Mama musings: What to do when life suddenly becomes complicated

Photo by Heather Kleber Photography

Well folks, here we are on the official first day of fall. Here in the South the weather has yet to catch up to the calendar (our highs are still averaging in the high 80s), but those lazy days of summer are a thing of the past and we are barreling straight into our fall schedule. In all honesty I was not at all prepared for the faster pace of life this school year has brought. I kind of feel like I’m riding my old one-speed two-wheeler down a hill. The descent was gradual so I didn’t notice at first that I was picking up speed, but now I’m swooping down so fast I’m afraid one little bump in the road will send me crashing into the ditch, and I’m still trying to figure out how to apply the breaks.

The ironic thing is I was so intentional about how I filled my schedule. I thought carefully about each activity before I said yes, and every single thing fits under our family’s priority list. I limited commitments to two per day, and many days it’s only one. Yet I still feel like I’ve been hit by a series of waves and I’m struggling to keep my head above water, let alone find my footing.

I should probably attribute a large part of my off balance to the two major transitions that our family has gone through in the past month. In the middle of August I sent my oldest off to kindergarten. I knew this would be a major cause for upheaval, and I was right, although it’s actually gone smoother than I could have hoped for. We are adjusting to an earlier schedule, since we need to leave for drop-off an hour and a half earlier than we did for preschool. My daughter is struggling a bit with her shorter playtime and earlier bedtime. “I wish everyday was the weekend!” she wailed to me one night when I  came in to tell her to get her pjs on. But we are getting there. She does love school and is making friends. I’m in her classroom every other week and have had lunch with her once so far, so that helps too. Tessa misses her big sis like crazy, and is so thrilled when she gets home every day. They are even learning to play better together, I think because they have so much more time apart, which makes our afternoons so much more pleasant.

Photo by Heather Kleber Photography

The other transition we have finally completed is our move to our new home! We closed the Thursday before Labor Day, then had the long weekend to get everything moved over before we closed on our old house the following Thursday. I was unfortunately battling a cold that week (acquired from Charlotte after her first full week of school), but praise God it didn’t turn into a sinus infection and no one else got it. We hired movers for the furniture (something I HIGHLY recommend, it was worth every penny) but moved all the boxes and small stuff ourselves. I used a simple labeling and color-coding system (of course I did) to make sure all the important boxes were moved into the right rooms, and we stacked all the non-essential boxes in our garage bump-out. I’m slowly whittling that pile down as I think of something I’m missing, but whatever is left out there after a few months is getting carted off to the thrift store. 🙂 Most everything inside is unpacked. The girls’ rooms and our kitchen are completely set up, and I’m slowly adding decorations. I’m hoping to work on hanging my gallery wall after I finish this post. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m planning to give you a brief home tour with photos in my next post, so be looking for that. 🙂

In addition to these two huge changes all our normal fall commitments have started up again, and I think it was the combination of everything that really pushed me over the edge. I honestly thought I would have more margin in my day with Charlotte gone at school, but the reverse is true. Yes she’s no longer with me, but I have to adhere to a strict drop-off and pick-up schedule (although carpooling with a friend is helping with that). I was also completely unprepared for the avalanche of papers, forms, and assignments that comes pouring in with every Tuesday folder. Nothing is very intense or time-consuming, but between remembering what she supposed to wear for spirit week, scheduling a conference time, sending in snack day money, and deciding whether to order school pictures, kindergarten has taken way more of my brain capacity than I have to spare!

photo by Heather Kleber Photography

So yeah, I’m struggling. Though according to every other kindergarten parent I’ve talked to I’m definitely not alone. What is so frustrating to me is that I really try to be intentional about living a simple, slow life, but I honestly can’t figure out anything I can eliminate right now. I think I just need to accept that our pace of life is faster than we’ve ever experienced, and find creative ways to expand and take advantage of the margin in my every day moments. Here is a brief list of the ideas I’ve had so far:

1. Slow Mondays 

Miraculously I don’t have any standing commitments on Mondays (besides school), and I intend to keep it that way. I’ve been using this day to do laundry and clean house, but I also intend to make myself sit down and read a book!

2. Limit social media

I’ve talked before about how I dealt with my Facebook addiction by deleting the app from my phone, but I decided I really need to reduce the time I spend on Instagram and even reading blog posts too. My free time is so reduced and my attention so scattered as it is, I don’t need FOMO and my struggles with comparison adding to my stress. This is a personal struggle that you may not relate too, but it’s real for me and I have to handle it better than I have been.

3. Say No

Ok, so I kind of got myself into this mess by forgetting this rule in the first place, and now I’m not willing to back out of anything I’ve already committed to. But that doesn’t mean I should continue to say yes! I need to reevaluate my decision making process and be more realistic about how much time and mental space I actually have from one day to the next. I have Lysa TerKeurst’s book The Best Yes on my Kindle and I can’t wait to dive into it. I’m hoping it will give me some practical guidelines that I definitely need as I enter this new season of having an elementary student!

Well, that was a rather lengthy update and roundabout explanation for why I have been so silent on the blog for the past few weeks. I thought about giving it up entirely, but I just can’t bring myself to do it! I may not be posting as often, but I will still be sharing my stories, deep (or shallow) thoughts on simple living and motherhood, and my best book recommendations. 🙂 If you made it to the end of this post good for you! 😉 I would love to hear your advice for how you keep life as simple as possible, especially when your schedule is anything but! And if you are struggling with the same issue, solidarity sister!

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