Monday, January 23, 2012

My Rhythm is Getting Better

Sadly, my dancing is not.

I'm talking about my daily rhythm - the flow of our household. The holiday season got us out of whack and I was spending my days feeling like I just raced from one thing to another, without any real "plan" for the day. Slowly but surely, I'm managing to get a routine put back in place and though I still don't have it perfected, I'm not sure I want to be shooting for perfection anyway.

Tools of the Trade

There are a few things that I've started using to help me plan my days, weeks and months. I'm a list person and I LOVE having things organized. Some people are just naturally good at remembering things, but I'm not one of them. I won't lie when I say that I actually did research about various ways to plan a routine and schedule AND keep track of it. If you occasionally feel dumb because you're spending some time during the day googling "cleaning schedule," or "preschool routine," just remember to tell yourself that people spend lots of money to go to college and get an education for a specific career they're interested. Many moms are thrust right into the career of homemaker, educator, and freaking LIFEGUIDE with no preparation whatsoever. Mommy blogs and Pinterest are to me, what my husband's "General Sugery" book is to him - a study guide. SERIOUSLY.

So anyway... here is what I've been using:
  • A paper-version weekly/monthly calendar, as well as Google Calendars. Having a calendar accessible from anywhere online, as well as the ability to email it to my husband, is just invaluable. But, I also like to keep a paper version that I treat like a "daily docket." I'm able to look at my other lists, calendars and references and plan out my day in each daily-space provided.
  • My home management notebook (HMN). My husband thought I was crazy when I started making one of these a while back. I revisited it when I was trying to better my routine and now it houses several things:
    • My gym schedule
    • My husband's current work schedule
    • My daily and monthly cleaning lists
    • My master to-do list (things that I'd like to do at some point, but don't HAVE to be done right now)
  • My menu plan (I currently use a menu-planning service called E-Mealz). 

How I USE those tools

One of the most helpful things I've started doing is waking up BEFORE the kids. If you know me, you know that my kids wake up at the butt-crack of dawn, so waking up before them is no easy task. It has actually helped that my husband's schedule has him getting up at 4:00am every morning, meaning that we both go to bed at a decent time every night (usually by 9:00pm) and I'm not waking up early on my own. I have been rolling out of bed around 4:30am and my kids - if I'm lucky - sleep until 6:30. My 3-year old has always been an early-riser and this morning, was up at 5:30 (ay yi yi). Even if I just fart around and watch The Bachelor during those early morning hours, I still have the chance to have breakfast in peace and plan my day.

I grab my planner, then open my HMN, checking that day's schedule and cleaning tasks. I write anything for the day in my planner. Then, I glance at my dinner menu and write down any prep I might need to do (take "x" out of the freezer... I WILL forget if I don't make a note of it). I then write down anything on my "to-do" list that needs to be done that day.

It can be very easy to keep thinking of things that need to go on that "to-do" list, but I read a great post from Tsh on Simple Mom in which she suggested including your "most-important-tasks," and not every single little thing you'd like to do. Looking at a long list with only a couple of things crossed off at the end of the day can be really discouraging. I try to write down the things that ABSOLUTELY have to be done that day (calling the bank, for instance) and any other little projects I'd like to do go on my master to-do list. Things on that list are things that I can choose to work on when I have a free moment.

The single biggest influence on my day has been writing down what I want to do. It keep everything sorted and keeps me from haphazardly stretching myself thin during the day. I know what absolutely needs to be completed and I know what doesn't necessarily have to be done that day.  And, it's SO NICE to be able to cross things off of that list.

Of course, there are still some things I'd like to do with the kids more regularly. I'd like to transition into more homeschooling (not that I've decided to do exclusive homeschooling, but I definitely think of myself as one of their many teachers) and do more crafts with them. BUT, running a home - just the business of it - takes a lot of time and organization. I feel like I'm getting a good handle on it. And if I can get all the home business out of the way, I'll have more time to do the fun business. 

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