I'm just going to give it to you straight today, I am not a clock watching person. When I had my first baby, all those books that seemed to demand that you schedule out every single minute of every single day and do things according to this whole 30 minute cycle of gobble gook, just freaked me out. I am ok (most of the time!) with the whole, your optometrist appointment is at 10 am on Thursday (oh good! I'll make sure to show up early, with my knitting in hand and get in some quiet time to work a few rows), or even, the cats need to go to the Vet on Thursday at 2 (wow, my Thursday is getting to be crazy....).
What I'm not a particular fan of is the whole "watch the clock" type of lifestyle. I wouldn't make a very good school teacher in a typical setting, I tell you, because somedays, we just get super into making our world maps. Or we just want to read one more book about the animals you might find in the Temperate Forest, and I just can't bear to redirect my students to the whole, well, we've been doing this for 30 minutes so now we need to start thinking about math. (We do eventually get to the math, and the writing, I promise, we just do it our way). I liken it to, have you ever needed to be up super early in the morning, but every single time you try to sleep, you look at the clock and you stress over the amount of sleep you won't be getting from that point? It doesn't help much, does it? That's about the same anxiety I get watching a clock. So, for the most part I don't (and honestly, you can pretty much set a clock by my kid's stomachs, they know when it is noon, no matter what day of the week it is, and no matter where they are!)
What does work though, is finding YOUR rhythm and making it your routine. Everybody, children in particular, thrive on routine. I bet you are already a pro at this and you don't even know it- do you get out of bed, get your morning beverage (coffee, coffee, coffee, for me please!), check emails, consult your planner,. and so on and so forth? Your daily habits are an important part of your rhythm and because you do them, every day, close to the same time, they become your routine. A routine helps you be aware of what is happening next and the more you stick to it. the more of a habit it becomes.
When trying to figure out my what works for me to get in my working time, I follow our rhythm. If I am working with our natural flow of our day, instead of trying to swim against it, then things will flow easier. If I take those morning moments and use them to set up my day for success, reply to any emails that need immediate attention (and sometimes it is even just letting an editor know that I will send them my full reply after lunch!), then I'm already working with my rhythm. We follow the same morning schedule, Monday through Thursday (with a slightly modified version on Friday) and the predictability helps me kids all know what to expect, what is coming next, and to be prepared for it. There isn't a fight over not wanting to do Spelling, because they know what the lesson looks like, they know it is only for 10 minutes, and once they finish it up, then we all get to do Latin together (which they LOVE, the 4 year old in particular, lol!).
The more you do something, the more it becomes a habit, and the more you find the time to create that routine in your daily life, then it just rolls easily and you don't have to stop and think and plan and rearrange. It's a system that just rolls on for you. You do have to adjust from time to time, for example, when you toddler drops that second afternoon nap. you have to shift things around a bit. But, if you haven't been a clock watcher to start with, you just shift things to where they work for you the best.
We've added a new element to our daily routine this year. I've started a 10 minute reading time after lunch. Everybody joins in, even the youngest. You are allowed whatever book you want, you have to sit quietly in your designated area, and you don't get up until the timer goes off. I started with 8 minutes the first week (and shhh, don't tell on my but we are up to about 15 minutes now!). I've been able to use those 15 minutes as my reading time, but if my day was stacked up and crazy, I could also use those 15 minutes to make sure that I get anything essential done during that time block, because I know that everybody is occupied and contained for at least 15 minutes.
Once you find your daily rhythm, then you can start to figure out what your weekly rhythm might look like. Do you have one day a week that you want to work on Marketing things? Do you have another day that is best suited to answering emails Maybe you just need a day to dream and plan. Whatever works for you, I just caution that you don't give yourself more than 3 things to do a day. And even then, sometimes, you can just give yourself 10 minutes to work on each task. 10 minutes built up over time adds up to a big something. When I wrote my first book, I did it in just 15 minutes a day, over about 10 months, writing Monday through Friday,. and voila, BOOK. Those minutes add up. Take whatever you can, even if it is just 10 minutes to start with (or even 5), if you invest those minutes in yourself, and your goals, instead of goofing off on Facebook or scrolling IG, you'll have something to show for it at some point down the road, and you'll start too feel amazing about the things you are accomplishing while being at home.
The other important part of my routine is that I keep one day where I don't plan anything. It's my catch up day- if I have managed to get all my to do's done, than YAY! I have a day off to knit and read and swatch and play. If I had something that fell through the cracks, I've got a built in day to get it done so that it isn't overshadowing my weekend, or holding me hostage to some task that I have come to dread. That's where the not overplanning and being realistic come in handy. The more realistic you are about what you can get done. the greater the odds are that you have a day off!
Whatever your rhythm might be, I encourage you to find it. Take a few days to assess the heartbeat of your home. Are there times that little people are overcome with hunger? Are you turning to the TV during that 5 o'clock dreaded hour in desperation? Are you having to diffuse melt down after melt down due to overtired, overstimulated children? Is bedtime always a battle? Once you've identified your trouble spots, then you can start to look for ways to avoid them altogether. (Maybe you need to plan more crockpot meals so it isn't even something you have to think about at 4:30, maybe an Instant Pot would be helpful to you) If bedtime is giving you the blues, maybe the hours preceding bedtime are a flurry of activity that has riled your children up making it impossible for them to calm down effectively and go to sleep (thus resulting in overstimulated, cranky children that can't sleep, but would love to, but won't admit it!). If you know where you are trying to swim against the natural rhythm of your home, then we can trouble shoot it and figure out a rhythm that you can march to the beat of happily and your little musicians won't be able to keep from following you!
I'd love to know where those trouble spots are for you, and how I can help you dodge them! Either send me an email (Jessica@JessicaAndersonDesgins.com) or leave a comment! Who knows, you might inspire my column for next month!