five new habits that make my day easier
School is back today and Percy is with my mum so I’m relishing in an entire six hours of quiet. I’m dealing with a lingering cold that’s turned into a frustrating sinus issue so truth be told, I’m not at my most productive. And so, a morning coffee was followed by a quick but delightful solo trip to the library where I perused the shelved and picked up this (I’ve always enjoyed his features in Frankie mag) and this (recommended to me on instagram).
And now I’m home, eating pea + ham soup (such an economical meal and so easy to do in the slow cooker) and thinking about how different this year has been from the five that came before it.
When I fell pregnant late last year it’s like a switch clicked over for me; all of a sudden my priorities shifted and everything that I thought was important took a backseat. Work had a lot to do with this realisation. Financially 2015-16 was my most successful year to date and yet it was also my most stressful. I was juggling a baby, a pre-schooler and a school kid, organising photoshoots, meeting editorial deadlines, keeping up with social media and, of course, putting food on the table, washing on the line etc.
But then work contracts came to a stop – one after the other; such is the freelance game.
And while the thought of this scenario would have caused me all kinds of stress in the past, the reality was a little different.
There’s a lot to be said for less work and less pressure. And yes, while this does translate to less money (significantly less money), it has provided me the space and the time to do things that truly make me happy. I’m reading more books, I’ve rekindled my love of knitting, I’ve discovered the satisfaction of budgeting, meal planning and making do and, overall, I’m more patient and present.
As I venture into the third trimester and prepare to welcome our fourth baby, I’m ever mindful of creating (and keeping) habits that make my days a little easier.
Here’s what I’ve done over the past few months that ensure I stay on top of the housekeeping and homemaking (and this is the stuff that truly makes me happy – the simple, everyday stuff that means I have more space to knit and read and draw and be):
- school bags are organised and packed at night : this job literally takes under five minutes but the sanity it saves of a morning is priceless. The kids’ bags stay in the entranceway and I do a quick look over to make sure everything is ready for the following day. Around this time I’ll also organise school notes and uniforms so I’m not doing the dreaded “lost uniform dance” in the morning and I’ll often prep the lunchboxes, too (while I’m making dinner because if I’m chopping vegies for a salad I might as well chop them for the lunchbox).
- the washing machine is on by 7am : if I don’t do at least 1-2 loads of washing a day the fallout is not very pretty. A mountain of washing is just not overly pleasing so after years (literally, years) of having an overflowing laundry, I’ve discovered the secret to keeping on top of it. Turning the machine on is the very first thing I do in the day which means that by the time breakfast is done there is ten minutes to hang the washing on the line and it’s one big job ticked off the list. We have a big undercover area that I use if the weather isn’t wonderful and I will resort to the dryer if the rain has really set in. On the flipside of getting the washing out, I make sure the load (or two) is sorted, folded and put away by the end of the day.
- I create a meal plan and stick to it : honestly, my monthly meal plan has saved so much angst, time and money. I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner! It truly is the best way to get organised in the kitchen, feed your family well and waste less. In terms of budgeting, it’s helped me save hundreds of dollars a month.
- a quick tidy-up before bed : this is by no means a thorough clean but more of a “do what I can in ten minutes” activity. And some nights it doesn’t eventuate. But I find that there’s a renewed sense of organisation when I can put the last of the washing, books and toys in their place so I can start the day with a relatively clean slate.
- write a daily to-do list : this has been a really significant habit-shift for me and it’s probably the easiest to adopt. Basically, when I’m cooking dinner (regardless of whether I’m doing it in the afternoon or evening) I jot down all the things I need/want to do the following day. I have a notebook stuck to the front of my fridge so as I’m chopping, stirring and cooking, I’m also thinking and list-making. These to-dos can be as simple as “call the bank” or “organise the top drawer” or “file receipts” and I’ll often include “pack the swimming bag”, “go to the fruit shop” and “wash the bed linen” but regardless, getting them done means I’m getting stuff done. And it feels good…and ultimately makes my days run smoother.