December 2, 2008

The Balancing Act: Making a Routine Work for You

Well, I didn't plan to be gone for so long! Just as I planned to write about having a daily routine, mine nearly fell apart. A crazy-busy week with Southern Living at Home, followed by R's week of 3-11 shift, ministering to a couple of friends in need, and hosting Thanksgiving times like these, maintaining a routine is difficult. Yet there is something inside me that craves a routine and its dependability. It calms me.
Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday.
~ from Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I admit, the idea of such a routine thrills me. I've tried several times over the years to have designated days for chores. When I failed, I shut down. Perhaps one of the most important lessons I've learned during the Year of Peace and Simplicity has been to let go of unrealistic expectations. I've stopped trying to micromanage my days, and discovered that a routine can be flexible and still be effective. Here's what routine usually looks like for me:

5:30 - 6:30 quiet time
6:30 - 6:45 quiet chore (usually folding laundry)
6:45 - 7:20 wake CJ; make her breakfast & lunch; hair assistance when needed ;-)
7:20 - 7:30 empty dishwasher while CJ waits for bus
7:30 - 8:15 make bed, get ready for work, and head out for the day
R's shift is the big variable here. Sometimes I get up later (so the quiet chore doesn't get done) and don't make the bed (hard to do with him still in it!). Like Joanne, my schedule isn't written down anywhere, but being intentional in using my time has many benefits.

~Dinner - either from the crockpot, or something quick & simple
~Homework & reading
~Clean Kitchen (usually while CJ sits at the bar during homework)
~Laundry, if necessary
~General Pickup
~"Free time" hour
~Start dishwasher & washing machine as needed
Again, this is how it GENERALLY works. I try to keep my weeknight commitments limited to one per week (aside from Wednesday night church). There are plenty of weeks when I have no other plans, but occasionally I have more than one. I'm blessed that R's schedule allows him to help. He frequently starts dinner. Most of the time, he's home to greet CJ after school and they have about an hour to unwind before I get home from work. I make an effort to come straight home from work, which means I often use my lunch hour to run errands.

I get off work early on Fridays, and use that time for grocery shopping and appointments. For the most part, cleaning and seasonal chores are reserved for Saturdays. I just don't have the time or energy during the week!

I'm a
control freak planner, so I keep my eye on the weeks...but I've found that my life works better when I focus my energy on the daily routines. Taking each day as it comes. Accomplishing what I can. Reminding myself that the world won't come to an end if something doesn't get checked off my list. I'm convinced it's what Jesus wants for my life, and for yours.
So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.
~Matthew 6:34 (AMP)
Next up...restful Sundays.


Joanne (The Simple Wife) said...

Yes, GENERALLY is the key word here isn't it?!

I tend to be an all or nothing girl--something I'm working to overcome. So it's important for me to remember that not everyday will go exactly as planned! And when it doesn't, I don't need to throw up my hands in disgust and give up!


Jillian, Inc said...

I loved reading this, Melissa. We try to keep weeknight activities to a minimum as well, especially since we're gone all day working and at school. I need to be better about my quiet time...and I like your idea of "quiet chores". Hope your Thanksgiving was good. It's been awhile since we "chatted".

Kelly said...

Love your schedule. My weeknights tend to be filled with ferrying the girls to their activities, which makes a routine of order tricky. I'm working on it, though, and am encouraged by yours.

I need to start awakening earlier, because my quiet time keeps getting overlooked in the rush to get the girls out the door by 7 a.m., and my day just isn't the same without it.

Hope you have a great week!

Leah in Iowa said...

I enjoyed reading about your schedule. I don't have one on paper either, but the mornings seem to be pretty much the same for us. Afternoons vary quite a bit, and evenings find us home 90% of the time. (I know - call us B.O.R.I.N.G.!!) I'm amazed at what you get done, considering you're a work-outside-the-home gal. Maybe I need to get a job to boost my productiveness?? =)

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

This sounds so great. It IS nice to have a routine. I sort of do, but mostly don't -- I know what you mean about it giving you peace.

When I worked I also did errands at lunch. It was SO nice to be able to go straight home.

His Girl said...

how funny- i just posted on this same topic.

routine... aaahh. it's my comfort food.

Mary said...

Creating a routine when you have to do everything around work, school and extra activities can be a real challenge. I'm trying to keep to a schedule but it's a new one each week. How I wish I could be like Caroline Ingalls and have a day for each chore!

I also end up doing most of my cleaning and errands on Saturday when I'd much rather be going to a movie or playing games with my little man. I just don't know how to get around that. I really want to have more time in the evening and on weekends for family time. With an almost 13 year old, I know that time spent together is limited. Soon he'll have his own activities that don't involve mom.

Lisa writes... said...

Routine? Define, please?


Alana said...

Somehow I get more done when I have a routine, even if I have less time to do it int. Great post!