Hi, ya'll! I am a southern girl who loves to laugh, Mexican food, shopping, Jesus, petit fores, shoes, matching outfits, sweet tea, big bows, margaritas, the beach and my family. I am married to my super handsome, laid-back, go-with-the-flow husband, Travis. We have three daughters (I KNOW...THREE GIRLS!). Emma is, our 9 year-old, is in the 4th grade. Hannah is 6 and in 1st grade. Catherine just turned 4 and is in Pre-K. Our house is what I, lovingly, refer to as "organized chaos". It's a different kind of chaos from when the girls were very young, but each new season in life brings new challenges, (and usually shows up just as I get the current one figured out). I work in the Walmart/Sam's supplier world in NWA. My husband owns his own flooring business. As you can imagine, the dirty laundry and drama are not in short supply around our house!
Getting Household Things Done
When you walk into my house on a Friday night, you will immediately be able to tell if we have had an abnormally busy week. If we have, there is sure to be a load (or three) of laundry in the oversized chair begging to be folded, a sink of dishes pleading for a ride through the dishwasher and backpacks/dance bags/softball bags strewn by the back door. Usually though, I do chores every morning/night to stay on top of things. In the mornings, I unload the dishwasher from the night before and the girls put their breakfast dishes in when they are done eating. I also rotate the laundry any chance I get (morning or night) because I can NEVER seem to keep up. My girls are also old enough to pick up after themselves, (we started chore charts a while back...you can read about that here)
I (try to) cook dinner 6 nights a week. At lunch on Sunday, I sit down with my Erin Condren planner and, with everyone's help, plan our meals for the week. I've tried several different methods for meal planning and this one works best for us. By putting it in my planner, I can organize our dinners based on the week's activities, i.e. school performance = crock pot meal, mommy traveling = frozen pizza, etc. Sunday night, after the kids go to bed (around 8:30), I head to the grocery store. I love going then for two reasons; 1) no one is ever there! It's so nice to not have to fight the crowd and 2) it's a little extra "Boni time", even if it is browsing the canned goods at the grocery store.
Since I cook dinner (the older two work on homework while I cook), Travis loads the dishwasher every night while I give Catherine a bath. Once the girls are in bed for the night, I do more laundry and sweep the kitchen floor.
I have someone that comes every other week to deep clean the house. I do my vacuuming and dusting between those times on the weekends.
Spending Quality Time with the Girls
During the summer, the girls have no extra activities. Plus, even though we work, the bathtime/bedtime schedule gets much more relaxed in the summer. So, we spend lots of time outside. We will eat on the patio and play until the mosquitos almost carry us all away. We go on a walk every night around the neighborhood. We play in the yard with Gus (our super crazy Australian Shepard)
During the school year, it's a little more challenging. The older two have homework almost every night, plus all three girls take dance. But, we manage to fit in some good QT with them by making the most of the time we do have. After I pick the girls up, while we are driving home, we go around the car and tell one funny thing, one exciting thing and one "bummer" thing that happened during each of our days. I cannot tell you how many days we have laughed ourselves to tears during this. It also keeps the girls talking about their day other than answering "It was fine." (Catherine almost always tells on herself during the "bummer" question. It makes me giggle a little when she says "It was a bummer I was in time out for not sharing today...but I was a good girl! Don't worry, Mommy".)
We always try to sit down to dinner with no phones, no TV and no distractions together as a family. Whether I cook or we eat out, family dinners are so important. Travis says the blessing and we all talk about our days. Lots of issues have been sorted out over a good southern cooked family dinner in the Williamson household!
When the girls are doing homework, Travis spends some 1-on-1 time with Catherine, (she almost always makes him play princess...HILARIOUS!). I cook while they do homework and always end up helping one or the other with something. Since they are at the kitchen table working, when they are done, the three of us usually just sit and talk about their days. It's really nice to have company while I cook too! They take turns taking a shower and while the other is in the shower, I always get the daily secrets from the one still in the kitchen with me. :)
Catherine and I spend our play time together when I give her a bath. I sit on the floor by the tub and we play with her bath toys. Sometimes, we hurry and bathe so she can get out and we can go play with "the sisters" (that's what Catherine calls Emma & Hannah!). After her bath, that's when we get the best time together as a family. We color, play, dance, sing, watch "Duck Dynasty" and just spend whatever time we have together, before their bedtimes, purposefully.
Spending Time with Travis
It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of being a working Mommy and completely forget about that hottie of a husband, who needs your attention too. Since the day we had Emma, I was scared to death of becoming one of those marriages that ends up divorced when their kids are grown ups because they pour so much time into their kids and no time into each other.
So, Travis and I make time for each other. Lots of days, we will go on lunch dates. I love our lunch dates! We also make a point at night to spend time together before bed. Sometimes that means watching TV together. Sometimes, we sit and talk about our day. Sometimes, we play 7 Little Words on the iPad together. And my personal favorite, we sit on the patio with a glass of wine/beer and talk. But, basically, we just spend a little time unwinding TOGETHER.
We try very hard to do a date night once every month or so. Sometimes that's just dinner or maybe a movie too. Sometimes it's a night out with friends. We love to go to concerts together. No matter what it is, we do something to keep "us" alive. Travis and I also text a lot during the day. He is my best friend and I am his. We cherish our marriage so much. It took a lot of growing for us to realize that it doesn't make us bad parents to steal away a little time for just the two of us. It's so important to us to show our kids what a strong, healthy marriage looks like because we know they are going to model their marriage after what they see.
Spending Time with Friends
Between the kids and Travis it is VERY hard to spend time with friends. But, I can tell you that nothing refuels my tank like spending time with my friends. It's so nice to talk with a friend about the nasty email the PTA sent you because you missed the last meeting or celebrate the fact that you arrived at the office before your boss three days in a row. Whatever it is about girls' nights, I love them! It's hard to make them happen, but Travis is always willing to help.If we don't get a dinner together, there is always a lunch date or meeting to shop a little at lunch. Also, our husbands like each other too, so we often double date with our friends, killing two birds with one stone. Whatever it is, make time for your friends. I have never laughed so hard in my life as when we have a group text going during the day about something that happened to one of us!
Working out/Taking Care of Yourself
This is such a struggle for me. I feel like there is just not enough time in the day for me to take care of myself. While I love my lunches with Travis or my friends, I started working out at lunch 3 days a week, MWF. I joined a class and it's the best thing I've done. I blocked off that time on my calendar, so I don't have any meetings during that time. Don't get me wrong, there are days I have to force myself to go. I have dried my sweaty hair in the air vents of my car on the way to a meeting. But, it's worth it and by 1pm those days, I am done with my exercising for the day...so I don't have to hurry to fit it in at night. I still have weight to lose, but it has already made me feel better about myself. Travis tells me all the time that when I feel better about myself and my appearance, I am happier. And, when I am happier, he is happier. So, think about it as the gift of happiness to your family while your trying to do that 10th push-up in a row! ha!
I am sure you are reading the above and thinking "Gag...she's got it all figured out and makes it sound easy." Trust me when I say that couldn't be further from the truth. I struggle balancing everything daily. Some days, I feel like there is no way I will be able to get it all done. Some days, I think "I've got this!". Then, I will realize I've been walking around all day with two different earrings in, (I am not making this up...I've done it...multiple times)
I put undue pressure on myself to do it all! But, at the end of the day, my kids are happy and healthy, my husband loves me and can't imagine life without me and I am just so blessed. So, I will keep trying to balance life, praying that I learn to give myself grace as a mother and laugh at my shortcomings.
If you've read my blog before, you know that I had a very major accident on Mother's Day 2012, (post here). I have ALWAYS loved life and lived it to the fullest, but that put things in a whole new perspective to me and my family. As I put less pressure on myself, I find that I am a better mother, wife, employee, friend and daughter. My favorite quote is "She loved life and it loved her right back!"
Lastly, here are a few tips that I have learned to use that keep my Type-A personality from flipping out:
1) Keep a planner. I started keeping one two years ago and it is my lifeline. I cannot keep up with who needs to be where and when without it. Also, it was the only thing that helped Travis & my mom keep their sanity when I was in the hospital and they were trying to keep the girls in their routines.
2) Just say no. I am the former queen of over-committing my family and myself. It stressed me out. It stressed them out. Plus all the things I committed us to were less fun because we were all worried about the next thing in the schedule. I learned that little word and it's been a freeing thing for us!
3) Kick Mom Guilt to the curb. We all have it. Whether you miss that field trip with the school and all other moms went or you're traveling two weeks in a row. Every mom is just doing the best she can for her kids with the hand she has been dealt. Would you think ill of your friend if she didn't send homemade valentines to school for her child's class? (I've been that mom. Read here) I didn't think so. Then why not extend that same grace to yourself. (easier said that done, I know!)
4) Make memories. Don't get so caught up in the chores and schedules that you don't have time to laugh and snuggle with your kids. They don't remember if the floors were mopped. But, I promise that they will laugh for months about the time you had a pillow fight and daddy accidentally ripped mommy's pillow case. (true story)
I hope ya'll enjoyed reading about my take on balancing everything. I am so grateful to Melissa for doing this series. I love reading about each one of ya'll and can't wait to put some of these tips and tricks I've learned so far into action!
If you want to read more of the chaos that happens in our house, you can keep up with us, at http://www.btwilli.blogspot.com/ or find me on instagram @bwilli5.