I received an email from a reader asking a bit about my daily routine. She lives in Brazil so I imagine there will be many things that look different in our day to day lives, but there is of course so much in common, too. She is married, planning to start a family, and loves to take care of her home. I can relate to her desire to live a well managed, well crafted life. We all have a lot to learn from one another in this regard.
And so, today I thought I’d talk a little about my daily routine. This is good timing for me as I am currently in a place of rewriting my days. Our family has undergone some big changes this fall, and for the first time in about six years we find ourselves out of the house five days a week for my daughter’s university classes (we still homeschool, but this is how she is spending much of her final pre-college year). Leaving the house so often is normal for most people! But for a homeschool family with a work from home mom, it’s territory we have not seen in many years.
Before I get into it, please know there is nothing exciting or unique about my day to day life. The things I need to take care of each day don’t really change except with the seasons (aside from this new routine of leaving the house so frequently). At the start of each season, I always seem to need a couple of weeks to transition, but once the kinks are worked out, our routines are pretty fixed for the next three months or so.
Basically, I break my days down into different areas, and do my best to assign each area a time block. This all sounds very Type A, which I am not. I prefer to think of it as an attempt to create structure and rhythm because without those things, I know for certain that a whole lot of nothing will get accomplished. I’m too much of a daydreamer to stay on task without some sort of routine to keep me on track. Granted, even with time blocks I derail the productivity train quite often, but at least I know where to pick up next when things are spiraling away from me. For instance, right now I’m sitting in the woods with my laptop writing this up in a word document. I am supposed to be at the library studying, but studying just didn’t have the same appeal on this perfectly autumn day.
Maybe it’s a good idea to explain my days within the parameters of these time blocks I try to make it all happen in. (To be clear, I never actually "make it all happen." But, you know... life goals and all.)
Weekdays in Autumn
We don’t need to leave the house until about 9:30 each day, which anyone who leaves the house five days a week will agree, leaving at 9:30 is a luxury. It really is. I like to get up early, sometime between 5-6. This gives me several hours before we leave so I tend to focus on as much home centered work as I can manage. This window of time is my favorite part of the day. I take care of the chickens, check on the garden (at this time of year is really just removing the row cover from our carrots), throw a load of laundry in (first thing!) and hang it up to dry. This is also the time to put away dishes from the night before and put dry laundry away. I pack breakfast and lunch to take with me everyday so that needs to happen. I also try to take 30 minutes to write for this blog. I’m a slow writer so it could take me several 30 minute sessions to produce a decent blog post. And I really don’t get to do this everyday, hence the quiet blog! If I can get any or all dinner prep finished during the morning it is about the best thing I can do for myself all day. Finally, I take ten minutes or so to tidy. We live very intensively in our home, even if a ten or twenty minute tidy happened the afternoon before, there is always something to tidy up just twelve hours later. I am not obsessive about a perfectly clean and organized house, but a tidy home feels good. And to make that happen, it requires tending.
There are of course various things that take place on certain days (again, I do not obsess about this). One day I might change the sheets, another day I’ll dust and vacuum, another day clean the bathroom(s), etc. Basically, there is always something that needs to be taken care of, I notice what is most in need and put it at the top of my list for the morning. Like right now, I really need to clean the fridge and would like to get to that tomorrow morning. After I’ve spent a couple of hours puttering around the house, it’s time to take a shower and get ready to head out.
Late Morning/Early Afternoon
This is so new for us! Leaving the house each weekday has been a huge adjustment for me. I’m finally getting the hang of what to do with all of that time away from home. I basically trade off between studying for school and going on hikes. Occasionally I’ll run errands or write for work (or this blog), but for the most part, it’s time to study and hike.
We are usually home, except for Thursday when Emily goes to her job (she teaches debate and public speaking to third graders). On the days we are home, Emily is usually working on schoolwork/college apps, outside playing with Scout, volunteering at the library, or we’ll just hang out. This is also my time to get any sort of my work done. These days, my time for this is incredibly limited and we’re trying to adjust other areas of our budget to accommodate. The top priority this year is for me to finish school, and to support Emily in her final homeschool year as well as through the college application process. Also, keeping this family fed each day is no small feat! (These days we eat all of our meals at home, or pack meals to take with us when we’re out.)
Meal planning and grocery list making happens during this time, as does finishing up household chores left over from the morning (doesn’t it seem like laundry and dishes always need washing or putting away?). If I went grocery shopping while Emily was at classes, then I’ll be putting all of that away now. This time of day is also when I complete dinner preparations (hopefully I had a chance to start this in the morning.) On a good day, I’ll be able to squeeze in another hour or two of studying during the late afternoon. This is also when I might work on a small home decor project or craft project of some sort. And if there are bigger kitchen tasks that need to happen such as making yogurt, canning garden produce, baking, chocolate medicine making (yup, it’s medicine, Corina says so), etc., those things generally happen in the afternoon.
Good grief. Did you read that last paragraph? As I wrote it I realized that late afternoons are a time when I’m squeezing too many things into a too small window of time. No wonder I never feel done. Oh well, we do what we can.
Ahh... sacred evening time. Even if it is sometimes filled with additional school work, debate class, or (coming up soon) basketball season. For the most part, we are home home home. We do the usual family things in the evening - dinner, clean up, watch a movie or show, knit, read, make some tea, maybe play a game. Early to bed.
In this house, we are energetically done by about 7pm. The thought of cleaning up after dinner is not fun, especially in the winter months when it is dark so early. I have found that with my family, I am the one who sets the tone regarding dinner clean up. Meaning, if I move from the dinner table to the couch, grab my knitting and chill out with my happily full belly for a bit, my family will 100% of the time follow suit. They will not initiate the clearing of the table. However! If I get up from the table and head straight to the kitchen and get cracking on clean up, they follow me and pitch in 100% of the time. Isn’t that something? I have no idea what the deal is with this observation, but I do know for sure what the outcome will be based on my actions. Our preferred (mom initiated) clean up routine is as follows - I was dishes, Emily and Adam clear the table, Adam puts any leftovers away, Emily dries and puts away dishes as the rack fills up from me washing. I do the final cleaning of counters and stove. On a good night someone grabs the broom and sweeps the kitchen. When all is said and done, this miraculous cleaning only takes about 15-20 minutes (many hands, and all), and mornings are SO much better when the kitchen is clean at night.
Another thing I do to make lunch prep for the following day easier is take a container or two to the dinner table and make to-go meals for my husband’s lunch. Most of the time his lunch is a repeat of dinner the night before (I factor this into how much food I make for dinner), it just make sense to prepare this at the table while all the food is still in front of me and we’re lingering and chatting after we finish eating.
Last but not least, at some point in the late afternoon or evening, I like to implement another ten minute tidy.
There are many other things that come and go in my weekday routine, I’m sure you can relate. But for the most part, this sums up how an average weekday looks around here during this life season. Things are never perfect, but I do try to show up for my home and family as much as I can. Making a cozy home is important to me.
Someone recently mentioned to me (within the context of a bigger conversation) that for introverts, home is the safe zone. The place where we are most centered, most inspired, and most fulfilled (too much time away, or too many visitors in our space can disrupt that). This sentiment resonated with me; tying the spiritual needs of introverts to the idea of home as a safe zone was a light bulb moment. (Oh! That is why it’s always mattered to me!)
Did I ever tell you that a few years back I was feeling so overwhelmed with work/homeschool/home/etc. that I thought for sure there was something wrong with me. I sat down and wrote out all I needed to take care of in a day and the length of time each task required (including eight hours of sleep). Low and behold, I needed 28 hours in a day! Ha! No wonder I never felt on top of things. Well, none of us has 28 hours in a day, so we offer ourselves some grace and do what we can.
And finally, it goes without saying, we are all works in progress. This is not a 'how to' post. Consider it as a few notes from my desk to yours, pondering what one person attempts to take care of in a day. I know you have notes regarding your day... please feel free to share routines or ideas that have worked in your household. We're always learning from each another.