Thursday, June 23, 2011

dare to discipline

While you may think by the post's title that I am going to be writing about my children, that is in fact incorrect.

I need some major discipline for myself.

With summer break right around the corner - which often symbolizes to me a new beginning with a new {however short-lived} routine - I figured it was as good a time as any to start implementing some changes in my day-to-day life.

When I sit down and hash out all of the things I want to accomplish/implement on a daily basis, it gets me sort of overwhelmed. How will I have time for everything? I will be working 2 days a week (from 8:30am-5:00pm), and doing take-home work for another 5 hours a week. I want to continue with my spring cleaning challenge, as well as simply maintaining areas of the house that have already been done - or are waiting to get done. I want to get my prayer & bible reading life back to where I want it to be and I want to keep up with exercising on a very regular basis (videos and running). I want to spend quality time with my children. I want to work at Malia's reading over summer to prepare her for Grade 1 and I want to strive for putting more time and effort into more proper and healthy meals and snacks. Oh yeah...and I want to get my kids involved in chores again (it's amazing how quickly you can let that slide) and really work on their attitudes and behavior.

I think it can all be done; I'm just going to have to be very disciplined. Here's some more details on how I hope to accomplish these things (consider yourself warned: this is a doozie of a post!).

1) Work
There isn't much I can do about this one; it is what it is. Tuesdays & Thursdays I will be out of the house at 7:45am and will be returning no earlier than 5:30pm (and later on days when my Mom has the kids, in which case I will be blessed with getting to stay for supper!). And I can split my take-home work into 2 afternoons. This part of my job is optional, but it's really hard for me to turn down the opportunity to earn a bit of extra money from home...especially doing something that can be done while watching TV. Seriously, it doesn't get much better than that. So as much as I dread the chunk of time it takes (I've been doing it every week for the past year and a half already), it really is worth it.

2) Spring Cleaning Challenge
As I already mentioned in my first (and only, so far) post on this challenge, I'm not following any sort of schedule for getting this done. It could take me the entire summer - or even beyond, into fall - and I am okay with that. As long as I plug away at it when I have time, I'm happy. But I just need to be careful to not lose all motivation, otherwise it will never get done. I know it's easy to run out of steam after you initially start a project in all your new-found excitement...and while the enthusiasm has definitely decreased for me already, the determination to get it done is still there. I hesitate to even give myself any sort of set schedule for this though as some weeks just get busy, and if we have nice weather (which if you're from around here you will understand how rare it is) I don't want to be forced to be cooped up more than what I have to. I think right now I would be safe to say I want to get one room spring cleaned per month. As it stands right now, that would mean I would have enough rooms (including bathrooms) to last me another 7 months! But I know in fall things will change again and there will be more time allotted for this.

3) Maintaining the House
There are a few simple things I want to try to do over summer to ensure that while I may not have the time to do a lot of deep-cleaning, it is still possible to keep the house running smoothly and looking neat and tidy.

#1: One thing I want to do on a daily basis is a 15-minute tidy at the end of every day (which is something I picked up from FlyLady when I was following her program). After the kids are in bed and before I get settled for an evening of relaxation, I want to set my timer for 15 minutes - no more - and just do a quick main floor tidy. Washing any dishes still sitting by the sink, wiping the countertops, giving the floor a quick sweep, etc.

#2: Another thing I want to adopt is the O.H.I.O. method that my wonderful friend Andrea has passed on to me. Only Handle It Once. That means that if I have something that needs to go upstairs to my bedroom, I will not just leave it by the landing until the next time I head upstairs. I can take it and run it upstairs and be back down in 30 seconds, so why not do that instead of continuing to collect a heap of things where they do not belong? O.H.I.O.

#3: And then there is my laundry. Did you know there are some people who actually have a daily laundry schedule? Go figure. One day is parents' bedding, one day is towels, one day is kid's bedding, etc. How simple is it to do one load of laundry a day? And I think it would be so much easier keeping up with the folding & putting away if it's done this way too. Even on a day where I'm at work all day, I can still easily have time for one load of laundry in the evening.

#4: I also want to get my kids involved in chores again. In November I started up a chore chart for the girls that seemed to work really well (you can read about it here). Unfortunately it didn't last for very long. I think Christmas break got us out of the routine, and I just never got back into it. But just the other day when I was running short on time, I asked Joelle to sweep the floor for me and I thought to myself, Why am I not getting them to do things like this on a regular basis again? If they can help with a few of the easier tasks around the house, it will help me out a lot.

#5: Then there's a chore chart for myself. I do well when I have a list to go off of, so if I broke down my own chores into a weekly schedule, I think I could do better with keeping my house cleaner on a regular day-to-day basis. This would include things like vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, washing the floors, etc.

4) Prayer & Bible Reading
This is an area where the whole family is lacking, unfortunately. But I am determined to change that, as it is the most important area of our lives (or sure should be anyway!). I want to print out a 2 year bible reading plan for myself and get back to my prayer journal. This is something that also ended over Christmas break with a change in routine (and having Les back home in the evenings again) and never got picked up again. Terrible, right? Not that I haven't prayed since then - just not in the same deliberate manner.

So the plan is AFTER the girls are in bed, and AFTER my 15 minute clean-up is done....then I will sit down at the table again for my bible reading and prayer time.

It's also been a long time since we've done any sort of devotions with the girls, so I want to start adding that into their bedtime routine as well.

5) Regular Exercise
This one will be tough for me to follow through on over the summer. With my work days stretching to the longer hours (instead of 9-3 like they currently are while the girls are in school), I'm quite certain I won't be doing any work-outs on those days. As for the other 3 days of the week, the plan is to still get a work-out in on each day - but with two of those three days already consisting of my take-home work, it only adds to the chunk of the afternoon I'd be stuck inside doing things I'd rather not be doing! I'd love to force myself to do my work-outs first thing in the morning, but I don't know if that's feasible what with my aforementioned love of sleep and all! I would love to go for runs 3 evenings a week, but with my husband's work schedule (and no treadmill!), I'm not sure how that will pan out either. But I am determined to make something work!

6) Quality Time (with the kids)
I'd love to do at least one one-on-two activity with the girls every day that I'm not working. Whether it be a bike ride, baking cookies, playing a game, painting their toenails or just reading books or coloring together. It doesn't have to be a very lengthy time period (they probably would rather be playing with neighborhood friends anyway!) but I do want them to have memories of spending quality time with their Mom.

7) Malia's Reading
I want to do some work on Malia's reading every single day over summer holidays. Whether it's having her read me a book or whether we use flashcards...I just want to put emphasis on it so she doesn't feel behind when she starts grade 1.

8) Meals & Snacks
I've talked many times about starting up menu-planning again, but somehow it just never happens. I don't know why, since it doesn't really take long - AND it makes things so much easier on a day-to-day basis. But I've been flying by the seat of my pants for many, many months and I want to make a change.

A meal plan will especially come in handy on many of my work days. Like I mentioned earlier on, on the days my Mom will have the girls (Tuesdays) I'll be able to eat supper there when I go to pick them up. But on my Thursday shift I won't have that option, which means I'll be getting home between 5:30-5:45 and needing to make something quick, so I'll need to be ready with a plan. And even on days when we're at home - if it's a nice day and we spend most of our time outside, I'll keep putting it off without a plan. But if I know first thing in the morning what I'm going to make, I can take something out of the freezer already and things will go much smoother when the supper hour comes around. I don't want to just depend on frozen pizza and hot dogs all summer long!

I also want to start making a plan for snacks for the girls too. Morning, afternoon and bedtime. I think I'm going to have set times for snacks so that they know when it's coming and won't be begging and complaining for a snack before it's time. Maybe 10:30am for the morning snack and 2:30pm for the afternoon snack, and then the bedtime snack will obviously just be before bed (depending on what we've been up to that day would depend on what time it would be). I also want to make a mini-menu for snacks to go alongside what I will be doing for meals. Too often the kids are STARVING for something, so I just grab what's easiest and most convenient. But if I plan ahead more and have the allotted times to go by, I'll be more likely to have healthier snacks ready that may take a bit more time to prepare. Not that I'm going to be going all out and spending 1/2 an hour on a snack or anything...but even just bananas with peanut butter and chocolate chips (a favorite around here). It takes a bit longer to prepare than, say, just plunking a bowl of goldfish crackers in front of them.

9) Attitudes and Behavior
It's no secret that Mom's often go C-R-A-Z-Y having their kids home full-time over summer holidays. Now, I might be gone 2 days a week for work - but they will still be with each other pretty much constantly. So in order for them to at least somewhat get along, there needs to be some changes because what we're currently doing just is not working.

#1: I'm bringing back the Banish Boredom Bucket. This was a huge success last summer (and even got used occasionally throughout the winter too), so why not bring it back!? I will need to update some of the ideas as their interests and hobbies have taken some turns in the past year, but the general idea will be the same. I will also be taking some new ideas from this website.

#2: I'm also bringing back the Whose Turn Is It Today? chart. Once again, I'll probably be changing some of the things on the chart - but if it's a system that works...why not do it again?

#3: Another thing I'm bringing back is...The Marbles! When we first attempted this about 2 1/2 years ago, Malia was a bit too young to understand the concept of it. But now that she's older, I think it will be more effective. I like the visual that it gives them as a motivator to have a better attitude and be a better listener. A cousin of mine also pointed me to this website which has a slightly different spin on it from what we originally used. I haven't quite fine-tuned all of the specifics as I'm torn between our old way of doing it, and the new way from the website.

#4: Limited screen time will also play a part in their attitudes, I think. Kids who spend too much time in front of TV and computer screens seem to be more grouchy. At least I notice that with my girls. It's so easy to use that as a fall-back option - and I'm not saying I won't still be guilty of that this summer from time to time - but I really want to make a conscious effort to make sure they're not spending too much time. We did end up getting a Wii a few months ago, and along with a recent 2nd-hand purchase of a V-tech laptop (which I got mainly for educational purposes for Malia to keep up with her reading and math), AND of course the good ol' boob tube...there will be plenty of screens to tempt them. I think I want to set up some sort of timing system here too, with a maximum allotment each day (time un-used can NOT be transferred to another day). Not only will that keep them accountable for the time they spend on the screens, but it will also keep me from using that as a quick-fix when there really are other means!

Okay...I think that just about covers it! See? I told you I'd need some serious discipline!! I'm sort of getting freaked out just thinking about trying to accomplish everything - not to mention actually putting it all into action!! To start with, I need to make myself a list. In order to kick-start a lot of this stuff, I have to put in some prep work first. So here is my "to-do" list to get ready for my new summer plans!

* Make up a laundry schedule
* Update the kid's chore chart
* Make up my own chore chart
* Print out a 2 year Bible reading plan
* Find a good family devotional book
* Make a list of fun Mom & Me things to do that we can pick from
* Get ahold of some easy reading books for Malia
* Start making my first menu plan!
* Start making my first snack plan!
* Update the Banish Boredom Bucket ideas
* Update the Whose Turn Is It? chart
* Set up the Marble system again
* Come up with a Screen-Time plan

The girls' last days of school are Monday (for Malia) and Tuesday (for Joelle). I'm not sure how feasible it is for me to have everything ready to go by Wednesday - the first official day of summer holidays - but I'm going to attempt to have half of them done by then. No reason why I can't just start implementing what I have ready, instead of waiting for everything to be complete. But my goal is that by the time Joelle gets back from camp (which is during the first full week of summer break), we will be full-force into the 'summer program.'

Groan...wish me luck!!


pam said...

You can do it!

PS. about the new blog colors - not sure if it's just me, but the bright yellow text on the white background is very hard to read (I find I have to highlight it in order to read it). Maybe it's just me and my old lady eyes. :P

Andrea said...

It must just be you and your old lady eyes, since I have no trouble reading it...but I changed it for you anyway. :)

You're welcome!

pam said...

Thanks! Maybe it's just the color settings on my computer.

Also, I was going to tell you that I love the OHIO idea! I frequently have a collection of items at the bottom of the stairs that sits around for quite a while because I almost always have a baby in my arms when I go upstairs (which makes it difficult to carry anything else). I should just run upstairs when I need to, and be done with it. Can I count that as a workout as well? ;)

TammyIsBlessed said...

One thing that's always helpful is combining things.

1) maybe screen time could be worked into the marbles idea?
2) Laundry is easily something that could go on the girls chore charts - sorting and putting from the washer into the dryer are the two easiest jobs.
3) Malia could read to Joelle while you're making supper.

LaughingLady said...

Looks like we've got similar plans for summer!! I am praying for both of us that we will have a productive, intentional, rewarding two months! ♥

(I'm with Pam ~ I'm having a really hard time with your new colours, too. The yellow on green is virtually invisible for me.)