Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Schedules

In the past I have resisted schedules at home. Partially because young children's needs are so unpredictable that it seemed that whatever I attempted to plan was put aside when higher priorities took over.
Recently I was inspired while reading a blog post about organizing household chores around the days of the week. This is something that might work for me. I've already gotten the hang of planning a week's worth of meals on Sunday (or Monday morning) and then doing the full week's grocery shopping on Monday morning. I have been having such trouble getting laundry done without it piling in multiple mountains. This method leads to someone not being able to find clean undershirts (sorry, Adam) or matching socks (sorry, kids) and a fair amount of foul stench as the dirty stuff rots and the clean stuff mildews.
I need some help getting it done. And the answer isn't a bigger washer or an electric dryer. While those two purchases would help the speed, they wouldn't help my bad habits. I believe the root of the habits is the organization style of survival. Do what must be done now. Fix what squeaks the loudest. And hope (or worry) that everything else will get done in time.

It's time to move beyond this. So here are some of my new tools for accomplishing all that I want and not get overwhelmed by trying to do it all at once.

1. Keep the kitchen clean. Food is the center of our physical lives. And food is messy. Wash dishes periodically throughout the day. Sweep the floor at least once during the day. And wash dishes and counters at the end of the day so that we wake to a clean kitchen that inspires a good breakfast.

2. Swish the toilet each day with the toilet brush without any cleanser. This means no need to break out the bleach once a month to kill the major buildup that has grown thick. It won't build up. And I will be comfortable having friends over anytime.

3. Pick up trash, clothes, books and toys every evening. Good maintenance habit for me and the kids. The benefit of waking to a clean house inspires doing interesting productive things.

4. Follow a weekly schedule for chores. My current one looks like this:
(This includes all of the bread-making prep, since it's something that needs to be planned in advance.)

Monday - grocery shop and bake two loaves of sourdough bread

Tuesday - wash and hang laundry (diapers and clothes) and refresh sourdough starter

Wednesday - fold and put away laundry, wash and hang more if needed, put out trash, make biga and firm sourdough starter

Thursday - fold and put away more laundry, bake two loaves of sourdough, two loaves of sandwich bread, a batch of muffins and a batch of cookies, and make a poolish for tomorrow's pizza

Friday - clean the bathroom

Saturday - change and wash sheets and towels, vacuum all rooms

Sunday - fold and put away sheets and towels, refresh sourdough starter, make firm starter, and put out recycling

In my first two attempts at following this schedule, I have been pleased with how well it works. I have less to worry about each day, since if I follow the schedule everything will get done in good time; but more gets done, since I have a task of the day, I'm less likely to putz around on something unproductive.
A couple of times I have traded activities of the day with the next day if, for instance, I didn't have access to the car on shopping day. But in the end it all got done without any one day being too busy or so task-filled that there wasn't room for the unpredictable needs of the little people in my care.
It's an experiment anyway. It may not last forever, and since I am my own boss, I don't feel worried that if I don't follow the schedule, there's a need to feel guilty or feel like a failure. It's just a tool, and perhaps it will help.

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