I’ve been asked a few times lately about how Chris and I manage our time as a family. With two full-time jobs, two kids, this blog, two dogs, and all the things those obligations require, it can sometimes get a little overwhelming around here. And, as one blog reader asked, “Do you burn dinner or do the laundry?!?!” How do you set priorities when everything seems like a priority?
When I had Bean and then went back to work, the only way to manage my time was, sadly, to lower my expectations. Sometimes, laundry was going to pile up. Unless I wanted to spend my precious little time at home slaving over the washing machine, there was just no getting around that. And, occasionally, take out was delivered to my doorstep. Sometimes more than once a week…
Now that Gracie is here, my expectations of our household have been lowered even more. Laundry often gets done only when I realize I have run out of burp cloths. Or underwear. And I’m lucky if the floors get swept once a week (and anyone with two dogs can tell you that once a week is NOT enough…). Our veggies frequently come out of Green Giant steamer bags and Tyson should send me a thank you card for all the chicken nuggets we consume around here.
You know, I say that my expectations have been lowered, but that’s not really what is going on, I guess. What’s happened around here is that priorities have been shifted. Laundry is a necessity, but is not a priority. Take today, for example. Every laundry hamper in our house is overflowing. Bean has no clean shorts in his drawers and I’m pretty sure Chris is out of clean undershirts. But, the weather was gorgeous outside and by 11:00 this morning, Chris and I were playing in the pool with Bean. Should I have been doing laundry? Absolutely. That would have been the responsible thing to do. But spending time as a family is a big priority for us and laundry is not. So, the pool wins.
To be honest with you, I’m completely fine with a house that is often in a state of repair. We’re clean enough and we’re clothed in mostly clean clothes.Â And that’s good enough for me. Take, for example, these pictures of my house at this very second:
This is my kitchen counter. It’s the catchall for things that don’t have a permanent home. It drives me nuts and about once a week, I frantically sweep everything from the counter into the trash can. Then Chris gets mad because I threw out his latest copy of some geeky magazine. Then we fight. Then next week the counter gets messy all over again.
My kitchen at the moment is fairly clean, but no matter the state of cleanliness in our house, Bean’s toys are bound to make an appearance. This time it’s Rex from Toy Story. I think he’s waiting for food to fall, just like my dogs. Evolution at it’s finest.
Since we’ve been spending so much time outside, my back porch and yard are constantly littered with junk. Toys, pool floats, acorns that Bean has collected from the front yard. Thankfully, this mess stays (mostly) in the front yard, so my neighbors still think I’m relatively neat and orderly. Suckers.
And, as we speak, there is a putting green in our living room. It’s been there for three days. Chris has been working on his golf swing and he dragged this out for practice last week. The dogs think it’s a patch of grass and they sprawl all over it like they are napping in the sunshine. Bean thinks it’s a runway for airplanes. Why haven’t I moved it yet? Not sure, really.
I’m okay with all of this most of the time. It’s just the price of living with an active, happy family. But I do tend to panic a bit when family is coming over.Â My parents never have laundry hanging around and they make their bed every single morning and I’ve never seen them run out of milk in the middle of a recipe.Â And Chris’s mom is so neat and clean that even her shampoo bottles in her shower aren’t gunked up or tipped over or running down the side of the shower curtain.Â Our families raised us to be clean, neat people by setting that example for us and so when they come over to visit, I want them to see those qualities in our household, too.Â But the reality is that our household is in a much different place than theirs.Â Neither of them have pets or babies or toddlers running around.Â Neither of them have two working adults in the house.Â Our house is just very different than theirs right now.Â And so I’ve had to adjust a little bit and allow myself some slack.Â I’m doing the best I can and that’s going to have to be enough.
The most important thing for Chris and I is how are kids are raised.Â I don’t care if they grow up and say, “I always had to dig clean underwear out of the basket in my mom’s room,” but I would feel like I’d failed my children if they grew up and said, “My mom was too busy with laundry to spend time with me.”