Balancing Pregnancy, Life, and Work
Have you ever walked into a room or sat at your desk and looked at the pile of crap that has to get done? As you’re standing there you wonder how in the world can two people, who feel like they are never home, accumulate that much laundry and dishes. I mean seriously. The amount of laundry that piles up in my house with just my husband and me is insane and I know it’s going to get worse when little Davie gets here. I’ve never been a superb house keeper but as I stared the third trimester in the face I knew I had to start changing habits now in order to make our lives easier once our lives get turned upside down with a newborn.
The first order of business? Catching up on all the housework I hadn’t done in the first trimester. For those that didn’t know the first trimester was rough. I was sick all the time and I had absolutely no energy. I was easily in bed by 7 and regularly took naps on my lunch break at work. The house was the absolute last thing on my radar and it showed. So here’s where I started putting my game plan together.
Step 1: De-clutter, Deep Clean, and Reorganize. I knew that I wanted to get rid of as much crap in the house as we possibly could but I also knew that if I didn’t break down the projects into more “bite-size” pieces that I wouldn’t get any of it done. So I made a “Nesting To Do List” where I broke down each room and what needed to be cleaned and/or replaced. I made a commitment to get one “big” project done a week. Whether it was going through my closet and dressers or decluttering our desk (that had become a catch all) I got something done each week. That has been such a tremendous help. Within a month my kitchen, laundry room, guest room, master bedroom and bathroom was gone through and cleaned. This included going through and getting rid of excess clothes, knick-knacks, pots, pans, dishes, shoes, bags, anything and everything I didn’t need or use often was donated. I washed down walls, cleaned ceiling fans, appliances, etc. This is Spring Cleaning on Crack. I swear to you it has made all the difference in the world and keeping it on the fridge helps keep it in the forefront of my mind. I’ll explain why here soon.
Step 2: Set a New Precedent. Start small don’t make your new “rule” CLEAN ALL THE THINGS EVERY DAY. You are setting yourself up for failure that way. I started by making sure dinner’s dishes did not sit in the sink over night. I made my sink of hot, soapy water before I started cooking and as I was finished with something I would put it in the sink. That way you avoid the “I’ll just let this soak here overnight.” Nope. No more of that Mama, it just creates more work for you tomorrow. The next thing I added was not allowing laundry to go more than one day without being folded and put away. This is so hard for me. I hate folding laundry with a passion but you know what I hate more? Spending 8+ hours cleaning and folding laundry. Yes, that has happened. Starting with smaller goals like those have made it easier to keep up with the overall picture.
Step 3: Take 15 minutes a day and pick-up the house. I’m able to go to each room and pick-up the clutter and put it where it needs to be. I move clothes to hampers, trash to the trash can, glasses to the sink, shoes to closets, etc. Now I have a smaller home so this may need to be adjusted for you. You may need to take 15 minutes a day and do one room, or one level. Any quick picker-uppers when you can will open up more time for you to enjoy on your actual days off.
Step 4: Become a Lister/Planner. I have a list for everything, especially right now. I invested in a Plum Paper planner and I absolutely love it. The fact that you can pick from a lot of pretty colors, add so many different options, personalize it, and choose your start month are all aspects that I love. I’ll be purchasing my second one next month. I got the vertical design which allows me to add notes to the left side of my planner. I keep calls I need to make, bills I need to pay that week, and any smaller tasks I need to handle by the end of the week on the left. I mark once I’ve paid a bill and it’s out of the account. I made the mistake of marking “paid” on a bill before it was out of the account and it threw us for a loop when it hit our account a couple days later. On the right side I have all of my appointments written down for the week or any other important meetings/dates. Every morning when I get to my desk I open that planner and see what needs to be handled. Even a reminder to return a Redbox comes in handy when prego brain decides to strike.
Step 5: Learn to say no. This has been so hard for me. I have always been go, go, go with roughly 10 different things going on at one time. Once you’re pregnant though you have to understand that you have new limitations on energy. Even on my best days so far I have a solid 3-4 hours of high productivity for house cleaning and then I’m done. I also have to keep this in mind in my work day. I am most productive first thing in the morning so if there is anything imperative that needs to happen I handle it as soon as I get in. Which brings me to my next point.
Step 6: Be honest. I am very lucky to work with a very family oriented company and in an office that strives to take exceptional care of their employees. Management knew about our fertility struggles and was very considerate as we maneuvered through diagnosis, doctors’ appointments, and the emotional roller coaster that followed. So when I found out I was pregnant I told them right away. I understand that many women are not afforded this luxury so as you navigate your own first trimester be sure and take care of your current responsibilities but I would suggest not taking on any new projects. I think it benefited me and my team greatly that everyone knew so early. They understood if I was feeling sick and would take care of the phone calls I had to jump off of in order to make it to the restroom. They also were considerate making sure that I got the early lunch if I needed my nap earlier or if I needed to eat sooner. Again, I’m very blessed with my work family.
Step 7: Remember to take a breath. This is going to be one of the most joyous and life changing events of your life. I know how it can overwhelm you. What needs to be done, what needs to be cleaned, what needs to be purchased, how your plans are being judged by other mothers, and everything in between. However, take the time to focus on the things you are most looking forward to as well. One thing I’m really excited about? Getting the car seat in my truck. It’s like an official “I’m a Mom” stamp.
Balancing being pregnant, house work, being a wife, and being a co-worker can become quite the circus act but with a little extra organization, planning, and elbow grease you’ll ease into the transition with only a couple bumps. Happy Pregnancy Mamas!