Sunday, May 24, 2009

Setting the tone for tomorrow

I've posted in the past about my daily/weekly schedule of homemaking tasks. Since I love taking a peek at the way others organize and schedule their days, I thought I'd share a bit more about the rhythms I try to establish in my home. Today I'm going to talk a bit about my evening schedule of "haven-ing" my home. There are some things that, if done during the quiet hours of the evening, make for a smoother and more peaceful morning. Obviously, these things have to wait until after the messes of the day have culminated into a huge heap to be tackled. Thus, after the children go to bed! Phyllis Diller hit the nail on the head when she said, "Cleaning the house while the children are still growing is like shoveling the walk while it's snowing." But, as senseless as it seems sometimes to clean something that will be undone as soon as I blink, it must be done.

Imagine if you will, coming downstairs at the break of dawn (or even before that), after a mere 3.5 hours of sleep (not in one consecutive block, mind you ---but broken down into 7 tiny chunks of time), and seeing a smattering of this and that on the countertops and a few stray dirty dishes in the sink, toys littering the floor, and, well, you get the idea. That is not a scene that says, "Good Morning!" Unfortunately, I don't have to imagine that scene, because it is my reality more often than I'd like.

So, through experimentation, I found that doing a few things at night during my "me time," really helped start the next day off on the right foot. Sure, I'd rather be sewing or watching a movie or reading during my quiet evening hours. And, unfortunately, I tend to just collapse after the kids are asleep. I really have to force myself to do these simple tasks, knowing I will be glad I did, come the morning. And, if I just do them and get them out of the way, I can enjoy the rest of my evening, with nothing hanging over my head.

Let's just jump right into my list, shall we? It goes something like this:

*Wipe down counters

*Clear off the dining room table, wash placemats and hang to dry

*Sweep kitchen and front hall.

*Saturate dish wand sponge top (I use Scotch Brite soap dispensing dish wand) with water and microwave for 1-2 minutes. Yes, these sponge toppers are replaceable, and I do replace them regularly. But, I still sanitize them between replacements, because I am germophobic and can't stand the idea of washing my dishes with a bacteria-laden sponge. So, once the last dishes are done for the night, I sanitize the sponges and let them dry overnight.

*Load all dirty dishes and run dishwasher, if necessary.

*Spray the sink with sanitizing spray (did you know that the average kitchen sink harbors more germs than a port-a-potty? I'm not trying to pass along my germ paranoia to anyone, just throwing a little trivia out in the ring).

*Put all toys in their respective cubbies, all books in the book box (we really do try to have our daughter clean up before bed, but we often run out of time. You know how it takes three times as long as it should when the littles clean up? I guess that's why we often skip this step in the before-bed routine).

*Pre-load the washing machine. This is crucial in order to stay on top of the laundry pile. When we get up in the morning, I'm carrying my son and my water jug that I sip all night long. I've got one hand in front of my daughter as she climbs down the stairs holding her water cup and whatever else she wants to bring with her. I simply don't have enough hands to also carry a basket full of the day's first laundry load. Sometimes, I don't make it back upstairs (and thus, to the dirty clothes hamper) for hours after we get up in the morning. This puts me woefully behind schedule when it comes to laundry. I usually do 2 loads per day, including cloth diapers and cloth wipes.

But, if I gather the next day's first load and empty it into the washing machine the night before, it's ready to just start up when we come down in the a.m. I leave the lid to the washer up, as a little visual reminder to start the laundry before I make breakfast. Such a simple thing to do, but it's helped me immensely.

*Check the calendar for any appointments, bills to mail or pay online, calls to make, etc. for tomorrow.

*Make sure my husband's lunch, wallet, keys, etc. are ready to go for him in the morning.

*Lay out clothes for me, the kids, and my husband. Yes, I know he's an adult and this sounds either really old-fashioned or really controlling. But the truth is, my husband has a horrible short-term memory and would wear the same shirt to work two or three times per week (cleaned between wearings, of course) if I didn't pick out his shirts for him. I used to delay washing his clothes so he would be forced to pick something different from his closet each day. But I couldn't stand letting his laundry sit for a week at a time. The better solution seemed to be for me to pick his clothes for him. That way I could wash his clothes as often as I wanted, but not worry about him wearing what he just wore 2 days earlier!

So, in a nutshell, this is what I aim to do each night before I go to bed. It seems long and drawn-out, but it really goes quite quickly (at least that's what I tell myself when I don't feel like getting off the couch and doing it). If anyone has any lists or schedules they'd like to share, I'd be very interested in hearing about it. As I've stated in the past, I love lists!


  1. Oh I love this idea! 15-20 minutes at night seems to take care of 2-3 hours in the morning...LOL! With the kiddos 'helping' things take forever sometimes, and while it is important that they learn to help out around the house, I do a bit of tidying at the end of each day as well. Here is my list...I don't do each thing every day, but most things most days...hee hee!
    1. Wipe down the kitchen counters
    2. Gather all the laundry and preload the machine
    3. Get the meat for tomorrow night's dinner into the fridge from the freezer so it can start thawing.
    4. Check the iced tea supply (that's a big one for me...I pretty much drink nothing else)
    5. Spend 5-10 minutes tidying the LR...putting away shoes, gathering the last books we were reading, finding all the video/TV remotes, re-tucking the couch covers, etc.
    6. Let the dogs out and back in one last time and check their food and water supply while they are out.
    7. If we are having cereal for breakfast, I set out everything except the milk, so breakfast is ready to go.
    8. Shut down the computer
    That's about it, I feel like I'm forgetting something, I'm sure I'll remember right after I hit the enter button...ha ha ha. I really enjoyed this post...great reminder for the days that I just want to sit. Have a great week~

  2. Kristy,
    What a great list. That taking the meat out of the freezer to thaw is a good one -- I'll have to add that to my list too!
    I also like the idea of putting out the breakfast cereal and bowls/spoons the night before. quick little evening routine is getting longer! ;) No, just joking. It really is amazing how quickly it all gets done, isn't it?