Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Organization

Esmé's Mommy here.

Scope creep - one of those scary things I always had to watch out for during my project management era. It seemed good - accommodating all the additional needs that popped up during the project - but it wrecked havoc on schedules and delayed the output of anything productive.

Blog creep - something I deal with constantly. I start out with specific blogging goals and timelines. I have a little extra time on my hand so I visit a few more blogs and write a few more posts. Before I know it, I'm getting upset with everyone who interrupts my precious blogging time. I'm constantly feeling overwhelmed by self-driven pressure to get out a few more posts, keep up with a few more blogs, follow up on a few more comments.

So then I cut back. Things look rather bare for a while. Then they fill out nicely. Soon things are overgrown again, and I've gotta get out the pruning shears once more.

I'm creepy in other areas, too...

  • Diet.
  • Housekeeping.
  • Exercising.
  • Cooking.
  • Crafts.
  • Facebooking.
  • Coupon clipping.
  • Clothes shopping.
  • Budgeting.
  • Reading.
  • Some of these areas are more fun than others.
I used to feel guilty about it, but I've decided if God designed shrubs to go through this creeping process, then I should just relax and enjoy the benefits I get out of it. Like frequent opportunities to refocus and evaluate exactly what my priorities are. (Though my sympathies go out to all you balanced folk who have to deal with my cycles...)

So, yeah. Moving on. Confession time.

  • I LOVE lists.
  • I LOVE bullet points.
  • I LOVE schedules.
  • It is so freeing to write these down - to see them in front of me - to feel so organized.
That point in time of writing them down? That's the only point where I feel organized. From that point on, I'm constantly behind schedule. I am so not organized. I try - really hard in the beginning. Then I completely give up, until I desperately write it all up again and feel organized again for a second or two.

I've had a couple of comments lately about my organization skills, so I just thought I should get that out there in the open. I feel so much better now. Truth is freeing.

Moving on again. I wrote up a schedule last week. I already have an old detailed schedule sitting in my drawer, but it's been ages since I got through the first half of it. I don't think I've ever gotten all the way through it.

So I've learned (again) from that old schedule: Keep it simple. Here's the new schedule for your benefit:

  • 7 a.m.: Mommy wakeup/personal time
  • 8 a.m.: Esmé wakeup/breakfast prep, eat, cleanup
  • 9 a.m.: clean house, start laundry, etc.
  • 10 a.m.: morning "school"
  • 11:30 a.m.: lunch prep, eat, cleanup
  • 1 p.m.: outside time
  • 2 p.m.: nap time/Mommy's computer time
  • 4 p.m.: afternoon "school"
  • 6 p.m.: supper prep, eat, cleanup
  • 7 p.m.: free playtime
  • 8 p.m.: Esmé bedtime routine
  • 9 p.m.: Mommy/Pappa personal time
  • 11 p.m.: Mommy bedtime

There are a dozen things wrong with this picture. Can you find them?

  1. This assumes Esmé will sleep 13 hours. Her sleeping needs are about 10 hours. Trust me on this. I have tried. If I put her to bed an hour earlier, she wakes up on her own an hour earlier. If she naps an extra hour, she takes an extra hour to fall asleep. I FEEL CHEATED! (Though I just calculated that three extra hours per day equals 10 extra years of awake time over an 80 year period. Think of ALL she can DO with her life in that 10 years of extra time!) All you folks who religiously put your babies to bed at 7 p.m., how do you deal with it when they are wide awake at 4 a.m.???
  2. Two hours of computer time? Oh, I had this nicely compartmentalized. 1/2 hour for blog posts, 1/2 hour to read other blogs, 1/2 hour for emails, and 1/2 hour for "school" research. Hah! I can't even get through my photos in a 1/2 hour, let alone blog about them. And one of those alphabet posts? Minimum 4 hours to get it up. You're welcome. (I didn't even mention that Esmé skipped her nap completely a couple times last week. I tried. I kept her in her room for an hour. I FEEL CHEATED!)
  3. Errands? Grocery shopping? Tumbling and swimming classes? Music at the park? Not on the schedule. Oops!
  4. One hour of house cleaning might be sufficient. If you don't have a 2-year-old tornado.
  5. Bedtime routine? If you count the time it takes to get her to fall asleep (and don't even think of leaving the room until she's in a DEEP coma), it's considerably longer than 1 hour.

Let's stop there. So you can blame my schedule for why we skipped blogging last week. Time to abandon schedule. Until things are so hectic I have to write up another one for sanity's sake.

Seeing as I am so unorganized, how do we manage to do alphabet "school" each week?

  1. (Let's turn that numbering thing on again. I love lists. Bullet points. Schedules.)
  2. It's a matter of survival. If I don't have a plan of attack, I spend my day following the fudgsicle drop trail with a damp cloth and windex while Miss Esmé paints herself with watercolors and spatters toilet water around the bathroom with a duster, and then proceeds to cook herself an egg while feeding the cat and wiping her hands on fudgsicle-stained pants, which she then takes off and runs around naked with her step ladder, positioning it in front of the kitchen sink and proceeding to dump all the water collected in the dishes collected in the sink onto the floor, which mixes nicely with her watercolored feet to create footprints throughout the house where the fudgsicle drop trail has just been wiped up.
  3. Actual "school" is nowhere near as organized as my plan and the blog post. I don't necessarily do everything for a specific theme on one day - I may mix and match things. I use the themes and categories (kitchen, science, physical activity, etc) as a prompt to give me ideas of things to do, rather than a strict pattern to follow.
  4. And my "planning" is often on the fly. For instance, during "cat" theme day, I was having trouble thinking of anything to do for "science." As we were feeding the cat in the evening, I had a profound lightbulb moment - let's taste test the cat! So we fried up three types of cats Esmé dished in three types of cat food on a plate and lay down next to him to observe as he ate. That was one of our biggest successes of the day - no planning or prep time required.
  5. The activity trays come in real handy. By setting out a bunch of activity trays at the beginning of the 2-week period, I've always got something onhand to grab when I can't think of anything specific to do, or when what I've planned isn't working out so well or keeping Esmé's attention.
  6. I don't stress (not much anyway) when things don't go according to plan. You may have noticed there was no alphabet post last week. We're a week behind! So how on earth are we going to get through the alphabet in 52 weeks? Bummer...
  7. I make lists. I've got lists of recommended books for each letter of the alphabet. I've got lists of ideas and websites. I've got shopping lists for each letter of the alphabet. I've got a list of all the types of activities I still need to come up with for each theme. When I feel overwhelmed by my lists, I just start a new list, which always makes me feel organized instead of overwhelmed.

It's all about staying sane and having fun.

(And if you

  • have more than one kid, and
  • you manage to get them all in bed by 7 p.m., and
  • your daily schedule is on the wall instead of in a drawer, and
  • your calendar is color-coded by kid, and
  • you've written a blog post that includes photos of your neatly organized craft and school supplies, and
  • you have a date night each week, and
  • you shop with coupons, and
  • you have a budget, and
  • you update your budget with expenses on a weekly basis, and
  • you have a weekly menu plan that you actually use, and
  • you never feed your kids junk food, because
  • your kids never help themselves to the cupboards or refrigerator, or even better,
  • you don't have junk food in your kitchen

by all means, leave a comment with your organizational tips. And I'll post a LIST of all those organizational tips for ya'll. I can do lists.)

17 comments:

CristyLynn said...

I think this might be my favorite blog post of all time--I should start a list of my favorite blog posts. :) I TOTALLY relate to this! Thanks for writing this post; you just made me feel so much better! It's so easy for me to see all the amazingly cool stuff that other moms are doing, and just be in awe of all they get done and then feel like I'm neglecting my son. I really appreciate your honesty and your goals and how you don't let your goals rule your life but you adapt and go with the flow with a general plan in your head. I like that. Russia is teaching me that. :)

God bless!

dyanna said...

I like your blog.I'm waiting for your new posts.

BranFlakes said...

hahahahaha! That is hysterical! I've never actually met anyone THAT organized, and I kinda hope not to.

I'm with you though, people always ask how I manage to do so much with my kids. It's a means of survival, if I don't then little is accomplished because we just end up searching for Something and Anything to fill the time. Making them "plans" and doing activities is fun for me too and gives me a sence of accomplishment too.

Don't let that mommy guilt get to you. Post when you can find the time because you always make us laugh!

ShEiLa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ShEiLa said...

Like my fellow-bloggers ahead of me in the comments... I love this post!!!

My motto would be:
The best made plans are laid to rest.

Kudos to the person that can stick to a schedule and an organized life. I was more organized when my kids(4) were little... I had to be.

As an empty nester... I just throw caution to the wind.

ToOdLeS.

Madeline said...

Great post! I especially love-- "I've decided if God designed shrubs to go through this creeping process, then I should just relax and enjoy the benefits I get out of it."
I too am a list-aholic. They make me feel organized momentarily, and I think they really do help my brain get a bit ordered. However, my lists are often lost in a drawer or under a pile of papers.

Kori said...

Oh, man, if I get all four kids plus myself out of the house with clean clothes in the morning, it's a good day. Organization? Yeh, whatever. I have to lavugh at what you would do if you didn't have a list-because if I didn't go to work and take Owen to daycare, THAT is what my life would look like, too.

grammy said...

I am tired just thinking about it. That is because i am not organized and not a big list maker... if it works for you go for it, but relax and enjoy life too. I know. My DIL is a list maker. Her girls are not on the list that often. She is a good mom, she is not into playing with them though. Oh well, Grammy does.

Baba said...

Absolutely fabulous! With a 2 year old you can't stress the small stuff. Some days you just have to go with the flow. Ahem her flow that is. LOL

Baba said...

Absolutely fabulous! With a 2 year old you can't stress the small stuff. Some days you just have to go with the flow. Ahem her flow that is. LOL

Alicia said...

LOL..people ask how I have time to blog or even Facebook. Good question! I don't even know the answer myself! :)

Christie O. said...

wow, ok i don't even know where to start! lately things have gotten so busy that i have not been able to fit in blogging hardly at all. it's the first thing to go in the grand scheme of things, sadly. but then blogging is my sanity so it makes sense that there is a parallel there! as i was reading your schedule I was thinking, wow! i really should do that! it looks perfect! and then when you went on your explanation of the schedule it made me laugh out loud because that is exactly how things go in my house. it starts with the best of intentions and ends in a whole 'nother outcome. which isn't always bad, it's actually pretty great when we roll with the punches, but it doesn't make for optimal productivity. oh well! such is life with toddlers! i loved this post though :)

dani said...

j, when i make myself a list of any kind other than a grocery list... i set myself up for failure. so, i???
wing it:P
much love,
dani xxx

Kate & Gabe said...

I LOVE this post!!! Trying to start up "Tot School" with my kids, I have wondered many times why God didn't make me "Super Mom," but this post makes me feel better! I have all my lists and schedules written, now I have to talk my kids into following them!

Damselfly said...

#2 -- matter of survival. Wow. Esme is a busy little girl!

I am definitely not organized or disciplined about this stuff. Beats me how I get anything done. My son definitely does not go to bed at 7 pm or even 8 pm. We're lucky if it's 9, and it's often later.

Wifey said...

This is great! Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone.

Love it.

Winks & Smiles,
Wifey

Joanne@ Blessed... said...

Thanks so much for your sweet comment over at 5 minutes for mom yesterday.

I wish I had something to contribute here for your organization post, but alas I STINK at organization. And time management for that matter too!

I could give you a few tips on raising teenagers though...let me know when you have that post up. ;O)