Thank you all for the great advice and recipes for elder flowers and berries. I'll print them out soon and add them to my Homemakers Journal so I have them on hand when the time is right. Thanks also to Sue who suggested taking cuttings. Should they be tip cuttings or harder wood, do you know, Sue?
I've had a few emails lately about working to a routine so I thought I'd write about that today . If you get it right, a routine will help you enormously. BTW, I have many emails there that I haven't answered and never seem to have the time for. I try to stay off the computer as much as I can and if I did everything I should be doing here, at the forum and answering emails, I'd spend most of the day on the computer and none of it living. I apologise if you're waiting for a reply.
I think of my routine as a free ranging routine, not a restrictive one. Of course there will be readers here who need a much tighter routine than what I'm about to suggest so maybe you can start off with this and modify it. As with everything I suggest to you, it's what works for me, I expect you to modify; it needs to fit YOU like a glove, so feel free to soften or harden every step of the way.
There are certain household tasks that are constant. For me, and possibly for many of us, they are making the bed, baking bread, cleaning the kitchen, washing up, sweeping the floors and cooking. I do most of, or all of, those tasks almost every day. There are other tasks that are done weekly, like the changing the bed linen, washing, vacuuming and deeper cleaning. Others still, like gardening, organising, sewing, knitting, soap, laundry powder and cleanser making, preserving and shopping are occasional past-times that I do either when I feel like doing them or when they're needed. Not everything you do is a constant chore, you'll need to think about your working priorities.
I want the work I do in my home to reward me and enrich my spirit. I don't expect to be drained and depleted by housework. I try to organise my day so I'm doing work I don't like along with the work I love doing. So if I have to clean the toilets or iron, I'll reward myself afterwards with morning tea on the front verandah or an hour's knitting. This works well for me. I'm like a mule with a carrot on a stick in front of me. ; - ) Give me a good enough reward and I'm there. I know many of you with small children and babies, won't have the time to take an hour out of your day for a reward, but here is where the modifying comes in. Work out a reward that will fit well within your framework - one that really rewards you and fits into your day. And don't be afraid to give the family something really easy for dinner any night when you've had a tough day. If you have something like a casserole of soup in the freezer, that would do just fine, but it could well be baked beans or eggs on toast. They will survive and it's better for them to have a sane and happy mum than a perfect house, everything put away and spic and span, and with the perfect meal on the table.
Perfection is overrated and unnecessary in most homes.
On a normal day I do my must do chores. I make the bed, get bread on to rise, clean the kitchen, wash up and sweep the floors. Usually that is done by 9am. Then I do any of my weekly or occasional chores - washing, organising or deep cleaning fit in here, it's whatever needs doing. After lunch I do gentler work - knitting or sewing, writing or reading, and late in the afternoon, I'll harvest vegetables or garden and then prepare the evening meal. After I wash up at night, I don't do any other work. That is my down time, but again, if you have a family still at home, you'll be organising baths and bags for the morning., checking on homework or what your children are doing and reading story books. Again, modify this time to suit your routine, not mine.
I want to say a little about crafts within the context of homemaking. I know many women feel slight guilt when they knit or sew because it gives them such joy and satisfaction. They shouldn't. The crafts of the average homemaker are part of your housework. Making curtains, napkins, tote bags, dresses, aprons, quilts etc., soap making and knitting for your family, if that is what you choose to do, are all part of your daily work. They're not separate. They're not done for your pleasure, although that is a wonderful and appreciated side affect, they're contributing to your family and home and they are helping you reduce your cost of living and your carbon footprint. When I grew up, all these craft-type tasks where part of the everyday life of the homemaker, they were not separate or seen as a hobby. They contributed to the home and were valued as such. Women were praised for their fine needlework, knitting and dressmaking skills, men were valued for their cobbler's abilities and keeping the families shoes in tip top order, or for their wood work. Most men could knock up a small chair or table with no problems. Those days are long gone but you can still work like that and give homemade quality goods to your family. The choice is yours.
So if you want to work to a routine, I suggest you work out what are your daily must do tasks, and organise them so that you do the heavy work in the morning and the lighter work in the afternoon and evening. Pepper tasks you don't like with those you do. And reward yourself. You're in charge of your home, give yourself a break and make it as easy and pleasurable as you can. Housework is dreaded by a lot of people, but if you have the right mindset it is its own reward. There is a lot of satisfaction to be gained from sitting down to dinner at night with everything done you wanted done. You feel proud of yourself for doing it, your family will love you for it, although don't wait for a thank you every day. Your thanks will be that you worked that day to the best of your ability and you made your home the way you wanted it. And that is a powerful motivator.
Tell me about your routine, or lack of, either here or leave a link to your blog and write at length there about your routine and how you organise your own work. This is a subject that interests many of us.