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.
All so useful and practical Jodi, thank you!
Such great suggestions. I always do school lunches and uniforms before bed. My washing with 3 kids is permanently climbing the walls. As much as I abhor the idea of it, I’m going to try your 7am trick!!! It’s stupid but the washing plays on my mind so much, I hate it but also equally can’t bring myself to DO it!!! #mumlyf xxx
I always pop a load of washing in overnight and hang it first thing in the morning. Then, even if I do nothing else that day I’m on top the laundry. I didn’t feel as though I had a lot of washing until Remy came along. I swear that third child was such a tipping point as far as being busy etc goes.
I also have a pretty extensive to-do list on my phone. It’s the only way I don’t drop balls. I’d be lost without it!
Pea and ham soup sounds delightful. I think I’m going to do Potato and Leek this week… mainly because that’s what we’ve got in the garden.
P.S. Delphi is obsessed with the onesie you sent a while back and calls them her Poet Pyjamas. She wants to wear them every night. Thanks again. x
I love reading your posts Jodi. It’s like…”slow down, take a moment and breath” and I so need it. You inspire me so much!
Thank you for sharing, I love hearing how others make life that bit smoother for themselves. I recently started a bullet journal, finding it to be the super flexible half diary / half journal and creative outlet that I needed. Nothing like everything being in the same place, be it a doodle or appointments or to-dos 🙂
Great post as usual! I only have two kids but am recovering from adrenal fatigue which has also caused me to try and work smarter :). A couple of things I’ve discovered that are really helping is 1) a 5 minute clean up after dinner. We set the timer and everybody rums around like crazy putting things away. The kids think it’s a great game and the house is tidy in no time! 2) Batch cooking! At the beginning of the month I cook a HUGE pot of beans and freeze them. That way our Friday dinners (the hardest day of the week) are always taken care of and we don’t resort to takeaways. I think I’m just learning the key to motherhood is simplifying! Xx
With 3 kids 5 and under and hubby not here in mornings I do find it a mission!! I’ve been making my girls tuna and salad sandwiches, cheese and salad roll ups etc but find that I need to do them in the morning ..what sort of lunches stay fresh when packed the night before? I’d love to know!
I often make muffin-sized quiches and serve them next to cut up raw veggies, stick them in the lunchbots stainless steel container (from biome or shop naturally – both in sidebar) and stick them in the fridge. The same goes for tuna pasta, ham + cheese wraps etc. Sometimes I will make a sandwich in the morning but mostly I do pack at night x
I would love to see more of your suggestions for kids lunch boxes! 🙂
Oh I love this post. Great tips. Yes our washing machine is the first job done before breakfast to give us max drying time as well. In our tiny house with no dryer theres very little space to dry wet washing.
I would love to hear more about your school lunch ideas? xx
Love those suggestions. I need to start doing little things like this so my mind isn’t filled with a million things to do while getting nothing done!