I've been feeling somewhat bogged down recently with motherly and housekeeping tasks. I'm sure some of the cause is actually just the oppressively hot weather sapping a lot of my energy. And surely a part of it is the fact that Stella has become a lot more demanding recently. She's turning one (!) next week. She's no longer content to just sit in my lap while I read to Sly, or lie in her baby gym batting at toys while I clean the house or cook dinner. She wants to be entertained and played with all the time. She's explored every inch of the house, and is totally bored with it now. She demands new stimuli all the time, causing me to dig through junk drawers and closets to find anything new and novel to let her play with for a little while (my nail polish collection kept her happily busy for a half hour yesterday). She eats real food, and makes real big messes while she's at it. Some days, it feels like almost my entire day was spent preparing, serving, eating, and cleaning up from meals.
And the kids are on completely opposite nap schedules, and it's driving me a little crazy. By the time we're all finally dressed, washed, and fed for the morning, Stella goes down for her first nap. She wakes up, we eat lunch, and then it's Sly's nap time. Then Stella goes for a second nap a couple hours later, and I often just...tell Sly he has to stay in his room a little longer, even if he's awake, because I really need the time to get things done! I used to be able to get chores out of the way when I just had Stella with me, but now she just screams and crawls after me the whole time, grabbing at my skirt. Sigh. So it's slow-going. If we go anywhere during the day - the supermarket, a playdate, etc. - someone is going to miss a nap, and it just makes the rest of their day (and mine too) a bit less pleasant.
And I think to myself, "oh my gosh, I only have two of them!" What will happen when we have more? And how on earth will I ever fit homeschooling into our day, when I find it hard just to keep up with caring for the kids and the house?"
But this is a recent thing, this feeling of not being able to keep up. So I'm pretty sure that means it's mostly a phase, and things will ease in some ways down the road. For the first time, I think I'm really starting to feel what is described as The Tunnel of Parenthood.
***But I have stumbled upon a few realizations that have helped a bit.
I read somewhere recently that a lot of housekeeping tasks are "never ending" and that if you try to think of them in terms of something to complete and check off your list, then you'll never be satisfied. Take laundry, for example. Seriously, does it ever get done? Almost as soon as a load is started, some new item has been made dirty and added to the pile (especially at our house, where we use cloth diapers, wipes, napkins, etc.). And once the clothes are all cleaned and dried, you still have to fold things, iron (some) things, and put everything away. If you look at it just as an ongoing task which you should work at a bit each day, it's easier to deal with. I've been doing pretty well staying on top of things by throwing in a load or two first thing each morning, folding during Sly's naptime, ironing (once or twice a week) during Stella's second naptime, and putting the folded items away anytime I'm up in the bedrooms.
I also realized that I'm taking the wrong approach to how I tidy the house Every day, I come downstairs in the morning to a stack of dishes from the evening before, waiting piles of laundry, and various toys and items strewn all around, and it sets off something in my brain. I spend the first hour of the morning trying to blitz the whole house and get it in order. It's hard for me to relax until order is mostly restored. I love how our house looks on the days when I clean right before company comes. I wish it could look like that everyday. But I've finally realized that at least at this point in my life, that's not realistic. Not unless I want to feel as stressed out as I feel the day company is coming every day of my life. Oh boy. I don't want that, and my husband definitely does not want that (heh). So I've been trying to cut myself a little slack. Not so much by lowering my standards for cleanliness, but mostly by giving myself more time to get it all done. Why does the house need to be spic-and-span first thing in the morning? So I've been trying to tackle things a bit at a time throughout the day. By the time Tom gets home, things are fairly tidy. Not as tidy, of course, as I would make it when we were expecting guests. But definitely good enough that I wouldn't be embarrassed due to any surprise visitors (which, unfortunately, we never actually get. No one just drops by on friends anymore.)
And on a related note, since it would be something to potentially lift my spirits and give me some needed support, I bring up one final good idea. Kendra mentioned the idea of establishing "standing playdates" on her blog recently. That idea really struck me. Almost all of my close female friends have moved out of town in the past few years, and I've been longing to develop a closer friendship with some of my just-acquaintances. I feel like it's always such a huge production, though, trying to coordinate schedules with people, and get together. I feel as if I'm just bugging people sometimes, since I'm always the one to call or e-mail and say, "hey - let's get together sometime!" I am going to propose the idea of a once- or twice-a-month regular hangout to a few friends, and see what happens.