Life Requires Maintenance

July 25, 2012

I’ve been thinking about Maintenance lately.  Not the high mai/ low mai we talked about on the Joy the Baker podcast recently. The kind of maintenance that we all encounter. The real stuff like… keeping a home, keeping a life, raising a child, doing chores, maintaining relationships…

Sometimes it all gets to be too much, doesn’t it?  Sometimes I have to plan a date with a friend weeks or months in advance. When did that start to happen?

As I get older, I am starting to understand that life takes maintenance. I mean…I already knew this, but more and more things pop up everyday. I’ve found that dealing with things in an organized manner prevents me from feeling absolutely overwhelmed.  Not only do I start with a TO-DO list, I TRY as hard as I can to remember that life is a constant ebb & flow. One day will be busier than the next and if I don’t go with the flow, I’ll be eaten alive. Of course, it’s easier said than done.

I get into these patterns of organizing my life. Forming rules in my head of things like “Tuesday is my laundry day, Monday is my night off, Thursday is the day reserved for recipe making & photo editing, etc.”  I find it helps me nail down my tasks and prioritize. When I feel like I have a lot to do and I’m not getting anything done, I start making up these rules. But life gets in the way and sometimes I get upset that my day of laundry got interrupted by a work day and now I have to fit it in during another day that week.

This is where the mental shift needs to occur. When I was younger and didn’t have a kid, it was important to me to maintain our home. I felt like our house had to be at a specific level of clean before I could even entertain the IDEA of entertaining.  Spending the first year with a child, I was so lucky to have so many people come over & hang out with us when we couldn’t leave the house as easily. It made me realize that people don’t care about the cleanliness of my house as much as I do. They were here to see ME and not how clean my kitchen floor was.  This is one example of how I shifted my thought process and decided it was much more important for me to have social interaction & maintain friendships than it was to have clean floors.

So what if I don’t have a whole closet full of clean clothes! What matters is that we all have something to wear tomorrow.

I assume that as I age, there will be more things I decide to let go of. My priorities will change and what I think of as important might not same in the future. Things will get done, just not always in the time I originally allotted for them.

So I have a few questions for you—

How do you maintain according to a schedule and still navigate when unexpected obstacles pop up?

What are some of the things you put at the bottom of your list now that you’ve gotten older?


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18 comments on “Life Requires Maintenance

  1. I try to do little things like putting things away, hanging clothes up, etc. in little spurts during the week, often using the five minute rule for tidying. In younger years, I used to spend time folding and organizing my underwear drawer- HA! Hasn’t happened in quite some time.

    For me, the list of the big to do items around the house and in life is always so daunting and the thing that frustrates me the most. That being said, I’ve stopped trying to have the perfect model home like in a magazine and just do the big noticeable things for when I have people over, especially my mother or grandmother.

  2. I’m a VERY PROGRAMMED person. When my schedule gets thrown off – I.DO.TOO. GRRR. I try and roll with it, but sometimes it gets the better of me. As I’ve aged, I do stress the little bits a LITTLE BIT LESS – . When I know my schedule will get thrown off, I try and prepare the week before. I might wash the sheets and towels on a different day. I may try and prepare dinners (like I did these last 4 days) in advance. All in all I just try and make the best of it and soldier on! Oh and the sacrifice I did for my children – I’m only NOW just coming out of it (23+ years later) and taking more time for me and spending more on me. WOO HOO! Guess that means I’m maturing :).

  3. I need to worry less about having my house perfect before people come over. My boyfriend gets so frustrated that I refuse to have our friends even step in the door if this house isn’t perfect.

    As far as systems go, I only have a few. On Sundays, I chop up a giant salad and make a batch or two of soup for my lunches (I’m a teacher and leave my house by 6 AM each morning, so it needs to be easy—I freeze them and just grab one and some salad each morning) and a pot of steel cut oats for my breakfasts. I hit the farmer’s market on Sunday morning for those ingredients, as well as enough fruits and veggies for the week. I also drink a green juice every day, so every other day or so, I’ll chop up enough fruit for my green juices over the next few days because I freaking hate chopping the produce, but I’m hooked on the juices.

    Every night, I do a 15 minute tidy up — I literally set an alarm for the 15 minutes and use it as my “gateway” to wind-down time (after I do that, I take a shower and read until I fall asleep…maybe I’m more scheduled than I thought, haha). On Thursday evenings, I deep clean the whole house so that it’s clean when I start my weekend.

    I try and do laundry every other day or so—I have one basket and when it’s full, I do it ASAP so it’s never too overwhelming.

    The thing I’m never too great at is putting that laundry away…it’s my least favorite chore and I am more into having clean clothes than having them perfectly organized.

  4. Love this Tracy! I keep an on-going, everything in life, to-do list in a notebook that I pretty much always have with me. Whenever I think of something, I jot it down before I forget. If I end up with 10/15 minutes before I have to go somewhere or do something, I’ll flip through the book and see if there’s a task I can complete in that time (instead of doing something I don’t really need to like checking Pinterest to see what’s changed in the last hour). It’s helped me make time for really boring stuff done, like cancelling an account somewhere, printing new insurance cards, etc, because I only have to do one thing quickly.

    • ChasingOm Aug 8, 2012

      Oooh, I love this idea. I definitely get sucked into the 15 minute black holes of checking my IPad.

  5. Preach Tracy, preach! I think we all feel swallowed up by it all sometimes. For me I’m trying to give myself credit for all the things I do, instead of beating myself up on what I can’t.

  6. Great post Tracy! My strategy to deal is to have a cleaning lady come every other week to do the heavy duty stuff and I just barely keep my head above water with laundry/groceries/kid’s homework. For me, the convenience way outweighs the expense. Of course my hubs does 50% of household stuff but still there is never enough time/energy to do everything. Amiright? On my ‘to-do’ list of domestic priorities, gardening & yardwork dropped way way down on the list, and buying/cooking healthy food pushed it’s way to the top. It’s definitely a struggle, def ebb and flow.

    • I think part of the reason why I feel out of sorts right now is that we don’t have a cleaning lady. We had one at our old house who came every other week and just that little boost/reset button really helped me!! It’s the best investment in your life you can make. Time is money, yo!

  7. Jillian Jul 26, 2012

    I’m happy Monday is your “off” day because as we all know…… Mondays are hard!

  8. Hi Tracy – I love everything you do! Have you heard of Wunderlist? it’s an online list making extravaganza that comes in website and app form. It really helps me stay on-top of my high-mai life!

  9. Amanda B Jul 28, 2012

    I have ny daily routine (morning; empty dishwasher, evening; fill dishwasher, mop kitchen floor, disinfect counters, etc) and weekly routine (mon; laundry, tues; bathrooms, etc) but after having 3 kids in 3 1/2 years… I have learned to let things go and especially to let others help me even if they dont do it exactly as I would have done :) I love what you said about who cares if I dont have a full closet of clean clothes, as long as we all have something to wear tomorrow… so true. I feel like when you have a baby they should send you home from the hospital with that sign ‘excuse the mess my children are making memories’.

  10. Megan Jul 28, 2012

    I have some things that are set in stone- web work on Wednesday, work laundry Sunday … And then everything else is as needed. That way I have both flexibility and certain tasks that are always done on time.

  11. I have never been able to do the “Monday for laundry, Tuesday for shopping…” thing. Oh I make that list over and over but I never get to implement it. Instead, I keep an ongoing “TODAY, TOMORROW, THE NEXT DAY…” kind of list. It’s especially convenient with my iPhone to just cross things off as done and re-prioritize what’s up next. This year, what with new job responsibilities and aging parents needing my time – I have been forcing myself to list only “Craft Project” or similar on my weekly/monthly to-do’s. I moved my long-range and ongoing projects to a separate list. I only look at that list when I have completed one of the projects, keeping me (sort of) from stressing out over not getting to all those things that were intended to be fun when I put them on the list in the first place!

  12. I think this is a great post, so true. I too, love lists!! It is what keeps me organized, most of the time. I think what keeps me on the right track when obstacles pop up is the fact that I don’t let it bother me as much as I used to. I try to say a prayer every morning and give my day to God. I ask Him to direct my steps and to help me get done all that is necessary and for Him to give me peace if I don’t get it all done. After all, there is always tomorrow!!

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