Thursday, January 21, 2010

Small Steps Making Big Progress

Some of the things I decided I wanted to do this year was walk away from my computer when the kids come home from school, keep a cleaner house, and pay more attention to my kids. We're three weeks into 2010, and I've not had a perfect record, but I'm really amazed at the progress I've made.

First, I changed a couple of habits. For one, I cut out a lot of stuff. In a way, losing my old computer helped; I didn't have a lot of garbage calling to me and I was able to start anew on my schedule. So for my writing day, I've set aside the morning two hours for writing--then walk the dog and check e-mail at lunch, then the afternoon hours for projects--a specific one per day, rather than bunches of small ones throughout the week.

Next, I thought small. I broke down big projects into small steps and will allow myself to make as much progress as I can instead of pressuring myself to get it all done. This is especially true of housework, which comes to my next point:

I looked for outside help. In the case of the house, I enrolled in She helps homemakers break down the upkeep of their house into small steps. Now she has a lot of stuff you can do, including control journals and other things. Me, I just wanted the daily routine and the "Kelly's Missions" that break deep cleaning into 15-minute daily chores. Two things in the routine have made an amazing difference:

Daily Laundry: Usually, I saved my laundry--six loads--for the weekend. With six in the family, I dealt with huge piles and had full baskets for the kids which often didn't get put away or were shoved haphazardly into drawers. With a load a day, I'm doing a few more loads, but things get put away more regularly because it doesn't look as intimidating. Also Rob had clean pants every day without worry!

"Swish and Swipe": Each day, I take a rag and wipe down the bathroom sink and then the toilet and run a brush over the inside. Takes two minutes, but it makes a difference. I knew I got annoyed at the toothpaste buildup, but never realized how much of a difference it made to not see it each day.

I talked to the family, and we all agreed to do 5- to 10-minute chores instead of fussing for a couple of hours on the weekend over the chores. Each day, I give them a short chore--wipe the light switches, vacuum just one room. Weekends, they clean their room. And they each have a "swish and swipe" duty--the older have their bathrooms, the little ones straighten up the living room. The house is a lot cleaner and we're a lot less stressed.

Even if this is as far as I get this year toward my goals, I'm proud of the progress I've made with just a few changes and some determination.


Grace Bridges said...

Sounds great. The one project a day thing really speaks to me. I might have to give it a go!

Walt said...

Hmm...maybe we should rethink our mission orders. Guess I'd better get the command group busy on a warning order. "Bugler, sound 'officer's call.'"

Karina Fabian said...

This week threw me for a loop, with finals, different school schedule, Rob TDY, etc. Still, I've written about 4000 words on my latest project, caught up on most of the non-novel stuff I lost "courtesy" of Best Buy and a failed back-up program, and have a clean house. So I'm pretty pleased.

PaperSmyth said...

I, too, have had to just turn the computer off when they are home. They are terribly influenced by the thing. I thought you were one of those Super Moms who home-schooled, though. (I home-schooled our first one for one year and then had to give it up.)

Fly-lady is great, but I have to pick and choose from her. I want my kids to do more. She is the reason why laundry now gets done (and all the way done) every day at this house.

Keep up the good work!

Karina Fabian said...

I used to homeschool, but I was never a supermom. We really enjoyed our homeschooling experience, but I am a more relaxed mom now that the kids are in public school.

I, too, pick and choose from FlyLady. It's nice, though, to have someone else thinking about what I should do around the house and when. I usually take her ideas then push beyond. For example, this week, we're supposed to clean the front porch, but I divvied up the back porch and yard into tasks and the kids are doing it with me.

I'm amazed how big a difference daily laundry has made. The kids put things away more willingly. Rob never complains about not having something to wear (this year, he's at RAND and wears civilian dress instead of uniforms.) I find laundry less intimidating, too.