Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Managing Expectations

I have felt like I pretty much spend each day running around like a chicken with its head cut off since approximately January 31st of this year.

Tiny babies have a way of throwing your regularly scheduled life/routine/sanity out the window as fast as they make their debut into the world.  And our newest tiny baby is no exception to that rule.  Add in a handful of mild medical drama to the mix and this train nearly de-railed itself.

I am a schedule person. I LOVE a good routine.  I love even more than that a good list. On paper. That I can physically cross things off on.  We had a good little routine for ourselves over here prior to our littlest peanut joining us on the outside.  I KNEW that was all going to change, but I really, honest to goodness, was not prepared with the MAGNITUDE of the change. 

Things were not clean.  Dishes not done.  Lucky if the laundry was washed AND dried in the same day, forget about having it folded and put away. Extra lucky if everyone ate 3 meals a day that did not consist of pop-tarts and frozen waffles (with peanut butter!). But then I figured that all out – things started to even out despite the crying baby who didn’t sleep all day.

Then! I went back to work. Again, wrench – thrown across the room.  The schedule we had, was gone.  Life was back to chaos and almost 3 months later, it is only mildly better.  The baby cries (a little bit) less, smiles (a lot) more and sleeps (mostly) better.  The preschooler is well, a stubborn italian girl who makes us laugh, but is also super helpful when she wants to be. But they each have their schedules and NEED to be in bed by certain time to avoid horrific meltdowns – so we work around them and then comes the rest!

But the cause of the chaos is probably more mental than anything else – I have a really hard time managing my own expectations.  I expect that I will be able to: sleep all night, clean a little before work in the morning, work all day, have dinner, clean up after dinner, clean up the girls after dinner, get the girls to bed, work out, clean whatever is dirty, clean myself, do laundry, take care of LIFE (bills/plans/blog/etc.) and still see my husband. 

I also apparently expect that each day is no shorter than 28 hours because guess what – all of those things? They do not happen each day! They can’t.  And I need to be better at just dealing with that. 

My house? It is in desperate need of a deep-cleaning, but I need to accept that picking up the toys, sweeping the floor and if I instill help from my favorite 4 year old helper, dusting – is all that there is time for.  The laundry? Is forever in progress and I just need to be able to remember which basket has clean clothes in it. The dishes? Are usually done (I can’t go to bed with dishes in the sink, I just can’t do it!) but some nights the WHOLE kitchen isn’t perfectly clean. I can’t work out every night – there just isn’t enough time, so 3x a week has to be enough for now.

There is so much more that goes along with this idea of managing my expectations – the idea that not everyone does everything just like I do.  Mike might not load the dishwasher like I do, but he still does it and it needs to just be good enough.  I need to be okay with giving up time to do household things to just hang out with the people who created the beautiful mess I live in – some days, I have to really focus on that and just let the rest go! 

probably the thing I need to keep in my brain at all times that I think will help with this whole management deal – is that this is MY Life, not anyone else’s – so good for you if your house is always spotless, or if you can work out 3x a day, or if your kid takes awesome naps so you can be crafty or whatever – sometimes the internet has a way of creating these crazy thoughts in our heads that we have to do XYZ to be cool.   I KNOW that isn’t true – if the 4 people who live under this roof are happy, the rest doesn’t really matter in the end – and I KNOW that in my head.  But I have a really hard time letting go/changing what I expect to accomplish in a day/week/month/year etc. – it’s getting easier as I get more comfortable giving up that unnecessary expectations I tend to create for myself – but still a daily challenge!  Right now actually, I am working on just being able to cut myself some slack if everything isn’t done every night – some nights are easier than others (usually when I am extra tired!) but I am working on it so that counts for something, right?


JenM said...

Come to my house, you will feel better. I know exactly what you mean about expectations, and needing to remember that your family is your family and not anyone else's. You have a wonderful little family and we love you all.

Deborah said...

Oh, my house hasn't been deep-cleaned in, I don't know, ever? Maybe? And as soon as i clear the dirty dishes from the sink, more appear in their place.

I think it's awesome that you're working out 3 times a week! I manage once or twice, and I was feeling pretty proud of that.

It is really a question of expectations, as you said. We can't beat ourselves up for not doing it all. You are doing fine, it sounds like, and it will get easier.