Baby Steps to Being an Adult

Last year I sat down with Kyle at the beginning of Spring Break and we did our taxes. Here are a few observations about that last sentence:

1. We are in our late twenties, don't have kids that are school age, yet Spring Break is still a thing in our annual calendar. #collegeministry

2. We spent the majority of that week catching up on life management tasks (like taxes) because we have lives that need managing. 

There is a tension in being around college students most of the time, but definitely not being a college student. It makes life different for me and Kyle in a lot of ways, and most of those ways I enjoy. 

One of the things that I don't enjoy is being reminded that I am an adult, and no longer in college. Like having this exchange with a student: 

Student: "Oh man, I woke up sooo early this morning, but it was good because I was able to clean my entire apartment and run a bunch of errands." 

Me: "That's cool! (Keeping the jealousy out of my voice - but failing to keep it out of my heart - when thinking about an entire morning of unhindered productive time.) How early did you have to wake up?"

Student: "9.30." 

Me: ........

Now, of course, many students do wake up early, and waking up early is not the only sign of adulthood, but things like this happen and make you realize, "We live a very different life." 

So I have these moments a lot, moments where I am reminded that I have moved on from college, and am an adult that has to do things. 

Also, in full disclosure, I get easily overwhelmed, so transitioning to adulthood was a lot like ripping off a bandaid that you have ignored for so long that it hurts way worse than it should have, and leaves behind that weird sticky residue that takes awhile to fall off. (That weird sticky residue being my adolescence, in this analogy.) 

However, there has been marked progress in many different areas, and I am going to share a few just in case you, like me, are trying to figure out how to be responsible. 

1. I wake up before my kids now. 

I don't even think I need to be tentative about this. Unequivocally, across the board, waking up before your kids is a thing that people do who don't want to feel like they were steamrolled by 8.15 in the morning. (There is the caveat that this rule doesn't apply to those with newborns or a child who wakes up multiple times a night because of sickness or inherent depravity.) 

My mornings affect my whole day. If I have a bad morning, my tendency is to hate-spiral into procrastination, short-tempered outbursts, and a lot of TV watching for my kids (okay, and myself). If I have a good morning, I am inspiring to be around: clean house, homemade meals, and the tinkling laughter of my children floats through my house on the wings of praise and worship music. 

Seriously, mornings really set the tone for our family. Instead of begrudgingly arising to hungry kids with soaked, overnight diapers, I asked Jesus to please wake me up earlier so that I could get a grip on my life. When - over the next week after this desperate prayer - I woke up sans alarm clock and way earlier than usual, I took this as a sign. 

Now I get up, make coffee, get dressed, spend some time with Jesus, take a moment to look at my planner, make my bed, and even take a few minutes to increase the adult factor and skim the news

"What! You must wake up at like 5 am to accomplish all of this!" 

No, I don't, because when you don't have children frolicking amongst your legs, you can get so much stuff done in a shocking amount of time. 

2. I developed a cleaning schedule. 

This may be specific to those who are the primary caretakers of their children and/or homes, but for several years figuring out how to do my job (read: keep our house running) was extremely difficult. 

I thrive in structure and routine, but I hate mundane work. I am exponentially more relaxed and at peace in a clean environment, but I hate cleaning. Do you see the problem here? 

I would generally wait until something in our house got really dirty and then rage clean it. The problem was I could *feel* the dirt in the interim time periods. Managing a home involves a lot of repetitive tasks. There are precious few items that you can cross off your to do list and think, "Ahhh. I'll never have to do that again!" This drove me absolutely insane for the longest time. Also, every chore took about four days because I would let it get pretty dirty and because I'm dramatic. 

Finally - after reading every mommy blog on the planet - I knew what I had to do. 

First, I had to admit to myself and the world that laundry was going to happen every day. There was no denying it. Just like cooking and dishes, laundry is an every day chore. 

Second, I had to break up the cleaning jobs so that I didn't hate them as much. I hate bathrooms the worst, so I broke up all the tasks that have to do with cleaning bathrooms over THREE DAYS, so that I don't have to deal with it for that long. 

Third, I had to be reasonable and realize that I can't do a giant chore every day, some days our schedule is crazy because of my part-time job (hi, ministry) and so I saved light chores for those days. 

Here is a general rundown of how this works: 

Daily: One load of laundry, dishes, spot sweep, wipe down kitchen counters and table, pick up clutter, throw all of the kids toys into their room right before bed... pretty basic stuff. 

Monday: Dusting & Decluttering 

Tuesday: Thorough Sweep & Mop floors. This one actually rotates. One week I'll sweep and mop the bathrooms, the next I'll do the hallways and the dining room. I try to do the kitchen every week. And sometimes, I don't mop and just do a really thorough sweeping job. And sometimes, I don't do it at all.

Wednesday: Vacuum. Again, I try to vacuum all the bedrooms, but if I don't have time I'll just hit the main living areas. 

Thursday: Clean Surfaces. By this I mean: bathroom counters, kitchen counters, mirrors, windows, kitchen appliances, etc. You may notice a pattern here but, I don't do all of these every week. But it's pretty easy to spray and wipe, so I get to at least a few. 

Friday: Tubs & Toilets. Self-explanatory. 

Saturday: Our sabbath - no cleaning or laundry or anything. We use paper plates and I cook as little as humanly possible. 

Sunday: Maybe do some laundry, but try to keep this day low key as well, usually we have a lot of meetings and ministry responsibilities on this day. 

3. I use a planner. 

It is insane how organized you have to be to manage a house, and we don't even have a big one. For you Downton Abbey fans out there, you may wonder, "What does Hughes actually do, besides bailing out the maids and crushing on Carson?" A LOT, okay? A WHOLE LOT. 

A planner has been a huge help, and I use a paper planner because writing things down cements them into my head. My to-do list, appointments, meetings, etc. It's been a life-saver. 

These are the ways I have been adulting lately, and I've noticed an increased amount of steadiness and peace in our home. 

My mother-in-law once told me that it took her about five years of full-time stay-at-home management before she got the hang of it. This comforted me inexplicably. I've been doing it for almost three and a half, and still haven't figured out how to schedule doctors and dentist appointments for Kyle and I, but I have figured out how to keep my house from eating all of us alive... so it's a work in progress.

Any epiphanies you've had about how to be an adult? Please share! (And understand that I will likely steal it for my own life.)



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