We are in a season of life that is extremely busy. There’s not a lot of free time and my to do list is longer than the hours in the day. A few months ago I found myself snapping at the kids all the time, scrambling to make dinner, forgetting appointments, and just feeling overwhelmed and miserable on a daily basis. I cannot live like that. So I made some changes to help simplify our busy life.
1. Meal Planning. I’ve seriously simplified my meal planning over the last few months. I asked the kids to make me a list of their favorite dinners and I plugged them into a 2 week meal plan. That filled up 9 days since most of their favorite meals overlapped and I filled in the other 5 days with easy, fast dinners. Then I just repeat the same meal plan for the next 2 weeks. The change has been amazing. Everyone eats dinner, nobody whines, and life is easier. I also keep the staples on hand for a few easy dinner for those crazy nights. My go to dinners to keep on hand include homemade macaroni and cheese, BBQ chicken sandwiches, and loaded baked potato soup.
2. Monthly Purge. I’m in the middle of my 40 bags in 40 days challenge but I don’t limit purging to big challenges. I do a smaller purge every month. I take a big garbage bag, walk through the entire house, and pick at least 30 things to get rid of. It might be as simple as a few pairs of outgrown shoes, or some old books, or outdated decor. The house is so much easier to keep picked up when there is less in it. The kids have gotten into the habit as well and often choose items from their own rooms to donate each month.
3. Family Calendar. I use the Plum Paper Planner that you see above in the picture. It stays open on the kitchen counter at all times and is color coded for each family member. Every single thing goes in this planner- all appointments, all school activities, all sports schedules, all reminders…our whole family operation runs out of this planner. Having everything in one place makes it easy to schedule stuff.
4. Lower Expectations. The hardest thing for me to learn was to just say no. I like to think that I can pack everything into my day but I can’t and I would be so stressed out. I was so stressed from everything I was trying to do outside of this house that I was short tempered with everything happening inside this house. I stopped volunteering for a lot of things, I trimmed my commitments back to a manageable level, and I declined opportunities that would take up a lot of time. It’s made all the difference to not be over-committed.
5. Manageable Routine. One of the biggest things that has helped in our house is to do the morning prep at night. Our days start tragically early and I am not a morning person. So anything that can be done at night gets done including packing lunches, signing agendas, packing book bags, laying out clothes, gathering sports gear, etc. I also have started doing a 15 minute pick up before I go to bed. The kitchen is clean, the dining table is cleaned off, and anything lying around is put away. It has made such a difference for me.
Doing these 5 things has made our household so much more peaceful and happy. There’s less arguing and nagging, there’s more laughter, and we’re all happier. We only get one life to live and the years of having our kids at home are very short. We should enjoy them!