Systems Or Stress: It's Your Call | Giftie Etcetera: Systems Or Stress: It's Your Call

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Systems Or Stress: It's Your Call

Here's our family system for handling school uniforms:

1. A grownup washes the uniform.

2. A child puts the uniform shorts away, but a grownup puts pants (required on Mass days or when it's cold outside) away because the kids cannot reach the hangers.

3. Every evening, while Mom deals with water bottles, snacks, and signing papers or sending notes to the teacher, Dad sets out uniforms for tomorrow morning, based on whether Mass is scheduled and checking the next day's weather forecast.

4. In the morning, kids dress themselves. They never think about whether they wear pants or shorts. They simply dress in whatever Dad sat out.

It's a good system. There is no need to write anything (other than the Mass schedule) in my planner, since the backpacks are processed upon entering the house after school and since my husband takes care of putting the clothes out.

Since the system is so good, you'll be SHOCKED to know that I found myself in the carpool line, blathering to principal that the mistake of my children wearing shorts on a very chilly fall day was ALL MY HUSBAND'S FAULT. What is it about school principals that makes a 38 year old school teacher and lawyer confess to every minor slip-up? (Also, I totally threw my husband under the bus. :) )

The principal is kind of an exceptional dude. He smiled and assured me that "everybody makes mistakes." I adore him. But I'm a perfectionist, so I FELT JUDGMENT ANYWAY. I need to work on that little problem of mine. OCD a bit?

You see, Loyal Readers, we did not work the system.

Instead of trusting that our system was reliable, my husband felt the temp outside at 6 a.m., decided it was hot, and asked me to change the shorts out for pants while he left for work. I was sleepy and barely awake, so I just did as I was told. (I know better than to mindlessly obey. There's a reason obedience was not in our wedding vows.) The added stress of changing out the clothes had a snowball effect, making us run a little late. (Any rumors of Loki, age 5, and Mommy, age 38, getting into a screaming argument over a book will remain unconfirmed. *Ahem*) In fact, we were too late to go back inside and change at 6:45 a.m., when I realized that sometime between 6 a.m. and 45 minutes later, a cold front had swept through the town.

Lately, we've had some other issues from either not working the systems that we have in place or not having systems in place. My husband lost his XBox One preorder receipt. (Surely Best Buy can just look that up, right?) He thought he kept it in his wallet. But his wallet is not a good filing system, so it is lost. He also forgot to give me my August paycheck when he checked the mail. (It's November.) The system is to bring the mail inside and put it on my purse when he sorts it. He held on to the check, instead, thinking he would (somehow, without my signature) deposit it himself. Once, in college, my husband threw away $800 worth of checks in the dumpster. (Okay, when I said "we" had issues, I meant that HE had issues. Love you, Sweetheart!) You'd think he would learn to work the systems, but no.

In contrast, my friend Michelle is completely organized, without even carrying a planner. She uses Outlook and a bunch of excellent systems to stay ahead of things.

Obviously, my planner is the key system that keeps me organized.

But I also have a system for laundry (start a load every morning that I am home; stack clothes in the order of the drawers and shelves that they are stored on; hang hanging clothes and, when put away those clothes, grab hangers to bring to laundry closet). I have a system for dinner (menu, start water boiling before starting any other part of the meal, cook while I chop, and clean as I go). I have a system for clearing the table after dinner (oldest kid puts away dirty dishes, husband puts away condiments and clears the table, and I store leftovers).

Systems make things routine, puts them in the proper order to maximize efficiency, and eliminates errors.

A peek at my system for marking things done and undone (a pink or red box around the scratched-out, completed tasks and a circle with an arrow and a star moving things from Wednesday to Thursday's to do list):

Doctors use systems (and checklists) to do surgery.

Businesses use systems to make sure things get done timely and well.

Individuals need systems to stay free of unnecessary stress.

Tell me about your systems. What works for you?



Diana said...

Would like to know more about "friends Outlook system"!!!

Christy Ahern said...

Our system...

is to follow the system. We have yet to figure out the system.

But I check the weather for the week so I know ahead of time what to instruct for clothes (I cannot wait until we're to pants all the time). Then they dress, we roll. It depends on the agenda on what else goes on.

We're limited plan type of people though. So most of this is lost on me.

maccie2 said...

It is amazingly comforting to read that people who have really good systems in place can still get whacked now and then. I speak as one who has a pretty good system going, but fails to follow.
I really love your blog.

Giftie Etcetera said...

Maybe my friend Michelle will write a guest post! :)

Michelle said...

I'm going to send Kristy my system and she can edit for her blog. said...

Oh, yeah! Systems are the glue that holds it all together. I LOVE systems. Having ADHD, they are critical to my success.

Enjoyed your post and had a good laugh, too.

Giftie Etcetera said...

By the way, Loyal Readers, if you haven't visited the Homemakersdaily blog, you NEED to!