My second objective was to implement routines and habits to help us manage our time, our house and our health.
During the past year, I tried to impose and improve routines to keep things running smoothly in the house, but ideally I also wanted to be better about exercising and remembering to take my vitamins.
A B- grade is pretty generous, to be honest, because as I look back at my project and think about what images came into my head around routines there were only two things I really cared about: setting up the coffeepot each night and cleaning the toilet every morning. I did always try to do more, including cleaning the rest of the bathroom, folding a load of laundry, making the beds and emptying the dishwasher.
It sems like a lot to accomplish, but it’s not. Plenty of other women have way more to do each morning than I, especially since Bob makes Emma’s lunch 3 days a week. And I don’t know how I managed so many years getting up at 4:45 a.m., and catching a 5:55 a.m train. Because now my alarm goes off at 6 and I hate my life for the first fifteen minutes. I learned that I need to fix a cup of coffee and then go back to bed for a little while. By some small miracle I have not spilled coffee in the bed yet. After half a cup, I feel like I can tackle my morning list. It took me a long time to figure out that a cup of coffee in bed could help me power through those early tasks.
My successes tended to be with things that were more short-term. Throughout the year I’d be pretty consistent with finding things to donate or toss, but as that got harder, I fell out of the habit. The challenge, for me, is that life changes which means routines change. The fall before I started my project, I was walking almost every day. I’d been trying and failing to exercise in the evening, but hated it. So I started getting dressed in sweats each morning, and after I put Emma on the bus I’d set off on a 3-4 mile walk, sometimes longer. Sometimes with friends, but I was always content to go alone too. I stuck with it from September through early January, when the snow came and stayed for several months. Then the snow’s final departure coincided with me landing a job which required me to leave for work after I put Emma on the bus. Instead of rethinking my approach, I gave it up. Lately I’ve been trying sporadically to get back into some kind of fitness routine. To be honest if I’m going to make one thing stick, it should be exercise. It’s the one thing I wanted to implement the most, and the thing I made the least headway with.
Going forward, I think I’m going to put less effort into forcing routines into place. Instead, I’m going to see what tasks fall into place on their own. For example, I’ve been using the library a lot more, because I wanted to cut back on my book purchases. And Emma developed a serious interest in graphic novels, which are in short supply at our local branch. But I wasn’t really keeping track of due dates and was stuck paying fines. I didn’t mind too much but I always felt a little sheepish having to shell out money every time I went to the library. A couple months ago, several books I requested for Emma came in on a Thursday, and the next day I picked them up after work. By next Friday she was finished with those, and more were ready to be picked up. Now, every Friday, I stop at the library after work to return and pick up books. I haven’t paid any fines in a while.
I’m definitely not downplaying the need for structure.
What I Learned:
- Maybe this is a cop-out, but I think I’ve concluded that this isn’t worth obsessing about. I can’t apply a list to every area of my life because I’ll lose my mind. I think I’d rather deal with things that bug me when they bug me, as opposed to waiting on a schedule. For example, if I see a shelf needs dusting, I think I’m better off grabbing a rag and dealing with it, instead of thinking, “OK, I’m going to leave that because I dust on Friday afternoons. ” Then again, I’m not kidding anyone. I’m also pretty likely to walk away thinking a little dust never hurt anyone.
- Going forward, I’m thinking more about what examples I want to set for Emma- and I’ve decided the house, most of the time, is Clean Enough. So I’m focusing more on teaching her to take good care of herself. A couple months ago I wrote about our bedtime struggles and the routine I made for her to address them. It was pretty structured, and I learned that we didn’t need it to be that way. Now, we stick to the 7:30 shower and lights out at 9, but we’re a little more flexible with the time in between. Sometimes we read together, sometimes she wants to play by herself, sometimes she wants to draw. As long as she’s clean and in pajamas before 8 and in bed by 9, we’re good.