Thursday, May 13, 2010


4.5 years of marriage and 2 kids later, I'm coming to the end of my rope trying to reinvent a wheel when I know so many of you have the directions down pat. So, I welcome and actively implore your lengthy comments about the following (any or all):

1. What does your daily/weekly schedule look like?
2. How do you manage to get routine housework/prayer/etc. done when your children (esp. small ones) need you NOW...all the time.
3. How do you balance restorative and productive time (ie, breaks in your work during the day).
4. When and how do you have time and energy for anything crafty when you have children and housework and meals and, well, etc.
5. Just out of curiosity: what time do you put the kids to bed? What time do you go to bed? What time do you get up? and how on earth do you ever feel rested? - do you ever feel rested?
6. Do you plan your meals in advance? If so, is it just dinner, or all meals?

Please! Whether I know you personally or not, please please please leave me ridiculously long comments. I'm just trying to get an idea of how to make this whole mom/wife/homemaker/me thing work and I sure would love a glimpse into how some of you manage it (or don't, if that's the case.) :)

Now I have to go because Lydia is trying to eat something off the kitchen floor. yuck.


Nanda said...

Schedule? What's that? Rest? I know it exists but it's been close to 7 years. Time? Isn't that a magazine?

My husband and I are trying to tackle these very questions. I can so relate to this. Maybe if we put our heads together, and you get great feedback, we can come up with some great ideas that will be sustainable over the long haul.

Barbara said...

I'm hardly an expert on this, but I've come across a number of "mommy blogs" and they all seem to deal with this at some point. Here's one post that is sort of helpful in establishing a routine (but a real routine is so personal for your family that it's hard to use one from someone else!).

As far as crafty stuff goes... I can do some of it during the day, but my very inquisitive toddler can make that a challenge. When it gets to be too much, I just put my stuff away and work on it after he goes to bed.

One thing I have started doing, though, is menu planning. I've found that by planning dinners for a week or two at a time, I can make a more focused grocery list. I end up spending less and wasting less, which is great. It's also made it easier for me to have a variety of meals, rather than the same handful of things I can think of off the top of my head when dinnertime rolls around. Lots of bloggers post their weekly menus here if you want some inspiration:

For me? We moved into our house 6 days before my baby was born, and Matt's work schedule has been more intense lately, so I have yet to figure out a real routine that works for me and meets the needs of my kids and our house (at least this is my current excuse). I am slowly working my way toward a sustainable daily/weekly routine, but I'm not really there yet. Although... there really is a rhythm to our days. They look more or less like this:

by 8am: everyone dressed and fed
8-10am: quiet play for kids, housework*, etc. for me
10-noon: errands/outings or just playing outside (with snack around 10:30)
12-1:30 lunch, cleanup, and playtime
1:30-3pm Henry's nap (and maybe Lucy's), free time or housework* for me
3-5pm play outside, go for a walk, run other errands as necessary (with afternoon snack)
5-6pm dinner prep
6:30-7:30 try not to go crazy before Henry goes to bed
7:30-8pm BEDTIME (for the little ones)

I bet your day isn't so far off of that. What I'd like to do a better job of is scheduling *my* time. Too often, that "housework" category turns into "sit on the couch with my laptop." Eventually, I think Henry will also need more structure to his playtime (reading, creative stuff, etc.), but for right now he is fairly independent and happy to just do whatever (including eating gross stuff off of the kitchen floor). My next major goal, as far as establishing a schedule goes, is to figure out a housework routine that is flexible enough to do around the needs of the kids, but firm enough that I actually DO it! We'll see how that goes.

And... it's almost 8am and none of us are dressed. Oops!

Alexis said...

Oh Fester...
it is the untameable beast. seems a lot more untamable this year b/c of homeschooling so there could still be hope for you!
Everyone needs to come up with their own thing. Different temperments, different needs almost make it not worth comparing schedules and plans - it just leads you into thinking that you're not doing enough. Anyway, that's what it does for me. Unfortunately I think it is best to invent your own wheel.
That being said, read Flylady (website), The Messies Manual, Side-tracked home executives, Peace with Preschoolers (website). Get some basic ideas but really, really don't compare yourself to other's schedules, it is short-term gain with long-term seeds of self-doubt sown in. Bad harvest, you know?
OK, maybe I'm just speaking from my own world. I'm OBSESSED with finding the most efficient use of my time and energy and always think that I should do everybody elses good ideas (shouldn't I make a bunk bed like Karen? HA!) so it's a temptation for me to be dissatisfied with my own little world no matter what.
Here's my very cautiously shared "tips" or "things that have sometimes worked for me":
my kids go to bed at 7-8 pm. I stop working at 9 pm at the latest, usually by 8. I have a morning, afternoon, evening routine that my daily cleaning (dishes, sweeping, trash, etc.) gets done. They just need to get done in roughly those times. My morning routine is something like, clean up from breakfast; unload dishes; get a load of laundry in; clean Hot Spots (Flylady term).
Afternoon is lunch cleanup; maybe dinner prep; crash because my kids have run me into the ground; then I do my weekly/monthly housekeeping or my bills or gardening or homeschool planning. This is naptime.
Evening is: dinner cleanup; sweep (maybe mop); layout clothes (never happens); fold laundry (I only fold mine and J's - kids just get laid flat.
My housekeeping schedule for the afternoon work is...
Monday, nothing (we're at mom's group and do school in the afternoon); Tuesday - laundry, 1st floor cleaning (I have a weekly list and a monthly list); Bills, Wednesday - Grocery Shop and library; Thursday - laundry, garden, baking; 2nd floor cleaning; Friday -everything I didn't get done; special projects (bunk beds?); nature walks, etc. (in other words, a free day);
Saturday - yard sales, museums, gardening, visit friends

I should add that 80% of this happening is now my goal. John just took over laundry and dishes and I hired a 13 year old pal ($5/hr) to help me clean once every two weeks). The schedule above more or less worked for me before homeschooling. When pregnant or not sleeping all bets were off. Sometimes survival mode is the reality. But it's nice to have something to be working towards and know that eventually things will calm down enough to get back to that. Go to the blog Like Mother Like Daughter. She's doing a series on "The Reasonably Clean House" that's great.
Anyway...I think it's really wonderful to use these early years to research and establish routines, it can be hard but you have to think less in terms of schedules and more in terms of rythms.
OK, snotty nosed kids are now attacking me...I hope that helps. But you will find your own rythm - there's SO much out there to read and think about. Mother's Rule of Life is good too, of course (I assume you've read that?). Oh, "my time". I used to have it in the afternoons during nap time but basically it has just been shrinking and shrinking until now it's maybe a bit in the evening before bed and when I reach a crisis point and I take off on a Saturday morning. I think that happens with more kids. It reminds me of the Velveteen Rabbit becoming Real. Pretty soon I'll be that mom who doesn't get anytime "me time", for real. Luckiy it happens "bit by bit". OK, really got to go, so much to say but take it all with a grain of salt!

Alexis said...

And yes, I do menus.
I will do 1 week at a time and a shopping list based on those. I try to check the weather so I know if I can grill out. Some days are inflexible b/c they are crockpot meals or something but if they are under a 1/2 hour prep then I treat them as interchangeable and know that I just have to start cooking at 4 but I can choose what I want.
I'm experimenting with the idea static menues on certain days:

Mexican Monday
Pasta Tuesday
Soup Wednesday
Crockpot Thursday
Fish Friday
LO Saturday
Grill out Sunday

It has made the planning much easier.
I'm also experimenting with adding a seasonal element to my static menues (asparagus twice a week in the spring, lots of potatoes in the fall, etc.). Now I'll be switching to 2 week plans because I can't get out as often, reliably and we do most of our shopping at Costco/Aldis and they aren't terribly nearby.

Karen said...

When my kids were younger, we didn't have a schedule, really. And you and I probably have different ideas of clean :) I'm not terribly disciplined about housework, I don't really plan meals (though I try to always have the basic ingredients for quick meals around), and we don't tend to overcommit ourselves. So life is fairly predictable, if unscheduled. I have found that cleaning for company is an OK plan. When it becomes a priority, it will happen :) And if you don't finish everything you wanted to get done, it's OK. As long as you're trying, it will never get THAT bad :)

I feel lucky that I don't come from a family that was super tidy, so I don't feel like I'm letting anyone down and I know that no one is judging me when they stop by unannounced and my house is horrific (like right now). Also, Tim isn't a picky eater and doesn't care too much about the state of the house/laundry/ironing/etc (but I'm getting better!). If your hubby is different, that could make things trickier.

Ultimately, I don't think I'm the kind of person who can do the fly lady type cleaning/planning system... I just work in spurts when the spirit moves me, and as long as I can get my house looking pretty good with about 60 minutes of really hard work, I think I'm doing OK. My standards of clean have gone down from pre-kid life, but that's to be expected. There is NO HUMANLY WAY to keep the floor of a house with kids crumb/drip free without washing it everyday, and it's not going to happen. Period. Accept it :) Carpets get grungy, walls get finger prints... this is part of the price of parenthood, I think. Giving up some of your ideals to accomodate the little ones.

Now, since they are a bit bigger (Mikey's going to be 3 in a month!), they can be reasoned with and rules enforced, so that relieves some of the stress of feeling like it'll go on forever and you'll live in filth till the day you die. You won't... it'll get better (then worse, then better, etc).

In terms of crafting, I think the more you do it around your kids, the more used to it they become... it's part of your "mom work", just like washing dishes; all the stuff you do that they only get to watch. My kids don't get into my stuff very often at all, even if I leave projects around, because they know what will happen if they do (big trouble!). Obviously when they were little they were more curious, but I had a counter height table and would work above their reach. You can get creative :)

So glad you posted... this happens to everyone with small kids, more than once, and you just need to remember that it's going to be OK. God doesn't ask more of you than He provides the grace to accomplish. I'll pray for more of that for you this week! Love you!!

Karen said...

And our weekday looks like this (but my kids are older and pretty flexible)

7:00 wake up
7:30 eat breakfast, then kids play while I do housework
9:00 make sure kids are dressed, hair brushed; continue housework
10:00 I get a shower
11:00 feed kids lunch
11:30 take Norah to bus stop
12:30 try to make mikey take nap; kids nap/play while I work on my project of choice (etsy or something for the house)
4:00 get norah at bus stop
4:15 snack time, think about what to make for dinner, tidy up kitchen
5:00 make dinner
6:00 eat dinner
7:30-8:30 bedtime (depends on if they napped or not, time of year, etc)
8:30-10 or 11 spend time with Tim

I dpn't plan to do work of any kind after Tim gets home, but if he's doing something (watching sports, playing sports, men's night, etc), then I do whatever project I want during that time.

I fully expect this rosy reality to go out the window when we have another kid, but for now, it works pretty well and everyone's needs seem to be met.

Hope that helps :)