Daily and weekly routines

7 July 2010
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.


  1. Hi Rhonda Jean, another brilliant post as usual. The elders...I'd do tip cuttings, just use half and half seed compost and vermiculite, rooting powder if you have it and just pot up your cuttings, water lightly and cover with a dome made out of an old plastic pop bottle or a plastic bag and leave in the shade somewhere. Another method I use is to use a ziplock bag, i.e. put the compost mixture in the bag, plant the cuttings and then I hang them on the washing line (which is in the shade). Looks a bit odd, bags of apparent rubbish hanging on your line but it works alright. Good luck!

  2. I so enjoy reading your posts!
    Since I'm at my day job for most of the day, I've organized my "must do" tasks into no more than 30 minutes each night. Monday I clean the litterbox, take out all the trash, and get the cans to the curb for pickup.
    Tuesday I bring the cans in and clean the bathrooms.
    Wednesday I do a quick dusting of the house.
    Thursday I do a more serious cleaning of one room (a different room each week so they all get done).
    Friday is usually for cleaning anything out of the fridge and making a menu for the upcoming week.
    Saturday is often linen and towel changing, all laundry, and grocery shopping if needed.
    None of it takes too long, so I can usually stop myself from procrastinating. Or, if I have to skip a night for some reason, it's not too hard to catch up the next night or two.

  3. At one point, I had my routines down to such a science, I was able to do absolutely no housework over the weekends. Which was huge as a mother working full-time outside of the home with three small children. You would think now that my children are a bit older, it would be even easier. Unfortunately, my routines have fallen to the wayside. I think I became burned out by trying to keep the "perfect" house. If I can't do something perfectly, I sometimes don't do it at all.

    The must do tasks get done, but not on any sort of schedule. I would like to get back to my routines. It really seemed to create more time for me. I just need to find something that works for my current season in life.

    I have gotten better at allowing myself time for those leisurely homecaring tasks - painting, arranging, decorating. They bring me enjoyment but they also add value to our home in their little way.

    Mary Ellen

  4. "Perfection is overrated and unnecessary in most homes."

    Excellent advice! My children range in age from 14 years old to 16 months old. I have 2 dogs, one cat and chickens. I grow most of my family's food. I do a lot during my toddler's nap. But there are the days when she is teething, or sick or you know...just one of those days when she is just unhappy. Well, those days nap time is for knitting and enjoying my coffee in the garden. And I don't feel guilty one little bit.
    Oh, and we might have purchased pizza that night even though 99% of our meals are made from scratch.
    Sometimes it is just how it is. There really is no point in making life harder than it already is :)

    I love your blog...I have a lot of reading to do! That was a great post and I'll do a post on my routine on my blog too.

  5. I used to be a very organized person but now that I have 3 children life seems rather chaotic. I consider the day a success if I have managed to get the kids out of the house looking decent and on time, done some washing and the dishes, and got a meal on the table at dinner time. Anything else is a bonus!

  6. Hi Rhonda Jean , i reallyenjoy your blog and your approach to life. As a full time working mother of two I find it hard to fit everything in without a routine, but restricting to try and stick to one as well. Ive finally found that the things I really need to prioritise are making sure we all have a bit of fun, be it movie night or sharing story and the chores will wait.

    I have a meltdown occasionally when the ironing pile is too high to see over and ive learnt to knit whilst doing other stuff...and so far it seems to work!

    Love the blog i will definitely be back for more

  7. Tomorrow is my main cleaning day and I really enjoy it. Due to my poor health, I have to sit down and rest regularly, but then I crochet, embroider or read. My DH does the hoovering, sweeping and mopping but I tidy, dust and clean the bathroom and kitchen. I also like to cut some flowers from the garden and arrange them around the place. The satisfaction we get when he mops down the hallway and leaves the floor to dry and the house is all clean! I get us a pot of tea and some cakes (often homemade) and when he sits down, it's all done and we have tea.

  8. I live on my own, so can please myself what my routine looks like...everyday tasks are make the bed, wash the dishes, feed animals of course, but if I have an idea for some textile art I'm working on, then the rest gets left until I work the creative urge out.

    My 'usual'day, when the muse doesn't strike, looks a lot like yours though Rhonda.

    Your 'perfection is overrated' comment struck a chord...I agree. When my daughter was struggling with new born twins and two pre-schoolers, I remember good quality, organic whole grain cold cereal was often on the table at night, she knew the big kids would eat it, there'd be no fussing, add a plate of raw veggies for them to munch and some fruit, and everyone was happy. You gotta do what you gotta do.

  9. Thank you for this post. I often feel so guilty if I sit and knit a scarf for my children while they play...because I enjoy it so much. I suppose if I think about it, they need the scarf...I didn't buy it...so why the guilt?

    Sometimes it is so hard to juggle everything with young children and I feel like a failure if the house is still untidy at the end of the day. You really put things in perspective.


  10. When I was working all the time I had some form of organisation but as I work less and less (not by choice as it's driving me crazy) I found that all form of routine is going out the window. I seem to be struggling to make any sense or order of things and everything descends into chaos around me. I have picked one thing (apart from reading which is just like breathing to me) which is knitting to be my relaxation and renewing therapy and I use this to make myself feel better about everything at the end of the day. I am starting small with trying to make sure all the dishes are done at the end of the day and keeping up with the washing (which is so important at this wet time of the year as I can't fit huge loads in front of my fire to dry) as I become comfortable i will be slowly adding things to this so that it becomes a habit to automatically do these things each day.

  11. Being a stay at home mom I figured that it would be easy to keep the house clean and 'perfect',boy was I wrong.I had to figure out how to get the 'important' things done first then everyting thing else could wait another day.I was getting burned out with do it all in one day and everyday.Now I get out of bed and make it.Go to the bathroom,and after brushing teeth I clean the sink and wipe the toilet down and sweep the floor.I'll clean the shower once a week real good,but I wash it down everytime I get in with a scrubber and some cheap shampoo from the dollar store.As soon as I come down stairs I straighten and pillows or blankets and put any dishes in the sink.I always sweep the kitchen every morning and laundry is done everyday.With having a 2 year old in the house,the rest of my day is usually filled with trying to pick up after him and keep the place somewhat tidy,so that in the evening all I have to do is vaccume and get dinner ready.Then it's clean the kitchen and sit and relax...just to do it again tomorrow :)

  12. This is wonderful advice Rhonda and I'm pleased you mentioned perfectionism - it is something a lot of us struggle with as we tend to compare ourselves with others, particularly when we are reading the blogs. I wrote a somewhat humorous post about this and introduced people to 'Tia' - the invented, amalgamated housewife. It is simply unachievable for me to do everything by myself and when it comes to household crafts I need to choose the best and leave the rest - that is what benefits my family the most and in this season of my life most of that centres on the kitchen arts, in order to feed and nourish a husband and seven children. Thankfully, they love homemade bread and porridge for breakfast and even lunch sometimes!
    They all have roles to play and we have a family household routine, we rise early too, a good habit we developed from our dairy farming days. It does make a big difference! In the morning for example, one child makes the coffee, another sets the table, with under fives assisting (and learning) and we also have a day set aside when we work outside in the garden together as a family. It is the working together as a family that really makes the difference which helps us to keep this home functioning and a good place to be - oh and if we have all been extra busy we reward the whole family, my husband often does this unexpectedly - announcing an impromptu trip to the beach or the ice cream parlour.

  13. Routine - because I milk cows and feed calves and whatever other farm chores my dh needs help with about 10 months of the year I have a tight routine because I have to. Making the bed everyday is not a top priority for me BUT making the bread, getting the meals prepared, washing ( I have an agitator washing machine ), vacumming and cleaning the bathroom/toilet are.
    My other top priority during this time is the vegetable garden and preserving. The windows seldom get a clean ( maybe 3 times a year because our house is right by the tanker track and we have a dirt road right behind the house - it would be a complete waste of time doing it more regularly.) and I wash the walls inside the house every year after the flies have died off.
    The other 2 months of the year are my "me" months when I visit friends/ do heaps of sewing and knitting and other crafts. I find time to read at any time of the year :-)
    Karen - NZ

  14. Our house falls apart if I don't stick to my routine!
    I printed off a chore chart recently to try and get my husband to help out a little more (for his benefit too, not just mine!)
    I usually start my day by preparing my daughter's breakfast and mine and we sit and eat together and I slowly wake up. Then it is onto dishes and washing while she wanders around the house happy to play by herself.
    Most of my activities revolve around hers. If she is having morning tea in her chair then I might do some extra washing, dishes, vacuuming or if I am tired, have a well deserved lie down.
    If she is asleep I usually finish off anything that needs to be done then go on the computer to read blogs or hide away in my crafty room for some fun.
    My free time is while she naps (though only one daytime nap now) and at night when she has gone to bed. After she is in bed, my husband and I have dinner together, maybe watch a tv show then we go off to do our own things. He plays games and I either play a game, sew, crochet or write on my blog.
    I leave the dishes for in the morning, when I am refreshed! :)

    It is so interesting to hear other peoples routines!

    I might do a pictorial post on my routine on my blog soon!

  15. Rhonda, I just wanted to let you know that I FINALLY have a garden. My daughter and I went to the food bank this morning and outside a local farmer dropped off THOUSANDS of veggie plants - tomatoes, zuchini, cabbage, egg plant, squash, peppers...LOTS AND LOTS. I took a couple of everything, went to Home Depot bought a spade and a fork shovel and dug a 4x5ft garden and planted away! The tomatoes and peppers already have babies on them but the tomatoes are sooooo wilty. They're about 3ft tall and were in this 3x3in dried up container. I hope they make it. I gave them a good drink and tied them to a stake. I'm really hoping they'll look better in the morning.
    I'm so proud of myself and my "farmer's tan"! LOL You are such an inspiration! Thanks for all you do!!

  16. I just blogged about my routine here Rhonda. Wow, I really need some structure!

  17. Thanks again, Rhonda for the encouragement...I am getting older but so need to organize and make better use of my time.

  18. Wow! You make so much sense! I love your post about routines. I try to get all the daily chores done and then give myself time to knit/crochet/sew. I so believe in not making everything perfect all the time! I love your advice and take on the world. Thankyou!:-)

  19. We stopped having cleaners come every 2 weeks about 6 weeks ago. It was something I'd been wanting to do for a long time, but it finally got to the point where it was no longer financially viable which made it feel OK rather than just like I was being nasty! But I'm very glad that we finally made the decision to do it.

    It means, however, that I'm now responsible for a lot more jobs around the house than I was! My husband and I sat down and made a list of all the jobs we could think of, and allocated them to him or to me. I've put all of my tasks into 'Things', which is a to do list type of computer program, and I've scheduled tasks so they appear daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly. I'm not keeping up too well right now, but with some tweaking and self-application, I think it should be quite manageable (at least in theory!!).

    With an 18 month old, my daily tasks are hanging nappies (we put the wash cycle on before we go to bed), and folding the dry ones. If I get these two tasks done before the day's activities begin, it makes such a huge difference! The bed is made most mornings, but the kitchen floor is only swept twice a week (in theory). I'm sure this is nowhere near often enough for some people, but having it in the schedule means it actually happens rather than not at all!

  20. about having time for crafts - I really love to sew so mending is actually quite relaxing for me - I try to get the mending done first before the embroidery. The embroidery is usually gifts for someone as I don't like to look at it after it's done, it's the doing that is the relaxing part. So I gave my Mum 3 x embroidered hankies yesterday for her birthday and saved myself about $40 including postage which I would otherwise have spent on a gift. Plus I know noone else will give her an identical item!
    Routines - now if I could just get my son and husband to help out for half an hour a day....ah well we can all dream.

  21. I used to have a routine when the children were younger and I home educated them. Now, I find I actually hate routine and would rather amble, unfettered, from one activity to another.

    Certain building blocks lay the foundation for my day though: reading email, praying, doing laundry, preparing dinner early in the day. If I get those done in the early part of the morning, I am off to a good start!

    Having the freedom to plan (or not) my own day is such a luxury. I know hardly any women with that luxury. Most are either working outside the home or raising young children and are tied to routines off necessity and not of their own making. Every day that I have that freedom, I am grateful to my husband who earns our living.

  22. H Rhonda Jean. I like your idea of getting all the must do chores out of the way and then rewarding yourself with more enjoyable chores like knitting. Take care Bee

  23. Thank you so much for this post Rhonda. I have a routine but also have that dreaded perfectionist in me. I am also still finding it hard to sit with my knitting during the day, so many times I walk past it and want to pick it up but find it so hard to, I feel guilty for spending time doing something I enjoy. On days when I'm really tired I'd love nothing more than to sit and knit and relax.

    cheers Kate

  24. Hi Rhonda,
    I found this Housework Organizer in a 1976 magazine and found it somewhat helpful. It's very wordy, hope you don't mind. Obviously it can be changed to suit individual needs:
    1. Tidy house
    2. Basin and bath, clean
    3. Toilet, clean and disinfect
    4. Wastepaper baskets, empty
    5. Washing clothes
    6. Windows and mirrors (a few each week)
    7. Bathroom and toilet floors, wash
    8. Grocery shopping
    9. Fold clean laundry
    10. Kitchen floor, wash
    11. Walls, cupboards, clean dirty marks
    12. Ironing
    13. Dust furniture and ledges
    14. Sew and mend
    15. Flowers, cut and arrange
    16. Vacuum house
    17. Cobwebs, inside and out
    18. Polish furniture
    19. Sweep veranda or patio
    20. Shopping list
    21. Write letters
    22. Gardening
    Monday do 1,2,3,4,5
    Tuesday 1,6,7,8,9
    Wednesday 1,10,11
    Thursday 1,2,13,14,15
    Friday 1,16,17,18,19
    Sat 1,20,21
    Sun 1,10,22

  25. My love for homemaking, mothering and routines: http://countryblossom.blogspot.com/2010/07/for-love-of-homemaking-routines.html

    Enjoyed your post Rhonda, as always. :) I love how you share your words of wisdom! :)

  26. I posted about my routine here.

    I will have to come back and read others' comments a little later. :)

  27. As always a wonderful post.
    We live by routine because our animals do, but there is always so much to do. I find making a list divided in two. Things that must get done today and things that could be done today ,helps. I leave the list on the kitchen table where everyone can see, and I am forever amazed at what the children see & do to help out. Small thinks like clean out the bathroom sink, but things that get knocked off the list and I don't have to do. I commend you on speaking positively on crafts such as knitting and sewing. I am a guilt person of wanting to sneak off and spend an afternoon sewing instead of picking raspberries. When the urge hit I can not think of anything but what I want to do. But really the time I save on not shopping and petro in doing so, to make a $12. dress that fits perfect the first time. Well worth the effort. I think anyway.


  28. i'll be tuning back in to see about the elder berry, it grows here and i'd like to know more about using it...love your gardening happy summer from wherest it is winter .xx

  29. I usually have one day a week where I do the regular house cleaning, and everyone knows it! This is the way I get things cleaned up, and the way an old neighbor lady knows that I'm home on that day to call and talk to me!! My days are usually started with making my hubby breakfast, packing a lunch, getting him out the door. Then I exercise since if I don't do it right then I won't do it at all. Making the bed, cleaning up comes later. We have also moved the shed so it has become my garden shed. This past weekend we built a rock wall and did a brick patio for it which you can see on my blog.
    During the summer I don't take that much time out just for me. Don't know why as I love to read and do other craft things. I guess I always think that there are other more important things to do, and yes a lot of those things bring enjoyment to me too.
    This was a good post to read, and as usual you always have something to make me think!
    Take Care,

  30. HI Rhonda;
    great post to reflect on. I think routines are very useful. My challenge is to stick to them over and over, over a period of time... 2 or 3 outigs or friends coming over in the week and I lose my routine rhythm again.

    I realise too that chores have a few steps associated with them so to call them "done with today" I have to complete all the bits the chore. EG Laundry - separate, wash, hang out, collect when dry, fold and put away. I am trying to find ways of streamlining these but sometimes there are no shortcuts!

    Thanks again,
    M (Perth WA)

  31. A terrific post, as always. Funny how routines have been lost over the years. Even though I work full time I try to keep a home routine. Make bed, read while eating breakfast, work, home from work to make dinner and work in the garden. My routines though are more on a weekly bases since I do work full time. Making bread, cleaning house, food preservation right now is taking its share of time. It's a balancing act that shifts with the seasons and needs adjusting at times.

    I love your comment about crafts being a necessary part of the routine and not a hobby.


  32. Rhonda- thanks for this post, this is something I’ve been struggling with for awhile now and I think following your advice I can do it. Right now my schedule is ‘oh crap company is coming I have to clean!!!’ I’m going to try slowly adding something new to each day until I have a routine that works for me. Thanks again!

  33. Thank you for such an inspiring post. I was just sitting down tonight looking for something inspiring and encouraging to read in blogland, and yours was just what I needed. I was actually just thinking about this today, especially about fitting handwork and crafts into my daily routine. So many times I want to sew or knit, but I feel like I should get everything else done first. As you probably know, I NEVER get everything else done, so of course, the handwork gets put aside indefintely. Thanks for permission to view it as part of my "work." :)

  34. What a great post Rhonda Jean - I do have a routine - but it can vary if I run out of time (or inclination!)

    I work full time, so the majority of my housework is done in the weekday evenings so that I get [most] of the weekend off.

    Love the comment about perfection - very true and something I must remember!

  35. My Nana had a routine that I will always treasure. She had her daily chores like you have then set aside a weekly chore for each day of the week.
    I remember Monday was laundry and ironing, Tuesday was deep-cleaning he bathrooms and so on.
    She had a laundry line on a pulley system. You stood on her porch that was even with her house (about 4 steps above the sidewalk)put your clothes on it and pushed it out over the garden. It was a long laundry line but real easy access. Thats what I plan on having when we retire.
    I love your blog. I just cant wait to get "Back to the Basics".

  36. I am an almost 65, gent and retired about 2 years ago. My wife still works 2 days a week which leaves me responsible for a lot of the household chores. Generally, on a daily basis, after breakfast I tidy the house, wash up, make the bed. Once a week I do all the washing using tank water that is pumped to the washing machine. Also one a week I do the shopping, and running around, the record is 17 different stops. Ironing is done the day after washing because I don't like it sitting around; I fold what I can then iron the rest while watching TV. Hobbies, gardening and a sleep occur almost every afternoon before getting dinner.



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