What The ER Taught Me About Homemaking

The doors whooshed open softly, opening the portal between the waiting room and the treatment bays.  I clutched the chart as a feeble shield against the hostile glares of the waiting patients and family members as I called the name of the next patient.  The disapproving murmurs swelled as the wheezing allergic reaction patient who had just walked in the door was brought back ahead of the hand laceration (2 hours and waiting) and medication refill (5 hours and still hanging in there) and the other myriad people with complaints that didn’t trump airway.  What they didn’t get, is that there is a colossal difference between wanting to be seen immediately and needing to be seen immediately.  We had the basic A-B-C’s of the ER: Airway (first), Breathing (second), Circulation (third).  And then everything else according to a highly structured algorithm that sorted acuity and tried to ensure the fairest treatment for everyone.  No one likes to wait.  But here’s the thing:

There’s a difference between urgency and emergency.

It strikes me that so often I encounter a similar situation in homemaking and just juggling life as a child of God, a wife, a mama, a teacher, a blogger, and a homemaker…and those are only the roles within my home.  Never mind relationships and commitments with family and friends and neighbors outside the home!  It all turns into so much confusion and noise if I don’t sit down and take charge.

Just like the ER, it all needs to be addressed.  But there’s a smart way to assess and prioritize so that the highest priority gets done first, and the least critical doesn’t crowd out what matters more.

Sometimes I cave to the urgency and forget what’s really important.

  • Like, I want to be an amazing friend and volunteer to help out with the mama and her new baby, but I look into the eyes of my three little ones, and know that I need to be home for them.
  • And I need to not be so completely stressed out that I turn into an irritable crazy lady at Superman and feed him Spaghetti-O’s for dinner just because I wanted to spend a day making amazing, Pinterest inspired, Montessori-worthy, hands on crafts with the kids. (I aspire to be her, the FUN mom, but I’m not.  I hate cotton balls and glitter glue and pipe cleaners and paper plates, passionately.)
  • I want my windows sparkling, my walls washed every 6 weeks, behind the fridge vacuumed every month, the books indexed alphabetically and sorted by genre, the toys neatly contained and organized in color coordinated totes, and seasonal inspired décor tastefully gracing not only every perfectly decorated room, but the walkway and porch as well.  (Yes, I dream wildly!)
  • I want to do it ALL, and I need to stop living in a fantasy land and do some serious triaging.  (More about my perfectionism here).
So, in the real world of busy life, what counts as my airway?  What trumps all the glaring work staring at me?
My most important 5 – 15 minutes of the day is Jesus time.  Without getting His perspective and being refreshed in prayer and Bible time, I’m proverbially strangling my day by cutting off the oxygen.
Then, my B priority is Basics.  Everyone dressed.  Beds made.  3 meals.  Dishes washed, laundry going.  Messes contained (toys picked up off the floor).  If I accomplish nothing else but Jesus time and basics, then it is okay.  I’ll try again tomorrow!
Finally, C for Calming the Chaos.  I sat down and wrote the 3 things that make me feel like the mess is manageable.  These are just the things that make a huge difference for me…yours may be completely different.  I feel more calm when:
  1. The floors are clean
  2. The bathrooms are wiped down and there are dry hand towels
  3. Piles are eliminated

When I plan out my week, I try to fit in time for each of these “C” items several times a week.

So, I preach to myself first: Stay calm as you face your “waiting room” of unfinished homemaking chores…

…if the ABC’s are covered, the rest will get done eventually!

Read about What The ER Taught Me About Motherhood.

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