I’ve eaten my grandmother’s classic meatloaf recipe for as long as I can remember, and I don’t remember not loving it. When we first got married, Mellow Man explained that he didn’t like meatloaf. It surprised me a bit because he loves hamburgers, and in many ways a classic meatloaf recipe is just a fancy hamburger cooked in a loaf shape. I mean, Mellow Man likes my Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf, so I couldn’t understand his objections to a regular beef meatloaf. So, I kept making my grandmother’s meatloaf, always serving it with my Mashed Potatoes, and he started to enjoy it. Or at least that’s what he tells me. He did tell me that he didn’t understand why classic meatloaf has ketchup on it, so I stopped using it on half of the meatloaf, and finally, I had a recipe that he loved! (Personally, I think a meatloaf recipe is required to use Ketchup, but that’s just my taste buds talking!)
The first time I ever went to eat Indian food was the summer before my senior year of high school. I was experiencing my first taste of independence, and I spent the summer on the campus of University of Pennsylvania. Away from my family. I met amazing people, several of whom I am still friends with. I guess that’s why Indian food is special to me. When the Mellow Man and I started dating, one of our earlier dates was to a local Indian Restaurant, where he ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala. (I know, I know, Chicken Tikka Masala isn’t actually an “Indian” dish, rather it is British with an Indian influence. However, it is served at many of our local Indian restaurants.) That Christmas I bought him a jar of Tikka Masala sauce to see if we could make our own at home. And guess what, the homemade version of Chicken Tikka Masala was just as good as the kind we had in our local Indian Restaurant. Now Mellow Man makes this dish for our family on a regular basis along with his other favorites– Chicken Fajitas, and Apricot Goat Cheese Chicken.
Well, not having to the pressure of working each day does feel liberating. I can enjoy the Monkey’s belly chuckles and smiles more when I’m not consistently thinking, “I should be working.” However, at the end of day 2 of my life as a SAHM, I am a little surprised at the sheer number of things that I want to get done. A lot of the tasks are errands, some are things that I have been putting off until I stopped work, some are homemaking tasks, and some are things that need to be scheduled. I’ve talked with my friend Christina over at the Scrappy Housewife about the challenges of working from home, or staying at home, and she’s suggested that one of the biggest challenges of this type of life is the lack of a set structure.
When you work in an office, you have a natural organization to your day and to your week. There are regularly scheduled meetings, lunch times, times for specific tasks that occur on a daily or weekly basis. When you are at home, life doesn’t quite work that way. Hours and days can blend together. There are some clearly defined tasks on some days—Frog has to be at school at a certain time, Monkey goes to preschool on certain days, and I have to pick up Frog from school. Those events anchor have anchored, and will continue to anchor my days, but I need to sort out how to be most productive.
I’m trying to figure out how to organize and plan my errands and daily tasks. I decided to look for some guidance on ways to organize my day, and did a quick Pinterest Search for “SAHM Schedule.” (Now this is different than a cleaning or homemaking schedule, which I will talk about in a later post.) I wasn’t sure what I might find, but I thought that someone might have some words of guidance about how one goes about creating a schedule that works and maximizes the day of a SAHM. I did learn that many of the schedules for SAHMs revolve around balancing homeschooling and homemaking tasks. I definitely need to learn how to integrate chunks of homemaking, but I’m not a homeschooling mama. (I admire those women, but I definitely don’t have the right temperament for that task!)
I found this one, and all I can say is, “Wow! I don’t think my working schedule was that organized, and I’m not sure that I could ever make my at home schedule look like that.” I wish I could be that organized. It did point out all of the things that I need to think about organizing around:
- Regular ongoing appointments: Picking up Frog from school; taking Monkey to and from preschool.
- Special appointments: Doctor’s appointments; getting my hair cut.
- Errands: All of those things that I need to do, like go to the post office, but don’t have any set time that they must be done. (Of course, sometimes there are deadlines for when they must occur by. For example, I need to go to the grocery store by the end of the week, but I don’t have to go tomorrow at 3pm.)
- Children’s activities and schedules: This includes things that are appointments that reoccur for Frog, like swimming or tennis, and things for Monkey that are important but don’t involve going somewhere and doing something, like naptime.
- Tasks and chores: Things that need to get done every day for life to continue, like cooking dinner, and things that should get done, like cleaning the bathroom mirrors, but don’t necessarily get done with the same frequency.
- Emails and Phone calls: I seem to have an never ending list of people I need to call to schedule, follow-up, or check in on issues that fall into the above categories.
Being honest here, I know that I’ve always had all of these things to do, but I’m more aware of them now, and actually handling more of them myself. Like tonight Mellow Man offered to go to the grocery store tomorrow to pick something up, but I know that he has a lot to do at work, and I’m at home.
So how do I keep track of it all and feel productive? (I’m worried that I’ll have trouble motivating to stay productive if I feel like I have all day to do things.)
What I’m currently using, but I’m not sure it’s working are iPhone apps. I have one that keeps track of everything and constantly reminds me what I should be doing. It does help with the reminding, but it seems to cause a lot of guilt and disappointment. Mellow Man has also been asking if I actually do any of the tasks that it reminds me to do, when it reminds me. (FYI, the answer is almost always no, I don’t.) The advantage of iPhone apps is that the iPhone is almost always with me. I love dictating quick notes and reminders into Siri, but somehow, I don’t always go back to check them.
What I’ve used in the past for an out-of-the-home job has been a day planner. I actually really like the Mom Agenda, as I think it organizes things really well for both home and office. However, these days, I have fewer scheduled appointments, nothing in my hourly schedule, and tons of to-dos and tasks. The one big advantage is the ability to write in it. The tactile and visual reminders work better for my mind than the iPhone apps.
So, I’m left wondering, what is the best system for me? I’ve found a few printables (like at Clean Mama), but I’m really looking for something that I can stick in my tote and carry with me from place to place. What can meet the needs of the SAHM, and help me stay really organized in this new job of mine. Thoughts? Advice? I’d love to hear what works for other SAHMs out there!