Is Monday Mend Day?

These hand-embroidered kitchen towels from ~1960 keep coming to mind as I try to organize myself, our household, and my creative work. The days often feel chaotic and unfocused: I’m not sure what to prioritize, and by the end of the day, I’m not sure what’s been accomplished.

Would I be more productive and efficient if I marked each week the same? Laundry on Monday, writing on Tuesday, groceries on Wednesday…

I haven’t tried this yet for two reasons. First, I fear I’ll create a routine that’s way too rigid or even grueling, and I’ll resent the routine and the tasks. Secondly, I don’t know how to create a routine that could adapt to the unexpected: kiddo gets a cold or spouse has a vacation day. Do I double up on that day’s routine tasks on a different day? Do I shimmy it all down the line so now laundry is on Tuesday and writing is on Wednesday?

My friend told me she hates routine. She said she “can’t stand doing the same thing at the same time day after day, it feels super claustrophobic. I don’t have the same energy level every day, can’t stand an alarm to wake up, can’t fit enough stuff in the day that way.”

I’d always thought the opposite—that those with strict routines accomplished more each day, and that they didn’t mourn the loss of doing something else. They’re so committed to their routine that they never stop to feel that they’d rather be doing something else at the moment.

Routine requires commitment to a set of tasks. Maybe I’m unsure of what to commit to, but also the tasks that come at me, that I have to do, are plentiful and sometimes demanding.

I’d like to think these towels were made by women for other women as a message: “You’ll be doing laundry on Monday, but so will I, so you’re not alone, and look—we can make art out of anything, even a kitchen towel commemorating the tasks that least define us. Get it done, dear friend, and get back to your books, your painting, your wistful gazes out the window.”


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9 Responses to Is Monday Mend Day?

  1. weebluebirdie says:

    This reminds me of the sets of pants you get for children with the days of the week 🙂 I’m not good with routine either – especially when it comes to household stuff. I used to think ‘I’ll do it Saturday morning’ and of course didn’t. Rather than just get it done, I let things drift. Now that I’m in a new house – with a clean slate – I’ve started doing little bits at a time. I do what I can in an hour or half an hour then stop. It’s mostly working 😉

    • TRISTA says:

      Oh, a clean slate. Is it as lovely as I’m imagining? Or is it a lot of decision making and being patient? I like your time limits–that would be good for me, to set an hour or a half an hour for certain projects.

  2. weebluebirdie says:

    Well, the new house was not our choice – the fickle nature of renting! But by an amazing fluke, it is much better than the old place. Recently decorated – everything is white, which I didn’t like at first, but actually it shows up the colours of my bits and pieces much better. It’s the newly decorated part which is inspiring me to keep on top of the housework! Our last place had gone beyond the ‘chic’ of ‘shabby chic’ so no amount of cleaning could really improve it. I’ve also made a point of putting out less stuff, though still a long way from minimalist.

    • TRISTA says:

      I read your post about moving. It sounds like you’ve made it a positive experience. I was just whining about white walls to a friend–it seems so stark, but if you have colorful bits and pieces, I think I would like it. Eager to read more about your new homemaking!!

  3. Cristina says:

    Nice. Maybe someone should embroider a kitchen towel that says, “We’re all (especially women) trying to figure out how to do everything that needs doing and write and make art.” I like routines, as long as they’re not too rigid. I think routines are especially difficult with little ones at home — worth a shot, as long as you can “go with the flow” of having those routines up-ended at any hour, any day. I really like your “…we can make art out of anything, even a kitchen towel commemorating the tasks that least define us.”

    • TRISTA says:

      Thanks for reading, Cristina! I know from your blog that you’re busy revising your mystery–I’m honored that you made time to read my post. You’ve also given me the idea of drawing new kitchen towel designs in old-fashioned style that say/illustrate things like: write, read, research, protest, serve/volunteer, build, create !!!!! (Kind of like Victory Garden of Tomorrow screen printers do:

  4. Alex Hurst says:

    Those towels are really cute. I’m finding that a disorganized routine tends to serve me best. I have to prioritize the tasks (like homework) that demand my mental attention early in the day (except when I am tired, and then it’s in the evening), and the non-thinking tasks (like laundry and dishes) for when I just need a mental nap from all the notifications, calls, and deadlines looming over my head. One thing I have found that really helps is to just tell yourself directly that the task that is causing you the most stress needs to get done first, because the relief that comes with completing it always makes completing the next 2-4 things easy, compared.

    For example, I’ve been struggling to finish a client job, and I just now, finally, was able to finish it. Before I went to bed last night, the lightness I felt at getting that task done let me check off another five things before I went to bed. Then, mentally tired this morning, I cleaned the house. 😛 But it definitely is hard to balance everything all at once.

    • TRISTA says:

      This might be the missing piece for me, Alex (Ariel…getting accustomed)–maybe it’s less about what’s done on Monday or Tuesday, and more about what I choose to prioritize. What you described makes perfect sense to me, and also means the “routine” ebbs and flows week to week, but not the goals and priorities as much.

  5. Pingback: Routinize Yourself: Maybe Monday Is Mend Day? | All But The Kitchen Sink

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