True to my Type A personality, I love schedules/routines, plans and organization. I thrive with these elements in life! So, naturally I orchestrate my weeks beginning with a good plan. Having a written plan allows me to accomplish necessary tasks each day, provide healthy and balanced meals and snacks, maintain the housework, care for and give attention to each member of my family etc. I can strive for excellence in my homemaking through the use of careful allocation of my time and energy each week. I do that by utilizing a planner, charts/lists, and having a "command center."
We budget our finances, and so why not budget our time? I often desire to fill my day with 19 waking hours of activity, instead of a more reasonable amount. The result is always burnout. I'm exhausted, the "to do" list grows excessively, and attitudes (and behavior) sours. In these moments I want to toss my hands up and exclaim "I can't do it all!" or "I'm only one person having to tend to more than can be reasonably done!" This doesn't get us anywhere, though! Instead of defeat, I simply need a plan!
A proper plan allows for a time for everything. I create our daily schedules with a time frame so that I can see what is realistically able to be accomplished in a single day. We rarely follow our daily schedule by the times specified and instead follow the order of activity, but by creating the structure of our day according to times I'm able to keep our activities manageable. Do I realistically have the time and energy to do multiple deep cleaning tasks in a day? Am I able to make fully homemade meals or snacks? At what points can I devote my attention entirely to each of my children? When do I have time to properly care for myself? As a Mama, I have so many areas that need addressed each day that it can be overwhelming! However, I believe I can "do it all" as long as I approach my time usage wisely. I need to spread my tasks across the time available in each week. As I used to say in college, "divide and conquer!"
Planning my week has been a matter of organization and self-discipline. Truthfully, I'm much better at the first part! I still have much progress to make in the area of self-discipline. Nonetheless, I still strive for excellence. I begin by determining my priorities for activities for each day. For instance, I always list laundry, room tidying, deep cleaning tasks, and one-on-one time with my family. There may be other extras like a project I'm working on, bills that need paid, appointments, or activities for the children outside our home. I have in mind certain categories when planning. I then set a limit of how many activities I can realistically expect from myself. I can't expect myself to clean all the rooms in our home, but I can do a quick ten minute tidy of at least two rooms. Likewise, I can't sit at the computer for an extended period of time to accomplish certain tasks, but I can spend 5-10 minutes a day (our computer is located in our bedroom & this room is not child proof at all. We desire to keep it as our space & restrict the children from it.). If not careful, though, these little bits of activity each day can really add up. Therefore, I prefer to limit the list to 5-6 items a day. It's better to have a smaller list that can be realistically accomplished, than a long one that just builds day after day.
Even with so few tasks, I still don't accomplish all that I plan. Some days there is housework that needs caught up, or children who need a little more playtime with and attention from Mama. By the end of the week there may be a day's worth of tasks remaining. They still need done, and so I try to find some time on Saturdays to do them. This isn't ideal for me because I want to rest during the weekends too. Having less to do during my weekend provides good motivation to work hard during the week.
But, sometimes things still go undone. I've learned it best to just forget about those things and move on to focusing on the upcoming set of tasks or activities. Trying to play catch-up from the previous week(s) not only creates more to do than can realistically be accomplished, but also creates a lot of stress. Those other tasks will rotate back around, and be able to be accomplished then. It's best to focus on the week at hand only.
When it comes to planning materials, I've tried numerous apps for various purposes but still find paper to be best. For one, I don't like having to constantly refer to my phone or computer. I furthermore don't want my children to learn from me to have a dependence on screens. (They're too young to understand the purpose of this particular usage, but they can understand that it takes my attention away. I'm thus relaying a message of greatest value to them.). Second, I like to be able to create my own charts & lists that are tailored to our needs. I don't waste my time or energy sorting through aspects of premade planners that don't apply to us. When the chart or list is just of our days' activities or tasks, I can quickly and easily mark them off as we go.
My favorite tool is a simple planner book. I purchased my current book from Wal-Mart for about $12. I could have gotten a more basic one that was cheaper, but I enjoyed the colorful nature of the one I got. A pretty planner is more delightful to look at each day! My planner has monthly views, weekly views and some resource pages in the back (I use these to jot down blog post ideas, encouraging quotations, book lists for myself and the kids, and toy ideas for the kids). I also purchased some inexpensive colored pens. Again, it's just more fun to have a colorful to do list.
Other planning resources I use are my daily schedule, cleaning rotation, meal/snack rotation charts, and menu plan. I incorporate the cleaning routine into my weekly planner book so that I can keep up with what is current since these tasks rotate. Breakfast and snack options also rotation, but those are written on our weekly menu plan sheet.
All my charts and schedule are kept inside sheet protectors that are taped to the side of our bookshelf pantry in our kitchen. This location is central in our home, and easy to reference as we go about our day. The sheet protectors allow me to mark off tasks/ activities with dry erase markers as we accomplish them. I always find having a visual to be a great encouragement! The planner book is kept nearby on the end of a kitchen counter (same central location in our home). I, again, like to cross off items as they are completed for continued motiv.
I assume lead before our children and day, and when I lead proactively with a clearly defined weekly plan then there is less chaos and more joy in our home (and myself!). Properly planning my weekly tasks is an asset to my homemaking. All these resources assist me in managing our home as smoothly as possible. We rarely get all points executed perfectly, but we at least have a goal! We're working towards conducting our days and weeks in a proactive and orderly manner. Doing so, really helps me to focus on the most important areas of my to do list, and consequently be less overwhelmed. In turn, we personally and our home can be more peaceful and joyful each week!