barefoot_mummy (barefoot_mummy) wrote,
barefoot_mummy
barefoot_mummy

Doing Things I Never Thought I'd Do.

Psst! Wanna know a secret? I've recently become aware of something terrifying and wonderful and utterly unexpected: somewhere along the line, I have become...

A Morning Person!!

I know, I was shocked too.

And no, I don't believe it was having kids that turned me into a morning person. Nor was it through some spontaneous decision on my part. Perhaps some kind of combination of factors.

But whether it was divine intervention, or deciding to get up earlier to get a head start before the chaos begins, and then seeing how nice it actually is to be up and about early, or finding and loving the secret hidden bonus of extra hours in my day, or growing into it as I get older, or just the accidental forging of a new habit through enforced early risings... I'm in this, now. And now I know all this golden time is there to be had, I don't see how there can be any going back.

The still quiet of a morning when I actually succeed in rising before my children (who have needed no encouragement to also become morning people)... The gloaty moment of opening the curtains to greet the day and seeing you've beaten the sun to it by a few minutes ("Good morning, sun; nice of you to join us. I've been expecting you.")... The moment when you sit down for a well-earned rest and think over all the things you've achieved today... and then realise it's only 10am...

No going back.

I have always laughed off the very idea of the phrase "morning person" ever applying to me. Spur-of-the-moment, winging it, going with what I'm feeling at the time - that's been my style. Never was a fan of routine, predictability, any of that stuff. Ten years of crazy-roster shift work may have contributed to that, just slightly, perhaps.

And yet, here I am.

Got me thinking. What else have I embraced lately, that I never thought I would? In what other ways am I becoming that ridiculous, smug, organised, "morning person" type? You know, the type who knows what she's doing this whole week (okay, I'm still not thinking too far ahead), and knows how far off upcoming birthdays are and what she's getting for them, and can find things at a moment's notice because she knows where everything is. Yeah. Her.

I'm still not her. But in some ways I'm getting close.

Insights? Sure, here's some.

9 Things I Never Thought I'd Do...:

1. Make my bed daily. Before breakfast.
I know, Mum. Impressive, eh? Turns out the answer to "Why bother, if it's just going to get messed up again?" is "Because it makes the room look so much tidier, and gets you in the right mindset straight away." Seriously, bed made, curtains open - feels better. I get it now.

2. Set out breakfast things the night before.
Had a couple of conversations with people this week about how busy the morning is with a baby and a toddler. They usually wake up together, and Ellie needs to "have a go" on the toilet, and by then Owen's yelling for a feed, and by the time that's done Ellie's getting grumpy because she's hungry... and then I have to sit them together with some shared toys and get breakfast ready before the tiny angry horde of ravenous beasts attacks me. Weetbix, baby muesli, cheerios, my muesli, tea, milk, juice, water, vitamin, banana (sliced for me, chopped for Ellie, mashed for Owen)... Add in a nappy change for Mr Inconvenient Timing, an emergency toilet run with Ellie, a quick reset of Owen, who has a tendency to throw his toys away and then want them... Some streamlining can only help, right? Setting out bowls and cups and cutlery the night before sounds a bit gooby, but man, what a difference it makes. Practically, probably only a little bit. Psychologically, a lot. I'm organised, I'm prepared, I'm on top of things. It's another one of those smug morning moments, where I'm quietly thankful to Last Night Me for her kindness to This Morning Me.

don't panic - just start from the outside...
Good morning, Me. You're welcome.

3. Organise my pantry into baskets and labelled boxes.
Thankyou, Pinterest. There's only so many times you can look at other people's neatly organised cupboards before it starts to look like it might be worth the effort after all. I spent half an hour at IKEA, an afternoon buried in my "pantry" cupboards while Ellie and Owen sorted containers and lids... ta da!!! I can find things in my cupboards! I even have baking things in boxes with the name of the product cut out of the packaging and stuck onto the lid. Cereals, in cereal containers, labelled. I can see what I've got, I can grab things easily, and Ellie can't reach her pony lollies by herself. Everyone's a winner. Well, me. I'm a winner. And you've gotta love not buying things you already had because you didn't know you had them. No more. Which leads me to another relatively new habit...

4. Grocery shop first thing Monday morning.
I used to stumble into the supermarket around mid-afternoon, grimacing at the continual stream of post-school-pickup mums and ratty kids arriving soon after, wondering where all the good fruit and veg was hiding (now I know, cos now it's in my trolley by 10am. Mwahahahaha!), and then rush home to make dinner, feeling like time was always getting away from me. The kids are really good at morning shopping because they're still all bright-eyed and full of breakfast, I can enjoy shopping again because I've got time, and when we get home the bonces are tired and both nap while I put the shopping away. Nice! How do I achieve this early-morning stunt? Well, the next two points certainly help...

5. Meal plan.
I thought I'd hate this. I thought I liked cooking what I felt like on the day. Turns out what I don't like is not knowing what to make when I'm feeling uninspired, finding the meat I need is still in the back of the freezer, and wasting time on multiple trips to the supermarket for the couple of extra things I need to make what I feel like that night. So. Sunday night before bed, when I've got time to think, I plan it. I try to include one slowcooked meal, and one double-quantity meal so I can freeze half for next week. Then I make my list based on what I need, and Bob's your uncle. (Or not. If he is, tell him I said hi.) Our meals are varied, because I plan it that way. There are no more emergency dashes to the supermarket (unless we run out of chocolate). This system is working. Which brings me to my next point...

6. Put systems and routines in place, at all.
I thought this was other people's stuff. But simple things like "shopping bags back by the door after unpacking, back in the car next time you go out" and "pick a bathroom-cleaning day and actually do it, hippy!" are seriously working for me. Oh yes, another thing I Never Thought I'd Do...

7. Post a weekly schedule of chores on my fridge.
It's like magic. Everything gets done. And if I have plans that interfere with me getting something done, that's fine, because I can easily reschedule. You know that mad panic you go into on a Sunday morning when you decide it'd be nice to invite people back for dinner, and then you look at your house? Or when there's a knock at your door, and you have a split second to decide whether to (a) leave them waiting while you fly around the house throwing things in bedrooms and closing the doors, or (b) pretend to be out? No more. Monday is for groceries and bulk cooking of baby food, Tuesday is dusting and big laundry day, Wednesday is (a bit of a day off), Thursday is bathroom cleaning, Friday is catchup and errands day, Saturday is kitchen and vacuuming... And it works. It's all recently cleaned, all the time. Manageable chunks. But also...

8. Be "on duty", housework-wise, at all times.
Instead of doing some work, then switching off, I'm doing little things as I go. I'm in the bathroom anyway, so I'll give the sink area a wipe-down. Job done. I've taken my dishes to the sink, so now while I'm here I'll put away the dry things and wash my dishes. I've invested in two plastic buckets, one for each toy-scattering child, and before each nap or meal or trip to the shops, we throw everything that shouldn't be in the lounge into each kid's bucket and plonk them by their doors, to be sorted either immediately, or straight after the nap/meal/outing. Ellie gets right into it - she's offended if I tidy her things without her help. So: tidy living area, which spills over into tidy bedrooms, and kids learning good habits. Sweet.

"But... but... but..."
So of course Ellie doesn't want to pose holding the bucket. Her excuse: "I'm a girl, and girls don't hold buckets."

teddy-in-a-bucket
Fine. Just the bucket, then.

And keeping it all clean and tidy is so much easier when you...

9. Declutter brutally.
I'm familiar with the decluttering concept. It sounds great. But... those advocates for decluttering clearly don't understand my situation. See, I like all my stuff. I'm not like one of those people who has junk everywhere - I just have a lot of things. Everywhere. Okay, so maybe it's the same. If you find yourself saying "I don't really need to get rid of stuff - I just don't have enough space in my three-bedroom house for... all my... stuff..." (#firstworldproblems, much?), maybe you actually do need to get rid of some stuff. So, valentine's day this year, something snapped behind all that forehead, and I did it. I decluttered. Hello, corner of the bedroom where I couldn't even remember if there was carpet any more. Hello, kitchen shelf. Hello, back of the bathroom cupboard. Hello, dining room. (Okay, I'm still working on that last one. And my bedside table seems to keep restocking itself with book mountains while I'm sleeping. But hey, I'm getting there.) The system of box for Putting Away, box for Donating, box for Rubbish, set a timer, fill 'em and then deal with 'em - it's a good one. Having a hard time not putting everything in the first box, thus relocating your problem instead of fixing it? Look at it this way: the way things are now, are you loving each and every thing you have? Or is the quantity of your stuff interfering with your enjoyment of the quality? Here's some inspiration I've st
olen gleaned from various internetty resources lately (like this one): Clutter attracts clutter. True. Also: You cannot organize clutter - you can only organize the things you love. Turns out they're right. And I am gradually reclaiming space - and time - back over into the Things I Love category.

Can be done. If I can, anyone can.

Now, you're either reading this as someone who's already way more organised than me, thinking, "Aw, how cute, she's finally growing up and tidying her room." Or you're reading this as someone with fewer than two (sorry husband, three) small, distracting, messy people in your household, thinking, "Seriously, is all of this organisation stuff really necessary? Overreacting much?" Or, you might perhaps be where I was on 13th Feb 2012 - in a house that got messy when you weren't looking, in a life that just snuck (snuck?) from working chaos to things-are-getting-missed chaos, wondering how you're supposed to find a balance between spending valuable time doing what you love (whether that's parenting or something else) and avoiding the path that leads to an invitation onto a future season of Hoarders.

If you fit that last description, take a deep breath, and chill out. On 13th Feb 2012, I was just one day away from Making Some Changes. I didn't even know it. That evening I looked through some things on the net. And possibly stayed up late reading some free samples of home organisation books on my kindle (yep, the first 10% of a book is plenty - if you're a cheapskate like me). And then I slept on it.

I wouldn't say I woke up a different person. But over the next week or so, things changed pretty quickly. You know, cartoon snowball-down-a-hill style; that's me in the middle, mittens and boots sticking out here and there, no choice but to go along for the ride. You want change? You got it. Make a step in the right direction - you might find it's the one that plunges you off the edge of the mountain.

You know. In a good way.

I'd say my biggest changes, besides the use of containers to keep things tidy, have been: having set jobs for each day, having a set routine for mornings, and having a few little touches of preparation set in place the night before. If I treat each evening like preparation for battle, then each morning doesn't have to be a battle. Voila. Valuable time spent doing what I love, with the people I love - and a home that doesn't make me feel the need to hide and pretend to be out if people drop around unexpectedly. And now I'm doing this "morning person" thing, I'll be out of my pyjamas even if you drop around before midday!

I know. Revolutionary.

It's a whole new world.



(My apologies to the Aladdin generation, who will now have that song stuck in their heads for some time.)

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