Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Keeping Life Simple

Last week I had a day where I was utterly exhausted. I got up early to attend to some pressing chores, spent the entire day taking care of errands and activites and was overwhelmed with my cranky kids and my messy house. My son covered himself head to toe in spaghetti at supper, as well as the floor, and while I was bathing him after supper he stood up in the bathtub and proceeded to go poo a couple of times in the water much to my chagrin. After cleaning that icky mess up and re-bathing him a couple of times, I then turned the night-time routine over to my hubby so I could grocery shop for an hour, and visit a friend briefly who needed me. Then, I returned home at around 8 or 9 pm only to unload and put away tons of groceries and tackle an enormous dish mess that took over an hour to clean up as well as sweeping up the kitchen and cleaning the floor and bleaching out the tub and bath toys. By the end of the night (like 10 pm) I felt totally spent and like weeping! Oh, and I forgot to mention that our neighbors met me the instant I got home from grocery shopping and asked for yet another favor while I loaded in bags. I felt like everything was more than I could handle and life was just too hard. Thankfully my hubby took care of the neighbors (they wanted MapQuest maps for their vacation printed off of our computer) and he gave me a nice massage without me even having to ask and then I was able to relax with a fun novel for a while before bed.

However, during all these exhausting tasks of the day, I realized that a lot of my stress was MY fault. No one forced me to plan too much to accomplish in one day! I'm thankful most days aren't like that, and that things always look better in the morning after a good night of sleep and some fresh perspective. It's important to keep a sense of humor in it all and remember to lean on God and trust that He is not going to give us more than we can handle. It's hard for me to slow down, even when I'm pregnant, but I'm realizing more and more this month that I HAVE to! I have no choice as my body is filled with bone-numbing fatigue that makes me feel like it's more work to breathe these days and my body is moving in slow mo at all times.

What are some ways I'm choosing to simplify during this tiring stage of life?

1. Learn to say no! Learn that saying no for your family's sake is nothing to feel ashamed of! I think I will always be working on this principle. It's not easy! In the case of my stressful day, I was the only gal of several of our friends who didn't cancel out on going to another friend's birthday picnic. I, of course, had volunteered to make her favorite cake. When everyone cancelled and my friend was left home alone (with her hubby gone for 2 weeks) with her new baby and toddler, I felt like it was all up to ME to bless her on her 30th birthday and to take her a piece of the special cake I had made her, and to plan another party for later when everyone could make it. My friends are important, especially on their special days, and especially when they are lonely, but I need to learn to step back and JUST SAY NO even in cases like this where it is really hard. I should have NOT tried to do so much all in one day on top of blessing my friend. I need to learn to stop volunteering to plan everything too! A lot of times, I feel like if I don't, then no one will. So, I keep falling into the trap of planning mom activities or friends' birthday things and at this point in my life it is too much! I need to declare that July is no commitments month where I can attend parties and picnics but not plan them! I need to step back from having any company over for meals if it will be too overwhelming for me!

2. Let go of expectations! I can't stand our apartment to be too dirty or too cluttered but I can definitely live with things being more messy lately. I feel terrible because with the intense heat and my intense fatigue I haven't been making the greatest meals this last week and I have lost all motivation for new and creative meal ideas! My husband has got to be secretly thinking, "If I have to eat spaghetti, nachos, or mac n' cheese again I'm gonna throw up!" Please help me out by suggesting some simple and tasty meal ideas for the summertime! I've been tempted at times to dip into the freezer meals stash just because I think I'm more tired and unable to cook while hugely preggo than I am after having a newborn! One thing that always helps me is to remember that my neatest/cleanest friend in the world has admitted that she NEVER cleaned during the nine months she was preggo. She slept all the time and said her house was a mess even though she had no kids at the time. This is a gal whose house is the cleanest, most spotless, clutter-free house in the world (even with twin 2-year olds) and even when you drop in unexpectedly. If her house was dirty while she was pregnant, that gives me hope and makes me feel so much better!

3. Cut back on chores in whatever ways you can. I've started using more disposables on Jer, saving me some work with soaking and washing diapers, I've stocked up on paper plates, which helps cut back the number of dishes I have to wash each day, I've put a bunch of toys away in the shed so there are less toys to clean up daily (the kids like playing outside anyway!) and I'm letting some weekly chores go longer between (like cleaning the microwave out, mopping the floor, etc.)

4. Use the A/C. Some days we don't use the A/C at all and just open the doors and use the fan to blow air through. Or some days we merely turn the A/C on for 10 minutes before bed and our room is nice and cool throughout the night that way. But the last two days have been mid-nineties and I'm starting to roast! Even if A/C is expensive, it is so helpful to have to cool off. I notice a huge difference in the amount of motivation I have based on being hot or cool. Cooling off with some A/C wakes me enough to get a lot more housework and cooking done!
5. Limit my Physical Activity and Time in the Sun. I try to stay in the shade when we are at the park, or pool parties, or when the kids are playing outside. Thankfully our front courtyard to our building is very shady. I like staying active and getting some exercise, and it also saves on gas, but I've had to realize that if I do go for a walk or bike ride during the day I will pay for it in being a little more tired and less motivated than otherwise. I had no choice but to bike to swimming lessons today with the kids since one of our cars is out of commission today, but I don't plan to do it every single day, even if it's just a 10 minute ride.
6. Being SURE to Take Vitamins and Iron. Also, being sure I'm drinking enough! And not going more than a couple of hours without eating! I can be really forgetful about taking prenatals. I also probably need to take more iron than I do and part of my fatigue might be related to anemia as my blood volume grows with the baby. I had low iron levels in my last pregnancy. I've been really trying to drink enough and I'm committing to work on being more "vitamin conscience" in this last stretch of pregnancy. I also need to eat protein snacks throughout the day, because if I don't, I get really dizzy and shaky and so, so, so tired! I don't have gestational diabetes, but I think I'm borderline hypoglycemic, even when I'm not pregnant. Sometimes in caring for two little ones, you forget to eat, but I've found out the hard way this is NOT cool when you are pregnant!
Any Tips on Keeping Life Simple During Hard Times?


shiloh said...

Order pizza all the time! Just kidding! :) I don't have any super tips, but to just say, "hang in there!" I am praying for you and hope July is a more restful month for you!

the momma said...

ahh, Sweetie ~ I feel your pain! I'm hoping you get lots of suggestions, cause right now, I'm fresh out & sorely in need of some myself!

There's other food besides spaghetti (which I abhor) nachos & mac & cheese?? oh, that's right - curly noodles! you forgot the ramen noodles ~ fix those every once in awhile to mix things up :-)

grilled cheese & tom soup - cheap & easy

do you have a grill? King Jo can do some grilling for ya....

I told you I was on 'E'.... sorry!

You'll make it & I'll pray specifically for your ability to say 'no' when you need to

Anonymous said...

Rice and Eggs, a great simple meal for a tired mama. Steam the rice like normal and then take out a couple of cups. Beat two or three eggs in a small bowel, add a pinch of salt and pepper. Put a tablespoon of butter and the two cups rice back in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted add the beaten eggs, work quickly mixing the eggs and rice together for a couple of min. until the eggs are cooked. You can then add tons of stuff to the rice and eggs. Like a half cup of shredded cheese and a cup peas. Or my all time favorite, pesto, pine nuts, tomatoes and feta cheese. Really you could add anything though whatever sounds good to you. Great quick dinner, especially if you have left over rice you don't know what to do with. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lindsey, I love your blog! I have gleaned so many good ideas from here -- look forward to reading it everyday! Although I don't know you, I decided to finally make some comments since I feel your pain about meal preparation. Unlike you, I don't love to plan and cook meals, but feeding my family meals with the right balance of nutritious, easy and economical is important to me. So here's some ideas..... Firstly, in reading through your blog, your meals are way more appealing than most of what gets cooked over here at my house! Maybe cut yourself a little slack (much as you love cooking) and be okay with simple and plain meals for the time being. For example........

Breakfast: Fresh apple wedges, peanut butter toast. (I either make my own bread or buy a really high quality sprouted grain bread). Very simple, balanced and easy.

Lunch: Carrot sticks with dip. An easy sandwich like a BLT or cheese.

Supper: Popcorn and fruit smoothies (will help to cool you down on those hot days). Add something of "substance" to the smoothies, like yoghurt.

Okay, realistically, I wouldn't want to have to eat these same things every single day. But that is one day's menu out of the way and pretty fast, easy and relatively healthful.

I'll keep thinking....we're vegetarian so many of my ideas might seem a bit "out there". Hope this helps. Stay strong!

The Three 22nds said...

You're trying to do a lot with 2 kids and one on the way... especially in the heat of summer. You are a stay at home mom, but that doesn't mean that you have to do everything!

I pick what I like least and let it go on those "trying days" and let me tell you - with 3 little boys, there are a lot of them!

What I like least is cooking. I myself am content with yogurt or cottage cheese on those days and it is hard not to get resentful of the people that are constantly demanding food multiple times a day. (my kids, not my husband.) So, I will let supper go. Then, when my husband gets home he will order pizza, or give the boys something and then grill me a steak after they go to bed. He generally takes over supper prep when he gets home too, regardless of what I am making. (I do understand that my husband and I have a unique division of labor- my friends are shocked when I say something about Noah cleaning the bathroom or that his job is to load and unload the dishwasher...)

Basically, what I am saying in a convuluted way is that your whole family should be mega impressed that you cook anything 3 meals a day, 7 days a week! Delegate some jobs, then go out and sit in the kiddie pool with a glass of lemonade and a book!

Thia said...

Some excellent tips here, many of which I've learned during this pregnancy as well (#3). In fact, your post inspired me to get up and take my vitamins! I tend to forget. One tip of mine is to turn the TV on. I know how controversial that one can be, but desperate times/measures. Like what you said about AC. If I can't breathe well...all else is off! It's hard enough with little body parts jabbing my lungs. lol. And perhaps the most important tip is remembering that it's a season and will pass!

Pin It
Pin It
Pin It