I don’t like making decisions. The fewer decisions I need to make in a day, the more energy I have to focus on people and productive work.
Routines are part of my answer to this conundrum.
In the midst of our busy lives, simple routines and systems make life so much easier.
These are a few of the routines/systems I’ve created (or recreated) in the past week:
1 | Two-week rotating menu with a master grocery list
Dinner happens every single day, so why does it feel so hard to manage? It’s not that I hate cooking, it’s just that it keeps happening – you know what I mean? I generally follow a menu, but I get bored, or fall out of routine, or the season changes. With the start of the school year, football and swim season, along with extra work in my schedule, I decided to simplify even more than usual.
I made a two-week menu, which means every other Monday we’ll eat the same thing for dinner. Honestly, my family won’t even notice. By only choosing 14 dinners, I hit the highlights of their basic favorites. I also made a list of substitutes I can switch in when I feel inspired.
Once I figured out the menu, I made a master grocery list with every ingredient necessary for those 14 dinners. I can glance through the list and add the needed items to my weekly list without much thought or time required.
That’s the way I like it.
Of course, we have birthdays, special events, and (thank the Lord) leftovers on occasion. I also like to cook double recipes and freeze the second meal giving me a night off here and there. But overall, if I check my menu the night before, or even that morning, and simply obey myself, we manage to have a good dinner each night.
2| Chore charts
I have two chore charts – one with daily chores and one with Saturday chores. The daily chores are simple done-in-five-minute chores the kids do before they leave for school. Chores like emptying the dishwasher, laundry (they throw in their laundry before they leave in the morning), vacuuming the family and living room, etc. are on this chart.
I shared it above, complete in its unfancy handwritten pencil glory. I write it in pencil so I can tweak it in the first few weeks. It’s not much to look at, but that’s kind of my point. It doesn’t have to look amazing to make your life easier. Sometimes we put so much effort into creating a perfect routine/system that we end up with nothing at all.
The Saturday chore chart has a short list for each child and includes things like mopping floors, thoroughly cleaning the bathroom, and cleaning their own room.
Annarose and Beza both moved out this fall, so I needed to rewrite the chore charts to reflect the four kids still at home – four, that is so strange to even write! It’s quite a change from the days when we had 11, or even seven.
3 | Planner
I have a new planner I’m using to organize my work and my life. I’m a planner person and have always used one, even alongside my online calendar. Well known author and blogger, Michael Hyatt, recently developed a planner that combining concepts I learned from reading Stephen Covey’s books years ago with his own research on productivity to create the Full Focus Planner. It’s expensive, but using my time well and accomplishing my goals is worth a lot to me. If you’re interested and you purchase it using this referral link, you’ll get 15% off your order.
In addition to daily tasks, the planner helps me set weekly and quarterly goals. I’m also taking a good look at my morning routines, work routines, end of day routines and more. Michael Hyatt leaves no stone unturned when it comes to productivity.
4 | Google Calendar
I’ve devoted serious time since school started adding events to my Google Calendar. Each family member has their own color, which helps me see what is happening at a glance, especially after school and in the evenings. Teens are very busy. Foster care adds another whole layer of busy with multiple family visits each week and other appointments.
Add driving to sports practices and other activities and I have a hard time staying on top of everything that happens between 3:00 and 7:00. Having the calendar in my phone saves me. I also set multiple alarms as reminders of the next event.
One last tip, I use the free Tiny Calendar app on my phone which makes Google Calendar even easier to use.
January may be the start of the new year, and it is the time I do a lot of self-reflection, but fall is when I evaluate and reorganize my family routines and systems.
How about you? Are you creating new routines for your family? What works for you? What doesn’t?
I would love to hear from you. Thank you for letting me share a little bit of your life and for sharing mine.
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Encourage one another,