Being organised (or at least trying to be) and having routine and plans is something I love to have in my life. It is both crucial when raising a family, and also something that is a huge part of my character for my personal sanity. I love to write “To do” lists, keep on top of things, have things written down, and have goals and some kind of structure in our day to day lives. I am a spontaneous person in many ways, but mostly I find comfort in having some kind of plan and structure. I feel there is a lot of stress and unnecessary chaos in family life where there are no real plans or routines!

Being a stay at home mum raising 3 kids, as well as being a blogger, a student at night school and the president of the girls youth organisation at school is a challenge, but is also very much my reality. Throw in trying to have date night with Nath, a social life, keeping track of extracurricular stuff and general life – it is no easy feat. And so I feel it is hugely important to be organised and keep some kind of balance for all of the demands of life, and to ensure self care.

For me, in order to do this I have in place things to keep organised and to keep some balance to my days. These include recording appointments and schedules in various places, and “My 3 job rule” to keep on top of the home without it becoming a complete drag or dominating pull!

How I Keep organised day to day 

I have had a lot of people observe to me that they find it interesting that I still write the majority of things we need to do with a good old pen and paper. It fascinates them that for someone that spends so much time online why I don’t use a digital calendar like google? The truth is that whilst I do record reminders on there, my brain seems to much prefer the act of writing things by hand, and seeing it all there to monitor and tick off. I don’t know why but I much prefer to write it all down, as oppose to type it!

I record things in 2 places – A family Calendar and a Diary!

A family calendar – For several years now we have had hung in our kitchen a family calendar where we have to hand all of the families appointments, classes, schedules and social events. It is useful fo Nathan and I when planning weekends and school holidays, and it is also good for us all to just be aware of what the coming week looks like for one another!

I love the flexibility of being able to look up and see at a glance what is planned that day and in the coming weeks!

A Diary – I love a Diary for my own personal goals, “to do” lists, notes and family stuff. I have tried numerous types of diaries, but my favourite has to be the one I have now that Nathan bought me from TKMaxx this Christmas. I love that each month is in sections, and each section has inspirational quotes and such an array of spaces to write lists, appointments, goals and birthdays (to name a few). I find my brain likes the layout of it, and how I keep things in order within it’s pages!

In my diary I pretty much copy everything off the family calendar (only this one is able to move around with me) and then add in all of the little things I do day to day; like food shopping, seeing friends. playgroups, cleaning, assignments, blogs etc. I used to love to bullet journal things like my goals, bucket lists, blog ideas, gratitude and blessings, and last year I did try a bullet journal for everything, but I found the creative style too much work, and it all hurt my brain not having it prewritten, so now I love the balance of my new diary with all of its little sections – most of which I would have previously written into bullet journal format, but it is already there!

A new addition to my life, and something I really love for an organised life and journaling, are the new filofax notebooks – again they have the option to be divided into sections, some with pockets to keep letters/bills/leaflets in, and the mix of lined/squared/plain paper, as well as the option to add extra sheets in to, make it the perfect option for bullet journaling or as a general family organiser. It is a good space to brainstorm ideas, make plans, set goals (with more plans), and keep lists of all sorts from all areas of life!

The leather look cover and bright colour options feel lovely, and it is a really useful and versatile piece of stationary for anyone looking for a more free way to keep track of (and organise) various areas of life!

My 3 Job Rule (for Balance and Sanity)

I love the saying “all work and no play makes ______ a dull boy/girl”! And so whilst I am one who enjoys routines and structure, there is an element to me that loves and craves some adventure and spontaneity. I suppose keeping a diary and track of everything, creating routine etc gives balance to my life and helps me to enjoy and be on top of the day to day demands, whilst still making space in my weeks to have fun and live life!

When Ethan was a baby however, things became very out of sync and I developed a very unhealthy cleaning obsession which included unrealistic expectations on myself to have a very orderly home all of the time. I don’t know how it got to that point, I suppose I saw it as being a sign to the outside world that I was coping well if my home was tidy when I had a new baby. But, reality was that after several months it was one of the tell tale signs that I had PND, and I soon realised (at breaking point and since) that motherhood wasn’t about having a clean and tidy home all of the time, but living life with my kids. Yes part of motherhood is creating a clean and safe environment, but it is also the responsibility of parents – not just me, and that it was unrealistic to expect it to be so. In time I began to enjoy being a mother more and have since been able to get more of a balance by living my 3 job rule mantra!

As our family has grown, so has the food bill, laundry pile, and the lack of order – I quickly realised in all of this that my days could quite easily be spent going round in circles and being dominated by the demands of a family home. Hours could be spent cleaning, Ironing, doing laundry, loading and unloading the dishwasher, cooking and hoovering. I knew that whilst I was a stay at home mum, this isn’t what I wanted all my days looking like. Yes I wanted to care for my family and keep our home in order, but this wasn’t just my sole responsibility – I am a mother, not a cleaner! And so early on, when Ethan and Megan were young and both at home full time, I realised I couldn’t do it all everyday, and nor did I want to. So, to help my mind and mental well being, and to be a more present mum, I Introduced for myself “the 3 job rule”!

The idea is that each day (except for Mondays which has become my cleaning the house day after the weekend and is more intense) I do just 3 jobs in the house – only 3, and then I go and do other things I need to do or want to do. The jobs are things that can be done quite quickly whilst the kids get dressed or for 20 – 30 mins after the school run, but they help me keep on top of the home! I do my 3 jobs, and then we might go out with friends, or on adventures somewhere. We might go to local groups, or swimming, or to the park…for a walk out, or simply snuggle and watch a movie. I do all of these things without the mum guilt or worry that there is loads to be done at home, because I know I already did the 3 most pressing jobs that morning and that is enough!

For me I always want to make sure they are done in the morning so that the day can be ours. I don’t particularly enjoy coming back to a messy house when we have dinner to make/eat, and other things to do, and so daily (often before or right after the school run) I always  1. Clean the Kitchen  2. Put on a load of laundry and then 3. (which is more flexible) usually clean the lounge. But Sometimes it might be to put the dinner on if it can be in the slow cooker, or it will be a quick hoover round, or maybe some ironing, or folding laundry.

Having the 3 job rule ensures the house stays in order and is clean, without dominating my day. It means I have a sense of achievement each day because my home is in a decent state, and I have done several things before leaving the house. But ultimately it means that I am more than a cleaner of our home! I keep my home clean yes, but within half an hour, meaning I have time with my kids and a social life with other mums and family. I means I have time to do things for me as well as my family, and I love it.

Organization and routine are very important to me, and I love the feeling of being in control of my day’s and making good use of time each day. Now that there is just Alice and I during the day, we tend to stay fairly local for school runs, and so that when she naps I can then blog or do college assignments. On an evening Nathan and the kids usually help tidy up from dinner, and Nathan always takes care of the bins!!! I love this balance as each day I can shut the door and go out with the kids to school and not stress, knowing I have accomplished something in my home and keeping on top of what needs doing without being dragged down by it all! I like that when we come home the downstairs is almost always clean and tidy, and for me it is a real sense of accomplishment to be able to balance everything I am and do.

It is so good for my mental well being and soul to have some structure, time out of the home most days, and just time with my kids to be mummy and go places and do things! I find that keeping a diary/notebook to track my goals, plans and schedules, as well as setting little daily goals in the home, all help me to accomplish this huge goal to raise a family (with all that that entails) and have some personal development and goals too. Whilst some days are a complete write off, most days are good and I flop into bed knowing I have used my time well and done my best!

*I received the Filofax notebook recently as a gift from them, and so wanted to share with you how lovely it was!

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I have loved this week – Yes really and truly! We have had adventures in the snow, seen the Greatest showman singalong with the kids, and I even managed to have a complete restyle!

I was hoping to write about how amazing it was for me to have an afternoon of pampering and “Me Time”, but it wasn’t that at all. Instead I had all 3 kids with me (bribed with snacks and the Ipad/Netflix) as it was a snow day for their school. They were absolutely super (thankfully) and we had a good day together with snow and chats!

Grateful for 

This week I am grateful for baby carriers! On Wednesday with the amount of snow, it was a lifesaver to be able to just shove Alice on my back, and with wellies on, trek to school with the kids. She possibly screamed her head off for half of the journey, and started bashing me on the back too, but I am thankful all the same to have gotten to and from school so easily in thick snow!

I am also grateful for having had some time for me! Whilst the whole “go and get my hair done” didn’t quite go as planned, Saturday evening did, and I had the best time with Nathan’s cousin at the cinema singing and dancing along to “The Greatest Showman”! I am grateful to have finally discovered it, because I love it so much and Saturday was such a laugh, and good for my soul!

Succeeded at

This week I have succeeded at getting my hair done with 3 kids in tow…on foot and through the snow. I have been successful at taking them all to the Cinema on Monday night to meet Nathan for a family night treat, and I have been successful in surviving the madness of the snow we’ve had!

I have successfully prevented arguments with Ethan and Megs on their Snow day from school by buying a sledge! He spent all day pulling her around and they were laughing, playing and making up all sorts of situations from the Queen is coming, to Santa and his reindeer! It was so lovely to be a part of, and well worth the £6.99 we paid! If only every day was so imaginative and pleasant!

Found Beauty In

The greatest showman – Its such a beautiful film with so many beautiful messages, and I love how good it makes you feel. We of course now own the soundtrack, and the songs make me feel so Joyful! I love seeing us all singing and dancing together to them in our home!

Freshly Fallen Snow – this one is going to be talked a lot on the blog I think, because it’s been such a treat to have so much snow. I have loved seeing the kids having so much fun because of it and sat in the house and watching it all come down. I have loved crunching through it in my wellies and seeing the fields and village covered in thick white snow. It is all so beautiful!

We have had lot of lovely snowy walks this week in our Winter wonderland and I have felt so happy looking at it and living in the moment!

#MyHeartyLife Rules

You can link up one post a week that fits into either (or all) of the “Prompts”, and I ask that you at least comment on mine and one or 2 others too. Kindness costs nothing and a comment on your blog feels amaze!

The Linky opens on a Friday morning and closes Wednesday late evening! Please use the #MyHeartyLife on Social media whenever you share anything applicable to it, and to share the goodness and cheerful moments in your life that day! It might also help when summing up the week into a blog post to link up! Thank you xx

 

The Hearty Life


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When I was younger I had dreams! Big dreams (and I still do). I wanted to be a teacher, a Lawyer, a medic, or something in the RAF (to name a few), and I swapped and changed each new term at school with ideas of what I one day might become “When I grow up”. But ultimately I always knew (and was firm in the dream of knowing) that one day I wanted to get married and have a family. I wanted to be a Mother.

I have said several times, and those who know me know, that I dreamed of being the mum in the “mini van” with at least 6 kids. I dreamed of having a big family and I guess that that immediately meant that I dreamed of being at home and raising that family. But with that dream I never imagined (not that I could have) what it would feel like to postpone other opportunities to make that dream my reality. I never realised how much I would need to change in myself and learn to be the mother I had seen in my future. I never realised how relentless, trying and intense the role of mother would be for me, or even how hard it would be to get all of those little ones I had imagined raising. I never thought I would face child loss or even feel on some days no value in what I was doing! I hoped I would be a mother to many, but underestimated what that meant to me!

Being a SAHM

 I am a mother to 4 children and at 33 I still kinda want a couple more even though it’s nuts! We started our family within a few months of being married (because that’s what felt right for us), and just less than 12 months before our first Anniversary (3 days before to be exact) Ethan was born, and I was a mother!

Being a first time mum I felt incredibly overwhelmed and rarely good enough at what I was doing, I adored him, and did my best, but It seemed to magnify my low self esteem and short comings! Having an emergency C-section, breastfeeding issues and then PND probably didn’t help any of this, but despite these initial struggles, in time (and with some therapy) I grew in confidence and 20 months later we had Megan! 19 Months later I was cooking little Poppy, who was then sadly diagnosed with CHD and Edwards syndrome, and subsequently still born at term. Grief plagued us all, and I was grateful to be able to be at home… whilst it was hard having 2 little ones and such a massive loss, and messy life, there was never any pressure for me to have to return to work. In time the fog lifted and we returned to a new normal – I was more broken and bruised but I was mostly fun mum again. Our family growth was halted for a while, but with time (22 Months after her passing) we welcomed Baby Alice.

7 Years on from becoming a mum and choosing to stay at home, I find my life to be a complete and utter mix bag of emotions. Some days I relish in all I do and feel so happy to have these days of freedom over my time, days to watch them grow and enjoy raising them. Days where I can pretty much insert whatever takes our fancy and go on adventures, play, read, and learn together. I enjoy being with my kids very much and catching every milestone and emotion of theirs has been a huge blessing. I love to see their excitement at the school gates every day I am there to collect them. I love our adventures and the opportunities to see friends and family, and I love to play, build dens and forts, make things, watch films and snuggle…yes on some days I look at our life and think I am truly 100% living the dream. I am so happy to be a stay at home mum that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else doing anything else. This is my life and its great.

But then there are the days when I feel no fulfilment in at all. I look at my life or I am asked what I do and all I can answer is “I am JUST a mum” and feel a little unsuccessful in my life. Perhaps it’s because our society doesn’t value motherhood and bigger families so much these days. Perhaps it’s because I lack in confidence to own what I do and be okay with it, but either way, it’s on these days that I question if I am good enough!

There are days that are emotional for me – I am so pushed to my limit and often plagued with tiredness or grief that I feel like I can’t possibly be doing any good! These are the days that aren’t fun and games, or filled with adventures. They are days I don’t get dressed or am unable to do a whole lot in our home. These are the days of real life – the ones that seem to be so mundane, a little lonely and completely exhausting and relentless. They are the days that I wish I had more in life to my name and under my belt than just the label of motherhood. It’s those days, when I’ve lost my temper, when my house is in chaos, when the kids do my head in and I cry or feel like I am not enough, I look at myself and feel like I am failing as Mother and therefore at life. This is my life, so If I aren’t doing well at it, what else is there? It leads me to wonder if I am missing out on who I might have been if I hadn’t have given up on other pursuits, and simply put I forget who I am and what great joy and fulfilment there is in being a stay at home mum. I fail to see the positives and greatness because of a negative day, thought or defeating moment!

But the truth is (and what I am working on believing more deeply within myself) is that I am in fact right where I am meant to be. I am living the dream I dreamed, and I am a huge success! I hold them in my arms, have those sticky kisses and watch them play or see them trying to master new skills… I look upon their precious little faces and see how blessed I am. I remember that though this job/role/life plan at times takes it’s toll, and just because I find it a challenge and struggle some days, it doesn’t disregard all of the days we laugh, sing, dance and smile together. It doesn’t erase the days I am winning and feel like greatness for giving them life and helping them live it! And just because there are no qualifications and recognition attached to it, it certainly doesn’t mean I haven’t found success in my life. Far from it, I have grown 4 humans, I am raising the next generation, and I assure you – that is no small job!

I keep a (fairly) clean home and feed them – yes sometimes that’s from Subway, or McDonalds, but mostly its well planned, healthy, homemade food I buy, prepare and cook myself, and I love that! I play with them, and we go on lots of adventures. I read to and with them and we travel off to far away places in our imaginations. I comfort them when they are sad, correct them when they make a mistake, and teach them about the world around them. I help them problem solve, be confident and to believe in God. I teach them forgiveness, love and about being kind. I teach them to pray, to have goals, to be helpful, and I keep them clean and safe. I sing to them (even though they don’t always appreciate it) and I laugh with them daily.

I am a stay at home mum, and they are my life – my daily work, my challenges and ultimately my source of joy and success!

 

The choice to stay at Home

Choosing to stay at home isn’t any easy choice! Some days it is because I really do love it, but then some days it isn’t at all. I know for some that this isn’t even an option, and whilst for us this has meant great sacrifice, and some days I feel undervalued, I could never regret the choice to be at home and mother my kids full time. This post isn’t about me boasting of this privilege, and saying look at what I do, because some days (with finances and kids behaviours) it feels far from anything to be proud of, rather I guess I wanted to share with you the battles I feel within myself being a stay at home mum, and my journey of placing value on what I do, and how I survive get through each day.

I am often way too tough on myself and expect so much. I am an ambitious, passionate and imaginative person, which is brilliant as I always have goals and ideas, but these ideas and goals often lead to me feeling like I always want to be more and never feeling enough in the here and now. There are days when “Mary” is swallowed up in “mummy” and I cannot see a life outside of Nappies, laundry piles, dishes, and whining kids. It’s only since losing Poppy, and gaining Alice, that I have seen a huge need for self care. Its recognising that I need to have ambition and hobbies still to be a better, more balanced mother, but also it has taught me that I need to relax more and not put so much pressure on myself – just do my best in any given moment.

Nathan and I never sat down when we started our family and officially said “You will work, and I will stay home”! But these are the traditional roles we have fallen into. Not by accident, as we were both raised LDS this is something that we both saw and felt was important. Like I say it has required a heck of a lot of sacrifice, and it has meant that on some days I feel a little less than fulfilled, we have less money, but it works and I (mostly) love our life together.

I sometimes ask “Why continue to stay at home, if you find it so hard”, and ultimately it comes down to the fact that I feel I am doing the right thing by being at home with my kids full time and I mostly do love it. I feel no-one can replace “Mummy” and I am what my children need! It’s always been my dream to do this, and sometimes yes sometimes I need a good slap and reminding of that, but It’s okay that I find it hard, or feel inadequate – that’s life. And just because there are those hard “pull your hair out” days and seasons where I feel far from joyous about what I am doing, I choose each day to try again to be a better mother. I make the choice to stay at home and be there for them, and raise them the very best I can in a very troubled world!

We are almost done (in Nathan’s opinion “done” ) having our family, and I can now see that there is so much life ahead for me after kids. It’s strange because whilst I have a million things I want to do that will all make me feel a more accomplished and successful individual (and the stuff I have felt over the years I possibly missed out on), none are at the moment as great as raising our family. I wish on some days I had more self confidence to be content as a Stay at home mum, to always see the good and know I am in the right place and doing well in my life, but despite the negative, strenuous days of doubt, deep down I know that these are my little treasures and I am not “Just” a mum, but I am their mum and doing a great work.

It’s a work that’s incredibly hard and I rely on Nathan, friends, family and ultimately God to help me do a good job of it. I pray every morning for the strength and ability to get through the day, to enjoy it and be what they need. And whilst some day’s I lose my temper, or I cry about being a rubbish mum…. whilst I whine about how tired I always am and how stretched I feel, whilst I at times want more and to be be more and can’t possibly be succeeding in my life, I do my best time and time again and I realise now that that makes me (and all of us mummy’s) great and successful in what we are doing!

Motherhood isn’t what I imagined, it’s far more, and makes me far more than any other job would!

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Yesterday morning I took Alice across to soft play in our neighbouring village and whilst super freezing cold, the sun was shining and it felt so good to get out after a week of being indoors resting from a heavy cold and feeling blah!

Our whole week has literally been spent at home, playing, resting and doing very little as I have felt unwell and just like my brain and body needed a break from everything normal! I of course did the school runs, made dinners and kept the home half decent, but I have just really felt ill and needed a break!

Aside from a few remains of a mega coldsore, I am doing well now.

Grateful for

I haven’t really cared much for January. Perhaps it’s the good ol “January Blues”, but either way I am so grateful to see the end of it and welcome a new month. I am grateful to see that the nights are getting a little bit lighter week on week and that we are having slightly warmer days here and there with some sunshine too! It makes me hopeful that Spring won’t be too far away and that is exciting that the world will soon come alive again.

I am most grateful thought this week that Nath and I took the plunge and booked a holiday to America in March! I might be chatting about this for the next few weeks, so sorry if it bores you, but I am just so so excited and thankful to be able to go back and see treasured places and friends in a few weeks. I am looking forward to the kids first experience of American life!

Succeeded at

My biggest success this week was baking a great cake for a get together with our neighbours on Saturday. I’ve never been the best of bakers and it was so fantastic to see how well it all came together and how nice it tasted too. It made me feel good and has really built my confidence to bake a little more here and there.

I also succeeded at getting Ethan to clean his room! Get out the trumpets and party poppers because this is the ultimate victory. We completely blitzed it and cleaned every inch! He is by far my messiest child and a real hoarder too, so I feel it the ultimate mum win this week to see his room so neat and clutter free and it makes me so calm!

Found Beauty in

Walking over to soft play always looks lovely as it’s a nice country walk, and yesterday didn’t fail to disappoint. After dropping the kids at school I decided to walk a different way and with the sun shining on the little village church, it just looked so beautiful – I had to stop and take a picture.

Blue skies, Winter sun and the historic stone of the church with its green church yard was possibly the biggest beauty of the week and I always feel so happy to live in such a charming place.

I think that Alice was so relieved to finally get out yesterday and be in a normal routine again (cabin fever comes to mind) and it was nice to have some fresh air and a good walk and talks with other mums and the childminding crew, (even if we did get caught in icy showers on the way home!). I say it all the time, but I love that all this is right on our doorstep now.

#MyHeartyLife Rules

You can link up one post a week that fits into either or all of the “Prompts”, and I ask that you at least comment on mine and one or 2 others too. Kindness costs nothing and a comment on your blog feels amaze!

Please use the #MyHeartyLife on Social media whenever to share the goodness and cheerful moments in your life that day! It might also help when summing up the week into a blog post to link up!

 

The Hearty Life

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