Monday, September 21, 2009

Making a Schedule


This is a photo of the train station in Munich that I took when my son was really little.  Now let me tell you one thing - these trains run on schedule, to the minute.  If a train is going to be arriving late - even by just 1 minute - an announcement is made over the loud speakers.  If you don't understand German, you would swear it was some sort of emergency.  I mean really - being an ex-commuter of the Boston T and the San Francsico BART - I can tell you - Americans don't get minute by minute updates if something is running behind.  It is obvious that the Germans excell at making a schedule and sticking to it (in my mind at least!). 
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Maybe running a household is a bit like running a train station?  It is a job that is pretty much taken for granted until things fall behind.
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A big part of my JOB (and yes, running a household most certainly is a job, but one that I love) is running on schedule.  On my last post (meal planning) I mentioned my Aunt Patty (my Dad's brother's wife).  Now, see - Aunt Patty was the wife of my uncle, a WWII veteran (Uncle Jay is now 89 - so that will give you an idea of her era).  I like to refer to this generation as the generation of the Iron Clad Apron.  Because Aunt Patty always wore an apron - kept her clothes clean you know!  And I used to laugh at that notion, but now I totally understand the usefullness of an apron - for all sorts of things.  I love my aprons, especially the ones with BIG pockets.  I have several - all worn for different chores, but part of my "work uniform" if you will.  Anyway, Aunt Patty liked to schedule things.  Meals were posted.  Schedules were posted.  The house was run like... well - like a train station.  Everyone knew Aunt Patty's "nap time", dinner time, the day she delivered Meals on Wheels, the day she played bridge, etc.  And somehow, she always made it seem all so effortless.  The house was always clean, the Christmas cards went out on time and she faithfully delivered a birthday present to every niece or nephew up to their 18th birthday (an amazing feat in itself considering how big our family is!).  My Mom was the complete opposite so you have to imagine that for years and years my loyalties were on "Mom's side".  But now I realize, Aunt Patty was very wise!
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So, let's start with a schedule, shall we?
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I don't know what your life is like, what your work week is, or anything else like that.  You know.  So - go ahead - find some sort of calendar printout that works for you - and block off anything that is a set routine - work hours, commute, carpooling, church, Bible study night, choir practice, weekly get-together, volunteer work, whatever!  I work out of my home so I can combine lots of things and alternate back and forth.
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Settling into the school year - SET things on my schedule are:  Sunday - church, Monday -homework and library, Weds - Bible study, Thurs - quilt group.  That is it.  Beside the fact that I work full time AND have a household to run!
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Obviously - the household needs it own schedule!  Monday is always clean the downstairs of the house and strip the beds.  That usually takes me 2 hours.  Friday is clean the downstairs (again), plus the upstairs - another 2 hours.  Every night I try for a 10 minute clean-up for my son, plus a 1/2 hour clean up (me)- take care of what needs to be done for the night - the school sends home so much stuff - so there is that.  Add an additional 2 loads of laundry a week for our family (there are only 3 of us - so if you have a bigger family - add more time!) and we are up to.... maybe 5-6 hours of housework.  Add 2 hours a week for grocery shopping and putting it all away - because that is what it takes (this is a job I hate and give to my husband).  So - if you work outside the home and don't stick with a daily schedule - you are easily looking at 8 hours every weekend of "catching up" on the household stuff come the weekend.  I haven't even added mowing the lawn, cleaning out the car, dump runs or whatever else you might have to do around the house.  That is NOT including fixing meals, doing dishes, etc.  And if you have an appointment at the garage, doctors, dentist - well gosh - keep adding the hours.  All Momma's need an 8 day week.  The 8th day should be Momma day! 
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So - back to my schedule.  I have... my church, my son and his schudeul, my household, my meal planning and my work.  My son is in 1st grade so doesn't have a sports, drama, band or whatever schedule yet - but that will come.  Hello!  I also have ME and my husband and US.  Add in the DH schedule.  I hate grocery shopping and getting gas for the car - that falls into the DH schedule - I send him the grocery store with a list and do NOT complain if he gets the wrong thing.  It is worth it to me to send DH to the store.  DH doesn't like to be "scheduled" and that is fine - I keep a "floating" schedule for him and as long as I can keep crossing things off the "HIS" list without him realizing that I am keeping him on task - it usually works out pretty good.  Smile!
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Do you feel like you never get everything done?  Do you wonder why?  I used to be really hard on myself for not getting things done.  Now - I have a schedule.  I schedule the important things and TRY to get them done.  Everything else is bonus.  So - if on Monday (that is a busy household day!) I get my housework done, plus 2-3 hours at my desk (the work thing - you know), make a meal-plan (Meal Plan Monday), help my son with his homework (he gets his entire weeks worth of homework on Monday and we usually do it all on Monday at the library - he likes to get it out of the way for the week!), I would consider that a good day.  Did I sew?  No - but quilting group is on Thursday.  Did I clean the car?  No - but I can schedule that for a day when I don't clean the house.  As soon as I get my feet under me again and feel like I have a bit more energy - I will add my exercise classes.  Coming off a long summer of working, I just don't have the strength for that right now and that is fine.  I walk on the beach with my son instead - or if I am too tired - I still bring him to the beach and I set in my beach chair and knit, or maybe not.  That is ok.  One thing you need to realize about reading blogs - not everyone has the same schedule as you.  If you have small kids at home, work, keep the house and have a husband who also works outside the home - well, obviously your schedule is not going to be the same as someone else who is an empty nester and might work part time.  Do not compare yourself to someone else.
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Another thing to keep in mind is the seasons.  Come summer - if you have school aged children, you have a whole new agenda.  If you garden - than your schedule needs to reflect time spent in the garden.  Then comes canning season.  Or the harvest.  Then sports schedules.  School.  The holidays (I like to have most of my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving).  I work ALOT in the summer.  I am often in the kitchen by 6 am and don't finish until about 10:30 pm.  In the summer I don't worry about hair appointments, extra cleaning of the house, I absolutely do not volunteer for anything.  I work.  When I don't work - I spend time with my son.  I don't care what the house looks like - if it is nice out and I have some time - we go for a walk.  Come the big yellow school bus - my business is letting up a bit and I can ease into a different schedule. You need to realize what your seasons are and adust your schedule accordingly.
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By making a schedule I realize that I DO get things done.  I try to use my time wisely.  Having fun with my family and couple time is important.  As women - we need to detach from the fantasy of being "Wonder Women".  We can't do it all and should not expect to be able to do it all.  So make yourself a schedule this week.  Don't be too hard on yourself and don't make it too hard.  And - I think that maybe at the end of the week, you just might be a bit amazed of what you DID accomplish.  And remember - be flexible.  A schedule is to help you - it isn't supposed to weight you down.  Let everything else go that wasn't so important and if it was important - carry it right on over into next week's chart. 
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Excuse any typo's - I can't find spellcheck with Blogger's new format!

3 comments:

Tanya said...

You're darn right running a household is a job and one of the most important and under appreciated. I once worked with a women who was single/no kids and I commented to a man whose wife was a SAHM that it was the hardest job in the world and this single/no kids women said she wouldn't agree with that, all I could say was consider the source. You should be very proud of the wonderful job that you're doing.

andsewitis Holly said...

Sounds like a very happy starfishy household! *smile* I so enjoyed these last two posts. Well, I enjoy ALL your posts but I love to schedule my days etc. It probably comes from growing up in a boarding school where everything was set to a schedule. I think when we schedule things, we are organized and find ways to work more efficiently. Thanks for the link to the meal planning blog.

The Calico Cat said...

Thanks for the tips. (I need to try to schedule something...)