Life hacks? More like…not life hacks

This blog post brought to you by sick children and no sleep brain.

I subscribe to several newsletters and several of them are written by mothers of young children and they often talk about things that get to my soul.

In the past couple weeks as I’ve been starting new things in life and absolutely losing my grip on reality (okay, by reality, I mean dishes), these newsletters have been a source of comfort for me. I also don’t have time to do the things I want to do! I, too, have been neglecting laundry, forcing my husband to run through all the cycles until we end up with absolute mountains of unfolded laundry that need to hastily be folded and put away when we realize nobody has any underwear left.

Unfolded gray laundry sitting in light blue laundry hamper.
Think this but multiply it by five. (Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

Or, also as likely, to be folded and put into the correct hampers and then have those laundry hampers sit in your room for a week and you just pick the clean clothes you need out of the hamper as the pile of dirty clothes collects on the floor next to the hamper.

Yeah. I’m not much of a homemaker. Cluttered, disorganized living spaces are my bread and butter. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been absolutely abysmal at keeping my living spaces tidy. My desk at work? Immaculate. My family room? Please don’t look at it, you might go blind.

This problem has only compounded with having small children about. In the before children era of my life, I would just take a weekend to scrub the place down and try to pass myself off as a presentable adult. Now that my weekends are full of…well, kid stuff, I don’t have that option anymore. The only time you have available to vacuum is when the kids are taking naps or have gone to bed and that is not exactly the best time to get that chore done.

Add that to the fact that I’m desperately clinging to the parts of my life that make me feel like a complete adult human separate of having children (hello, blog!) and that causes everything to fall into even more disarray.

Sort of the state of having young kids, right?

NO. Get on the internet and figure out some life hacks, you lazy slob!

The key is motivation. The key is making a schedule. The key is being a magic fairy who can make both your kids sleep for 10 hour stretches uninterrupted. (If you possess this magic, please share.)

I have always liked exploring personal and professional development in the form of exercises and discussions and reading books, but earlier in this week I was in one that struck me in a weird way. The content of the training was great and the advice totally made sense and I thought there were actionable steps in there.

But not ones for me right now, I don’t think.

As the time came to an end, I wanted to ask if the trainer and if anyone else in the class had babies or once had babies and if they had any advice on how to wrangle the steps into being when you also shared a house with chaos.

I can set my running shoes out the night before and set the alarm early to get up and exercise. But what if I am up four times in the night? What if one of the kids wakes up before my early alarm even goes off? Where does the scale land when it comes to trying to balance getting enough sleep for the night and getting a two mile run in?

In the fall of 2019, a time so distant and beautiful I can scarcely remember it, I used to take the nights when it wasn’t my turn to put the toddler down and go to the gym, where I would run as many miles as I wanted to.

Now I never have a night off from bedtime because there are two of them and the baby still nurses and I don’t feel safe going to the gym so I can’t run after dark.

How do I life hack and schedule myself around that?

My husband is a swell dude. I could ask him to cover one night a week and try to go out and run at a more reasonable hour. Assuming it isn’t 90 plus degrees out that day. And then that’s only one run week. Not exactly a pinnacle of fitness over here.

I find this intersection of life approaches extremely interesting. In one corner is a bunch of tired moms (and dads) who are letting some things go just to get in a little relaxation or pursue one measly hobby. In the other is the promise of improvement if you just approach it from the right angle.

Is there a right angle? I don’t know!

Some people would argue that my giant pile of laundry and inability to sweep is not the right angle.

But surely neither is scheduling yourself into a corner so that you must run yourself ragged trying to get done all the things you want to get done.

Is the answer that there are simply no life hacks? That you can’t do all the things? Is that what prioritization is really about? Realizing that you have the pick the most important one and let the others fall to the side?

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have a storied history as a perfectionist who can’t let things go. So it’s hard to accept I can’t do everything I want. I just have to try a little harder, schedule it out a little better!

Or I maybe I accept the encroaching entropy and do the little part I can to push back against it. Without sweating so much about all the rest of it.

So I guess my life hack is…let go of the life hacks.

And don’t worry so much about the unfolded laundry.

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