Saturday, October 10, 2009

Searching for Balance -National Honesty Month

I am going to be honest and open up to you and share with you some of the secret parts of my life and my struggles as part of October's National Honesty Month, instituted by Gretchen of Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing.

Help! I'm drowning in a sea of never-ending housework and clutter. It is closing in on me. How did it get this way? I so desperately need to find a balance with all of the things in my life I am trying to juggle. How does one balance it all? I must find a way. I'm not talking perfection here. I am not aiming for a perfectly clean home. That's impossible with five children, with one of them being an 18 month old tornado; and we are home all day. So when I am in one part of the house doing something, my sweet little tornado is in another part of the house pulling everything out and throwing it all around. I know this stage will quickly pass.

My list of things I am juggling are: Being a wife to my patient husband and looking for time together; a mother who actually plays with her children; a home educator; the home which includes cleaning bathrooms; kitchen with the sink piled high with dishes each day; mounds of laundry every week, general straightening, etc.; nutritious and maybe even yummy meals sometimes; exercise (What's that? Gotta find a way to fit it in before everything turns to jelly); time in prayer and meditating on scripture; sewing and blogging. Whew! I just don't know. I'm trying out different things trying to find a good routine that will work for me. I think if I can get on a routine, that will help. I don't expect that I'll get everything done every day, but maybe close?

The problem is that when I pour myself into something I don't want to stop. Instead of sewing for 30 minutes or an hour, which is all I really have time for, I want to continue on for two or three. Actually, I could sew all day if I didn't have other things I needed to be doing. Or when I'm reading, I want to keep reading. .....or playing with my children, organizing or whatever it might be. Once I get involved with something, I don't want to stop. I am trying to implement the discipline of time limits and schedules. I've never liked schedules, but I am realizing that it is very necessary for me to be successful in accomplishing a balance. I need to take care of myself. I need to spend time with my family and God. My home needs attention. And I have this driving need to sew! I don't even know where it came from? I sometimes wish it wasn't there because that would be one less thing for me to do, and I would have more time to focus on all the other things that I should be doing. But it is there, nonetheless. So it must be dealt with. It is something I do for me. I could wait till my children are grown to indulge in my hobby, but I'll be in my mid-60s before my children are grown. I really don't want to wait that long. I find so much enjoyment from sewing. It is very practical, too, because I can mend things, I can make something that we need if we can't find it in the stores, and it is something I can teach my children and pass on a skill; so I don't think it's totally self-indulgent. I can see that it is a help to my family as long as it is kept in its proper place and doesn't take up all of my time.

My laundry has gotten out of hand. I am really behind. I have several loads that need to go in the washer. Things have gotten piled up around the house and need to be organized, straightened, thrown out, etc. The kids have outgrown most of the clothes in the drawers; so we can't find the things that actually fit them. This happens about every four to six months. So what I am doing to get a handle on this big monster is I am taking a two-week break from sewing and just going room to room and getting each room in order. I am going through the kids' clothes and pulling out the things they have outgrown. I'm putting some in bags labeled "giveaway" and some in plastic tubs to be passed down to the next child for when they grow into them.

Then I am going to try to implement some of Fly Lady's suggestions on routines. There are certain things she has you do for your morning routine. You do one load of laundry each day. Shine your sink, etc. She sends email reminders of what to do and when if you want them. Anyway, I don't know if it will work for me, but I thought I would at least give it a try and maybe tweak it a little to fit my needs. I really, really hope this works.

One other thing that might help me get some great ideas is my friend, Shona, of An Artful Life, is writing a book called Artistic Mother - A Guide to Fitting Creativity Into Your Busy Life. It is coming out March of 2010 and is being published by North Light Books. Shona is an artist, a homeschool mom, and a beautiful person. We go to church together; so I know her very well. She does art every day. She writes articles for publications. Her work is featured in art magazines. She's incredible. She has found a way to fit art into her every day life along with her family and keeping the home. She shares in her book how others can do just that and keep it all balanced. She really believes in doing something artistic for yourself each day. This book will be so perfect for me. I encourage you to go to her blog, look through it, book mark it and put March on your calendar for the release of the book. You may find that this is just what you need as well. And please share her blog with your friends on your own blog, through emails, word of mouth, etc., and tell them about her upcoming book. It may be just what they are looking for.

If anyone has any neat little tips or advice they would like to share that you think might be helpful, please do. I am open to all ideas right now. What do you do to balance it all?

Thanks so much for listening to my ramblings. Below are some pictures of the messy living room with toys spread about, laundry waiting to be folded, bags of clothes labeled "giveaway" and tubs of clothes to be passed down to the next child. I've been cleaning now for about a week; so I have another week to go then I can do some sewing again. Yea!


  1. Oh, I SO relate to you with all this. Keeping a marriage, a career, a blog, and a sewing hobby going all at once is enough for me. And, like you, I'm trying to add more meditative moments into my life. Oh and exercise!

    And I don't even have kids! But my husband and I have been having the "family planning" talks recently . . . I have to admit, I am very scared. I don't know if I have what it takes to balance all that sometimes.

    You are definitely an inspiration to me. I guess we all get overwhelmed at times. Isn't it nice that we have other women to talk honestly about this stuff with?

  2. Oh my goodness. I could have written this post. SO me! I often wonder about our lifestyles these days, and if maybe we just have too much stuff, and that's why it's hard to control it all? When I watch Little House on the Prairie or something, I always think "that Caroline Ingalls does it all! ", but she had a 300 sf house, and no money to buy the yards and yards of fabric that we can't keep organized :o) Maybe that's the reason. I also kind of think that while your kids are young, you just have to come to terms with the fact that your house will never look exactly the way you want. We just have to focus on the most important things!

  3. There are several reasons why I am kid-free and very high up on the list is my distaste for chaos and clutter. More power to those of you that can actually stay sane while running a home, having a successful relationship and chasing after little ones. Trudy, your description of your lifestyle makes me tired just thinking about it!! :)

    I don't know how old all of your children are, but couldn't they be enlisted to help out with chores? Even small children can be responsible for cleaning up their toys. Older children can obviously do more. By the age of 9, I was responsible for all the daily cooking and most of the household cleaning (vacuuming, dusting, windows, bathrooms, etc).

  4. I read your post even though I don't have small children. My heart goes out to you because I really understand what you are going through. I immediately thought about Fly Lady, and I do hope it works for you.

  5. I think we definitely have too much stuff, Disney; and that is one of the biggest problems. Shannon, you are so right. Training the children to do more around the house is a great idea. I need to work on that one. Just think, I could do more sewing!

  6. Oh, and I forgot to point out, the ages of my children are 21, off at college; 16, a help, but very busy with her academics; 8, 6 and 18 months. I find that once they can really do a lot to help, they are then really busy with jobs, school, etc.

  7. Hey Trudy. I totally relate. Love the honesty, so refreshing. Thanks for the shout out on the book :) You are a gem.

  8. I have 4, ages 8, 6, 5, almost 2. I totally relate. If I am home everyday instead of out on errands or something, I can keep up better, but lose a day and oh, my, we are in chaos. Or spend a day sewing periodically, like today, same thing. I am playing catchup tonight and tomorrow. But with a toddler and a busy pair, the 8 & 5 (age 6 is in a wheelchair), the house will never be perfect. I am just resigned to it and do the best I can with their limited help. Oh and mine go to school, that is when I try to keep up the laundry and try to sew.

  9. I so know how you feel. The last few days I have been talking to my husband about this. About how I am trying to balance everything, the little ones, the housekeeping, the sewing.. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by how much there has to be done. And honestly, by the guilt I feel towards every aspect in my life. I feel I don't have enough time and therefor fall short (is that an english expression) in every area. My husband doesn't have that problem at all. It must be so nice to be that relaxed, even when you have tons of things to do. Is the feeling guilty and overwhelmed a women-kind-of-thing?

    Anyway, I am trying to figure out how to combine everything and still feel sane. When I figure it out, I'll let you know. Will you do the same? ;-)

  10. Hey, Trudy,
    I know I am not at that stage any more, and when I was, I only had one. But, I also had alot of responsibility at church then too. I remember what things looked like at home as the oldest of six. But you know what, I never knew it was a mess til I got older. What I really remember was all the cool stuff my mom did with us. If she fretted about tidying, we would never have grown up to be creative ourselves.

    But also, what I learned when I went through it was to ask my DH for advice about the timing of things. I have a similar problem to you of getting really involved in whatever I do. So, if I was going to bake a pie, I threw myself into it and made 4 or 5 pies, and so on. Then everything else got out of hand. My DH is good at estimating things like how long things take, so he helped me work out how long all the things I wanted to do would take! Whoa, no wonder I didn't get it done! So, once I had a better idea, I could schedule a bit better.

    I think, too, if you asked advice, you might find your DH could see how to enlist the kids help. Even if they have studies, they need to learn to look after things, too. It is a part of their growing up. If they are very clever, but don't tidy after themselves or are not sensitive to those around them who need help at home, they will still struggle with that when they grow up. Rather than being well rounded, they will have a lopsided character...if you know what I mean!
    Anyway, my prayers are with you. God can help you find the right balance.

    This is already long, but about the sewing - when I was going through a confidence crisis about the drive w/in me to sew...especially garments and taking courses to become very skilled at it, I started asking God about it. You would not believe how many verses He showed me all over the place...even in places like Leviticus!...where God talks in great detail about clothing and textile decorations. and I realised, He gave me that interest and desire for something He cares alot about, too. It was so cool to discover He WANTED me to do something I loved to do! (the desires of your heart?) and too, He seemed to say that He had a plan for me down the road to use what the talent He wanted me to perfect. can't wait to see what that will be!

    God bless, Sandy in the UK

  11. Trudy, I just got around to reading this. I agree with most of the advice above, but I'm also going to email about how my mom handled everything. I tried to write it here, but it was too long. LOL

    Note about clutter. As we found things that were in need of repair or didn't fit any more, the items would get put in the laundry room. This was great when we had a big one, but awful when we had a tiny one. LOL Maybe you could find a designated spot or spots for such items.

    Hope everyone's suggestions help.

  12. We girls do the best we can with the information and time we have at the time, and you can't ask more from yourself. Beside, I bet you get more done than you think you do. When all of your kids have left your home, you'll want to do the things you would glad you did when you remember back on these times - and as far as the other stuff, obviously it wasn't important. I think this day-to-day grind is the hardest part of life and it's what your kids and family remember when they are gone from you.

    Enjoy your life and make all those precious memories while you can.

  13. I can so relate! It seems that once everything is out of control, I get overwhelmed and then kind of paralyzed...I can't seem to get a grip on "stuff."

    But your photos made me laugh...especially the baby on the rocking horse! Just try to remember that you are doing what God has intended for you and I doubt that He's worried about our "untidiness." I think that He's more concerned that we raise the children to be good, loving and faithful adults.

    Good luck!


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