Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Self Discipline Starts Here

So I've been thinking... (big surprise there huh??) I think part of my issue lately is that I have no real schedule for *anything.* I am so lax about doing stuff, and so hesitant to actually implement a system or a schedule in my life. I fight it mentally. When I think about setting times for exercise or housework or even "me time" I feel very stubborn. Makes no sense... why?

I used to be pretty regimented. When I was a teenager, my entire life was scheduled up. Got up early every morning, went to school at certain hours, then right afterwards went to work for 25 hours a week or so from the time I was 15 on. And when I was not working, I was preaching. I was an ordained minister at 15, and I took it very, very seriously. I spent a minimum of 5 hours per week in actual religious meetings (aka "church") and an additional 15 hours EVERY WEEK out trudging through rain and snow and summer heat, knocking on stranger's doors preaching The Truth or standing on a street corner selling religious magazines or teaching Bible Studies in people's homes. When I was 17, I upped it to 23+ hours a week of preaching, went away to another state for religious training, and when I got back I added a new dog to the mix. I was very busy, and very scheduled. I didn't mind it.

When I was married with small kids in my early 20's, I absolutely HAD to be on a schedule. There were schedules for breastfeeding, for diaper changes, for meals and snacks and naps for a bunch of little kids (4 kids ages 5 and under). I had an actual cleaning schedule, too: I always knew exactly what days I would map, vacuum, do laundry, dust, wash sheets, etc. I had it on a chart on the fridge so I always had a nice, clean, organized house. And in between I spent time quilting by hand, working in our acre garden, making my own baby food, and canning produce.

After the divorce, when my youngest was not even 2 yet, it got crazy. I still had all those kids but no one to help me with them. No family and their father moved across the country, I once again scheduling saved me. I worked full time, took kids to daycare, had all their sports and events on the calendar... but the cleaning schedule fell apart and it started to get chaotic. This is also when I gained a ton of weight, about 80 pounds in less than a year.

And then I went back to school, which is even MORE regimented... school, work, juggling the kids' schedules. I remember how on Saturdays after the various soccer or baseball games I would take off my watch with a sigh of relief. I didn't have to BE anywhere for half a day and I loved it. And putting that watch back on the next day to go teach Sunday School felt like putting chains on my arm. This is when I started hating the schedule.

Now I am blessed to have much more flexibility in my life. My kids are older and rarely need me to "be" somewhere for them except at home; I really enjoy my outings with my youngest to her dance classes and I love working in her Kindergarten one day a week. But I have NOT re-implemented any kind of schedule. I just sort of randomly do stuff when I feel like it. Oh gee, the floor looks like it could stand to be mopped, I better get to that soon. Or I notice I am out of pants to wear, guess I better do the laundry. That kind of thing. When we are out of milk I go grocery shopping. Whatever. And I refuse, absolutely REFUSE to wear a watch. EVER.

The result of this IS that I am much more relaxed and feel almost pampered that I can do things when *I* want to. I know it won't last forever; I will have to go back to work eventually, after my daughter is in school full time. So I am sort of treating my life like a vacation right now. After all, I deserve it after all those years of struggle. BUT....

... the problem here is the lack of self discipline. And my house gets to a state of chaos a lot easier because I don't have a schedule for dealing with things. I also am not in a mindset to push myself to do ANYTHING. That's not working out so well for me in the exercise department. And really I am not doing myself any favors by letting myself do everything willy nilly when I feel like it. There is still a LOT of work to be done as a mother of five, and the way I do it randomly takes up a lot more time than if I just did things on a schedule like I used to. I think I'd have more actual "free" time rather than always worrying about "ugh, there is so much I need to do, what should I do?" And this attitude seems to roll over into the eating department. "Oh I feel like having a cookie now, guess I will do that." Not enough discipline.

I am sort of snowed in today so I have two goals here: 1) play with my daughter, do some fun stuff with her; and 2) make a cleaning schedule. I am also toying with the exercise schedule idea but I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow regarding my knees, so I will wait and see what he has to say before I do that. Of course I am also aiming for an on-plan eating day.

I am hoping that scheduling a bit and tightening up my life will give me a better sense of direction and help pull me out of this sluggish mood I am in. Something has to give, here. Cross your fingers...


Mrs. Crumpet said...

I have read your blog everyday since I started following it, and I know what you mean about structure. I think I need that in my life to, so along with you I am going to make a schedule, I seemed to be happier back in the day when I had one. So I understand what you mean by your post today. I wish you the best and hope you accomplish your goals you set for your self.

Mrs. Crumpet

Dillypoo said...

I find that I'm more productive (and happier) when I'm busy. More than a couple of days inactivity and I start procrastinating and nothing gets done. Maybe you can find a nice middle ground between over scheduled and not at all.

Lisa said...

Have you tried Fly Lady? She's got a ton of free usefull stuff and a great system for getting your house in order a little bit at a time.

Lyn said...


I have done/tried FlyLady more than once. It just overwhelms me. I do better with a basic schedule of "this is what I do each day of the week" and then a good spring cleaning each year.

clickmom said...

I hear you on that nice freedom part of life. I am also a SAHM (though I work part-time as a freelance photographer, but it is on my terms) and the only thing I manage to schedule and stick to is my exercise routine. I am one of the minority of people who love to exercise. I am as successful at exercising as you are at food management. I need the other half to fall in line! As far as I can tell, noone remembers what your floors look like, but they'll remember if you were friendly and loving as opposed to stressed out and not available because you were cleaning. So, I wouldn't stress too much about the house cleaning. If it's getting done then I think you are fine.

Lori said...

I see myself doing exactly the same thing with regard to schedules. I am regimented to the hilt right now, and dream of the day when I can do what I want when I want.

You are right, however, that some scheduling will give you more freedom. Maybe there is a compromise in there someplace. Maybe you can schedule one day a week and see how that works, or schedule one item per week.

Good luck with that!

Anonymous said...

You seem to suggest that if you "tighten up" control of your household responsibilities then you might also gain tighter control over your eating behaviors. Maybe.

Yet there is a fine line between discipline and punishment, and when it comes to eating patterns you may have crossed it by being overly restrictive alternating with over indulging as a way to take care of your feelings of abandonment and rage. Especially in light of your history of BED.

Perhaps your overly restrictive eating plan (very low calorie) is like a metaphor for the very low quantity/quality of nurturing you received at an earlier, vulnerable time of your life. Of course you go "off plan" to try and nurture yourself and, ironically, prove to yourself that YOU are in control.

You deserve better. You deserve a more loving, nurturing eating plan, not one that replicates the witholding and harshness of your past. Not one that splits your psyche in two, and pits you against yourself.

Please forgive my bluntness. From here*, it looks like you are becoming another casualty of the restrictive diet war.


*Here=recovering from ED

Lyn said...

Anonymous (Robin)~

That's an interesting observation. Something to think about for sure.

The thing that dissuades me from believing it fully, though, is that I had a really nurturing, healthy, less restrictive plan (mainly whole foods, counting calories at 1600-1700/day) for almost 2 years on this blog (before Medifast), and I still did the same thing... occasional binge cycling or over indulging, just enough to have a met weight loss for 20 months of zero pounds.

Leslie said...

I hear you about a schedule. I'm the kind of person who absolutely needs structure in my days. A vacation or a weekend is fine, but overall, unstructured time just gets me into trouble.

Patrick said...

Busy, gotta be busy or I dont do so well with discipline. It helps to set time for what we know we ust do too. For me, exercise is MUST do now. Crossing my fingers.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, many times I have tried to make schedules for myself for cleaning and stuff. When it works, it's fantastic. I find that life gets in my way a lot, though...so my schedules get dusty. I might have to try that again!

laine said...

I just wanted to tell you that the post you did a couple of weeks ago about giving 100% really made a difference in my life. I've been walking at least 2 miles per day, sometimes 4 if I go in the morning and evening.

I keep thinking of that post and saying "don't I want to give 100% to today?". Plus, it feels awesome.

Not really related to this post, but I figured I'd put it here.

MargieAnne said...

I think we all fell more comfortable when there is some routine structure to our days.

I am too relaxed about this having experienced a lot of enforced discipline when young .... but not quite to the extent you describe. Also we are retired with no children at home. Sounds like heaven but still can be chaotic.

You will choose a schedule that works for you and your family/household but if I may I'd like to make a suggestion.

To keep your schedule flexible and not onerous make a list of weekly activities/chores and fixed things like your daughter's dancing. Fit in all the important, essential things but allow room to change them around during the week if you want to.

claire said...

if you do end up writing a cleaning schedule you should post it, i have no idea where to start with that, it would be so helpful.

I have no idea where to start with a weekly cleaning chart

Anonymous said...

I think most people benefit from some kind of structure. Of course it doesn't have to be so rigid and stuffed with activites like you had before -- But at least some sort of a loose outline or plan for the main things you want to accomplish is a day is very helpful.

I find for me and my type of personality, if I DON'T have a good plan and some kind of a schedule and goals I sink to the lowest common denominator -- in EVERYTHING. My job, relationship, businesses, eating, excersise and housekeeping. Basically I find myself doing what ever I FEEL like doing and I usually FEEL like doing nothing. I know it sounds like I'm super lazy and undisciplined but I'm really not. I just need structur to function at my best.

Good luck to you -- it's hard, but the emotional payoff from accomplishing a few of the higher priority tasks and working towards goals is awesome. You can do it!

Bonnie said...

Lynn, I've felt the same way and it was when I wasn't doing anything that I felt was 1) challenging my capabilities and 2) making me feel competent and appreciated. Work has helped me in both respects. I know you're busy and 5 kids is a big challenge. Maybe if you looked for a 1 hour class a week or activity that you enjoy and would be just for *you*. It's all right to take care of yourself first, then you can take care of others.