Out of Chaos ….Order?

..Is it really over a month since I published my last blog? Hmmmm…so much for my ambition to blog every week. I would set myself a New Year’s resolution to resolve this, but actually my resolution is to only do what is realistic and to stop beating myself up for not achieving as much as I hope and aspire to.

Just before Christmas my world spun out of control. My son came down with a bad case of D&V (diarrhoea and vomiting) which meant that the precious time that I had carved out to concentrate on my fledgling business was unceremoniously abandoned in order to nurse him and deal with the overflow of laundry (TMI? – sorry). My 5 year old daughter broke up for the Christmas holidays early and required a constant schedule of entertainment and outings. Amongst all this I attended a family wedding which took me away from my precious ones overnight for the first time ever. It was a wrench but made so worth while by being part of a very happy family occasion. It was the first time that my Father travelled away from home since being seriously ill last year, and so a very significant milestone for us all. My cousin married his childhood sweetheart by the shores of Loch Lomond. The beauty of the place was staggering.  The inclement stormy weather of the previous week broke, to bless the happy couple with snow tipped mountains, crisp sunshine and shimmering winter waters. I managed somehow to do my Christmas shopping almost entirely online – only venturing out to a Christmas Craft Fair and to the Columbia Road Flower market – which is my annual treat to get me in the Christmas spirit.

During those weeks I lost track of time, and my own goals. I missed appointments, I found myself overwhelmed by trying to get everything ready for the Christmas festivities and lost all focus on my own plans. I will just paint a little thumbnail portrait of how life has been. Just before Christmas I reached my Chaos Threshold.  It was almost not possible to walk through the front door because of the immense amount of clutter in each room. Our so called living room was full of boxes and papers that I had got stuck half way through decluttering.  Our kitchen was overflowing with dirty dishes, and bags of laundry and recycling. It was hardly possible to find a clear surface to make any kind of meal. So mealtimes were increasingly whatever I could bosh together as quickly as possible from the fridge or cupboard without having to do too much prep. I was staying up too late, and going to bed way after midnight and frequently then being woken by the baby through the night. Then having to get up and get the family out of the door for school and work by 8 am. I was ragged, I was bone tired, I was borderline deranged. Despite this I somehow managed to do a very good job of appearing to be quite together to anyone that I met outside the home – however inside I felt fraudulent.

I increasingly feel that I have to try and get a grip on my household situation and that this might be the key to regaining some mental stability, so have taken up with the Flylady. The Flylady advocates a ‘join the dots’ kind of approach to household management with small 15 minute tasks which are organised according to a monthly, weekly and daily schedule. Apparently where I have been going wrong is that I tried to tackle the whole house in one go and as a result got burnt out and frustrated – and then abandoned the whole project. Clearing a way through the accumulated detritus of 5 years post children is a mammoth task and one that I will not be able to accomplish in a day or a week. I envisage that it will take months, and possibly even (gulp) up to a year.

The way through, however, as with all big problems is to break it down into small manageable chunks. Flylady has a mantra which is “I can do anything for 15 minutes”. So this is what I am doing – and it has made a difference. There are now increasing areas of each room which are useable! My daughter is excited to have gained a place to do drawing and play dough projects on the now visible dining table. My son is utilising the newly cleared hallway to practice on his new scooter. My other half walked in the other day and said that he felt his heart lift when he walked into the house that ‘smelled clean’. My next challenge is to get the whole family engaged in this new method of looking after the house, and to my surprise it isn’t as difficult as I thought. My other half has actually deigned to do the dishes after dinner before going and collapsing. My daughter voluntarily decided to blitz her bedroom so that she could have her friend over to play. And my 18 month year old has developed a strange fascination with the broom and Mr Henry.

Contrary to my expectations I am not feeling resentful about instituting a new set of routines in our lives. Rather I can see that having some structure to the menial tasks of the day will help me to work out what and how to delegate so that actually it will not all fall to me (as it has previously done) to somehow address it all.  So, having gradually felt some kind of order creeping into my chaotic life I am going to see if I can apply the same technique to other areas of my life, i.e. my glorious career, my general health and fitness, our finances and planning in R&R for the whole family for the year.

I am really curious as to how others manage to balance the boring menial stuff of life (dishes, laundry, cleaning etc) against making and achieving goals. How do you do it? How do you keep your household from descending into chaos?  Do you have any tips for others who are currently in the kind of mess I described? Do tell!

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