Thursday, May 30, 2013

Finding a Routine

new house
new house
I have been struggling to settle into a routine ever since we moved to California four (holy cow, four?!) months ago. It's been difficult to start from scratch, in a new house, new "job" (the quotes are only because while I consider it a job, I do not get paid except in kisses, which are non-taxable so that's okay), new state, new region... Yeah. I have so many goals and thoughts swirling through my brain of things I thought I could do with this new life, that it's hard finding the time for all of them. So hard, in fact, that some days I don't find the time for any of them, simply because I don't even know where to start. To make things even more challenging, there are several extenuating factors that I have to work around from day to day and month to month. Some days my husband (J) needs a nap when he comes home from work, some days he doesn't. Some weeks we have my daughter (E), some days her dad (D) does. E has recently phased out naps (which makes the days longer, but bedtime oh so much easier). But I've decided it's time for me to accept those factors as a challenge and surmount them, and to come up with a workable routine so that I don't feel so lost every day. The best way for me to do that is to write about it, so here goes.

This is a list of the things (swirly-whirling around in my head) that I would like to accomplish (be it daily, weekly, monthly, what have you):

1. Homeschool. E was going to a pretty awesome daycare/preschool back in Nebraska, and she's gotten so smart, so I didn't want her to lose that while we were out here. I decided that homeschooling was the best option, so I've been trying to learn how to go about it in a way that works for us. Some days are awesome, some days are pure hell, and some days we don't do it at all. Plus I can't do school with her when she is with her dad (although he does his best to work with her because we have the same goals for her education). So while this is something solid that I can base a schedule around (when I have her, anyway), I don't always do it. Shame on me.

2. Running the household (keeping it clean and functioning). J is going through a pretty stressful time out here with work, so he doesn't have a lot of time or energy to devote to helping clean/ go grocery shopping/ etc. (though he is always more than happy to). I also don't want to spend the minimal amount of together-time we get on cleaning. So I, willingly and happily, have taken over that set of responsibilities as the stay-at-home mom/wife. However. This does not always happen on a daily basis. My cleaning/me time used to happen during E's naps. Now that she is no longer taking them, I can either clean: during the day, which means finding something to keep her occupied while I do so, and also less time to spend actively engaging with her; OR when J gets home from work, which means she is occupied (and supervised) but it's less time I get to spend with the both of them (and this will only work on the days he doesn't need a nap after work); OR after E and J both go to bed (although I hardly ever get anything done at that time of day because that's my new me time and who wants to clean at 10 o'clock at night? I'd rather just watch tv until I get tired).

3. Decorating the house (with things we already own or things I want to buy/thrift). Not much else to say about this. I just want our house (as temporary as it may be) to feel like a home and look nice. We already have everything we need, plus a lot of the stuff we want, it's just so fun to find (and even better: thrift) new things to mix it up. There are so many holes that I want to fill in the decor, but that will never get done by the time we leave here. What I've done so far has already improved the hominess factor so much, it might be time to just let this one go.

4. Curating my wardrobe. As I've said, I went from working mama to stay at home mama (in a climate I'm not used to), so a new wardrobe was a must. Well, not completely new, but better suited to my new lifestyle. I've done a decent job of getting rid of unwanted things over the last few months, and replacing them with things that work better with this new life. It's not 100% yet, but I'm happy with where it is now and I really don't need anything else, plus we're trying to save as much money as possible while we're out here, so it might be best to let this one go (at least for the time being) as well.

5. Cooking/baking. I've always been a pretty good baker, but I've only recently gotten better at cooking. Most noticeably since we got out here, now that I can start dinner whenever I need to instead of relying on takeout or something super quick once I get home from work. I want to continue improving my skills in both departments, and also focus more on eating healthier/fresher. I no longer have to rely on fast food or processed frozen meals in order to feed my family, so I would like to get better at cooking from scratch and take advantage of the FABULOUS and cheap produce that is available to me out here. I've come a long way, but I still have a long way to go.
rosemary olive oil bread
rosemary olive oil bread

6. Socializing E/ myself. E thrived at her preschool. She had friends, she was learning to share and not hit or be selfish. It was wonderful. Now that J and I are pretty much the only people she's sees daily unless I do something about it, I need to do something about it. I also left behind family and some pretty awesome friends (one of whom is my best friend, and E was best friends with her kids), so I need to work on making new ones since again, E and J are the only people I see on a daily basis unless I do something about it. While I love my family, I get pretty lonely, especially during the time when it's just me and the dog awake in the house. I love my dog, but he's not the greatest conversationalist.
at the playground
at the playground

7. Exercising (right now, predominantly training for a 10k). I enjoy exercising. For the most part. I like how it makes me feel and I could honestly stand to lose a few more pounds (though I am currently down 20 lbs from where I was a year ago). I used to exercise during her naps (again with those pesky naps). So now when do I exercise? Do I wake up before she does (for the record, I am NOT a morning person)? Do I exercise when she's awake and just find something for her to do (see #2)? Do I exercise after J comes home from work, or after everyone is in bed? The problem with this is the same as the problem with cleaning. When do I do it? So I usually don't. Even though I need and want to.
from the first day I made it to the 10k mark
from the first day I made it to the 10k mark

I decided the first step is probably paring down the things I'd like to accomplish to those most necessary either to living or to my sanity. Based on that, my days/ weeks will now be focused on the following:

  1. Homeschool. Education. It's important. The end.
  2. Cooking/baking. Gotta eat to live. Plus I truly enjoy it: it's a hobby and a form of self-expression. Two birds, one stone: I get to keep myself and my family alive (good for everyone), and I get to do something I enjoy (good for my sanity).
  3. Socializing. E and I will probably kill each other at some point if I don't at least try to do this, so it stays. Plus this is one of the easiest things to keep in the schedule: we have recently started taking walks every day (weather permitting) to the big playground about half a mile from our house. As long as we go at the same time every day (after lunch), maybe we'll run into the same kids and moms on a semi-regular basis and make some friends. At the very least, it gets us out of the house (plus some exercise!). 
  4. Which brings us to Exercise. I already signed up for the 10K so at the very least I need to keep training for that. After that, maybe if I try working little workouts in throughout the day instead of dedicating one big chunk of time to it, it will be easier to accomplish. I would definitely like to work this back into the routine.
  5. Running the household. Someone's gotta do it, and I honestly don't mind. I just need to get creative about when it gets done. I can do this
Also, the number one most important thing I need to do in order to feel like I can keep up a routine: waking up and going to bed at the same time every day. I'm terrible at this right now, but I know it will help immensely in the long run.

Sorry for the length/word-heaviness of this post, but it honestly really helped to put this all down in words. I just need to let go of the less important things and admit that I can't do it all.

Stay at home moms: do you have any advice or tips on how you establish and keep a routine in your household?

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