s just hard to be as blatantly lazy.
4. PREP DINNER EARLIER IN THE DAY.
Previously, the only dinners I would prep hours in advance were ones that had to sit in the slow cooker all day. But I’ve learned that no matter how orderly the majority of my day can feel, between the hours of 4-6 pm time just has a way of slipping away from us and I often start making dinner when we ought to actually be eating it. If dinner is served later than planned then the girls get to bed later than planned, plain and simple. So now I do the majority of meal prep for any type of dinner before we’ve even had lunch.
5. DROP PERFECTION.
The thing about perfectionists is we want things done just right, and if we know they won’t be, we sometimes won’t do them at all. (Which is probably why simply getting dressed or opening the curtains is so hard for me sometimes). But there comes a point where the over-achieving just has to give, especially for a natural-living diy-er who is seemingly always invested in countless projects. I’ve been practicing completing tasks at a basic standard and putting more value in actually doing them than in doing them exceptionally.
Since identifying these personal goals, I’ve felt somewhat of a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I’m happier, my girls are happier, and even Papa Bear has noticed the place (and all of us) seem more put together. Now, hopefully my painstakingly simple steps are just that: simple enough to stick with!
How do you motivate yourself to get the things done that you need to? What does your mommy work uniform look like?
This post was shared on Motivation Monday