I wake up once again to a pile of dirty dishes, unfolded laundry, and a messy house. Before the day has even begun, I feel tired overwhelmed, and discouraged as my toddler insistently demands that I play with him. It seems a constant struggle to complete the basic tasks of daily living. Taking a shower has become a luxury, rather than a daily necessity. Some days go perfect, the dishes are done, I’m dressed and clean, and my toddler is dressed and (mostly) clean. But it seems that most days are an uphill battle trying to reach the goal of a peaceful, orderly environment.
One of my goals for a long time has been to develop routine and habits for daily life, housecleaning, and personal care so that my home and life naturally falls into place as peaceful and orderly. This has not been easy. After my baby was born, I felt exhausted for many months. When I finally started feeling better, then sickness hit. Once I was well again, I’d try to get a routine going again, only to be side-tracked once again by sleepless nights with a baby or illness. Then my baby went through stages where he needed mommy lots and fussed the whole time I was working in the kitchen.
Now that my baby is a toddler, he is able to participate and enjoy helping me keep the house a peaceful, orderly place. About two months ago he got over his fear of the vacuum cleaner and hair dryer! This has a made a world of difference – I can actually dry my hair now in peace! 🙂 Once he was over his fear of the vacuum cleaner, for almost three days straight he wanted to vacuum our living room all day long! Now, we’ve reduced it to once a day. 🙂 He will carry the vacuum cleaner to the living room, then I’ll vacuum first. After the carpet is clean, he takes a turn vacuuming up the crumbs on the tile floor, taking the cushions off the couch and vacuuming the couch, etc. Our house has been cleaner that it has been since he started walking almost a year ago!
As I’ve tried to start and implement various routines, I’ve found that one of the most important things is to implement routines that follow our daily rhythms. For example, originally, I wanted to prepare supper and clean the house after nap time so that our home would be clean and peaceful when my husband came home. However, right after nap time, my little one usually needs cuddles or time playing with Mama for about 30 minutes or longer. If I skipped that time with him, he was fussy and crying the whole time I was in the kitchen, dinner ended up being late, and I ended up being stressed. When I recognized this rhythm in his life, I was able to move cleaning our home up to right before nap time. Since he’s usually involved in low-key activities after nap time our home is still usually still mostly clean by the time my husband returns from work.
My natural rhythms also affect how well I follow my routines. Often after dinner, my little one is ready for Mama’s attention, especially if Daddy is busy with work. It’s easy to put the dishes and cleaning the kitchen aside till after baby is in bed. I was determined to stick to my routine of cleaning the kitchen before going to bed each night. However, after many mornings of waking up to a messy kitchen, I realized that if I waited to clean the kitchen till after I put my little one to bed I usually felt too tired to work. Encouraging my toddler to help me while I do dishes, or putting up with his fussing for a little bit while I clean helps the next day go so much smoother than if I put off dishes till later.
As I learn to set routines that follow our natural rhythms, following these routines goes so much easier! It still takes hard work and persistence to stay on top of things, but as some of my routines are starting to become habits and part of our natural rhythm our home is beginning to be more peaceful and orderly (and I am feeling less stressed).