Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Managers of our time: the challenge of following our own schedule

If you are a woman who has come home after long years of having a strict schedule at a job or in college, it is not unlikely that you experience the following: a feeling of disorientation and even helplessness, easily succumbing to distractions, inability to concentrate and frustration over not knowing what you are supposed to do the next moment.

I'm talking from experience. After my most stressful period of college was over, and I started spending most of my time at home, I felt almost lost because there was no one to tell me when I need to get up, where I need to go, and what I need to do at every given moment.

If you've never seen a healthy and balanced home life in function, it's easy to give in to the world's expectations, feel useless, and conform to the idea that 'there's nothing to do at home'. When you become the manager of your time, disappointment and frustration are guaranteed if you don't learn to use it wisely.

The first step, for me, was to write out a good and solid routine, which includes all the frequent and basic housekeeping tasks necessary for our household to run smoothly, specifics of cleaning of different areas of the home, laundry, shopping, cooking, etc. Starting my day by carrying out those basic tasks saves me a good deal of rush and pressure afterwards. I also make sure to include quiet prayer and meditation time in my morning routine. It gives a completely different, more serene feeling to my entire day!

There are days when the basics alone keep me so busy that I don't have time for anything else – for example when shopping, laundry, major cleaning jobs and cooking all pile up in the same day. But normally – at this season of my life - it doesn't happen, and I'm left with several long hours on my hands.

This is when exasperation would undoubtedly set in if I didn't have a section in my home management binder for long-term household projects. This includes all things that take some time to do, or cleaning tasks that only have to be done once in a while. For example: washing windows, sewing towels, polishing furniture, or renovations. The list of things to do at home is truly endless, but if I counted on my memory alone, I'm not sure I'd remember any of them in a moment of idleness, when a good book or my computer seem so much more tempting.

It's also important not to get carried away with an addiction to crossing items off your to-do list. I'm convinced that good home life is supposed to be simple and peaceful, so I try not to be overwhelmed by the number of projects that seems to magically multiply itself, and not bite off more than I can chew.

In the late afternoon and evening hours I try to unwind and dedicate myself to useful and creative activities: crafts, good reading, studying Spanish, writing letters or updating my journal (yes, I'm still addicted to that peculiar old-fashioned way of blogging on paper, with no readers and no comments!), and finally, computer time.

Of course, routines will be different for each home, for each family, according to individual habits and needs, such as nap times, nursing times, work schedules of other family members, and whatever other considerations you might take into account.

This brings me to the final point of today, which is: be flexible. Sometimes your neat and orderly schedule is unexpectedly broken off by the needs of your parents, siblings, husband or children. Don't let this discourage and frustrate you; having a good working routine is a must, but the possibility to alter it to meet the needs of our loved ones is one of the most wonderful aspects of being a homemaker.

32 comments:

mermade said...

Hi, Anna! I've been a regular reader of your blog for a couple of weeks now. As someone who has a similar story, I find your blog very encouraging. I, too, went through a rebellious phase when I was in middle school (I had four boyfriends within two years! Ack!) Then, in high school, I became more serious about Christianity. At the time, I considered myself radically anti-feminist. I even wrote a research paper called "The Feminine Mistake" which outlined my beliefs that women should embrace homemaking and motherhood. However, my beliefs took a turn when I reached college. My story is long and complicated. I consider myself a feminist, and I am pro-life, but my definition of feminism is more conservative than most. Anyway, I thought I would share my thoughts with you. Thanks again for your great blog!!

Anna S said...

Hi Mermade, and thanks for commenting! If you ever feel like sharing more of your story, I'd love to hear from you; you are welcome to email me anytime at celena_costello@hotmail.com

Mimi said...

Anna,
good post on time management... we all need to manage our time a little better...
it is so easy to sit down looking through a book or some other distraction (in the middle of a chore we are doing) and lose all track of time...but then that chore will still be there waiting for us tomorrow..

Mrs Slaq said...

Hey there Anna!
Funny you should post on time time management; that's just what I've been working on and blogging about lately :) My Captain's been a tremendous help to me in learning to balance "needs to be done" and "no one is going to die if this doesn't happen". I tend to get a bit obsessive at times (ever seen Monk?).
It's starting to balance itself out. Our next big challenge I think is taking time as a couple to study God's word together. We really need to lay some decisions before him and pray for guidance. Usually what happens is we both get home from work and we're both tired and nothing happens. We've agreed to do it tonight though, as long as I remember. I've found God does a good job reminding me of ftings like that when I ask him to :)
Goodness, I am rambly today!
Hope you have a wonderful day!
Michelle

Anonymous said...

I think it's interesting, Anna, how your blog yesterday addressed balance & harmony in how we choose to decorate our homes, & today's post deals with a different kind of balancing act...creating a home schedule that works!

To my way of thinking, a schedule in the home is a lifesaver. People are generally creatures of habit, & most would probably admit that they like the comfort of continuity in their lives. Every day should not be handled in an ad hoc fashion!!

But this does not mean that the schedule has to be a dictator, ruining all spontaneous fun. And, as you mentioned, the family's needs can & will change, & I think it's the wise homemaker who will be able to adapt to those changes.

This is nice information today, for beginner as well as experienced homemaker. Thanks!

Brenda

Kathleen said...

Anna, what a timely and relevant post. I made that schedule for myself, but it is nearly impossible to get started because either I feel lost or we are out running around.

Another crucial component of peace at home is limiting your outside commitments. Don't block out the world, but don't exert yourself doing outside activities. Last year, I think I had four or five different activities (two volunteering, piano, speed skating, janitorial team @ church, Bible study, babysitting, housecleaning...that's more than five!). This year I said, "Okay, I'm taking piano and doing ONE other thing." I have mercilessly cut the rest out. And I think people should be really careful before they plan outings for every day of the week!

Anna S said...

Brenda, I didn't even notice it until you mentioned, but yes, today does seem sort of like a sequel of yesterday! :)

Kathleen, you're absolutely right! I remember there was a year when I participated in a dancing class twice a week, volunteered in our local community center once a week, and gave lessons once a week. It was crazy! At the end of that year I felt I'm just not in control, and gave myself more room to breathe and more time to do well the few things I was determined to continue with.

Terry said...

This is a good post, and so true. Having a plan can be the difference between a peaceful home atmosphere, and chaos.

Kelly said...

Unless you're a perfectionist workaholic then you worked less out in the world! :-)
When I first becames a stay at home wife it seemed like there was nothing to do at all, hours dragged by then I made a list and a plan. It is so important to have a schedule of things that "need" to be done everyday. Things that "should" be done. And then other things that can be dropped and done at other times.
Unfortunately a workaholic is still a workaholic at home or out in the paid workforce. I quickly became obessed with crossing things off my list. My husband used to come home and was shocked by all I would do in one day.
Now with a toddler around I'm learning, sometimes painfully so, that some things are more important. Spending time with my daughter and husband are now a top priority and sometimes cleaning has to wait.

Great post Anna!
Kelly

Rebekah S. said...

Thanks so much for yet another wonderful post, Anna!! One thing that I struggled with was flexibility. I wrote up a schedule for myself that had me doing a certain thing at every moment of the day. Thankfully, my dear mother stepped in and showed me that if I adhered to such a strict schedule, I would drive myself crazy!!

Do you mind me asking you what time you wake up in the morning? I'm trying to figure out how to get up early in the morning and yet get enough hours of sleep at night in order to be healthy. Thanks so much for any help you can give in this area!!

Blessings,
Rebekah

Alexandra said...

Amen...be flexible. This is the key to managing stress for our household. I have a very flexible schedule, probably more than most, but it fits our personalities and makes for a happy home.

Setting priorities is a biggy too...God and family first. When I'm in a different season of life, I'll do for others outside the home. For now my focus is my immediate family.

Anna S said...

Rebekah, I think it depends on when you usually go to sleep. Normally I don't feel tired until 11 p.m.; so around that time, I crawl into bed, do some reading and writing, and fall asleep around midnight. I have my alarm clock set for 8 a.m. That's early enough to have a productive morning, but allows me to get plenty of much needed sleep.

Rebekah said...

Thanks so much for your help, Anna!

Becky K said...

Anna,
I have read your blog daily for a week or so now and I truly have loved your entries. You have some very insightful points to make. I loved the entry today for right now I am working outside of the home but soon I am hoping that I can become a homemaker and start my family with my husband. I am trying to learn as much helpful information as I can so I won't be sitting around bored when I start the next chapter in my life. Look forward to your next entry - your newest friend.

Jordin said...

Another great post, Anna! :)

I, too, struggled with feeling "lost" after Matt and I married. I had many tasks to do, but I just couldn't figure out when to do them. I pulled out my handy-dandy book, Managers of Their Homes by Steve & Teri Maxwell. It is a guide for homeschooling mothers to use to schedule their time. Of course, we don't have children, but I still benefitted *tremendously* from the concepts. Now, I schedule--and I have a clear focus and achievable goals for each day.

Your point about being flexible is also very important! (A reminder that I needed today, actually.) ;)

Word Warrior said...

Great post! I consider myself "schedulely challenged" :-)
but I'm really trying to work on it!

I'm a visionary/all or nothing perfectionist, which is not a good combination!

Basically I have about a thousand ideas within the course of an hour, and if the laundry can't be done perfectly (can it ever?) then I'm too overwhelmed to do anything!

Oh who can save me from this body of disorganization? Oh yeah, it's my 13 year-old perfectionist daughter--thank you, honey!

Anna S said...

Becky, welcome! I'm looking forward to 'seeing' you here again.

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

Anna, I read a comment you left over at Making Home - you quoted an extensive comment from a young doctor about abortion. Could you let me know who that was (the title of his blog, if he has one?) Or just the link to your own post with his comment. Thank you very much!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you do not work outside the home and yet, I think I remember reading in a past post that your mother works 2 jobs? Is that correct?
If so, I'm just wondering how you justify your mother working so hard while you stay home and keep house. I don't mean this to sound critical but I'm sure it's coming across that way. I enjoy your writing and agree with pretty much everything you have to say but it's been troubling me, in the back of my mind, that while I agree with you staying home, it seems that you should be working at this time to help your single mother.
I just wondered if you could explain this so I can continue to read your blog and think of you in a positive light.
Thank you. :)
Jo

Karen said...

That sounds like great advice for someone else haha! Maybe at a different time in my life when I am not quite so bogged down with the constantly changing needs of my little ones, I can try to work with a schedule. I think it sounds like a blessing right now to be able to set one and follow it. A blessing I wish I had!

As it is, if I plan that my baby will nurse at 10, she often "suprises" me with not being hungry at all. Or, if I plan to do some work while she sleeps, I'll drop a dish in the sink or something, and she'll wake up wanting to eat or play, and so forth! By the end of the day I feel like I've done okay if both my girls have been properly fed and changed!

Kristi said...

I have never been very good about schedules or organizing things on paper, but I can see there are great advantages to doing so. In this stage of life, with two children ages 1 and 2, a schedule seems like a faraway dream sometimes! Most days it's a matter of cooking, feeding, cleaning the kitchen and doing the laundry, and my days fill up pretty well that way.

But, do you have any tips for meal planning? I don't mind cooking, but some days it's all I can do to think of something to make for dinner. Some days it seems a monumental task to plan more than a couple of meals, even though I know it's far more economical, timewise and moneywise, to plan for a week/month at a time. I don't know how some ladies do it...

Susie said...

Anna,
When I start feeling overwhelmed with the tasks that I have to do I just say to myself, "okay..just start doing something! anything!" and once I complete one task (even if it is something minor, like putting the dishes away) I feel motivated to do something bigger (like reorganize the closet).

Anna S said...

Emily,

That young man doesn't have a blog, but here's the link to the post on which he left the comment:

http://ccostello.blogspot.com/2007/07/making-abortion-rare.html

Jo,

In case you've been wondering, I do earn money for my own needs and support myself. Throughout my college years, I've been working from home as a translator, and I give lessons. I think it was mentioned in one of my previous posts where I discussed home businesses. The hours are irregular of course - there are days when I work a lot, and days when I don't work at all. When I work, the routine naturally changes accordingly, though this hasn't been referred to in this particular post.

You're absolutely right - there's no reason why my mother should work even more hours outside the home to support me. That would be my father's job, to care for us, but since I don't have a father, I work to support myself.

My mother doesn't work two jobs, but she works a lot - in fact, more than she would need. This has everything to do with wanting a more affluent lifestyle, more nice clothes, more eating out etc. This is her choice, which sadly leaves her tired and overwhelmed, and about which I can do very little.

Kristi,

Menu planning is a sore point with me too! I know I will need to be more organized in this department once I'm a mother. Check out this link I found on Noble Womanhood, I think she makes some great points:
http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/PreschoolersandPeace/305133/

Susie,

I'm this way too! Once I see I'm procastrinating, I just need a small task to get me in the swing of things.

Katy-Anne said...

Anna, great post. With a baby I find I can't have a regular schedule, but I'll have a daily plan of things to get done a particular day. Like Mondays and Thursdays are laundry days, except a load of diapers is washed every day. I do meal and menu planning, it makes shopping lists easier.

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Lauren Shockey said...

Anna,

Thank you for your excellent insights on time management. I often stop by your blog to be encouraged and refreshed. Your topics are always so relevant. Please keep writing. :)

Lauren

Sarah, UK said...

Anna,

Thanks for another interesting post. Your first paragraph described exactly how I felt at becoming a housewife after years of high pressure education and work.
What was I supposed to do? I felt lost and adrift without deadlines and schedules to meet.

I remember my mother sitting me down and explaining, as if I was 10 years old, how you have to make a list of things to do every day and tick them off one by one, etc, etc. I tried to explain to her that I DID know how to make lists and I DID know how to clean a house. What I didn't know was how to live like this.

It's now 7 months later. In some ways, this has been time for me to learn not so much how to organise my time, but what things are really worth doing.

Sarah

Anonymous said...

I am the same way. During summer or Christmas vacations I plan to do alot of things but without making a schedule, it doesn't get done. Here is a helpful hint for scheduling and meal planning. Check out www.flylady.net. She has lots of great ideas and tips on getting it all done. Anna R.

wife of faith said...

Anna,

As I posted on my blog yesterday, this is something that I have been struggling with since I began to stay home in June. I am not sure how to assign the time. I tried making a schedule, but I think it was too ambitious. Could you give me an idea of a sample schedule that I could possibly adapt? Thanks for your encouragement!

Bake Me A Cake! said...

I've been very blessed by the scheduling techniques found in "Managers of Their Homes" By Terri Maxwell.

Lauren said...

Anna, I cannot express how encouraging your post was to me--really your whole blog is quite refreshing. But this post in particular hit home with me.

I was a competitive athlete and honor student all through school, including four years of college. Upon graduation I was engaged and given the desire of my heart--to honor my Lord and Savior by serving my husband at home. It has been a difficult transition, however! I worked very well under pressure and with deadlines. I depended upon them! Now I have to manage my own time and you're right--despair sinks in when I don't manage it wisely!

So thank you for sharing your wisdom on this wonderful, blessed art of homemaking. It is a great encouragement to me!

Grace and Peace,
Lauren @ PearlsAndDiamonds

lisastock said...

Hi Anna!
I've been wondering about your home management folder/binder...
Do you keep the lists online somewhere/on your computer or is it all in a physical file with hand written pages?