Recently I was messaging a friend (and former coworker) on Facebook and inadvertently referred to the possibility of my going back to work full time as “getting a second job.” Not that I have any plans to do so any time soon. But it really got me thinking.
Being a stay at home mom (SAHM) is like having a full time job. Shoot, being a mom is a full time job. I don’t know how career moms do it. Honestly. Or single moms. And don’t even get me started on moms who work from home. How do you get anything done?
But all this talk about jobs and second jobs and my current choice being a SAHM being a job, got me to thinking about my current job performance. And I kinda did a little bit of an informal Performance Evaluation on myself, if you will, and it wasn’t pretty. I gotta be honest, folks, if I was my boss, I so woulda fired me a couple of years ago.
Because I pretty much stink at managing a household. I mean, I do it. I’m not terrible at it. Really, the house is still standing, the kids are alive, the bills are paid on-time (mostly), the clothes are laundered and the house is presentable (as in relatively clean depending on the day you come over).
Now don’t start thinking that I’m just being a negative Nelly and getting all down on myself. I’ve made plenty of excuses for my 80%-ish ways over the years. But now that I’m like, you know, a grown up and everything, that’s just not good enough anymore.
So I started thinking about Career Jen. The one who sat in a car for at least 30 minutes in Houston traffic to travel 8 miles to a job she was damn good at, even though she didn’t like it very much. I thought a lot about her.
And y’all, Career Jen was good. She had to do lists. And to do lists for her to do lists. And subcategories. And I could check things off at the end of the day and know where I stood for tomorrow. And I would know exactly what I needed to get done in order to gather all the forms and papers and signatures and write ups and logos and crap that needed to be gathered and egos that needed to be managed and project managers that needed butt kicking to get me their stuff on time to turn around a proposal like a freaking Rock Star within the ridiculous deadline that most PM’s brought to me on Wednesday, due on Friday.
Shoot, I even managed to pull my wedding together in six weeks. (And before you think I pulled that one off on my own, please don’t. I had help. Lots of help.)
So what happened to me? What have I been doing for five years as a stay at home wife turned mother?
Well, let’s see. Mainly, I’ve been reactionary. Flying by the seat of my pants. Always feeling behind. And never ever on top of anything. And living in a mess mess mess (as my son would say).
So what became clear to me this week, was that even though I’ve said a jillionty times that being a SAHM is my job, I didn’t treat it like one. I still treated my house like I was single and living in a one bedroom apartment doing two loads of laundry a week. Three if I did sheets and towels. (Please don’t read that to mean I only do that much laundry now. Because I don’t. I do laundry all. the. freaking. time. Can I get an Amen?)
And I thought, something has to change.
I have to change.
I’ve toyed with the notion of getting some sort of system or schedule put in place for over a year now, but usually just dismiss it as though it would never work. Or that it would be too much work and I wasn’t about to be doing too much work. I was already exhausted.
But then this year something happened. For starters, I began eating better. Which gave me some energy. Then I started exercising, which gave me more energy. Then I lost fifty pounds, which gave me even more energy. And I thought to myself, “You can do this. You need to do this.”
Feeling out of sorts and not really knowing where or how to begin, I consulted my friend, Ms. Google and found a pretty cool website with some printables and lots of great advice to help me get started. Give me guidance and direction, which I clearly needed.
So this week, SAHM Jen met Career Jen, and y’all, it’s been good. I’ve been working my tail off trying to make sense of things and establish a system, but for the first time in five years, my house feels more like the home I want to live in. And my husband is happy. And my kids, well, they don’t know any different. Although, Eli actually made his own bed the other morning after he saw me making mine (which almost never happened before this week). (Completely unrelated: I believe it is safe to say that that boy is officially potty trained! Can I get a whoop whoop!!! Virtual high fives flyin’ all over the interwebs! Holla!)
And my living room is picked up. And my kitchen is clean and wiped down. And my meals are planned for the week. And my cleaning and laundry schedule is in place.
So there’s hope.
Without going into too much detail, because it’s definitely still a work in progress, (and definitely not Pin-worthy) let me show you some pictures of what I’ve done.
We turned the kitchenette into a mud room/command center of sorts. Because it was never big enough for a table anyway.
The boards came in a package from Kohl’s and I love them. They are all magnetic which is great. I love having a go-to spot for my shopping list that doesn’t move like my notepads always did. And a quick glance at the calendar tells me when my husband is working and anything else important that week. Now, I still need to do something about a mail sorter, but that’s on my list to try and find something this weekend that will work.
I think my favorite by far, though, is my chore chart. It gives me a plan for what I need to get done that day to keep this household going without waiting for it to get out of hand and me finally vacuuming because it’s been two weeks and it’s driving me crazy!!
So see, it’s not as bad as I dreaded. In fact, it almost feels freeing in a way. I guess, because at the end of the day, I can look at my lists and know where I stand for tomorrow. Like Career Jen used to do. But most importantly, I can look around my home and feel like it’s not swallowing me up in clutter. (Of course, the desk is a whole ‘nother monster that will have to be tackled in tiny bits and pieces. But I’ll get to it. Eventually.)
So Career Jen met SAHM Jen and they have become good friends. I think I will let her stay and hang out for awhile.