My Day is a Series of Five Minutes at a Time

“Now we’re in trouble,” thought Blue Kangaroo.

Some days go so smoothly, I get an amazing amount of things crossed of my list.

Some days when I look at the clock, I can’t believe it’s lunch time because I don’t know where the morning went.

As a mother to small children, it can be hard when I feel like I lose control over my day. It seems like small things shouldn’t take a long time to do, changing a diaper for instance, but everything takes so much time when you add it together.

When a morning presents difficult challenges, like this morning when I cleaned up a mess that is too gross to tell you about, it’s easy to feel sabotaged. How many times have I wondered if my children are working against me? Like when you’re trying to get ready to go somewhere, and your kid takes her shoes and socks off at the moment you should be walking out the door.

In life with small children, interruptions and messes and small things are not disruptions to my day, they are my day, and I should be ready for them. Why would I expect my day to go as I planned?

It’s just a rule of life, along with our family rule of “Don’t put nuts in your nose,” and the advice that it’s simply no use to rush a three year old. So I hope to laugh about it and know that these days won’t last long.

Detective Snow White is annoyed that Tom doesn’t want to go on a secret mission with her, and we need to go to the grocery store, which is an adventure in itself. So here we go…

Have you felt like this too?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. This is my life. Some days I feel incredibly productive, but on others I can’t get going. In part, it depends on how we all sleep (we have 3 little ones too). I find a shower and a big glass of water helps get my day back on track. Or a nap. Like that’s going to happen :).

    Unplanned Cooking´s last post…Do you long for a simpler life

  2. It sounds like we’re in the same boat. I think motherhood is a series of small challenges and achievements, which we should be so grateful for. Yet, it is difficult to take pleasure in plunging the toilet for the third time in a day, all because your toddler thinks it is funny to dump a roll of toilet paper in there.

    Lindsey´s last post…The Resident Scaredy-Cat

  3. Goooooood timing – and exactly my life right now:) It’s not even 10am and both kids are already down for some mini-naps/quiet time because of all of the crying and hysterics this morning! So we’re all regrouping and trying again in 30 minutes:) SO true that it’s no use to rush a 3 year old!

    Lillian´s last post…August 18

  4. That is exactly how I feel! Especially lately with just having #3!!

    Katie´s last post…A clean house is a happy house

  5. This is so spot-on!

    Nichole´s last post…Half a lifetime ago

  6. I got such a laugh out of the picture you posted. Oh, it is so true! Some mornings are just one thing after another. I tell my husband that I really do pick up the house, it just doesn’t look like it (ever!).

    Tammy´s last post…Blueberries!

  7. Oh yes, I feel this way almost every day! However, I just got my youngest in preschool two days a week, and I admit, it’s nice to get a little break and actually feel like I’m accomplishing more on those days.

    Amanda @ Mommy’s Idea Book´s last post…How to Never Lose Your To-Do List Again

  8. I am so there with you! I needed this reminder the my day is not my to do list or my schedule but it is all those little things that come with children and my to do list fits in, somewhere. Thank you!

    Annie H´s last post…Thursday already

    • I need to keep reminding myself of this all day long. I just want to be able to plan it all out. Thanks!

  9. yes, everyday. a puppy and a two year old. equal massive mess, endless not accomplishing much of anything.

  10. YES! I’m sorry you have difficult days. Know that I’m not alone. I remember the times when by the time I got the second one dressed the first one was naked again. We’re past that now, but still each day brings its own challenges.

  11. Sandra Gonzales says:

    I know this is off topic but Lane has great little teeth.

  12. This was really good and gave me a new way to look at my days:

    In life with small children, interruptions and messes and small things are not disruptions to my day, they are my day, and I should be ready for them. Why would I expect my day to go as I planned?

    I wrote about a similar feeling on my blog in early August (link) and it wasn’t until I was writing–and chuckling–about my day that I realized that these crazy days are the days I will remember fondly years from now. It really does go by fast.

    Jules´s last post…The Outfit Recycle Area

  13. Denise C. says:

    Ah yes, I know what you’re talking about. You & I seem to be having the same morning….I too had a very gross mess to clean up…YUCK.

    My kids are banned from all grocery stores, unless we’re going in for milk, or bread. We’ve had one too many scary moments in the pickle aisle….why are pickles (in glass jars, nonetheless, on the lower shelves?).

    And yes….why do kids always remove clothing right when we’re headed out the door? :)

    Have a wonderful afternoon. :)

  14. Take heart! They will grow up and move away. Start the brainwashing now to get them to move somewhere you want to visit but can’t afford to.

  15. My day is about the same, only I work full time. So I spend my morning time trying to egt my girl ready to head out the door on time. And after work, we get home and I try to cook supper while cleaning the house, getting a 2 year old ready for bed, eating, bathing, tidying, stories, etc, etc, etc…
    I have to remember to enjoy each step and if I’m 5 minutes late for work… it’s not the end of the world.

  16. Rachel P. says:

    Somehow I measure how many distractions I had by the number of towels I have ready to wash at the end of the day. It’s a good scale to judge the number of messes and mischief done throughout the day. Today? Already up to six kitchen towels, a bath towel and two rags that were so gross I just threw them away. Days like this happen all the time and for a mom who doesn’t know how to take a deep breath and regain composure it can topple her ideas of how her day should go.

  17. As a mom with kids who are now older and more independent… cherish these times! Crazy, but true. It goes by so quickly. The most embarrassing/humiliating/frustrating events will be some of the funniest/most-told/most-treasured memories.

  18. Can I relate? Can I relate?!!!!!!!!!!!

    I often feel like my children are completely attempting to sabotage my sanity. It’s like, “Are you kidding? that’s what your doing right now? waaaaahhhh!”

    lol–all kidding aside (and actually I’m not really kidding) I completely agree with you about taking it in small increments. In fact I just blogged about “celebrating the little victories” that explores similar sentiments.

  19. Oh, I SO needed to read this post, and the great comments too, today! Sometimes I feel like I am really the only mom that seems to almost lose it basically everyday. Somehow it’s so easy to look at others and think that their life is easier and they’re kids are well behaved and don’t drive them crazy. Wait, did I say that my kids drive me crazy out loud? :)

    Finding the balance between getting things done, dealing with all of the little things, and spending quality, intentional time with my kids is something that I’m struggling with right now. I know it is a season of life, and this too shall pass. But it’s sometimes makes me want to pull my hair out in the middle of it, doesn’t it?!?

  20. I find my day a success when I can keep my oldest dressed and the youngest from having a diaper explosion!
    Starting my day over is my favorite thing. Rylan(almost 3) sleeps from noon until about 2:30pm. I take this time to pick up the living room, spend some time with Gabe(7months) and get myself dressed for the day. I usually don’t have time for that in the am since both boys wake at about 7am and its non stop until noon!

  21. Mom of 2 under 2 says:

    Its definitely craziest when I look at the clock and can’t believe its only 9:30am! It is such a challenge to take a step back and appreciate all the small victories and adorable moments these days.

    A quick question (not sure if its been brought up yet): Did anyone see “Motherhood” and did you see remarkable parallels with your blog and other mom blogs? I was flabergasted that in the end credits it says something like ‘no connection to any real people…’. Why not just do a gracious thank you to all the moms blogging out there? It keeps us all sane!

  22. Yes, Yes, YES! Ugh. I call it My Cadence. It’s the 3.5 minutes between interruptions, followed by the “WHAT??????” in the whiny ‘would you just leave me ALONE voice’ because I’m frustrated that I can’t even string 2 thoughts together, let alone get a task completed. I can clock it … I walk down the basement stairs, and in 2 minutes or less, someone is shouting down at me. I’m down there five minutes, tops! and yet … I can’t even have THAT window. Sigh. The days are long but the years are short…

  23. My favorite is when we are walking out the door and someone announces “I have poops” at which I breathe a sigh of relief we weren’t all buckled in the car and pulling out the driveway.

    Tracey´s last post…Make Maternity Pants from Pants

  24. I feel I’ve got it easy!

    No kids, but I still have a hard enough time getting myself out the door and feel like I should wear a bib most of the time because I make enough mess just by myself!

    I could be in a lotta trouble when we have kids…

    Kait Palmer´s last post…Im Making the WHAT or Wedding Part I

  25. Old Doug in BC says:

    Rachael, I could not help laughing at that Small Notebook this AM!
    We had 7 kids, so Marie recalls very well those kind of days. TOO well :-)! Cheer up, things will improve as they get older. Maybe!
    Even now after 62 years of marriage, we get thinking back and wondering how we did it, and you will also. You are lucky that one didn’t remove the rest of the clothing along with the shoes and socks! Or do that in the Market!! Nice now to see our great grandkids giving their parents the same problems their parents gave us!!!!
    Cheers, Old Doug and Marie in BC Canada

  26. Exactly! I am so having on of those days. We are getting ready to leave for a trip and I don’t even really have time to read your blog today. But I just really needed a break. Anyway, perfect timing -I needed this perspective at this exact moment.


  27. All so true!! I have to remind myself that my husband and I did not choose for me to resign from my teaching position to care for our house, but for me to care for our children (Anthony is 3 and Jacqueline is almost 1). No matter how justified I may feel when I’m frustrated with them because I didn’t get the dishes done or dry my hair or eat dinner at the same time as Rob, the ugly truth is that it’s all my selfishness. Those things are about ME and what I want, not about nurturing their needs. I love them, and what’s more important than showing them? Nothing I cook tastes better than that hot or cold!

  28. Ah, thank you so much for this. It truly helped me to remember why I do the things I do as a mother.
    I love your blog and follow it religiously!
    Please feel free to stop by my blog!

    Jaimé Gaudé´s last post…“…are my children working against me”

  29. I love that picture of your kids! Very cute. It’s hard to want control over your day and to feel as if you have none. I struggle with that and my kids are even school age. But when they are home or it’s a weekend I feel as if everything takes longer and I can’t get my to-do list done, and that bugs me. But is my to-do list what is really most important? No. We just have to surrender to our roles and realize this is how it goes during this season of life.

  30. I wrote a similar post just yesterday. I don’t have any kids (YET!) but even regular grown-up days can be hard, particularly those days when everything undoes itself behind you and you end the day with more work than when you started.
    I used to stress a lot about these days, convinced that I was the worst grown-up of all time and that every other adult knew what they were doing. Then I met my husband and his family, who are all so relaxed and calm and I learned that I could be that way too. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, but stressing out about it only makes it worse! Thanks for the reminder.

  31. I have felt this way…and I only have one!
    A friend told me before my boy was born to not get too irritated (or enamored) with any stage because they all fly by so fast…so to just enjoy it for what it is. Good advice, I think – not that I am successful everyday, but it is a nice reminder.

    Robin´s last post…Have a Relaxing Weekend

  32. I find on those days when I can’t get anything done I get irrational. I start to think the kids are planning to undo everything I’ve done which is crazy- of course they don’t!

    • Ok, it’s not that crazy to think that. We actually have teaching moments where I have to tell them, “Don’t undo work that I’ve done.” It happens almost daily, usually when I am putting things away and folding laundry.

  33. With 2 kids, my life is often chaotic and unpredictable. Yesterday I almost had meltdown at the park with trying to control 1.5 yr and 5 yr old’s busy ways.

    I barely survived! I take each hour at the time. slowly.

    Preeti @ Heart and Mind´s last post…101 Changes- Change 7- Watch Less Television

  34. Treasure the madness… really!!! I blinked and my firstborn is twelve – I remember every moment of his birth and pregnancy – really I just blinked. It is quite terrifying to think if I blink again and it will be twelve years from now he will be a man… How does this happen… the minutes are long and the years really do flash by.

    se7en´s last post…Sunday Snippet- The Egyptians in Bible Times… A GiveAway…

  35. Yup, I definitely relate!!! Good to know we’re not alone in this, huh? :) I love your “rule” of not rushing a 3-year old. I need to remember that and plan for extra lolly-gagging time when I need to be somewhere! :)

  36. Welcome to my world as well! I love the title, Five Minutes At a Time… I think I should stick that one on my fridge, where I pass by it more times that I would care to count on a daily basis :)

    And since I’ve read your post, I’m going to spend one of those five minute blocks of time tackling one of the six baskets of washing I need to put away, while three children sit quite happily and finish their morning tea!

    Meegan´s last post…Grandma&8217s 90th

  37. Totally totally agree with you, Rachel. In fact, I must have written about this someplace as well. That is the reason, I keep my things to do list to a minimum, have a realistic view of my day and know that no two days or even, hours can be the same:-0
    All part of the package of being Mom!

    Prerna´s last post…3 Secrets to a Peaceful Daily Routine- Simple Steps to Save Your Sanity

  38. Elizabeth B says:

    Don’t put nuts in your nose. I like it. Where were you the day long ago when my neighbors’ fourth kid, the ornery one, carefully picked out only the blue diamonds Lucky Charms and… put them up her nose? ;)

  39. I just sent my last one to college. I look back now and wish I’d done what everyone said – don’t worry about how clean the house is, just enjoy every minute they’re little. Soon they’ll be teenagers (yuk,) then they’re gone. I remember how frustrating it was, though. One time I heard my dd say to her doll “just give me 5 minutes!” Yikes! LOL

    Sally´s last post…Freedom tastes like

  40. No children just yet…but 2 dogs and sometimes they drive me crazy. I’m actually looking forward to the days of being frustrated with the little kiddos running around!

    Julie´s last post…Happy Weekend

  41. Boy, can I relate! I have two months off before my new job starts, so I’ve had to re-learn how to be a full-time mommy. I finally think I have my expectations in the right place. :)

    Appetite for Conversation´s last post…Dear World

  42. “In life with small children, interruptions and messes and small things are not disruptions to my day, they are my day, and I should be ready for them.”

    Yes. This is it exactly. And maybe, on a great day, to be more than *ready* for the messes… maybe, and this sounds a bit looney, *looking forward* to whatever messes the day is gonna throw at us… because that’s when we get to bring out our best Mom Skills and show off what we’ve learned through all this. And maybe shine.

  43. As the mother of a 3 year old with developmental delay and an 18 month old “little mama” I am constantly being thrown off track. Add to this an inexplicable case of bi-lateral carpel tunnel syndrome when you’ve finally got the baby to sleep at night and you have so many days that nothing gets done it’s not even funny! When I was first diagnosed I had to come to grip with the fact that it was either dinner and kids taken care or or dishes and kids taken care of, sometimes it was only the kids. I was forced to stop obsessing about the house and the state of cleanliness, or lack thereof and just focus on the few things that really mattered.
    The mess too gross to talk about, my daughter did that to me this week! I love your rule about nuts in the nose, remember – no popcorn kernels in the ears as well!

  44. katie leonard says:

    My everyday life is this everyday. I constantly make lists of what to do for the day and by the time the day has ended I’m lucky if 1 of the things on my list has been accomplished. And yet everyday I look back and think… I know I did something today, I’m just not sure what… One of my all time favorite comic strips is Baby Blues, and one Sunday probably a year or so ago I cut out a strip that started with the mom holding a watering can and ended with her holding a pile of laundry, a baby, a bottle, and numerous other items. Her husband walks in and says, “what are you doing?” to which she replies from behind her pile, “watering the plant”. (it’s something like this… there may not have been a plant involved at all but this is what I remember) :)… Anyway, I loved it because that is how my life goes, I have an intention or goal and face many detours along the way. I try to be thankful or to remember that I will one day pick up the watering can and water the plant…and will probably find myself a little sad about it. No little hands, no little feet, no littles then.

    • ha… totally agree with the one thing on the list… and if I manage to do something that wasn’t on the list I will add it to the bottom just so I can cross it off.

  45. Sometimes I realize it would just serve me better to just try to go as slow as I can with everything. “no nuts in your nose” is a good rule. We have a no candy in your ears rule.

  46. I just came back to read this post, last time I tried I was interrupted by some mess or another.

    I’m one day past my due date with baby number 3 (I have little boys who are 3 1/2 and 21 months already) and this is my life.

    Five minutes at a time, my dears, five minutes at a time. Expect the unexpected and life will be a joy instead of a frustration (more often than not). Love it.

  47. I have to say that I too feel like this most of the time! Although my children are older, I am caring for my mom as well and nothing ever goes as planned. I just have to keep reminding myself that I am only one person. There will be a day when my life slows way down and I will probably be bored so I try to enjoy the “life” that is surrounding me now!

    Love the “no nuts” rule! It’s a keeper! =)

  48. I remind my self daily that when working, loving, and raising children parents and teachers only have the illusion of control. Control is ultimately in the hands of the child, which is hard for a type A, control nut to admit.

  49. In April, I wrote a post called “Five Minutes” on my blog that was very similar to this one! I haven’t been blogging very long, but I’ve always loved journaling. A friend who lives in Paris sent me your blog, and I subscribe now. Always refreshing to read. Thanks for being refreshing.

  50. as a friend recently reminded me, everything is fun in retrospect… so even if it doesn’t seem fun in the moment that its going wrong, soon you will look back and laugh…

    angelvalerie´s last post…off on holidays…