New Year's Resolution - Work Smarter, Not Harder
This is my New Year’s Resolution. Actually, has been for the last 3 years. It is a work in progress, obviously.
Have you ever felt at your wit’s end? Are there not enough hours in the day? Do you go to bed at night thinking you have failed at everything? This has been my life and still is many days (hence a work in progress). I figured this vicious cycle needed to stop.
So much of what was eating at my time was mindless, busy work: meal prep, grocery lists, packing snacks, picking out clothes, etc. I wanted to have my priorities right, but the things that didn’t matter to me were taking away my time and becoming my priority. I couldn’t sit down and read a book with the kids because I was busy packing their backpacks. I couldn’t enjoy a TV show with my husband because I was writing my grocery list. I didn’t want to go for a walk because the sink was full of dishes. Was this how motherhood should be? I think not!
Step #1: Streamline Meal Prep and Grocery Shopping
I came to a point where I spent all this time planning meals, looking on Pinterest for awesome recipes, and buying a ton of ingredients that I didn’t really need (and they weren’t cheap). One day my husband asked me why I don’t just have a 2-week cycle of meals and make life easier. At first, I thought he was crazy. He can’t box me in like that! I am a free bird! But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. I even took it a step further. One morning (literally maybe 2 hours of my day), I sat down and thought of easy, good meals that everyone enjoys. I first went through dinner, then listed some things for sides, lunches, and breakfasts. I only used tried and true recipes. I also had a handful of easy, quick meals for the days I worked. Next step of this process was making a grocery list for these items. Also, to my grocery list I added staples I use around the house. I typed it all up, and it all fit on a single piece of paper with 3 columns- one for the meals, two for the groceries. I printed at least 10 and stuck them in my nightstand. All ready, at my disposable. But I am still a free bird, and sometimes I just cross out a meal on that paper and add one I want to try. Add the ingredients to the grocery list side, and all set. Super simple, even if you don’t want to be boxed in!
Grocery shopping itself though had taken up at least 1-2 hours when I went. I always went after the kids were in bed on a weeknight. The store wasn’t crowded, and I didn’t feel rushed. The cashier knew me, and it was great. I really did enjoy the quiet. But when I brought all the groceries home at 9 pm, it didn’t go as smoothly. By that point, I was tired and done and did not want to put everything away. Then I started hearing about Walmart pick up. I tried it and got an immediate $10 off my grocery order. It was so easy. I literally cannot say how much this changed my life. I could just schedule a time when I picked the kids up from school. So convenient.
Step #2: Streamline Housework
This one is something that I really struggle with. I am kind of a mess. Clutter doesn’t always bother me, but I have to come to realize that I feel more at peace with a clean home or at least a clean main area. So I make a point of cleaning up after dinner everyday, even if I am tired. That basically means I wash the dishes, sweep, and clear the counters. I make the kids pick up anything that doesn’t belong in there before they can get ready for bed. I know, it is super basic, but it is a lot better than it has been before and so much easier to keep clean.
Step #3: Streamline Kid Prep
This step is pretty simple. It just took us a while to figure it out. For my kids to leave the house in the morning to go to school, all they really need are clean clothes, backpack with completed homework, and snack for snack time (lunch they eat from the cafeteria). Clean clothes… Every Monday I have laundry day. It works best for me to just do it all at once. Now that they have clean clothes, I pick out their outfits the night before while they are getting ready for bed. I need to eliminate as much stress as possible from the mornings. Definitely not a morning person! Backpack packed…. As soon as they get home, I go through their backpack. Seriously, I cannot believe how many papers they bring home. Everything is basically going in the trash unless I need to sign it or it’s a hand-print art craft (that is my criteria for keeping things). The reading book goes back in the backpack signed. We make them do their reading homework in the car on the way home. Thankfully no one gets car sick. Snack ready… We pre-package them in Ziploc bags (which reminds me, I need to buy some more) or bought ones already packaged. I put those on the bottom shelf of the pantry and have the kids pick one out when they get home from school. If it doesn’t happen right away, it tends to not get done. The whole point of this is just to really get it done early so it’s not hanging over our heads and minimize the stuff that needs to get done in the mornings. I am so not a morning person. Did I say that already?
I know none of these are earth-shattering ideas. It almost seems obvious, but there must be others like me out there that struggle with the constant busyness and disorganization. If you have other great ideas, please comment below. I really would love to hear more ways to work smarter and not harder.
Until next time,