The last few weeks have felt messy to me. Part Groundhog Day, part post-vacation blues, part toddler tornado… just messy. I feel like I’ve done a poor job at planning and self-discipline. Days felt busy and chaotic, only to realize as I collapse into bed that I really didn’t accomplish that much, or anything of true significance. Maybe that’s just how some days are when you have a toddler.
This last week in particular was just so WEIRD. I looked back on it and thought “What a fun week! But wait… what did I do again? Why do I have so many dirty dishes? Why am I so tired? Why do I have so much work to do? Why do I feel like a chicken with my head cut off?” I got to go to the Shell Yes party on a last minute whim, which was so so worth it but took up Tuesday night and much of Wednesday. I wrapped up the book contract I’ve been working on since April. Wrote a bunch of articles for my freelance jobs. Did ~some of the chores I’d to-do-listed for myself for the week. Didn’t exercise AT ALL. Reese watched FAR too much YouTube, her naps were all over the place, and my mom guilt was at an all time high. Just messy.
When Saturday came I just felt so grateful that we had absolutely no plans at all. I would have all day at home with The Beard and the Reese to just get my head on straight. I was craving it. I knew I needed it so badly.
When Saturday morning dawned I found myself awake earlier than planned. I grimaced, remembering those college days when I would sleep until 1 pm every Saturday. Instead I was alert, headachey, and taunted by The Beard’s deeply sleeping snores, promising another several hours of blissful sleep. I knew Reese was also due to sleep for another couple of hours, so I resigned myself to consciousness and retreated downstairs for some breakfast.
I made a warm cup of fake Mormon coffee (Pero) with milk and sugar, toasted my favorite bagel, and as I was sitting down at my kitchen table I glimpsed my scriptures and the Gospel Doctrine manual I had begun studying back in March when my life was even ~moar of a mess. I pulled it out again, cringing as I realized how long it had been since I’d taken the time to do earnest scripture study. I’d read Daughters In My Kingdom every morning until I had finished, and now I was reading Women and the Priesthood, but that was really passive and quick. As I began my renewed study, flipping to scripture references, underlining phrases I liked, I felt so comfortable and also stupid.
Whenever I see or hear anyone complaining about what a mess their life is or how everything is going wrong, my first thought is always “They should be more intentional about their prayer, scripture study, and church attendance. That tends to put most things in perspective and fixes a lot of problems.” Because I’m THAT type of self-righteous nightmare. Especially when I’m not doing those ~*Seminary Answers*~ myself. And guess what? I haven’t been!!!!!!!
I finally had a quiet, uninterrupted, solo moment to slow down and really reconnect with myself. As I looked back on these messy weeks I noticed a lot of very clear red flags:
- Waking up without a plan
- Oversleeping/Reese is my alarm clock
- Trying to work during the day while Reese is awake
- Not making time for Reese alone
- Not making time for prayer or scripture study
- Had not attended sacrament meeting in 3 weeks, full block of church in probably 6 months (YIKES)
- Overextending myself – making too many plans, putting too much on my to-do list, letting time-sensitive things rule my life
- Justifying everything with “well Reese is having a hard day” or “I just need to wrap up this contract” or “I’ll do better tomorrow, just for today I can…”
- Spending too much time on social media
The realizations just kept coming. None of these things are inherently bad, of course. But when they slowly start to add up and take over, over the course of several weeks you really start to feel like a car that’s running on fumes.
Did you ever get that object lesson with the golf balls and the sand? I’ve seen it in church to illustrate the importance of covenants and seminary answers, and I’ve also seen it in the junior high to demonstrate principles of time management. Basically you have a pitcher or beaker, a handful of golf balls, and a glass of sand. The golf balls represent ~important things/priorities. The sand represents all of the extra crap you have to do like chores, and the extra crap you like to do like Netflix. The pitcher or beaker represents your life, your available time. If you start by pouring in the less important stuff – the sand – then you can’t get the real important stuff – the golf balls – in. But if you start with the golf balls, THEN pour in the sand – it will magically all fit. If I’m not explaining it clearly… just watch this little video that lays it out nicely.
When your life is just sand it feels messy. I needed a hard reset, to empty out my jar, lay out my rocks, pebbles, and sand, and to start over. I cracked open my bullet journal, said a quick prayer for clarity, and began scheduling the rocks into my week.
- Rock #1 – Quality Family Time. Instead of the long and detailed cleaning list I had hoped to accomplish with The Beard on our unscheduled Saturday, I shortened it in favor of some good, clean family fun time. We got lunch as a family, did a *little bit* of cleaning together, and spent the evening snuggled together on the couch watching a movie. It was awesome.
- Rock #2 – Daily Scripture Study. When you’re dealing with the unpredictability of a toddler, it helps to stack your goals with everyday habits that will happen no matter what. Ideally, yes, I’ll wake before Reese and enjoy some quiet time in my room to read my scriptures. But that only happens sometimes. Instead I scheduled scripture study with breakfast, because we both need to eat!
- Rock #3 – Church aka ALL of Church. It’s been hard, guys. And YES I know people walk to church for miles and are persecuted and alone, and having a loud and mobile toddler really is no good reason at all to not attend church. But it’s still been hard for us. It’s an hour of wrangling and stifling her during Sacrament meeting (which we always try to do), then I’m faced with the choice of two hours of chasing her through the hallways and pushing back her nap or taking her home where she can’t disturb anyone and I can at least read some conference talks while she sleeps. Guess which one usually won out? I decided this was finally the Sunday to try going to nursery with her, since she’ll be 18 months in a few weeks. I guess the rule is that you just have to stay with them if they aren’t 18 months, but that’s fine by me. I hung with her during 2nd hour, and the Beard spelled me for 3rd hour so I could finally attend Relief Society. Reese absolutely LOVED it and basically ignored me and the Beard the entire time, so we are pretty optimistic about her doing solo nursery full time in a few weeks. And attending Relief Society? It felt like a feast after famine. I can’t even describe what it was like, spiritually, for me. It brought me new life. That was exactly what God wanted me to do, because He knew what it would do for me.
- Rock #4 – Work on MY time, not family time. I have felt really flustered with my work life lately. I felt like I had SO MUCH TO DO so I needed to be doing it as soon as we got changed and fed. I’d spend hours half-focused between Reese and my work, doing a crappy job at dealing with both, and then be sick of working when Reese’s nap rolled around. Somehow I would work all day but not get enough done, and still need to work when the Beard got home. #nope not working for us. This week I’m waking up earlier than Reese and getting work done before she’s awake. I’m not working when Reese is awake, and I’m utilizing her naps more. If I need to put The Beard on Dad Duty for a few hours in the evening – I can do that, but I want to try to avoid working in the evenings.
- Rock #5 – Reese. Mostly going along with Rock #4, I just realized how little one-on-one time I’m actually spending with Reese. As a stay-at-home-mom!!!!! That’s ridiculous! We go to splash pads, and lunches with family and friends, and grocery shopping, and to the parks. But when we’re home my attention is usually split. Home time is the best time for her learning and development, and I should be doing more in that arena. I want to spend more totally focused time with Reese. I want to get her sleeping and nap schedule more regular and predictable. I want to kick the bottle and scale back the binky. I want to teach her more words and gestures (GOOD ONES you guys, not bad ones).
I also need to get my ish together when it comes to the pebbles: basic chores, Glen Coco, my blog, side projects, friends, Harry Potter Book Club, and plenty of others. But let’s just start with the rocks, shall we?
My schedule this week, instead of getting filled out with obligations and my freelance and blog work, started with my scripture study, Reese’s wakeup and nap times, activities I want to do with her and The Beard, and a few personal and home goals to accomplish. It’s only Wednesday, but this week has already felt so wonderfully different and satisfactory. My work still got done, the to-do list got some attention, and I feel much more connected to my husband, my daughter, and my Father in heaven.
Sometimes you just gotta reset.