If you are an A-type personality like me, you will know that organisation, cleanliness and control are things that keep us ticking. Lists in linear form make us feel motivated. At least, that’s the case with me. We can’t think in a chaotic environment and our brains feel confused and stressed when there is too much disorganised stimulus crowding or piling up around us.
If you are anything like me, I literally cannot focus if things are out of place or messy. I’ve learnt to put up with mess to a degree – obviously I have no choice as a mother! But it still distracts me. And sometimes, it’s better for me not to see chaos unfolding or to remove myself from a upturned room to a place where my brain can process in peace. I used to tidy as I went when I cooked. Now, I am in such a rush to get food in front of “hangry” children that I am like a cyclone in the kitchen and then dread going downstairs to confront the counters head on once my girls are in bed. I stand there for a few minutes while everything screams for my attention, quite overwhelmed at where to start.
Does this sound like you?
If so, I have a fairy godmother. Her name is Diane. No, she’s not some weird alter ego. She’s a lady living in Denmark who manages her household in a way that just speaks to me! I came across her some months ago and started watching her videos while I washed my dishes (she’d be proud!) She has taught me how to clean in zones (See my Zone Cleaning post here) and she has taught me a number of other daily hacks that just make my mom life a little easier. Everything she does is completed using a timer. Although I don’t use the timer, her method works for me because I don’t ever need to set aside a huge chunk of time. It’s all doable within a few minutes.
The friend who suggested I look up Diane in Denmark on YouTube functions in a similar way to me. She once said that she keeps a little book next to her bed so that when she’s lying in her bed at night, trying to commit all the things she needs to do to memory, she can pick up her book and write it down. Then she can roll over and go to sleep and not worry that she might forget it. I started walking around with a booklet and it really helped me. Then I saw this episode on Diane’s channel and it made SO much sense to me! So I started doing it. Guys! What a life hack!
So I thought I would share my list-making skills that I’ve recently acquired with you!
Diane suggests shopping in your house and using what you have. Don’t go out and spend unnecessary money on fancy stationery supplies. I would love a cute journal or pastel highlighters. But, I scratched in my drawer in the study and came across a great find. I found an A4 spiral notebook with perforated pages. Each week, I make new lists and get rid of the old ones. That way, all my lists are in one place. And I would actually recommend getting one (yes, I may be slightly contradicting myself) if you don’t have one or using a flip file. Alternatively, if you don’t want to spend money, staple or paper clip pages together.
The first list I start off with is this one.
I divide my page into four, six or eight (I had a plan for the bottom two sections but promptly forgot! So they are there for when I do remember! Mom-brain!)
The top column is “Discuss”. Under that heading are things that I need to talk through with my husband. I generally remember those things as we turn out the light or when’s he’s at work. So it’s useful to have a column to write those things in.
The top right column is for “Errands”. Diane suggests having one day a week set aside to do errands. Currently with lockdown, my list is short and my once-a-week outing is the shops. When life returns to “normal”, I may make that column slightly bigger.
The middle left column is “Home”. A lot of things can fall under that category. I don’t usually list housework there unless I have fallen behind. Normally, I have a list as long as Santa’s flying around in my head so it’s great to have a place to “brain dump”! In this category, I put things like Wash sheets, Plan weekly activities for my toddler or Sort through girls’ clothes.
The middle right column is “Technology”. So anything that requires me to be on my phone or laptop. For example, Connect with Moms’ Group, Read a blog post, Call Granny, or Read a parenting article. All these things should be done in a time allocated for technology. (I’m working on this…)
The bottom right column is for anything that you want to get to but have been procrastinating like the recycling, cleaning out your car, doing the hand washing (a pet hate of mine!) or weeding the garden. If it’s on the list, then it will be at the forefront of your mind. Diane sets her Fridays aside to work on something she’s procrastinating.
After I’ve completed this list, I transfer some items to my Weekly Planner board that hangs above my clothes hook where I put put my outfit for the next day. (Dress to Shoes – Diane in Denmark). I see it every time I go into the bathroom. Put yours wherever you’ll see it a lot during the day. That way, the list in my spiral notebook is broken up into manageable bite-size chunks. In red, I write the zone that I need to clean that day.
My next list is my meal plan.
I divide the page into weeks and write the dates on the left – that way I can see which days are birthdays or dinners out (obviously not in lockdown!) and I can fill those nights in. On the right side of the page, I fill in the temperatures. Because, let’s be honest, no one wants to eat soup when it’s balmy outside nor does anyone want to eat tuna salad in jerseys next to a fire. Then, in Jordan Page’s Budget Boot Camp course I’ve just done, she suggests going through your fridge and pantry and writing down everything(!!) you have in your cupboard from mustard, to lemons and mushrooms to garlic.
Then she plans meals around what she already has. She puts those ingredients into Google and waits for them to spit out a result. I do that regularly! And if a recipe asks for something I don’t have, I substitute or do without. Vinegar is a poor substitute for wine, but, it works! Yes, Alfredo pasta tastes better with cream or butter, but marge isn’t as bad as it sounds! (Yes, I am a butter snob, but we’re trying to be frugal here guys!) It also helps to know what you’re cooking ahead of time so it’s not a mad scramble in the freezer at 4:45 pm or throwing out mouldy veggies because you didn’t use them up in time. Also (if you live in South Africa), you don’t need to worry about copious amounts of food going bad in a power failure!
The last list I have may not be relevant to many of you because you are either working and your kiddies are in school, or they are doing online learning at home and you have “ideas” coming out of your ears! In my case, my youngest was supposed to start school in a month. But we’ve pulled her name from the list for the rest of this year due to the coronavirus. So, although I started to think up things to do with her, I’ve made a more concerted effort to plan things to keep her mind and hands busy and learning (she learns through play all day, believe me!) I have also found that I enjoy this time with her a lot more because it’s structured (cue embarrased emoticon here) and maybe because I miss the classroom a little – I’m a preschool teacher. That said, I know she enjoys this time too. I have a theme for the week and try to focus on gross motor and fine motor skills, cognitive skills, mathematics skills and creative skills. Here is my list for the last three weeks. We probably only get to half of what is on the list, but who’s checking, right?!?
So, there you have it, my fellow A-type! If you’re not an A-type and this stresses you out, I’m impressed you got to the end of this post! Now you know how we function so don’t be alarmed if there are lists everywhere!
Photo Credit: energepic.comTags: A-type, chaos, checklist, clean, cleaning, Diane in Denmark, disorganised, homemaking, housekeeping, lesson planning, list, lists, meal planning, mommyhood, motherhood, notebook, notepad, organised, organize, organized, stay-at-home-mom, to do list, unorganised, weekly panner, zone cleaning