Make time for stitching: Establish a good routine

I know I’ve talked about daily routines before. But I’m going to say it again: the best way to make time to sew is to establish a good daily/weekly routine. When I am sewing I don’t want to feel guilty about messy kitchens, dirty bathrooms, unpaid bills, or neglected children. With a good routine, I know I can stay on top of these things, and still find time to sew (or nap, or play a musical instrument, or…)

My routine varies according to the age and stage of my children. The start of the school year was the perfect opportunity to have a fresh look at the routine that will work best for us.

I have previously fallen in the trap of overplanning my day (a bit OCD!). Not nice to wake up to the knowledge that every minute of your day is mapped out and you forgot to plan time to breathe…

Now I break my day into roughly five parts:

  1. before school – various morning tasks (devotions, breakfast), a bit of housework, dinner preparation
  2. before lunch – errands and activities with the little boys
  3. after lunch – nap time for the boys, studio time for me
  4. after school – homework supervision, various evening tasks (baths, final dinner prep)
  5. evening – coffee with my husband, and studio time if he has a meeting.

This is working really well for me at the moment.

Some notes:

- I aim to be dressed by 6am. Hopefully that gives me a chance to have a quiet coffee over my Bible reading. If it works, I try to get out at 5am for a run, but that depends a bit on what time Phil leaves for work – and with the sun rising later that will soon stop for the winter anyway. Here’s a post on making early mornings work for you.

- I used to schedule a full morning for housecleaning. I was finding this a bit daunting though, with a potentially fussing baby. Now I have broken the regular housecleaning into smaller tasks and tackle one or two a day (I have set up a two-weekly schedule in my calendar). I also have a list of bigger, more infrequent housecleaning/maintenance jobs which I intend to work through during the year – I try to get to one or two of those every week.

- Dinner preparation before the morning school run is my sanity-saver. It’s so good to know that no matter what happens for the rest of the day (within reason) we will at least have a healthy dinner on the table at night. (It also stops me from discovering at 5pm that I am missing a vital ingredient, or that the meat is still in the freezer.)

- ‘Before lunch’ and ‘After school’ I try to avoid being busy with my artwork, in order to better focus my attention on the kids. If I have some handwork (e.g. stitching down the binding of a quilt, or burying the threads) I might do some while supervising homework.

- At the moment Marcus needs to sleep as soon as we get home from the morning school run, and again after lunch. That means its best for everyone if I try to stay home as much as possible on school days. Suits me – I can always spend the time sewing!

- After lunch is always quiet time here. If the older children are home they are expected to find suitable independent activities. On school days, we have lunch at 11:30am so that Daniel can still have a long enough sleep before the afternoon school run. (As someone recently commented, the small children have no idea if lunch is at 10:30 or whenever :) ). I’m so thankful that I am now able to match up Marcus’ sleep with Daniel’s, in order to fit some quality time in the studio. If for some reason one of the boys isn’t sleeping, I try to have some toys and activities on hand in the studio to entertain them for a little while.

- Wherever Phil has an evening meeting booked into his calendar (at least once a week) I plan an evening in the studio. Sometimes, when Phil is home for the evening, he sends me up into the studio and takes up his work and a coffee for both of us.

- If I’m sewing in the evening, I try to wrap it up at 10pm and spend a little bit of time unpacking the dishwasher and setting the table for breakfast. That makes for a much better start the following morning.

 - I use an app called do it tomorrow to write out a list of tasks for the day. This app works well for me in that it only allows me to plan today and tomorrow (otherwise I waste too much time planning too far ahead). I keep track of deadlines and appointments in iCal, and every evening I spend ten minutes or so planning jobs and activities for the next day.

 - My routine is there to help me, not enslave me. This routine is what I aim for, but I know that it doesn’t always work out. (Last week, for example, was all over the place!) That’s OK, too. Then I have to accept that I can’t do as many of the extra things I’d like to get to that day or that week. I know that I can always aim to get back on track the next day, or next week.

Here are some previous ‘Make Time for Stitching’ posts:
Mastering Meals in the Morning
Coralling the Clutter
In Converstion
Time Management

3 thoughts on “Make time for stitching: Establish a good routine

  1. Pauline

    I love that you’ve moved housework to an almost incidental thing in your day, Ruth, and marvel at how much you achieve without compromising your devotion to your family. Would you mind sharing your two-week schedule with us?

  2. ruthdevos Post author

    I love your terminology, Pauline – ‘incidental’!
    Others have asked about the schedule so I’ll put it into a blog post soon.

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