Today has been a definite “off” day–the kids were fussy, I woke up exhausted, naps went poorly, and my mom couldn’t come over for very long (during the summer she has been coming over a lot!). So, I thought it’d be a good opportunity to explain how my routine actually works out… on a bad day.
Before breakfast, I set out the meat for dinner. Item one checked off the list.
After breakfast, without the routine, I probably would have thought to myself, I’m exhausted, the house isn’t a wreck, I’m just going to do laundry and then chill with the kids a bit. But the routine beckoned. I’ll admit I didn’t do as much as I would on a “normal” day, but by naptime I’d restored the rooms to “normal,” done two loads of laundry, stuffed/folded the rest of the cloth diapers, gathered up the bath toys and dumped them in the kitchen sink with some bleach to soak for a few hours, and started in on clearing off the top of the refrigerator (one of my projects I’d determined to accomplish today). On a more normal day, I would likely have finished the laundry and the fridge, done some actual cleaning in the bathrooms instead of just decluttering, and probably attacked a few piles of clutter in the areas I “normal-ized” so that tomorrow would be even neater than today.
Anyway, I decided to save the vacuuming (small task with a good cordless stick vac–I can’t recommend them enough, mommas!), the rest of the top of the fridge, and the laundry-folding for this afternoon, along with cooking and giving the kids a bath. I also was able to declutter some outstanding “hotspots” upstairs, research some issues I ran into with cloth diapers, and spent a good amount of time chilling with the munchkins this afternoon, all even before my mom showed up!
One thing that is really working with this new routine is that it has an enormous amount of flexibility and daily autonomy. So on days like this past Monday, when I have energy and drive paired with a complete lack of children, the routine motivates me to really get a lot done. And on days like today, which is easily my worst day so far this week, the routine makes sure I don’t fall behind and end up in an even sorrier state of housework tomorrow. I think this is the single biggest key to finding a routine that I can continue to follow from day to day and week to week. It’s also kind of funny the way that it’s teaching me some basic principles instead of just being a list of items to check off. It also makes me think consciously about what things I need to do today, tomorrow, and for the rest of the week, and make a real implementable plan for when to get them done. The whole “nighttime routine” idea–just thinking about the next day and making sure I have the answers to some basic questions–has deeply changed the way my day goes. I wake up knowing some of the big things I need to get accomplished, knowing whether or not laundry is one of them, and knowing what I’ll cook for dinner. Small things, granted, but making these decisions on a different day than I actually have to fulfill them helps me to be more honest and ambitious in my plans.
I’ve also noticed that knowing I’ll have to do things the next day makes me infinitely more likely to take care of them the night before. I’m strongly motivated to clean up the kitchen after dinner, because otherwise I know it’s one of the first things waiting for me in the morning. If I see a pile of things waiting to go up or down the stairs, I’ll probably grab it the very first time my hands are empty–and put it away properly–because I’m going to have to do it in a moment anyway, may as well do it when my hands are empty! Dirty clothes on the floor? I’m obsessed now with picking them up right away so that I don’t have to go around the house in search of them. At the same time, though, the fact that these things aren’t actually on the schedule until “later” helps me not get stressed out and feel overloaded by them.
“Clutter begets clutter” is such a true statement! And for me, at least, having a lack of clutter to begin with–and obsessing about maintaining that lack–is an essential motivating tool. I’m terrified of it getting out of order!
(Written earlier this week.)