Consistent Routine: the Key to Excellence

Consistent Routine: the Key to Excellence

We, as humans, like routine.  Even people who seem to thrive on change have routines in place in their lives, even if they don’t think about it.

Study after study has been done with the importance of routine for young children, how their security is anchored to the predictability of their lives.

No matter how old we are, we all set certain routines in place so our lives run more smoothly and so we feel secure in knowing what comes next.  It may be in small areas like the order you do personal hygiene activities (shower, hair makeup, teeth, etc) or what you eat for breakfast (oatmeal & coffee!) or the roads you take to work.  It may be in larger areas like the colors you wear or the kind of car you drive.

You may intentionally create these routine or they may seem to have happened “by accident”.  Whatever is the case, we are creatures of habit, and because we are creatures of habit, the quality of our lives is simply the quality of our habits.

Habits also keeps our lives running smoothly without much apparent thought or effort. Once habits are established, they happen pretty much automatically.

Have you ever driven somewhere that you go often (like to work or school or to the grocery store) and once you are there you don’t remember the drive?  That’s because the drive is a habit, your brain can get you there on auto-pilot while it is dealing with something else.

This can be both good and bad.  It is important to practice being in the present.  We can relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of life, the wind, the smell of flowers the warmth of the sun, the giggles of our children, the cozy snuggle times.

But, habits keep life running smoothly during times of stress, emergency or big change.    Being able to keep these basics of life under control actually reduces stress and feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness and overwhelm.

Having the basics of home and family life under control provides us with the time and energy to focus on other things that are also important to us.

Most families live in the urgent rather than in the important.

Reading the Bible together at breakfast gets pushed to the side because everyone is running late.  Evening family time doesn’t happen because after activities, supper and homework there is not time and everyone is exhausted.  Emergencies happen but they shouldn’t happen often.

By developing habits we can take care of the “urgent” so that it doesn’t become urgent!  The everyday things don’t just happen (or don’t just happen smoothly).  Food, cleaning, health maintenance, family devotions can all be developed into habits…so they happen almost without thinking about them.  Then you will have the time and energy to focus on other great things.

Many famous people have used rather simple routines to facilitate their achievement of great things. Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Beethoven, Ghandi, Steve Jobs, John Grisham, and many others all achieved great things through harnessing the power of habit.

We can harness the power of habit for our families by creating routines that help everyday life run smoothly.  The Simplified Home Management page links to many articles to help you develop habits and systems for everyday life.

 

Being the Manager of Your Home

It sounds very formal and official to call yourself a Home Manager, but every home is managed somehow — intentionally or unintentionally, well or poorly.

According to Google, a manager is:

  1. a person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company or similar organization. (A family or household)
  2. a person who controls the activities, business dealings, and other aspects of the career of an entertainer, athlete, group of musicians, etc. (a family or household)

Synonyms include: executive, head of department, supervisor, principal, administrator, head, director, managing director, CEO, employer, superintendent, foreman, forewoman, overseer; proprietor; boss, chief, head honcho

This is a VERY important job!  As with any professional business or career, a good manager can succeed even with mediocre employees and a bad manager will often fail even with excellent employees.

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Being a Home Manager sounds like a large and overwhelming job…especially on top of everything else in your life.  However, systematizing and simplifying your job as Home Manager will make the rest of your life easier and more joyful!

Every family wants a clean and comfortable place to call home.  Most people want to eat (at least) three meals a day.  Everyone wants to have their schedules under control so they feel like they are leading their lives instead of running to catch up.

Cleaning Supplies

These lofty goals are actually not that hard to achieve!  The secret lies in working smarter not harder; in setting priorities so you can let go of perfection in all areas and settle for good enough where you can.

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Most Home Managers struggle in one or more of these five main areas:

  1. Food
  2. Cleaning (including the unending tasks of dishes and laundry)
  3. Schedules
  4. Finances
  5. Health

yummy salad

Thankfully there are concrete steps you can take, systems you can create and implement, to take control of your home!  This will provide you with more time and energy for the things you want to do.

Check out Simplified Home Management for links to posts to help you simplify your life.

Which of these areas causes you the most stress in the management of your home?

Summer Capsule Menu

Even though we are a home school family, our summers look quite a bit different than the rest of the year does for us.  We spend much more time outside, we are away from home more and Tony’s work schedule changes.

I love how having a capsule menu helps me to keep real food meals on the table for my family, day in and day out, without much thought and effort.  But during the summer, I want a change.  Lighter meals filled with all of summer’s fresh produce.  I want salads instead of soup.  And I don’t want to use my oven!

Here is my school year capsule menu if you are interested.

I have some unique challenges as I plan meals for my family (and I’m sure you do too!).  My husband needs to be nightshade-free and my children can be rather picky; they are more willing to try new things if they can be tried separately.  I also often pack meals for my family to eat someplace other than at home.

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Chicken Ranch Wraps…I like to pack meals separately, then I can personalize sides to match preferences.

Rather than scheduling specific meals to specific days, I’ve listed meals according to categories.  Doing it this way gives me more flexibility to cook according to what I have on hand and according to what our daily plans are.

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Asian Cabbage Salad with Chicken (this is yummy but would be even prettier with tomatoes and colored peppers!)

Here is my Summer Capsule Menu if you are interested.

Do you have a favorite summer salad that is hearty enough for a full meal?  What are your favorite summer meals? Please share!

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!