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Organizing Life During Major Time of Stress and Transition

I am experiencing a major time of stress and transition in my life and everything is very overwhelming for me.

Opinion of Stacie:
Hi. I'm so glad to hear you are doing ok. I know how hard it is to adjust to a new situation. When you loose a partner who has been a support in day to day living, it is very difficult to know just how to get things done. I hope I can help.

I think it is a good idea to use lists and I use several to help me keep somewhat organized. I will try to explain to you how my system works and maybe it will give you an idea on how to use to work for you.

I keep a calender and pen by the phone. That way when I have to make an appointment for me or my kids I have everything there right at hand. I can schedule without worrying there might be a conflict.

I also keep a phone list taped to the wall beside my phone. On this list I keep important numbers like landlord, emergancy, schools, doctors, and close freinds. I don't have to remember #'s and this list is handy.

I keep a grocery list and pen attached to my fridge. That way if I see something I am running low on I can put that on the list before I forget. I can also put on the list special things that me or my kids may want.

Then I keep two spiral notebooks on the table beside where I sit in the living room. In one notebook I use to plan my next day. I use the use other one for ideas about menus and do a "ruff" of the next day's schedule. I always pull my calender when planning my next day. When my schedule looks complete I put it my first notebook. (use different colors and label) I leave my first notebook open so I can review it the next morning and know what I need to do for the day, including dinner. (breakfasts and lunches I ad lib) I can remember to pull meat out of the freezer in the morning before I go to work. That is a basic overview of my system and how it works.

Since I work outside the home M-F, I plan most of my cleaning for saturday. But during the week I get home about 4:30 and take about a half hour to regroup and readjust my mind to a different environment. Then I cook dinner and clean up the kitchen. I was dishes and counters. Take care of food and usually sweep. Sometimes my husband helps but most of the time he doesn't.

Then I play with the kids or help them with homework. I get them baths and ready for bed which for the little ones is 8 or 8:30. Then I usually go on the internet for a while and read papers, bulliten board or chat for a while in the evenings when the house is quiet.

Then before I go to bed. I sit with my notebooks and calender and plan out my next day.

Saturday is my usual "cleaning day" because I work. I start with the bathrooms. since I can't handle most cleaning supplies I use bleach and water. I wash the tub, sinks and counters, floor and then toilet. I also put fresh clean towells out. I also wash clothes and dry them as the load is done.

Next, I straighten up the bedrooms. I dust and vaccum. Then I vaccum the hall. Next is my dining room and living room. I begin by changing the table cloth, dust the table and chairs and china closet. Since I have little kids the chairs can get really sticky. When this is done I move to the living room. I pick up magazines and catalogues. I straighten up the tables and dust. (bookcase, tv, tables). I put movies back in their boxes and put on the shelves. I straighten up the afghans and pick up toys and vaccum.

Then I go to the office/library. I straighten up and dust then vaccum. Then I do my kitchen. Since I usually clean daily. It's not too bad. So, I change my bleach water and wash the counters, sink and floor.

When this is done I go around with glass cleaner and clean mirrors. This is an all day event for me. I have to stop and interfere in kid fights, hang and fold clothes, feed kids, play with kids, etc. I find the distractions annoying but have learned to take it in stride and relish the breaks. I just slowly plug away the days chores.

The last thing I do is change all of the sheets and wash the dirty one. Also... on the first saturday of each month I clean out the fridge and throw away old food, wash the shelves. Second saturday I clean the fingerprints off the walls. 3rd saturday I straighten dressers and closets. 4th saturday cubbords including bathrooms.

If I am on vacation or have to be out for any reason I just skip that weeks chore and catch it the following month.

But since you are home you can schedule different things for different day. For example Monday could be laundry day. Tuesday: kitchen and Bathroom. etc. That way you are not doing to much in one day.

I also advise that you schedule appointments early in the day. That way you can be home to keep up your regular routine without too many interuptions.

On saturday evenings I finish my grocery list. I go to the bathroom and see if we are low on toilet paper, tissue, soaps, toothpaste, shampoo, feminine supplies. I put those items on the list. I check the laundry for soap and bleach. Then I check the kitchen for things like sandwhich bags, dish soap, sponges, plastic wrap. Then I check first aid supplies: asperin, tynol, cough suryp, vitamins, bandaids and put what I need on the list. Then I finish planning menus on put those items on the list.

I do use cupons. I keep the cupons in a file box whcih is sorted and on the counter. I pull only the cupons I need and put them with the list. Then I look thru the cupons for dates. If they have expired I throw them out. If they are close to expiring, I will try to use them.

I go grocery shopping early on Sunday morning because it is not so crowded.

I have set up my bills so that I can pay them on the first day of each month. When a bill comes in I put it in a box marked "BILLS". I have called my creditors and explained to them that I have to maintain a certain schedule and I would like for them to schedule my bills due on the 10th. I pay them on the first and put in the mail. That way they have time to get there in case the postal system is slow. I use duplicate checks so I won't forget to enter anything. I don't advise using an ATM card because it is too easy to forget to enter.

I enter my checks into "QuickBooks" each week so the computer can help me keep tract of how much money I have. If you don't have access to an accounting software, I think it is a good investment and much cheaper than an accountant or trying to struggle your way thru it. some software companies may give you a package if you explain to them that you are a "special needs person"... I am not sure who will but it could be invaluable to look into. I rarely use cash because it is too easy to go thru quickly and not have any idea what it was spent on.

I keep Sundays open to do things with my kids and have some time to myself. I take the kids to the park, out for a bikeride or to Burger King and the airport to watch the gliders. I also use this day for clothes shopping if we need to.

Time for yourself is very important. You need to pamper you right now. Perhaps you can find a college student willing to give you a few hours in order for them to learn about special needs kids for their majors. But make sure you and your children are comfortable with the person before you do. I give my kids to my husband saying "they are yours" and I walk out of the house. (otherwise he does very little with them) anyway, I do things like go for a walk, shop by myself, or just visit a freind. But I feel the time away is essential for my health.

I realize this is a lot of information. But I hope it is helpful. Be patient with yourself because finding a system that works for you is not easy and takes time. But once you have something set, it is wonderful. I would be lost without mine. I know this sounds complicated but once you get used to it, it's quite simple.

[my thanks to Stacie for allowing me to use this opinion on my site]

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