Routines Around Here

In which I enjoy a sunset (#82) thanks to a new set of routines (#15, #21, #38, #44, #49).

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I didn’t sit on my deck with a cocktail until one month before my 1001 ended. When I did, the experience was much sweeter than the unimpressive sunset. The cocktail represented a weaned baby, a pleasant and reasonably-timed bedtime, and having time to sit with my husband and be adults. That’s what I intended when I put this on my list. Though I didn’t specify it in the goal, we’d also eaten dinner, washed dishes, cleaned the counters. I’d completed my laundry, we were prepped for dinner the next night, and the house wasn’t a disaster I was avoiding.

My new routines were paying off. I’ve been working on doing at least one load of laundry each weekday off and on for pretty much the entire list, and I’ve recently decided to do the laundry on a schedule. Now I don’t have to figure out what load is the most pressing and I have the weekend to do things that come up less often — an extra load of guest sheets and/or towels, jeans, bath mats, etc. (Admittedly, being out of the GI-challenged baby stage helps a lot with this. The GI-challenged toddler produces much less emergency laundry.)

Then I started really thinking about how I can make the most of my time and very limited mental and physical energy. I’ve got decision fatigue in full force by lunchtime. (Do I really want to fight the small dictator on this? This? Sigh.) I read through this Energy is Everything series and changed things again. I added a schedule to our meals so that I didn’t waste time every week thinking “ok, we have pasta, chicken, Mexican, so I could probably do a stir-fry…” and then I created a list of go-to meals in Evernote for each of our categories. Now we can just look down the list, pop it into the meal plan, and check it off so that even if we are always eating “meat with sauce”on Tuesday, we don’t get stuck in a picatta rut.

Realistically, we eat a lot of the same foods each week. Yogurt. Chicken. Cheese. That kind of repetition makes online grocery ordering so fast. I’ve decided that my time is worth the $5 pickup fee. (Not to mention that I’m sure I pick up way more than $5 in impulse buys while I walk around the store.) So we go to the rather far away grocery store and have the groceries delivered to the car. Which means that we might as well go to the library in that direction first to give the toddler a little something before frustrating him by neither GETTING OUT OF THE CAR RIGHT NOW, THANK YOU nor JUST KEEP DRIVING, MAMA. Which means I don’t have to figure out what to do for one morning!

And then it was an easy jump to doing a lot of prep for the rest of the week during Sunday’s nap time. We are eating better because cooking doesn’t take as long. We are wasting less food. And we’re getting all the trash out before our main trash pickup.

I’ve been working hard to have a better cleaning baseline, and while it’s certainly better, I have a long way to on that. Right now I’m focusing more on getting clutter out of my house than on regularly mopping the floors. But once a surface is clear, I am working hard to keep it clear. So we’re getting better about nightly kitchen clears and taking things back upstairs. And when that doesn’t quite happen, that’s the priority before moving on to the next project area. Same goes for my email inbox. I gave myself more leeway on that goal — 50 items rather than 25 — because I’ve signed up for a number of newsletters that arrive by email.

I created the routines prompted by my list. When I realized that thinking about this kind of never-ending work was a small-but-constant drain, I scheduled them so that I don’t have to think about them. Then I changed the schedule so that the week began on Saturday. Shifting the weekend to the start of my mental week has been surprisingly great. Just between us, I feel like I could market a whole line of specialty planners based on this concept. (Don’t steal my idea, right?) Starting on Sunday breaks the weekend in half, and suddenly Sunday isn’t so much weekend as it is day-of-dread-before-Monday. And Monday start? Obviously puts the focus more on the work week, even for my stay-at-home-mom self. But the Saturday start, ah, the Saturday start is a kind of magic. Suddenly the week starts with the life you’ve been working for. Family, home, adventures. I spend the ‘beginning’ of the week enjoying my family time, recharging, and prepping to get through the week ahead as easily as possible. I don’t have to slog through the week to be “rewarded” with a weekend and feel cheated when it’s full of work, too! Even though the days are obviously the same, the mental trick works for me. I’m either really gullible or on to something.

Here’s my working plan:

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But what am I doing with the time and energy that this frees up? More on that later. (Spoiler: there are more routines!)