A Routine That Works
I know as a Stay at Home Mom, one of the biggest advantages we supposedly have is the flexibility in our schedules, right? In theory, sure, but when was the last time you tried to make plans with someone and you said, "Yeah we're free and flexible basically any day of the week." "What time?" "Oh we just go with the flow and I don't have much else to do so you just tell me what time works for you and we'll be there!"
My answer to "What time are you available?" is usually "Well we wake up at 7, it'll take me at least an hour and a half to get us fed, dressed, out the door, and let the dogs out if I remember. Then we have approximately 2 seconds wherever we are before they're tired of sitting still. We have to be back by no later than noon for lunch, and nap at 12:30, then from 3 to 7 they basically take over the house then go to bed. So what time?? Umm... the year 2030?"
Being a SAHM is a tough balancing act. We're constantly accommodating a tiny human's sleep, eat, play, poop, and yell schedule while also trying to fit in house work, something resembling a social life, a workout if we're lucky, and lots of us have blogs and side gigs too. We're busy! And while I love that I have the flexibility to go do fun things with my boys in the middle of a Wednesday morning, I also have come to terms with the fact that being a SAHM isn't really a as flexible a gig as I once thought. I spend most of my days at home, running around with a to-do list I jotted down on my phone while my coffee was brewing so I don't forget anything (even though I always do). It's organized chaos is what it is.
Well no more I say. It's high time I created routine. A real, nerd-tastic, written down, timeline of my day so that maybe, just maybe, I can be a little more successful at all the stuff I try to accomplish. Maybe I'll be able to worry less about my to-do list and actually play with my kids because I know I have time scheduled later for those things. And maybe, just maybe, I'll be more motivated to be less of a Stay at Home Mom, and more of a Stay with the Kids Mom and cause goodness knows I need to get out more.
So I started with a pen and a journal. I needed to write down my thoughts and really hone in what I wanted my day to look like. I started out with two basic lists. What do I want more of in my day? What do I want less of in my day?
I want more quality time with my kids, more quantifiable productivity, more sleep/rest, more "free" time, more fresh air,
I want less late nights, less anxiety about my to-do list, less rushing, less late nights, and less procrastination.
Then I needed to figure out exactly what I want to do every day, and what I want to incorporate into my kids' day every day. After all, this is their day too!
- Work out
- Get dressed & ready for the day
- Work on blog stuff
- Play time with my kids
- House Chores
- Make Dinner
- Husband time/Relax time
For the boys:
- Concentrated activities with Mama
- One afternoon nap
- Free play time
- Help with some house chores
It may seem silly to do it for my kids too, but by doing it this way, I realized I needed to do some house chores while they're awake so they can help. I realized I need to put in specific time for us to do an activity together. And I don't mean anything complicated. I just mean time every day where I am completely focused on playing with my kids. No phone, no TV, just give them 100% of my attention. I feel bad that I have to carve that into my day, but if I don't recognize the problem, I can't fix it.
I should also mention that I want to get out of the house some, but not every single day. So 2-3 days a week, I'd like to make a point to get out. Running errands, going to co-op, meeting friends for play group, etc. Nothing crazy, but it's important to me that we get out.
Then it was time to actually map it out.
It took a little rearranging and thinking some things out. But in the end, I think it feels really right. I mean, it's basically what we've been doing anyway, but having time mapped out for specific daily commitments has helped my stress a lot. And I feel much better knowing that I have some time in there to do nothing but relax and spend time with Tomas, as well as time to just hang with my kids. I need to feel productive, but I also need to feel connected with my family.
6:30ish-7:30: Wake up. Drink coffee, work on blog stuff and check emails. Get dressed and ready for the day (10 minutes to wash my face, brush my teeth, and put on clean clothes). Make my bed.
7:30-10: Breakfast, unload dishwasher, start laundry if needed, take the dogs out, then play in the play room.I'll do some blog stuff on my phone, or work on stuff downstairs while they play.
10-12: Snack time. Clean up break. Then do something together, like play dough or coloring... you know, things I'd prefer to monitor closely. Sometimes that last 15 minutes, sometimes 45. Just depends on the day. We usually end our morning with a speech/sign language DVD or a show of some kind and we clean up before going upstairs for lunch.
When we go out in the morning, we head out right after breakfast and try to make it home between 11 and 12.
12-1: Lunch, try to do some picking up and cleaning around the house.
1-3:30ish: Nap time for the boys. I work out at the beginning of nap time so I make sure to get it in, then I finish any daily cleaning tasks, usually work on blog things, and work on my random to-dos for the day.
3:30-5: Snack, play, try to keep witching hour(s) at bay. Go outside if it's nice. That always helps.
5-6: Tomas gets home! Thank goodness! He plays with the boys while I make dinner or I play while he makes dinner.
6-7: Dinner, bath, bedtime routine for the boys.
7-7:30: Dinner cleanup
7:30-Bedtime: Work on blog stuff if I have things that need tending to, otherwise, it's relaxing time with Tomas.
I realize my routine here seems pretty morning heavy, but I get tired at the end of the day and the boys get less patient towards the end of the day. So I had to take that into account and make sure it would be sustainable. If I'm trying to get anything done in the afternoon, that's a sure way to make the entire afternoon frustrating.
So there it is. Our whole day, mapped out. Honestly, I feel kind of silly. I keep asking myself, "Do I really NEED" a schedule? Well, no. I don't. But if we're still being honest, it's actually helped us all a lot. I feel a lot less anxiety throughout the day knowing that I have time allotted to get all of my stuff done and still spend quality time with my kids and husband. I feel like I spend more quality time with the boys. And I'm feeling more productive all around. So I'd say that's a win.
So tell me - how do you arrange your day? Do you have any rhyme or reason or do you just take it a day at a time and wing it?