Homemaking, Time Management

A peek inside the routine.

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.)

2 thoughts on “A peek inside the routine.

  1. Question- What do the kiddos do during your cleaing periods? Do they help? Do they play with each other or alone? Do your morning c/d/c's take you all the way through naptime, or do you do activities with them along with your cleaning? I am working on writing my routine right now and I am finding that I am scheduling time to play vs time to clean and that just feels weird!
    Sorry for all the questions; you just happened to pull off what I have been trying to do for weeks and I am super interested!

  2. If it's something they CAN help with, then I try to bring them in, yes–emptying the dishwasher, putting their toys back in the bins, etc. Otherwise, yes, they do play with each other a lot. R takes a nap in that time frame, too. I feel a lot like a referee when I'm trying to get cleaning done… trying to make sure E and R aren't hurting or annoying each other, not needing diapers, not hungry, not bored, etc., but also trying to keep them out of my way! I will say that so far it seems to me (with both girls) that there are two stages that are REALLY hard: the "I want to be entertained but I can't do it myself very well yet" stage, which seems to be about Lorelei's age, and the "I want to walk/move all the time but I can't do it without help" stage, which seems to be maybe 7 months thru walking. Both stages happened with both girls, and once I understood what was happening, I knew just to bear with it and not be as productive during those stages. Then, so far, it's been better ever since–I think they're much easier even when they're getting into everything than they are closer to the beginning when they really need a TON of one-on-one attention.

    Anyway, I know that doesn't help you *now* since you're on real deadlines and not dealing JUST with housework, but… take hope, it gets easier?

    I think the biggest thing I've had to learn is to take advantage of their naps or when they ARE occupied (food helps immensely with this, once Lorelei gets onto food), to work like crazy and try to time my own breaks / emails / sit-downs / naps to coincide with when they need my attention. I *know* that when they're content and I'm doing something I could be doing later while rocking R to sleep, for instance, that that isn't a good use of my time and I'll regret it later and wish I'd done something that I can only do when they're amusing themselves.

    A lot of times physical closeness goes a long way to a contented child, too, like if I can get done my work (or my blog posts, for instance) in whatever room they're most amused in at the moment.

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