Not only was last week a school break week, but we also had and have a string of hosting commitments that gave me the added commitment and deadline to get the house into a little better shape. Of course I had an unreasonably long list, but if I think about what I did get done instead of what I didn’t get done, I am quite pleased.
So, with a couple social hostings down and a few next weekend as well, I have my mind more set on a solid maintenance mode once again. I have vague memories of finally getting fairly satisfied with a weekly housekeeping routine before I was pregnant. I remember thinking that this time things could stay mostly in order because I’d just have to follow my figured-out plan.
Uh-huh. Nope. Oh well. I have a cute baby, and that’s what’s important than an orderly house.
When I want to get a grip on things again, I sit down with Large Family Logistics. It’s a good-sized hardback book, and it’s packed with tactics, ideas, encouragement, and blunt admonitions. If you will, it is the Bible-thumping, bullet-list, Protestant version of the culture-rich, narrative-style, Catholic A Mother’s Rule of Life. I like both, and refer to both pretty often. I pick up Large Family Logistics if I want a no-nonsense planning session and I pick up A Mother’s Rule of Life if I want sympathy and earnest encouragement.
And, just sitting down and skimming either of these books makes me feel like I’ve made progress when I’ve really only taken a 15-minute break, so I really do love them both.
The author, Kim Brenneman, kept a blog for a few years before publishing the book, which I followed. What I enjoyed about her writing, perhaps even more than her practical advice, was her honesty about how “falling off the bandwagon” happens to all of us, even to her, over and over again. She modeled and wrote about keeping a home and family, having either a crisis or just laxity cause chaos, and simply rolling up one’s sleeve and recovering when one was able or when one noticed. No need for guilt-fests or failure-feelings. Just move forward. And she clearly wrote about how she moved forward, as she was actually doing it, in her real life and not from a “I’ve finally achieved perfection and so can you” perspective. It was her blog, in part, that inspired me to keep that tone and message in my own writings, because I found it so encouraging and hopeful and straight-forward. I like blunt and concise and practical and grounded, and Kim Brenneman is all that.
The book contains 47 chapters and 2 appendixes, and it is with the appendixes I recommend beginning. They are titled “Coping While Exhausted and Overwhelmed” and “Moving Beyond Survival Mode.” In the first, she outlines how it is more important to be cheerful and kind than have a clean house, and that your eating and exercise are the first steps toward increasing your energy and emotional stability. Then, in the second appendix, she gives the ordered steps to regaining an orderly routine after a time of exhaustion and chaos, including parenting and personal points.
The meat of the book is in the 47 chapters, obviously. She gives a page or three about managing different stages of childrearing, different areas of the house, different times of the day, different goals, and different ways to refresh and reenergize yourself.
It’s a great manual for troubleshooting your own routines and systems and also a good, no-nonsense approach to our lives, roles, and duties.