The system I wish I had

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And today I’m going to confess there’s one critical system I should have, but flat out do not have. It’s a morning quiet time/daily devotional/meditation time.

Given just how much I need quiet alone time (personality type INFJ here), it’s weird that I don’t have this system down, but I don’t. My main struggle is that I HATE to get up early. Mike can survive on very little sleep (unfathomable to me!), but, personally, I’m worthless past 9:30 p.m. and prior to 7:00 a.m. Even if I’m not sleeping, it’s like I’m in a weird zombie zone.

After the kids go to bed, I typically write for the blog or respond to emails. I enjoy that time, but it’s still more of a work ritual. Not sure why, but I can’t get my head around a good morning system. Plus, my kids are typically awake between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. so I’ve gotta set the alarm and get my rear end out of bed if it’s going to happen.

As we’ve already established, I pretty much stink at that.

The value of a quiet time and ritual is so important. I will totally shake my head in agreement to any person who states they value and set aside time for it. Sabbath in small increments. Yes, yes, to all of it. So what’s my deal?

In addition to the morning struggle, I think I have a major distractibility problem. My mind is constantly gearing up to address the next event, task, email, complaint, etc. And I have to really work hard at slowing my mind down and quieting myself. I’ve always operated from the premise that if it’s quiet, I must be forgetting something. Plus, this is the kind of work there’s no outside accountability for, it’s just my own wellbeing at stake. So I am far less disciplined about it.

So I’m going to try to do a VERY simple routine for the next week. That’s all I’m holding myself to — one week. Here goes:

  • Set the alarm for 6:00 am.
  • Read something like a daily devotion or chapter of a spiritual book (no news or blogs)
  • Journal something (I’m liking the idea of a journal template rather than staring at a blank page, maybe even typing rather than handwriting)
  • Pinwheel breathing, some sort of yoga stretching (Maybe??)
  • Asking Mike to preserve the quiet between 6:00 -6:30 a.m. (i.e. keep the kids out of our bedroom, this seems nearly impossible)

It seems so simple on paper, but I’ve just never been able to do it consistently enough to really feel the benefits. A friend of mind swears by it and says her whole day is off when she skips her devotional time in the morning.

What do you do that helps reset your soul each day (or week)? Do you have a morning quiet time? Does something else work for you? What’s the habit or ritual you wish you had in place (quiet time or otherwise)?

The system I wish I had

Systems: Dirty dishes and loads of laundry

IMGP5430There are a billion ways to run a house, but around here I tend to run the ship and hope and pray everyone else follows my lead. **Also, I’m working on not yelling and being more forgiving. Put that on your prayer list, please.

My husband doesn’t travel for work during the week, but given the hours he puts in, I almost have to operate as if he does. I’m not complaining. He has a fantastic job, he helps out whoever he can, and we’ve got our system in place, but I do feel the need to state this upfront lest some reader think… why is she so concerned with getting everything done herself?

Because of life.

There are a million organizing blogs out there and I read some of them with complete awe… labels and toy storage and file folders, oh my! This is one of the wonders of the blogosphere, you get to see what the experts do and then just pick and choose what makes sense for your family.

Personally, I subscribe to a philosophy that less is more. Fewer clothes mean I don’t do as much clothing management. Fewer pots and pans means I have less to handwash and fewer items stacking up in the sink. Less clutter means less to dust and tend to.

We are not minimalists by any stretch of the imagination. I wish we were, but we’re more just people who fight the ongoing battle against stuff on perhaps a slightly more intense level than most do. And really it’s more me than anyone else around here. Simple living blogs and books and lifestyles – that’s what I strive for… but we kinda hit somewhere off center. Don’t get me started on kids toys. I’m drowning there.

Personally, I love hearing about people’s systems and routines and logistics. It’s how my brain works. So I’m going to throw out mine. First up: Laundry and Dishes. But I really want to hear how you manage all this. This is what I do, but what do you do that works?

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Here goes…

Weekly Laundry Routine:

  • Monday: All towels and cleaning rags (I throw them into a hamper in my kitchen throughout the week). Everything we own is white, which is handy because, I can wash it all in one load and just hang it back up.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday: I try to do one single load from start to putting away (adult clothes mainly and dish towels or sheets). However, I don’t always do it every day because we wear things over again, work shirts go to the dry cleaner, and Mike doesn’t wear underwear. Kidding. Just wanted to make sure you’re still reading.
  • Saturday/Sunday: Kids clothes (I dump it all out in the living room and sort into typically 3 loads). I try to bribe them to fold and put away their own clothes, but it’s not going well. For some reason, I want them to see me doing their laundry and eventually do it on their own, so that’s why I do it on the weekends.

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Routine for Daily Dishes:

  • Every morning (preferably before school drop off) I unload the dishwasher.
  • During the day, I continue to stick stuff in the dishwasher. I hate when dishes stack up in the sink because then I can’t really use the sink.
  • After dinner (and often during dinner if the kids are taking a LOOOONG time and I’m finished eating), I load all the junk I used to make dinner and then our dishes.
  • Start dishwasher every night and turn out lights. If I forget, I’m always annoyed the next morning.
  • I typically do one load a day. Sometimes I’ll do an extra load if I’ve got a big heavy pan that takes up a ton of room. Note that I’m out of the baby bottle stage and the snacks are pretty self-contained. When my kids were younger, we were drowning in plastic like everyone else. Also, I’ve got TWO kids – not six.

What do you do? This is one of those topics that I never in a million years thought I’d be interested in, but I am now. Peeking into someone else’s household routine is fascinating and, goodness knows, this stuff takes up the bulk of my day.

Systems: Dirty dishes and loads of laundry

Systems: Getting those kids to bed

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Getting my children to go to bed and stay there is one of the longest running battles we deal with in this household.

I gave birth to one snuggler and one worrier.

The snuggler INSISTS that he cannot go to sleep alone. He will worm his way into our bed, into his sister’s bed (she’s starting to put the kibosh on this lately) and for years I ended up staying in his room and snuggling until he fell asleep. It’s one of those habits every parenting expert says not to fall into. But I’m a sucker for sweet little boys who want to curl up next to you and I am always so incredibly drained by the end of the night. Avoiding a fight by giving into his demands was just the easiest thing to do.

On the other end, I’ve got a worrier who has had some difficulties at times relaxing and releasing into sleep. Because I couldn’t be in both places at once, I purchased (upon someone’s recommendation) a relaxation CD for my daughter to use. Praise God, that thing has been so helpful. However, it works so well that if I head into her room for a quick snuggle, I wake up at 11:00 with drool on my shoulder and a stuffed animal under my arm, wondering where I am.

So the past couple of months, we’ve been trying to just re-establish a new system for going to bed. And the one we’re using right now is working (fingers crossed). Hope I’m not jinxing everything.

Here’s how it goes:

  • A behavior sticker chart (I hate sticker charts, though I do like lists) was modified to include a “stay in bed” item. Stickers = IPad time
  • We turn out lights, but I let them listen to an audiobook or a Sparkle Story
  • I head upstairs as fast as I can (my kids bedrooms are on the first floor and our master is upstairs) so that the house is totally dark and quiet where they are… it gives the impression that we’re all closed up for the night
  • If and when both parties are in agreement, they can sleep together in the same room (even on school nights). I’m lucky they still do this pretty often, though Anna is starting to refuse due to some blanket hogging issues

Bedtime is starting to creep later and later. It’s the sun’s fault. I’ve always wondered how I could get my kids to go to bed earlier, but they are always so full of energy and have so many “projects” they are working on that I just can’t seem to wrangle them in earlier.

What’s your system? Are you a strict about bedtime? How do you handle the popping up and getting out of bed? How do you get kids to stay in their rooms?

Systems: Getting those kids to bed

Systems

IMGP5404Are you a systems person? Or a deal with things as they pop up person?

Me, I’m totally and completely a systems person. I’ve got a system for cleaning the house. I’ve got a system for keeping the laundry going. I’ve got a system for my morning and another one for closing the house down each evening. Does this resonate with you? Or am I just the weirdo who does this stuff?

Now, the funny thing is that this doesn’t translate into military precision or a consistently clean living space, it’s just that somehow my brain works better if I just get into a habit of doing something rather than trying to figure out what I need to do next. I just feel more in control when I’ve got a routine in place.

I haven’t always been this way, but now that I’m a real live adult and I’ve started unpacking my “issues,” I realize that clutter and chaos are major anxiety triggers for me. When I have a system set up, it helps keep some of this at bay. Not all of it though. Cuz we live here and we eat here and we sleep here and we are real life human beings.

The downside to systems, however, is that I can be almost paralyzed by issues that don’t fit into the system. Note the string of Christmas lights in the corner of our bedroom that I keep trying to ignore (it’s easy if you cover your right eye while walking through the room) because I’ve packed the Christmas décor away and, well, that system is now boxed up for the year. It’s ridiculous how much I dread unpacking things that have already been put away.

Or all those little school “events” that pop up like wear mismatched boots to school on Wednesday. I can get my dishwasher unloaded, lunch packed and counter wiped off because it’s my system. But throw me a loop like the crazy boots and I’m completely frazzled.

So this week I want to tackle systems a little bit. Are you a system person? What’s the thing you wish you had a better system for? What’s the system that you implemented successfully or helped you avoid meltdowns? What systems do you think are overrated? Let me hear it…

Systems