Friday, January 8, 2010

Finding Balance

My job as a stay-at-home mom is to take care of the kids and run the house. Who knew these two things could be so incompatible at times? And not just because the kids make messes faster than I can clean them up.

Here's the real dilemma: Do I play Ring Around the Rosie with my one year olds or tackle the bathtub rings? Do I join my daughter in rearranging her dollhouse, or do I clean my own house? Hopscotch or hot meals? Coloring or clean clothes? Dolls or dishes?

I thought I left the whole work-life balance issues behind when I left my career. Turns out I have the same struggles, but at least now I get to contend with these challenges while wearing comfortable shoes and my favorite pair of jeans.

Now clearly, some things have to be done. Kids must be diapered and fed. Dishes and highchair trays have to get cleaned. Food has to be swept up from the least once a day anyway. Necessary, but not nearly as much fun as giggling with the kids or as rewarding as teaching my boys where their noses are.

I try to do what chores I can during nap time, but there's no way I can get everything taken care of in a couple hours a day. The trick, as always, is deciding what HAS to be done and what can wait or get skipped now and then.

Just like magazine models give us an unrealistic expectation of what a woman should look like, home and family magazines do the same. Is it realistic to expect a perfectly clean, organized home, made-from-scratch meals and cute treats to boot when I've got four kids age 3 and under? No more realistic than being a six-foot tall size 0 with a flawless complexion.

Yes, I know that a clean home and good meals are part of raising my children in a good environment. But what kid wouldn't trade a kitchen floor that's mopped daily for 20 minutes of playtime with mom? Or a lunch plate that looks like a clown face for parental face time?

It's all about balance.

I try to keep that in mind as I look around my house. True, we're not making it into House Beautiful, or even Better Homes and Gardens anytime soon. Not with that pile of laundry to be folded, today's mail (and yesterday's too) lying on the kitchen table, and more than one toy not put away in its proper place.

I figure we're doing OK as long as we aren't in danger of being on one of those HGTV messy house shows.

And I’d say we’re a couple thousand rounds of Ring Around the Rosie away from that happening.

P.S.: After I first posted this a friend of mine sent me a comment by email. She said her mom had a sign in her house that said, "My home: Clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy." My new mantra!


Cris Goode said...

Love the mantra!

Emily said...

I think this is one of my favorite posts yet! Well-written, witty, and wise!

Jen said...

I LOVE that mantra. That it totally me. And trust me, I so understand this post and face many of the same struggles.

Suzy said...

That's similar to what my grandma used to say ... I should ask my mom for the exact wording and hang it my house. :)

Mary said...

When Josh was 7 he wrote me a poem for Mothers Day... it said "roses are red, violets are blue, I love my mom because she's really good at cooking, cleaning and making beds" I cried (because it made me sad) and then decided I need to have more fun with my kids or thats what it will say on my headstone!! Some things are just more important then others, its figuring that out that still challenges me.

Abby said...

Well, at least at home you get to be the boss. No 360 reviews, business plans, or excel spreadsheets.... usually.

Tina said...

Go watch one episode of Hoarders, and you will never lament the state of your house again. Trust me. ;)