After being inspired by JenbutneverJenn (and trying to adapt her schedule for three attempts), I have a housewife schedule challenge that I’m willing to try. For thirty weekdays I will try to do all of the following things. I am not doing these things on the weekend or on holidays (which I don’t think there are any coming up). The challenge will last from February 26th until April 6th. I might add one or two weekend days when M pulls out the fridge and oven for me to clean behind. I will allow myself to adapt this schedule.
- Before 10am everyday – get dressed, eat breakfast, make beds
- Air out house for 1 hour everyday
- No computer from 10am-12pm
- Go for walk – to get the blood moving and feel energized
- Do a 10-minute tidy of the house
- Straighten all the rooms, do a light dusting of each room
- Sweep floors
- Clean bathroom counters and sink – wipes are okay
- Complete regular chore-of-the-day
- Do project-of-the-day – special tasks like detail the stairwell, clean the oven, finish gardening milestones, etc
- Create a blog post/work on blog
- Do dishes
- Clean kitchen – wipe down counters and stove, sweep and organize
- Make Dinner
- End Day
Mondays- Vacuum (I expect tidying to take longer & I’m unmotivated on these days)
Tuesdays – Laundry
Wednesdays – Yardwork
Thursdays – Errands
Fridays – Clean Bathroom(s)
Later in the challenge I’ll use the two hours no computer time to deal with outstanding projects.
Remember if things get overwhelming to steer into the skid (take advantage of your natural rhythms). This schedule has been adapted to do just that.
Last year I ran across a fabulous housewife challenge created by jenbutneverjenn. Based off of her extensive research from 1950s magazines and home-economics literature of the day, Jen lived a vintage housewife schedule for two weeks. Her original list was thirty-eight items long and included making an authentic 50’s dinner every night. You can find her original schedule here. I was fascinated. Here was a very detailed way to try and live my day. I wanted to live it. I wanted to conquer the list. I failed. Repeatedly.
The list needed a few minor modifications for my first attempt – a planned single day of living the schedule to see what needed improvement. I removed a couple of items that don’t apply to our house (like fixing cocktails, and flushing drain pipes with water – Californian, conserve water). With only a few items removed, I still had troubles with the list. Our houses are not laid out the same at all and I found myself making twenty more trips than usual up and down the stairs to do first the master bedroom (upstairs), then the living room (downstairs), then the bathroom (upstairs), then the kitchen (downstairs), etc you get the idea. She had ‘eat breakfast’ right away on her list and I can’t eat until I’ve been up for at least an hour. Needless to say, the pacing of her list wasn’t good for me.
So I adapted the schedule. The new schedule still contained most of the same items only in a different order better for my use. With the 30-item list, I was able to follow this schedule for three days before becoming overwhelmed by it (or maybe bored). The list still didn’t leave a lot of room for flexibility. I still had to dust before I could meal plan and still needed to run errands before lunch (which was an actual scheduled item). I found a positive thing from this portion of my trials. Dusting on day one sucked. On day two it was easy. On day three it was so easy I actually busted out the dusting polish and everything got really shiny and nice looking. But then day four I didn’t feel the need to dust. And by day five I had pretty much given up on dusting ever again. I’ve tried to adapt and follow modifications to this schedule multiple times since then, but it never seems to stick.
While I love Jen’s schedule and her following blog posts, it really isn’t for me. It has inspired me to try these housewife challenges multiple times. Like in today’s era, 50s housewives all had their own routines and patterns. You couldn’t exactly copy another person’s routine and hoped it worked for you. Instead you had to take inspiration from these routines and incorporate aspects into your life that worked best for you and your family. Remember to follow and enhance your own natural rhythms.
(In following my natural rhythms, I’ve finally come up with a schedule I think works. Click here to read it.)
Sometimes it isn’t any single big thing that brings us down but a series of smaller things that slowly build up. The garden that isn’t growing, the car that temporarily isn’t starting, the cat that puked a hairball on the floor. On their own, they are minor setbacks, a bump towards success (or your morning coffee, thanks cat). You feel sad about the first one but think of all the other things that are going right. Then the next one hits. Oh well you deal with it. But then another and another and another until a series of small problems cloud your ability to see all that is going right in your life. You can’t complain, because none of the problems are really big enough for sympathy, yet still you feel sad. You may feel like you need a big win that isn’t coming.
Well when to many small things pile up, it’s time to take control and create a series of small, tiny wins. And hopefully, all those tiny wins will add up to larger and large wins, until your low is a distant memory. Below is a continually growing list of tiny wins you might be able to achieve.
- Make your bed – So cliché but a made up bed can put the whole day on a positive note. It’s a perfect small win everyone can accomplish, gives you a clear flat surface, makes a room look instantly cleaner, and if nothing else, feels great falling into a bed that’s been made all day. This short video has a wonderful explanation (that basically says the same things I just said). Bonus points for making a bed with fresh sheets, leaving you with something clean for at least a week.
- Create lists of goals and weaknesses – Okay, so this one is a whole lot bigger and perhaps not a super win on the outset.
- Goals – Make a list of your goals, whether they are daily, weekly, yearly, or lifetime goals. Goals can be big, but you should have many small goals. They don’t have to become habits (in fact trying to build a habit and failing may be another setback) or have life altering implications. “Today I’ll drink one glass of water,” when normally you drink none. Perhaps sometimes you forget to brush your teeth or floss, make the effort to do so. Written goals can later be broken down into steps that can become small wins. This is my favorite website/app for dealing with my to-do list.
- Weaknesses – perhaps a much more depressing task is the list of weaknesses or problems in your life. These are the things truly driving you nuts. It could be the car needs work and has become unreliable, maybe an unbearable coworker, perhaps you feel unaccomplished, or lazy, or unhygienic, or ungrateful, or not affectionate enough, maybe the bathroom really really needs to be cleaned and you don’t want to do it. Figuring out spots that drive you nuts is a key step in solving those problems. Perhaps these weaknesses don’t need to be written down, but try to have a small list going in your head of things you want to improve.
- Bucket List – I’m going to put this here because it is a list but these are more life goals. Create a bucket list in a spiral notebook and review it regularly. My initial bucket list goal was 450 items. These are not your “to-do” items but special or once in a lifetime events (clean the bathroom shouldn’t be on there, replace bathroom tile could be). Make items big and small, done in a day, the adventures of a lifetime, places you want to visit, items you want to own, life goals you want to accomplish. Avoid vague language (see below) like “floss more”. Check them off with a date of when they were accomplished, add more items as you think of them, scour the internet, friends, and family for additional ideas, and revise once a year or so to take off impulse additions. Refer to this master list whenever you are feeling particularly low and see if there isn’t an easy win (a small thing) you can get from your list.
- Here are 15 examples from my bucket list; as you can see, they vary from done in a day or two, to lifetime achievements: 1) Get Married (check). 2) Visit Germany. 3) Get a fainting couch. 4) Watch Ben Hur. 5) Write 50,000 words in one story. 6) Read “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. 7) Get a kitten. 8) Line driveway with pinwheels. 9) Make fajitas using all home grown veggies. 10) Nap in a hammock. 11) See Vermont in the fall. 12) Have a conversation with a native speaker in another language. 13) Do a paint by numbers. 14) Hold plank for 5 minutes. 15) Make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
- Avoid vague Language – Try, might, more, less, someday, etc are all vague adjectives. Do use precise language. Don’t “try to lose weight”, Lose 5 pounds. Don’t “floss more”, floss once a day. Make your goals and actions into concrete measurable actions. Don’t “drink more water”, drink a glass of water a day. If you need some motivation on using precise language watch the speech on “very” from Dead Poet’s Society. If you can measure something you can tell how well you’re doing. (I had floss more on my list, but as I never flossed, did flossing once count? Did I need to floss once a week for it to count? How could I make that a win? Eventually I revised to floss once a week which is much more attainable.)
- Clean up your trash piles. Go around the house and throw away all of the trash and take out the recycling. It may not do a lot, but it will feel freer.
- Clean something – Sweep a floor, wipe a counter, put away the clean dishes, start a load of laundry, vacuum, take out the expired goods in the fridge, anything really. You don’t need to do it to perfection, you don’t need to sweep every floor in the house to count it as a win. Just clean something, one little thing. You’ll feel calmer in your space and it may motivate you to do more, resulting in more and more wins.
For the lazy housewife it is SOOOOO easy to get behind. Even if we are *almost* caught up, a small change in schedule can throw us off and voila! we’re back to having a lot left on our to-do list. Below is my hectic two weeks and after the musings are some tips to help overcome those hectic weeks.
A lazy week in late January ran into a mini “vacation” where I went home to see my parents the first week of February. I was gone all week and thus, of course, accomplished nothing in my own house. Mom and Dad like my toned down spicy chicken chili, where I removed a bunch of the jalapenos and didn’t add ghost pepper. I did get to see the space shuttle Endeavor (awe-inspiring), dinosaur bones, and really expensive gems at the L.A. Natural History Museum. The epic rose garden was unfortunately closed but I enjoyed the museums nonetheless. I also got to play with Ma’s digital camera. Mine is about ten years old now with a spot on the lens so the pictures come out worse than my phone. But Ma has this fancy digital camera (Canon Rebel T5) that scares her it’s so fancy. So I played with it the entire time home. Took over 200 pictures in three days. It was great and now I’m thinking of asking for one for Christmas. Dear readers, I’m sorry none of these posts have pictures yet. That’s the procrastinating housewife for you. [And as I went to add some of those pictures WP got angry and won’t let me show them to you. I’ll try again later – perhaps.]
It was good seeing my parents again but my house is now chaos. The kitchen is a mess from three men at home; I haven’t vacuumed in a fortnight; all my holiday mats (which seemed fine in January) are horribly outdated; I’ve been neglecting my blog. Getting home was wonderful but I quickly noticed all the little things that needed to get done. But it was the weekend and the routine on the weekend is to be lazy with M. So I did that (not that I needed much convincing).
Today I am full of energy! I managed to get most of my laundry done, half the weeds in the backyard mowed, the floors swept, my laundry finished, put up the pirate ship shower curtain after six months of procrastinating, and went shopping. I finally bought a food dehydrator which I’ve been looking at for a year. Did all my research and settled on the Nesco Snackmaster 5 tray thingy (essentially this without kit). I used wedding money to buy it. Now I just have to use it.
For major musings: I’m thinking of scheduling a spring cleaning week the first week of March. It might be a great time to clean some back logged areas. Also, for the next couple of weeks, most of my chore time has to be spent on the backyard garden. I’ve got a number of projects and everything needs to be started by end February.
Tips to Get Back on Track
- First, realize you are human and it is okay that not everything on your to-do list must get done right away. Have ants invaded your house? Are you behind on bills? Well, maybe you need to worry a bit and get a move on, but if your house is still standing and everyone is still alive, it’s probably okay that your living room doesn’t look perfect. Accept that you are human.
- Second, along with the first point, remember you are your harshest critic. Others (usually) don’t notice you haven’t wiped the counters for three days, they don’t notice the slippers aren’t neatly lined up in the hall, and no guy will notice the Easter decorations still up in May. So you are your own harshest critic. Don’t worry if it takes a little bit longer to get back up to snuff.
- Start with your regular routine stuff. Just build in a bit extra time for each step. So it takes an extra load of laundry, twenty more minutes to wipe down all of the counters and sink, and five extra minutes to change the bedding.
- Tackle areas that are driving you (or those around you) nuts. For me this is dealing with the dishes and mowing down weeds.
- Make a list of the things you want to get done or revise your old to-do list.
- Relax – after all you are a procrastinating housewife. Did you do a few things? Great, the rest will keep until tomorrow.
One thing I rather like to do as a housewife is make new recipes. Last year I found this amazing recipe for spicy white chicken chili. Today, M’s work held a chili contest and he asked me to make this chili for it. Lo and behold it won! By a landslide! The flavor is yummy and savory. It’s quick to put together. It’s great with cornbread.
Find the original post (outside link) on The Cookie Rookie here.
In our house we like it SPICY so I’ll usually put 4+ jalapenos in there, seeds and all, and often will add a teaspoon or so of ghost pepper powder.
Spicy White Chicken Chili
5-6cups chicken broth (I use 2-3 bullion cubes)
6cups shredded chicken (I use about two chicken breasts)
2 15oz cans white beans, drained
8oz salsa verde (About half a salsa jar)
1tsp chili powder (I use chipotle pepper instead for a spicier kick)
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic (or however much feels right)
2 jalapenos diced
1 poblano or anaheim pepper (I often omit this)
- Heat onions, peppers, garlic, and oil in skillet until onions are transparent.
- Add everything to pot. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook ~10minutes.
- Serve with cornbread to sop up all that yummy goodness.