Padding: A Remedy for Disorganization

I was reading an article on the New England Patriot’s “secret art of padding” (though I caren’t one iota for the Patriots, or the NFL) today, and it suddenly occurred to me how little I know about what’s going on in my home, when it needs to get done, and who needs to do it. Track with me for a second…

I started watching football in middle school, basically as an exercise in not being totally bored until I played in the marching band at halftime. And it always amazed me that one team could have so large a coaching staff. Why!? What do they all do??? My dad, not being a big sports guy never explained it to me. My adult self better understands the game, watching football with my husband and having a little brother who played. Anyway, it wasn’t until today that I now understand the concept of padding, and why it is so integral to the success of the New England Patriots. And it occurred to me- I need to pad my life.

I need to sit and diagram out everything that goes on in each facet of my day. When are animals getting fed? Where is feed stored/is it efficient? Who’s feeding which animals? Have the dogs been walked? What needs planted in the gardens? When will they germinate? What pests are they vulnerable to? Am I spraying copper fungicide this year? When? What trees need pruned in dormancy vs after budding out? What kid is studying which subject? How much is next year’s curriculum going to cost? Do I have a plan in place for sick days, for the kids and myself? What skills do I lack that I need to gain or further develop?

You know, all that adulting, planning type thing that is super popular among women and necessary in homemaking, but that because of my miniscule attention span and drive to go on to the next thing I usually start strong, and somewhere around June or July, I’ve just given up all hope of maintaining a beautiful garden, or 5:00am wake up/quiet time, or month-in-advance meal plans. For whatever reason, it makes way more sense to me in a football metaphor than it ever did in spreadsheets, lists, or homemaking books.

If I’m going to be an effective “offensive coordinator” in my home, I need to pad things out.

This means that 1) I need to dedicate time and attention to doing it, and 2) I need to learn something from the experience and apply it to my day to day, making observations and adjustments as I go.

By and large, I would love if my home ran on autopilot, and I could just jump in and referee as needed… Wrong. And with this many children, the strategies I had in place that worked with one or two children are not as feasible with 4, soon-to-be 5.

Nearly 10 years ago, I did a post on creating my command center. That was as a newlywed with no job, and no children, back during my “sabbatical year” used for settling into married life with my USMC enlisted husband. And that was a great concept, and I’m thinking through modifying that to suit my current life stage.

Truthfully, I would love to streamline everything into ONE functional system. But I have a few different systems for each facet of life, and to try to squash them all together would just be too much– Homestead, homeschooling, chores, bills, banking, medical files, important documents, personal calendar, school calendar, church calendar, husband’s work/volunteer calendar– it’s dizzying to imagine all that on one page.

So, I invested in a homeschool planner from the Well Planned Gal. I love it. It incorporates all our homeschooling activities and record keeping in conjunction with meals and grocery lists- which works for me because meals are the punctuation of our daily routines.

But things like bill-paying, farm records, my husband’s schedules, and health records- all that stuff has it’s own system, and with the influx of responsibility and family members, we’ve outgrown some of those systems and need to reorganize, and remap. Truthfully, I’m embarrassed by the state of my computer desk right now. There are papers everywhere, and even a hod of dried peppermint that hasn’t been put away for the season. Why it’s there, I couldn’t tell you.

So my project for this week is to “pad for life” in my free time, and in the same way I map the garden, I’m going to map out the inner workings of home/family/homestead life and get this place whipped into shape. It’s simple enough to plan, but it’s something else entirely to follow through.

But I mean it this time. And when needs must, as in having a 5th child (still a surreal thought that I’m trying to come to grips with), I’m a lot more inclined to stick with it.

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