My friend Laura asked me some great questions on Facebook yesterday about how I'm managing my life right now. Here's the conversation:
Laura: How in the heck can you be training for a marathon? When you're 12 weeks?? When you've had 8 kids already??? Seriously, I'm amazed! Aren't you exhausted? Sick? Drowning in laundry? Falling apart physically? So I need you to post me your daily schedule. Cuz there's no way I could keep up with you and all the housework/cooking/shopping you have to do, let alone the time it must take to run 21 miles in a day!
Me: Laura, really, it's not THAT impressive. Yes, I'm exhausted and sick, but keeping up with the running has been really good therapy for handling it, and I haven't been as flattened by this pregnancy as I have been by some of my others. And training for a marathon involves four running days a week -- three days of 40-60 minutes and then one "long" day [I should point out that this is a beginner program; there are lots of marathon programs that are much more intense]. I'm fitting in the three days here and there -- I try to get up at 6 but if I don't, I get out at 7 or 8. The long run either happens on Saturday morning (we moved all our usual Saturday jobs to Friday so I could do that) or another day on weeks when my husband's busy on Saturday. I often get up as early as 4 for those, because I'm SO slow it takes forever to get through those. Luckily, my nausea hits me the hardest in the afternoon and evenings, so I can still function in the mornings, and I have yet to feel any nausea WHILE I'm running (that's a blessing!).
After doing research and talking to my doctor, I HAVE had to adjust my goals with the running. I have to take precautions not to get dehydrated, so I carry water even on my short runs. The other risk is overheating from running in the heat (so I go in the early hours and I chose a marathon that will let me start early) or overheating from training too hard. I thought I was slow before, but I'm WAY slower now and I take walk breaks for a minute twice every mile so that I don't get my heartrate up too high.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was willing to give it up if necessary, but I've just felt like this is something I need to finish out. It has been hard to feel like going out for a run, especially in July when the morning sickness was the worst, but pushing through it has been good for me.
As for daily schedule, we're doing rotating team chores this summer. Myself plus Lillian (12) and Joey (11) each have a partner in Michael (9), Allison or Sarah (7). Each team cleans up after one meal, prepares one meal, has an afternoon zone to clean up, and does one section of the family work day jobs on Fridays (all the bathrooms and the trash, the upstairs jobs, or the downstairs jobs). Everyone pitches in for five minutes after a meal and to clean the downstairs after scriptures in the morning. We also do outside jobs on Mondays and Wednesdays. I still do all the laundry, but I only do that twice a week (wash all one day, fold it the next). As for fun, we try to go swimming on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, do the dollar movies on Tuesday mornings, and have horseback riding on Thursday mornings, so I'm not a TOTAL slave-driver. We also have quiet times most afternoons from 1 to 3, where the little ones and myself nap and everyone else watches a movie.
Laura: Um, yeah! Totally impressive! I can't manage now, and I have 1 less kid, and am not all sick and tired. I know you've gotta be busy, but can you give me an even more detailed description of how you manage daily? Including the times you wake up, eat meals, start preparing meals, daily routines/chores, and bedtimes? How do you manage getting all your wash done in one day? I try to do at least 2-3 loads every week day, and another 1-2 on Sat (to make sure we have everything washed in time for church). Do you have 2 washers and dryers?
Me: Laura, you caught me. We do have two sets of washer/dryers. It speeds it up a lot, plus they both have huge capacity. We have a bit of an unusual house -- ALL our bedrooms (including the master) are in our walk-out basement, and our laundry room is down there too.
Laura: Lucky! My laundry room is in the basement, but only 2 bedrooms are down there, and everything I do is on the main level. How I wish I had a laundry room right off my kitchen! And I would LOVE to have 2 sets of washers and dryers. That has to help speed things along! I would LOVE to learn more about how you have your daily life set up. Times for everything, summer and school year, and also how you manage to feed everyone. I'm just so amazed by how well you handle it all!
Me: I hesitate to post our daily schedule because it's going to change again next week when school starts (still working out exactly how), but here's a rough outline:
7ish: wake up, scriptures, 5 minutes of clean-up in our downstairs family room and toy area, then bedrooms cleaned before breakfast (One team is in charge of inspecting)
8ish: breakfast gets finished, everyone is supposed to help clean it for five minutes, then morning chores. Lillian is really good about practicing her violin and piano and I'm not so good at remembering to hound Michael to practice his piano. Monday mornings, we are supposed to weed the garden then work out in our forested backyard for an hour or so. Wednesdays, each team has a weeding zone. Fridays, each team does a section of the house for Family Work Day. The other days, there aren't really any a.m. chores other than practicing. Tuesdays we do the movies in the morning and Thursdays is horseback riding. Otherwise, it's free time until lunch.
11:30ish: One team makes lunch. If it's my team or Joey's team, we have lots of sandwiches and fruit. If it's Lillian's team, she does more elaborate things like pasta. We eat, do five minutes in the kitchen, then one team cleans up the rest of the kitchen.
1-3ish: Most days, this is quiet time. For a good part of the summer, DH worked from home during this time on Mondays and Wednesdays, so I could put the babies down for a nap and then take the others swimming. On days he couldn't be home, I'd take them all a little later in the day.
3-4:30ish: free time again.
4:30-6ish: afternoon zones (one team has mudroom and outside toys clean-up -- otherwise those bikes and racers would be out all the time -- one team has empty dishwashers, set the table and make dinner, and the last team has the great room and the front room clean-up). If it's Joey's team with the dinner, I help a lot. If it's Lillian's team, she loves to cook and does a great job. If it's my team, I scrounge around for something.
6-7ish: 5 minutes in the kitchen after dinner, then one team cleans up the rest. We mostly just hang out in the evenings after this. Wednesdays is Scouts (DH is scoutmaster), Thursdays is YWs, Mondays is FHE.
7-8ish: we put most of the kids to bed. Sometimes we have to sit in the little girls' room so they will actually sleep; other times we give up and let them party until they finally crash.
I'll let you know our school year schedule when I figure it out -- it's always a work in progress.
And while it sounds like our house is regimented, we are really quite flexible. Sometimes we sleep in, sometimes we let the kids pass on the five minutes (particularly after lunch when the kitchen is pretty clean), sometimes we skip swimming, and sometimes I pick up pizza at Little Ceasars because I don't want to deal with dinner. Two things I don't let slide are the afternoon zones (otherwise our house would be a disaster) and the final end-of-the-day kitchen clean.
Laura: That's awesome! Mine is somewhat similar, but I don't have myself teamed up, or anyone really for that matter. My kids tend to fight too much when teamed. But maybe I'll try it again and see how they do. The inspecting part is the hardest for me to get around to. I like the idea of teams inspecting everything. My biggest problem is getting my kids to actually do their chores. If they woudl just do it, they would have so much free time. But they waste the whole day. I also like the teams for meal times too. So do you team yourself with the youngest helper, or do you match according to ability, or how well they get along? I'm currently trying to put together my school year asd well. Football just started for my 3rd, so from 5:30-8:30 he and Greg are gone every night, that messes up dinner time a lot since greg doesn't always get home early enough to eat with us. I also have to add in piano, car pool every afternoon, and of course scouts, activity days, and mutual. At least mutual and the older scouts meet at 7; the other stuff is later afternoon, and I have a hard time managing meals when those things come up. DO you start dinner early afternoons typically, get it all fixed in the morning? Are do it all right before you eat?
Me: My kids waste their time too, and sometimes spend HOURS in their room "cleaning" it. But they do pretty well. The teams rotated every month, then had different assignments every week. So one month, I was with Michael, then with Allison and now with Sarah. It's been good because I know the jobs will be done thoroughly (by me!) at least once every three weeks, and I've had the concentrated time with each of my younger team members to actually teach them how to do all of the jobs.
Laura: I am trying to adjust to no big chores on Sat too. Especially hard when we have team games. It seems there's almost always someone playing something sometime. Growing up we always spent all day doing chores: weeding, laundry, bathrooms, dusting, etc. I'm realizing my fam wont be able to follow the fam model I had growing up since my fam wasn't as involved in sports and such. I love how you do fun things with your kids a couple of times a week. I need to do that more. Maybe they'd have more of an incentive to get their work done?
Me: We don't play a lot of sports, so I'm sure that cuts down on some of the stress here. And during the school year, we don't do as many fun events together, though we do try to get away on a trip for fall break and then again in January or February to escape the winter for a week.
And I think this fall we'll have to move back to having our main chores on Saturday mornings again, though I might have them do a few extra chores on Friday afternoons to make it go faster.
Laura: So when you talk about an afternoon zone, is that a specific area or just you do the same area again in the afternoon? Are you getting up earlier than 7 so that you're already showered and dressed? Do you include bedrooms in the team zones? When you do your zones every day, do you add a little extra deep cleaning job (like windows one day, get fingerprints off the walls the next day, dusting the next, etc), or do you save those for your deep cleaning day? Do you include different areas like the garage, laundry room, storage areas in your regular zones? How do you group each area together to make a zone?
Me: The zones are a specific area: one team has had great room and front room, another preps dinner, empties dishwashers, and sets the table and the last team straightens the mudroom and puts away the outside toys. We do that every afternoon. During the school year, we usually have had just one kid assigned to a single zone. The twins emptied the dishwashers -- we have two of those too --, Michael did the mudroom, Joey did the great room and Lillian did the family office this past year.
The bedrooms are not team jobs except that Joey and Michael share and we have four little girls in one large room, so they all work together to clean up their own rooms (though mostly it's Allison and Sarah with a bit of Eliza's help).
Mostly the daily stuff is just picking up. I mop once a week and clean the kitchen every day after kids leave for school during the school year, but all the major cleaning gets done on Family Work Day (Saturdays until this summer, Fridays this summer).
I don't get up before the kids unless I'm running. Usually, I'll shower while the kids are cleaning their bedrooms. Once the bedrooms are done and they're heading upstairs for breakfast, I'll do the little girls' hair and then head up and eat breakfast myself.