Simplifying your Life
With the new year here I have been looking at ways I can simplify the activity of my home. Time needs to be spent taking care of my home and preparing meals, but with a busy home life it is a necessity to be as organized as possible. The best way I know to be able to handle my job is to try and simplify all that I do. I have been taking another look at how much time I spend in this area and seeing if there are ways to improve or maybe better systems to implement in my home.
The first and biggest time waster and enemy of simplicity is clutter. I get a handle on it and then before I know it has taken over the home again. A home that is as clutter free as possible brings peace of mind and helps avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed at the tasks that are in front of you. It is so difficult to have to work around “stuff”. I believe this consumes a lot of energy and time. How much quicker could housework be on any given day if we are not always dealing with ‘stuff’. After you take care of the initial clutter control then it is time to make it a habit in life to pick up after yourself and your husband. Teach your children to do this too. They can learn not to drop coats, shoes, papers and such wherever they may be at the moment. If I find things my children have left behind I take the items, hand it to them and ask them to take care of them immediately. I also have clutter control moments in the day where we all stop and pick up things and put them away. I am working to develop a new standard for them in our home. I want the home as clutter free as possible and I expect that we all have to work for this common goal. Of course if you have very young children and babies this is not as easy and perhaps having a few “clutter control moments” throughout your day to keep things picked up will result in you not feeling like life is overwhelming you quite as much.
After clutter control the next step to simplifying life is a routine. Remember the little poem from the old days: Monday wash day, Tuesday iron, Wednesday sewing and so on. Today I doubt any of us have to spend an entire day ironing but with today’s workloads I think our life, in some ways, is more complicated than in years gone by (not necessarily harder, I think homemakers of old worked very hard to keep their homes running). However we can glean a lot of wisdom from these women on how they handled their workload and maybe apply this to our life today. Having a routine is one very good way to keep life simple. It does not have to be a ‘set’ schedule but try and plan your day with regular tasks at about the same time each day. Then work to stick with your plan or rework your plan until you have something that works. I found a quote that I liked from an old homemaking book that I wanted to share: "Plan your work, then work your plan" (From the book “Things Mother Use to Make” by Lydia Maria Gurney, 1914). Implement those routines as much as you can and this will help your home run smoother and add to a certain level of simplicity in your life.
Another thing I do, and have done for years, is always be working to see if there are any improvements I can make to the systems I currently am using. Systems are ways we handle reoccurring jobs in the house.
Laundry is one example. If you have several children this can be a big job. Can the way you deal with be improved to better fit into your life? A friend of mine found the best way of dealing with her laundry is to do it all in one day (kind of like, Monday is Wash Day). She knows when her laundry day comes that is what she will devote her day to. I have older children and they all handle their own laundry and I give each of them a laundry day to do their wash and have the rule that it must be folded and put away in the same day.
A good system for household chores is needed as well. Do you have specific days for basic cleaning jobs; or maybe specific days that you work on deeper cleaning? Sometimes you can simplify jobs and the time they take by multi-tasking. We ladies are pretty good at this! ~smile~ For instance in the morning when you have finished brushing your teeth and taking care of your hair take a few extra minutes to pick up the bathroom, clean the sinks, swish the toilet and so forth.
A wonderful tool for any homemaker is a homemaking notebook. In this note book you can keep track of your routines and schedules, cleaning chores and lists and so much more. They are easy to create yourself with a simple 3 ring binder.
Time spent in the kitchen is also a place we can work to simplify. I have heard of ladies having a baking day. They devote one day to baking bread, desserts, breakfast foods or whatever they may need to help make the rest of week flow better.
Menu planning is something that will help achieve a better level of simplicity. Menu planning can be as detailed as you would like or very simple. The main goal is to be prepared. The meal planning ideas are endless. You could have a certain type of night each night of the week. Monday is Mexican night, Tuesday is Italian, Wednesday is sandwich night, and Thursday is crockpot night and so on. Or it can be as simple as writing down all your family’s favorite meals and just picking from this list. You can repeat meals more than once in a month. Variety is not the spice of life when it comes to making meal time a simpler task.
In my home I have looked at the menu planning in a certain way. I broke down the basic components of my meals. We eat certain types of meat and protein foods: beef, chicken, pork, fish, beans and legumes. I buy 4 basic types of beans: red, black, white, and pintos. I also use split peas and lentils. We have standard side dishes (with recipe variations as to how they are prepared): pasta, brown rice and potatoes and breads. Lastly there are vegetables: fresh in the form of salads is typical, and then frozen and canned. When I combine something from each group I am able to come up with a meal for my family. Now I can write down a specific meal like, baked chicken, brown rice pilaf and a salad. Or I can have a list of possible meal combinations and use more flexibility during the week. Maybe I ran out of time and did not get my rice cooked so I can be flexible and make something with pasta instead for a side dish. I know as long as I am aware of the basic foods we eat on any given month I can create a basic food shopping list and no matter what changes I may make during the month I am covered.
One other aspect of meal planning is shopping. When we can break down the foods we eat on a regular basis this saves a lot of time. I have a master grocery list of the most common foods I buy. I print this out and circle what I need. I try, but am not always successful, at shopping once every two weeks. Keeping my shopping trips to two a month saves time and resources.
Again, having a homemaking notebook is a great place to be able to keep your menus, have an on going grocery list so when you run out of items you can quickly jot them down, and keep a copy of your master grocery list to adjust and change as needed.
Make simplicity in your life a goal to work on for this New Year. Pick one or two areas and focus on these first. For me this year my two areas would be clutter control management and training and menu planning. Finally remember that making changes to simplify your life is not possible to do overnight, so don’t get overwhelmed at all the changes you may want to make, take one step at a time and enjoy the success you achieve and move on to the next area. Blessings to you all as you move on into a new year!
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