Showing posts with label housekeeper. Show all posts
Showing posts with label housekeeper. Show all posts

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tools (or on my OCD tendencies)

First of all, let me be clear that I have never been diagnosed with OCD, nor am I really sure that the tendencies that I have would even be classified as OCD, but that's what I call them, and that's what I've been told by others, so until I get another explanation, there ya go.

I've always enjoyed a good list. To do lists are my forte. At work, I'm known for "the list". At home, I have a chore list, a grocery list, a meal planning calendar, a daycare planning calendar, expense tracking worksheets, and even gift giving lists. All tracked on Excel.

Oh, how I love Microsoft Excel.

They all started innocently enough. Other than the To Do List (which I've used since I was way younger than anyone should use To Do Lists), they all came about after FireGirl was born, as tools to help me manage what seemed like an overwhelming amount of responsibility.

I love a list. I believe lists can be invaluable tools.

And I've been thinking a lot about tools lately.

You see, a few months ago, on a Friday, I had brought my chore list to work for some reason. When I left that evening, I accidentally left it on my desk. I remembered just as I pulled in the driveway.

And nearly had an anxiety attack.

I mean, how would I know what chores to do if I don't have my list?!? How will I know what needs to be done?!?

My list, it's organized by regular chores & special one-time chores. It's a matrix in order by date-last-completed, so I know exactly how long it's been since I've done what. I check them off as I go. It tells me what to do next.

And here I was, on a weekend where FireMan wasn't gonna be home, and I would have all kinds of time to get housework done, and I didn't have my list.

I can't explain to you the kind of panic that set in. I can also tell you that I knew exactly how crazy that sounded. But it didn't change anything. I was completely hobbled without that list. I think I did manage to put one load of laundry in that Friday night, and Saturday morning I took FireGirl and drove to my office to get the List.

And yes, I knew exactly how crazy that was. But it didn't change the fact that I needed that list.

And I've been thinking about tools ever since.

Okay, not like constantly ever since, but... you get the idea.

And then, a few weeks ago... I did a load of laundry, and didn't check it off on the list. And unlike my usual remember-within-a few-minutes-and-run-to-the-kitchen-to-mark-it-off, I didn't even remember until the next morning.

I can't tell you how big that moment was, when I realized that I wasn't having anxiety over not recording the fact that I did a load of laundry.

Yes, I know exactly how crazy that sounds.

I never did check that load of laundry off.

I did check off the next load. And the next. And various other chores.

But it was different. I felt different.

I felt... like I was on the edge of something big. I was either going to have a breakthrough, or a breakdown. And in those moments, it felt like it could go either way.

Next thing I know, we needed groceries. But I didn't have time to get my grocery list together. You know, put it together in Excel, in order by aisle, look thru my paper coupons & mark the list accordingly, look for online coupons & mark the list accordingly, check the flier for discounts & mark the list accordingly... it takes time, and I hadn't had time to do it yet. But we needed food.

So I went grocery shopping.

Without a grocery list.

Without one single coupon.

Without knowing what was on sale.

There was something liberating about that trip to Kroger.

Like, really, actually freeing.

I felt free.

I was lucky enough to be by myself, and I dawdled in each aisle, perusing items & prices for what my family would want versus what was reasonably priced. It was probably the least draining shopping trip I've ever had. I dare say I felt energized leaving that store.

And I haven't marked a single chore off my chore list ever since.

Now, granted, there are times when I worry that I've missed a chore, when our house is a mess and I think "maybe I really did need that list".

And then I remember that our house was a mess before, and maybe it's a teeny tiny bit messier than before, but... if so, not by enough to really notice.

I can see when the hamper is full and laundry needs to be done. Or the sink is full and dishes need to be done. Or the garbage is full & needs to be taken out.

Mental note: clean the bathroom.

Why? because it needs it

It's not that I didn't see these things before, it's that I was handicapped by the very tools I created to help me. Or rather I was handicapped by my dependence on these lists.

Example? Sure.

Let's say the living room floor is dirty.

my reaction then: "yuck. The floor is dirty. I need to do laundry so we have clothes to wear, and then if I have time, I can probably do one or two more chores. But I can't sweep the floor until I straighten the living room and pick up toys & things. I'll have to see if anything is higher on the list than "straighten the living room" and "sweep floors"."

my reaction now: "yuck. The floor is dirty. I need to do laundry first so we have clothes to wear, but then I should have time to do one or two more chores. Maybe tonight I'll pick up the living room & sweep the floor."

See the difference? Of course you do.

Tools.

I'm thankful for my lists. I think when I started using them, when I was truly overwhelmed, when I was fighting PPD, when I was struggling with so many issues, I needed them. I needed tools to help me handle the everyday tasks that others take for granted.

Tools are great like that. Tools are meant to be used when one is lacking in the ability to complete the task by themselves.

Think about it. I mean, if you could hammer in a nail with your bare hand... would you ever buy a hammer? Probably not. You need the tool.

But somewhere along the way, my tools became my crutch.

I am better now. I am stronger. I am healed.

I am not perfect. Far, far from it. But I am ready to stop depending on my tools, and start depending on myself.

I am free.

Right now, I am not using any of my lists or calendars for home. None of them. I may reinstate one or more of them in the future (after all, I am a little concerned I'll forget to buy laundry detergent on my next grocery trip), but for now... I'm content to toddle into the world, finding my way again, figuring out how I'm gonna do this, how am I gonna manage these tasks. I'm happy to be in a new phase of home management, redefining how I will manage my home. I will make mistakes along the way, I am sure, but I also feel quite confident that in the end I will be doing a better job than I ever was before.

As always, thanks for checking in.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Coping with Jason being gone so much

So... on one of the message boards I frequent it looks like I finally got something right. Quite frankly, I know I tend to be a bit... unorthodox? in some of my thoughts / advice, so I tend to get flamed more than I get agreed with. At least on those boards. Which is why I don't post as often as I used to.

But last week someone posted with how to cope as a working mother with a husband who is gone a lot, and my response got quoted in almost every subsequent reply, not to flame me, but to agree with me! I was shocked!

And so, since apparently in this case people actually think I know what I'm talking about, I decided to re-post that advice here on my blog, and go ahead and expound on it as well.

******************

As a fire wife, one of the struggles is being home alone. A lot. Feeling like a single mom. A lot.

In fact, I have a whole new respect for single moms. And for military wives / moms. Because I know how hard it is with as much as Jason is gone, and I can't imagine being on my own all the time, or until he came home on leave.

It's important that you voice your frustrations to him. Not in a I'm-pissed-at-you-way, but in a I'm-frustrated-and-I'm-struggling-way.
He needs to know what you're going thru.

This is also a good time to ask him what his frustrations are with his schedule. Like missing out on kids' milestones, not playing with them as much, not enough date nights with you, etc.

It's important that the two of you at least try to understand where both of you are coming from, because you are both in very different positions.

You're not in the normal two-income family, where both parents leave in the morning, and both parents come home every night, Monday thru Friday.

He's spending nights away from home, having dinner, spending time, and sleeping with other people, while you take care of the kids and the house by yourself after putting in a full day of work.

He doesn't have a "weekend", as his shift includes Saturdays and Sundays. He'll work holidays too, leaving you to handle the celebrations alone.

This creates stress and frustrations for each of you, but you each have a different kind of frustration.
He has the frustration of not being there, and you have the frustration of being there alone. It's very different, so you must communicate.

****************

Being in a situation where your spouse is gone much of the time, well... it sucks. It just does.

As far as taking care of the children, and the house, (and this is the part I thought I was going to get flamed for, but almost everyone said I "hit the nail on the head"):

Things became much simpler for me when I just took Jason out of the equation, when it comes to taking care of the house and Jena.

You just do it yourself. If you need a sitter for some reason, you take care of arranging it, and you do what you need to do. You do all the daycare drop-offs and pick-ups, even if he's home. You plan on doing all of the housework, even if it's his off day. You handle all of the feedings, all of the baths. You feed all the pets, clean all of the poop (pet & baby - ha!).

Keep him in the loop on everything, but just accept it as what you have to do so he can do what he has to do.

This has really helped me / us. It doesn't make the actual work any easier, but it eases a lot of frustration because I don't feel I'm counting on him to do something that he's just not going to do.

And then when he does volunteer to take care of something, it's like a bonus. For everyone.

And that lowers everyone's stress level.

*******************

But you need to realize & accept that you can't do everything. Prioritize what's most important. Obviously taking care of your child(ren) is a must, but other housework, chores, etc.... prioritize, and do the top things first, even if they're inconvenient or unpleasant.

Give it some time & figure out what you can reasonably do in a day, a week, etc. Then talk to your husband and see if he can pick up some of the rest.

If that's just not a possibility, then your choices are paying someone to do it (ie. housework), or it just not getting done (ie. housework), or not getting done as frequently as you'd like (ie. housework).

Guess you can tell what doesn't get done at our house, huh?  (ie. housework - ha!)

And you both have to accept that. Because it's reality.

You can't beat yourself up because after working a full day outside the home, taking care of the kid(s) by yourself, and the putting another couple of hours of housework in before bed, you're still not "done".

He can't come home expecting a clean & tidy house, perfectly stocked cupboard, and dinner on the table after you've been working full days outside of the home, doing all (or the vast majority) of the childcare yourself, and all (or the vast majority) of the housework yourself.

It's not physically possible.

Oh, you might have a mountaintop moment once in a while, but it's unreasonable for either of you to expect things to be maintained at that level.

## side note - I determined my top priorities to be: laundry, grocery shopping, and doing the dishes. I figured if I could keep clean clothes on my family, food for them to eat, and clean dishes for them to eat off of, then I was doing pretty well. The rest I look at as bonus. ##

******************

As far as scheduling goes, we recently started keeping a shared Google Calendar, that I can access at work & home, and he can access on his Droid. This has helped immensely when it comes to scheduling even the little things.

I can see when is shifts are (because even though they are every 3rd day, like clockwork, I still cannot keep that straight in my head), when he has extra things to do, etc.
He can see when I've made plans and he needs to be home (after I've told / asked him, of course).
It's an easy, quick reference that we can both access at just about any time.

****************************

He's doing what he feels he needs to do to provide for his family financially, and even if he might be willing to look at another career path eventually, well, it's not going to happen overnight.

So you just have to come to terms within yourself with the reality of your situation, as it is at this moment, and deal with it in the best way you can.

You make it work. You do what you need to do, and you make it work for your family.

It's not fun. It's not glamourous. It sucks. And sometimes it really, really sucks.

But you do it. You make it work.

********************

And there it is. My advice on how to handle your husband being gone so much.

Honestly, it's a constant struggle for me as well. Which is probably why I've never bothered to offer my advice in blog-form before.

But apparently, according to said message board readers, I actually have some good experience in this area, and am doing something right, even if I feel like I'm still struggling.

Maybe the struggle is just part of the "it sucks", huh?

Thanks for reading! And hopefully this will help someone out there get a handle on things!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I heart messy houses...

...that aren't mine.

Last night I dropped off some Pampered Chef items at a friend's house. I've never been to their house before, and couldn't stay I just peeked thru the doorway, and was relieved to see that it was messy.

Same thing when we dropped by my cousin's house a few weeks ago.

I realize that this might sound mean or something, but I don't intend it that way. It just reassures me that I'm not alone. That I'm not the only one that doesn't always have a neat house. That maybe, just maybe, our cozy little mess is, in fact, normal.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Multiple Personalities

Do you ever feel like the multiple versions of you are at odds? I do. All the time. Especially since becoming a mom.

Take tonight for instance. FireMan wants to have a date night. One that entails having FireGirl spend the night with my parents.

The wife part of me thinks that sounds awesome. Would love it. Sounds like a great plan. Great idea, hunny. Let's do it.

The mom part of me thinks that's a horrible idea. Why would I want to spend even more time away from my baby? Who would come up with such an idea? What an idiot!

And of course then the housekeeper part of me has to butt in and say that if I have enough free time to have a date night, then I really need to get in there and scrub that bathroom. Ugh.

I don't think I have had as much internal conflict as I have since FireGirl was born. It seems like just about every day I am being pulled in a million different directions. I definitely think the hardest part of being a mom is juggling everything. FireGirl is almost 10 months old, and I am just now beginning to feel like I might have a handle on it. Then sometimes I wonder if I'm getting a handle on things, or if I've just gotten used to not having a handle on things. Hmm. Could go either way.

Anyway, still haven't decided what to do about tonight. The wife part of me really wants that date. Really wants it. The mom part of me thinks it's ridiculous to spend the night away from baby when it's not necessary.

We'll just have to wait and see who wins this one...
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