Friday, February 18, 2011

the essential hour

i find i am continually obsessing over the "how-to's" of home life. it just doesn't come completely naturally to me. i mean, loving it comes naturally...but the execution isn't always easy for me. i was and am, at heart, an absolute disorganized mess. after i got married i found a little seed growing in me that yearned for order. but it still wasn't in me. three kids and a whole entire house+yard later i find that seed has grown into a forest and yet it still is not second nature for me to be organized and tidy. and so i obsess about how to do it, how to execute the day and my duties thoroughly.

and yet sometimes i really envy moms that can just let it go. they appear to not carry around the burden of disorder. their homes are happily messy and it seems lovely to live with such a care free attitude. but for me, feeling behind or feeling the weight of all my to-do's just gets me down. i don't feel "free" in my home or around my kids. i feel trapped and i feel like i am doing a crappy job. i am sure a lot of this is due in part to fault... and i want to change those things in me... the ability to really live in the moment and let things go till another day. but i also find that my kids and i are all in a better space mentally and emotionally if there is order in our home and in our day. i think they need that and i want to give it to them.
but it is hard.

and then kirby came along with this harebrained idea to wake up super early every morning to get a jump start on his day (super early for us= 6ish) i grumbled in my head about this very unpleasant concept and told kirby to go for it. and he did. and that meant mary started getting up early, too...which meant that i had to start getting up early... which meant the day started early and let me tell you- it is magic!

the hour between 7 and 8 is what i am now deeming the essential hour for my home. what used to be spent sluggishly getting out of bed and sitting down with coffee is now spent getting to all that "stuff" that begs us of our time everyday. and i am, for the most part, feeling great.

this morning he girls were fed, dressed and playing with play-dough at 7:30, my once marathon laundry days are now laundry mornings... first load in around 6:45 and, if i am really on top of it, last load folded by lunchtime. we have even gone to morning mass once a week for the past three weeks. this is a huge accomplishment for me, who was used to rolling out of bed around the time mass starts. and do not get me wrong... this is not a bragging sesh this is me being amazed at what an early start on the day can do for my family. it is me starting to conquer, in small ways, a very lazy me.

and best off all... i feel present. my mind feels free(er) of worry about what i need to accomplish, and that essential hour seems to magically stretch out my day. we are spending more time in no-rush mental space and i am spending less time hurried, frustrated or feeling down.

but the challenge is a challenge of wills, which i have yet to master. because my disorganized self is closely tied to my "i want to sleep in" self. and that means no mornings are fun, ever. i never like getting out of bed. but i am learning to love what happens when i get out of bed and start the day.

so, here is my advice for you if you share some of these conflicts of personality and vocation as home-lady:
1. try to experience your essential hour, everyday. and plow through your chores while you can... you may not have the time/energy/willpower to do them later.

2. make some simple goals for yourself (big goals seems to hardly ever work for me... too intimidating, i suppose) i have nighttime and morning goals. at night i just make sure three simple things are done- table cleared and cleaned, sink emptied, floor swept. mornings call for beds made, breakfast dishes done, people dressed. i know getting dressed seems pretty basic, but i am totally that lady that could stay in her jam's all day and let my kids run around in 12 hour saggy diapers.

3. meal plan before your shopping trip and spend less time agonizing over dinner. i try to have 2 meals that can be pushed until the following week if dinner plans change.

have some future goals, too.... things i eventually would love to accomplish are waking early enough to get ready, have coffee and read a bit all by myself (maybe 5-6 is my new essential hour... terrifying) and sticking to a daily assignment of deep cleaning (i have made a bazillion "schedules" for myself and it seems the only thing i stick to are the laundry days. the bathroom usually gets scrubbed when friends are coming over for dinner.) mass more than once a week. less time on the computer or phone during the day. more frequent showers, etc.

also, have been trying to recognize my victories. it is easy for me just see what needs to be done and ignore what has been done.
six months ago i hardly ever got laundry done before dinner time and the sink was never clear of dishes. the other night i was scrubbing a caked on grill pan and i thought to myself, "hey, remember when you would let your pans "soak" for 2 days because you were avoiding scrubbing them? gross!". small victories, my friends. small victories.

you should find your victories, too. it is a sink free of toothpaste globs? is it a bed made? is it a child with her hair brushed (this is not a victory of mine...)? right now i am celebrating those simple victories and making plans for new ones.

i recognize that i might sound a bit crazy about all of this but i don't care. beds made and dishes done, for me, are a big deal. seriously.

and thank you, husband, for your ridiculous wake-up plans... you are changing our home for the much, much better.

here is john, longing seeing kirby off to work... still in his jammies and, probably, a very wet diaper.


  1. Awesome. I had the thought a while ago to wake up early before Tidy wakes up to do quiet time or important things. I got excited about it until I couldn't drag myself out of bed in the morn. Maybe I try it for a week and see if I can do it. I know I'd have to go to bed super early though :)

  2. i love this. and waking up earlier is something i should be doing too... i need to start going to bed earlier. right now i get stuff done at night and wind up dragging in the morning. victories are victories! whether big or small. :)

  3. I've been thinking a lot about this kind of thing recently, about living intentionally, about the irony that you have to do things you DON'T want to do (getting up early) in order to live the life you DO want (a life of victories and creativity and sunrises)!

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  5. I love this Blythe. I don't know how but you perfectly put my struggle into words. There is something so wonderful about order, God is a God of order. Thank you for this post. You have challenged and encouraged me!

  6. I got tired while reading your post as though it were me getting up early, doing the chores. You have several children with lots of chores (I am divorced and have custody of 5 children... I do understand!) Does your husband help any? Too much work and not enough 'play time' is not happy time usually. Do you feel depressed when you feel trapped? Maybe seeing a doctor would help too. Your photos are interesting. You hold on to him but he doesn't hold on to you? Maybe you could use some hugs. In any event, I am sending an anonymous hug and hope things ease up for you. :) God bless.

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  8. You are not alone in how you feel. Like your suggestions and the reminder to be proud of what we do accomplish. Thanks!
    Cindy at

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  11. Yes! I've been thinking about this recently too. I like what another commenter wrote about intentional living. I think you just pushed me over the edge inspiration-wise. I'm going to start implementing some of this stuff. Thanks Blythe!
    Ps: discovered your blog through last month's you tube vid and have loved reading through the archives.
    Pps: I really like your style of writing. And I especially love that you take the time to caps-lock-on the words for God. Respect.