Pick up the toys, wash the dishes, restock the diaper bag, fold the clothes, pick up the toys again, fold the blankies and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. As moms, we’re often the back-office support that helps makes our households run smoother. While we do very essential tasks everyday like feed our children and pay the bills, it’s the little things that usually go unnoticed that can make a huge difference.
Grocery shopping, in my opinion, is a necessary evil. And meal planning is its ugly twin sister. About once a month, I find myself standing in the middle of an aisle at the grocery store, staring off into space and deliberating: “What would happen if I didn’t plan meals anymore? What if I bought tons of food and just let everyone eat?” Assembling a shopping list that is not only within my budget, but also meets the needs of my picky toddler, busy husband, persnickety mother (who comes to my house four days a week to watch my daughter while I work) and my always-intending-to-eat-healthy-but-constantly-falling-short diet is nearly impossible. However, if and when the stars align and a grocery equilibrium is met, I feel a huge sense of victory and pride.
I’m not a neat freak, and I’m only semi-organized at best. But I’m a more pleasant person and a better mom when my home is tidy. Every night, I scan the rooms of my house and put away anything egregiously out of place. Mostly, this amounts to shuffling around dog toys, kid toys, dishes and articles of clothing that have walked themselves downstairs throughout the day. My goal is to spend 15 minutes or less on this daily chore, and it makes the world of a difference for me to wake up to a clean(ish) house.
Restoring my daughter’s bedroom and playroom is one of my more enjoyable daily tasks. In a weird way, sorting her wooden blocks from her fake food and placing them in their respective bins is mildly therapeutic. I also get a kick out of arranging her dolls and stuffed animals in different scenarios every night; this isn’t anything Elf on the Shelf level, but her toys are placed neatly in their respective doll houses, toy bins, high chairs, doll beds, etc. And why would I resign myself to this seemingly daunting task every day? Because it makes my daughter really happy to walk into her playroom in the morning and see all her toys eagerly “awaiting” her arrival. And, ultimately, that makes me really happy.
In a past life, I likely was a grocery store re-stocker. I love keeping enough items backfilled (be it canned soup, hand soap, diapers, Q-tips, toothpaste, stamps, etc.) that I hardly ever run out of anything. I enjoy the feeling of reaching the end of a tube of toothpaste only to seamlessly pull a brand new tube out of the bathroom cabinet. Or when a favorite toy’s batteries run out and I already have a back-up stash of batteries to pull from. Pure undeviated bliss.
Outside of work, I try to squeeze in about 60 (discontinuous) minutes of personal reading every day. While I fully admit to consuming more than my daily dose of BuzzFeed garbage, I also skim quite a few mom blogs and parenting articles. Specifically, I keep an eye out for pieces regarding developmental milestones, meal ideas, and DIY games and activities that improve motor and cognitive skills. I am always seeking out new ways to engage, entertain and educate my daughter.
Whether it’s stuffing baggies of Goldfish crackers and raisins, picking up another case of on-the-go applesauce pouches or slicing up fruits/veggies to have on-hand in the fridge, I always ensure we’re well-stocked with my daughter’s favorite snacks. If nothing else, having the right snack available helps prevent meltdowns during outings. “Oh, you want to kick the basket and scream throughout Target? Here, you little monster, have some raisins instead.”
Mom: the rememberer of things, the organizer, the snack packer, the back-office support. These are the duties we’ve been handed. Embrace the challenge. And when you’re ready to pull your hair out while folding your weight in laundry, be comforted by the notion that you can and will find joy in a number of your little every day tasks.