This is what my kitchen looks like for at least an hour after a Costco trip. I haul in everything after an exhausting journey through the busiest store (seemingly) in this country and I just can't do a dang thing more. For an hour. While I get a breather. And eat some obligatory reward chocolate.
Eventually I'll get to those piles and everything will be put in it's proper place, but usually it stays like this for that necessary hour.
I don't think I'm alone in sensing that our culture has gone hog-wild with unrealistic expectations in just about every department, and I want to tell my friends, and anyone else who will listen, that we can only do so much in a day.
My husband once told me a friend of his pondered the busy-ness of our modern lives and said something to the effect of, "God gives us just enough time in the day to do only the things we need to do." My response? "Well of course a man said that!" I really was only half joking.
All humor aside, since becoming a parent, I have felt more expectations than I ever had in my combined 22 years before that. We all feel pressure to have a neat and tidy house, dinner on the table (and healthy! just the 'healthy' options tire me out), neat and tidy and calm, obedient children, endlessly participate in said children's academic and extracurricular lives, have a great marriage that is always given an ample amount of attention, keep in touch with friends on a regular basis, and obviously have a pinterest-worthy hobby or two or five. Sometimes, I have a hard time figuring out what's not only realistic, but what my own expectations are of myself, or if I'm tag-teaming on other people's priorities just because we all know what everyone else is doing (thanks internet).
When my kids were toddlers and they are only interested in a specific toy, book, or activity for less than 5 minutes each, your house is essentially ruined for what feels like a decade. For me, realistically, it was chaotic for 5 years, only because I have two children. The more children, the more you can up those years of your house looking like it was the setting for Twister. This is when the Rule of Threes came to me. Probably when I was blankly staring at a wall for an hour in silence when they napped, trying to figure how to get my bone-tired bum off the couch and start the next thing that needed prepped to keep the house running like a well-oiled, clean machine.
The Rule of Threes is simply this: you can have one main thing happen well in a house where children also live. Those three 'things' are the following:
a) dinner made and ready to eat
b) a clean house
c) happy, calm children engaging with mom.
Honestly. That's it. It's realistic to have one of those things happen every evening around
witching hour dinner time. It's superhuman to have two of them done by the time my husband walks in the door. If all three are happening at the same time? You should look for bodies, because mommy has gone loco and you walked into Crazytown. She will take out her suppressed rage on you when the kids are tucked in, so best just scoot her out the door with a $20 and kiss her goodbye for the evening.
Sure, I've had enough 'twofer' days in my time, and it eases up a bit when the kids are old enough to actually engage in meaningful chores like prepping dinner, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, etc., but often when two of those things are happening, I'm about ready to spontaneously combust. It's just not worth my adrenal gland shrinkage and my husband walking into a warzone.
Plus, the house is dirty 10 minutes later anyway.