Almost a week ago I discussed my early morning routine. Sorry it’s taken so long to get to this, but I have a good excuse. I’ve been sick. Again. This time it wasn’t quite so bad, just a major head cold, but it’s been some motivation to go to bed at a decent time, and I haven’t felt like writing much during the day.
But now I’m improving, the kids were in bed early, and I want to share with you about the after breakfast routine I have been establishing.
First of all, it is important to know that I am a S.H.E. all the way through. In case you aren’t familiar with that acronym, SHE stands for Sidetracked Home Executive, with an emphasis on the sidetracked part. And as a mother of young children, it is easy to get distracted! So I finish breakfast and just want to sit for a few minutes. Then I have to feed Manny (because his meal is different, and he often eats a little later than everyone else). Then I have to change a diaper. I also have to make sure Gislaine is getting her chores done (making her bed, collecting dirty laundry, etc). I have to referee any squabbles, answer the occasional phone call, and somewhere in there I need to brush my own teeth, make my bed, and get the kitchen cleaned up. It is so easy to get distracted!
In the past, I often would leave the dishes unwashed until almost time for lunch. Which, of course, would make me postpone lunch, because I didn’t want to do the dishes, and would wait until the last possible moment to start them. This made for more stress, of course. And I was always in a quandary about what to do first. Do I brush my teeth first? Do I make my bed first? Do I do the dishes first?
So finally I made a routine. I said, first thing after breakfast, I take my vitamins. Otherwise I will forget them, and they are supposed to be taken with food. My vitamins make such a difference in my energy and mood, but especially being pregnant now, I need my prenatals!
Then I put the food away and wash the dishes. Before I brush my teeth, make my bed, or do anything else. Granted, it doesn’t always work perfectly. My husband sometimes eats breakfast late, or Manny isn’t finished when I am, or there is some crisis that needs to be dealt with. But for the most part, if I do my best to stay focused, I can get the table cleared and the dishes done within 15-20 minutes. Of course, it helps that I emptied the dishwasher before starting breakfast, especially since the dishwasher is my dish drainer 6 days a week.
After breakfast, next thing I do is brush my teeth and make my bed. I list these two as one item, because the order varies, depending on whether the only bathroom in the house is occupied or not. Once we move and have a master bathroom, though, I think I will always brush my teeth first. I also remind Gislaine to brush hers and help Manny with his during this time, if he has finished breakfast. Sometimes my husband makes the bed before I get to it, and sometimes my daughter does it while I do dishes, but usually I have to do it. And remember, my excuse for not making the bed first thing upon rising is that I like to air it, and it is usually still occupied anyway.
The next thing on my list is laundry. That means sort laundry and start the first (and some days only) load. Now, Flylady starts the laundry as part of her before-breakfast routine, but I like my daughter to pick up the dirty laundry in the bedrooms and bring it out to the laundry room. That is her job. And before breakfast she doesn’t have time for that–if she’s even awake, she’s drinking her water or having her devotional time, and then she eats. So while I’m washing dishes, if she has finished eating, I have her pick up the laundry, make her bed, brush her teeth, etc. She is able to do those things on her own, and it keeps her out of trouble and out of my way so I can focus on getting through the routine.
After the laundry comes what I like to call my Fly Mission. This is actually a Flylady Zone mission. When I finish this series on routines, I will tell about how I have adapted the Zone idea for my new home–which, by the way, is on location but not put together yet. Anyhow, there are 5 zones, one for each week. This week is Zone 4, the Master Bedroom. An example of a mission would be to grab something like a long-handled duster or a broom and go after cobwebs, or to declutter under the bed for 15 minutes. Some zone missions I cannot do, because either the room isn’t cluttered, or we don’t have a dresser in the bedroom (the closet has shelves, so our clothes go on those), or some other good reason. But if the mission applies to my situation, I do it after starting the laundry.
Next on my list is decluttering. Now, I have almost no decluttering to do in this house. I have refused to collect unnecessary things, and most of what I did manage to collect has already been pitched. However, I can use this time to pack something for 15 minutes or less. We are moving in less than a month, after all. I have used this time to pack the kids’ clothes that they grew out of (the most recent ones were piled on a box), to organize my closet, to pack our warmest winter coats (probably a bad idea–it’s gotten cold again), to pack the few books we have here–one medium-small box full, and so on. Sometimes I skip this item, especially if we are running late, because lately we have been going to bed too late (we as in my husband and I), so we get a late start on the morning. I am working on reversing that at least for myself, but even the most organized mother can have delays sometimes.
Next on the list is school. That is, my daughter’s preschool. We don’t do it every day, but I am for 4 days a week. We go through workbooks I picked up at the dollar store, tracing letters and numbers and doing other preschool activities. And coloring. During this time, I keep Manny occupied with several things. First, he gets to color with a dry-erase marker on a special spiral-bound board thing that has letters, numbers, and a space to doodle. He tires of that in about 5-10 minutes, then he wants to play with the wooden tools that his uncle bought for him. I keep these tools out of reach so the pieces of bolts and nuts and such don’t get lost, and he only gets them during “school” time, which keeps them special. After 5-10 minutes he is done with those, and then I give him books to look at until his sister is finished with her school. This way, I know where he is (and that he isn’t making a mess or destroying something somewhere in the house).
After this is free time that I can use to do whatever I want or need to do until time to start my pre-lunch routine. How much time I actually have depends on how long this routine took to get finished. Sometimes I only have a few minutes. Often I will tackle things on my to-do list that I don’t do every day, like ironing, or one-time things like making a call to set appointments. I often check the laundry during this time, especially if I have to do more than one load that day.
Eventually I want to put a quick sweep of the kitchen and dining room into my morning routine, but I need to streamline this one more first.
To recap, here is my after-breakfast routine:
- Take vitamins
- Clear table, wash dishes
- Brush teeth, make bed
- Sort and start laundry
- Zone mission
This routine still has a lot of bumps in it, but I’m fairly happy with the order of it. Now I just need to become more efficient at it!
Next time I will share about my pre-lunch routine.
What routines have you established to make your life flow more smoothly?