Keeping house

I have had such a productive day today (stay with me… I promise there’s a point to what may appear as gloating)…

I have done:
4 loads of washing,
thoroughly cleaned our ensuite (well overdue!),
put away the piles of clothes accumulating in our dressing room,
put away a pile of each of the kids clothes,
wiped over the kitchen cupboards (because when your 3yo happens to find a tiny piece of oil pastel somewhere & practises his signature on the cupboards, there is extra cleaning involved… with his help!),
changed the sheets on the twins cots & vacuumed their room,
& did the same for Mr 3, including sanding some patching that I’d stupidly done in an OCD episode I had a few weeks back…
All while either involving the kids & getting them to help, or watching them play outside, or while they played inside, or while they slept.

Now to the points I want to make…
Some may read this & compare to what they did today & feel like they have done more, & some may feel like they have done less. When I read my list, I see – that this is not my everyday. That I have piles of washing around the house, I have jobs that don’t get done as often as they should, I have a mountain of washing that never ends, I never have an empty house (there’s always 3 crazy & very loveable kids running around), I wish I could split myself in 2 so that one of me cleaned while the other played with the kids, I have a child (actually 3) who does testing things, I have a big house that takes forever to clean, I have less cleaning time these days (because I have 3 kids to share my time with) & I have to prioritise my cleaning, I don’t have productive cleaning days every day. These are some of my circumstances.

We are all different & our circumstances are all different. Some of us have 1 child, some of us have multiple. Some of us work, some of us stay home. Some of us have cleaners, some of us don’t. Some of us have smaller houses, some of us have bigger houses. We all choose to spend our time differently…

Over the weekend, I found myself getting into a tizz about the state of the house before some friends arrived, despite having spent a couple of hours cleaning beforehand. I reflected on it later & how I was falling into the trap of comparison & putting too many expectations on myself in our circumstances. It wasn’t until my hubby looked at me & said the words, ‘I’m happy in our home’, that I was reminded of the most important thing – that we are happy.

It can be so easy to get caught up in comparing our homes to our friends & families or to those we see on social media, & to feel inadequate. The mind has a funny way of doing that. But the next time you find your mind wandering to all the things you haven’t done or how your house doesn’t look a certain way, just remember that you are doing enough in your circumstances & that the most important thing is that you are happy & comfortable


Do you have time?

“Time is a created thing. To say, ‘I don’t have time’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to’.” – Lao Tzu

Every day, I’m becoming more & more comfortable with the message behind this quote, but there was definitely a time (a long time) when it would have made me uncomfortable… Now I can see that we have a choice in how we want to use the time that we have each day, & if we stop to reflect on the things that we say we don’t have time for, & the real reasons why we are saying we don’t, then it can really help with our mindset.

In the times that I’ve found myself wanting to say, ‘I don’t or didn’t have time to do that’ (ie. to clean or to do something for me), I’ve realised that it’s not that I didn’t have time, it’s just that I made something else more of a priority. It can be quite confronting or uncomfortable when we really look at why we say we don’t have time for something, & when we own up to the real reasons, but it can be so freeing when we do.

For me, I used to say, ‘I don’t have time for my Pilates exercises, how am I going to find the time to do them?’, & then I changed my mindset, & with the same time available to me, I made the time to do the exercises everyday. Another example for me, is meal planning. In the past, I would have said, ‘I don’t have time to meal plan’, but when I really looked at why I didn’t, I accepted that it’s not a strength of mine, & therefore I don’t make it a priority, & owning up to that & saying, ‘I’m not great at meal planning, & I’d rather spend my time doing something else instead’ feels good. Also acknowledging that we don’t have to be good at everything also feels good!

So often I am discovering that I say, ‘I don’t have time’ because that is so much easier & more comfortable than, ‘this is what I need’, or ‘can you help me?’, or ‘I actually don’t want to do that’.

How often do we say, ‘I don’t have time to do something for me’, when the reality can be that we just don’t feel we can ask someone to watch the kids so that we can do something for ourselves, or we are uncomfortable asking for help, or we’ve prioritised so many other things (including our families desires) over our own needs & desires?

In my experience, it’s not something that happens over night, especially if you’re used to saying it quite a bit (& I know with 3 young kids & a busy house it was my go to response), but I’m finding that more & more I’m owning up & being honest in my communication with myself & others, & taking responsibility for how I spend my time, & in doing so, I am enjoying the benefits.

Just this past weekend, I made the choice to ask my hubby to look after the kids so that I could spend a morning receiving some much needed energy work from my beautiful friend Fran (who I asked to book some time with), & then to spend an afternoon at a beautiful workshop run by Estelle @themummahub (oh & I got a quick trim in between!). Knowing that I had this wonderful weekend because I made myself a priority & made time for me, not only feels good, but also empowers me to do it again & again!

How does this quote make you feel? How often do you say you don’t have time for something?


An Ode to Washing

Oh washing piles,
In all your glory,
How you really do
Tell a story

Of favourite foods,
Of fun times had,
Of clothes worn by Mum,
That belong to Dad

Of colours & patterns
Chosen with love
& clothes, once big,
That fit like a glove

Oh washing piles,
How I must inquire…
Will you ever end?
As I so desire

All that time
I spend with you,
When just as I finish,
There’s more to do

How I really do wish
That we could be friends,
But, you’re like a ring
That never ends

Oh washing piles,
How do you feel?
When we hide you from friends
Who come for a meal

We like to pretend
That you don’t exist,
When really we know,
No house is missed

With all of the places
That you get shoved,
You couldn’t possibly feel
Appreciated & loved

Oh washing piles,
How I could go on,
But my washing-free time
Has almost gone

There’s a load on the line
& one in the machine,
My kids have just eaten
You know what I mean

There’s hanging & folding,
Oh that damn fitted sheet,
So it’s off I go –
Wash, fold, repeat

Yours sincerely,
Simone


Group Acrylic Mandala Painting Intuitive Art Therapy Workshop with Embarked with Simone in Atwell, South of Perth Western Australia

What do you do?

On those days (or weeks) when…
You’re a little more tired
You’re a little less patient
You’re a little more clumsy
You’re a little less motivated
You’re a little more forgetful
You’re a little less talkative
You’re a little more irritable
You’re a little less organised
You’re a little more distracted
You’re a little less enthusiastic
You’re a little more emotional
You’re a little less tolerant (of the mess or the noise)
You’re a little more doubtful
You’re a little less decisive
You’re a little more keen for a break…

The past couple of weeks have been full of all of this. With 3 little ones, including an extra testing (almost) 4yo, & all 3 kids taking turns at being unwell, meaning that they’re also extra sensitive, tired & easily upset by their siblings, things can build up.
Whilst these days are all part of the rollercoaster ride of parenthood, & some days we can cope better than others, I’ve learnt that the best thing we can do is to work extra hard at creating space for ourselves during these times. Whether it’s a walk, a trip to the gym, a Netflix binge, a cuppa & a good book, a break from some chores, a play date or someone to watch the kids, a warm bath, some painting, a meditation or yoga class, a coffee date with a friend… it’s important to think about what you need & then to communicate & ask for help if you need it 💛

For me, it’s been my painting, a play date, some Reiki practice, some writing, my oils, some family time, some tickling of the kids to get those extra good giggles, & a much needed date night (& break) over the weekend (organised by hubby) helping get me through.

It’s times like these that I’m extra grateful for the support I have & that I have discovered my passion for painting 💛 To now be able to share my space & to give others the opportunity to have some fun, relaxing & creative ME time makes me very happy 😍

What do you do for you? What helps you get through?

Parenting Joys - supporting and encouring parents on their journey through parenthood. Inspiring parents to look after themselves and to get creative about it.


Tackling the toy room turmoil

Over the last 18 months, we’ve had what we call, ‘Project GSD’ (Get Sh*t Done), taking place in our house. We started by pulling together a list of things we want to do around the house (which we sometimes add to after we’ve completed a new job that wasn’t on the list). Jobs like, giving our room a makeover (which we did last August), creating a nature play area for the kids (which we finished last September), sorting through our ‘junk room’ (which finally tackled last month), decluttering wardrobes, etc. One of the things that I’ve being trying to do, unsuccessfully, has been to declutter the kids toy room.

Last year, we created a great play space for the kids out in the main living area, separate to the designated activity area that we have in the back of the house. Parenting Joys Toy Play Room IdeaWe did this so that I could keep an eye on all 3 kids in the main living area and could block off the front and back areas of the house. As the twins were only 8 months old at the time, I wanted to be able to see them, and their big brother, whilst doing things in the living area / kitchen, and to know what they were up to / getting into. On the occasion that we had visitors, I also wanted to be able to sit at the dining table, instead of hovering over a half wall, whilst watching the kids and attempting to have a conversation. So the second play area was created, but what came with this, was also a clear view of the ruins that remain once the kids have let loose in the play area, with toys constantly strewn across the floor.

We have, what I think is, a CRAZY amount of toys. The majority of which have been gifted (as presents or hand-me-downs) by our large and lovingly generous families. As the pile of toys has continued to grow over the years, I’ve found myself saying, ‘no more toys please’, as we approach each Birthday and Christmas. Whilst I don’t enjoy being the ‘fun police’, as I know how excited the kids get (especially Mr 3) when they get a new toy, and how you want to be the person that gifts an exciting present, I also know that we already have too many toys. I’m conscious that more toys means more clutter, and gives us a bigger task when it comes to finding homes for them or cleaning up, but I’m also conscious of the impact it has on the kids. Not only the impact of them having so many things and potentially not valuing them, but also the impact of them being amongst all of the things, as I have noticed that once they have turned the play area into a bomb site, they don’t go back to play in it.

Now, over the past 18 months, I’ve attempted to organise a ‘toy rotation’ and to cull some toys, but, to be honest, I’ve struggled.  Whilst it is easy to pass down toys that are no longer age appropriate or to throw out toys that are beyond repair, I’ve found it hard to cull beyond that because I know that family or friends have gifted our kids these toys and that they are of value to the kids. I definitely prefer the toy rotation method to culling, as it not only means fewer toys in the play area, and therefore only a portion of the mess, but it also means not having to get rid of any toys. However, despite my efforts, I have had my battles with this too.

In my quick attempts at organising a toy rotation, I’ve found it difficult to decide what the kids could do without for a week or so (okay, maybe more like a month or so by the time I remember to rotate the toys), and I haven’t found any successful hiding spots. I’ve tried putting some toys in the back spare room or putting a box of toys in a storage cupboard which has then been ‘locked’ with a ribbon. Both of these options have failed me (no surprises there!), as my clever little 3y.o would pick his moments (when I was distracted) to drag out what he noticed was missing, or what he wanted to play with, from the back room. He would also ask Daddy to ‘unlock’ the cupboard because he needed just one thing out, and somehow the whole box of toys would end up out again…

Recently, a friend shared how she had organised a toy rotation in her house as she too, struggled with the number of toys they had, the constant mess, and the lack of quality play with the toys. Upon reading her approach, I was inspired to give this toy rotation a ‘red hot go’, meaning that I would also put some extra effort into finding a decent hiding spot. What inspired me, was how she had categorised all their toys and organised their toy rotation based on a particular theme, having set up a construction zone for the first week of their rotation. I also found it encouraging how she had explained that whilst it might seem like a lot of work to stay on top of swapping over the toys (which had definitely been a thought I’ve had!), it would be equal to, if not less work, than cleaning up the mess that is left each day (or however long it takes you to get sick of looking at it).

So last week, I decided I would give this toy rotation a proper go. img_6162I laid out all of the kids toys during naptime (okay, there were still a few missing) and organised them into categories – transport toys, mega blocks, kitchen / shop toys, etc. I then got out some plastic tubs and my labeller and sorted the toys into tubs, putting one option / category of toys into the tub, with a label on the front of the box, and a second option on top of the tub, with the corresponding label on the back of the box. I did this for some added organisation so that if option 1 was out, then option 2 could be away, and vice versa. img_6175I then explained to our 3y.o what I was doing and why I was doing it, to create more space to play and to take turns playing with toys, etc. so that he was involved. We then worked out what toys should stay out for the first rotation, keeping in mind what his sister and brother might also like to play with. I then got serious about my storage spots and pulled out everything on the top shelf of our linen cupboard (a cupboard where the kids don’t go), and stored away the toys whilst the kids weren’t watching (and left the rest of the linen cupboard a mess… job for another day!).

After a week in, I feel like this has already been a success! Even just that first step of categorising the toys made it so much easier for me to make a decision on what toys should be kept out or put away. It also made it easy to pull together a little tub of toys to keep in the garage as our ‘travel tub’ if we ever need to take some toys out with us. Whilst the toys that are on rotation still end up strewn across the floor for the most part, the mess is about a quarter of what it was, and the toys that are out are getting some quality play time which is great. I have even noticed the kids going back in the play area to play with that smaller mess around, which has been a big win! I just haven’t noticed them packing the toys away unprompted yet… but experience tells me I’ll be waiting a long time for that. The play room feels lighter, I feel lighter, and even hubby has commented on how much nicer it is to play with the kids in the toy room without so many toys around, and that ‘less is (definitely!) more’.

Here’s hoping that we can keep this going, and that this helps someone else who may be struggling with tackling their toy room turmoil! Good luck! xx


Investing in Ourselves

How many of us really invest in ourselves?

How many of us spend time on, or with, ourselves? And how many of us, push ourselves aside, saying, “I don’t have time to paint, or to sit and read a book, or to have a bath, or to exercise or go out for a walk”? And yet, if someone else asks something of us and for our time, how many of us quickly say “yes” and make the time for them?

How many of us shy away from spending money on ourselves because something is expensive or we can use that money towards something else? And then, how many of us do not hesitate to spend money on our children, our partners, or other family and friends?

Really investing in ourselves is what so few of us do, yet is something we all REALLY need to do.

Last year, my husband and I decided to enrol our oldest son into a weekly sporting class. We discussed that it was quite costly, but that we would make it work as it would be great for him. I laughed to myself, and made comments to my hubby and the family, that here we were, not hesitating to enrol our son into a weekly class, yet in the past I had put aside my own interests in Pilates and yoga classes because of such costs. In the same vein, my husband and I (okay, mostly me) had been looking at a new bed for months and months, but money was tight and so we kept pushing our desire aside. Six months down the track, we decided, with my sister-in-law and her husband, that we would surprise my in-laws with some home improvements whilst they were away on a holiday, and as part of this my husband and I, without much hesitation, bought them a new bed, saying ‘we’ll make it work’. Then in January of this year, my husband surprised me for my birthday and booked me a holiday to spend some time with my beautiful friend. Before going, my friend told me of this painting workshop that she really wanted us to do together. As she mentioned the cost, I was a little hesitant, because 1, I had not painted in a very long time, and 2, “I couldn’t possibly spend that money on myself” (especially on top of the cost of the trip).

How often does this happen? How often do we think we are not worthy of investing in, or we make excuses for why we can’t invest in ourselves, or we put others needs and wants before our own?

It definitely happens all-to-often for me, like giving yummy leftovers to the kids for lunch and not saving any for myself, or giving the last of the cold water from the fridge to my hubby because there wasn’t enough for 2 glasses, or holding off going to the bathroom until I’m busting because I need to do something else for the kids or around the house… Well, I’m happy to say I have been making changes. A few months after buying my in-laws a new bed, I saw our dream bed on sale again, and I came to the realisation that if we could make it work and buy our loved ones a new bed, then we could make it work for us too. I attended the painting workshop, and had such an amazing experience, which has been the catalyst to me finding a hidden passion of mine in painting. Whilst I didn’t invest the money to attend, as I was so lucky my friend had wanted to gift me the workshop for my birthday, it was another realisation that if I had said no to investing in myself, I wouldn’t be painting like I am today, knowing now that I would have paid double the cost of the workshop for what I received from it.

Investing in ourselves doesn’t have to mean spending money. It could be as simple as taking time for ourselves to read, paint, relax in a bath, eat a decent meal, watch a movie, do a puzzle, go for a walk on the beach, play a board game, or anything else that you enjoy doing (this might just be a list of things I enjoy :)). It could be making that doctors appointment, or physio appointment, or dentist appointment (although money will be necessary here…) that you’ve been putting off, or saying “no” to something because we have enough on our plate or we just need a day or night at home.

Investing in ourselves is anything where we are putting our needs and wants first, and making our whole health and wellbeing a priority.

The next time you have the opportunity to invest in yourself, instead of thinking “I don’t have time”, or “I couldn’t possibly spend that money on myself”, think about what the investment could really mean, and what doors it could open for you. See any investment you make in yourself as a powerful message that you are sending to the universe, showing how much you are worth and how much you value yourself. Not only will this have positive effects on you, but it will also show those around you your value, and what is possible if they invest in themselves too, including the wonderful little children we have that look up to us as their role models.

What investment will you make today?

xxx

img_4041