You. Made. It. YouMadeIt. You made it. You made it through the first week of these new times. So before we go any further lean back, take a biiiiig breath, and laugh a little. Crack a smile. Because you did it. You made it through a week like no other. A week you’ve never experienced before. Along the way you may have felt terrified, bored or triumphant (yes, I’m talking to you—the one who was at the doors of the box store when it opened and scored toilet paper). You made it. Congratulations.
We made it. All of us together. No matter how far from one another we are. Because physically we may be distant, but socially we’re connected. And your success is mine, and mine is my neighbors and all of us are learning how to be here for one another in new ways. I am always here for you.
Today we’re going to look at structure—our schedules—and how to craft them for getting tasks done, yes, but also crafting them to take care of ourselves. It isn’t just about what are we doing, it’s about how are we being. And at the end of the day we measure the success not only by what we crossed off a list, but how we feel, too.
Schedules are a way to give form to our free-flow. Before it was school, work, nap times, carpools, activities that created a schedule for us. We had a list of who-needed-to-be-where-when and we pulled it off. Some days more smoothly than others.
Now the answers to who, when, where are us, now, here. It’s not much of schedule. Yet.
Trust me, they are actually all the answers we need. We also need pen and paper. I’ll wait while you grab them. (you can use blank paper, or you can print out this template I made. Click this: OurSocialSpringSchedule to download it).
Alright. Let’s do the left column first. What. What needs to be done? Just scribble down all of the “to-do’s” you can think of—both for yourself and anyone else you are helping these days.
Take a deep breath. The list may look long and feel a bit daunting. We’re going to make it longer. And that is a great thing. Ready?
Keep writing in that column all of the ways you can take care of you. Think of this as your “to-be” list. It might include things like: call a friend, meditate, get outside, kitchen dance party, take a bath, exercise. And if you need help coming up with them, give me a shout. I’ve got a list of about 50.
We’re a third of the way. Now let’s look at column two. When. When is asking when is this thing reasonable / practical to end? In other words, how long can it actually last? For example, maybe your list includes responding to emails. And maybe you also have a three year old. So writing down two hours isn’t a practical answer to When. You may want two hours. You may need two hours. But two uninterrupted hours isn’t in the cards. But 25 minutes is (heeelllooo to an episode of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. It lasts 28 minutes. You can push play, run to your computer and get a solid 25 minutes done.) Add the timing of When to each What.
Horray! We’re two-thirds of the way. Here’s what we do in column three—think about Where. Where in the day is the best time to do it. I don’t mind washing the dishes at any time of day. But writing? That needs to happen early before anyone else is awake. So my answer to Where is the dark hours for writing, and anytime for dishes. (Dishes can be fun. Think of them as a bubble bath for your hands).
We’re done! Okay, almost done. Now you need a pair of scissors. Cut each What-When-Where into a strip of paper. Lay them all out. Now start arranging them into your schedule.
A couple of notes:
- If you are looking at all of your strips and thinking there is no way to get it all done, you are right. There isn’t. So be honest and kind with yourself and slide some of those into a pile to tackle another day.
- Consider a pattern—like two pushes and a pause. For example: work (a push), then play a game with your kiddo (another push), then stand outside alone for 90 seconds (a pause). Another pattern might be two sedentary things followed by an active one. Create whatever pattern works for you.
- Use physical space to show what you are doing. Our brains associate places with tasks. If you are sitting at the kitchen table trying to work, your brain will be thinking about the next meal and your kids will be more likely to interrupt you. If you can create a space that is the place you only sit when you are working, it will help everyone. (and yes, sitting on the floor in a nest of blankets behind the couch counts! Have fun with this.)
- When you are doing something for you, saturate your senses. For example, if your morning routine includes a cup of coffee or tea, drink it outside, wrapped up in your favorite puffy jacket, with your eyes closed listening to the silence or your favorite song.
- Kids can do this, too. Have them create their own What-When-Where strips and have them organize their own days (with your wisdom, of course). You can then line up everyone’s strips and create a master schedule, together talking about where the bumps might be and having them help make adjustments accordingly.
- If the Where column feels too type-A for you, ignore it. Take your strips of What-When and drop them into a jar, a mixing bowl, a flower vase, whatever you have handy. Pull one out. Start there. When you are done, pull out another. Don’t want to do that one yet? Put it back and picks something else. Enjoy the spontaneity of a grab-and-go schedule.
- Start the day and end the day with something for you. You are worth it.
And please, keep me posted on how you are doing. How you are feeling. I’m here. Always.
Want to add some you-and-me time to your schedule? The doors of Evolving Parents are open, and I am here for you. We can chat over the phone / FaceTime for 15, 30 or 50 minute sessions. click right here, or email me firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get connected.