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Priority Hierarchy

Summer was a month gone. Our plans to swim in pools and see people were happening and we had pictures to prove it. And none of my intended summertime projects had begun. Exciting opportunities to straighten out garage toys or hem my beautiful new linen pants remained unrealized. I’d maintained my life but hadn’t moved on to the hoped for extracurricular activities.

I said Self, Self I said, what’s going on here? Seems I may need yet another adjustment to my expectations and there may be a glitch in my priorities. My Spidey sense started to tingle.

And then I remembered an Oprah show I’d seen twenty years ago the gist of which was, mothers are better mothers when they are one of their top five priorities. Now I am a mother and I recognize the wisdom in this. And can see, I too may have fallen victim to a priority scramble and the displacement of myself as a priority.

So, with intention, I sat down to sort and rank my top twelve tasks. They were as follows.

1. My Son (who tied with Sleep)

2. Cooking/Eating/Grocery Shopping

3. Husband and supporting his company

4. E-mail/Bill paying/budget

5. Cleaning/Laundry

6. Exercise/Personal Care

7. Friendships/Family

8. Organize Household/Shopping for supplies

9.Writing

10. Fun/Play/Reading

11. Design /Creating

12. Pets and Car maintenance

What can I surmise from my list? And what different choices can I make to my priorities to balance my task budget?

Of course my son comes first. He is like an open program always running on the mommy computer. Most Moms keep a constant tally of their children’s meals, play, sleep, and pottying needs. He’s still alive and I consider my prioritizing him the key to accomplishing this. Eating well is also a priority as I have kept the man who pays the bills happy and we don’t spend money to go out to eat a whole lot.

Bad news is that my clean floors are more important than my friends and family. I don’t resent my domestic duties however fun didn’t make the top five. And although exercise made it to six, I wish I had a form of exercise I considered fun. Personal care is actually a dental appointment not a manicure. Apparently the activities which feed my soul, writing and designing and creativity, have taken a back seat to the have-to’s.

Now comes the part where I decide what I can change. Remember, if you change nothing, nothing changes. Surely I could tweak my efficiency and my happiness simultaneously.. Planning ahead does wonders at decreasing the drudgery factor. Stock piling back-up meals could free me up. And if I can manage to earn money enough to pay someone else to clean my floors, I’d be a very happy homemaker.

Although I do laundry every other day, I could do it less often. It may be an entire day activity which I could combine with the cook-athon. Or a read-a-thon. Or a writer’s day. And sometimes it’s OK to say to the spawn, “Mommy needs to do this for a little while. Go play.” Especially when the child is seven.

I think the real issue here is Permission. Truly, the more I allow the creativity to flow, the less anxious and happier I am. Living as the truly creative me would spill over into all other areas and life would seem easier all around. I’ve glimpsed this and I liked what I saw. I also am endeavoring to rid myself of my pesky fear of success.

Summer has been turned down to a simmer for us now. Some of it is on autopilot as our calendars are synchronized. Instead of waiting for the right time to come along, I am going to designate one day to rid myself of all the hangover tasks like cleaning windows. I’ll schedule the “right time” and we’ll see how that works for me.

I no longer want to live in a world where working is more important than creating. I think the conflict lies in the disorganization of the creative. As if the creativity is convinced it cannot exist with a schedule. I think I bought that somewhere and now I’m ready to trash it. I want to give myself permission to be creative and organized too.

The Predictability of PB&J

My son could eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every lovin’ morning, noon and night. If not the sandwich, he wants peanut butter on crackers. Or my peanut butter bagel with bananas and chocolate syrup. His peanut butter obsession used to frustrate me. He needed a more balanced diet and to broaden his dietary horizons, I commiserated with a woman who was ready to pull the plug on her child’s bologna sandwich addiction. We plotted on the right time to cold turkey ‘em. Ew turkey.

There are a couple concepts I have since realized. First, that peanut butter has carbs, protein, and happy fat brain food for my kid. A one knife scoop stop-and-shop for what he needs to grow. Second, it’s the familiar for him in a world full of new and strange. Predictability can be the anchor for the explorer. It’s nice to have reliability in a world where companies used to be fathers to their employees, but now are the shady con-men stepfathers stealing the dignity of a man. Stay with me here.

In fact, we should all stop and think about just what stability and comfortable repetition we are willing to give ourselves in our ever changing worlds. No, I say to my husband time and time again, I can’t make my grocery shopping day the same day every week like your mother. I don’t work that way. But…I can create more routine around other stuff. Maybe laundry so Tuesday would be free for something else. Or I could plan my meals out better so I would know when I was free to go work out.

Being slightly more organized may afford me time to read that book I just bought. This would give me some escapism and give my brain a break from producing. And the cells would regenerate. And then I could create. If everyday peanut butter and jelly sandwiches pave a path for creativity and freedom, I’m good with that. Find me an organic natural peanut butter without sugar that tastes passable and I’ll join him scarfing down a PB&J my damn self. Who knows how predictability could help me become way more unpredictable.

My New Home Keeping Notebook

 

Like many American women, I have a lust for organization. I love all the decorator tutorials on organizing my house. I hoard baskets and boxes for some future organizational purpose. I await the permission and purpose to upgrade my organizational game. And then I saw this post  http://www.imperfecthomemaking.com/search/label/organizing.

This is Kelly’s ‘how to create a home management binder post on Imperfect Homemaking.com. I’m calling mine a Home Keeping Notebook. I got that familiar lusty tingle when I read this. Probably similar to the one that made Martha a millionaire. And I started to think that instead of wishing I was one of those people who had their stuff together, I could actually be one.

I printed the article on making the binder exactly one month ago on April 27, 2012. I created my binder soon afterwards. I have again embarked on the clearing of my clutter. One more step towards making my chaos manageable. Always an excellent endeavor.

Her tutorial explains the process but I’ll give you peeks into mine and explain what you’re looking at.

My cover is from a french 1920′s magazine. So that’s a ninety year old Electrolux ad. She’s dropping vacuums on the world. My binder had clear plastic on the front  to slip stuff down behind.

 

The inside of the cover is a fabric covered piece of foam core. I hot glued it to the inside over the pocket. Thought is would impede the closing but it didn’t.

Stamps, ideas, notes of importance, and whatever scraps of your fancy and humanity are lying around go here.

 

 

 

 

 

Inside, Kelly used manilla folders to create the separate sections so I did too. Not liking the flimsiness. My sections were to-dos, meals, blog, my kid’s activities, and future thoughts. And Kelly’s system used post its for the to-dos. So I did too. I ended up with separate segments for  to clean,  to organize, to create, computer, and garden. But I could add cook and write and I’d have all my functions sub-sectioned.

This is the back cover. More artwork from the 1920′s magazine. I liked the wigged woman doting on the little boy. Makes me think of my little prince. Which he really isn’t . And the people were watching a fireworks display..

And this is the drawer in the kitchen where the binder/notebook lives.What else is in there? Cigar boxes with pens, scrap paper, screws, rubber bands, screw drivers, purple post-its, measuring tape, masking tape, a cowboy hot pad, spoon rests, and grab towels.

I’ve organized a supply closet at every job I’ve had. There’s been a lot of jobs and it’s a compulsion. I imposed my order on the houses I cleaned houses during college, whether they liked it or not. That was them but this is now me.

Organizing myself has been very challenging. I have fumbled around making lists on multiple scraps of paper for years and feeling my wheels spin in muddy ruts  I have fits and spurts of systems implementation. If organization reflects ones’ state of mind than mine has been a muddled mind. I had to decide I could enjoy my life more and then let go of the chaos and stress. This is my attempt at making a happy habit. Although i refuse to grocery shop on the same day each week.

Creating the new habit of going to the binder for all my stuff and schedules has been tough. I am slowly starting to try out Kelly’s printables for meal planning and blog subject/posts. I find when I slowly and methodically make lists , then I don’t need to think about stuff anymore. This means I get to go do fun stuff like make paper flowers and cook pate with the mystery chicken livers. I like the letting go part.

 

 

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