Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Necessity of Routine in the Stay-at-Home Life


Several times in the last few weeks (since I've quit teaching, maybe forever), I've been asked the following question:

"So what do you DO now? How are you filling up all that spare time?"

First off, I always have to inwardly chuckle a little bit at the question, especially when I get it from moms themselves, who should know better--

Much of my days at home are hardly "free time"--basically, if the baby is awake, I am not in "free time" mode.

But I think the people asking me the question already know that. What they mean, I think, is what am I doing now that I'm not automatically busy with a full-time job between 5:30 A.M. and 3:15 in the afternoon?

Well, I'll tell you exactly what I'm doing now with all that "free time" because I happen to really believe in the power of a good routine.

Let me back up a bit though--

In the few weeks leading up to the end of the school year, in the rare moment when I actually had time to think, I would make comments to Matt to the effect of this:

"You know, after giving myself a good 24 to 48 hours to do basically nothing once I'm done with teaching, I really want to sit down and lay out a routine for the foreseeable future because I want to get into good habits early on instead of being lazy from the get-go. Basically, if I start off lazy, I'll continue to be lazy. So I need to figure out what I want my 'ideal week' to look like and go from there."

(Yes, that is actually the kind of out-loud musing that Matt is constantly putting up with.)

See, before, when I just had summers off (but knew I'd be returning to the classroom come the end of August), I would still set routines for the summer, but they were pretty lax. Basically, summer was my time for recharging and for trying out new experiences and reading a lot of good books, so it wasn't all that important for me to work out a productivity plan, per se. Now that THIS is how I'm spending my time for the foreseeable future, however, I knew it would be more beneficial for both me and for Raven (and for Matt, too, in all honesty) if there was some sort of definite structure in each day and certain variables that could be counted on to be more or less unchanging (like meal times).

To figure out my ideal weekly plan, I first took a look at my short- and long-term goals, which are largely based around the new year's resolutions I set for myself back in January. In addition to these, I thought about some "big picture" things, like the type of mom I want to be, the type of home I want to run, the kind of woman I want to become in general. I also looked at some of my talents and skills and thought about ways to develop those where possible, too.

Next, I looked at possible pockets of time to really get things done (aka, times when Raven is sleeping or being cared for by Matt). That meant that I had some time in the morning up until 9 when Matt leaves for work, the time during her first nap of the day (usually starting around 9 or 9:30), her afternoon nap (around 1 or 2 in the afternoon), and after she's gone down for the night (from about 7 p.m. and on).

Then I started to hammer out a schedule.

Lest you think I am a spontaneity-killing monster, however, I will take this moment to point out that while I do have a loose routine every day, I recognize that not all days can follow this pattern exactly, so I allow myself some flexibility. However, this little routine DOES make me feel productive and like I've spent each day well, even if I only complete the bare minimum outlined for the day (instead of any other to-do items I've stacked on top of those).

Here's what I've come up with so far in our weekly routine:

Daily 
*Make bed
*Put on makeup (still working on the "get dressed in real clothes" bit, lol)
*Do dishes
*Prepare meals
*Nightly "tidy" (see this post for more details)

Monday 
*Do meal planning/meal options
*Go grocery shopping
*Go on a run
*Do blog post

Tuesday
*Do laundry
*Write in novel (at least 500 words)
*Attend exercise class

Wednesday
*Declutter/Organizational Projects
*Do blog post
*Do strength training workout

Thursday
*Dust/Vacuum/Mop
*Go on a run
*Write in novel
*Run miscellaneous errands

Friday
*Clean bathroom/vanity area
*Do blog post

Saturday
*Go on long run
*Family fun

Other Daily Things I Try to Fit In
*Reading at least 40 pages
*Practicing piano for 10 minutes
*Photography practice/work/instruction
*Taking Raven outside for a long walk


Like I said, this has been really effective for me so far because it gives me both time to relax as well as a feeling of accomplishment each day, even if I just accomplish the bare minimum. 

I'd love to hear from other people who stay at home on a daily basis---have you also created a routine? How did you go about creating yours?

 


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