Without even intentionally creating New Years resolutions for 2019, Rob and I ended up doing just that. The downtime of Christmas allowed us to catch-up and evaluate what was working and what needed some adjustment with our family routine. Taking stock of such things is definitely something we’ve done before, but always a bit too eagerly. We’d fire off a bunch of pain points we each had, come up with a grandiose plan to remedy ever-y-thing, I’d prematurely share this on social media and then inevitably (usually one week in) we’d give up. I really think this is because we just bit off too much all at once and simply couldn’t keep up with our good intentions.
2019 has started (thankfully) in a much better, well-paced way than previous years. Maybe we’re still reeling a bit from the chaos of Rob starting school this past fall or maybe we just finally get it; but either way, things are just working better around here and it has me excited!
Before I jump into the changes we’ve made, it’ll make more sense to share first what we’ve been trying to improve upon.
Rob starting school was actually the first, unintentional, step toward getting more organized with our family routine. Lazy evenings and unproductive weekends quickly became a thing of the past. While both of these indulgences are still among some of my favourites, seeing that we didn’t need quite as many and that we actually benefited from not having them served as a big eye opener. I’m not sure if the changes we’ve made so far in 2019 would have been thought of or implemented without this.
With a lot of downtime over Christmas, Rob and I had the opportunity to reconnect and chat about what those crazy busy months of him in school did for our family. While challenging and stressful, it gave us a good sense of what we can do better to make things easier. These casual conversations have truly left both of us feeling overall more energized and motivated in pretty much every capacity of our home and life. Knowing Rob has a break from school for the winter has no doubt also come into play. We want to make the most of the time he has off and get ourselves well set up, because soon enough we’ll be right back into full-throttle mode.
The main takeaways from the discussion we had over Christmas were:
We need to get better at meal planning, organizing grocery shopping and scale back on what we’re spending on food. I’ve shared that this has been a struggle in the past that we’ve tried on numerous occasions to set straight, but nothing has really clicked.
Complete more home projects. We have sat with so many plans and projects but have failed to take action. While Rob was in school and knowing we simply couldn’t get to these things, it made us both wish we had been more productive when we had the time.
A better cleaning schedule. I simply don’t have the ability to do it all.
An evening routine that isn’t hectic.
The above issues are pretty much the only ones we continue to identify as a problem. For the amount of years we’ve tried to remedy these struggles, it’s actually pretty amazing that we’ve been able to. Though really, I think the reason we finally have is simply because of where we are headspace wise and also our new approach.
Rather than coming up with a bunch of new, rigid routines and systems; this time around we are way more relaxed and on the same page. If something we planned doesn’t work out or we have an evening where we skip over the supper we had scheduled, we don’t throw in the towel (or point the finger). Having a slow and steady, baby step approach to making changes is definitely a solid tip.
We’re by no means squared away perfectly, but we’re definitely closer to where we want to be than not. Below are the specific things we’re doing differently and how they’re benefiting us.
2019 Family Changes
Groceries/Meal Plan. When Rob and I went through a few months worth of bank statements to see what we were spending on food, it was shocking to say the least. We had gotten in the habit of him stopping after work to pickup whatever was needed and the ingredients for that night’s supper. In theory this shouldn’t amount to a lot of extra spending, but for us, it really did. A few extra snacks, treats or whatever else caught Rob’s eye on the way to the checkout added up quickly. So now we do things completely different.
Come up with a grocery plan on the weekend, together. This is key. We’re both on the same page, have agreed on the meals and know exactly what is needed and what we’re having that week.
We create a grocery list based on the meals of the week and we identify the staples we’re out of or low on from going through the fridge/freezer and cupboards.
Rob grocery shops on the weekend. He takes one child with him for a bit of a date and everything is purchased and ready to go before the week even starts.
Weekday meals are kept simple. I think a lot of the reason we failed at meal plans before is we had way too high of an expectation on what was realistic for a weekday meal. We still eat healthy, but we reserve the larger meals for the weekends when we have more time to prep and enjoy.
Grocery budget. We spend approx. $150 per week on groceries. This is still a bit higher than I would like and we’re making strides to reduce this. Ideally I’d like to get us down to about $500 per month. However, even at $150 we’re spending less than we use to (gasp, think of what we were spending before!).
Evening Routine. This change has come with a lot fewer specific adjustments. Things just work better. We seem to get a lot more accomplished in the evenings (piano practice, supper, supper clean-up, homework, bath, family time, etc.) without the frantic chaos in which we use to operate between the hours of 4:30-8:00pm. The only real changes I can identify are:
Kids are involved in more extra-curricular than in the fall. So we have to be more intentional and scheduled with our time.
I ensure the kids have downtime right after school to kick-back a bit and unwind from their day so they are more focused when it comes to completing their practicing and homework.
Our meal plan has taken the guess work out of what needs to be done for that night’s supper. I can prep throughout the day to keep things simple and Rob no longer has to take time after work to shop.
Divide and conquer has always been our approach with parenting and the housework, but we’ve settled more into our respective responsibilities with the evening work and it just keeps things moving.
Housework. Just a few changes in this area, but they’re working well.
Again with divide and conquer, we each have our dedicated “jobs”. For example, I do laundry and Rob deals with all the recycling/garbage (how predictable of us). I feel we’ve both just stepped up our efforts and it’s showing.
Thursday night clean-up. This one is amazing! A tip I acquired from my own upbringing. Spend more time on Thursday evening getting the house in a good place for the weekend. Vacuum, dust, finish up with laundry, do a general pick-up around the house; basically just push through and pretend you have company landing for the weekend. Now the toll the week took on your house and the stuff that maybe you slacked on or just didn’t have a chance to address is done and you don’t have to play catch-up during the weekend.
Weekend Projects. We are finally getting things done around here. Little jobs are all but cleared from our To-Do list and the slow ball effect of that, has inspired us to do more! #winning
Make a list. This helps to identify what needs to be done vs. what you want to accomplish.
Organize your list according to what you have time for.
Plan ahead. Rob and I chat in advance of the weekend about what we want to get done. Even if it’s just a one hour job, we still make a plan and schedule for it.
High-five when the work is done! Honestly. Keep the momentum going by getting excited by what you’re doing. I use to finish one project and my mind would already be on the next. I never took the time to just appreciate and enjoy the task at hand. Game. Changer
Little by little things around here are coming together; yet for as much as we have altered in the way we use to run our house none of this feels stressful, forced or overwhelming. There are still things to improve upon (that will always be the case), but being intentional and equally realistic about our efforts has been key to everything finally falling into place for us.
I hope some of what I have shared has either encouraged or motivated you to take stock of what is working and what you’d like to adjust within your own home and life. You don’t need January 1st to set a new course!
I’d love to learn any tips or suggestions you may have for what you do that works in your home. Please share in the comments!