by Tammy Hart

Not long ago I found myself overwhelmed, with not enough time in a day to accomplish all the things that I needed to get done. As much as I ran around doing laundry and dishes, there was never an end to them. I realized something had to give and something had to change; I was running myself ragged and had nothing to show for all my hard work.

My transformation into a control freak had started years ago when my son was a toddler. As a single, working mother, I always seemed to be on the go. Without realizing it at the time, I was teaching my son very bad habits that would haunt me for years to come. Since I was always so busy, rather than taking the time out to make sure he followed through with what I asked him to do, I would just do it for him. Now he’s nine years old and up until a few months ago, I was still doing everything for him!

One stressful day I came to the realization that I don’t have control over my household – my kids do! I remember laughing about it to myself. That’s when I decided to do something about it for their sake – and for my own sanity.

This may not sound logical, but I figured out that sometimes you have give up some control before you can get control back in your life. I had done everything for myself for so long and I liked everything done “my” way. It was hard to let go, but I started by creating a list of rules, including things like daily chores and the consequences for not getting chores and/or school work done.

We dedicate one night per week for more thorough cleaning such as changing bedding, washing windows, dusting, and organizing drawers and cupboards, to list a few. I chose Thursday (Friday is garbage day so my son gets the chore of taking the garbage out to the road).

Looking back, I think I felt strapped to my home by household chores most of the time, so it’s a huge weight off my shoulders to have the freedom to do things without worrying about the load of things that need to get done at home.

My son used to beg me to watch him ride his quad; now I take my daughter on the quad and ride alongside of him with his dirt bike. I’ve noticed an improvement in his grades and his attitude in general. Since I let go of some control and freed up more of my time, I’ve even expanded my menu at home (instead of the weekly tater-tot casserole, chili and spaghetti specials): now I have a more diverse selection of things to make, so that also makes it easier to plan ahead and keep on schedule.

I try not to be discouraged about the fact that I wasted so much time being stressed out before figuring out what needed to change. I just appreciate the fact that things are going smoothly. I still color-coordinate my closet, and go a little crazy reorganizing things, but sometimes I just have to look the other direction when my son puts his clean shirts in the pants drawer. I’ve definitely learned to let go of the less important things, like which direction the towels get folded.

For the most part, my house is actually cleaner and I have much more free time to relax with my kids because I’m not wasting my time running around multi-tasking (which often translates to running around being busy and getting nothing done).

One last thing that I should mention: God bless my daycare-provider who keeps my toddler on a daily schedule. Now she goes to bed at the same time every night – which has been a pleasant change since her early days of colic and many sleepless nights!