I'm no expert on organization or how to de-crazy your life. I tend to be a "just-make-it-till-bedtime" kind of mother, and all too often I am left staring at a to-do list with extra tasks still rattling around in my mind. It never seems to all get done; and if it does, it's an extremely short-lived victory.
So, I've been trying my best over the last few weeks on "break" to summon the strength and motivation in order to plan for a bit more sanity in the year ahead. My three "tips" below aren't original necessarily innovative. But, they are simple, attainable, and it's what I plan to implement into my own life this year so that I can reach beyond survival mode and actually thrive amidst the mayhem.
Welcome to PLANUARY: my game plan for sanity this January which I hope inspires motivation in the days ahead.
1. MEAL PLAN is a four letter word in my home.
Two four letter words for that matter. Ugh. The thought of it is intimidating and wearisome, I get it. But, instead of planning out an entire month, or even three meals a day for an entire week - limit it to the one meal everyone has on their minds: Supper.
Almost every day I felt this burden for coming up with a grand idea for sustaining the nourishment of my family and creating a Norman Rockwell moment at 6pm each night. Rarely did this actually happen. And, when left with no default to lean back on, I would all-to-often end up ordering pizza and justify the expense (both financial and caloric) with my stressful state and busy calendar.
Sure, pizza night is gonna happen once in a while - it should! But, I want to plan for it, enjoy it, and indulge guilt-free. While we might scrounge for breakfast and lunch (keeping bread, eggs, lunchmeat, and canned soups on hand is not so difficult after all) I know exactly what we're gonna have for supper that night.
Keeping it simple: Take inventory of what you have. List meats and sides, and then match them up and cross them off the list. Then, jot it down on a place where you can SEE it. Don't think about it too much - just look at the days you know you will be home for supper and write down the idea (be sure to note if you need to defrost something ahead of time). You don't need to roast a turkey every Wednesday - I have "frozen pizza" down for Friday night because I know that's a high-risk-ordering-in night for me. Be practical, realistic, and only take it one meal/one week at a time. If I can do it, you can do it! Honestly, to look over and know what's for dinner is a HUGE relief for me. It eliminates the guessing game and the burden, which is well worth the 20 minutes each weekend to look in my cabinets and write it out.
2. CLEAN HOUSE - what's that?
I can't imagine the thought of having every room clean in my home. I go to bed thinking "Tomorrow I will have the energy to tackle this, this, and also that." Then I wake up early to the grumpy sounds of children arguing and everything shifts to the bottom of the totem pole until it's suddenly the end of the day and there are even more Cheerios ground into my carpet. How do you spell frustration? C-h-i-l-d-r-e-n I get it.
Keeping it simple: Don't tackle the whole house. Don't even try a whole floor. Just start with the most disgusting room (or closet, or counter, or teeny-tiny shelf) in your home and get it satisfactory. No one is coming in with white gloves to test your cleaning skills, no one is bringing you a trophy later for your endeavors, no one is probably going to even notice that your toilet bowl went from Frat-boy-status to Mr-Clean-worthy. Don't kill yourself, just do what you can and high-five yourself.
We ALL have dishes. We ALL have laundry on our floors. We ALL have swept those Cheerios under the couch before our playdate arrived. Life happens and you can't live under the burden of maintaining a June Cleever home. You are not alone - but, you are also not a pig. You have 10 minutes to tackle ONE thing and it will make everyone feel better. The best part? Cleaning ONE thing usually is all the motivation I need to tackle just one MORE thing (when I have time). And while it might not last for long, it's the small victories that help us sleep at night.
3. SAVE THE DATE - for your marriage.
Ever get those adorable "Save the Dates" in the mail for your friend's wedding? Don't they look so picturesque and romantic? While they might remind us of younger years when it was easier to go out and be alone with your hunk of a husband, it also can make me sigh in jealousy wishing life wasn't too crazy for dating the man I love.
Week to week is bogged down with obligations. If I wait until Thursday to figure out a plan, I'm way too late. If I can't find child care, I give up. There are many hurdles when it comes to finding alone time with our spouses.
Keeping it simple: Text your babysitter RIGHT NOW - ask her for a free Friday night in February or March and then MARK IT ON THE CALENDAR. Tell your husband to make sure that night is clear. Put the date in your phone/email/planner so that you are sure to schedule around it. If your doctor or friend or child's teacher asked you to save a date, you would. Don't put your hubby at the bottom of the list. Stick a happy post-it note on your fridge (right next to those wedding invites) and save the date. You have plenty of time to think up fun and cheap ideas for what to do with that night, as well as save back some change to blow for the event (no matter how small or big).
That's it! Choose one - or all - to implement into your own crazy life. Send me YOUR ideas for how you plan to shift your focus, ease your guilt, or save your sanity this year! As we exchange ideas and encourage one another, we might just make it to 2015 with smiles on our faces. :)