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June 24, 2014

My Heart for Moms

 Just over a year ago, I shared a post that included a few encouraging books that I had recently read. One of those books was "Desperate" by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson
After finishing the book, I published this confession and a follow-up~


Needless to say, I have a passion to encourage other moms!

Before having children of my own, I understood how to care for the physical needs of children. When I was still a child myself, I was babysitting. I walked beside many friends as they started they families. I had been an elementary school teacher. Little ones were not scary to me. The big surprise? ME! I was not prepared for what motherhood would mean for me...

From Classroom Teacher to Full-Time Mom

A Recent Letter I wrote to You, My Readers, Explaining "Why I Blog":

Dear Reader,
It was a few years ago - as a first-time mom - when I started reading/following blogs. Middle-of-the-night feedings were torture for me unless I had something to DO while my little one nursed. So, I started Googling various issues that I thought I [or my new baby] had. This kind of "research" only lead me to feel even more frustration and worry than I was already facing in my new role as mommy. I very quickly realized that I needed to replace my reading material with something more encouraging, and that is when I discovered this incredible on-line community. In the middle of night - when it felt like everyone in the world was asleep except for me - It was then that I was encouraged, inspired, challenged, and empowered by so many different writers who had taken the time to share [openly and honestly] about their life.

When my oldest was about four months old, I created this space as a way to communicate [in addition to Face.book] with our out-of-town friends and family. Since that time, this particular spot on the world wide web has grown into something even more. It has become a place where I communicate [and hopefully encourage] those who come into my path. I would love to think that - somewhere - there is a new mommy up with her newborn for the 15th time - feeling encouraged by something she is reading on this blog. I would like to think that there is a discouraged friend being refueled with hope as a result of visiting this page. I would be honored to know that there is tired and frustrated sister in Christ who spotted an idea on "All Kinds of Things" that may help make her days feel just a tad smoother. These are the reasons I write, dear friends. This is my way of saying "thank you" to the countless others in the world of blogging who have encouraged me on the days when I needed it most.

When I think about my favorites blogs, they are not the ones that solely focus on fashion or cooking or decorating...they are the ones that pull from all different areas of life...faith, marriage, motherhood, friendship, homemaking, frugality, everything under the sun. From this idea is how "All Kinds of Things" was born.

From recipes and DIY projects to organizational tips and thoughts on faith and parenting, my prayer is that "All Kinds of Things" will encourage you to live well in your day-to-day journey. Can blogging be a ministry? I wholeheartedly believe it can be, and my prayer is that each time you visit me in this forum, you will walk away blessed.

With Much Love,
Elizabeth

Sweet Mama, I know that the world thinks you are spending your day sipping [hot] coffee and watching reality television shows while your children play quietly at your feet, but I know what your day really looks like. Others think you are living a very privileged existence, and while being a mother is absolutely an incredible blessing, I understand that many of you are making great sacrifices. I realize that you rarely get time to yourself, and I can relate to the fact that the demands on you now are much greater than those you faced in any career you may have left.
You do not have to defend yourself to me...I understand.

I Choose Motherhood.

Let me first describe my specific situation. I am a stay-at-home mom to two little boys I have a husband who - while he is an incredibly devoted father who is 110% dedicated to our family - oftentimes works long hours. Our relatives do not live near us; Therefore, we do not have built-in help. Most of the time, it's just me - 100% me - facing the day alone with little ones. If you have walked in these shoes, you understand.
My Heart for Moms
To further complicate the situation, there's my personality: I am extremely task-oriented. I find myself getting frustrated when I go an extended period of time without having a chance to organize, create, complete projects, etc. Can you relate?

I'm sure you've heard well-meaning people say things like "Don't worry about the laundry and dishes. Your children are only little once. The laundry and dishes can wait." "Wait until when??" I ask. My personality screams: The laundry and dishes need to be done. Healthy meals need to be prepared. Toilets need to be cleaned.

For a long time, I dealt with guilt over feeling so torn between playing with my children and doing my chores. No matter which I chose, I felt guilty. I finally came to a place where I realized that I can.not.change my personality, but I can make some adjustments that will provide me the time I so desperately crave.

Let me stop here and clarify:
I am not interested in a perfect house that will pass a white glove test - My frustration simply comes when basic chores are not completed. I feel that my family's quality of life is better when the toilets are wiped down every once in awhile and they have clean clothes to wear.

Moving on...after a lot of prayer and thought, the following brainstorms have become a reality.  I hope that by sharing these ideas, you might see something [or think of another approach] that will fit you...your personality...your family's situation. Everyone's situation is different, so what works in our house may not work for you - and that's okay - but I challenge you to take a step back and get creative.

Here are a few ideas that have worked great for us!
Moms

Mommy's Helper - Find a responsible young girl who can come to your house for a couple of hours each week or every other week. This may be a girl who is new to babysitting...not yet of driving age...but one who really enjoys playing with little ones. She can play with your kiddos while you complete tasks around the house. Here are some of the things I have been able to do when my "Mommy's Helpers" have come:
Put away laundry.
Clean up the aftermath of breakfast/lunch in the kitchen.
Work on freezer meals.
Price consignment sale items. 
Organize closets.
Clean bathrooms.
Clean floors. & Wipe down baseboards.
Take a nap.
Just kidding about the nap...However, if you are a mom of a newborn - or teenagers - you may seriously benefit from this. *smile*

Grocery Delivery - I have recently discovered a grocery delivery service that does not charge a delivery fee nor are tips accepted. While I realize something like this is not available everywhere, you may want to check your local listings just in case! You may be surprised! The best part for me: No getting the kids ready to go...No dealing with car seats...No driving to the grocery store...No dealing with car seats...No worrying about Caleb's potty routine and Isaac's eating schedule...and No dealing with car seats.

Dry Cleaning - Let me start by saying that we do not do this every week. I keep an eye out for local coupons, Groupon deals, etc. and when I find them, I have hubby's work clothes dry-cleaned. On a regular basis - without money-saving deals - this is not a cost effective option for us, but when I can work a deal, it makes perfect sense, and I can not tell you how very, very helpful it is. It lightens my laundry load tremendously. It saves David tons of time. We love when we find a deal on this service (or any other service like car detailing, etc.)!

Cleaning Swap - Find a reliable friend [preferably one with children] who can come to your house and oversee a play date for the kiddos while you clean, and then return the favor for her. I am currently doing this on a weekly basis. One morning each week, a friend of mine comes over and the kids play together while I clean, and then the following week, I take my boys to here house to play with her little one while she cleans. We have been doing this for awhile now, and it works out great! We give each other two full hours - During those two hours, there is no chit-chat! We clean, clean, clean, clean, clean until the time is up, and then we like to gab, of course. :-)

Cleaning Service - As I mentioned above, a cleaning swap is a great idea...and totally free, but hiring a cleaning service is also a great idea - and actually not as expensive as some might think. A full-time mom hiring a cleaning service? Uh, yes! On an as-needed basic, we unashamedly use a cleaning service. Ladies, if you are able to set aside a little extra money to make this happen, don't you dare feel a bit guilty about doing some delegating - In this stage of life, it has been a great, great option for our family! We found a great option for our vehicles as well!

Swap with Hubby - David and I completely understand that each of us needs time [alone] for completing projects/doing activities that we enjoy, etc. David likes to do these things during weekend nap times. This works great for us! He has strongly encouraged me to take time for myself in the evenings - when he gets home. However, all parents know that oftentimes the real work begins after the kids go to bed. It is during that time when we attack projects around the house, etc. - all when we would rather collapse on the couch and watch tv. Sooooo, needless to say, I do not always take this time, but when I do, I am always glad that I did.

Babysitting Swap - Find a trustworthy friend [preferably one with children] who can oversee a play date for the kiddos while you take care of any errands, etc. that you need to do and then return the favor for her. A friend of mine and I have been doing this since our boys were itty bitty, and it is been such a great situation. This time can be used for anything and everything - doctor's appointments, Christmas shopping, homeschool lesson planning, anything.
The best thing about the swaps is that everybody wins! The moms get lots done! The kids have fun playing! The pocketbook isn't touched - It's free!! I have also heard of these ideas being carried out in group form. Unless everyone is super organized, I could see things getting a tad complicated, but I have no doubt that it could definitely work (with the right mix of people, of course).

These ideas have been incredibly helpful to me! They provide me with some time to take care of the things I need to do - but more importantly, they have given me the freedom to feel completely engaged with my children when I am with them...because I am not worrying about the laundry or the dishes.

Maybe - if for whatever reason(s) - these ideas would not work for you, I hope that they have at least sparked some thoughts in your mind as to how you can get creative in managing your home.

Interested in more practical tips?

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