Monday, January 13, 2014

The best laid plans

This weekend, like many others, I had high hopes about the things I was going to accomplish during my sons' naptimes.  There are some things that HAVE TO get done every weekend, in addition to caring for the boys: a minimum amount of laundry, grocery shopping and food preparation, and some basic house cleaning/tidying.  Anything beyond these three categories is optional and aspirational most weeks, unless there is a specific errand or task that must be accomplished (example: this past weekend I needed to buy my godson a birthday gift).

I get up at 5:30 every weekday morning in order to get to work on time.  I go to bed by 9:00 or 9:30 most nights.  My sons go to bed between 7:30 and 7:45 most nights, so that means I generally have less than two hours to myself in the evenings.  During that relatively short window of time, I eat dinner, prepare things for the next day, take medications and vitamins, pay some attention to our dog, try to talk with my husband, and oh yes, try to relax.  I rarely get much accomplished on these weekday evenings, primarily because I am too tired, mentally and physically, after a full day of work followed by a few hours of caring for my sons.  I feel proud if I am able to read a chapter or two of a book (instead of simply mindlessly playing Words with Friends, checking Fac.ebo.ok and the like).

I am sure there must be mothers who get things done in the evenings after their children are in bed. . . else who is posting all the things I see on  In fact, looking at the breakdown of how I spend that time, it seems that I would, and should, be able to do that.  I mean, I have two hours.  It doesn't take that long to do the things I do.

Apparently I am not one of these mothers, and I have (mostly) accepted this about myself.

Regardless, one of the ironies of my life over the last several months has been that I have had an ongoing yearning to get things accomplished and organize areas of my home and have lacked the time and opportunity to do so.  Here was my modest to-do list for this past weekend, which went uncompleted:

Things I'd hoped to during the boys' nap and couldn't because they wouldn't sleep:

Cut my fingernails  

(I ended up doing this before bed)
Brush Hunter 

(he was groomed last week and really needs to be brushed at least once a week.  probably more often.  this can't be delegated to MM because he is allergic to the dog.)
Finish organizing photos 

(all my digital photos since the boys' birth are/were simply in folders by the date they were uploaded from the photo card to the laptop, with no further organization)
Back up all photos to flickr 

(I am one computer failure away from losing some irreplaceable photos)
Steam mop kitchen floor 

(it's only been a week since I last did it, but the floor looks awful)
Box up all books in master bedroom and move to garage 

(all our books from three shelves in the living room were moved to our bedroom to prevent their being destroyed by the boys.  they need to be relocated in preparation for my dad and stepmom's visit this coming weekend.)
Straighten up 

(MM ended up doing this in every area but one kitchen counter--which always collects clutter--so yea!)
Spend half hour on cleaning garage 

(garage has not had a good cleaning out since before the boys were born, and it is long overdue for one)

Had my sons slept for their customary and expected two to two-and-a-half hours even one day, I would have easily completed this list, with time to spare.  As it was, the only task I completed was clearing out and semi-organizing all the outgrown baby clothes in our guest room/office. . . and that only happened because I stayed home and did on Saturday while MM took the boys to the park to play.  (I also vacuumed and did two loads of laundry and one load of dishes during that time.)

I guess this is common.  I have asked other toddler moms how they get things accomplished, and most have said that they don't, or that they do so by hiring childcare on the weekends.  I don't want to spend additional time away from my sons after being away from them during the day all week; I just want them to nap!

Lately our sons seem determined NOT to nap for us on the weekends (though they nap consistently for their nanny Monday through Thursday, go figure).  In addition to staying awake during "naptime" both Saturday and Sunday, they also (once again) removed all the clothes from their closet--they figured out a way to circumvent the method we'd devised for securing it--and yesterday actually tore apart two drawers of their I.kea dresser, destroying it.

They are definitely curious and in an exploration phase!

MM and I are concerned that they are not getting enough sleep--Saturday night they fell asleep in their high chairs during dinner--and would just like to get our afternoons back.  :-)


  1. Hi S! I am hoping to blog about this very topic, if I find the time.
    I have had to adjust to just letting things go, as I am sure you have had to as well. I would much rather hang out on the floor with my son than wash the dishes or the floor My standard of "clean" has shifted, I still can't deal with things being dirty but messy, I have to deal with. I can't imagine hiring childcare on the weekends, I too want to be with my son.
    I thought of your blog post of your boys taking stuff out of their closets (I read but don't always comment) when my son starting taking all of the clothes out of his new bureau that I just finished painting. It was funny and frustrating at the same time.
    I find the two precious hours between bedtimes to not be the most productive. I am usually on the couch with a glass of wine. You sound like you are more productive than me!

  2. Thank you for this post! I have been feeling pretty miserable recently, thinking I can't manage one part of my life properly - working full-time so not a good mother, tired so not doing job to optimum level, have no time to exercise or do anything for "me-time" and still largely failing at keeping the house at minimal tidiness/cleanliness. Like you, I look at people online and think I'm the only one failing at this, so your post makes me feel better (except I don't get up at 5.30am - how on earth do you manage that?!). My wee one is a little older than yours and has stopped napping (!) but I think I can see the early signs of a little more independence. I can just about see a day when he is playing as I tidy or do washing - oh, I do hope so! And for you too!

  3. Woof, I hear ya! I keep a running list of "shit I'd like to accomplish someday" in my Reminders app on my iPhone. Yeah, I don't think I've checked one thing off that list in months. But that's OK. The shit that HAS to get done (feed kids, change kids, play with kids) is getting done and all the other stuff I do by tag teaming. So I take just ONE thing I want to do on the list, I tell Mike he needs to watch the kids for 45 mins to an hour, and then I pound it out. Even though I could do all of those things on the list if I just had a few more hours... come on. Not realistic. I aim for 1 extra thing to get done PER WEEKEND. And drastically lowering my expectations has taken a lot off my shoulders.

  4. Our kids have terrible naps on the weekend. I think part of it is we are in an apartment and our upstairs neighbor ALWAYS HAS TO VACUUM AT 2pm ... but part of it is just that the day is very exciting and daddy is home and all that.

    In terms of getting things done ... Have you heard of UnfuckYourHabitat? (I don't know the url but just google that) It is a great blog, and it talks about cleaning in VERY short bursts. So if you could get your husband to be the baby entertainer for 20min you could get a lot done. She talks about doing 20/10s (20min of work, 10min of rest), but you could just do 20min of work and actually get a lot done if you don't try to do more than that. It's when you think you need to set aside an hour to do something that it doesn't get done, because not many people have an hour to spare!

  5. It is because I am short on time myself (and, as a recently work from home mom, I should even be spending this time reading/commenting, but I digress) all I can say is to hang in there. I, too, am up at 5:30 and even though my older son is in school, the baby doesn't nap nearly long enough for me to actually really accomplish much (even though I have good time management skills, present blog reading/commenting excepted).

    Prioritize things on your list and get them done in priority order over several days, if/when you can.


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