Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Depressing Post OR What is Your Routine?

What is your schedule?

By that, I mean to ask, what it is you do each week to keep yourself sane? Do you have a chore schedule for yourself? Do you just do it as it comes along? How do you keep up with the demands of your small children and your stinky garbage?

I'm finding myself in a terrible, lazy, oh-my-heck-I'm-drowning-here-and-why-is-there-cereal-still-on-the-floor!!?-kind-of-rut. The move really threw me for a loop and I can't seem to find the routine that I'm satisfied with. My house feels eternally dirty, the laundry eternally un-done, the kitchen eternally yucky, and everything the children touch ripped to shreds.

Then there's the element of nothing to do. I was afraid of falling back into old habits and it's happened, dear reader. I have only one piano student, I have no calling, and I rarely speak or interact with any of my old friends in the ward. I see them on Sunday, and maybe occasionally during the week, but there are no phone calls, no play dates, no routines --and if there are, I don't hear about them (I know, I'm starting to whine, here).

My children have no structure (besides first grade and preschool), and no friends come over to play. Neither are they ever invited somewhere to play. They watch some PBS, go outside to romp in the yard, then back inside to the play room, and then more PBS. #1 is luckier because she has full-time school and almost always plays with her BFF after school. #2 and #3 just feel left out. #4 is blessed with bliss at his young age...

I know the solution to feeling left out, though, dear reader. I just need to call people and plan things and do things. I need to get my kids involved. But it's kind of late in the school year to start such things as Art school and piano lessons and dance classes. Plus, they cost money. Not to mention how lazy I am at present...sigh...Honestly, I really do know the solution. But I seem to have slipped past concern and right into apathy somewhere in these last few weeks.

So, help me! Don't preach to me, just tell me what you do. Perhaps I could learn from your experiences and find myself on top of things again.


Darren and Becky said...


Becky Nielson here from Concord, CA. Forgive me for lurking on your blog. I came across it through someone else's blog. First, I must say our ward misses your family! Second - you are are my hero. You accomplish so much.
I know what you mean about housework. The only thing that gets me through is my schedule. Before, I would clean like a mad fiend on my day off from work. My day off was exhausting - no rest with chores, errands, etc. So I wrote down everything I like to accomplish each week, and I broke things down and do a little everyday (after work, I don't feel like doing much, but I can work for 15-20 minutes). Of course, I don't have children here full time, so I know that adds a whole new element. And of course, not everything gets done every day, but over all, it keeps me fairly sane. Best wishes!

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

I remind myself that sometimes it's ok to just be...there will be tons of time later to be busy and productive. Maybe right now is your "store up energy for something really challenging later" time. :)

When I'm ready to be busy again, I do get back to a more rigid routine. Last summer I came up with a loose schedule for the day that I called the "Important to Me" schedule.

First, I made a list of the things that I think are important for myself everyday. This list included: Shower & get dressed, blog time, scripture time, some form of exercise, outside time, and rest/nap time. Notice these are all things that I need for myself.

Next, I made a list of things I wanted to happen during my kids' day. This included: reading, tv time and no-tv time, exercise, outside time, workbooks/homework time, and game time.

My list for caring for the house is even shorter. It literally says: laundry, to-do list. :) That's it.

So after I made my lists, I worked on a schedule, which I wrote out and posted it in my kitchen. Obviously, it won't happen exactly this way everyday, but that's ok. Here's my schedule, showing what I do / what the boys do:

6:30 am- Wake, shower, eat, dressed, make-up, empty dishwasher
7:00 am- Wake, potty, eat, dressed
8:00 am- Nick to work / Dad to work
8:30 am- Play game with boys / Play game with Mom
9:00 am- Outside & Exercise / Outside & Exercise
10:00 am- Snack / Snack
10:30 am- Blogtime / Play with toys
11:30 am- Reading together / Reading together
Noon- Lunch / Lunch
1:00 pm- Scripture Study / TV Time
1:30 pm- Rest time / TV Time
3:00 pm- Get up, to-do list, laundry, afternoon snack / TV time or Computer games & afternoon snack
3:30 pm- Clean up toys / Clean up toys
4:00 pm- Clear off table, Prep dinner / Workbooks & Homework at table
5:00 pm- Set table, Eat, dinner dishes / Eat
6:00 pm- Family time, Walk?
7:00 pm-Shower boys & bedtime routine / Shower, pjs, teeth, family scriptures, books, songs
8:00 pm- Nick & Shauntae's personal and or together time / Boys in bed
10:30 pm- Get ready for bed & SLEEP

So I know this is a crazy long comment, but this schedule has really helped me to get done the things that I find most important. There are days that I feel more productive, and I might do a little more housework...and there are days that I'm lazy and our schedule would be embarrassing to post! :) I think my main point is to look at what makes you truly happy, and find a way to schedule it into your day. Good luck!

Janelle said...

Cheryl, Flylady is totally working for me! www.flylady.com There are way too many email reminders, but they do remind me to get things done. My home has never been cleaner and I feel like I have more time than ever too. What is also saving me is meal swap. We have playdates nearly everyday too.

Janelle said...

Oh and Becky - send me a link to your blog. - Janelle

Jamie J said...

I wish I had an answer for you...I find myself in that rut right now too. I should be doing laundry and cleaning but I'm not and I don't want too. Luckily we are pretty established in the ward so there's always activities to do but if there isn't we call friends. I've also joined a mom's group on meetup.org for activities and to meet other moms. Good luck!

Amber- aka kanga5 said...

I'm trying the planner again from MotivatedMoms again. I was talking to Kevin last night about how I'm still getting used (after 7 years) to the fact that my job means pretty much doing the same things everyday. Cleaning up the same messes. BUT I don't want to be out of a job. :) I love my kiddos and DH so I'm still trying. :) In anycase, I hope your frustration will be past soon. Isn't it so annoying that we KNOW what we need to do- it's just that HUGE matter of DOING. :P I have started with the small thing of sitting on the couch to read a chapter of B.O.M. while I nurse Sarah first thing in the morning. I've liked that. :) Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I don't do schedules. Which is probably part of my problem. I do lists, though. Make a list of things you want to accomplish--a reasonable list. Only put a few things on there at a time (like 3-5) so it doesn't get overwhelming. When you finish the list, put a couple more things on. If you do something that wasn't on the list, put it on there so you can cross it off. It will make you feel good to see everything you did all written down with the little checkmarks by them!

Michele said...

I think one thing that has helped me is realizing that I don't have to get the entire house clean every day. I used to kill myself cleaning my house top to bottom every day. Then I had Amelia and in going from 5 to 6, I realized I just can't do that anymore!!I have a list that is posted in the laundry room and it lists different rooms on different days. With 6 kids it has really helped. I also make the 5 older kids help. (Amelia gets out of it cause 2 is just too little to really be helpful.)
Here is my list. I hope it can be of some help to you. Also we would love to do playdates all the time after we get all moved in next weekend, and maybe you would like to add us back in for piano lessons?
:) I can't tell you how excited I am that we are in the same state again and will be nearby soon! Love ya!!

-girls laundry
-vacuum and mop
-clean kitchen/
dining area
-clean bedrooms
-clen living room

-boys laundry
-clean kitchen/
dining area
-clean bathrooms
-clean family room

-John and Michele laundry
-vacuum and mop
-clean kitchen/
dining area
-clean bedrooms
-work on any unfinished house projects

-girls laundry
-clean kitchen/
dining area
-clean bathrooms
-de-clutter/ gather items for DI

-boys laundry
-vacuum and mop
-clean kitchen/
dining area
-clean bedrooms
-do any sorting or organizing around house

-John and Michele laundry
-clean kitchen/
dining area
-clean bathrooms
-wash all sheets and towels
-clean out cars(and wash if needed)

Day of rest! Yay!

Cheryl said...

YES!! This is what I needed to hear. Keep it coming you guys! Keep it coming!!

Anonymous said...

This is the first time that I have read your blog (just found it surfing around), but as another LDS mother of four little kids, I do have a suggestion. Give yourself a break. We live in such a culture of perfectionism that we sometimes forget that we are expected to TRY--not to have it all figured out *right now*. And I know that is difficult since everyone around you looks like they have it figured out already (or, at least, the ones around me usually do). So I'll tell you my reality. My house is messy. My kids spend most of the day in unstructured play (which is healthy for them to have, really). Sometimes dinner comes out of a box (or a takeout). And sometimes I'm preparing for my calling in Young Women up until right before I leave for mutual (heck, sometimes I'm still doing it while the girls are walking in the room).

My husband and I were talking about this last night. It is so easy to lose perspective when you think of all of the things it seems like you *should* be doing. But as long as you're keeping your family first, you are doing what you need to. The rest falls into place.

Good luck. I know how frustrating it can get sometimes...Oh, and I second the FlyLady advice. If you can make yourself stick to it, following her system makes a HUGE difference (my house WAS clean when I was following FlyLady).


Amanda said...

Cheryl! I started this same post last night. And with summer staring me in the eyes, I am seriously worried. My house is a disaster but I just don't have the motivation to keep up. If it weren't for soccer we would be hermits...

For awhile I was very good at chores for the kids. And when they were doing theirs, I was doing mine because in order for them to unload the dishwasher, I had to run it. In order for them to fold towels, I had to wash them. But I got out of the routine at Christmas. Yes, that was FIVE months ago.

I'm going to go and read the other comments now, so I can get some good ideas. I do know that life runs more smoothly when I take the time to do something I like (reading, scrapbooking or whatever.) Good luck, Cheryl!

Cheryl said...


Welcome! I'm always glad to have more comments and people reading...

I had a thought on what you posted, though, and I have a feeling it's gonna turn into a post later on (you inspired me!). I know you are brand new to my site, so you are forgiven for not knowing me too well. But my problem isn't that I don't give myself a break. It's that I give myself TOO MANY breaks.

That's the problem with women in the church today. Two extremes: Martyrs, and slackers. The martyrs thinking they have to have everything perfect, and the slackers, thinking nothing has to be perfect.

I want the middle.

So, honestly? Thank you so much for your comment! I mean that! It really has given me something to think about and I daresay it will become a post this week...

(please come back sometime!)

Susan M said...

I am horrible at creating structure for myself. And I am a total creature of habit. So I basically get nothing done, ever.

However recently the apt we live in had the windows replaced, which forced me to move everything around, and while I was doing it I cleaned and organized a whole bunch of stuff. But I only did it because I was forced to.

As for chores, my kids are all teenagers and I make them do most of the regular stuff. We have a list on our whiteboard, and everyday M-Th they have to choose one and check it off for the week. They are:

Sweep kitchen floor
Wipe down/mop kitchen floor
Vacuum living room
Clean off counters/bookshelves
Bathroom (toilet)
Bathroom (floor/sink)
Straighten up living room
Take out garbage (this means in the entire house, each room has at least a waste basket)

I have three kids, so their bedrooms each get listed. They each have to straighten up things in their bedrooms once a week.

It keeps things easy (each chore really only takes a few minutes). I handle other stuff like the dishes and laundry, mainly because they just don't do a good enough job.

We often have weeks where we don't get everything checked off, but at least I have a system that keeps things running somewhat.

I usually have one laundry day a week, and I have to get the loads in early or I won't get them put away because kids get home in the afternoon and I get tired and distracted by then.

Madsens said...

my advice...one thing at a time. If you want something to change - do it one thing at a time. You will find that by friday alot of things have changed and it will have passed you by - but you will feel SO much better. But - you have to remember to reflect on the things that you did each day - so you feel ACCOMPLISHED :) I love that feeling!!

Good luck - i can't really give much advice - as there are no children in my home to interrupt my life - but regardless, i find the RUTS all over...one thing at a time - that is what I have to remember.

Lizzie said...

*Pre-comment: Everything written below is what I USED to do when I had a working body. But being 9 months pregnant right now with a baby who has dropped so low it feels like he's in my legs, it's a miracle I can get out of bed.

At one point I tried scheduling my cleaning duties, as in Monday: Laundry, Tuesday: bathrooms, etc. But then I would find that some days I was just too tired or too busy or too cranky to do the thing I had scheduled for that day, so I wouldn't do it, and then nothing got done. What I finally found that worked was a LIST, not a schedule. On a whiteboard, I wrote out everything that needed to be done once a week:

Clean Kitchen
Upstairs Bathrooms
Downstairs Bathrooms
Vaccuum Upstairs
Vaccuum Downstairs
File/Sort papers

I tried to break everything down into as small of tasks as possible. Then, each day I could pick what I wanted to do, as many or as few items, to check off the weekly list. That way, if I was having a bad day, I could let myself off easy and just dust, but all the while knowing that it meant I needed to have a more productive day later in the week. I found this was the best way for me to actually get the work done, by allowing myself to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it, depending on how the day went (which we all know is unpredictable with kids). Plus, I would find that some days I would get in super work mode and cross a whole bunch of things off my list, thus "earning" myself a clean-free day later in the week. It felt like I was doing myself a favor instead of constantly playing catch-up.

Also, Lexie's teacher just suggested something to me that's kind of on the same lines: Find things that your kids can do! In her words: Make your kids be YOUR slaves, instead of the other way around, which is what it usually is. I'm learning that we totally spoil Lexie, which happens with disabled kids because we look at their lives as "hard enough" without having to pick up their toys. But having tasks to do helps build self-esteem and greater independence (again, all this is from her teacher). I'm finding this week it's been helpful to have her do even the little things she can do (at 3), like help clear the table, put the silverware away, pick up her toys, etc. So put #3 & 4 to work, even little bits!

Oh, and as far as getting out and doing things, I'm horrible at this. The only way I actually get out of the house is if I write in on my calendar suggestions each day for the week/month/whatever. I literally have to write in "Go to Park" or "Library trip", etc, or else I get so caught up with my fatique at life or the craziness of the day to do a simple fun activity. A lot of times the suggestion doesn't get done, but I get out more than if I don't write anything in at all (which is how it is right now...)

Jill said...

Cheryl, thank you for writing this post. I could have written it. With my work load and Clint looking for a job, and hoping and praying to move soon, and I cannot keep up on my house. I also feel like I never socialize with anyone, and that I'm out here on my own little (very lonely) island! So, I am stealing a lot of the advice from these wise posters and hope that it gets better for both of us! And thanks for the chicken recipe, by the way!

Julie said...

Okay, I'm really lucky, because I have a cleaning lady -- if that makes other LDS moms want to throw rotten tomatoes at me, I understand. But it is something I am so grateful for. That being said, somehow I still get into ruts. Laundry is the thing I really struggle with. I am fine about getting it washed and dried and mostly even folded. But putting it away!!!! Why can't I do this? You remember that laundry we talked about at your house? I still haven't put it away! And now it has a neighbor that's waiting to move back into its closet, too.
And I am not a playgroup kinda gal. I really don't enjoy getting together with other people and their kids. What I love is babysitting swaps. Is that awful? Then I'm awful, but it's true.
So, my routine? Breakfast, clean up, TV while we do the girls' hair (why this is so important to me, I don't know...), then we turn off the tv for hopefully the rest of the day. After that, we just roll with it. Sometimes I blog too much, but other times not at all. Man, I don't have a freaking schedule! And it's not bugging me right now.
Basically, this was an utterly useless comment. Sorry.

Cheryl said...

Your comments are never useless. Ever. And for some women, getting a cleaning person is probably a huge priority. So don't apologize --ever! --for doing what you think is best, okay? Okay. :)

And to everyone else:
THANK YOU! I love this. You simply have no idea how important this post was to me, or to my sanity. I so appreciate all the time you guys took to write down your routines and the things that have worked or don't work for you. Seriously, I have learned so much! You guys have made my day.

And if anyone else still wants to share, keep it comin'! I need all the examples you can give me...

m&m said...

I'm probably not much help because I tend to be pretty unstructured. I do have certain things I do every day (barring crazy something or anothers).

Warning...late-nite decompress rambling follows....

I always do the dishes at least once, and I almost always do a load of laundry. I NEVER get all the laundry caught up, and I don't expect to (gave that up years ago). I try to keep at it each day. And then each day, I have a goal to get something extra done. Hubby does garbage and sweeping the kitchen EVERY day (if he can't I do).

I've gotten to the point where my kids can help, so on Tue and Sat, they vacuum, sweep entryway, dust, vacuum stairs, and wipe down the two bathroom sinks that they use. That has made a difference.

I have tried schedules, but with chronic illness issues and unpredictability with little ones, I haven't found that works for me. I also tend to respond to things as they come (not always, but often). Tonite, for example, we took the seats out of the van to bring something home. It was SUCH a mess, so we figured it was a good time while the seats were out to give it a good cleaning. That has been on my list for a bazillion weeks, but it finally got done tonite because the time was right. Another time, I might buy food storage and decide that organizing the downstairs where it is makes sense. You get what I mean.

Have you considered inviting company over? That's a quick way to get me to get down and dirty about cleaning the space that people see when they come in. :)

I do find that limiting time online helps me feel less bogged down and apathetic. I have spent a couple of years working on that, and just lately have felt a better balance there. Don't know if that is a struggle for you, but it has been for me!

All of that said, I also find that I do better when the stuff, the to-dos, aren't what is most important. It's so cliche, but when I can make that extra effort to teach while they help, or to interact and get down at their level, I feel much more energized. That is also something that I didn't do so well for a long time, and still struggle with. For me, the little, little stage was perhaps the hardest...so physically exhausting, rather chaotic and unpredictable because they are young, and hard to keep up with the mess because it's just a messy stage of life!

You know where to find me. Seriously, let's do some get-togethers over the summer! :)

Lizzie said...

Julie - If I were to throw rotten tomatoes at you for having a cleaning lady, it'd be out of total and complete jealousy! Right now I'd LOVE to have a cleaning lady come at least just once a month to clean and sanatize my home. I can keep it picked up and organized, but CLEAN, I just have the hardest time doing. Right now we can't afford it, but that's because we over-spend in other areas of our budget. So I've been working on spending our money better, and my reward once we get in a steady pattern of better budgeting is to get a cleaning lady once a month. So, yeah, you are so lucky!

Dan and Michelle said...

Well, I actually read all of the comments on this one...even though we already discussed skimming. It's been helpful for me too. I can't give you any advice because frankly, I don't have any to give. I am in a bit of a rut myself, which usually leads to long arguments between the two of us about what we are complaining about that only we can change. Anyway, you can come have play dates with me if you want.

TftCarrie said...

I'm a fan of an unstructured life. But with 3 now, I am coming to realize I need to structure more. But for me it isn't having the same routine for each day, it's more about planning for the week ahead of time. Slotting in library trips, beach time, babysitting swaps, farmers market, quick trips to disneyland. ONce all the fun is in place, I plan meals around the activities for the day (and make my shopping list) and try to pick at least one chore to get done each day as well. I usually do all this planning on Saturday sometime (this is so on Sunday I can talk to people about joining me during my activities.

I got this cute chart pad from lobotome that helps organize my non-routine. I am kind of in love with it.

Leslie said...

So...this is late...but I've been MIA for a few days (you've missed me, right? I'll explain later...probably on my blog).

So...when I am in a *serious* rut...it's really, really hard to get out. I find the crazier and dirtier the house gets, the less I feel like doing anything about it. When I get in these situations, I admit it...I just don't know what to do. Luckily, my husband is good at recognizing when I am "fried." He says...'you sit down and I'm going to go through this pile of papers and you tell me what stays and what goes.' So...he helps me go through stuff...throws in a load of laundry and it's amazing...I feel kind of reborn.

Other things that help me find motivation are...inviting people over for dinner (makes me have a serious reason to get things fixed up), getting the family involved by doing "draw jobs" (where I make a list of things that need to be done...cut them up into strips and throw them into a bowl and everyone draws several jobs), cleaning the kitchen sink (this stems from a short time I tried doing the fly lady stuff), reading an uplifting book (like a Jeffrey R. Holland or something of that sort), going out for a long walk (alone or with the fam), going to the temple, folding laundry while I'm watching Pride & Prejudice (of course...the BBC version), forcing myself to clean a bathroom (I don't know why this does something for me), and maybe...going to bed early.

So...that's what I do...now I'm going to go and comment on your follow-up post. See you have missed my comments (subconsciously, at least!) :)

Cheryl said...

I always miss your comments. :)

Holy cow! I just about fell over when you left a comment...you just made my entire day!

Come, on! You can do better than that. You're the most organized woman I know, little sister! We can argue about it later... ;)

I have to remember that this is the messy stage --sometimes it's easy to forget! I'll find you soon, no worries. #2 is anxious! :)