Every day is different, yet it’s remarkably the same in Raiford household. We run a tight ship with schedules and routines for ourselves and the kids. It’s helpful in keeping everyone on track (and me less crazy), and it’s taught our kids some amazing habits. They know to clean up after themselves because messes make mommy twitch. They know the bedtime routine and don’t fight it, and they know our expectations of them throughout the day.
That doesn’t stop them from bickering, telling on one another, or making us crazy in general with the constant question of, “May I have a snack, please?” and the subsequent, “Oh, that big bowl of macaroni and cheese with a side of cucumbers and salad? That wasn’t my snack. That was just food,” that follows.
They’re cute, but they’re annoying at times.
Our days are structured. It helps us run my business, it helps Craig’s job, and it helps with the kids. We call it organized chaos. But I’m sharing a smallish secret. I say smallish because anyone who knows me well knows this.
I’m a totally anal-retentive, upright, Type-A, perfectionist control freak. I can’t leave the house if there is anything out of place. I can’t handle anything being disorganized. I can’t handle any type of mess. You guys….I vacuum my SUV out the moment I pull it into the garage and get the kids out of it every single day.
The good news, it only takes me 30 seconds to keep my car spotless every day and a good 10 minutes for us to turn out home spotless at the end of the day. So, good things come from my really poor qualities.
Even with all my organization and my routines and structures, life overwhelms me sometimes. Four kids is a lot. My business takes a lot from me. Being a present wife and mom takes a lot from me. Being involved in the kid’s school lives at two different schools takes a lot out of me. I’ve learned to recognize when I’m overwhelmed and overdoing it. I start to snap at the kids and my husband without any real reason. I find myself super annoyed with everyone and everything, and I find my already very thin patience unraveling.
And I know I need to step back, chill the eff out, and regain control of my life. Since the twins were born, I’ve learned a lot about myself I didn’t know before. I’m so much more familiar with myself, my needs, my body. I know when I’m overdoing it, and I’ve learned how to rest when I need it. I’ve also learned my breakdown periods are few and far between when I practice daily self-care.
As an insane creature of habit, I’ve managed to schedule a few things into my day every single day that gives me peace, helps me stay calm, and makes me feel in control and good. I didn’t know it at first, but it’s self-care and I’m all about it. Since I get a lot of questions about how I manage to stay (and by stay, we’re talking appear, people) so calm and collected and put together with four kids, I thought I’d share what I do each day to help.
Side Note – basically my entire life is easier and more organized because my husband is 100 percent involved in everything around our house because of his own accord. Dishes, bath time, dinner time, bed time, laundry, the kids, diapers, whatever. He’s the reason my life is easy. And I appreciate the hell out of him.
I Exercise Daily
I make time every day, even when I don’t have it, to work out. Even if can’t do more than 20 minutes on the elliptical at the YMCA, I’m there doing it. Working my body, sweating it out, and getting my heart going make me feel good. I love the energy I get, and I love how I feel. My favorite is yoga. I take two yoga classes per week and sometimes a third. I love how strong I feel, how good I feel, and how it motivates me. Exercise is so good.
I Wake Up Early
5 am. That’s my everyday wake up call. I need it. I need it to shower, blow dry my hair, put on makeup, and enjoy a cup of coffee before I head into my office to start my workday. I need it before everyone is awake. I need the calm of being able to start my day quietly with my First 5 App, with some daily devotionals, and to just enjoy the morning in peace. It’s my favorite time of day.
I Practice Gratitude
This is a fairly new habit I’ve included in my daily routine, but it’s good. I’ve been using a gratitude journal. I’m impatient and easily annoyed and constantly baffled by the number of people in the world who cannot do their jobs correctly, who cannot do what they say they are going to do, and who don’t seem to value the concept of hard work and customer service. And I’m really bad about letting that kind of stuff irritate me.
So I’ve been practicing gratitude by focusing every day on three things I really am grateful for. I have a long list, but I’ve been trying to focus on writing down what really touches me at the moment. The other day, for example, I was sitting at my desk working on some deadlines at 6:45 am when Craig went upstairs to get the twins out of bed to have breakfast. They came downstairs and immediately came to my desk to give me hugs and kisses and “I yuve you, mommy’s,” before they took off for the breakfast they are hungry for the second they open their eyes (am I the only person who cannot figure out how these tiny humans are starving the second they wake up?).
I realized in that moment how insanely grateful I am that no matter what I’m doing or how I’m feeling or how they are feeling, our kids are always ready to come say good morning to me before they do anything else so they can get their love in first and foremost. So, I wrote it down. And then I thought about how sweet that is all day long, and I didn’t even lose my shit when a company made a promise to me they couldn’t keep and I wanted to shake them and ask them what the hell is their problem.
If you say you can have something done in 30 minutes when I call, and then I come in and drop my stuff off and then you tell me an hour later when I come back to pick it up that you don’t even know if you can do it in the next two days, why do you say you can do it in 30 minutes? (Maybe I took my frustration to my car, lost my shit for a minute or two, and defintely ended up the topic of conversation around the dinner table of the guy parked in front of me. “You guys won’t believe this crazy psychopath I saw today. What a piece of work!”)
I Eat Well
I love a donut or a cookie as much as the next girl, but I really love the way I feel when I make healthy eating choices. I like pizza and junk food, but I don’t like the lethargy I feel after I eat like that. I have more energy when I eat well, so it’s a favor I do myself.
I Start My Day with Uplifting Music
I’m easily distracted while Craig is getting the kids ready for school in the morning, but that’s also my most productive work time. I pop my headphones in and turn my music up. Most mornings I listen to a Christian Contemporary station on Pandora, but sometimes I’m in the mood for classical or my favorite Frank Sinatra station. Whatever it is, I love listening to uplifting music in the morning. Craig once said he loves when I listen to Christian music in the am because I sing (oops) and he loves that my good mood instantly makes him feel good. Who even knew?
See? It’s not all that difficult to practice happy and healthy things during the day. These little habits make such a positive difference in my mood every day. What do you do to help you focus and stay on track during the day?