27 April 2011

What are YOUR magic numbers?

Dear Lissy,
You have had a fascination with all things Chinese since you were an itty-bitty.  We've had Chinese themed birthday parties twice, the most memorable when your birthday fell on Chinese New Year's. You almost always choose the Chinese restaurant for dates with Daddy.  We've checked books out of the library so you could learn Mandarin, and your dress up trunk as a little girl held all manner of Chinese clothes and embroidered silk "flats".  Your dreams right now involve nursing school in China, too.
Fortune cookies, although not technically from China, are a particular favorite.  You read your "fortune" in a mysterious voice and wiggle your eyebrows in pleasure.  The slim strip is then flipped over and you slowly read your lucky numbers.  You are well aware that neither side holds any real significance, but you still thrill every time you crack open the crisp lemon-scented cookie.
My "magic numbers" are far more mundane.

Almost everyone has time markers in their life. The hour the alarm is set for, and the time you HAVE to be up. The time you need to leave for the office or plan to go to bed.

Work at home mommas have long stretches of time with no "hard" time markers.  Life flows softly and it's easy to lose track of time.
Because of that I've set some hard time benchmarks for myself to be sure that I don't fall prey to IGAD syndrome (I've Got All Day!)  My "magic" numbers are  5, 8:30, and 10.  Your numbers will be different, but if you're serving full-time at home, it's a good idea to have significant time markers.

Five o'clock a.m. is the time I need to rise in the morning.  Period.
This gives me time to have my quiet time,  take the dog for a walk, and have a little time on the computer before I'm making breakfast and starting school.  If I sleep in, the whole day goes cattywampas -- it's just not worth it!  I'd rather catch an afternoon nap if I'm tired.

Five o'clock p.m. is when I inspect the upstairs rooms (bedrooms, classroom, and bathroom) and start cooking dinner.

Oil-on-paper by Chelsie Brady
Eight-thirty a.m. is the starting time during the school year, and the time I require your morning routines to be finished in the summertime.
It's easy to drag around the house in jammies half the day.  That is not, however, good preparation for life!

Eight-thirty p.m. is the end of my "work" day.
I generally am finished my housework after the kitchen is cleaned up from dinner and enjoy some downtime with the family.  The 8:30 benchmark is for doing a final pick up/wipe down and getting the to-do list and breakfast prep done for the next day.  If I save those few easy tasks until bedtime, they often wind up undone.

10:00 a.m. is when my daily chores and cold dinner prep need to be finished, and you kids take morning break.
By 10 am I should have completely run a load of laundry and tidied through the rooms.
By "cold dinner prep" I mean anything that doesn't involve cooking.  I'll make salads, start dough, prep veggies, and defrost meat to give myself a head start on dinner preparation.  This works well for me because I can do it in between teaching moments at school while you work on seatwork.

10:00 p.m. is my "drop dead" time for being in bed.
I often head to bed by 9:30, but 5:00 a.m. isn't going to happen if I'm up later than ten.

I feel a bit ridiculous writing these knowing that most people naturally create benchmarks for themselves.  I didn't when I was first at home, and lived a life of blissful laziness punctuated by moments of sheer panic.  I want to help you avoid that because it takes a huge emotional toll.

Always time for a hug and a snuggle,


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us. I appreciate it.

    Domestically Divine

  2. Wise words from a momma - wish my mom had taught me this - then I wouldn't struggle so much with the magic numbers today.

  3. I never considered looking at the day by using magic numbers but it is a wonderful idea. Thanks,

  4. I'm a johnny-come-lately (in more ways than one), but I've just discovered your blog and am enjoying reading through it. I especially appreciate the bit you added at the end of this post, about living a life of blissful laziness, punctuated by moments of sheer panic, because that's where I often find myself now.

    I'm not a young person (aged 51) but I married 6 months ago, first time for both my husband and me, and for the first time in my adult life, I'm a full-time housewife, with only part-time job. I am woefully unskilled at housekeeping, but am doing my best to learn. Thankfully, my husband is very patient with me!