Most of us don't live in some remote mountain palace full of servants to attend to our every want, need, and whim. Most of us don't have people to do our dishes and laundry, to clean up the messes, or cook all of our meals for us. Most of us also don't live free of responsibilities to other people in our lives--most of those responsibilities usually dealing with the people right under our own roof.
I think most scrappers and paper crafters are like me. Not only do I not live in a far away, remote mountain dwelling--I live in a house right in the middle of a bustling metropolis. I don't have servants to do work here. I am, as I like to say, the busiest slave in the house. I don't have people to clean up my messes. In fact, I have people who make messes. I've got two kids. I think that pretty much sums it up--I have a LOT going on!
One of my greatest challenges is balancing my responsibilities to my family (as a full time SAHM) and my "real job" (as a part time papercrafts teacher at JoAnn) and myself! A lot of this might seem silly to those of you with B.O., or, "born organization" (that reference to you stinking is absolutely intentional, but meant in a joking way), but, nevertheless, I proceed...
How to get the housework done and still have time to crop? I've put together some of my own favorite tips, some "original" (at least, I thought of them myself, although they can't be new) and some definitely not.
Keep up on it! I know this seems obvious and silly, but as the most resistant-to-cleaning person who ever existed, who has been known to put things off for fear of "never" being finished, this was my major breakthrough. Just DOING the stuff gets it out of the way.
Dishes: Taking 5 minutes to load the dishwasher every night or taking another 5 or 10 minutes each night to clean up after dinner really does save a lot of work and heartache in the long run.
Laundry: Fold/hang while watching your favorite movies/TV shows. This is the only thing that gets me to do it. I bring a pile of hangers from every room and hang as I sort, then carry the already hung clothes to the rooms, along with the folded items. This is also an excuse to get some TV/movie time in, and I love it.
Take a note from Flylady: "I can do anything for 15 minutes!" If you don't know where to start, just set a timer for 15 minutes (lately I've pushed it down to 10 because it just feels shorter and nicer and I still get a LOT done) and clean. Load the dishwasher. Dump some clothes in the washer. (This means you get to pop a movie in later.) Do some sweeping. Change the trashes. You'll be amazed at what you can do. Check out her awesome organizational system for cleaning at www.flylady.net. It seriously changed my life.
Delegate! This is probably the hardest one for any of us to do, but it is probably also the one that has helped me out the most. I'm so lucky to have a very sweet, caring husband who understands (because he has seen for himself) that he gets 2 days off every week from work, and I get NONE. I mean, dishes, sweeping, laundry, and the like don't get a break and, if anything, having him AND the kids home all day makes even more work for me! I don't force him to do a ton of chores, by any means, but occasionally delegating a few tasks really helps me out and it helps me keep from getting overwhelmed! Also, I've got this strapping 8 year old son who is perfectly capable of doing any number of chores. And every time he complains about what he has to do, I offer to switch jobs with him, and that's typically the end of it. ^_~
Seek out and destroy time suckers! No, I'm not talking about your kids. Although some days they certainly seem to qualify. I'm talking about mindless watching of TV or activities that were a good idea in the beginning but have become little more than drains on your energy and sanity. Let me give a few personal examples.
Our family has become more and more guarded of our time together, but I have also learned to be more guarded about my personal time. For instance, I know that I will not be signing up for my church's women's Tuesday morning bible study this coming year. They're doing a study I really want to do, but I know that after the honeymoon period wears off, I'll be left with yet another responsibility (bible study homework) and yet another weekly mark on my calendar and will eventually be waking up on Tuesday mornings thinking, "UGH, I have to get ready, I have to get Elliott ready... when am I going to get the boards done for my next class..." And on and on and on. Also, I have to look at what this activity is really aiming to acheive. Closeness with God, obviously, which I attain in my day-to-day life as I pray and do my own personal study, so I don't need another activity to do that. It also is meant to acheive some friendship and intimacy with other women in my church. I run a kind of small group ministry at my church in which I already meet with other women and form relationships and all of that, so I don't need another activity to accomplish this. Although this is a hard decision, I've got to say that this coming year the Tuesday morning bible study isn't happening for me. If I get to the end of this school year and find that it left a gaping hole in my life, I can always sign up again the next year.
I was recently offered the papercrafting/scrapbooking teacher position at another JoAnn store. The potential for more income was a huge draw, of course, and the fact remains that I just LOVE to teach! I love the idea of getting more students. In the end, though, I had to decide that I wasn't going to do it. The draw on my time and energy, not just in the actual teaching time, but in showing up for the Teacher Open House days, making boards and supply lists for the classes (not to mention coming up with the classes themselves!), and all of that just left me thinking that it wasn't something I could take on.
I think there's a definite weighing process that we have to go through in order to decide what it is we will and won't do with our time. It's a precious commodity. Once it's spent, it can never be taken back again. It may mean rearranging the things you already do and even cutting some activities completely out of your life. It may mean committing less time to something you already do. The bottom line, I think, when deciding what you will and won't do is to ask yourself this: "Can I still be performing at 100% in every other area of my life if I add this?" Or, "Will no longer doing this allow me to start performing closer to 100% in all other areas of my life?" As long as you're still able to fully give of yourself in each area of your life, I think you will be able to strike the right balance.
Schedule time for yourself! No matter what your schedule primarily consists of, you MUST make time for yourself. Whether it's a certain block of time each day or a standing one hour every day that you spend for yourself, whatever time it should happen to start or end, it's very important to do this. Forget deserving it. You NEED it. If you're anything like me, your time spent creating is the best therapy. My entire world can be chaos, but for those moments, I can create order. I mean, I have my own personal relationship with God to let me feel general peace in my life even through crazy circumstances, but even still! I need this time to myself. It helps me to be the best person I can be in all areas of my life. And if taking less than 5% of any day can help me to perform at 100% for the rest of it, I'd say that's a worthwhile investment. Wouldn't you?
I feel sort of silly even posting this. I'm afraid of what other people might think about me for writing it, actually, because I am essentially admitting that I have trouble keeping a lot of things straight, and I don't run my house 100% by myself and I need help with organizing my cleaning schedule and, in general, I am not a B.O. kind of person. But I think a lot of it should be said. I think that MANY creatively bent people out there are so much like me and will never admit it. It comes from being more right brained than left brained--from becoming easily overwhelmed with the little things in life. From processing information so quickly that you can, as I once read in "Right Brained Children in a Left Brained World", get the answer without ever realizing the question. I'm also a very young woman still, I know (25 years old!), and a lot of this is just me still figuring things out like housework and working and caring for my family. In spite of what everyone seems to make you think, either intentionally or unintentionally, this stuff isn't just natural. We aren't just born knowing how to do everything. We DO need help!
It's important to keep all of our responsibilities in check, and to free up time for ourselves, and to not have a huge amount of chaos in our lives. If anything can help your scrapping/paper crafting, I believe it's that.