With Jeff being in session, there are many times where I feel overwhelmed by the duties of the day ahead of me. Making meals, doing homework, running carpool, giving baths and - let's face it - just keeping these little people alive in general. So this year I have tried to implement a few changes that simplify everything for me, keeping me on task - or at least close to it.
1. A Load a Day
After I had Charlotte, I found that one more small person brings a lot more laundry and I easily got behind. I began reading Fly Lady's website and she has a motto that I try to keep in my head : A Load a Day Keeps Chaos Away. It is so very true.
Now with three kids - some of which have sports - and a husband that runs all the time, staying on top of the laundry is absolutely vital in keeping my mind sane. There is nothing that will ruin my attitude more than having four loads of laundry to do. I don't make sure I have empty laundry baskets every day, because that would require me checking everything several times a day, but I do make sure to run a load through - all the way to the drawers - once a day. (Within reason, people!)
This also allows me to be able to push Jeff's laundry through quickly on the weekends and allows for my laundry room to remain semi-clean. This will make your life easier even if it's just yourself. Yes, you feel like you're always doing laundry, but in reality folding a load of 10ish pieces every day is way less daunting than folding a load of 40+ pieces twice a week. (I see you rolling your eyes but nodding in agreement at the same time, friend.) Trust me on this.
2. Making Lunches the Night Before
This one is difficult to maintain as routine for me, but I am always thankful when I do it. That's my mantra when I start to get all of the supplies out. I will not regret this in the morning. Oh, but all I want to do is park myself on the cozy couch over there with my book... but no. I WILL get this done.
In order to stay motivated, I set my timer for 15 minutes. I race around getting their lunches packed and then tidying up quickly. I almost always have time leftover when I'm all done. This one isn't fun to read about and it, honestly, isn't fun to do - but it is totally worth it.
3. Getting Up Before Everyone Else
Long-time readers know that this is my number one priority every day. More so than exercise (I mean, hello!) and even more than reading my favorite book - I have to get up before everyone else in the quiet of the morning. This is when I have my time with the Lord, but this is also just a time for my heart and mind to get settled into the day ahead of me. I might not get another quiet moment all day... it's just the reality of this season of life. The only consistently quiet and (mostly) uninterrupted time I can count on during the day is before everyone gets up.
I highly suggest finding a consistent time that you can just be alone in the quiet for a few minutes. Whatever that might look like for you, do it. It has become something that I look forward to and something that I make a priority in my day. Even when we were on vacation, I made time to go downstairs to the lobby, put my headphones in and just sit with my coffee. No, it wasn't quiet, but it wasn't my people hollering at me that they need a snack or help finding their shoes. It was just me, my coffee and The Show Ponies and it was marvelous.
4. Meal Planning // Prep
My week goes so much smoother when this happens. As much as I adore cooking, this is my least favorite step in my week. Meal Planning. I have read all of the tips and tricks about making this easier. I have bought apps. I have tried a calendar where I plan out an entire month of meals. But it never fails that when I sit down to meal plan I come up at a loss of ideas and end up making the same thing that I know my people will eat - or at least not cry about eating.
My meal planning strategy looks like this : I sit down with my calendar and my bullet journal. I look at what we have going on for the week and decide which nights I need to prepare meals. Then I start to think of what we could possibly have. If I'm planning a meal for every night, as opposed to one night picking something up due to to activities or what not, I spread out my work load as follows.
I have one frozen meal, one big meal (where I cook everything from scratch), one crockpot meal, one version of breakfast and one version of tacos. The frozen meal could be frozen pizza or a frozen pre-made casserole. The big meal - when I'm on my top of my game - will make enough for me to freeze half of it so I can have it a future week for a frozen meal.
Breakfast night and taco night are my kids favorites. Taco night comes in all shapes and sizes :: Fajitas, quesadillas, a nacho bar or build your own tacos. Breakfast night consists of waffles, pancakes, or biscuits, eggs and chicken sausage. If I'm feeling generous, I'll throw in some chocolate chips to the waffles and add some bacon on the side. That's when the kids feel especially loved, y'all.
5. Walmart Grocery Pickup (This is NOT an ad, but it should be!)
So this has quite literally changed my life. You might be saying, "Becky, stop! You're being dramatic!" To which I would say, "No, y'all! This is a real thing! It will change yours too!" I don't care who you are, this is one of those things that you will say you don't need, you'll wait forever to try it, but when you do you will kick yourself for not trying it immediately after hearing about it. I swear to you.
So here's how it works :: You go to walmart.com and you create account. You have already meal planned, because you're awesome, and you have your list next to your computer. You start to type in the things on your grocery list. Cheerios, turkey breast, applesauce, vanilla.... Wait. Don't you already have vanilla? You go to your refrigerator, open it up and there she is. A brand spankin' new large bottle of vanilla extract! You just saved yourself $4.39 from buying an unnecessary bottle of vanilla to make those cookies for your neighbor. Congratulations. Now go buy yourself something pretty!
Seriously, though, this system is great for so many more reasons than the scenario I listed above. I only buy the things on my list, I don't have to get my cranky toddler out of the car and pacify him with incessant snacks and iphone games so the elderly ladies look at me like a bad mom. I don't have to go searching for random ingredients! And when it's raining, y'all - they still bring it out to me!! I don't even have to get out my car!! If you're a work at home mom, work out of the home mom, stay at home mom, career woman without kids, wife that stays at home, single person... this could not be better for you!!! Try it and then tell me about it. I dare you.
6. Leaving My Planner on the Counter
This is such a simple thing to do, but it still doesn't happen every day. When it does, my day runs so much smoother, all of our appointments get made, errands get run and people get picked up and dropped off as they should. I have used the Erin Condren planner in the past, but this year I went with the Get to Work Book and I am LOVING it. It's very simple and clean, but it's great for all of my writing projects. I highly recommend it!
I hope all of these ideas help you simplify your crazy life like it has mine! Let me know what you try and if you have any of your own ideas! I'd love to hear about them!!!