Simplify? With three kids and two working parents… should I even try?
It has become an increasing priority to keep things simple. Chaos, useless junk and disorder seem to stress me out more as I age, probably because it takes away from enjoying what really matters to me in life. These are six random ways that help me keep my priorities straight and most hassle out of our home.
I discovered this free app that actually makes me excited to open my mail box and pick up my “junk mail” everyday. Seriously… using this simple app, I snap a picture of any mail I don’t want to receive any longer, like the multiple credit card offers, circulars and old catalogs and PaperKarma sends my request for removal for me. It takes less than a minute to do and updates me once it has been successfully submitted. It takes a conscientious effort, but I am all about bringing as little junk into my home each day as possible.
2. Sock Bags
With laundry for five, matching socks is one of my least favorite ways to spend my time, so several years ago I started clipping a mesh bag to my main laundry basket where I sort everyone’s clothes. Every single sock gets dropped in this zippered bag I found at Target or Dollar Tree, before being washed and dried. The benefit is I never have missing socks and once the bag is out of the dryer, if I don’t have time to match them right away, no big deal, they are contained in the bag until I get around to them… some times a week later!
3. Use ONE Electronic Calendar
This one has been crucial for two different reasons. First, it is instrumental in simplifying communication between the hubby and myself (so important) and secondly it pops up with time critical reminders when I need them the most.
So how do I use it? I have an Android phone and use my Calendar feature where I add several work and personal events and reminders every single day. I stop what I am doing and enter things immediately such as reminders when a paper comes home from school alerting Grandparent’s Day is the next week to an important form that needs to be returned by Friday. This can save me 100X as much time later on if I forget. To be clear, this is not necessarily my to-do list rather only the items that are time sensitive.
There are two key elements to ensuring this is helpful: 1) If applicable, take the time and copy your husband on certain items so he can be aware of any family events or anything you need him to be at AND 2) set up the reminders you need at the point in time you enter it. Here are some examples of calendar events I have on my schedule for Thursday.
- 6AM – REMINDER – Ensure all bills are pd (reoccurring one set every month on 14th)
- 7AM – New Braunfels today & Call Dr. Denke to schedule appt
- 4PM – REMINDER: Pick up mail for parents while in Europe (copied husband in case he is around their house)
- 7PM – Addie’s library book in bag to be returned on Fri (reoccurring reminder set until we are in new habit)
- 5PM – Both Kids Soccer Practice (copied husband)
- 8PM – Megan has Happy Hour with girlfriends (sent to husband so he remembers)
4. Learn To Say No
You have heard this before but I challenge you to really try it this week. It was so hard for me at first and I still have slip ups – wanting to please everyone around me. However, I found it helped me to write down my priorities right now in life; which are my kids, my husband, myself, work, family and close friends. Then when I am asked to do something I quickly think about how busy I am during that week or two and how does it align to my priorities? At that point, many times, I stop and ask if I can let them know my answer the next day to give myself a few hours to think about it because the last thing I want is to commit to something and wish I hadn’t. I remember reading a magazine article where the key takeaway on this topic was that I don’t have to give a reason to anyone why I say no. I can simply say, “Thanks so much for thinking of me however right now I really can’t commit to it.” Don’t feel like you have to explain yourself! Just recently, I said no to a dear friend when she asked if I wanted to sign my five-year old daughter up for a Saturday morning dance class with her daughter. Although, it would have given us friends an hour of time to catch up each week, I made a promise to myself of only signing up my kids for one extracurricular activity this Fall. And guess what!? My girlfriend totally understood and commended me on following through with my word and keeping my young family’s lives as stress free as possible.
5. Set Alarm Clocks For Your Kids
Both my older kids, five and six-year-olds, have alarm clocks that go off at 6:30AM every school morning. My daughter loves waking up to her Disney Princess music and dancing as she makes her bed and gets dressed with her clothes we laid out for the week. This routine has made mornings much simpler, in case I am still getting ready for work or feeding the baby. At least I know they are awake and moving. TIP: Don’t forget to turn them off for the weekends!
6. Find Gratitude In What You Have
This accomplishment, itself, greatly simplified my life in multiple ways. It started when I began a gratitude journal where I quickly jotted down three things I was grateful for every morning. This simple habit has the possibility to add more solace to your life than any iPhone app or time management best practice out there. In a world where we are constantly bombarded by the newest cell phone, a friend’s bigger house, the lure of nicer cars or more exotic vacation destinations, it is easy to be tempted to belive you too need those things to be happy. But by staying grounded and focused on how much you already have, a great deal of stress can be alleviated by finding contentment deep down inside yourself.