The Secret to a Successful Home-Based Day

Posted April 20, 2020

Know what makes your day a good day

It’s official. We’re looking at a further three weeks of lockdown. The house is beginning to feel quite full of work, life, family, baking, Duplo, art-work, books, laundry and optimistic to-do lists.

I’m not overwhelmed. Yet. But with the announcement of three more weeks in lockdown this house and this family need a bit of a rethink. So we’ve adopted the same mentality we use to approach the “newborn” days.

You can’t have a successful day if you don’t know what that looks like for you.

Most adults, parents or not, are good at knowing you can’t do it all when you have a newborn baby. It’s acceptable to adopt crisis cleaning and limit what you take on when you haven’t had a decent nights sleep and you’re keeping a tiny new human happy. I’m extending that newborn privilege to Coronavirus Lockdown.

First of all, we need to know what makes a day look successful for you and any other adults in your house. Here’s what we consider when we put together a to-do list we can actually complete, every single day.

Todo list unsplash-logoEmma Matthews Digital Content Production

Know your limits

Daily life continues in lockdown and it is so much messier. You’re using your kitchen all day, every day, none of the beds seem to stay made and they’re all covered in books, teddies and torches at bedtime. The family bathroom is working triple-time between the extra home-based life, the addition of spring garden play and an abundance of cautious hand-washing whenever anything enters or exits the front door. You think you can shove a wash on any time you like but it’s Friday morning now and everyone is wearing their Christmas pyjamas at noon so that didn’t work out.

You can’t do it all when everything and everyone is in one space. Reconsider when you do what you do, to get the most impact out of your actions. It’s not realistic to stay on top all the housework throughout the day for us at the moment. It’s okay to expect a fresh start each day though, particularly in high traffic areas. I know that waking up to an untidy kitchen is a personal stress-point, that escalates into the rest of the morning, so this is something I want to see clean and ready to go every single day.

Manage your expectations

If you spot a spider web by your front door on your way out to work and school it can stay there. If you spot it on the way to breakfast at the start of a long day at home, it makes it on to your mental to-do list where it whispers at you until you clean it up.

The house is supporting so many different aspects of our life right now, all day. Every day. You can’t hoover during a conference call, whilst you are supervising young children in the garden, when the baby is sleeping or whilst there are two hundred pieces of Duplo all over the living room floor. If you’re used to a clean house, or a cleaning schedule, it has a lot more to contend with right now. Thinking about it all day doesn’t mean there is space to accommodate it.

Understand your own stress-points

When you’re overwhelmed or near the end of the day, know what you need to cover to wake-up and try again tomorrow.

Make a to-do-list you can complete.

I’m not talking about the DIY projects, decluttering tasks or your personal paperwork list. I’m talking about a to-do-list that works every day of the week. Put on this list consistent things you need to achieve each day to go to sleep feeling good.

This is your list for success on these long, home-based days.

What’s on my list?

So what do I need to see each day to feel successful? Right now, it’s all about our basic needs, setting up tomorrow and providing an enriching learning environment for our three little people. That last one is part of our pre-pandemic family commitment to home-school, but it’s important to me so it makes in on to the list.

  1. Our meals were balanced
  2. No one went to bed filthy
  3. We all had more than one option for our favourite part of the day
  4. Our daughters enjoyed learning something independently
  5. The kitchen was clean before bed

As for my husband?

His day looks different to mine and understandably includes more work-related metrics.

  1. Moved forward on a project
  2. Spoke to extended family
  3. Cleared the garden of children’s toys
  4. Showered before work
  5. Any tantrums don’t coincide with meetings/phone-calls

Make these lists your priority

I consider my family fortunate to be riding out lockdown together. We have a team in-situ, ready to make everything better. Or at least, to try something different. So my husband and I share our lists for success. If the evening arrives and there’s a lot of unticked boxes, we’ll do what we can to get through them before we move on to the rest of our evening. If we both understand what we need to have a good day, we can do our best to accommodate that for each other too.

Our lists for success are not all we do, but they do cover what we need to do to feel good about our day. It’s not a neatly oiled machine. Sometimes we’ll do that post-parenting day relax before we consider the list. In fact, I think it gives us a little more freedom to hit pause on the chores because if it gets to half-eight, no extras are making it on to the days’ mental to-do list. That spider web can stay where it is. Those shoes by the back door are only going straight back on to tiny feet tomorrow. And I know that I don’t need to do those things to go to sleep feeling like I had a good, successful day. It’s a short list because it’s a realistic list. It won’t take long to complete.