A few weeks ago, I set out on a mission to find another busy mommy who could give some tips and tricks on how to manage being a mom (or single mom) and a busy lifestyle…I definitely got what I asked for and then some! Meet Brenda Kearns! (And here I thought I had a lot on my plate…) Brenda is a single mom of SEVEN children (no that’s not a typo…I said SEVEN!!) She writes health articles for Woman’s World and First for Women magazines. She also writes fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults. Brenda lives on a 52-acre farm in Ontario, Canada, with her seven children, two cats and a big, goofy Great Dane. When she is not writing—or chasing kids off the road—she practices karate and jiu jitsu. Please browse through her website and blog (both are at www.brendakearns.com) and contact her (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions!
I’ve included links to all of Brenda’s books at the end of her post. Please pop on over to Amazon to get yourself a copy!
Confessions of a Closet Juggler
I was surprised when Amy asked me to write a blog posting about how I manage to juggle raising seven kids (as a single mom) with a full-time writing career. Me? Juggling? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized she was right. I am juggling. I’m juggling a lot.
After a little more pondering (and a little more wine), I figured out my secret: I maintain a delicate balance between obsessive organization and pathetic laziness. Allow me to explain…
I’M UBER ORGANIZED:
*I’m the Queen of Lists
There’s a grocery list on our fridge (You want me to buy it? Put it on the list). There’s a chores list beside it (You want breakfast? Do your chore first). There’s a laundry schedule there, too (You want your laundry done? Bring it down on your assigned day). I’m surprised my fridge hasn’t tipped over, but those lists keep us all on the same page, and they make the house run a whole lot more smoothly.
*I eat the frog first
Not a real frog—my “job frog.” Each day, I pick the toughest, most unpleasant task that I need to accomplish, and before I can come up with some lame excuse to procrastinate, I do it—I eat the frog. I dive in and get that hard job done while I’m still fresh, focused and working at top speed—then everything else seems easy (and fast) in comparison. To be perfectly honest, if I didn’t eat the frog first, I’d work so slowly (trying to put off that tough job) that I’d have to work all through the evening just to catch up. Procrastination is my downfall — if I have no plausible excuse for putting off a big project, I’ll add paper to my printer, check that my stapler has staples, and sharpen my pencils to the point where they could perform brain surgery.
*I have daily media blackouts
E-mail, Facebook, Twitter…according to Mayo Clinic researchers, people spend one out of every seven minutes at work checking, and responding to, messages—and that can cut your productivity 25% or more! I wasn’t happy about doing it (wasn’t happy at all) but I’ve managed to cut myself down so I only check my e-mail once each hour—and I log onto Facebook and Twitter once daily. Yes, I’m a lot more productive at work, and I have a lot more time for my kids in the evening—but weaning myself off espresso was easier than weaning myself off social media.
*I de-hoard when I’m grumpy
Any time I’m feeling wound-up or stressed, I grab a garbage bag and make a run through the house, scooping up broken toys, expired coupons, dead batteries, socks with no mates, shoes with no soles and other items that we no longer need. And I don’t stop until I’ve filled the bag. This is an instant mood-booster (there’s nothing like getting rid of junk to make me feel like I’m getting my life together). Oddly, it makes my whole family happier and more productive, too. When closets and drawers and shelves aren’t overflowing with junk, and when tabletops aren’t smothered with the stuff, we spend less time searching and sorting—and more time relaxing.
TRUTH IS, I’M ALSO LAZY:
*I avoid extra tasks—and I don’t waste time feeling guilty
All of those order forms and volunteer forms that trickle home from the kids’ schools? Straight into the garbage. The yard? I officially gave up on having a beautiful garden the year my third child decided, as a toddler, to decapitate all of the tulips. Mending? Forget it. Once clothes get so many holes that they can’t be worn to school or even around the farm, they get tossed into the burning bin. Ironing? Don’t make me laugh.
*I refuse to read flyers
I get 27,325 flyers every year (at least, that’s what it feels like). I read none of them. Why would I? I’m going to go to the same grocery store and Walmart every week—I have no interest in reading about what other stores are offering, because I’m too lazy to drive anywhere else, anyway.
*I nap (really!)
Without sleep, I’m a snarky, brain-dead, surly mess. My kids know this, so when I call out “I’m going for my nap” each afternoon, they know they’ll have a much happier mommy if they read quietly for the next 10 minutes. And they do. It takes some work, but it’s worth it to train kids who are too old for naps that their mommy is now too old to not nap.
*I let my errands list grow (and grow…and grow…
I don’t trudge into town three, four or five times weekly—I go once each week, and that’s it. I grab the groceries, go to the post office and pharmacy, pay the bills…the works. It’s a true shopping-and-errand binge, and then I refuse to head into town again for another week. This is laziness at its finest—thanks to my once-weekly shopping sprees, I’ve shaved 3-1/2 hours off the time I used to spend running around to different stores each week.
*I buy time, not things
Housework, lawn mowing, car repairs…what chores soak up a lot of your time, despite the fact that you don’t enjoy doing them? I decided (after my fourth kid) to stop doing jobs that sucked up my time without making me and my family happy. Now, I avoid buying new gadgets (my cell phone, TV, stereo and van all work just fine—but they’re virtually antiques) and I use the money I save to pay others to do time-sucking jobs. I have a cleaning lady who scours my house every two weeks, I pay my older kids to do the yard work and repairs, and I hope to never change the oil in my van again. I scrimp on “stuff,” and use my money to buy time.
So, my advice? If you want to juggle a gaggle of kids and a busy job and not end up burned out and crabby, try this: Be super-organized and shamelessly lazy. It worked for me!
Check out all of Brenda’s Books on Amazon!!