How do you do it? A question I hear a lot!

a schedule to keepI often get asked, “How do you do everything you do?”

Truthfully there are times that I don’t even know how I do it.

I try as hard as I can to get everything done for everyone, and often I fall a little short. For the most part, things go smoothly, but then a business trip for my husband, or a track meet for the boys throws a monkey wrench into the mix.
Here is how I (mostly) keep it all together:

  1. a morning coffeeCoffee – I suffer from migraines. I have tried many different remedies over the years, and the easiest and most tried and true for me is two cups of caffeine in the morning. This plus a protein filled breakfast like eggs with veggies and cheese or (on a day where we are running out the door) a protein shake made with almond milk and  peanut butter. A good start to my day is imperative to everything working together.
  2. a calendar lookCalendars – Steve and I have calendars that connect to each other. My school schedule, the boys piano lessons, track practices and meets doctors appointments, even what day our dog gets her heart worm medication is all on the calendar. Without the calendar, we  would be lost. I used to use a paper calendar, but sharing that was next to impossible, and we were missing appointments. Once we shared a Google calendar it helped us to be on the same page with our commitments. Steve is the king of inserting into a calendar, and I let him because, well, I loathe it!
  3. Communication – Plain and simple. We do not schedule ANYTHING without checking with each other. we schedule our nights with friends and dates in advance. We have to because our commitments are many right now.
  4. Ignoring spam emails – I have over 2000 unread emails, 99% of them are from a store/stores I have shopped in at some point in time. I just do not take the time to delete them. so they go unread. It kills my organized everything has to be done side, but it has taught me to be okay with not getting everything done.
  5. Choosing to help the boys with their work before mine – My children need their mother. When I am home, their homework comes before mine. Even if I have a final exam to finish, they come first. I have spent hours working on a writing project with one boy and then stayed up way late writing my own paper. I have to put them first because they need me.
  6. Staying up late/waking up early – I stay up some nights until 1 or 2 in the morning to write a paper, read a text book, or plan a lesson. I also have woken up with my husband at 4 AM and while he heads to the Gym (crazy, right?) I will write a blog post or a paper, or plan a lesson for the next week. Sleep is something that alludes me, however, I get plenty of it during vacations, summer, and Saturdays (sometimes).
  7. a school scheduleChoosing a school schedule that does not interfere with the boys schedule– This is super hard. I try to pick a schedule that has me away from home for just one whole night, or online classes where I can work from home, or before I was teaching during the day. As I near the end of this degree, I am having to take classes three days a week away from home, and one of those days is Saturday from 9AM-2PM and it is a biology lab. I wish I hadn’t saved that till the end! My second degree will take place online 100% and will be one class at a time for 5 weeks at a time. so much more manageable. I start that in August.
  8. Spending one afternoon a week at school to write lesson plans (so I don’t bring them home) – This is huge. I spend usually Thursday afternoon at school cleaning up my classroom materials, planning stories and crafts, and organizing my collected work from my students. This has been instrumental in my teaching being a non-stress in my life. I enjoy teaching, and this method of planning has been key to a successful year so far! I often am willing to pay for resources from Teachers Pay Teachers to reduce my stress in planning. very helpful to not reinvent the wheel.
  9. Spending as much available time with my boys – When I do have time at home with them, I enjoy playing a video game, a board game, building Lego sets with them, and even a game of Minecraft on our tablets together. I try to meet them where they are, and spend as much time as possible building positive memories. we even enjoy 30 minute reading breaks together when things are getting crazy!
  10. Planning ahead – but not over-committing – We plan our family and friend events in advance, so they are set in the calendar, but we do not over-commit. we try to be fair and have time with everyone, however lately, we have focused on our nuclear family more. The boys were needing some family of 5 time, and that was important to recognize. We also keep family events low key by making them: potluck, board games, casual, and come and go as you can. With so many family members in our extended family, it can be hard to fit everyone’s schedule.  The boys commitments are minimal as well. They all take piano lessons, and run on the race team for our local youth sports league. These are manageable, and Steve is a runner (more than me) and I can read music and play piano, so I can help with those practice sessions. Simple is the key to not over-committing.
  11. a me time collageMaking time for me – This is crucial. With teaching, and being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a student, and a coach, I need to be sure I do things for me. It is always hard to take the time as I feel selfish saying, “I need some time for me.” It is necessary however to do so. How do I enjoy spending my “Me” time? I love to read and even enjoy an audiobook when my time to hold a book is limited, I used to run more but now I have a trainer so I go for a workout and sometimes a run, I love to play board/card games and these things are brain breaks for me but involve family, I like to color in my amazing coloring books I got from my best friend, I like to get a Starbucks and walk around Target looking for nothing,  I love to bake for others as we do not eat a lot of sweets here, and I love to watch a movie. I also spend time with my friends. I truthfully have one amazing friend who has been key to me staying on course. I go to her house and stay until midnight, she comes to mine and stays until late. she is the inspiration and support for me growing my blog, and really finding myself in it. Time for me often includes time with her as she is my best friend, and I need her around to keep me sane, knock me off of my pedestal, and to need me in return. being needed is a wonderful feeling, and I am glad that I have a friend who I can lean on.
  12. a moment aloneMy husbandSteve is a rock. He manages the calendar, takes the boys to the doctors, the dentist, pays the bills, grocery shops, does laundry, and cleans the house. He has picked up all of the things that I dropped. He also works full time. All the time. He is always answering an email, preparing a quote for a customer, or handling a situation with a tech or engineer. He has so much knowledge, and is so much more organized than I am, and I am fairly organized. He knows where I put my keys, where the boys need to be, and what I wore yesterday (when I can’t remember). He holds me when I cry over nothing in my closet looking right. He puts up with my clothes all over the bedroom because putting away my laundry is something I haven’t had time for. he laughs with me, makes my coffee, kisses my forehead while I am writing, and brings me snacks. He also entertains the boys, and for Christmas purchased every workout item I asked for without a blink, even though he had already purchased me the iPad I had been begging for (mine was obsolete and dying, and I was being a brat, I know this). He has been the stand holding me up while I have been barely standing up. The stress of my studies this semester was the worst, and he guided me through it with patience, understanding, and love. I am not worthy, but I openly accept it!
  13. a boy thingMy boys – My children are old enough to do a lot of things for themselves. They do laundry, load and unload the dishwasher, feed and walk the dog, sweep floors, clean mirrors and windows, make breakfast for themselves/each other, prep most of their lunches, and read, do homework and practice piano without question. They realize that mom is in school and busy, but that I love them more than anything. They know I love early morning snuggles, tickle fights, a good session of Minecraft and talking about Star Wars or Legos or both! I pray they understand that me completing my degree is as much for them as it is for me, and I hope they see my studying as a model for the hard work it takes to get good grades and work for what you want out of your education.
  14. My family – My mother and father have been supportive of me going back to school as a mom. They have helped with the boys when Steve has a business trip, read papers for errors, and been council on what my next step should be. my brother and sister have hardly seen me as I have not been around a lot with school and the boys, and they are able to communicate with me and let me know that they get it. my nieces and nephew I don’t get to spend as much time with as I like, but when I do, they are my priority, having fun, making memories. My mother and father in law have helped as well, taking turns with my parents in helping with the boys when school has kept me from being mom. It is actually amazing how a family can lean on each other and  support each other through something that should be simple. College as a mom in your 30’s is not easy, and you need a village. I have given up being the mom that can volunteer for  school events, or field trips. I have given up weeknight bible studies so I can be home or at class. I have stopped some of the things I love, but my family has supported me through it, and I love that!
  15. a end of day momentWine -I enjoy a glass (or 2) of red wine. It helps me unwind at the end of the day, reflect on all I have accomplished, and realize that I am an adult, “adulting” really hard, and I deserve a small break at the end of a long day.  I sometimes replace wine with tea, but I get the same effect.

 

 

 

The reality of it all is that I do not get everything done in a day. A lot of things fall between the cracks. A lot of things never happen. I forget birthdays are coming up, or a special show I was supposed to record, or a promise of a book read at night that I don’t make it home in time for. I cry a lot about that, but I cannot let it hold me back. No one can do it all. and if they tell you they can they are lying to your face. It is not easy, It sucks most days, but at the end of the day, you do the best you can, ask for forgiveness/acceptance/love, and you move forward, it is all you can do!

How do you make your busy schedule work? Do you have any tips for others about how to make a busy schedule less busy? do you need support through something? leave a comment let me know, and maybe someone else can offer support!

Blessings for a happy 2016!

Love

Melendy

when the bottom seems to drop

stress can create fractures and eventually explode
stress can create fractures and eventually explode

stress

it is the moment when we feel like the walls are caving in

When it feels like the bottom will drop out of our lives.

There is never a real reason to believe that everything is falling apart.

We do that to ourselves

We put that in our own minds.

We create a life where we believe everything needs to be perfect.

we post on social media

we find activities on Pintrest and then wail over them failing.

We work

We stress

we compair

we judge

we meddle

we obsess

We want to do right by all around us.

Stress

Anxiety

Inside

That is where the damage is happening.

The shell we create inside crumbles with every blow. This way our outside appears the same.

Bang

There goes that test

Crash

Your child forgot a homework assignment

Kaplow

Your parents are ill

Zam

your car gets a flat

wowza

you get in a fight with your coworker

phew

your dinner burns

your laundry is piling up

your house needs to be cleaned

The exterior is fine, but check the structure

It is not withholding the blows.

At some point the foundation crumbles
the bottom falls out

and we tailspin

something as “small” as a tag in our shirt or pants can make every edge of our body itch

so how do we handle it?

do we cry

scream

change our outfit 12 times

clean out an entire room

paint

sketch

withdraw from social occasions

forget everything we need to accomplish

or do we find a way to cope

to maneuver our lives to adapt

Whatever we do, we need to recognize that the stress that we create for ourselves can be changed.

we need to learn to pick our schedules carefully

let go of what we don’t need

change what we can

and seek our friends often.

An hour with a friend can change our outlook

not on the phone, or in a text but with a friend.

go to a movie, or a coffee shop, or bring a bottle of wine to a dinner and just enjoy

anchor your hopewhatever we do, we have to remember that even when the walls are caving in, or the bottom is dropping out, we are able to rebuild or restructure by our actions and internal dialog. It is not easy to change those things, but, with time, practice, patience, and even sometimes professional help, we can overcome.

The Human Touch.

  

We all have had moments where we just aren’t ourselves.

Hungry

Angry

Hurt

Depressed

Lonely
All of these moments are lows. We long to be “high” all the time. Not in the medicinal way, but in the emotional way. We search for things to fill those lows.
  We use food as an antidepressant more often than for nourishment. It has become acceptable to say “I am so sad that I am going to go home and eat that tub of ice cream/whole bag of chips.” We rely on that non human object to smooth our despair.

  
We run. Many runners will say running is a great way to relieve stress. I like to get out on the road, but I do not necessarily feel less stressed when I do. It is nice, but it just doesn’t change my attitude. For some it makes them feel like they have run away from the world. For me, it makes me feel like the world is right on my heels.

  
We search the Internet for friends. We collect “likes” and “hashtags” and “loves” and “comments”. Dating isn’t even in person anymore. We look for love on our phone or our laptop. We sometimes value the thoughts of a person miles away on a keyboard over those of the person sitting across the dining room table from us. We long for contact, but it may not be what will help.

  
We get hurt. We get angry. We stop talking to our closest friends. Years go by. We let that anger steep inside of us like an old tea bag. Getting more bitter and cold the longer we steep. Friendships go sour over a wrong look, or a misinterpreted voice message. Or a person with postpartum depression and social anxiety not returning phone calls because it is just too painful.
  We even turn to things like alcohol and drugs to manage our pain. Drink until you fall asleep. Get as wild as possible at a party so that no one knows you are hurting. Complain about the cost of the alcohol in your hand. It is a choice you make.
In my opinion, there is something greater. The power of touch. The moment I fell in love with my husband was when he kissed my forehead as I was mourning a friend. In that moment, I felt like he was removing the pain from my body. When my anxieties are rising, a deep hug from my husband or one of my children helps to ease the rising feeing of stress. My own children melt into the arms of a hug when their day isn’t quite what they expected. A child who is sick wants to be laying on the couch with their head in moms lap.
  A high five is the ultimate expression of joy! When we have success we reach out for one, or a fist bump, or a celebratory hug. We seek out contact in celebration because we know that the two feelings go together. It is ingrained in us from birth. The crying child reaches for their mother because mother is the source of food, comfort, love. As the infant gets older, they reach for others, father, grandparents, friends, siblings. They discover quickly that reaching out, drawing another in, brings comfort.
Humans need each other. Families need to hug, to high five, to love each other. I have observed lately that when we stop and just comfort, the anxieties of our day relax, and our heads are clear.
The human touch can do so much. And yes it can do harm, but I want to focus on the positive effects it can have on you as a person.
Reach out

Hug

High five

Lift up those around you who need to be loved. You never know how you might be helping them.