Making Time for Yourself and Your Home

relaxing Photo by the bpp

This week, I am taking a different approach to our weekly Showcase.

Simple Kids reader Christy emailed a question in response to How to Create Flexible Family Routines:

I am new at this whole stay at home mom thing and love your posted routine, but can you shed some light on as to when you have “you” time and “housework” time?

Very good question, Christy!  It’s true that the example of the family routine I shared focuses solely on what the children could be doing throughout the day.  Practically speaking, many of us do need to make a place for the care and upkeep of our homes, and we also need to be proactive in creating a space for attending to our own needs as well.

I’ll begin by sharing how I incorporate time for myself into our daily schedules:

1) Start the day with quiet.

Ideally, I begin each day before my children wake up with time for personal reflection.  This usually means working on a Bible study and praying.  Last December, I ran my first 5K race, and so for several months preceding that, early mornings also included some time to go for a jog.  (Unfortunately, once winter really settled in, I began to neglect this new habit.)

Now that my children sleep until at least 7 AM each morning, getting up before them isn’t quite the sacrifice it once was.  And, of course, things don’t always happen ideally.  Someone gets sick, or I stay up too late the night before, or the alarm doesn’t go off . . . I just try to get back on track as quickly as I can.

2) Incorporate “off-duty” hours.

Whether you are a parent who works in the home or outside of the home during the day, you need downtime.  I find that I need it so much that it is a priority for me to have off-duty hours during which I am not attending to child care, house work, or any aspect of home management.

I personally practice the art of early bedtimes for my children.  Elizabeth Pantley, my favorite author on children and sleep, suggests

Aim for an early bedtime. Young children respond best with a bedtime between 6:30 and 7:30 P.M. Most children will sleep better and longer when they go to bed early.

When my children were babies, they were generally in bed for the night by 6:30.  Now that they are older (five and two-and-a-half), we aim for an 8:00 bedtime.  Once the girls are in bed (not asleep necessarily, just tucked into their beds), I go off-duty.  I have one or two favorite television shows I keep up with, or I might read a book, or catch up on blog reading.  On weekend nights, my husband and I generally watch a movie together.

Early bedtimes might not work for every family, and so I encourage you to examine your family’s schedule and needs and look for small pockets of time when you can find some time for yourself.

3. Retreat weekly.

Sundays are my day off – for the most part.  We attend church services both Sunday morning and evening, but Sunday afternoons are a time of rest for our whole family.  We eat a light lunch after Sunday morning service, and then the four of us settle in for an afternoon of quiet rest, reading, and relaxing.

I have found that giving myself permission to have a day off during the week helps to restore and re-energize me before the new week begins.

I will be the first to admit, however, that I am certainly not the person to turn to for advice on housekeeping. My approach to caring for my home mirrors what Rachel of Small Notebook wrote in My Real-Life, Practical Daily Routine. I stay on top of small chores daily (such as bed making and dishes), and then tackle whatever needs the most attention as I get to it.

Those who like and need more structure may find these resources to be helpful:

Home Sanctuary: A “Real World” Housekeeping Schedule (includes handouts to assess and customize your needs as well as printouts for both at-home and work outside the home parents).

Steady Mom: organization: intentional cleaning (More to come on Jamie’s approach to balancing home and children in my upcoming review of Steady Days!)

The Helpful Housewife: Requested Routines (three downloads with the breakdown of what gets done on what day)

One last link: I was so encouraged by Elizabeth Ester’s thoughts on Do small things right.  It was the dose of perspective I desperately needed this week!

For Christy and others who are wondering how to find the balance in daily routines, I hope these ideas will be a helpful start!

Have you found a good solution for incorporating home care and personal time into your schedule! Please share your wisdom with us today!

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  1. great post!

  2. yes! Getting up before the kids is KEY for me! I don’t function well on that “shot out of a cannon” feeling that comes when I wake up at the same time (or, eeek! AFTER) the kids do. I need an hour or so of quiet for me. On those days when I don’t get up early, I feel like the whole day has a different feel.

    I second the early bedtime thing, too. I read somewhere that the sleep on this side of midnight is the best for us – gives us the most real rest. I think that explains why, for me, I can go to bed at 9 and be up and ready by 5 am … but if I don’t get to bed until after 11, even a late-rising morning can still find me feeling sluggish all day.

    Great post!
    .-= Kara´s last blog ..Plough Monday: Back to Work =-.

    • Thanks, Annie!

      Kara – that is FASCINATING about the sleep before midnight, and honestly, it makes a great deal of sense. I had never heard that before!

  3. This is so hard for me – I was just asking Rachel at Small Notebook for her input after she posted about this. I have a hard time getting up early because I stay up late to have time with my husband. He requires less sleep than me – he also gets up earlier than me, with our daughter, who usually wakes at 6:30. He lets me sleep till 7 or 7:30 a lot. But I do feel better on the days I have to get up early and get going. It’s been hard because the past 3-4 years, my husband has been a full-time student and working almost full-time, and away from the house 60-70 hours a week. Any time with him was worth the sacrifice. Now that he’s graduated, I think we need a new routine…
    .-= Katie ~ Simple Organic´s last blog ..Natural Health, Green Tips, & Crafts with a (Re)Purpose: Coming Soon =-.

    • I can completely empathize with the late-night schedule. When Kyle was coaching football, it was often the case that I had to stay up late to get to see him at all! Now that your husband has graduated, it does sound like a great time for schedule restructuring, but the most important thing really is to make it fit what really, really works for your family, not just what others do.
      .-= Megan´s last blog ..Making Time for Yourself and Your Home =-.

  4. As far as home care, my standards are not high, our house is ‘lived in’ – when I do clean, my little guy is always helping, he loves it. He has always been a part of it and it has never been a question, when I am cleaning, he is helping in his own 4-year old way…. many times things get transformed into garbage trucks, race tracks… dust eating elephants. I join in in this play, and it ends up being fun. I don’t want my kids (one due soon) growing up thinking all the chores are magically done while they are sleeping. Now he is a super helper at school too…

    I also think a regular bedtime is necessary, whether he is sleeping or not, he is in bed chatting away, telling stories, playing with a few cars, sometimes he zonks right out. I am a freelance illustrator and author – so I need work time. My husband and I are both pretty busy after he goes to bed, we usually have one or two nights ‘off’ a week, he has his night out and I get together with my girlfriends every other week… it works for us – a mutual respect of what the other needs to accomplish. It is flexible. We almost always put our son to bed together – so we have a nice reading/family time as well.

    I am not a schedule person at all : )

    You guys all have great ideas – these just work for us.
    .-= Peggy´s last blog ..Thoughts for Haiti =-.

  5. SPLENDID showcase, thank you! I have greatly enjoyed it and it has highlighted some new interesting blogs for me. Thank you!

  6. Fabulous post!!! We also keep Sundays totally free for resting up… Church in the morning, rest all afternoon (no internet, no blogging!!!) and then half the family go to church in the evening and I stay home with my little guys: long, slow, no rush routine and stories till we all start to nod off. Very nice day and sets the tone for the week… and when the week seems mad it is a day we can all look forward to.
    .-= se7en´s last blog ..Happy Birthday Hood #7… =-.

  7. My best suggestion for housework is to get the kids involved. If my 18-month-old hears me open the dishwasher, he comes running to help me empty it. It not only sets up good habits for the future, but it makes him happy to help and shows him that he’s a valued, important member of the family too.

    He does go to bed at 8:30, but I think we would have moved it forward as he got older except that my husband sometimes has to work until 7 or later, so this is best for us now. When he was littler, this was just the time that clicked with him.

  8. This was an AWESOME post! THANK YOU! Moms need to know that they can get a day off and enjoy it with their family without the guilt. I love that you take Sunday as a day to connect, re-energize and self-reflect. We have tried to start the same routine at our house.
    .-= susan´s last blog ..Do You Step in Too Often? =-.

  9. I know I need to get up before the kids, it just doesn’t always happen *blush*. Thanks for the reminder that it’s an important part of getting everything done that needs to be done!
    .-= Sheila@Momfessions´s last blog ..Loving Haiti =-.

  10. Megan, thank you for the link…….even though I had to laugh when I read “for those who like and need more structure…..” ha! I think I’m the least structured and pathetic of all housekeeping schedulers and the truth is I have absolutely no business writing a “housekeeping” blog! I have to trick myself into working (hence, the Small Things). I wish I was a go-getter when it comes to chores, but a simple, flexible schedule is the only way I can think of to get myself to wash clothes regularly AND thaw some hamburger before 5pm.

    As always, I love what you’re doing here…..and love your voice in the blogworld! You are a blessing.
    .-= Rachel Anne´s last blog ..Coffee 1.15 and Today’s Small Thing =-.

  11. My routine is a bit different than most. FLEXIBILITY is the name of the game here. My husband is self-employed with odd hours. I work part time, 12 hour shifts on rotating days and rotating shifts (days and nights). My husband and I established early on in our marriage (when I was still working full time), I needed a Sabbath day regardless of what day of the week that happens. I still take one after a couple days of work outside the home. I give myself permission to do whatever I want–read, blog, watch movies, oh, and care for the 13 month old. 🙂 I make sure I have a day of house cleaning every couple weeks, a day of baking a week, and pick up most days. When I run errands it is on one day. My house is not perfect. We’re not always dressed but I am more sane because I have some “me time.”
    .-= Stacie@HobbitDoor´s last blog ..My 31st Birthday =-.

  12. Thanks for the great links!
    .-= Micha´s last blog ..Pastinakenpasta / parsnip pasta =-.

  13. I love the idea of getting up before the kids, however I can’t seem to figure out how to do that with a co-sleeping, nursing 15 month old. It seems that when I try to get up he wants to nurse and then get up with me instead of staying in the bed.
    .-= LaToya´s last blog ..Forgiveness =-.

  14. I just happened to find you through a link to my blog… First of all, thanks for the link! Secondly, I love you your blog, and will be a regular reader from now on! You have some great insights here, and I agree with the bedtime routine, too. My four kids are all in bed and ASLEEP no later than nine. I have to be realistic. We send them to bed earlier than that, but there is always one or two stragglers who want another drink of water! We start baths at 7:30 and the goal is to have them all tucked in and at least settled down by 8:30. You do the best you can!

    Thanks for the voice of normalcy here. Nice to see, and will love to continue reading!


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