Because I never see it as “surviving” deployment. I either manage it well, or I mismanage it. Here are a few tips that I’ve found helps me to stay above ground when it comes to managing the long days with two kiddos.
- Follow a morning and evening routine. I take a half hour out of my day every morning for my chores. It’s the same routine: empty the dishwasher, vacuum the floors, straighten the bathrooms (make sure I wouldn’t be embarrassed to have a friend use it), and start a load of laundry. In the evening time, after the kids have gone to bed, I clean the kitchen (see #2) and fold any last laundry.
- Clean the kitchen sink. This could also go with no. 1 but it’s important, so it has it’s own number. Do you follow FlyLady? I used to a few years ago, and then I was overwhelmed with the huge amount of information so I took myself off her email list. But the one lesson I took away from her was every night, make your kitchen sink sparkle. Sounds a little over doing it right? But what I found was if I was at the point where I could make the kitchen sink shine, the rest of the kitchen was spotless. The counters were clean, dishwasher filled and started, and the sink was empty. I was ready to begin the next day with less burdens.
- Think tidy and not clean. I hate cleaning. I’d probably be perfectly happy living in a house that didn’t have much just because I’d have less to clean. I was thrilled to downsize from our previous 2300sq ft home to our more than adequate 1100sq ft townhouse. And I even wish it had one less bathroom. You may start re-evaluating the “things” in your home as well and as you begin to declutter, tidiness just happens and you gain back precious moments to spend with your littles. So I’m okay with a home that isn’t perfectly clean. But I follow a life that is less cluttered so it naturally falls into the “tidy” category without much effort.
- Commit to something. My mind is all over the place when it comes to deployment projects. When we lived in our old home, my projects were renovating bathrooms or home improvement related. This time around my head spins with possibilities …exercise more, apply myself to learning Japanese, knitting and crochet projects, etc. But what I really want to do is make myself a gift to remember Japan by. So I’m committing myself to learning how to quilt, with some beautiful Japanese fabrics. I’ll try to fit the rest in, but I can plug away on a quilt each night after the boys are asleep.
- Freeze some meals. I already cook 7 nights a week. By choice we very seldom eat out. So having a few mindless meals ready to go is so important to me. It keeps me from feeding my children Cheerios on days that I really have no energy to cook. Six Sisters’ Stuff has some of my favorite freezer meals.
- Create quiet moments for yourself. I know this sounds impossible with kids, but it’s not. Simplify your life and the quiet moments create themselves. What’s your time suck? Is it social media? Mounds of laundry? Moving piles of randomness from one location to another? Entertaining children? Is there a better way to handle your time suck? Right now I’m swimming in laundry. I have no idea where it came from. Maybe downsizing brought a huge problem to light in our home. We have way too many clothes. Rather the kids have way too many clothes. So I’m getting ready for a major purge and using the principle of simplicity to downsize the clothes that can’t seem to manage themselves in their closets.
- Keep the music playing. This really does work. Hubby subscribed to Pandora without commercials and I keep the music playing all day long when we are home. I find I have so much more patience for little boys when I’ve been singing along to music randomly throughout the day. Plus it helps to have a pleasant sound going into your head beyond the whining and fighting that might otherwise be happening around you. A few of my favorite stations are Alt Indie Love Songs Radio, Fun. Radio, Today’s Country Radio, Toddler Radio, Sleepytime Tunes, and when we are homeschooling we listen to Classical for Studying Radio. Pandora doesn’t seem to bleep out bad language though so be careful which songs are played when littles are around. Lesson learned: they are paying attention even when we think they aren’t.
What about you? Any secrets to help balance the day-to-day life while your spouse is deployed?