Do you ever have those days, weeks, months, where it just seems you can never catch up?

Overwhelmed – my word for August

Every day there are a multitude of things that I want to do for myself.  I want to run, I want to blog, I want to read books, veg out on the couch, sip Starbucks and actually have a moment to enjoy it. I want to break out my sewing machine and start making things again, dust off my boxes of beads and start making jewelry, I want to open up my giant bin of markers and draw pictures for my house. I want to write articles and submit them to magazines, I want to work on making sure I keep up my skill set so when I return back to the work force I won’t be relegated to flipping burgers at McDonalds.

So many wants and so very little time.

I want to make new friends and keep the ones I already have. Relationships require time and effort. I’m learning the older I get that the gift of time is indeed a very large gift. When I had tons of free time, spending an afternoon with a friend was not a gift to them. Heck they were doing me a favor most times keeping me occupied. Now the little time I have to give is a gift to me and a gift [hopefully] to the friend I am with. The time they are spending with me is also a gift as I am sure their lives are as busy as mine.

I do not have enough time for the friends I already have.

I try my best to make time but there is only so much of it and as a parent the time you have to devote to yourself gets less and less as the demands of your children increase. I do realize that everyone, not just parents, lack of time, however until you are a parent you will not truly understand the sacrifice involved. I happen to think it’s worth it, but it is a crazy sacrifice.

I used to wonder what stay at home moms did all day and why they got offended when you asked them this. Now that I am that mom, I am likely to either scream at you or dream of punching you in the face if you ask me what I do. What don’t I do? I don’t have a nanny, a babysitter, or a cleaning lady. I manage, or try to anyways, a home where 5 people, 2 dogs, and 2 hermit crabs live.

Simple things like laundry become not simple when you are 5! On any given day each of us wear 1 outfit as our daily outfit, my husband and I both workout or run, so add in a 2nd outfit for each of us and I put fresh pj’s on all 3 of my kids each night. This means each day at a minimum we go through 10 outfits – multiple this by 7 and that is 70 outfits a week that need to be washed, folded, hung, and possibly ironed. The laundry alone is overwhelming.

Then you have the dishes – which seem to never end – and are probably the chore I hate most in life…..if you come to my house you are likely to see a pile in the sink. Guess what – I do not care. I am not defined as a person by how clean my house is, or whether I have dishes in the sink. If you judge me on either, then I most likely do not want to be your friend.

Laundry and dishes can be put off, but feeding my children, tending to them when they cry, or helping them wipe their bums are not things I can put off till tomorrow. Children take up allot of time and the time they take is not time that you can decide to put off to another day when you feel like doing it…..their needs are immediate and interrupt anything you should try to do.

This is why each and every day I have a to do list a mile long, and more often then not, only 1 or possibly 2 things get done on them.

Priorities:

Yesterday I was forced to evaluate my priorities. I was invited to a press conference Monday morning for National Marathon. They would be formally announcing that National Marathon is now run by the Competitor Group and is a Rock N Roll race. Josh Cox would be there and I sooooooooo wanted to meet him…..

How can I resist this little face?

Sunday night Colton was a mess. He started crawling two weeks ago and now thanks to all the wonderful germs he is now touching on the ground, is sick. I decided that dropping him off at my mother in laws so I could go to DC to see Josh Cox was selfish. My son is my priority.

I lamented but knew that I had another chance to meet him Monday night at a group run at Pacers. As a National Marathon Ambassador I would be on the VIP list[being the running geek I am this excited me!]. I wanted to print out my post “Hey Josh Cox: Here Is My Dream” and have him sign it. I planned on framing it and adding it to my collection of running stuff I love.

Last minute I got an email inviting me to a friends house to hang out and help celebrate another friends birthday. I wanted to hang out with my friend but I SOOO wanted to meet Josh Cox. What would I do? The old me would have gone and ran with Josh Cox, I mean after all it was the chance of a lifetime to meet a US 50K record holder. Who wouldn’t have chosen that? I mean a friend will always be there – right?

Wrong. Friends won’t always be there. Friends come and go. True ones understand, as I am sure my friend would have if I had chosen Josh Cox over her……but this is the same friend who watched my kids while pregnant with her third, so I could run 20 miles during the week. When I need a shoulder to lean on, it certainly won’t be Josh Cox’s.


Happy Birthday Karen!

I picked my friend. I had a great time, hanging out, drinking wine, and being silly with a group of girls I rarely get to see unless we are running together. In fact I can not even remember the last time I hung out with any of them sans kids if we were not running. What I realized is it’s important to evaluate your priorities in order to fit in what really matters. I do not have time for all I want to do. I never will. The only way to make sure my minutes matter is by managing the small amount of time I have better.

What are your tips for staying on top of life? How do you manage it all? How do you make time? How do you decide what is important? 

Comments

  1. Karen the "Hungry Mom" says:

    Awwww love it!! In so grateful you spent time w me last night, it is certainly the greatest gift you can give!! I loved all the laughing and being silly!! A great memory!

  2. Wow, I commend you! – I was seriously running through all the things that fall in the way of all of my "to dos, should dos, will never get tos" and I started feeling overwhelmed and like I was missing something, but when you list out everything you accomplish in a day, it puts the "didn't get tos" into perspective…you are a super mom, own it!

    Make a list, and feel the sense of accomplishment every time you check something off…have a "back-up" plan for last minute events or issues, so that you don't miss out on the things you really want to get done.

  3. amen.

    it's all in the time management. [which I need to become WAY better at].

    but certainly TRYING every day.

  4. I RUN LIKE A GIRL says:

    I understand how you are feeling right now – and it's not easy (2 jobs, 3 appts/week for my foot, training, certification courses & tests…) – it's been really hard and overwhelming to prioritize it all….

    I'm glad you picked colton & your friend, even though you *really* wanted to meet Josh Cox :)

  5. Shellyrm ~ just a country runner says:

    You ceasely manage to amaze. Wonderful balancing act! I'm not sure I would have given up meeting him.

  6. Kerrie T. says:

    Just stopping here to steal the tips…

    😉

  7. Megan @ On The Road Again says:

    You are seriously amazing. I know at-home moms do a lot, but you do all of that on top of being a rock star runner! Whenever I get overwhelmed with our impending little arrival (it'll be our first baby), I always think of you and say to myself, "she has THREE kids and still manages to stay on top of it all!"

    But I know it's not always easy. Perhaps you could set aside some time each week (?) month (?) for You Time to read, craft, blog, etc… It could be a short 30 minutes or an hour, but scheduling it into your week might help you to alleviate some of the stresses!

  8. Holly says:

    You do such a great job with everything! I get overwhelmed with my life sometimes and I don't have any children yet to take care of.
    Whenever I need to prioritize stuff I say to myself, "if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, what would I wish I would have done today?". It usually puts things into perspective for me and helps me see what is really important. Granted sometimes we all have to do things we don't want to do…but if faced with a choice of two things that I don't have to do but want to…I use that. Working as a nurse has really helped me see what is important in life.
    Hang in there! You are doing a great job!! :)

  9. Sarah & Christie says:

    thank you for this post!! soooo needed to hear it!

  10. Marisa @ The Pace of my Life says:

    I can totally emphasize. It's tough, but you seem to do a great job with all of it. I agree with EMZ, its all about time management (and getting a little less sleep at times, guess I will sleep when I am old)! Keep it up. You rock!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Wow Dorothy. You don't need to justify to anyone your being a stay-at-home-mom. I've often told my sister (who is a SAHM) that it's the hardest job in the world. I did it for 8 months only (6 months 1st child, 2 months 2nd child) and then was SO relieved to go back to work and have them in daycare.

    It sounds as though you're already doing fine, but since you asked for tips, here are a few of mine as a mom-professor-musician:

    1. Don't waste time ironing anything. Hub & I & the kids have gone to work and school in wrinkled clothes. No one has stoned us for it yet.

    2. Some clothes can be worn twice: you don't need to wash everything that's been worn only once unless it's noticeably gross.

    3. Invest in a dishwasher. It has been a lifesaver for us, and neither of us even minds washing dishes much. If you really hate it, all the more reason to buy a dishwasher.

    4. Carve out time for yourself and specifically put it into your daily calendar (maybe when your husband returns from work and you have some down-time). Use that time to do something YOU really love.

    5. You can get more of those small chunks of time by cooking in bulk and refrigerating or freezing meals. I can't tell you how happy I am on a busy night to come home and see that there are plenty of leftovers in the fridge for a complete family meal.

    6. Accept that you won't get everything done. And that there are stages in life, and you happen to be in a very busy one right now, and you may just have to put off certain activities and hobbies until the kids get a little older. There is no need to do everything all at once. You have a whole lifetime.

    Good luck!

  12. Running Moose says:

    It's hard. I try to keep everything in a positive light- the dishes, helping with laundry, doing yard work (we have a lot of flower gardens- the people before us were landscape designers…sometimes I curse them…), two kids, working full-time with 1.5 hours of driving a day and running and now some coaching as well. It's all what I want. What else am I going to do? Sit on FB all day? Nah, do what makes our family work and what's right for us all. Making the sacrifices can be hard (I sold all my photography gear since I don't have time for it- that was real hard, I gave up on triathlons- not enough time, etc…).

  13. Holly @ RUST BELT RUNNER says:

    I HATE doing the dishes too! Worst chore ever. Would it help to have a clean out and reduce the amount of clothing your family has? There was that 35 items of clothing challenge going round the blogosphere.

    Maybe less clothes = less mess = not so bad doing laundry.

    Just a thought.

  14. Penny says:

    You are doing a great job. I worked part time when my kids were littl. My husband wanted me to quit my job but that is totally not me. I need to have some adult conversations sometimes. Their were days I could not wait to go to work. It was alot less stressful there than at home with the kids. But I also had days I hated to leave them. Now my boys are 17 and 20. I really am loving my life now. My boys take care of themselves and I finally get to have my me time. Just stop and take some deep breaths. Because they grow up way to fast.

  15. I hear ya!

    How 'bout I come over and do your dishes if you come do my laundry?? It isn't the actual *doing* the laundry…it is putting it away. Right now I have several baskets of clean clothes all through my house. Hmmm…maybe I should get off the computer and go put stuff away.

    You made some good choices. Remember that they are YOUR choices and don't let anyone judge you for them. The only way I can keep things balanced is to be ok with not doing it all. Or not doing it all perfectly.

    I hope your little one is feeling better….

  16. Allison says:

    You know, I think this is just how it is when you have 3 small children. I don't have any fantastic advice for you. I have 3 boys ages 8, 5 and 2. I am a part-time teacher at a community college, and I'm pursuing my Masters degree. My husband is military, and while he is essentially in a non-deploying job, we are thousands of miles away from any family. So I don't have much help. I will tell you that I *do* have a cleaning lady (she comes every other Wednesday), and my house is still a mess!!

    There is always a fire to put out. There's always another mountain to climb. There's always something. Parenting is like the ultimate ultra-marathon.

    It is what it is. That's my mantra.

    Dorothy, I think you should apply what you do in your "running" life to what you do in your "momming" life. Remember your post on how you celebrate your little PRs? You should celebrate the little achievements that you do every day. You should celebrate the 1 or 2 things that you got done on your list, and put the other stuff that didn't get done on the list for the next day. Or the day after that. Or next week. Girl, we are never going to get it all done.

    That being said, I am off to organize/clean the dump that is my two oldest boys' room. (With their help, of course).

  17. Teamarcia says:

    All million dollar questions IMO. here it's all about following my heart and making choices that are aligned with goals both for myself as a mom and as a person. It's a TOUGH balancing act and I seldom if ever have all areas of my life in balance simultaneously. But I try of course. I find that a few minutes of quiet time to reflect on the day ahead (this happens around 4am more often than not lately) helps me regroup, rebalance and makes me better prepared to handle whatever challenges the day brings.

  18. Rebecca Samson says:

    Life it tough. I sometimes wish I could be a teenager again but then I remember being told what to do and I think oh yah… I love my life. I really think you do a good job and remember we all have the same struggles so you are not alone!
    I cherish those fun nights with my friends :) Had so much fun making memories!

  19. Racingtales says:

    Ha! Dishes in my sink right now and what am I doing? Reading your blog! Good choice on Josh Cox vs. your kids and friends. Anyway, maybe he's a dork. JK. 😉

  20. Kerry says:

    Great post! I can totally relate too. I work full time and have 4 kiddos. One of the biggest things that I do is plan meals. 1 week at a time, make my shopping list based on my meals. When I come home from work it's such a relief to NOT have to think about WHAT is for dinner. All I have to worry about is getting it on the table. This also enables me to plan easy meals on long run days and so forth. Hope this helps!

  21. LOVE this post. Thanks for sharing … I'm sure I'm not the only one who can relate. Glad you enjoyed your friend's birthday.

    Planning is probably the biggest thing that helps me when I'm feeling overwhelmed. But, first stopping and prioritizing, like you did, is a must!

    Winks & Smiles,
    Wifey

  22. Wow. I am blown away by this post. Thank you for writing it. I am not a mother (maybe someday) and I already feel like I do not have enough time in the day to do the things I want to do, take care of the house and two dogs, a husband, my father, run, write, read, maintain friendships etc. etc.

    I have mass amounts of respect for you after reading this post. It really has me thinking about my own life and my priorities. I skipped a run last night to have dinner ready and on the table when my husband got home from his job – he had a rough day and we have been house-sitting FIVE dogs for two weeks now. I wanted to run SO BAD, but now I am glad I did the right thing and helped make his day better, plus we got to share a meal together.

    Thank you. Thank you. You are an amazing woman and I admire your strength and perseverance. Have a terrific day!!

  23. P.S. – not that I didn't have respect for you before, I am just a recent follower of your blog and do not know a lot about you!!

  24. {lifeasa}RunningMom says:

    My heart goes out to you since we are caught up in this dilemma each day of our lives….especially the parents who run.

    First, you are doing great and know that you are wonderful and talented.

    Second, you have a lot of great goals and desires. Why not prioritize them? Decide which ones you want to achieve in one month, two months, etc. You are familiar with running plans so set a life enrichment plan and actually schedule time for yourself to do something you want to do. Moms often sacrifice themselves, which I do too, but I am a better mom when I have time for me. Usually that is running but I did to be creative through sewing and crocheting as well. I have even incorporated my daughter into this time with me and have her help me sew pillows (she stuffs the fluff inside) and be with me while I crochet (she gets a little educational movie time and pretends to do her crocheting by my side with some yarn and knots she it making).

    Good luck!

  25. Kandi says:

    Don't let the thought of being overwhelmed overwhelm you!
    I have that written on a post-it note in my office.

  26. Samantha says:

    Thanks Dorothy. Great post, great choices. I empathize – one four year old, two year old twins, one dog, marathon training, freelance work, no help. Each day is an exercise in prioritizing and deep, deep breathing. I think you've nailed the key to it – you have to take a breath, step back, and ask yourself what is most important right now. You can have it all, just not all at once. You're doing great.

I love a good comment!

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