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!