that thing called time | part deux

In yesterday’s post I laid out our daily routine. I told you that on occasion that routine gets thrown out the window, we adjust and usually end up rolling with the rhythm of the day as best we can. Life isn’t perfect and with five kids in the mix it’s even further removed from the possibility of perfect. I’m ok with that.

For those of you that read my post yesterday and are still turning their nose up at the thought of a routine, I say this: we all have routines whether we realize it or not. Maybe it’s the checking of email from the bed in the morning, the yoga stretches you find time for in the morning, maybe it’s the pick-me-up cup of coffee you have each afternoon, or the square of dark chocolate you savor after the house is quiet in the evening. The question is, are you making the most of yours? Are you making time for yourself to play and create in your routine or are you simply making time for work? Spend some time thinking about your habits and your routine. Chances are you have one whether you consider it a routine or not. Remember, routine isn’t about being rigid or unbendable, it’s not about timetables or timelines, but about knowing what your day (and week) looks like so you know where you can be flexible and make room for play and creating.

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A few things that have really helped me create more time for myself and to just be and have fun with my family:

:: I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I put on a load of wash at night as I head to bed. Lifesaver. After the kids’ baths and such, I’ll put a load in the washer, add soap, turn the knobs, and before I go to bed, I close the lid and turn it on. That means in the morning after I workout that load goes into the dryer and is being dried while I make and clean up breakfast dishes. I love this. A family of seven (and one in cloth diapers) makes a lot of laundry.

:: I’m a homebody. I like being at home. Being on the go every day means I’m not getting things done and as those things pile up I get twitchy and anxious and not very fun to be around. I’m very keen on being productive whether that is finding time to journal, time to make a healthful dinner, time to read to the kids. Doesn’t matter, I like doing.

:: Two years ago when the Nacho began therapy twice a week I decided to challenge myself to get better organized and run errands one day a week (a therapy day) because I was trying to make sure my kids had ample time to fit in school stuff, outdoor play, creative pursuits. So Friday mornings became our big errand day. We eat a quick breakfast before running out the door and taking him to therapy (where the kids and I wait for him), then we make our way to the post office, make our weekly trip to the library, our weekly trip for groceries, and whatever other errands may need doing (a stop at the craft store is always in demand). We come home and put away the groceries and the library goodies, I prepare lunch, and then we have quiet time. After quiet time, I spend some time cleaning the house so that I can start the weekend with a fully stocked fridge and pantry and a clean house. This works for us and means we have the weekend free to do as little or as much as we please.

:: Meal planning. We started this a few months back and I find myself wondering why I didn’t begin sooner. The kids pick out 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners. One of those dinners is usually a new recipe (as the Red Beans likes to say, “We’re expanding our repertoire”). I know a lot of families do Meatball Monday, Taco Tuesday,, etc. but truth be told, I’d be bored out of my mind preparing and eating the same type of food week in and week out. The meal plan has been helpful in several ways. First, they don’t ask me what we’re having for lunch or dinner three times a day. They look at the meal plan (written on a piece of scrap paper and stuck on the fridge with a magnet). It’s also helped me to be prepared and to do a better job of writing a grocery list. The kids have learned that I can’t cook three meals a day that will please all seven of us. So during meal planning there are negotiations and concessions. Including them in the meal planning has given them a sense of control (their vote counts!) and lastly, it has helped them get excited about trying new foods (brussel sprouts!) and given them an active role in learning about nutrition. We usually pencil in one meal for eating out or takeout but otherwise with the menu written, the groceries purchased, there has been a lot less eating out and impromptu ordering of take out due to my lack of planning ahead.

:: During the week when I make muffins, soups, or the occasional batch of cookie dough, I ALWAYS make a double batch. I freeze muffins, soups, gumbo, brown rice. Leftover roasted chicken? Shred it and freeze it for chicken quesadillas. Cookie dough is rolled into a log and frozen so I can make cookies should company magically appear for dinner (and we seem to have dinner guests several nights a week).

:: I once ran into one of my profs waiting on line at the post office. I was surprise to see him reading a novel and he held up his book and with a twinkle in his eye said, “Resentment insurance.” Brilliant! Since then, I always have a pocket Moleskine and a book in my bag so that whilst I’m waiting for the Nacho at therapy or waiting on line anywhere I can be productive. I can use that time to put together ideas for blog posts, jot down ideas for a story I’m working on, read emails, or even read blogs and/or articles on my phone that I had saved for reading later (the Pocket app is perfect for this).

PS: Do read the comments on yesterday’s and today’s post as there are ideas being shared!

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  • Ohhh I was wondering when you did your errands! I’m a home body too & get very twitchy with too many days not at home in a row. I like the one day a week go out & get things done. This means I’d need to be MUCH more organized with the grocery list….lately I’ve found myself there at least 3 times a week! I want to thank you again for yesterday’s post. I printed it out & put it with my journal. It’s made me really think about my routine and how I want to pin it down more in order to stop wasting time. I think a whole part of my anxiety these past few months has been I’ve been floundering not having a flow to my day. Just implementing a very loose one the past few weeks has really helped my mood & attitude!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      so happy to help jen! and it’s hard making the switch from working outside the home where you have a rhythm and there are expectations you will manage your time and be productive. it’s just a matter of loosely applying that to life at home and of course knowing that life is imperfect and sometimes expectations can get turned on their head ;-)

      also, it’s important to note that ree is still young! i didn’t have all this figured out when my red bean was that young and having three children 3 and under was a doozie *ahem* but it did help me to start the process of establishing a rhythm and routine, the process that eventually morphed into what we’re doing now. so be easy on yourself. go gently, it will come together!ReplyCancel

  • “For those of you that read my post yesterday and are still turning their nose up at the thought of a routine, I say this: we all have routines whether we realize it or not.”

    This!

    Deep down, I chafe at the idea of a routine; I think that’s why I refer to it as “rhythm”. It sounds less rigid – although of course a routine doesn’t *have* to be rigid, but words like “routine” or “schedule” just strike me that way.

    But the thing is: I have a routine whether I plan one or not. The difference is, when I plan one, it makes it less likely that my *actual* day-to-day routine will involve wasting endless hours reading blogs and pinning crafty projects, homeschooling ideas, and recipes rather than, you know, turning off the computer and making some of the ideas I have reality.

    (And with that…time to turn off the computer and start our day. Have a lovely one! xo)ReplyCancel

    • admin

      so true! the first moments are rough but stepping away from the computer to make and do are so good!ReplyCancel

  • With our move coming up in just a few months now, I’m trying very hard *not* to fill the freezer with much of anything. But, I love the idea of doubling up on things when you make them and then freezing for the proverbial rainy day. I will definitely start doing that after we move in May!ReplyCancel

  • I’m a homebody as well… married to someone who likes to go. It took some time for us to find our happy medium. Also, as odd as this may sound, it’s helped out a lot that he’s had to start traveling a lot for work. He gets to “go” and when he’s home, he wants to be home. I do however need to work on my meal plans…desperately.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      our at home-ness has actually curbed my mr.’s need to go/be/do!ReplyCancel

  • Sounds so very familiar. Wednesday was our errand running day, but it has morphed since we have been “homeless.” I found that when we were running around all the time to classes, park days, meetups, we had so little time to just be. To sit and think of our ideas and put them into action. Home days are so vitally important. So often I think homeschoolers feel they have to prove they are busy and that “they don’t just sit home.” It takes a lot to realize so much is accomplished by “just staying home.” (and I too would curl up and blow away if I ate the same thing every week.)ReplyCancel

    • admin

      yes! we tried the various homeschool groups, park days, etc. a few years back and were all out of sorts. after a spell of bad weather forced us home i had that light bulb moment and have embraced the idea of being at home. i’m happier, the kids are content and happy, books are being read, projects created and realized…it’s actually a rather full life.ReplyCancel

  • Oh I get the twitches and the need to be home. It seems we are always out in about (and not always in the places I want to be). I have started with routines (or letting them find me as you suggested) and life is so much better. Menu planning has helped greatly. I will have the kids involved in menu planning. Nothing makes my ears bleed as quickly as hearing “What’s for dinner?” 18 times (no joke-my firstborn with autism asks about 14 times) in an hour. Having a menu up is amazing. I find that without routines, I (and time for what I need) is truly lost. Love this post.ReplyCancel

  • having a structure to our day and our week allows plenty of freedom but allows me to get my big rocks in.

    and when kids know what’s coming, they don’t waste time begging to do xyz or asking when xyz is going to happen, because they know. they can relax and use their time.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      exactly. the begging and asking, “when? when? when?” kills me. i’ve alleviated it. yay!ReplyCancel

  • Oh and I forgot to mention that I love your prof’s concept: “Resentment Insurance”. Definitely, I find I am much cheerier, less resentful and less likely to have a pity party by bemoaning how much of my life gets frittered away waiting in lines, for appointments, meetings, etc. Taking time to observe people/things to sketch in my sketchbook right in the moment or later, writing, dreaming up plans and goals for my art, menu-planning, or reading makes me a nicer person while I wait. I always have a book or sketchbook with me so in the moments I am not attending to children, I can be.
    xoReplyCancel

  • I always have kept a ‘car book’ that has saved my sanity more than once. It never fails that if I am out and about the bridge is going to open and I am going to be stuck in traffic so it’s nice to have something to read [or now that I’m a Knitter, to knit].

    I love your statement about routines, it’s so true. I get up about 4 am every morning so that I can have time to do what I want and not have to talk with anyone. Yes, I love my family, but I need quiet time to function and at 4 am the phone won’t ring, or someone won’t need something [socks?] so to me it’s worth it.ReplyCancel

  • we are all guilty of a routine. i personally thrive on a flexible routine. i am intrigued by the double batching on dough. that seems like a good idea. is it silly to say that my freezer over freezes. any suggestions?ReplyCancel

    • admin

      actually no. i have been told that freezers work better when packed with stuff and well, as you can imagine, with a family of seven, mine is chock-o-block full ;-)

      and the double batching. i do freeze cookie dough, otherwise waffles, muffins, extra pancakes are all cooked first (just in case i didn’t make that clear).ReplyCancel

  • Another great post! I am a middle of the night laundry person too, I actually wash it right after little man is in bed and then it goes in the dryer when I go to bed…up here electricity is cheaper at night :) And I always cook a double batch and freeze, having those freezer meals and quick snacks is so handy. Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • I already do a lot of what you share here and it helps me too. I’ve carried a book around with me since I could read on my own. My constant companion. :) I DO want to get better about making double batches of food and freezing them, though. Definitely need to do this more! Thanks for sharing what works for you. Sometimes a simple idea of what one person does can be an “a ha!” moment for someone else! :)ReplyCancel

  • having a rhythm is so nice a wee bit of a schedule… it keeps me sane. i am like you, i like starting the weekend with a clean house and a stocked fridge, so we are all ready for time as a whole family. although i do hit the saturday market for produce. :)
    we have been doing meal planning for sometime and it is a life saver. :) i love the cookie dough idea, now that is an good one!ReplyCancel

  • I’m a homebody partnered with a homebody who *thinks* he’s a ‘go!do!live!’ type. Without fail, we’d rush out early on a weekend morning to go do something of great importance and excitement only to return home both feeling grumpy and moody for the rest of the day. It was the biggest road bump in our relationship for a while. Thankfully, now I just send him and our little early riser out for a romp around the neighborhood while I get to enjoy a slow, quiet morning all to myself! Smiles all around.ReplyCancel

  • […] few weeks back when i posted about time and how i manage mine, i mentioned meal planning in this post. several of you have asked to see what our meal plan looks like so i thought i’d share this […]ReplyCancel