From one woman to another, let me confess that up until last year there were many days when I became so absorbed in a new project that an hour 'suddenly' became four, and too soon the things which were of far more value in my life - family and home - were being neglected.
Worse was if I followed that trend for another day or two or three.
You can just imagine the hurry and flurry I faced in the minimal hours I had left of daylight, remembering that I also work from home with my own design business, to do washing, ironing, menu plans, shop for groceries, prepare meals and work lunches, clean floors and scrub the bathroom, right?
The saddest part about this scenario is the weariness and stress I put myself under when playing catch-up, because the examples I've noted above are just the important chores I cannot ignore. Falling by the wayside were the monthly and seasonal deep cleaning days which help us avoid clutter and bring order to what can easily become chaos.
The more I 'played' the more I paid; since finishing up our homeschooling and stepping into the path of self-publishing designer I had created a groove for my life which wasn't working for me, but against me. It just took me a long time to figure that out.
I'm at my 'brightest' first thing in the morning which is why I tended to follow my creative streak before noon, however, come afternoon, I too often found myself putting off the inevitable household tasks because my adrenaline had dropped and I needed to sit quietly and attend to computer work with a nice cuppa while I waited for my energy to recharge.
Around 3pm the mad dash would begin, usually with an apron tied in place, oven warming in preparation for essential wheat-free baking, washing basket under my arm, and a bucket under the tap filling with warm water to mop the floor. On any given weekday I'd be juggling five or six chores at once, willing them complete in a 90 minute time span so I'd have time to cook dinner before my husband arrived home. My days were so unbalanced in priorities that anxiety became a close but unwelcome companion, waking me through the night with a mental print out of all the chores that lay undone, the ones I never seemed to get to.
Well, that was what used to happen, but then I made a change.
Since becoming a Christian in 1991 I've been drawn to the Proverbs 31 woman; her faithfulness, diligence, creativity, organisational skills, workmanship, generosity, love of family, and the trust her husband puts in her.
Reaching deeper into her life last year I decided to model my early mornings on her. Like me she rose early each morning, but it was with a purpose to prepare for the day ahead. I've long had a normal dawn routine of reading my Bible, praying, making breakfast, juicing, and preparing my husband's work lunch, but now it was the 'after breakfast' hours which needed my attention.
Knowing that my energy is at it's peak before midday and being most productive during those five post-brekky hours, I followed Mrs Proverbs 31's lead and began to set myself certain household tasks to follow from Monday to Friday. After doing the dishes, putting on a load of washing and making the bed, I would choose one room each morning to give a thorough going over.
For example Monday is bedroom day, so after I drop Mr E at work I change the sheets, tidy and dust the bedside tables, tidy the walk in robe, remove anything that's been dumped in there and put it back where it belongs, refresh books and magazines we've been reading, and vacuum. Sometimes (as needed) I wipe down the fan, doors and skirting boards, or pull the plastic storage tubs out from under the bed to give that area a deeper clean. After this I do regular things like feed the animals, hang up the washing, make any early preparations for dinner, walk around the house with a waste basket collecting papers or scraps that can be tossed out, and water the plants on the back deck.
You know what? By this time it's still not even 10:30am and the rest of the day holds no remorse or anxiety about keeping on track with housework, because it's all done! I can still have a rest in the afternoon if I need it, and there's time to stitch my designs too.
(for some unknown reason my morning cleaning routine is easier done wearing old clothes and joggers...perhaps a left over from my early FlyLady days?)
Every day it's a different room or living area (we don't have many) but Fridays are always reserved for the bathroom, toilet, ironing, and mopping. I shop for groceries or fresh fruit and veg after I drop Mr E at work on Monday and Friday mornings, a shopping trip of just 20-25 minutes.
Around 4.30pm I begin dinner and once Mr E and I have enjoyed that meal and discussed our day there's only the washing up left to do before I can sit back and relax with him for the rest of the evening.
(I also don't lay awake in the middle of the night anymore with an endless list of to-dos tattooed on my eyelids!)
As crazy as it seems, I get more done now than ever and my business is running with less stress. More hours have been freed each day to work on Elefantz Designs, our house is 'running' well, Mr E is relieved with my steadily diminishing anxiety levels, and an extra bonus is being able to spend a few hours here and there each week with Blossom or drive her to and from doctors appointments.
All this to tell you I had my priorities wrong, but when I figured things out and made changes that suited my work-from-home lifestyle, life increased in satisfaction and contentment and decreased in guilt and anxiety.
I'd long ago lived this way, but that life faded after the children grew up and left home. What I'd always known as normal home life took a different turn when we became empty-nesters and self employed, but there's a sense now that I'm retracing my homemaker steps and appreciating what worked before. Fortunately that old rhythm and flow of domestic life was still in my head, I'd just detoured for a while.
There will be times when situations pull me away from the schedule, such as Blossom being in hospital last week, but because 95% of the time I'm following this routine those little bumps in the road don't really matter. In the big scheme of things there's a nice flow to life these days, and I'm enjoying it so very much.
Your situation will be different to mine but if any of my story rings true in your own life, take time to assess exactly what needs to change and how you can bring those changes into practice.
Of course, the very first thing to do is pray.
Father God is rather good at directing us to a better way of being.
bless you sweet friend,