Monday, July 14, 2008

Wednesday Afternoons

(This is the post that was percolating when I pinched my finger into a giant blood-blister trying to remodel a lampshade. All better now. AND the lampshade works just fine.)

I am a creature of habit. My kids would probably tell you that I am rigid and stuck in a rut, and Roger will politely say that I'm "not as spontaneous" as he is, but the truth is that I am just more comfortable when I have a general idea of what's coming on any given day. For the next year! We have a giant wall calendar in our kitchen that literally has "Major Grocery Shopping" written on every other Thursday from here through December -- which is when it ends -- with deviations for things like Thanksgiving. Somewhere on September is written "buy new planning calendar", because I need a while to get all the birthdays and regular monthly meetings and grocery days and suchlike transferred before November, so that I can start writing in things for January as soon as I find out about them. I prefer to believe I am organized! ;-D

So it should be no surprise to you that I have a regular weekly "plan of action". Sundays are big family breakfast, mass (unless choir sings on Saturday night), dinner, and our couples' group once a month. Monday is music planning stuff, or sewing, or nasty big jobs like cleaning out the basement. (The rationale is that I'll be well rested after the weekend.) Tuesday is laundry, ironing, and menu planning and grocery list. Wednesday is changing beds, sheet and towel laundry, and bathroom cleaning. Thursday is grocery shopping (and maybe some random stuff like mending on non-major shopping weeks), and choir practice in the evening. Friday is more laundry and ironing, plus going over the schedule for the upcoming week. And I usually cook an extra-nice dinner because some of the family fasts breakfast and lunch most Fridays. Saturday is mopping, vacuuming, housecleaning. Lather, rinse, repeat.

To be perfectly honest, most weeks are not that cut-and-dried. This week, for example, I did grocery planning on Monday because we have a funeral to attend on Tuesday. And in the summer, the kids do more of the work than during the school year. And when that next grandbaby arrives, I'm out of here no matter what day of the week it is.... But getting back to what I was saying, I like knowing what's on my agenda for any given day.

Those of you who work outside the home probably are thinking "That's all she does?!! I do all that stuff in my evenings!" But I promise you I don't sit around and eat bonbons and watch soap operas. For one thing, we don't have a television. For another thing, I need to be frugal with my grocery money, so I cook mostly from scratch and spend several hours with the weekly ads figuring out which of the things I need are cheapest where this week. (I have a regular route that includes five to eight stores on one loop with no gas wasted. When we had six kids at home "major shopping" took about five hours, with another two or so for putting things away.) But I spend $160 a week for our current family of four, including all paper, cleaning, and hygiene supplies, which is only $16 more than the government's "Thrifty" plan for just food. And we eat VERY well. I could probably cut back to below the thrifty level, and we'd still be healthy and happy. I'd just have to bake cookies more often instead of buying them!

When I had six kids at home, especially when all of them were under twelve, the weekly schedule listed above took ALL my time. In fact, at that point I didn't have time for choir. The kids started helping as soon as they were able, but some things (changing the sheets on top bunks for example) were just not in their ability range. And that Wednesday list of beds, bathrooms, laundry took the whole day.

Somewhere along the line, though, it got easier. Even when a kid can't make a top bunk, he can strip it. And when older siblings can entertain younger ones, you stand a chance of getting a bathroom cleaned all in one shot, instead of stopping several times for childcare responsibilities. About the time Tommy started kindergarten, I discovered that I could (usually) get out of the house for a Wednesday mid-morning Eucharist. I would then grab a Coke or a mocha at the Tim Hortons' drive-thru, pick up Tommy, and finish my work. Later, when he was gone all day (waaah, all of my kids are gone!), I had a mental breakthrough. If I worked REALLY hard I could finish all the work (except maybe folding that last load of towels) before time to leave for the noon service. And then I'd be free until school was out. To go to the library. To go sit by the river and watch the freighters go by. To hit Barnes and Noble, make a list of new books to look for at the library (frugal? me??), and get a real mocha in the cafe. Heaven!!

Tommy will be a junior next year. He's the only kid without a driver's license. It's been years since I needed to be home by the time school let out. I can go places any day of the week, and I often do. But I still clean bathrooms like a dervish on Wednesday mornings, because Wednesday afternoons?? They're all mine!

1 comment:

Jen said...

I love organization! I've been working on getting better organized now that we've moved into the new house and I can finally work on getting a schedule again.

I used to do the paper calendar, but I've moved to the computer version, since I hated when I had to cross something out on the paper calendar.