Creating Your Summer “Bucket List”

How is it going as you prepare for a summer of fun, relaxation, experiences and relationships?  As spring gets busy (it is super busy around here), revisit your summer mission statement and keep at it; just do the next thing.

This week we are going to create our “bucket list” for this coming summer.  A “bucket list” is a list of things you want to do or experience.

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Start by making a list of all the things you want to do or experience this summer.  You can make separate lists for yourself and for your family if that is easier.  To start with, just make a list of whatever comes to mind.  Be sure to include simple, easy things like:

  • run through the sprinkle
  • eat a cherry popsicle
  • take a nap in a hammock

As well as things that require a bit more planning, preparation and expense like:

  • visit the zoo
  • go to the beach
  • July 4th fireworks
  • go camping
  • go to the county fair

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There are probably more things on your list than you will be able to accomplish in one summer.  As a family (or with your spouse) look at the things on your list that involve more time, planning, preparation and expense.  Choose the ones that will fit into your family’s available time and budget without causing added stress.  Now schedule them in and make the necessary reservations and time-sensitive preparations.

After you have finished that, take a second look at the items you decided wouldn’t work for your summer or budget.  Is there something similar that you could on a smaller scale?

Example: If you wanted to go camping for the weekend but don’t have the time or equipment, could you set up a tent and sleep in the yard for the night? This involves much less time and preparation, is still a fun and memorable experience and leaves an easy escape for a sudden thunderstorm!

Now, make a list of the fun, little, everyday things and post it somewhere you will see it often.  This will help you remember to take the little bit of extra time and preparation to make these things happen (like adding cherry popsicles to the grocery list).

As you plan activities keep in mind the necessary down-time needed by members of your family.  My family needs quiet alone time pretty much every day (it is a central part of our daily routine).  We also cannot handle being away from home (even for a few hours) every day and running errands and getting groceries “counts” as an activity away from home.  Therefore I know that we can plan no more than two or three out of the house activities each week.  However, sometimes I can add an extra activity onto something that has to be done, like stopping to play at the park after getting groceries or going to get ice cream after church.  I know that adding nature-oriented, low people and short activities works well for my family (of mostly introverts and highly sensitive people).

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Remember that clear communication is very helpful in making your summer run smoothly.  The night before, or each morning, talk with your family (spouse and kids) about what will be happening that day.  Remind each person about his/her specific responsibilities (daily cleaning habits, educational pursuits, etc).  This lets everyone know what to expect and what is expected.  You can leave some things as a surprise (like a trip to the ice cream shop after dinner or a stop at the park after the library).  I prefer to use the word surprise rather than the word secret.  A surprise is always something good (make sure to keep this true) but to some people a secret is not always a good thing.

Summer is coming quickly!  Are you getting excited?

What are some of the big and little things on your bucket list?

 

Developing a Daily Routine

My mission for this summer is to refresh myself and my family with meaningful experiences that grow our relationships with each other.

I hope you are making progress on developing a daily and weekly cleaning routine (and getting your kids involved).  Hopefully, you are also finding some things to get rid of in order to make your cleaning tasks easier!

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A pile of stuff to get rid of — less stuff = less cleaning!

Today, we’re going to talk about developing a daily routine.  Having a daily routine gives security and predictability to our days.  We like knowing what to expect as the day progresses.  A comfortable flow to the day is also relaxing, (if you keep it simple!)

Think about your family’s current daily routine.

What things do you want to keep for the summer?  What things do you want to change?  What things do you want to alter to better fir the relaxed atmosphere of summer?  Make a list of the things you want to or need to keep in your summer routine:

Example: breakfast, chore time, lunch, free time, quiet rest time, supper, snacks, bath time, reading together, etc.

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Free play time is a necessary part of our daily routine.

If you are a very scheduled and “type A” person, you will need to adjust your focus from a scheduled, time-oriented view of life to a routine-oriented mindset.  Think of your daily routine as a bunch of things done in a particular order, not necessarily at a particular time.  The only things I try to keep at fairly regular times each day are meals and snacks.

Here is an example of or daily routine:

  • 7:30 am breakfast
  • Chore time
  • Education time/free time/special activity
  • 10:00 am snack
  • 12:30am lunch
  • Reading together
  • Quiet rest time
  • Free time/special activity
  • 3:00pm snack
  • 6:00pm supper
  • Free time/special activity (usually at home)
  • Bath/shower
  • Reading together
  • Bedtime

You may need to come up with a couple of different daily routines.  If you work outside of the home, it may work best for you to plan daily routine for work days and for non-work days.  If your weekdays and weekends look very different, you may need to make a routine for weekdays and another for weekends.  Generally, one main daily routine can easily be adapted to fit the needs of another day.

You know your family and how much down-time your family needs.

This will determine what a special activity look like for your family and how often your family can handle these special activities.  For my family, we can handle no more than one special activity each day.  I also know that we can’t handle spending some time away from home each day of the week.  This determines how I choose and plan activities for my family.

As you think through the things you want to include in your daily routine, remember to plan time for the things that are important to you.  Do you want to keep your kids (or yourself) learning this summer?  Look for a fun class in your area or online, choose some books you want to read together or some science experiments you want to do. Do you have a morning routine for yourself?  Summer is a great time to try on — my morning routine is essential to getting me ready for the rest of my day!

I highly suggest limiting screen time activities and being very choosy about what you allow.  Set a timer and make it a “reward” for after necessary tasks (daily cleaning habits, reading or educational activities).  There will be plenty of time and opportunities to spend time in front of screens when the weather turns cold and nasty!

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This is what screen time looks like when the battery on the computer runs low. 🙂

What things are you making time for in your daily routine?

 

 

Preparing to Take a Vacation From Cleaning (Sort of!)

If you are going away from home for a week of vacation you can pretty much let daily chores and laundry slide.  But for an entire summer you can’t.  Bummer, I know!  However, you can minimize the chores you need to do for the entire summer!

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The first thing you need to determine is what cleaning necessities are for you and for your family.  What things need to get done each day or each week to keep you home clean enough for you to happily function day in and day out.

Note: If you do not have any idea where to start with this and/or you have no chores that regularly get done each day/week and you feel as if your home is always a disaster, check out the blog, podcast or book from A Slob Comes Clean.  She has great advice and help for those who have little to no daily cleaning habits and need more help in this area.

And one of her e-books is in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle on sale through May 1, 2017!

Example: Make beds, bathroom cleaning, sweep/vacuum, laundry, dust, quick tidy, yard work or gardening, groceries/errands.

Next, time yourself doing each chore individually.  Only one chore at a time.  Only that specific chore.  Write down the chore and the time it takes.  Do this for each individual chore.  Do this for a couple of days (or a week if you are an over-acheiver).  Now, add up the time you spend each day in basic cleaning tasks.  I’ll bet the average for each day is about 30 minutes.

Example: I can quick clean our bathroom in 5 minutes.  Doing the dishes after a meal takes me 5-10 minutes.  Folding/putting away one load of laundry takes 5-7 minutes.  Vacuuming our main living areas takes 5-10 minutes.

Determine if there are any of these chores you can delegate to other family members.  Can your children help with the cleaning?  The laundry? The food prep or dishes?  I firmly believe that children, even young children, can and should help out around the house.  It can be a struggle to motivate and encourage excellence in these areas but an important step to train our children in life skills.  Begin training hen now to help this summer with the motivation that when summer come you all can have more time for fun and activities together!  Getting the whole family involved is preparing for a vacation summer will help them look forward to and appreciate the summer even more.

From now on practice doing these daily and weekly minimal cleaning chores.  They will soon become a habit for everyone involved and the time it takes to do each chore will probably lessen.  One reason it is easy to keep a vacation resort cabin clean is because it starts clean and maintenance cleaning is easy because there is little clutter to move around or put away in order to clean!

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle has great resources to help you de-clutter your home and develop simple cleaning systems that work for YOU!

The thing about a system is that what works for me may not work for you and what works for me today may not work for me tomorrow.  That is why I love having lots of resources to reference.  I now that I will find something that works today and I know that I will be able to find something will work for later.    Check out the resources included in just the organizing and home section:

  • 14 Days to Opening Your Front Door to Guests by Dana White ($7.99)

  • 2017-2018 Yearly Personal Planner by Jolanthe Erb ($4.99)

  • Bullet Journaling for Book Lovers by Anne Bogel ($15.00)

  • Clean Mama’s Just One Page Kit by Becky Rapinchuk ($7.00)

  • Clutterfree with Kids: Change Your Thinking. Discover New Habits. Free Your Home. by Joshua Becker ($5.99)

  • Command Center 101: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Command Center that WORKS for Your Family by Meredith LeRoy ($5.00)

  • Creating Success At Home: Your Guide to Redefining Home, Conquering Clutter, Taking Back Time, Boosting Your Energy and Overcoming Decorating Fears by Sharon Hines ($3.99)

  • Family Chore System & Planner by Mandi Ehman ($17.00)

  • Life Your Way Complete Printables Download Pack by Mandi Ehman ($7.00)

  • Minimize the Mess: A Mother’s Guide to Simplifying the Home by Rachel Kratz ($2.99)

  • Overwhelm to Order: The Ultimate Homemaking Binder by Rachel Norman ($9.99)

  • Revive 30-Day Challenge by Jessica Fisher ($27.00)

  • Speed Clean the Deep Clean: A Collection of Time-Saving Cleaning Tutorials and Tips for Busy Moms by Katelyn Fagan ($4.99)

  • Sweet Life Planner: Vanilla Edition by Laura Smith ($35.00)

  • The Mindset of Organization: Take Back Your Home One Phase at a Time by Lisa Woodruff ($8.99)

  • The Paperless Home: How to Use Evernote to Organize Your Life by Abby Lawson ($32.00)

  • The Ultimate Spring Cleaning Hack Guide by Amy Bellgardt ($9.99)

  • Your Intentional Holiday: Heart & Home Planner by Victoria Osborn ($10.00)

These resources alone are worth well over the cost of the bundle…And there are ELEVEN other sections as well as special bonuses!

Check out the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle  and order HERE!

Going on Vacation at Home

Tony works at a resort.  He interacts with vacationers on a daily basis.  Occasionally we have been blessed to experience this same kind of resort vacation.  It has greatly influenced how I think about planning my life in order to experience a bit of this vacation lifestyle daily:

Have you ever spent a week of vacation at a cabin or resort?  Someplace where maybe a few activities were planned, but the majority of the time was open for play and relaxation.  A week of vacation like this can help us understand how to structure and manage our homes for the summer to create this environment of peace, calm and fun.

What is it about these types of places and vacations that makes them so wonderfully fun and relaxing?

I believe there are three main reasons why this type of vacation is both fun AND relaxing:

  1. It provides all the comforts of home.
  2. There is a simplicity to the daily schedules, routines and responsibilities.
  3. There is plenty of free time for fun and relaxation

All the Comforts of Home

When we think about the comforts of home, we think about a place to just be.  There is space for privacy and space for togetherness.  We have bedrooms with doors that close and that (should) provide a peaceful, calm environment for sleep.  There is indoor plumbing; this is not roughing it!  Daily hygiene is easy and personal habits can be kept without added effort.  (Now, I like camping and roughing it but that is a different type of vacation…one I do not want to experience for the entire summer!)

There is a kitchen.  There is no formality, schedule constraints or the cost of restaurants.  Meals are easy to prepare because we adopt a celebration mindset by embracing a few more convenience foods and easy recipes.  Since the schedule is relaxed, the time for food preparation is enjoyed and embraced rather than rushed.

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Larger bathtub than at home!

Simplicity of Daily Schedules, Routines and Responsibilities

We are able to adopt a simplified daily schedule and routine.  Daily life begins to fall into a rhythm of time alone. time together, meals and fun.  The daily responsibilities of cleaning are greatly reduced .  Because it started really clean, it is easy to maintain this level of cleanliness.   Cleaning tasks take less time because there is less stuff to put away before cleaning can happen.

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Reading is an important part of our daily routine.

Plenty of Time for Fun and Relaxation

Finally, because the responsibilities of life have been minimized and simplified, there is plenty of time left over for other things.  There is time to be bored.  There is time to think and reflect.  There is time to be creative.  There is time for deep conversations and focus on relationships.  There is time to play and just have fun.  There is not an expectation to be productive, therefore there is no guilt for choosing to use your time in ways that are fun and relaxing but not productive (in the generally used sense of the word).

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Time for new activities.

When you are away from the normal daily schedule and responsibilities you adopt, almost without thinking about it, a daily routine similar to what you experience every day, but simplified.  Meals and snacks tend to happen at fairly standard times and other things fall into a kind of routine

I hope this concrete example of a resort vacation helps you to think through more fully what you want for your summer.  Keep working on a mission statement for your summer. (See this post for more information).

Care to share?  Please comment below and/or share on Instagram (#summermissionstatement @turn2thesimple).

Next week we will work on the dreaded spring cleaning and de-cluttering (in a simplified, easy way) and developing a daily routine!

 

Creating a Mission Statement for Your Summer

This is post #2 in the Preparing for Summer series.  See post #1 here.

Last week we began by asking ourselves a few questions.  I want you to begin discovering what a successful summer means to you.

We asked ourselves these questions:

  • What do I want to gain this summer?
  • What do I want to do this summer?
  • What would I consider to be a successful summer?

This week we want to evaluate our answers and use them to come up with a mission statement for our summer.

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Rest, Relationships, Experiences

First, look at your answers.  Can you see anything in common between your answers?  Any general themes?

All of my answers can fall into three categories:

  • Rest
  • Relationships
  • Experiences

Take the themes you seem from your list and write a simple goal or mission statement for your summer.

Mine is:

My mission for the summer is to refresh myself and my family with meaningful experiences that grow our relationships with each other.

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Rest, Relationships, Experiences

Once you have your mission or goal clearly defined, write it out or type it up or somehow make it look nice and place it somewhere where you will see it often (even if just in your journal or planner).  This will serve as a reminder and as motivation.  Because being intentional takes effort.  This will not happen by chance.  It can give us the renewed focus and renewed energy to keep at it when we just want to give up because it seems too hard.

Take a picture of your mission statement and share it on Instagram:(#summermissonstatement @turn2thesimple).

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Rest, Relationships, Experiences

Now that you have clearly defined what you want out of your summer, are you ready to make it happen?  Still confused about how to take your vision from dream to reality?

If writing a mission statement seems hard, on Wednesday I will write about a vacation experience that helped me to see in concrete ways what I wanted for my summer and it helped me to write my mission statement.

We’re just getting started, stay tuned!

Subscribe so you don’t miss a post!

Are You Ready for Summer?

Warm sunshine, splashing at the beach, hammocks in the shade being rocked by the warm breeze.  Catching fireflies, berry picking, hikes through the woods, picnics in the park.  Sun-kissed faces, muddy toes, sticky fingers.  Summer brings idyllic thoughts and memories to mind.  We remember summers from our childhoods through rose-colored glasses…and we want the same for our children.  But life happens, and soon summer is over and we look back to see so many missed opportunities for relaxing fun and memory making.  We jump into a new school year looking forward to the return of a schedule and a routine bu also dreading the busy-ness that seems to come with it all.  We wish summer could have been a time of relaxation, a time of slowing down and savoring, for our kids and for ourselves.  But, we feel as if we have to be frenzied just to keep up with life.  There is no time for fun.

However, summer CAN be a time of fun and relaxation!  A time of making memories and spending lazy days in nature.  But, this won’t happen by chance.  If you leave it to chance and trying, you will get to the end of the summer and wonder where the time went and wishing for more time to make memories.

We plan and prepare to go away on vacation.  This planning and preparation makes it possible to have a fun and relaxing time.  We need to learn to see summer as a type of vacation from normal life.  And a vacation, especially a summer long vacation, requires planning and preparation to be enjoyable.  Spending a bit of time in planning and preparation now, will lead to a relaxing summer full of fun and memories.

Join me as I prepare summer!

For the next five weeks I will post one to two times each week with simple, concrete steps for us to take to prepare for a summer of fun and relaxation.  Subscribe so you don’t miss a post!

First things first.  Let’s start at the beginning…or maybe better said, before the beginning.  Preparation takes time and energy, and it’s not very exciting.  You need a clear, concrete statement to come back to when the motivation to do the work wanes.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I want to gain this summer?
  • What do I want to do this summer?
  • What would I consider to be a successful summer?

Write down your answers.  Take some time to think.  Add more answers; rephrase others.

Think about these questions and your answers as you go about life this weekend.  Join me next week as we look at our answers and begin preparing for a wonderful summer!

 

3 Ways to Reduce Decision Fatigue

Decision fatigue is a real thing.  Do you ever feel as if you have already made so many decisions that your can’t make another?  Does this happen daily?  Does it happen by lunchtime?

It used to be that this didn’t happen very often because people didn’t have as many options to choose from.  Today we have multiple choices for just about everything.  Even a quick trip to the grocery store for milk leads to multiple options: whole, 2%, 1%, skim; organic, rBST-free, name brand, store brand; almond, coconut, soy, cashew…TOO MANY CHOICES.

There are many decisions we have to make everyday that can’t be avoided.  Life happens and decisions need to be made. However, we CAN spend a few purposeful minutes making intentional decisions eliminating the need to make certain decisions on a daily basis. 

This will lessen the decisions that need to be made each day, which will lessen decision fatigue. It also will give you the confidence that you have made the best decision in these areas. This leaves more mental power and clarity for the “life happens” decisions that must be made each day.

Here are three areas of life that you can make informed and intentional decisions about NOW that will eliminate the need for multiple little decisions in the spur of the moment.

Create a capsule menu.

A capsule menu is a comprehensive meal plan that covers day-to-day meals and snacks as well as “food related emergencies”.  This comprehensive meal plan uses meals that your family knows and loves and that are quick and easy to prepare.  There is nothing that makes my day easier than always knowing what is for dinner and knowing I have the ingredients on-hand to make it.  51bjpgctsl-_ac_us218_

Create a capsule wardrobe for yourself and your children.

Starting the day with a tough decision should not be the norm.  Standing in front of a closet full of clothes with “nothing to wear” does not start the day off right!  Check out my Everyday Simple Style Pinetrest board for ideas on how to plan a capsule wardrobe.  Also, check out this post about creating capsule wardrobes kids  and this post about making laundry easier.

Kid's Capsule Wardrobe

If a capsule wardrobe isn’t your thing, think about creating a daily uniform to make getting dressed (and shopping) super easy.  If I had to choose a daily uniform it would be boot cut jeans, a black shirt and cute ballet flats.

Daily Uniform 2

Choose “go-to” brands for things you buy repeatedly. 

I buy the same dish soap, the same  laundry soap, the same cleaning supplies, the same toilet paper, the same shampoo, soap and lotion.  I buy pretty much the same groceries and supplements each week/month.

Occasionally (about 1 time per year or when something changes, like the item is discontinued or the price changes dramatically), I evaluate my current product decisions and choose to keep it the same or change it.  I can take the time to make an informed decision once and then stick to the routine.

This will make grocery shopping and basic errands so much easier and faster!  You will (almost) be able to shop without a list! You may even choose to take advantage of a subscription service (like Amazon’s, Grove Collaborative’s or Vitacost’s subscription programs).

Having the daily decisions already made for you (and by you) reduces your stress and the mental energy needed day to day.  You days will seem easier and you will have more time and energy to do the things you WANT to do instead of only doing the things you HAVE to do!

What is one thing you can do TODAY to reduce your decision fatigue?