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Mothering Like a Project Manager

As a working mother with three kids under age five, I’ve felt stressed for maybe the last five years.  Motherhood without stress, when you have three kids in twenty months, is foreign to me.  Whether you’re a working mom or a stay-at-home mom or something in-between, a common topic amongst mothers of young children is stress management. How do we possibly manage it all?  Moreover, how much of this stress is self-induced?

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The demands of motherhood force us all to make daily decisions about what we need to get done.  Not want to get done.  There’s never enough a time in the day no matter if you have an office job or you’re at home full-time.  Time’s finite nature tends to make most of us feel as if we just had a little bit more of it we’d do X, Y or Z.  It’s a weekly struggle of mine since I work from home one-day each week.  I catch myself thinking “on Friday I will get done the 15 things I’ve put off for months.”  And you know what?  It never happens.  Never.

As a project manager, I talk trade-off analysis on the daily.  I know, it’s not a sexy topic, but hear me out.  Trade-off analysis and negotiating wants versus needs is part of surviving motherhood.  So many mommy bloggers these days justify why they absolutely HAVE to do certain things.  We don’t have to do anything.  Embracing the ability to make trade-offs for what you’re willing or not willing to do is freeing and stress relieving for many moms.  As it should be!  I’ll present my own trade-off analysis as an example:

I HATE, HATE, HATE grocery shopping with kids.  

There, I said it.  So I took a look at the cost of grocery shopping with the kids.  And by cost I don’t mean monetary.  I’m talking the personal and family cost of doing it.  A much harder thing to quantify.  I determined this cost was as follows:

  • Inability to concentrate due to the constant “Mommy, Mommy, Mommmmmmmy!”
  • Feeling rushed so I can get out before a major meltdown by the kids (or maybe me)
  • Guilt of a toddler being a toddler around people wanting a peaceful shopping experience
  • An all-around unpleasant experience for myself and the shoppers around me

Well, crap, I thought after thinking through the cost.  What am I going to do now?  As a logic driven person, I thought of three viable options.

  1. Leave kids at home w/ my husband – very possible and only requires a trade-off of time.
  2. Pay for grocery pick-up – costs a small fee and requires planning.  Involves a trade-off of time and money.
  3. Status quo – suck it up and regularly take all the kids to the store.  Trade-off is time for potentially more trips each week than I need and added mental load/stress.

Guess which ones I picked?  Yup, options #1 or #2 with a rare #3 sprinkled in for truly urgent situations which are few and far between.  I decided the trade-off of time was well worth the reduction in stress level for not only myself but also the family.  I want to reduce my stress level more than I need to go to the grocery store daily with three kids.

Today something clicked in my head for how and why my view of motherhood sometimes doesn’t jive with others.  My project manager hat is on when I’m in my role as a mother.  I consciously do trade-off analysis on a regular basis for some of the most mundane tasks in my life (ahem, groceries, I’m talking about you!).  Why not take some of the emotion and the “I just have to’s” out of the equation and apply project management tools to motherhood?

 

 

 

 

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Day Designer – A Planner That Fits My Needs

Since getting organized is a running theme lately, I decided to try to utilize a paper planner again.  Years ago I bought the full size Day Designer and while I loved it I found it didn’t work for my life.  With working full time and sometimes traveling for work, I need a planner that’s portable.  The full size Day Designer was a beast to carry along with a laptop and normal purse contents.  I’ve had my eye on the mini version of the DD and jumped on it when they ran a sale last week.  

Here is the tile blue planner

The color and pattern just makes me happy.  Deep, I know.  If I’m going to use something daily it may as well be pretty.  The mini size is a perfect fit for my life.  I’ve carried it to work with my laptop without breaking my back.  

My work and home schedule is crazy this fall.  Traveling for work on the weekends (the worst!) is getting in the way of my many projects.  I plan to leverage the DD to keep myself on track with workouts, meals, and to-do lists.  Let’s see how long that lasts.

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It’s Happening – Day 1 of Decluttering

Today is the day of Mission Declutter.  It’s a gorgeous day outside, and I’d rather be doing a million other things.  But I’m determined to get started in my office.  It’s the first room you see upon entering my home so it makes sense to start there.  I’ll share before and after photos and details once this room is D-O-N-E.

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Unfortunately all the things I said I’d do last Friday, um, didn’t get done.  Our entire family got hit with the dreaded stomach bug last weekend and early this week.  Stuff of nightmares, I tell ya.  After washing everything and getting back into the routine, I just couldn’t bring myself to tackle my to-do list.  Let’s see if I can change that this weekend.

Happy Friday!

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Minimalist Challenge – One Room at a Time

A fellow mom-of-twins, who also struggles to reign in the chaos, keeps recommending another blogger focused on minimalism. Admittedly, I’ve somewhat scoffed at the idea because, well, I like stuff. I don’t want to live life with one pair of pants or never buying what I need. That’s the superficial thought process I’d go through each time.

Slowly my mind shifted towards the possibility that, yes, I may be the cause of my own clutter and anxiety over said clutter. I looked around my house one day, with that tight feeling of anxiety in my chest, realizing that since we moved to a house 2x the size of our last that we’ve succeeded in filling it up. Instead of having more breathing room and space to relax, I only filled the extra space with more stuff. It was a valuable ‘ah ha’ moment for me.

Rose Lounsbury, the blogger I mentioned, released her first e-book just as my ah-ha moment happened. I need help, I thought as I clicked purchase. I’m only partway through her e-book, Less: Minimalism, For Real, and it’s already inspired serious self-reflection and action. Rose is also a mom-of-multiples (triplets, no less!) and she talks about wasting away her valuable downtime after the kids were in bed with draining tasks like cleaning, tidying, and rearranging all the stuff. This accumulations of stuff is so mind numbing that the word is a negative four-letter word in my mind.

It’s not possible to tackle the whole house at once, but I’m determined to commit to thirty days of going through each room of the house and getting rid of what we don’t need or use. What better time to do that than before the holidays? Check out Rose’s book and join me in this 30-day challenge.

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Back-to-School Organization

Now that I have one child in big kid school, I’m realizing I need to get more organized. Folder, papers, permission slips, library books, book bags, lunch boxes, snacks, uniform days, spirit days, casual days, volunteer days.  Yikes.  After forgetting what my son should wear to school for the, um, third time in only 2.5 weeks I had an epiphany.  I need to come up with a system.  It’s certainly not the end of the world if my son wears his uniform on a casual day, but if I’m forgetting stuff like that then what else am I forgetting?

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This weekend I’m going to take 5 small steps to reign in the chaos.  I’m hopeful this will hold me accountable to actually get ‘er done.  Photos coming once I’m done!

  1.  Large Wall Calendar – seems obvious, no?  Well, I’m currently lacking any visible calendar.  When things get extra crazy I prefer to see things visually versus tapping on my iCal to frantically find something.  I’d like to do a chalkboard calendar but my kitchen is oddly shaped with no sizable wall to hang one.
  2.  Sync Calendars – I need to dedicate a time each week to sync two different school calendars, two work calendars, & family calendars.  Putting this info in iCal, paper planners, & my work calendar doesn’t help.  Inevitably I didn’t sync them all and forget to look at the right calendar.
  3.  Inbox – the afternoon chaos is information overload.  All 3 kids come home and start dumping papers and folders and shoving projects in my face.  All.  At.  Once.  I’m happy the kids are so excited to share their days with me, but they take over my kitchen with all the paper.  It’s time to start corralling the chaos in something accessible to the kids where they can drop their papers, folders, etc.
  4.  Kid Friendly To-Do List – early mornings and tired little kids don’t make for a fun morning.  I’m constantly nagging them “did you do XYZ?”  They forget to brush their teeth or put their lunch in the book-bag.  It makes for cranky kids and parents.  Since kids are also visual I’m going to make a simple to-do list to check each morning.  Hoping this will help end the nagging, fighting, and moaning.
  5. Kid’s Uniforms – it’s so nice that all 3 kids are in uniforms this year.  But the way I’ve organizing their closets and dressers makes it hard for them to get all the pieces together on their own.  I tend to baby my kids more than I should at this age.  It’s time to make all the components of their uniforms accessible to promote independence.