Organizing My Day {Day 2 of 31 Days}

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.

My Mom Made That: 31 Days Logo

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:

  1. Regular ongoing appointments: Picking up Frog from school; taking Monkey to and from preschool.
  2. Special appointments: Doctor’s appointments; getting my hair cut.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.)

My Mom Made That: Purple iPhone Case
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!

Family Travels Map

In June, I shared with you the map that was hanging in my family room at Cheerios and Latte. It’s still hanging, and I didn’t know if everyone had gotten a chance to see it.  In case you didn’t, you can find it still over there.

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My husband, the wonderful and sensitive Mellow Man lived a life of a carefree bachelor until a few years ago.  He traveled to wonderful, foreign places like Cairo, Hong Kong and Oslo.  And he loves to take photos of all of the places that he’s been.  Photography is his hobby.  Photography is how we met, so his photos of his exotic trips have a special place in my heart.  He traveled to China while we were dating, and each night he would write me sweet emails about his strange and wonderful adventures there.

MM Great Wall

Of course, I had been to places that he had never seen, like the Yellowstone National Park, Alaska and New York City. At least I think I have.  Plus, we’ve been on wonderful trips together.  For example, we spent 2 glorious weeks in Italy on our Honeymoon.  I would love to go back– it’s a wonderfully romantic country!  I loved Rome, but I think that Firenze (Florence) is possible the most beautiful city ever!

My Mom Made That: Family Travels Map (Piazza Del Duomo)

We also like to dream and plan the vacations that we’d go on some day,  or fantasy vacations.  I thought we it would be great to have a map that showed where we had been, and where we wanted to go someday.  There is a travel map that our friends have that they purchased from SignalsI liked the map, but I didn’t like the price!  I figured why not make one ourselves, so I could save well over $100.  We made it complete with a DIY frame made out of decorative moulding.  You’ll need:

  • A World Map
  • 3/16″ Foam Core Board (I got two 20″x30″ pieces.)
  • Duct Tape
  • Decorative Moulding cut to size of map
  • Miter Saw
  • Staple Gun
  • Brackets
  • Wood Glue
  • Picture hanger for frame
  • Spray Paint
  • Acrylic rulers and yard stick
  • Craft Knife
  • Spray adhesive
  • Super Sticky double side tape
  • Balsa Wood
  • Cardstock and a Color Printer.
  • Mod Podge
  • Brayer
  • Acrylic Craft Paint
  • Dressmaker’s Pins
  • Wire snips

I thought the project would be fairly simple to make.  I talked MM into making it with me because I knew it would be a simple project, but boy, was it ever filled with a lot of mishaps.  Hopefully,  you can follow the final project, so you don’t have to repeat my mistake!

I found a map of the world for $0.89 at Amazon! (Affiliate link) It was 2′x3′, so I knew it would be large enough to go over our family room mantel.  Once I got the map, I headed over to our local craft store to get some 3/16″ foam core board.  (Actually, I bought the 1/2″ stuff the first time, but my husband told me it was too thick.  Back it went for the thinner stuff!) The two pieces of foam core board were $3.00 with my coupon from Michael’s.

I then took Mellow Man over to Home Depot where we found some decorative moulding that had a slight lip (it ended up having a 1/4″ lip, which is important for building the frame.)  We needed at least 10.5 feet of moulding, so we got 2 extra feet.  The moulding cost us $0.98 a foot, or approximately $12.00 for the whole frame.

Now, I had MM build the frame for me, and it took him an hour or so.  We learned a couple of things.  !) You can cheaply build a large frame with decorative moulding, but 2) It’s harder to make a frame with this material than it would be with traditional framing pieces.  This means that you may want to use traditional framing supplies.  However, you are going to measure out your pieces so the interior of the frame will fit around the map perfectly after cutting each piece with the miter saw.  Cut each piece with a 45 degree angle.  You will then glue the edges together and staple the back sides of the frame together with a staple gun. Then you will want to attach corner brackets to stabilize the frame with screws.  Then spray paint the frame a color that you’d like.  We chose red since it’s the accent color of our family room.  When the paint is dry attach a picture hanger to the top side of the frame.

 photo FamilyTravelsMap2_zpsbf55897c.jpg

While you are waiting for the spray paint to dry, mount your map!  I had two piece of foam core board that were slightly smaller than my map.  I positioned them together, and then taped them together white duct tape. Then I rolled out the map, and positioned it so it was one inch from the edge on two sides, and trimmed the remaining board away with my craft knife.  Try to get get smooth even cuts.  I then took a long strip of particle board, and two binder clips, and I clipped the map in place in the middle.  This allowed me to spray mount the map in the exact position that I wanted.  I lifted each side and sprayed it in place.  You can use your brayer to smooth it out!

 photo FamilyTravelsMap3_zps69f00666.jpg

After the map is adhered to the foam core, and your frame is dry, you’ll need to mount your map.  First, and very importantly, make sure the foam core fits into the frame!  Now we did this a quick and easy way since the foam core is very light, and this isn’t a “real” frame.  I put the super sticky double-sided tacky glue (the kind with the translucent red wrapper around both sides), on the edge of the foam core.  The edge of the foam core is the part that needs to attach to the frame.  My handy husband helped me get the foam core into the frame perfectly on the first try, and since we checked beforehand, we knew that the foam core would fit perfectly inside the frame.

 photo FamilyTravelsMap4_zps302203c7.jpg

To make the legend that indicated the meaning behind the different pins, I used a piece of balsa wood painted red with craft paint.  The balsa wood cost me $4.  I trimmed it to size, printed a nice sign in color on cardstock using a laser printer and mod podged the cardstock to the balsa wood.  I used balsa wood because it is very light, and would adhere easily to the map using my super sticky tape.  Before attaching it to the map, I put a sample pin next to each part of the legend.  We had 4: 1)Where Emily has been; 2) Where Alan has been; 3) Where our family has been; 4) Where we want to go next.  The pins needed to be trimmed with wire snips so that they were not sticking too far above the legend.  I used a package of dressmaker pins, and that cost me $3.49.

 photo FamilyTravelsMap5_zps0375c1e9.jpg

Then the really fun part began.  We started pinning where we had been, and where we wanted to go.  Once we were done, we hung the picture above our mantel.  I’m delighted with how it turned out.

 photo FamilyTravelsMapOnFloor_zpsb5cd8d36.jpg

The best part is that it cost under $30 to make!

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Decorative Key Holder

We’ve been working on our kitchen command center, and Mellow man has installed coat hooks for our coats and Frog’s backpack along with a cork board to keep track of important functions.  Now that that area is coming together, I decided to create something that would help us neatly organize and hold our keys.  I have a bad habit of losing my keys, and I know that sometimes Mellow Man misplaces his.  Over the last year or so, we’ve added a couple of little cup hooks to the wall next to the door, to help us keep track of our car keys.  However, the hooks were getting a little chipped, and weren’t particularly attractive.  Then I got this great old fashioned key from Pick Your Plum, and I knew exactly how I wanted to use it.  I decided to make a decorative key holder and place it close to the door.  I figured if it was near the door, we’d remember to hang our keys on the hooks.

My Mom Made That: Decorative Key Holder

As I mentioned in on of my last posts, Mellow Man has been playing with his router, and I’ve been collecting his scrap wood.  After admiring his work, I actually asked him for a piece that would hold the big key that had smooth edges.  He cut a smooth beveled edge with the router, and then we used sandpaper to smooth it down.  Once it was smoothed out, I painted several coats of white paint on the front of the key holder (Doing my very best to wait patiently between the coats, of course!)  It took about 3 to 4 coats to get decent coverage of the white paint.  I then used a dry brushing technique to distress the white paint with some green to match the colors of our kitchen and family room.

My Mom Made That: Decorative Key Holder

As soon as there was enough green to make the board look sufficiently distressed, Mellow man and I positioned the key in place, and he helped me drill holes in the wood and secure the key to the wood with some thin wire.  We had to carefully thread the wire through the drilled hole and secure the big key in place by wrapping the wire together.

DMy Mom Made That: Decorative Key Holder

The wire isn’t terribly visible when you look at the key attached to the board, but if you look carefully, you’re be able to see the wire that holds the key in place on the board.

My Mom Made That: Decorative Key Holder

 

I took 3 white cup hooks and a scrap piece of wood.  Mellow Man drilled three holes in a piece of scrap wood, and attached the cup hooks into the wood to allow for easy spray painting.  By having the hooks stand straight up, it was easier to insure that the hooks received good and even paint coverage.  Let the paint dry and then apply a second coat if it is needed.

My Mom Made That: Decorative Key Holder

I then asked Mellow Man to drill holes in the bottom edge of the wood, so that we could attach the 3 painted cup hooks to the board with the key.  Alternatively, if I wanted a slightly different look, I could have attached the hooks to the front of the board.   In order to make sure that the board would stay securely attached to the wall, he use a drill to create 4 small holes.  He then attacked the Key Holder to the wall with small nails.  We put all of our keys on the hooks, and it is plenty strong enough.  If we ever have a need for more hooks for another set of keys,  I can easily attach another one on either side of the 3 we have installed.

My Mom Made That: Decorative Key Holder

What do you think?  How do you go about keeping track of your keys?

(Just a quick reminder, we have a Target Giftcard giveaway that is going on until the 20th!  Don’t forget to enter!)

 

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The World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Frog had a school fundraiser on Friday night. He’s in fourth grade now, and in fifth grade there are a lot of special “graduation” activities that the parents need to pay for. In order to defray some of those costs, starting in fourth grade, the students and parents engage in fundraising. At numerous events over the next 6 months, we will be having bake sales.

Recipe Chocolate Chip Cookies
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Improving my Blogging Photography

I’d like to think that I’m not a horrible photographer.  I’ve enjoyed the wonderful capabilities of my Nikon D70 since Frog was just over a year old.  That’s nearly a decade, and the camera has served me well.  I don’t think that MM and I would be together now if we didn’t both have D70s.  They are what caused us to click.

I’ve been trying to improve my photography of food and crafts.  It’s not quite the same type of photography as capturing a smiling kiddo or flowers blooming outside.  Scenic vista and cherubic children have been the primary subjects until I started this little blog.  It’s a new style of photography, and we live in a home with not a lot of natural light.  The family room is covered with knotty pine paneling, which darkens the room.  We have a yard surrounded by old oak, magnolia and hickory trees that provide lush shade, which can hinder good close-up shots.
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