The Yellow Plan (Part 1)

I was the nerd in college who not only made an excel spreadsheet combining my various syllabi into one quarterly master plan, I also made color-coded weekly plans for myself including everything from study and naps to hang-out (not much made it on there) and work. Let’s just say I was a bit of an over planner and my weeks frequently turned out differently than my color coding said they should. I think most folks fall into one of two extremes: over planning (me) or under planning (definitely not me). Over the years and through various failures to meet my slightly unrealistic plans, I’ve come to appreciate a plan with a bit of flexibility and grace.

So last week as I was trying to work out what my life as a SAHM of two should look like, I drafted The Yellow Plan.

The moniker comes mainly from the, yes you guessed it, yellow construction paper I used to write it on. Does anyone else have to use construction paper for their grown-up responsibilities?

Daily Routines

Just like you should do when making a budget for the first time, I decided to start out by writing down everything we were already doing. Naps, feedings, room-time, etc were all recorded. Then I filled in the blanks with things I felt I both should and could fit in. So for instance, J’s room-time of 45 minutes should not be an opportunity for me to finally get ready for the day, but to do some of the daily chores. Dishes, sweeping, laundry, etc were all assigned to room-time.

I chose this time because it’s early enough in the day (around 9:30) that I still have energy, and because Nora is down for her first nap at this point, so I can actually focus on getting things done. It seemed both realistic to accomplish such small tasks and to keep moving at that point in the day.

Weekly Routines

The next thing I did was address my home management on a broader scale. I looked at my week as a whole, penciled in the things that generally happen every week and started budgeting my time. Mondays I usually go grocery shopping as soon as the kids have had breakfast. So room time on Monday is more or less devoted to putting groceries away, cleaning the fridge and washing everything up from breakfast since we dashed as soon as bellies were filled. That meant that Monday afternoon during naps I would need to spend some time cleaning.

Looking at the week as a whole also helped me to see that I would need to structure in things that I like to do and things that I might just put off until kingdom come. Here’s a general picture (RT=Room Time, NT=Nap Time):

  • Monday RT: Groceries, breakfast clean-up, fridge; NT: Clean 45 min-1 hour
  • Tuesday RT: Clean, NT: Craft
  • Wednesday RT: Clean, NT: Rest & Relaxation
  • Thursday RT: Clean, NT: Home Project (that’s the one I’d put off!)
  • Friday RT: Clean, NT: Clean 45 min-1 hour

Every home plan should recognize the need for fun and rest. I could bust out crafts all day every day and get nothing else done. By assigning one nap time a week to crafting, which is between 1.5-3 hours for me depending on Nora, I can get my fix and still not neglect other things. Rest and relaxation was assigned to Wednesday’s nap time as a middle of the week breather. If I can look forward to relaxing on Wednesday, maybe I won’t be tempted to shirk my plan on Monday and Tuesday.

I only gave cleaning 45 min- 1 hour twice a week. If I’m doing the maintenance chores during room time, I don’t think I’ll need to spend more than that amount of time a week doing the nitty-gritty. Of course, this plan hasn’t been played out yet, so we’ll see. I put these days on either end of the week so that I can clean up from weekend mayhem on Monday and prepare our home to be peaceful for Chris at the beginning of his weekend. And by only spending around half of nap time cleaning, I have time to do other things as well, like napping, going over our family budget, reading a book, answering emails, etc.

For now The Yellow Plan will remain on construction paper sitting on my countertop where I can see it everyday. Eventually, after trying it out and tweaking things as necessary, I hope to put it into a lovely spreadsheet and color code everything. The thought just makes me happy!

What have you done to make a home management plan? How do you balance rest and work?

More to come on how The Yellow Plan will help me organize my schedule on a monthly basis.

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4 Responses to The Yellow Plan (Part 1)

  1. I write out my to-do list and schedules with crayons or markers. Helps me see it if the colors are really bright.
    I’ve really struggled to figure out when to get things done with a 3 year-old, 1 year-old and new baby on the way. I used to get a lot done during Zuzu’s naps (before Eliza), but during the school year I tutor during that time. I’m hoping this summer while in my second trimester, I’ll be able to get motivated and un-exhausted enough to stick to a schedule.

  2. acloserpeek says:

    Humbleadoration, I’ve never been in your place (mine are 2 and 4 months), and wondered myself what home-keeping will be like once J is bigger and doesn’t take naps. I think that I’ll continue at least one room-time a day until we start homeschooling. Once that happens, I think we’ll have to build chores into the curriculum…Keep pressing on! Our house was a permamess during my latest pregnancy, so I understand about that exhaustion.

  3. Leanne says:

    I love this, Sarah! I am still struggling to figure out how to be a stay at home mom after working outside the home for so long!!

    This is a good idea to help me get started!

    • acloserpeek says:

      Isn’t it amazing how long it takes to settle in after working outside the home? I think the lack of third party expectations or standards made my transition to homemaking slow. I’m sure you’re doing great at all the things that are really important, this is just icing on the cake!

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