Monday, January 31, 2011

Doing What Works

Everywhere you turn, people are always trying to give you advice.  And generally, it's good, well-meaning advice.  We all have opinions on just about everything!  We've read the blogs, books, and watched the documentaries or shows on X, Y, or Z.

But, then there's reality.  What I should do verses what I can do.

I have spent a lot of effort over the last 10 years failing at what I should do and this month I gave up and started doing what I can do.  Let me elaborate.

1. My grandmother once told me never to put my knives in the dishwasher because they would get dull.  For years now, I have had knives continuously on my counter piling up to be hand washed because "You can't put knives in the dishwasher".  This has led to me having an ongoing dirty dishes issue that I just couldn't conquer.

This month I decided that they were my knives and I'll throw them in the dishwasher if I want to.  I'd rather buy a new set of knives every year than see another dirty knife piled up on my counter.  And you know what?  I haven't had dirty dishes sit longer than a few hours in my kitchen over the last month.   This small change has made a huge impact in my life.

Regardless of how good the advice was, it just wasn't working for me.  It was good advice, but as a mother of two small children - I just don't have time to hand wash dishes.  Using the dishwasher saves me so much time and time is limited right now.

2. Being "green" and "natural" is a hot topic everywhere you turn.  I am constantly inundated with ways I need to be greener or more natural, and how this or that product is giving me cancer.  It's enough to make you hide under the covers.  So, of course, I was trying to do my part to use more natural products for cleaning and laundry.  Only, my "new and improved" products don't actually clean as well as my old ones.  I have to scrub longer and more often, and stains don't come out as easily of my clothes, and now I'm having to spend time making some of my cleaners, etc.  Basically, that meant my bathrooms looked grungy, our clothes had stains, laundry was piling up, my new natural deodorant was giving me a rash, I was spending a lot of effort trying to do just basic cleaning, and let's not even talk about my shampoo experience.

Although, I love the idea of "going natural" with my cleaners and products - I just need to step back for a time and regroup.  Maybe I will keep a few things, but for now I'm going to do what works.

3. Health is an important topic as it effects every part of our lives.  And there are a LOT of opinions on what we should and should not eat, drink, etc.  One of those being the great caffeine debate.  I am a caffeinated woman.  I like my morning latte.  No, scratch that, I need my morning latte.  At this stage in the game, with kid filled days, early wake-ups, late catch-ups (i.e. doing all the work that I couldn't do with the kids awake), and everything else - I need that extra boost.   Is caffeine unhealthy?  I'm sure.  But right now, not having my morning coffee just doesn't work for me.   Now maybe in the future I will wake up peacefully, do some yoga and sip some decaf tea - but right now I'm full-octane baby.

It all just wasn't working for me.  And read that correctly, I said "For me!!!".  Me, the person who is typing this, not you, the person who is reading this.  I have no idea what works for you.  I only know what works for me.  Maybe you spend luxurious hours hand washing your knives, while composting your kitchen scraps, whipping up a new batch of deodorant, and saving the world!  But, I, alas - am not that skilled.  And yet, maybe one day I will be.  Maybe this is just the me right now and the future me will be able to try some of these things again.  Because, like I said - the advice is good!  It just doesn't work for me.

And yet, lots of other things do work for me.  I've been able to happily incorporate them into my life without killing the quality of my life.    Although, those will be different for each of us.  I may never use paper plates, but for you that might be the pivotal piece that keeps life turning in your household.  And that's good!! Do what works for you and what keeps your family going during these seasons of chaos.

My hope is that, as women, wives and mothers (and you guys too), we can support and encourage each other instead of judge and criticize for what we can't accomplish or what we need to do just to stay sane!

So, if you can relate - what "advice" do you need to discard so that you can begin to function? :)


gail said...

"It is so wrong to drive your child to sleep, you must put them down awake, etc."

Just about every day for nap I drive around the neighborhood for 5-15 minutes, the boy falls asleep, and I transfer him to his bed, where he does the bulk of his nap. I have been doing it for over a year with like 90% success, and have seen no negative affects, haha (I don't do it at bedtime. He puts himself to sleep at night. Gasp!, you mean "cheating" for nap doesn't ruin nighttime independence? Nope. So why suffer and get no nap?

Andy and Claire said...

I love how honest you are! What works for you is what is best! I am right there with you!

amanda g said...

I looooooove this post!!!! I've made a few of those simplifications of my own over the years. It makes such an improvement when we start to live the life that fits OUR own lifestyle, and not someone else's. Not to say that we can't pick up helpful tips from others, but that we should examine them first.

LeftyMama said...

Yes!! I can relate & I applaud all moms/women who reach this a-ha moment. We have so many judgements and warnings thrown our way every day, it is impossible to process and incorporate them all. At a certain point, we have to say, "Good to know -- now I'll go do the best I can with what makes sense in my life for my family with the resources, priorities, and values that we have." Thanks for keeping it real, yo! ;o)

I'm for anything that (1) leaves more time with my loved ones, (2) makes chores less time consuming, and (3) reduces the amount of nagging required to keep the household running. We do try to maximize our eco-friendly living (we're in an underground house, for pete's sake!), but we use paper plates every day (which means less water & soap going into our septic system, plus less time & energy washing dishes). We also gave up on eco-friendly dish soap, which left residue on the dishes and didn't get the grease off. We also don't have Samson take a bath every night, which besides saving water makes our evenings a LOT less hectic and gives us more time to do other things in the precious 2.5 hrs between getting home and his bedtime.