Wednesday, August 30, 2006

WFMW - Weekly planning for moms

Hello ladies!

One of the hardest adjustments for me when I had kids was not having long periods of uninterrupted time anymore to get things done (UNDERSTATEMENT, huh?).

There was so much to do, but I felt like I was spinning my wheels because there was no beginning and no ending to my day (week, year, etc.)!

I needed a plan – I needed to think through what I could reasonably accomplish in one day while still taking care of kids. This served two purposes for me:

  1. I didn’t burn out trying to do grocery shopping, laundry, deep cleaning and yard work all in one day.
  2. I could relax looking at the overflowing laundry hamper on Friday, knowing I had set aside time to do it on Monday.

Here’s something else I’ve adapted from Bonnie’s Household Organizer that helps me work smarter, not harder.

Take a blank sheet of paper (or if you're like me, an Excel spreadsheet) with the days of the week across the top. Then across the left side write AM, PM, and evening.

Then roughly fill in the following for a “typical” week:

1. Start with your non-negotiables.

Time-fixed commitments inside or outside the home (including time for getting yourself/family ready, commute). This includes things like:

  • work
  • taking care of a baby
  • home schooling
  • carpooling
  • church
  • kids’ sports and activities, etc.

If you fill in your week and there is no blank space, maybe it's time to re-evaluate your commitments. You can see some of our family's activities in turquoise, below.

2. Then add what I call “project-type chores.”

These are things that need to be done that take a chunk of time, but are not necessarily done daily:

  • laundry
  • grocery shopping
  • bill paying
  • deep cleaning
  • yard work

These are in pink, below.

When I look at my week, I try to balance the big things that need to be done against my time-fixed commitments. On the days I know I'm going to be doing a lot outside (or inside) the home, it helps me say "NO" when someone calls and needs me to bake 500 cookies for the bake sale tomorrow.

I try to do the biggest things (for me those are laundry, general pickup and bills) early in the week to get them out of the way. Very rarely will I leave the house on Monday or Tuesday during the day so I can concentrate on getting those things done. By the end of the week I feel more caught up so I can do errands or lunch out with a friend.

Plug those in somewhere on your weekly schedule. I just put mine all in the morning - but I try not to plan other things for those afternoons because things tend to take twice as long with kids in the equation!

3. Then plug in your daily activities.

  • quiet time
  • baths for little ones
  • meal preparation
  • dishes
  • daily house pickup
  • daily correspondence such as email and phone calls, etc.

Most of these we roll into morning, afternoon and evening "routines." I noticed I just put "dinner prep" on the one below, but that includes a bit of a cleanup time before dinner, actually eating together, and cleaning it all up.

Have you ever stopped to list all the things you try to get done between dinner and bedtime?? It will amaze you.

If there are any things you could switch to other times of the day, this is a great time to think about it. I give my little girls baths in the morning because evenings are so hectic around here.

These are in yellow, below.

4. Then add in hobbies, fun family activities and recreation, and rest:

These are the things that tend to get pushed aside unless they are made a priority (I’m preaching to myself, here!).

  • family time
  • rest
  • entertaining friends
  • exercise
  • blogging - yes, it may not appear that way, but it is a hobby for me! And no, I haven't figured out where it fits yet. Right now it's during baby's nap time.

If you work outside the home, unless you want to be doing everything on the weekends, most of these household items need to be tucked in before or after work, or while you're doing something else (I usually fold laundry while dinner is cooking).

Even if you never use a weekly plan (as in everything I do, mine is VERY LOOSELY APPLIED), it is a great exercise to write down ways you can combine chores or commitments to make your family run smoother.

It has helped me pinpoint times when we've been overcommitted as a family, and has given me something concrete to show my husband when we're evaluating our activities.

Be sure to check out all the other great tips at Shannon's!


Unknown said...

I love this idea. I think that I could "loosely" follow something like this as well. I feel very scattered at this "new year" for some reason, and this may help me get the order I am craving.

Heather Smith said...

I need to get organized like this! Great tip!

The Roaming Southerner said...

This is amazing! I am so stealing it. Thanks for A GREAT TIP!

Rae said...

Wow this is such a great idea, thanks for the tip!

Susanne said...

I can see where this would help you say "no" when you have to and also to see if you're overbooking! As usual Katherine, excellent! You need some kind of award for all your oranizing family ideas!

Code Yellow Mom said...

I love that it's in general time frames - I always sabotage myself by making it too rigid...Thanks again for a very helpful tip!

Jen said...

Great post...I have a hard time fitting things in...I feel sometimes that I let Scott down when he returns home from work and I havent done anything but play with baby and changed today I cleand the entire kitchen and baked a cake....and mopped the would have thougt I hit the lottery.....I felt so good getting this done.
Thanks for the advice....and reminding us all we are not wonder women.

Glass Half Full said...

Overall -- if YOU can do it raising five, then I can do it raising TWO!!! :) Well, maybe THREE if you include my hubby in the mix and trust me, I should!!!

Mama Duck said...

Wonderful idea, I need to do this with just ONE! Our tip is up and we're also hosting the Carnival of the Vanities this week if you haven't visited it already ;).

courtcourt said...

What a GREAT idea! (And thanks for the visual, I was having a hard time picturing it.) I am stealing it too!

Anonymous said...

I'm usually to rigid too. Thanks for the AM, PM, Evening tip! I may have to try it.