Punk Homemaker’s Journal

Yes, I did get a good chance to climb back out of the hole I was in. I got time to be creative, finish a project, have dates with friends, and generally re-connect with myself as a grown-up. As I’d hoped, the break mellowed me back into a much better, more joyful and more appreciative mama. Thank goodness for the power of renewal!

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I did have a line-up of goals for ‘after the break’ when I would be a repaired and re-energized person. I have fallen into some serious sloth and indolence over the last few months, at every level, and I feel ready to do something about it. I know it’s not a good idea to take on too many goals at once, but what if they are all things that you had managed to do in the past and just need to re-instate? Doesn’t that make it a bit more realistic?

Number One on my list is screentime. I’m feeling okay about mine, but the explosive quantity of movie time for the kiddos over the last four months has been bothering me to the point of soul-destruction. I am sure that I over worry about it– plenty of kids watch 3, 4, 5 or even 6 hours of actual commercial-laden television every day and live to tell therapists about it. My kids watch 1-4 hours/day, 2-3 hours on average, of relatively good quality dvds. You have no idea how much it kills me to admit to that ‘4.’ Granted, four is a bad day, but nevertheless, jesus christ, how has this happened?!?!? We have gone in and out of better and worse phases, but I feel the kids themselves are on a better phase right now, and I need to catch onto their coat tails.

Because, don’t you know, getting them to shave down their movie watching isn’t so hard as getting me to shave down on my time to get shit done without someone hanging on my leg! I’m the one in need of weaning here. Mornings are the critical time too, the time when I most hate to see their beautiful wide eyes get sluggish with movie-hypnosis. The time when I most sharply want (need!) 40 minutes of relative peace to get my brain in order! (And then, since they’re plugged in anyway, another 20 minutes to get breakfast made and our bag packed with snacks, water and diapers for out morning outing. Oh god, it’s glorious to just be able to go about this simple task!)

But, it’s no good I say. I have called a pretty complete halt to the first-thing-upon-waking movie watching, and I am making an effort to cut out some from the rest of the day too. Although many of the mothers I most respect manage to do their job with no movies at all, I feel like if my kids averaged an hour and a half per day I would feel good.

Next on the list, and don’t ask me how I plan to accomplish both of these at the same time, is cleaning the goddamned house! This place has really fallen from grace. It’s not nearly so bad as it was this time last year, but I think I am ready to re-new a similarly intensive cleaning standard. For those of you who have asked, and I’m sorry it took me so long to respond, I did not keep up that 1 room/day schedule for more than a few months. But that doesn’t bother me. Turn’s out it’s a lot of work to keep your house that clean, and I am not a clean house person– I don’t feel the need to live in constant cleanliness. I just don’t like utter filth and oblivion. The massive overhaul of last January helped me to reign in a house that was completely out of control, and the following 1 room/day schedule re-programmed my brain to an expectation of relative cleanliness which carried me through most of the rest of the year. I was very grateful for it.

Now, it’s time to push that re-set button again.

Those are the two main things. Then of course there’s the perennial desire to get more exercize, do 10 minutes of yoga every day, resume my atheist prayer practice which fell completely off the radar a couple of months ago, and oh yeah… relax and enjoy my kids.

Wow. How to achieve so many things at once? Of course the answer is that I can’t. A thorough post on accepting limitation and setting priorities is brewing in my mind, but in the meantime there is only one thing that can possibly even nudge everything in the right direction at once, and that is being more organized and efficient.

I do love to make a plan. In some ways, sitting around planning to do is ridiculous. But for me it helps to have a spark, an inspired motivation. And if that takes a little time “wasted” with pencils and paper at the outset, that’s okay.

So when my friend explained the concept of a Homemaking Journal the other day, I was snared. Have you heard of them? I’m not sure what they really are, I did a quick g**gle search which was immediately co-opted by a religious, pink ribbons and needlepoint kind of homemaking. But my vision, formed by the description my friend gave me and built upon over the last few days, is a giant notebook where the specifics of everything I do in my day, all the kinds of things I write about here, are laid out in an organized and comprehensive manner. My friend had made one out of a 3 ring binder, which is of course what makes sense. Take papers out, add more in, move around. But, is it just me? I hate 3 ring binders. They are no pleasure at all to write in, and what good is a giant Life Planner if you can’t curl up on the couch and make lists in it?

As much as I should be using the time to actually do the stuff, I can’t resist this opportunity. I am designing my perfect Journal/Planner and it is going to be awesome. Lined paper, graph paper, calendar sheets and pocket dividers all in a spiral binding so I can get snugly with it. And I thought y’all might have some advice before I do this thing. Here’s my ideas so far:

The front section will be a weekly planner/calendar, followed by some lined pages for general notes, to-do lists, books I want to read, websites, inspiration, ideas, etc. The kinds of things I usually write on little scraps of paper and lose immediately.

Then a Kitchen section, with a pocket for snipped out recipes to try (even though I almost never actually do), lined pages for recipes I make up as I’m cooking (which I do actually do, a lot), notes on how things work, kitchen ideas, grocery lists, etc.

The Garden section will have graph paper for sketching layouts, as well as blank calendar pages for figuring out crop timing. Also lined paper for assorted notes, seed lists, etc.

Then, bane of my life, the Cleaning section. A slim little volume with lined paper to write out my various soap and laundry detergent recipes, and imagine more good cleaning schedules not to follow.

What do you think? What would you add? What are the things you like and need to keep track of in your life?

Since I am going to buy the paper and figure it out and do the binding (at Kinkos) anyway, I am incredibly tempted to make extras for y’all.  Wouldn’t that be a cool project! The annual Apron Stringz Punk Homemakers Journal. Ooo, I like it.

I’m afraid that zine-making was entirely too addictive.


25 thoughts on “Punk Homemaker’s Journal

  1. Oh, boy, free time this winter and already I feel the pull of the blog vortex- am loving yours! I stopped making resolutions years ago and prefer instead to make lists of unexplored territories- literal and figurative. So, my day planner is a bona fide calendar in which I also stuff random bits of paper. I think I need to do something along the lines of a 3-ring binder…Besides weekly engagements my lists include: books to read, movies to rent from the library, internet chores (websites, blogs, and shopping- makes me a more efficient internet user), places to explore or hike to, knitting gifts and projects, things to try/make, BIG projects (like printing digital photos, digitizing CDs, etc.), and long-term goals. If I can regularly see my BIG projects then it reminds me to start in on them when I find a few moments of down time. On that same note, a list of unexplored places motivates me to save pennies so I can visit them. Additionally, long-term goals more often get done (i.e. avalanche safety course) if there is a constant reminder. But that’s not to say that I am above just chucking out lists completely from time to time…I will go ransack our office now to cobble together a better, bigger, prettier planner to replace my scrap papers….

  2. I’ve been trying to keep track of the various kid-friendly things going on about town to take advantage of, and I love how my new planner for this year (moleskin with big month pages, not at all punk rock) has lined pages between the months. I keep trying to plan evenings, too (writing night, reading night, date night, mending night), but it never works. Probably because I can hardly stay awake past 8:30.
    I love this idea though.

  3. I am addicted to my white boards. I have one for lists (grocery, to-do, DIY projects) and one that I made into a weekly calendar. I’ll probably be one of those moms who does a “chore list” on the fridge for the kids when they get a little older. Definitely more minivan soccer-momish than subversive punk anarchist, but I would honestly be lost without them. A home-made chalkboard would be really cool too- if you’re feeling artistic, you could decorate it with some cool chalk art/lettering. In any case, I love the idea of a journal, just not sure if I would be able to keep track of where it is all the time (I guess that’s an insight into how disorganized I am.)

  4. I want one of these! But can you add a section for knitting? With some lined paper for lists of projects and some knitting graph paper for designing stranded knitting (it has oblongs rather than squares. Ooh- and a week planner (seperate to tr calendar) for recurring things. And can it be beautiful?! You speak to my organising soul here!

    1. oh my, i hope you know i was only half serious about making extras! maybe for next year, i do absolutely adore the idea. i just know that i don’t have any extra time whatsoever. if i ever do it, i will absolutely add a crafting section! good thinking!

  5. There are some gorgeous ideas here…

    My Steadying Rock of Stationery is a quad-ruled composition notebook. I draw in the map of days at the front (currently the calendar goes out 18 months), then transfer all the permanent things I need to refer to lots (mostly inspirational quotes, some numbers or addresses or whatever) into the front covers in amongst the conversion tables, work from front to back chronologically (mostly – a few periods in my life have demanded breaking the interior of the book into sections for different things – The Boat, Moving, things like that) and then simultaneously from back to front for specific things – lists, mostly – like wishlisted music/books, things to get people for presents – but other crap too that gets frequently referred to and needs finding quickly and is best accrued geographically instead of chronologically).

    I like it because most stuff is easily found along the same lines as stuff on my desk/in my house – stratigraphically. I can remember how long ago I wrote something, or I can flip through and navigate my the landmarks I see, but as much as I’d like to have the equivalent of tags in meatspace, that only works for me online. I rarely end my writing where I start, everything’s linked in my head – even if I had something looseleaf that I could move around, most things would want to be in two places. At least. Tags work like that, paper doesn’t.

    I like the quad rule because I can easily divide the geography of the page visually without needing to go against any lines or drawing new ones, and I can change the orientation of the book to have a whole two-facing-pages poster size page if I want, and work across the gutter horizontally or vertically. I leave space if I know I’ll be adding to something or changing it. The quad rule is faint enough to ignore when I want to.

    I guess it’s just the most flexible tool I was able to find over the past 25 or so years. Compact, very portable, folds back on itself for curling up on the sofa with, gots firm covers so I can always have a work surface, cheap, eminently moddable, responds well to glue sticks and add-ins and color-coding with crayon or colored pencil or whatever, a large elastic band goes over it well to help keep it shut or mark a place or jam a pen into… and I have a whole shelf of past ones that I can still refer to. Opening date goes on the front when I start, closing date when I finish.

    Good luck with it – the best part of something like this is the pleasure in making something that works exactly for you, for what you need right now and what will support you in what you need to do. I think I’ve missed that about tools generally – more and more I see that we’re being told to adapt to our tools when the point of tools is help us, to be made just for us to help us in exactly the ways we need. (the glass-top stove leaps to mind here…)

    sorry for the ramble. glad you’ve recharged!

  6. I think it’s a fabulous idea – and an inspiration! ANYONE could use a system like this… not just a rockin’ punk FT doing-it-all mama but those of us that work outside of the home and have an OMGHOWAMIGOINGTODOITALL mentality (which is me.) My husband and I have been talking – quite seriously – about my staying at home after we have our 2nd baby (never mind the fact that I haven’t had our first yet) and something like that would be INVALUABLE to me! Maybe by that time you’ll have gone to print!

  7. Isn’t this always the case this time of year? I do have a homemaking journal and it is in a three ring binder. I take it with me all over the place and probably look like a 32yr old woman trying to masquerade as a teenager clutching her binder to herself as a way to ward off the world. But anyway- I keep a monthly to-do list of larger projects and events or happenings that I(we) need to prepare for. After that I have daily lists that have listed my regular day to day stuff (I kid you not, brushing my teeth is on there because I would forget it until we were out the door half the time) and a place for noting what I’m planning for dinner, any errands we need to run, and any other stuff I’d really like to get done that day. I also keep my grocery lists in there so I can add to it over time, a bi-weekly menu plan if I’m actually motivated, and each pay period’s budget. In a variety of scattered and tattered spiral bound notebooks I have garden plans, cleaning info, naturopathic medicine, lists of things I’d like to knit or sew, canning lists and the supplies I need for them, household projects lists and the supplies I need for those, homeschooling journals, and lists of the things I’d be doing for myself if I had unlimited time and children who slept through the night every night.

    I love your idea for the garden section. I keep thinking I should make a canning records page to record what I’ve put up for the year and another one with canning basics like times for the most common things to can (tomatoes, green beans, peaches, jam, salsa etc). I also keep thinking I should inventory what I still have on the shelves and in the freezers to make it easier to plan meals.

  8. While not a personal, creative book, Lee Valley has a 10-year Garden Journal. I find it invaluable as it has ample space for designs (with graph paper), seed lists, sucess/failure comments, pest and disease references, and then of course 10 years’ worth of January 19ths to refer to…It also makes a nice gift for gardening enthusiasts.

    Lots of awesome ideas here- crafting my personal journal is today’s task. A shout out for the first major snow of the season- 1.5 feet and counting! Nothing like Cordova, but a girl can dream….C’mon snow!

  9. Ok – if it had tabs on the months in the calendar, different colored sticky notes and more than one pen can fit in the spiral, I’m sold. I want one.

    1. yes, the menu plan, i was thinking lots of folks would want that. and the knitters planning paper, and budgeting, and homeschooler projects, and, and– i see we all just need our own custom book. when i first got this idea i went looking online, convinced that some website would let me design my perfect journal/planner and then send it to me in the mail. i would pay $20 for that. but i couldn’t find anything as comprehensive as i was looking for. seems like there would be a market for such thing. but maybe there’s not a big enough population who’s needs stray from the typical day planner/appointment book…

      1. I think Franklin Covey wanted to be that cool, but they aren’t quiet yet. Too yuppie-corporateish? And all leather bound. Snooze fest.

  10. I use to have a three ring binder version but it didn’t work. It was to big to haul around. Then I went to a Franklin Planner that I could carry in my purse. But it was heavy. Then at Thanksgiving my Husband got me a tablet. It’s fantastic! I can carry it with me, it has plenty of room, my calender is on it that, my lists are on it everything. I do have a cookbook of the recipes that we use in a 3 ring binder. And a 3 ring binder that I have papers in. But I am slowly adding them on here as well. And no it’s not hard to use I’m an electronics idiot and have taught myself lots.

  11. I’ve been reading your blog for a little while now….hello!! Deb over at http://homespunliving.blogspot.com/ has just re-posted her DIY planner. Really customisable….. you could use all of your different papers, calendars etc and really make it unique and to your own taste …… still snuggle with it(!)….and you could *still* change it – add and subtract pages, re-use it yearly…without being locked into a format with the spiral bound option! Good luck with your search for your ideal planner….. i’m excited to see what you come up with!

    1. yes, that looks very cool! i forgot about those kind of single rings. i wonder if it feels a bit sloppy though? i have realized i have some seriously intense tangible/visceral requirements. it has to feel just right. i guess that marks me. also makes life more difficult…

  12. “Beauty that Moves” blog has a download for her housekeeping routine pages, ready for the 3 ring binder. Scroll down to Jan. 10th.

  13. I love the idea of a customized, curl-up-able planner. And you inspire me to manage screentime with my own little one arriving this summer. As another commenter mentioned, Flylady is great for inspiring housework routines and general life management. It’s well worth taking the time to see past the cutesiness and religious undertones because there is real wisdom there–working in small chunks, being kind to yourself, focusing on progress instead of perfection…I received her emails for years before deciding the messages were so ingrained in me that I could stop.

  14. Thank you for the inspiration! Four days later and I’m now equipped with a very organized, handy, and fun binder/journal of lists, musings, and to-do’s. I got so into this project that I also tackled my bulging envelope of recipes (now in a tidy 3-ring binder and categorized) and my random pile of yoga practices, anatomy articles, and guided meditations (a third and separate binder). Sweet!

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