It’s 9:41 AM. I’ve nursed a baby, changed three diapers, dressed two children, tied another’s ponytail, asked two kids to make sandwiches, got two different kids out of bed, helped my husband find his phone, asked two kids why they didn’t make sandwiches when asked—not sure if they’re actually the same two I asked to make sandwiches, listened to instructions from one child about what I must leave on her desk at the parent teacher conference tonight, waved goodbye to four children and one husband as they left the house, fed two teaspoons worth of tiny banana pieces to the baby, ignored two tantrums by one child, had one discussion about why toilets are a nice thing and not scary, answered two family WhatsApp messages, pumped one bottle of milk, got my morning exercise while walking one child to preschool and the baby to daycare, read two work WhatsApp messages, arranged transportation home from school for one child, said my morning prayers, checked my work email, called my mother, ate one nectarine, and sent a half dozen WhatsApp messages for a volunteer organization. This is a slow, quiet morning. I didn’t need to pack lunches because school finishes early. I will have four hungry children looking to me for sustenance in approximately three and a half hours. That’s gives me 210 minutes to start reviewing a time management course, do a load of laundry, organize last year’s textbooks and finish wrapping this year’s books in plastic (Did I mention that we’re well into the second week of school?), clean out enough space in my storage room for the boxes of my childhood that recently arrived with my parents’ shipment from the old country, WhatsApp my parents’ landlord, contact the contractor for my apartment about a leak, prepare a media mailing for work, clean up from breakfast and make lunch. Maybe I’ll squeeze in a coffee and bathroom break at one point.
I’ve got a lot on my plate. Who doesn’t? Most working parents I know, if they could magically be granted one wish, would ask for either sleep or more hours in the day (which would give them time to sleep and do everything else). With six kids, two part-time jobs, aging parents who don’t speak the local language, volunteer commitments, and no household help outside the family, I am constantly juggling. Things pile up, both physically—like last year’s school books—and tasks left undone because they get pushed to the bottom of the priority list—like that dentist appointment I still haven’t made… Yet, I know there are families with even more kids and parents who work longer hours, mothers who wash their floor twice a day every day. How do they manage? The key, I believe, is organization.
About a half a year ago, I turned to Rebekah Saltzman, a professional organizer based in Haifa, for help. I met Rebekah through her Facebook group called Organizing in Israel and signed up to receive emails about her weekly Journey to Organization podcast. While these freebies were helpful and inspiring, I decided to take advantage of my “free time” on maternity leave to give my home a deep organizing treatment, and hopefully gain the skills to keep it running smoothly. Rebekah’s remote Balagan Be Gone course was packed with useful information and tips, many of which I implemented. Half a year later, my closet is emptier, my papers are more organized, my kids can find toys and school supplies more easily, and we’ve added lower hooks near the door for little sweatshirts and hats. Rebekah was not just a great teacher and cheerleader, but supportive and realistic about my organizing goals. The biggest hurdle I faced was, and is, a lack of time. I asked Rebekah for help with time management because I thought if I was just more organized, I would have the hours I needed to get the house in order. But I had a baby with me who needed to nurse every two hours, took half hour naps, and wanted to be held all day. Rebekah helped me understand that nearly all my time belonged to the baby, and it’s impossible to manage time that you don’t have. Just over a week ago, my baby started day care, and I suddenly have time again. To make the most of it, I’m turning once again to Rebekah and trying out her new course–It’s About Time-Management. I can’t wait to share the results with you!