Habit Experiment: February Recap, March Kickoff

February Recap

My goals for February:

1) Do daily FlyLady routines more regularly, particularly bathroom swish-and-swipe and morning and bedtime routines.

2) Streamline my weekly cleaning.

3) Add in 15 minutes a day of zone decluttering/detail cleaning.

The daily routines for goal #1 went great. I only missed a total of two swish-and-swipe days, and our toilets and sinks are very shiny. The other two goals, haven’t gone so well. Weekly cleaning is getting done, but it’s still a challenge because I try to do more than just the quickie clean one hour will allow and it ends up taking me two hours or more. I went gangbusters with the 15 minutes a day the first week, despite a snow storm that dropped eighteen inches of snow that needed shoveling, but since then I’ve only cleaned the kitchen and laundry room floors, wiped out the fridge, and used an old toothbrush to clean around the fifty-year-old faucets in one of the bathrooms. For that last one, I called my spouse at work to tell him I’d done it.

“Does it look a lot different?” he asked.

“It’s pretty subtle,” I admitted. “That’s why I called you. Now you’ll be ready to give me ample praise when you see the faucets tonight.”

It turns out I need more praise for household tasks than I realized I did.

This month, without any fanfare at all, I’ve started a daily metta (lovingkindness) practice. It has two main parts:

-Each morning after I wake up but before I get out of bed and each evening after I get in bed but before I fall asleep I do some breathing. I count five breaths just focusing on the breath and then I take two breaths for each of the following statements:

May I be safe.

May I be happy.

May I be healthy.

May I live with ease.

May I be free from suffering.

-During the day whenever there’s a lull or a time when I’m getting irritable, I breathe and repeat these statements to myself.

In the past week or so, I’ve started shifting to saying “we” instead of “I” when I repeat the statements, and I’m experimenting with saying them out loud with my kids before we start lessons each morning. Nothing miraculous has come of this, but I do feel less rattled when things don’t go my way and when I have a tantrum, I seem to cool down faster than before. The kids haven’t even mentioned the change, but they like to ring the Zen chime.

In The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, author Christopher Germer cautions that when beginning metta practice, it’s common to have an immediate period of improvement followed by a period about five weeks into the practice when things actually seem to get worse. He attributes this to a shift from doing the practice for its own sake to doing the practice with an endpoint in mind. Knowing this, I’m going to try to temper my enthusiasm for any positive outcomes and keep an eye out for disillusionment and, hopefully, remember it’s all part of the process.

And now for March’s goal:

Reduce yelling and swearing.

My goals:

1) Continue bringing awareness to my moods before I lose it through mindfulness and lovingkindness practices.

2) Sign up for Gretchen Rubin’s 21 Day Project “Quit Yelling At My Kids”

I’m hesitant about both of my goals this month, the first because listing the practice here attaches it to my goal to yell and swear less, which could derail the practice, and the second because it costs 5 bucks and involves getting a daily e-mail, which I have in spades already. But it’s only twenty-one days, and I figure it’s worth a shot. Plus I’m curious about what sort of tips Rubin has included in these projects.

People are generally surprised (or at least act surprised) when I tell them I yell and swear at home. I have a reputation for being “quiet,” which I can see, but it’s strange to me just how big a deal this seems to be. I mean, people at church have been going out of their way to thank me for talking in meetings, which feels weird because I feel like I’ve been talking all along.

At any rate, my yelling and swearing comes out when I’m with people I care about and who I know won’t stop loving me if I show my ugly side (although to be honest, this is a constant fear). Kind of a crappy reward for being one of my close friends or loved ones, and I’d like to curb it a bit.

It’s the last month of my Habit Experiment! I’m very glad to be about done with this particular project. It’s been educational, but I’m not feeling it like I thought I would.

Points to Ponder:

Do you ever find your goals to be at cross purposes, with one canceling out or threatening to cancel out another?

Habit Experiment: January Recap, February Kickoff

January Recap

My goal for January was:

1) Write a little something every day.

I’ve pretty much done this in January, but I realized I was already pretty much doing it before January, so I’ve not noticed much of a difference this month.

As I’ve continued to reevaluate my Habit Experiment, I found this quote from a letter Hunter S. Thompson wrote to a friend in 1958:

“So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life.”

I’m not sure if a twenty-two-year-old Hunter S. Thompson is the best person to take advice from, but I like the sentiment. It reflects the shift in perspective I’ve been experiencing towards my Habit Experiment. I’m not ready to jettison goals entirely, but I’m trying to see them in the context of what I’d like the big picture of my life to look like (I’m not even to the point of figuring how to “make a living”). Conclusions are in short supply at this point, but I trust that asking the questions is a good place to start.

And now for February’s goal:

Implement FlyLady routines

My goals:

1) Do daily FlyLady routines more regularly, particularly bathroom swish-and-swipe and morning and bedtime routines.

2) Streamline my weekly cleaning.

3) Add in 15 minutes a day of zone decluttering/detail cleaning.

So, how do these goals promote the way of life I’d like to have? I’d like to have less stuff so I’m more mobile (and less embarrassed when movers come to pack up our house), and I would like each of the things I own to have a purpose. The stuff I have I’d like to be tidy and clean, but I also don’t want to spend all of my time cleaning and organizing my stuff. My hope is that routines will help me keep things decluttered and tidy with a minimal outlay of time and energy.

I must admit, my heart’s not really in this one. I’ve been off-and-on following FlyLady routines for nearly nine years now with off-and-on success. I could blame my children, but if I really wanted to keep to cleaning routines, I bet I could. I suspect that it doesn’t matter as much to me as I think it does. I’m not sure that “recommitting” to routines is going to help now, but I’m giving it a try. (I should probably make next month’s goal, “Brush up on my pep talks to myself.”)

Points to Ponder:

Do you focus on goals or on a way of life…or both?

A Victory for Imperfection!

I mentioned a while back that I’m trying (again) to follow the FLYLady Baby Steps to help me develop routines. I know you’re all wondering how that’s going. In fact, I doubt you can think of much else.

Well, it’s going fairly well.

I’m on Day 13. I took a couple of days off during our trip to Maine, and I took two days to do a couple of the days, so it’s been longer than 13 days since I started. But it’s worked out that now my FLYBaby days match the calendar so it looks like I started September 1st, which pleases me.

For those unfamiliar with FLYLady, I’ll give you a quick run-down of what I’m doing each day:

Morning Routine:

  • Get up and dressed to lace-up shoes, doing even my face and hair (which, for me, means washing my face and putting my hair in a ponytail or a braid).
  • Look at the posted reminders in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Read online messages from FLYLady and her minions.
  • Recognize negative voices and turn them around/refute them.
  • Put out hot spots (places that attract clutter, like the kitchen table) for 2 minutes.
  • 5-minute room rescue.
  • 15 minutes of de-cluttering.

Bedtime Routine:

  • Keep the sink shining.
  • Lay out my clothes for tomorrow.
  • Put out hot spots for 2 minutes.

In addition to these things, I also do about fifteen minutes of yoga each morning. My son helps me with my morning routine. He brushes his teeth at the same time I do, does yoga with me, and gets my indoor shoes for me after I get dressed.

Although I was resistant to them, the indoor shoes are actually pretty awesome. It’s much less painful to step on Legos and die-cast metal cars in my cute sneakers than it was barefoot. As a result, I swear a lot less than I did before I started wearing the shoes.

Yes, this will take just five minutes to clean up! (And yes, there is pee in that potty.)

Today I de-cluttered the toy room for my 15 minutes of de-cluttering. I finally implemented the “toy rotation” plan that I’ve been promising myself since my daughter was a toddler. I gathered up about one quarter of the toys, particularly those that are too basic for my daughter and too advanced for my son, and put them downstairs on the shelves in the basement.

Even before I de-cluttered the toy room, the 5-minute room rescue had already shown me that it takes just 5 minutes to clean up that room.

That’s the best part about using the timer: it shows me just how much I can get done in a very short amount of time. I’ll be done with dinner dishes and just wanting to sit down with my book, but the living room is a mess, and I really don’t feel like cleaning it up. The excuses run through my mind: it’s too late, it will take too long, I want to get to bed at a decent hour (even though I never actually do), it will just get messed up again anyway.

But then I take out my timer and promise myself I’ll spend just 5 minutes straightening up. And when I’m done, it’s neater and I can relax with my book instead of getting caught up in the housework domino effect and end up scrubbing the oven at 2 am.

Both kids still eye me with suspicion when I get out the timer. It’s never been part of any of my disciplinary techniques, so I’m not sure why they’re so on-edge when I get it out.

I don’t mean to give the impression that it’s been smooth sailing. There have only been a handful of days when I did all of my tasks. But in the interest of imperfection, I’ve kept going.

It’s kind of like what my daughter’s working on with her flute playing right now. She gets so hung up on doing it perfectly that she doesn’t even want to practice because it doesn’t sound like she wants it to when she does, and she gets frustrated and disappointed. Her teacher and I have been encouraging her to do exercises that she’s basically guaranteed not to be able to do “perfectly.” The idea is that she just keep playing and jump back in when she can. She’s doing better with this as it relates to her flute playing, and I’m doing better with it as it relates to routines and housecleaning. We’re both happier and making progress with our respective goals.

My only complaint with FLYLady right now is the overuse of exclamation points on her website. I know they want to pump us up, but that many exclamation points just makes me think they’ve had too much coffee or are on some other elation-inducing substance. As good as it feels to have routines and a less cluttered home, I’m not sure it warrants that much excitement.

Channelling Mr Rogers

Last week I bought myself some indoor shoes.

That’s them. The photo’s a little out of focus, but it’s the best I could do photographing my own feet.

The literature that came with the shoes said that they’d increase the oxygen levels in my body. I really don’t understand how they do that, if they do do that, but they were $30 and they’re comfy so I’m not questioning it too deeply.

The reason I’ve got indoor shoes: I’m trying once again to implement FlyLady Marla Cilley’s techniques. I’ve tried it about three times now. Each time I get overly excited and try to do too many things at once, get overwhelmed, get mired in perfectionism, and give up.

Over the past several trials, a few of her routines have stuck with me. I swish and swipe my bathroom every morning. I make my bed.

I guess that’s kind of it, now that I think of it.

It has occurred to me that perhaps the FlyLady plan just isn’t for me. It is a little bit corny. For example, “FLY” stands for “Finally Love Yourself.” The idea that we can express our love for ourselves and our families through housework is a nice one, but it’s also a little Donna Reed, a tad Tupperware-party. But it’s also the reality of my life. I’ve chosen to live this 1950’s kind of a lifestyle (actually, I guess it’s more 1850’s what with the homeschooling and breastfeeding and food preservation), and I’m certainly not going to learn how to optimize it by reading Who Moved My Cheese. Hokey or not, I need advice from someone focussed on my reality, which pretty much revolves around the laundry (and not just because the laundry piles are large enough to have their own gravitational pull).

FlyLady has this focus. She also strongly encourages her faithful followers to let go of perfection, which is something I constantly need to work on. Because I’m so perfect and it’s off-putting to others.

This time, I decided to approach the FlyLady plan a little differently; I decided to follow the directions.

FlyLady has a month of day-by-day Beginner Baby Steps through which she eases us into new routines one element at a time rather than all at once. The other times I’ve tried FlyLady, I’ve picked and chosen and kind of skipped my way through the baby steps. And there’s one step I never followed: “Get dressed to lace-up shoes.”

We don’t wear shoes in the house. We wear slippers or we go barefoot. It’s the only thing that keeps my floors remotely clean (which is about as clean as they get). But every time I’ve done FlyLady, I’ve refused to wear shoes and I’ve not been able to get through the first month. Marla suggests that we go out and get a pair of shoes just for wearing indoors if we’re all uptight about it. This time, I did just that.

The first morning I got dressed to lace-up shoes, I was surprised to find that it actually did seem to change my mindset. I felt less slovenly. I felt more motivated to straighten up around the house and to keep my sink shining.

But I persisted in thinking that the whole indoor-shoes thing was a little odd. Then one day, as I kicked off my Mary Janes after a grocery run and sat down to lace up my indoor sneakers, I started humming, “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor; would you be mine?”

It occurred to me that this was not an unprecedented exercise. In fact, it was one that Mr Rogers, the hero of millions of children, engaged in every day for decades. I could have followed the initial direction of my thoughts and decided that it was just down-right strange to act like Mr Rogers (not to mention time-consuming on multiple-errand days). But instead, I chose to embrace the fact that I’m following in the non-marking soled footsteps of Fred Rogers, the gentle soul who epitomized soft-spoken optimism and a child-like sense of wonder at the world around him.

I could certainly do worse.

I’m currently on Day 6 of the Beginner Baby Steps. Today I added 2 minutes clearing a “Hot Spot.”

“Where’d all that stuff on the counter go?” my husband asked. His company is still without electricity after Sunday’s storm, so he’s been hanging around and I can’t keep all of the weird things I do during the day a secret from him like we’re used to.

Tomorrow I get to pick out my clothes before bed. What I’d really like to do is go out and buy new clothes, then de-clutter the old ones.

I don’t know why, but whenever we move, I have a desire to change the way I dress. When we moved to Salt Lake City, it was round-neck t-shirts that covered my collar bone, capris pants, and Keen sandals (and a nostril piercing). This time, I have a craving for fitted, white or solid pastel button-up shirts and khaki pants.

And maybe a cardigan.

What do you think, Neighbor?

Paralyzed by Indecision

It’s now halfway through August and I still haven’t decided what my next “project” will be. I know I don’t have to have a project. But I would like a focus at least.

I was so pleased with how my Happiness Project went, I want to design a similarly profound program for this upcoming year. I’m just not sure how to do it.

Where my Happiness Project was designed around a breadth of activities, I would like this year to be more about depth. I want the assignments I give myself to be free from the “one month” duration. If I feel like I want to focus on an activity for longer than a month, I’d like to postpone the next activity. If I don’t like the chosen activity and want to move on after nine days, I want to feel free to do that without feeling like I’m breaking the rules.

Of course I could have done this even with my Happiness Project. But that would have broken the rules I’d set for myself, and we can’t have that. Living outside the rules is chaos. Anarchy. Or something like that.

I also know that right now I’m hungry for learning. I want to absorb information, assimilate it, digest it, make it my own.

In addition, I recognize that right now, I’m not really in a position to add much more to my plate. I’ve got a homeschooling first-grader and a toddler who just learned to jump with both feet at the same time and a new home and a blog. Either I need to drop something, or I need to find a way to be more efficient so I can eke out more time for new projects.

With all of this in mind, I’ve got a whole slew of ideas of things to do for this next year. I cannot do all of these. I know that. But I’m having trouble narrowing down the list, which means I can’t seem to pick a manageable number of things to work on, which means I can’t seem to decide on anything to work on.

Here are some of my ideas:

-Finish Levels 1, 2, and 3 of Rosetta Stone Latin American Spanish.

-Complete a naturalist course so I can be the smartypants who names all of the plants and animals on our hikes.

-Join Toastmasters and attend weekly meetings.

-Read Classics of literature, poetry, biography, drama, history, math, and science, and start a book club in order to discuss these Classics.

-Continue the two other monthly book clubs I’m part of already.

-Enroll in the online/off-campus Master’s Degree program through George Wythe University.

-Take piano lessons.

-Take a sign language class.

-Take an online Buddhism class.

-Go to a bible study at at least two different churches of different denominations.

-Attend the weekly Buddhist meditation at one of the local UU churches. (There aren’t any Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples in Massachusetts. I’m a little surprised at how much I miss going to the Shin Buddhist services.)

-Write a novel for National Novel Writing Month in November (again).

-Implement the FlyLady housework, meal planning, and self-care routines.

-Join a gym, buy some personal training, and become buff (as buff as a 35-year-old mother of two can be in no more than thirty minutes a day).

-Play flute in a community band/orchestra.

-Do a 365 photo project.

-Attend an entire Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction series (I only attended three classes worth before we moved from Utah, so I’ve reduced my stress a little, but imagine how laid back I would be if I went through the entire series).

-Just going to town on my vast “to-read” list on Goodreads, reading like 50 books in the course of the year or something ambitious like that.

I was going to do something like a zero-waste challenge or a “buy nothing for a year” challenge something trendy like that, but I just don’t think I can do that without it being tremendously taxing to me emotionally. I already agonize over expenses and waste. No need to intentionally increase the intensity of that agony.

So I’ll just agonize over my wish list instead.

(Update: I forgot the online fermentation class I’m considering. That should be added to the list, too.)

Fabulous Friday

Modern kitchen

Not my kitchen. (Photograph by Gnangarra...commons.wikimedia.org)

Day 5 word count: 8,371

Friday’s my “mad-dash, lick-and-a-promise housecleaning” day. The goal is to spend one hour just rushing through the house, vacuuming and mopping and putting stuff away (not necessarily in that order). It’s a variation of FlyLady‘s “Weekly Home Blessing Hour.”

Some weeks, it goes great. the kids cooperate (and sometimes even help), and by the time we leave for gymnastics, I’ve got the house so that every third step isn’t accompanied by a cry of pain and/or the snap of a toy or plastic utensil, and if I walk across the kitchen in my bare feet I don’t end up with a coating of crumbs and dirt and sticky mystery items on the soles of my feet.

Most cleanup days, however, are like today. It took me nearly an hour just to get the kitchen floor swept and mopped. As I picked up toys, my son threw them on the floor. When I got out my broom, my son asked for his. I thought, Oh, that will be cute and it will keep him busy while I’m trying to sweep.

Not so much. As I swept the dirt into a pile, he used his little broom to redistribute the dirt across the floor.

Having learned from previous weeks, I didn’t get out the bucket for the mop water but instead just put the mop water in one side of the sink (after putting away the clean dishes from the drainer on the counter, another lesson learned from past weeks). My son danced with excitement when he saw the mop. When he realized he wasn’t going to get to mop, he dissolved into tears. I handed him a towel and asked him to wipe up the floor, which occupied him for about 17 seconds. Then he went into the dining room and started coloring on the picture of Wonder Red (from Super WHY!) that my daughter was working on.

To calm the resultant screaming, I resituated both of the children at the kitchen table, my son strapped into his high chair with some crayons and a piece of paper. Every few seconds, he would grunt to get my attention then sign “fish” and point at the scribbles he’d made on the page. This was my cue to say, “You drew a fish! Wow! Look at that! It’s a green fish! What else are you going to draw?”

In the meantime, my daughter showed me why sometimes I just need a straight-up coloring book rather than an “activity” book. She asked me to read the directions on each page and then to help her through the activities. As a homeschooling mom, I am aware that this is a primary part of my job description. I just don’t understand why she has no interest in doing it until I’m engaged in another activity.

Finally I got the kitchen mopped. I probably should have just been content with the progress I’d made and left it at that. But with the mop water still warm, I wanted to mop the bathroom. Somehow that turned into sorting through clothes to figure out what was dirty and what was clean, wiping down the sink and toilet while my son used the toilet brush to spread soapy toilet water on the bathroom floor, and picking up everything that was on my bedroom floor in preparation for vacuuming.

In the end, I did get the bathroom wiped and mopped before we left for gymnastics, and we walked into the gym just as the two other little girls in her class were starting their warm-ups.

20 minutes of walking my son around the neighborhood during the class yielded a 30-minute nap in the stroller, during which I got to clean out the diaper bag, another of my Friday tasks. And because the baby wasn’t asleep when we left for home, I was able to stop at the car wash. (The last time I tried it, he was asleep when we entered the car wash but awake and crying when we exited it.) I even got to vacuum the interior of the car with the free-vacuums-with-car-wash.

After lunch, the baby refused to fall asleep, so I gave up and instead recruited his “help” in vacuuming the bedroom and the living room. We were halfway through when the babysitter arrived. It took me 30 minutes to leave the house, and I didn’t have high hopes for getting the exercise and writing done that I wanted to.

At the gym, I did 40 minutes on the treadmill at a comfortable 10-minute-mile pace. Then did a few sets on the weights and headed to the locker room. I showered and got dressed in my street clothes again. It’s interesting that I’m at a time in my life when I find bathing in a public shower to be a luxury simply because my children aren’t in there with me. I even put some “product” in my hair to optimize the curl.

By the time I made it to the coffee shop with my laptop, it was 4:30. The babysitter needed to leave a little after 5, so that gave me 30 minutes to write as much as I could. I considered scrapping the writing and just heading home with plans to write after dinner, as I’ve been doing for the past three days, but I soldiered on. I figured I’d get 500 words in and then have that much less to write in the evening. I’ve even heard some people recommend shorter writing sessions to make the most of the high-energy creative juices before fatigue sets in.

With that attitude in place, I sat down and just wrote without thinking too much. At 4:53 I checked my word count. It was 8,300-something. I was surprised. I had calculated the total I needed for today to keep at my 1,667-words daily average at 8,335. I must have made a mistake. I couldn’t possibly have written that much in just a half hour. I checked my math and sure enough, I was within 30 words of meeting my goal. I kept on chugging and when 5:00 arrived, I was at 8,371 words. I had run, I had written, and I’d met my goal. And I’m pretty sure I’d experienced “flow” during my writing session. I went home feeling awesome.

At home, I nursed the baby while I chatted with my husband about economic progressivism and watched our daughter do tricks on the sofa and coffee table. Then we made homemade pizza and homemade ice cream and listened to Pearl Jam (my daughter said, “This is my favorite music!” and my son danced around smiling).

I love it when things just kind of come together. And now I have my whole evening free to read, read, read!

Another night I’ll need to write about this odd period of my life right now in which stories about animals attacking people are part of my daily experience. Please remind me if I forget.

Keeping Routines: Worth Doing Poorly?

I don’t have a great track record keeping routines. I blame myself.

I’ve tried blaming the children, but it doesn’t seem to stick, perhaps because every time I do, this little nagging voice reminds me that I couldn’t keep a routine before I had kids, either. The kids certainly don’t help, but I don’t think they’re entirely at fault.

I think the biggest hindrance to my routine-keeping is my over-planning. I tend to try to schedule every moment, which is impractical but I try it anyway. And of course I fail because my daily life just doesn’t seem conducive to that level of choreography. I’ve found that the routines I keep best are the ones that I just kind of start doing and then suddenly realize I’ve been doing them routinely. So, I decided to build on that theme and try to sneak in a couple of new routines on the backs of existing routines.

Routine #1 is a morning routine. The one thing I’d been fairly consistent about doing is the bathroom “swish and swipe” as recommended by FlyLady. I re-instituted that routine this week, and have been doing fairly well keeping it, despite the help the baby gives me by playing in the toilet while I’m busy wiping down the sink. I make sure I swish the toilet before I swipe the sink. I’ve also started making myself tea and sitting outside to drink it if I wake up before the kids. I started this during September, but I’m making more of a point of letting the dishes sit and the granola wait to be baked and the tofu wait to be marinated until after I’ve had my tea. I don’t get to do it every morning, but it’s nice when I do get to do it.

Routine #2 is an evening routine. So far, this one isn’t working out ideally. The idea is to get the kids to bed by 8:30, then clean up the kitchen, do some quick straightening, journal, read, shower, brush teeth, blog, and go to bed by 10:30. It’s currently 10:15, and I’ve cleaned up the kitchen. Mostly. I’m either not going to finish my routine, or I’m not going to get to bed by 10:30. Or both. I can’t figure out if the problem is not getting the kids to bed on time or planning too many things to do, or something else I’ve not considered yet. I’ve decided to stick with trying to do the routine as I’ve laid it out and using it as an opportunity to let go of perfection when I’m not able to complete the routine as I’d like to. Which is just a long-winded way of saying, “Screw it.”

Routine #3 is a weekly routine. Sundays we hike, plan meals, and go grocery shopping. Mondays and Fridays I work out while the babysitter is here. Tuesdays we hang out with some homeschooling friends. Wednesdays I take out all of the garbages because Thursday is trash day. It’s also homeschool field trip day, and soccer practice day, during which I work out again. Thursdays we have flute lesson. Fridays I clear the trash and non-car items out of the car, I clean out the diaper bag and my wallet, and I vacuum the carpet and furniture and sweep and mop the floors. And we have gymnastics and have been going to the library that day.

I think Friday might be too full.

OK, now I’m overwhelmed just thinking about my routines. So here’s a picture of the granola I made this week when I discovered while decluttering the kitchen that I had all of the ingredients for it. It’s from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair again. Maple Butter Nut Granola. Totally awesome. I put currants in it, too. My husband says I should go into business making and selling granola. I said I’d work on that in my free time.


Maple Butter Nut Granola

Maple Butter Nut Granola from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair



October’s Focus: Order

It’s October 1st! Time for a new Happiness Project focus! Here’s the Plan:

October 2010 – Order
Focus: Complete nagging tasks and make my home more of a refuge of calm.

Complete One Nagging Task. There are a number of projects I’ve left unfinished around my house. There’s a purse I crocheted the pieces for but have yet to assemble. There are the knit baby blocks that I started while pregnant with my daughter six years ago. The baby booties I started for my friend’s second child who is now nearly four years old. The needlepoint project I started when we lived in North Carolina, more than seven years ago. My daughter’s baby book. Or, for that matter, my son’s baby book. Really, I’ve got a lot to choose from. But I’m just planning to complete one.

Establish Daily and Weekly Routines. This one’s inspired by FlyLady. I have a couple of routines in place already. I clean out the car and the diaper bag every Friday. I make my bed (well, I pull the sheets and blankets up) every morning. Basically, I just want a kind of basic structure so we all know what to expect and, hopefully, we experience more peace and order in our schedules. I’d also like to have the house look somewhat tidy and clean for longer than 3.5 hours after the housecleaner’s monthly deep-clean (without leaving town).

Declutter and Organize. This will be a room-to-room romp à la FlyLady again. I’ve got my three baskets (Give Away, Put Away, Throw Away), and I’ll plan to do at least 15 minutes a day until I get through every corner of our dwelling. I’m feeling overwhelmed by my possessions, and I hope to get a better balance than I have now by getting rid of a lot of things.

Purchasing Fast. No, this isn’t a resolution to improve my time at the mall. I will avoid buying any non-consumable material goods in October. I will still buy things like food, toilet paper, toothpaste (I won’t be dumpster diving, although I suppose I could try some make-it-yourself personal care recipes), and I’ll make an exception for certain specific items, like the hair bows I’ve yet to buy (or buy the supplies to make) for the concert my daughter will be in this month, but I’ll try to buy those few necessary items used if if it makes sense to do so. I’ll also make an exception should any major appliance need replacing. If something happens to our fridge during October, I’m not waiting until November to replace it.

Along with these resolutions, I will continue to practice the resolutions from August and September. For a complete Happiness Project Schedule, past, present and future, please click the link to the left.