family / home / LIVING WELL / MOTHERHOOD

changing our pace

A few weeks ago, I sat down at the computer and wrote a meltdown email to my husband at work. It said things like, "just getting by each day", "losing everything", "no time for anything", "disorganized", "grumpy", "tired", "always rushing"….

And since email is never the best way to communicate, especially with your own husband, his response wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear…."Maybe if you had dinner ready right when I got home, it would make the evenings less stressful and rushed at bedtime."

Thankfully, I know my husband well and I know that he meant to be helpful with his response, but of course in my fit, I took it all wrong. I think I wrote something back along the lines of, "but it's all the stuff BEFORE dinner that I'm having a hard time with!!!!!" (you jerk!) no. I'm kidding. I didn't call him a jerk.

But after unloading to him in that email, I was somehow reminded that most of the mood of our home life is set by me. I set the tone for our days and my attitudes and outlook are extremely contagious for the rest of my family.

That afternoon, I sat down with a large stack of blank paper and began writing down all the things that I felt needed to change. From simple "rules" like "no toys in the bathroom", to a weekly schedule of which days the kids would take their baths and showers. I put down everything I could think of on those pieces of paper–homeschool lesson ideas, meal ideas, things that I needed to finish or find (ugh.) and reminded myself of the things that would help me feel like I was back in control of our home life.  If nothing else, it felt so good to get all those things out of my head and into print that I could read and scratch through and erase.

Oftentimes, I feel like I need to hit a rock bottom of sorts, before I snap out of my funk, shake off the dust and get my act together again. It takes me getting a little overwhelmed before I make real changes. I wish it weren't that way. But unfortunately, that's often my reality.

working snack

So we're not uber-organized now. I'm not the drill sergeant demanding a tightly run household as a result of my latest meltdown. In fact, it may be just the opposite.

I've toned things down. I've slowed down. I've let go of a lot of things. I've said "no" to things. I've made some healthy changes. I've returned to some good habits I used to have.

making better choices

A few specifics?

I've started planning our meals again.

I've started counting points again. And being extremely mindful about what I put into my body, and my children's bodies–(another thing I want to write about)

I've given my children a few things to look forward to on specific days. Things they can count on.

I've stayed away from the computer until afternoon naps. (sometimes I sneak in a check of email, but that's about it.)

I cut back on my babycenter posts. No more "A Bushel and A Peck".

And the other thing I'm trying to do is not be so super-focused on the things I have to accomplish each day. They weigh me down and distract my attention away from my children.

 Today, it was 11:00am before I had the breakfast dishes completely done and all the school work set out on the table. I let my loading of the dishwasher be interrupted by a trip to the chicken coop, a toddler wanting to feed her doll in the highchair and a little girl wanting to hold her dove and have me take pictures.

mary + chloe

And the irony is, though I felt like I was moving at a snail's pace this morning and wasn't getting very far, very quickly, I still got everything accomplished today that needed to be accomplished, today.

And I realized there's still tomorrow. Except for a few things…

Tomorrow, my children will be a little bit older.

And tomorrow they'll be carrying around memories of yesterday.

And I can stand behind them and rush, rush, rush them through to tomorrow.

Or I can stay with them, and alongside them, and savor them. Today.

A few weeks ago, I sat down at the computer and wrote a meltdown email to my husband at work. It said things like, "just getting by each day", "losing everything", "no time for anything", "disorganized", "grumpy", "tired", "always rushing"….

And since email is never the best way to communicate, especially with your own husband, his response wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear…."Maybe if you had dinner ready right when I got home, it would make the evenings less stressful and rushed at bedtime."

Thankfully, I know my husband well and I know that he meant to be helpful with his response, but of course in my fit, I took it all wrong. I think I wrote something back along the lines of, "but it's all the stuff BEFORE dinner that I'm having a hard time with!!!!!" (you jerk!) no. I'm kidding. I didn't call him a jerk.

But after unloading to him in that email, I was somehow reminded that most of the mood of our home life is set by me. I set the tone for our days and my attitudes and outlook are extremely contagious for the rest of my family.

That afternoon, I sat down with a large stack of blank paper and began writing down all the things that I felt needed to change. From simple "rules" like "no toys in the bathroom", to a weekly schedule of which days the kids would take their baths and showers. I put down everything I could think of on those pieces of paper–homeschool lesson ideas, meal ideas, things that I needed to finish or find (ugh.) and reminded myself of the things that would help me feel like I was back in control of our home life.  If nothing else, it felt so good to get all those things out of my head and into print that I could read and scratch through and erase.

Oftentimes, I feel like I need to hit a rock bottom of sorts, before I snap out of my funk, shake off the dust and get my act together again. It takes me getting a little overwhelmed before I make real changes. I wish it weren't that way. But unfortunately, that's often my reality.

working snack

So we're not uber-organized now. I'm not the drill sergeant demanding a tightly run household as a result of my latest meltdown. In fact, it may be just the opposite.

I've toned things down. I've slowed down. I've let go of a lot of things. I've said "no" to things. I've made some healthy changes. I've returned to some good habits I used to have.

making better choices

A few specifics?

I've started planning our meals again.

I've started counting points again. And being extremely mindful about what I put into my body, and my children's bodies–(another thing I want to write about)

I've given my children a few things to look forward to on specific days. Things they can count on.

I've stayed away from the computer until afternoon naps. (sometimes I sneak in a check of email, but that's about it.)

I cut back on my babycenter posts. No more "A Bushel and A Peck".

And the other thing I'm trying to do is not be so super-focused on the things I have to accomplish each day. They weigh me down and distract my attention away from my children.

 Today, it was 11:00am before I had the breakfast dishes completely done and all the school work set out on the table. I let my loading of the dishwasher be interrupted by a trip to the chicken coop, a toddler wanting to feed her doll in the highchair and a little girl wanting to hold her dove and have me take pictures.

mary + chloe

And the irony is, though I felt like I was moving at a snail's pace this morning and wasn't getting very far, very quickly, I still got everything accomplished today that needed to be accomplished, today.

And I realized there's still tomorrow. Except for a few things…

Tomorrow, my children will be a little bit older.

And tomorrow they'll be carrying around memories of yesterday.

And I can stand behind them and rush, rush, rush them through to tomorrow.

Or I can stay with them, and alongside them, and savor them. Today.

69 comments on “changing our pace”

  1. molly, thanks for sharing this. its so encouraging to know that there are other moms out there that have these kinds of days. and it is so true what you say about rushing vs. savoring. thanks for your honesty.

  2. I am all teared up…Thanks for your honesty.

    I am very with you on the “with them” idea of parenting. Though I do need to tend to my nest a bit more thoughtfully at times.

    A lot of my friends struggle to put down the mops and buckets…I struggle to find my keys and wonder why anyone would ever not go on a family walk to tidy things.

    We all struggle. We all thrive. Finding the balance between the two is peace.

  3. hmmm, i had one of those moments yesterday. I felt so tired and overwhelmed. For me I realized that I needed to start mentally, or physically writing down the things during the day that I am thankful for. Even making this note in my head, that I wanted to do this each day, helped me to see right in that moment the little times of joy and lightness.

  4. oh. molly. nail on the head.my friend, i am right there with you in so many ways. lists. slowing down. less expectations. less to do. points. more intentional. more rhythm. more us. period.xo

  5. I pulled my kids out of free online public school the end of Jan. just for the reasons you described. I am experiencing burn-out. I can never seem to get it all done, and I’m tired all of the time (actually I’m not tired from being burned out put tired from a vitamin D deficiency that I have been struggling with since last Sept. or so says the blood test I had on Mon. who knew?). So while the kids are not working as hard as they should, they are still learning, and writing and drawing. If anyone has a good math curriculum for 11 year olds and 9 year olds…..

    You are certainly not alone in your feelings. I had a huge pity party for myself just two days ago!!It was huge!I thought about my mother. My mom had most of her day free while all of the kids were in school. She could get things cleaned up and organized with out having anyone right behind her pulling everything out, she could sew, she could sit by herself and make up menus. She could do this and more faster and more efficiently because she didn’t have anyone at home.

    I’ll spare you the thoughts I had about my life, but man…..Big, BIG, pity party!!

    You are not alone!! And boy, am I glad I’m not either! 🙂

  6. Dear Molly,

    I’ve read your blog for a long time – more than a year – but I did not post before, because, well, it’s so much simpler and faster not to. I can see that you have a much harder time since Elisabeth is not a baby anymore and I admire you so much for your strength and patience and kindness to your children. I try to remember your words from an earlier post (on tattoos:) which went something like “they’re just children being children; what’s the rush? I want to be my best version to them…” Like others said, you are a genuine inspiration and so not alone in your struggles. It feels like the obligatory task packet of moms – try to lose weight, try to feed the family on time and in good quality, try to spend less, try to keep the house under control, try to give everything to the children but in such a manner that you don’t spoil them, try, try, try. Only to realize that at the end of each day their smiles and good behavior come if you-us-me have been good to them, true to your nature good-to-them. None of the tasks-to-do gives me more satisfaction than a child going happy to sleep. Thank you so much for sharing your struggles with us! With best wishes, Luigia.

  7. Sometimes you really have to wonder what planet husbands are from, lol.

    It’s nice to step back and reorder priorities every so often. Thanks for the inspiring post. 🙂

  8. Thank you for this post. I found your blog through habit, which I am so inspired by. I often have days where I am so overwhelmed by my three children and my desire to be a good mother to each of them and to have a house where I can find things before we go out the door! Not to mention wishing for more time for exercise, knitting, and sewing. I find writing and list making helps me, too and listing priorities helps me stand back from it all – to examine as an outsider almost. I’ll be sending your post around to some friends and my sister, thanks again for writing it!

  9. Well said! I have resigned myself to getting two things off my list a day and the day it’s considered a success! It’s so easy to get caught up in a swirl of responsibilities, expectations, duties, and appointments – and it’s nice to be reminded that we all face these same demons on a daily basis. Truth is, they will probably all be there tomorrow, but the time with the children some day will not. Thanks for the reminder to simplify and prioritize!

    Molli

  10. I think you hit it on the head with the last few lines. Thank you so much for this post! It’s really what I’ve been needing to hear. <3

  11. These are true words of wisdom! My oldest daughter passed away in 2000 from injuries sustained in a car accident. My youngest daughter is a senior in college graduating in May and moving to DC. My baby boy will be 16 next week. What I wouldn’t give to go back to the days when they were needing me so much. This empty nest thing just isn’t working for me! You can never give enough hugs and can never say I love you too much.

  12. Can I just say . . . Preach it Woman! I think you reflected the thoughts of a million other homeschool/blogging/wives and moms out there and I like what you did to pare it down. I’ve been trying the same thing and I found our “rules” to be similar to yours. Blessings to you! I hope everything “flows” more easily from now on.

  13. It is ok to slow down and it’s ok not to get everything finished. It took cancer to teach me that. Sometimes it’s ok to wing it and see what comes out of it. If something does not get done than it does not get done 🙂

    I think it is hard for us to remember our kids will not rememeber what got done and what did not, Just how much fun they had and how much you loved them.

  14. Thanks for your post…I also had a meltdown about 3 weeks ago!!! I cried and cried. My two girls saw me cried and they made sure there dad knew that there mom had cried. We talked about it and I was better. I think all mom’s with more than one child goes though this. Thank you for letting all of us mothers that we are not alone. Have a great day.

  15. Ahhh, it’s just so nice to know that other mamas out there struggle too! It must be in the air–a couple of days ago, I was all in a funk about all the “mama balance” issues.

    Like you said, when the kids remember yesterday, are they going to remember whether the house was dust-free? No, they’re going to remember the stories and the snuggles.

  16. Oh Molly, I had such a hectic week (husband with pneumonia and an ER trip for the little one) and it was soo good to read this post. It’s a great reminder to slow down and focus on what’s really important. To enjoy the little moments. Thank you!

  17. Thank you, Molly, for putting your thoughts into words so beautifully. I’ve been reading your blog for some time and have very much enjoyed it. Today post particularly resonates with me. Your words are so true. Thank you.

  18. all of it :)My Mom and MiL used to gripe at me for being a “schedule Nazi” with my kids. What they failed to realize was that have certain things planned at certain times everyday left us free for so much more in the times between. By knowing that homework and their laundry needs to be done when they get home from school and that dinner is on the table at 6 we have almost 2 hours in the middle for whatever, hand sewing together, extra time for a 6 and 8 year old to help with dinner, time for books to be read, dolls to be dressed and loved, pictures to be drawn. I’ve never scheduled every minute of the day and I never expect to get everything on my list done, I aim for half, half my day is scheduled and if I get half my “want to do’s” done, its all good.Oh and meal planning is a life saver on my time, sanity and budget. The girls each get to pick 2 meals for the family per week, hubby picks 2 and I get the last (I usually pick something easy that he can cook that day 🙂 ).

  19. Thank you, Molly. I’m betting this was a hard post to write- but means so much to every mama who reads your blog! (me, too.) I’m right there with you.

    xoxox K

  20. I am blown away by your words this morning. Whatever you are feeling inside when you are stressed and disorganized and burned out, read these words, they explain a point of view that we all need to remember. I needed to remember these today. Thank you friend. xo

  21. Very wonderful and thoughtful words, much of it resonates with me. I find I need to constantly renew my priorities because they DO change as you go along. Learning to say no and also to set aside for later some of those things that you desire to get done (and can’t do well with the ages of your children) until a better time. I’m still learning this – it can such a struggle! Love the list idea – get it out of your head & onto paper – I’ve got to do this and maybe post it up in a place that I can see daily rather than on a slip of paper where I’ll forget.

    Take a deep breath…

  22. This has to be your best so far, Molly. And you do have a treasure of a husband. Good job for seeing past the words into his heart.Just a word of truth: the struggle to “overcome” never stops. That’s a bummer, I know. It’s the “in this world you will have tribulation” deal. It’s no easier for the public school mother with a cleaning lady than it is for the home-school mama raising chickens and sewing her kids clothes. We all fight to keep our heads above the water. The alternative of endlessly long days empty of challenges and chores is just that–empty.Glad you’re finding your way with such poise and transparency.Your proud mom

  23. Great post, Molly. I may be close to that bottom that you speak of. Writing it all out is a great idea, I may have to steal that! I’ll miss A Bushel and a Peck on Baby Center, but I’ll look forward to reading about your slower days over here. Thanks for keeping us all informed!

  24. Looking back a decade and a half ago to the time my boys were your girls’ age the days I remember are the days I deliberately slowed down and enjoyed the moment. If I had had your insight, there would be more Mommy Zen days to remember.

  25. What a great post. I love your ending words. I find myself rushing my kids in and out of the house because there is so much TO DO. Then I sit back and think I’m rushing through and MISSING everything. I have to constantly remind myself there is always tomoorrow

  26. i know you hear this often, but i’d like to say it myself. you are quite inspiring, here, and at habit. i’m so glad that i’ve discovered your blog, so glad to know that there are homeschooling mamas all over leading lives that look a little like mine… thank you for your post.

  27. This is just what I needed to read today, while I have an uber-active 4 year old with marbles up his sleeve & 2 month old strapped on my chest.

    Thank you.

  28. thanks for the reminders. I’ve been putting way too much pressure on myself to become more productive. I think my husband and I have had that EXACT conversation. But you know what, I have a baby who’s 8 weeks and I should just slow down and enjoy her and my big kids without feeling like I need to be the most awesome productive artist right now. Great job Molly!

  29. Wow Molly,I recently started working three nights a week after 5 1/2 years of being solely a stay at home mom. I didn’t think it would affect me as much as it did..I mean, my kids are at home with their dad, not a babysitter. I was wrong. While I am very blessed to find such a compatible job to fill the financial gap we had, I hate being away from my girls. I was so concerned with getting everything done during the day and keeping it all organized, and getting a meal together before I left for work that my girls felt harried and rushed just like me. I don’t want their days (or mine) to be that way. I’m learning to let go of the “schedule” and enjoy my mornings and afternoons with my girls. Even if this means 15 interuptions while I’m trying to fold clothes. They are going to remember that Mommy helped them find things for the nature table today, not that their socks were neatly folded and put away in a timely manner. While I am still struggling with leaving them in the evenings I am not making a more concious effort to set a more relaxed tone for our days. And, the nights will be a bonding time with their dad that they would not have if I were there to do everything for them. Thanks so much for your words today. Although we are in different places they made me feel a little less alone where I am.

  30. Amen, sister. We homeschool as well, but without the menagerie you have to keep track of (i’m talking animals, here, not children!). Our best days are the ones that find me sitting on the floor, ignoring the dishes for a few more minutes while playing dominoes, reading ANOTHER book…and the more attention the girls get early in the day, the happier they seem to be spending time on their own while i catch up in the afternoon. thanks for the inspiration and the company “at the bottom”. you’re not alone!debbieplotfiftyfive.blogspot.com

  31. I just had a conversation that was very much like your email to your husband. Busy, crazy, stressed, no time, etc. Then I took a long walk, saw robins, and smelled dirt. Instead of working on those papers, I’m drinking tea and reading to enjoy–tomorrow I’ll be refreshed and ready to hit the piles running. Thank you!

  32. such a great bunch of words.right there with you.and love love those last lines, they are exactly the thoughts i have after all the same preceeding thoughts.i’m thinking i may just put it on my refrigerator to remind me daily.

    i’m glad i found your blog!

  33. Thankyou for the reminder to slow down and enjoy what is important. Sometimes i forget and need to be reminded.Good on you for stepping back and taking control.

  34. I too have these moments, I need them as well to get back online with things like organising meals and realising what is important I just let things slide and then it is too late and everything is on top of me. I know this feeling and what you write about all too well and the hitting rock bottom, letting off steam, picking myself up and getting back on with it with a few things rejigged.

    I’m glad to hear I’m not the only mum that goes through this process.

    Have a great weekend with lots of laughter, love and good food

  35. I’m new here, but wanted to chime in. I have learned that saying no, but thank you, has brought much peace to my life. (This includes saying no to many a bright idea of my own!)

  36. I’m not a homeschooler, and recognise it’s something I could never do (just getting through homework is a nightmare). But I totally love this post. Sometimes we just have to stop and work out what is REALLY important. Pick your battles, so to speak.

  37. I get caught up in the ‘get things done now!’ bit too. What is that? Do we put it on ourselves? Do others put it on us? I don’t care if there are dishes in the sink but I think I should then i feel guilty them I’m yelling.. HOld on for fricks sake!! Let me get the dishes done. Why?

    The days that you feel like you moved at a snails pace, or rather the pace of your family always feel better, more full.

    why do we have to keep reminding ourselves?

  38. hey! great words. it sounds like my life, without the trip to the chicken coop. i also find that when things get “out of hand” I get stressed and somehow unable to enjoy the beauty and “moments” of each new day. I make lists of things to change and ways to make life easier and yadadada. but it’s true, somehow when daily life is a little more organized and maintained I am in a much better state to accept the hardships and also more open to seeing the loveliness of simple things. and guess what! i think the majority of us send emails or facebook messages to our husbands when we’re in distress. talking sometimes is extremely difficult with youngsters to care for. blessings to you little mama!

  39. Wow, I can’t tell you how much this hit home. Really. Especially the line about no computers before afternoon naps. I think you’ve inspired me to try to be a better mom in my own little ways. Thank you!

  40. Thank you…I go thru the same thing everyday only to be reminded that I am the queen of the domain. I start my day at 5 am and dont get home until after 7pm…and walk into a house with a family waiting for me to rescue them.

    we are needed…and lovedv8

  41. Those last lines– they made me hold my breath. And up until those last lines I was thinking “how did this mama get into my email and read MY breakdown two weeks ago?”

    Sometimes, the best thing about blogs is the reminders they give us. The slow down, stay present, and enjoy this time sparks that send us back into our worlds a little more mindful. Thanks.

  42. I don’t often comment on blogs, but I was reminded of your words today : “Tomorrow, my children will be a little bit older. And tomorrow they’ll be carrying around memories of yesterday. And I can stand behind them and rush, rush, rush them through to tomorrow. Or I can stay with them, and alongside them, and savor them. Today.”And I wanted to say thank you for sharing your heart.

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