Nice versus necessary

This blog was originally posted on WorldMomBlog on 9th January.

As a mom, the simplest things in life often overwhelm me. I am late for everything, always worried and anxious about any kid related topic, and quite frankly clueless on how other people manage to have a job, kids, a tidy home and clean clothes on every day. At least, I WAS clueless, until I met my now very good friend from across the road…

When I arrived in the US, seven years ago, my boys were three and two. New country, new home, new town, new everything. And nobody around to help me! I constantly looked like I could not even remember my own name – I think on occasions, I actually forgot it…

I was really struggling because on top of wanting my kids safe and clean, I was also obsessed with cooking healthily, having a tidy home (people who know me: stop laughing your socks off, I know how incredible it sounds but I promise, I used to be a neat-freak!!), and a car that did not require a hazmat suit in order to stay alive in it. As if this was not unrealistic enough, I wanted to get showered and dressed every day AND wear make-up and look semi-good – I had given up on plain-good after my first child was born. Even I could accept that this was never going to happen EVER AGAIN… So needless to say, I was pretty miserable, always failing to achieve what used to be my norm of basic stuff in a pre-kid life.

As I was venting my frustration to my neighbor, she took pity on me and decided to share some of her wisdom. She too had two small kids and yet, she was always walking around with a smile on her face, acting like nothing could bother her.

“Listen, my friend, do yourself a favor and start writing lists”

What was that supposed to mean? I was complaining about not achieving anything because of lack of time and there she was, adding one more thing to do to my already long backlog…

Seeing my puzzled look, she explained that I should filter everything I do by deciding whether it is nice, or necessary. That’s how she analyzed every task. If she decided it was necessary, she did it. If nice, she did not stress herself up and simply forgot about it.

This conversation saved my sanity! I went home and started to draw my lists. The more I thought of the necessary side of things, the more I realized that a lot of it was actually a luxury. So I moved many items to the “nice” column. By the time I was done, it looked like life could not get any better…

My “necessary” list is very minimal: keep kids safe, feed pets at least once every other day, try to be on time at school once a week (I am actually thinking of moving that to the “nice” side). The nice list has got stuff like: iron clothes, eat three balanced meal a day. Even “take a shower” has become a luxury! I l love it! Needless to mention that “tidy the house”, “eat healthily” and “comb your hair” did not even make any list. They are on the “In your dream – never in this world will it happen again” list.

I have gone from anxious, stressed, all-over-the-place, hysterical mom to zen, relaxed, scruffy-but-who-cares mom. If anyone suspects I don’t wash my hair often enough, I have the perfect cover: I dress in my gym gear all day and pretend I am on my way to sweat some calories out! Works like a charm … Except, if I don’t find a way to develop some muscles WITHOUT actually going to the gym (because that’s definitely not on any list), I am going to have to come up with another excuse as it is totally obvious that I have not seen a treadmill in many years.

Now that you know my coping mechanism, just remember that if you ever come to my house and I say stuff like, “I am sorry, my house is really messy today, I just did not have one minute to myself!” it’s just an old habit of mine that I cannot shake. I actually don’t mean it. My house is ALWAYS that messy, and that’s because cleaning it is nice, whereas blogging and checking my facebook is totally necessary.

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