In yesterday’s post I laid out our daily routine. I told you that on occasion that routine gets thrown out the window, we adjust and usually end up rolling with the rhythm of the day as best we can. Life isn’t perfect and with five kids in the mix it’s even further removed from the possibility of perfect. I’m ok with that.
For those of you that read my post yesterday and are still turning their nose up at the thought of a routine, I say this: we all have routines whether we realize it or not. Maybe it’s the checking of email from the bed in the morning, the yoga stretches you find time for in the morning, maybe it’s the pick-me-up cup of coffee you have each afternoon, or the square of dark chocolate you savor after the house is quiet in the evening. The question is, are you making the most of yours? Are you making time for yourself to play and create in your routine or are you simply making time for work? Spend some time thinking about your habits and your routine. Chances are you have one whether you consider it a routine or not. Remember, routine isn’t about being rigid or unbendable, it’s not about timetables or timelines, but about knowing what your day (and week) looks like so you know where you can be flexible and make room for play and creating.
A few things that have really helped me create more time for myself and to just be and have fun with my family:
:: I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I put on a load of wash at night as I head to bed. Lifesaver. After the kids’ baths and such, I’ll put a load in the washer, add soap, turn the knobs, and before I go to bed, I close the lid and turn it on. That means in the morning after I workout that load goes into the dryer and is being dried while I make and clean up breakfast dishes. I love this. A family of seven (and one in cloth diapers) makes a lot of laundry.
:: I’m a homebody. I like being at home. Being on the go every day means I’m not getting things done and as those things pile up I get twitchy and anxious and not very fun to be around. I’m very keen on being productive whether that is finding time to journal, time to make a healthful dinner, time to read to the kids. Doesn’t matter, I like doing.
:: Two years ago when the Nacho began therapy twice a week I decided to challenge myself to get better organized and run errands one day a week (a therapy day) because I was trying to make sure my kids had ample time to fit in school stuff, outdoor play, creative pursuits. So Friday mornings became our big errand day. We eat a quick breakfast before running out the door and taking him to therapy (where the kids and I wait for him), then we make our way to the post office, make our weekly trip to the library, our weekly trip for groceries, and whatever other errands may need doing (a stop at the craft store is always in demand). We come home and put away the groceries and the library goodies, I prepare lunch, and then we have quiet time. After quiet time, I spend some time cleaning the house so that I can start the weekend with a fully stocked fridge and pantry and a clean house. This works for us and means we have the weekend free to do as little or as much as we please.
:: Meal planning. We started this a few months back and I find myself wondering why I didn’t begin sooner. The kids pick out 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners. One of those dinners is usually a new recipe (as the Red Beans likes to say, “We’re expanding our repertoire”). I know a lot of families do Meatball Monday, Taco Tuesday,, etc. but truth be told, I’d be bored out of my mind preparing and eating the same type of food week in and week out. The meal plan has been helpful in several ways. First, they don’t ask me what we’re having for lunch or dinner three times a day. They look at the meal plan (written on a piece of scrap paper and stuck on the fridge with a magnet). It’s also helped me to be prepared and to do a better job of writing a grocery list. The kids have learned that I can’t cook three meals a day that will please all seven of us. So during meal planning there are negotiations and concessions. Including them in the meal planning has given them a sense of control (their vote counts!) and lastly, it has helped them get excited about trying new foods (brussel sprouts!) and given them an active role in learning about nutrition. We usually pencil in one meal for eating out or takeout but otherwise with the menu written, the groceries purchased, there has been a lot less eating out and impromptu ordering of take out due to my lack of planning ahead.
:: During the week when I make muffins, soups, or the occasional batch of cookie dough, I ALWAYS make a double batch. I freeze muffins, soups, gumbo, brown rice. Leftover roasted chicken? Shred it and freeze it for chicken quesadillas. Cookie dough is rolled into a log and frozen so I can make cookies should company magically appear for dinner (and we seem to have dinner guests several nights a week).
:: I once ran into one of my profs waiting on line at the post office. I was surprise to see him reading a novel and he held up his book and with a twinkle in his eye said, “Resentment insurance.” Brilliant! Since then, I always have a pocket Moleskine and a book in my bag so that whilst I’m waiting for the Nacho at therapy or waiting on line anywhere I can be productive. I can use that time to put together ideas for blog posts, jot down ideas for a story I’m working on, read emails, or even read blogs and/or articles on my phone that I had saved for reading later (the Pocket app is perfect for this).
PS: Do read the comments on yesterday’s and today’s post as there are ideas being shared!