Happy Wednesday, my friends ... long time no see!
This post has been an open draft on my computer for some time now ... but things have been a bit topsy-turvy here with all the snow! We're in a short lull now (weekend storm ahead!) and I'm trying to get back on track. Thanks for your patience as I worked on this long-promised post!
So today I'd like to talk about something I mentioned in a previous post - about how I like to give my days "stories." It's really quite a simple concept - not very original or life-changing - but I think it's a great exercise in getting yourself one step closer to a "system" that works best for you. And that's something we've been talking about recently: how do we establish routines that help us manage the needs of our family and home? (While keeping our own health and happiness in mind?)
I have always "written stories" when planning out big projects like holidays, seasons and parties, but it works well for all kinds of things - mornings, bedtimes, Sundays, babymoons, and spring cleaning, etc. I like to start by envisioning a story for whatever it is I am planning - so here's what I do, in a nutshell:
I simply grab a piece of paper and a pencil and take a few - or several - quiet moments to think about what it is I am trying to plan. I imagine how it looks, what is happening, who's present and how I feel ... and create a vision that is, perhaps a bit idealized, maybe even unattainable, but will ultimately represent my true hopes and values.
I know that sounds a bit elaborate for something so commonplace, but I really do feel this "mental exercise" helps. And I don't know about you, but I can use all the help I can get when it comes to managing my responsibilities - namely, my family and home!
But before diving into the days individually, I begin with "my day" in general ... so I imagine waking up and going through the motions of the day. I try to think about how I'd like things to be, ideally ...
- My bedroom is neat and I'm up early enough that there is quiet around me.
- I have a cup of fresh coffee thanks to my sweet husband ...
- Phone in hand, I take time for a bit of contemplation: prayer, news, and email.
- I have clothing laid out and the bathroom is tidy and set up for quick washing and dressing.
- I leave the bed freshly made and head downstairs ...
- (Bill has helped with changing and dressing Little Bear. Earlybird is most likely up and he's been given juice and a snack.)
- Coffee is hot and the kitchen is neat as a pin after a thorough once-over last night.
- Breakfast is warm in the crockpot (or set out on kitchen table, ready to assemble).
- I check my journal-binder and look over the day's agenda.
(And so on.)
As I read back over these rather comforting thoughts, I see where I can take action to make this more of a reality. (Underlined words indicate where action is needed ...) I can see that a lot of morning "joy" begins the night before, so I add tasks to my evening routine with that in mind ... set coffee maker to brew before bed, tidy bedroom and master bath before bed and set out washcloth and hair tie, and outfits for myself and the younger boys. Charge phone and have apps/subscriptions that allow for daily prayer, news updates and email. Etc.
(NOTE: This is not what happens, exactly ... not everyday, anyway ... this is an ideal situation!)
As for planning the days themselves, I begin with Sunday because this is the day I really want to get right. In fact, this was the day that kind of kicked off my daily stories, because I was so frustrated that our precious Sundays were starting off harried and ending up as a catchall of missed chores and last-minute errands!
So my ideal Sunday has a story like this ...
- We (some of us) attend early Mass ...
- We are not rushed, things have been organized the night before: donation envelopes, church clothes, Crackerjack's Mass signature card, my "nice" pocketbook :)
- We arrive at Mass early so we can sit quietly and pray, read over the bulletin, relax/absorb, connect with our fellow parishioners ...
- A light breakfast (bread/muffins/fruit) is ready when we get home, along with fresh coffee and Sunday punch.
- We have a quiet day, there are no outside commitments, and we don't shop or run errands.
- Instead, we spend time on home-oriented projects, visiting perhaps, and there's a big family sit-down dinner in the early afternoon.
- Over dinner, we talk about the week's homily and any church news, as well as the week ahead and family goals/schedules.
- Time is spent outside whenever possible - in the garden or as a family, on a hike or bike ride. "Walking the boundaries" together to see how the property is faring.
- I spend time catching up on correspondence with family and friends.
- I read back over my week's journal and index information.
- I spend time with Crackerjack, updating his assignment board and discussing expectations.
- I might spend time baking for the week if I didn't get to it on Saturday.
- I look over the household budget - organize receipts/statements from previous week; talk with Bill about upcoming week's expenses.
- I prepare homeschool materials for week ahead and the boys' daily task cards.
- I place grocery order for the week.
- The trash and recycling is organized for morning.
And remember, this is my STORY ... not always my TRUTH. At least not in its entirety. :)
And as you can see, the exercise kind of morphs into a more traditional list of things to do, but still, it's part of my vision to have time for these things. And it's safe to say, every vision includes the whole house being neat and clean ... whatever the day or occasion ... but it is also safe to say, that's a pretty high horse to climb! But a clean home, to my mind, is the canvas for much family joy and a balm to the spirit as well ... but that's a post for another day. :)
I've had these stories in my head for years, and I like to revisit them in quiet moments, especially when I'm tweaking my routines. (I can put myself back to sleep at night by walking through a story in my mind ...) But I'm now going to keep these stories printed out and stored in one of my binders (either my main planning binder or in the general housekeeping binder).
And from here I feel I can start making some helpful day-by-day task lists that will assist me in creating the kind of week I want my family to live. That I want to live. I know what I do as a wife and mother is important - I don't suffer any insecurity on that front - but when I connect my homekeeping "heart" to my everyday routine, it makes the whole process that much more meaningful and rewarding. I think so, anyway. Does that make any sense, lol?
Oh my goodness, this is so long-winded I'm afraid I have surely bored some of you, but I hope there is some items of interest here for my like-minded homekeeping friends! Honestly I can (obviously) think and talk about this topic at great length ... in fact, I have often thought, I would actually read a novel(la) written entirely about a housewife's days spent caring for her family's home, through the seasons and the ups and downs of everyday life. There wouldn't have to be any drama or suspense ... it would still be exquisitely interesting to me! For example, we are listening to Little House in the Big Woods right now - a wonderful story for the children to hear for many reasons (and especially during our own long winter) - but my favorite parts are the detailed sections on Ma's chores and home keeping! And I often find myself appreciating how simple life was back then ... but then I remember how "easy" we have it nowadays. (I don't face down any bears when getting milk for my family!) And it keeps it all in perspective. :)
Ok, that's enough from me, I think! I'll be back again soon - hoping to have my routines post up next. (Or perhaps, the wall-a-week cleaning post.) But I'd love to hear from you if you have time ... about your own stories, and if you do anything similar when contemplating how you'll manage your week at home, with your family. Or maybe you do this with your work? Bill has been sharing with me how at the office, his team works together to come up with stories for how projects will go ... and then breaking them down into tasks that will make sense to everyone and move them closer to their goals. I loved hearing about their method and he loved hearing that I've been doing something like this (in my own humble way) for years!
Right. I'm off ... lest I continue, lol. Enjoy your Wednesday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!