I’ve seen lots of these posts before at the end of the year and I love reading through them to get ideas. So, I thought I would share a few things that helped me a lot this year. It was gonna be 10...but then life happened, so it's now only 7. Maybe you’re not into this type of thing...so if that’s the case, no problem; just skip it. 😊 Most of these things I learned by trial and error and definitely did NOT do all the time😂. Also, I am a mom of two kids, 1 & 2, so my things may not be helpful to everyone, but they were to me.
1. Keep a good routine! This is one that became very apparent this year. I’ve always been a schedule girl and liked planning, but haven’t always carried out the plans the best. This year was probably our craziest, especially since we’ve had kids, and so it was very hard to keep a good routine. I found that when things were up in the air, we were traveling, or exhausted from work and didn’t keep our routine, things got pretty crazy pretty fast. When we were home and had a consistent routine, things generally went pretty smoothly. So, I have definitely fallen in love with keeping routine. I can't fix everything, but it can certainly help.
2. Make a Schedule...and try to keep it. Making a schedule is a huge part of a good routine. Some people say a schedule isn't for them, and maybe there are some cases its not, but for my family, it’s been a lifesaver! We DO struggle keeping it sometimes when life gets crazy, but for the most part, it’s a huge part of our lives. Picking a time to get up, exercise, eat meals, etc, goes a long way to your day being orderly and not chaotic. Think about it, if you just stay in bed until you feel like getting up, eat when you feel like it, etc, then you might be frantically trying to catch up all day and skip doing important things. If you take a little time each week, you can figure out when to get up every day and what you need to accomplish and schedule it out. It really doesn’t take long to do, but helps so much! If you have other people in your house such as a spouse, it's a huge help to sit down and plan a little at the beginning of each week. At the bottom, I will include a little sample schedule that we have been using the last few months, specifically for parent's with toddlers. It took a lot of trial and error, but this is one we have like the best.
3. Prioritize what is most important. Sometimes when I sit down to organize my life or make a schedule, I can get overwhelmed by all that is going on and how little time there seems to be. One huge thing that has helped is to first break my life into catergories- home, work, church, etc, and pick one or two priorities in each category. Then, I schedule all those things first to make sure they really are priority. After that, I can add on what I have time left for. So, for instance, if I want to make sure I workout every day, I need to set aside that time in my schedule...or there is no way I will do it. Otherwise, I get to the end of the day and oops, no time to workout again. Every. Single. Time.😂 Maybe that‘s not everyone, but that’s how I roll.
4. Wake up early. Now, this is one I still fight against. I have always been a night owl- NOT a morning person. I liked how productive I could be in the morning, but usually not enough to get up early unless I had to. The last few years, my husband has helped me work towards being better at that. This year especially, I have really worked hard at getting up early. There is nothing necessarily magical about getting up early, but I love that quiet time, watching the sun rise, where I can get things DONE. Everyone might use this time differently, but there are so many things you can do before 7-8 am. Since I have littles, those 2 extra hours have been a lifesaver. If I wake up the same time as them, it's usually a little bit rough all day. But, if I wake up a couple hours earlier, work out, read the Bible, get ready, and start on breakfast, then I feel so much more prepared when they wake up.
5. Go to bed at a decent time. As you read in the above, I do not like doing this.🙄😆 In fact, this is probably the most recent thing I am working on embracing. But, to get up early, I better go to bed early as well. Because I do need sleep. Since our kids go to bed pretty early in the evening, it’s nice to have a couple hours every night to spend time as a couple.
6. Give yourself grace! This is a huge one! I have tended to be a perfectionist my whole life, so when I decide to do something and then don’t do it, I can get really discouraged. I think planning is great and when we set up structure for our lives, things generally go better. But if I don't feel good one week and sleep in every day instead of exercising, I can give myself grace. I don’t need to get frustrated and feel like I failed. Because in the long run, it’s not a big deal! I just need to keep doing what God wants one day at a time by His grace alone. So when things get off, don't freak out. Just get back up the next day and keep being faithful.
7. Take care of your body. This is one I have struggled with. Last year, I did not do a good job at this. I had just had two kiddos in a year and was exhausted, so in general I had no energy. I was not eating well and not doing any physical activity and kept wondering what was wrong with me. In the past, I had just said, oh well, because those things didn't seem to affect me much. But suddenly, taking care of my body moved up very high on my priorities. This isn't to look a certain way or wear certain clothes, but purely because I needed energy to keep up with two toddlers. In March, I started realizing this and taking small steps to get my health back where it should be. I still have a ways to go as my progress is very gradual, but I have seen huge improvements to my overall energy level and ability to do my daily tasks and not be as exhausted. I know this doesn't seem to make sense, but working out in the mornings actually helps me have more energy, not be more tired. So I highly recommend it. I have a small space and not great weather, so I love workouts I can do on my tv at home.
Well, there are a few things that helped my life this year. Like I said, I didn't do them perfectly at all, but as I worked on being consistent in them, things went way smoother. Ultimately, do your best and rest in God's grace completely for all of it! I look forward to a new year to learn and grow even more! I love a fresh start and a time to get refocused on what God has for me in the year ahead.
Sample Schedule for a Family with Toddlers:
Between 5-5:30- Mom & Dad get up and workout
6:00- Parents get ready for day
6:30- Quiet Time (my personal favorite)
7:00- Couple Devotions/Talk about day together. We like to ask how we can pray for each other that day
7:30- Kids wake up and we eat breakfast as a family (we usually do simple smoothies/cereal/eggs- all easy stuff unless its a weekend
8:00- Get kids ready for the day/Daddy goes to work (or I go to work sometimes)
8:30- Clean up breakfast/Kids play in kitchen/living room
9:00- Independent Play (a lifesaver!)- kids play quietly in a room by themselves for a while. It really helps them with their imagination and helps them start the day calmly. My son loves playing specifically with legos and my daughter loves being a mom to her baby dolls:) I use this time to get things ready for the rest of the day for the kids.
9:45- Music Time- we use this time to work on a song we are learning together
10:00- Snack Break/Reading Time- I love to use snack time for reading to the kids. I put them in their booster seats and read them several books and they love it. I like getting special books at the library to read during this time
10:30- Outside Play- IF it's nice outside, we definitely get out at this time. If not, I have to get creative. Sometime we go to the library, store, or somewhere else if it's bad weather.
11:15- Art/Craft Time- This time is when we color, use play doh, draw, or sometimes do a craft. It can be super easy or more complicated. Whatever you feel like!
11:30(ish)- Learning Time- Right now, my 1 year old can get in the way during this time, so I sometimes let him play in the playroom for it. I do some kind of learning with my two year old whether it's letters, numbers, pbskids.org activity, nothing overkill. I just want her to be learning one little thing every day.
12:00- TV Time/Get lunch ready- In my perfect world, this is the first time the kids watch tv in the day (but that doesn't always happen haha) I turn on a show they like or PBS kids so I can make their lunch
12:30- We eat lunch together as a family- mostly simple things like PB sandwiches or cheese and crackers
1:00- If it's nice outside, this is a perfect time to get out again and run off some energy while mom cleans up from lunch. If not, daddy usually entertains them during his lunch break.
1:30- Daddy goes back to work and I help the kids get ready for their nap. We try to read a story or do something to calm them down. Sometimes I have to stay in their room a few minutes til they settle.
2:00-4:00- Naptime. If they aren't sleeping, they have to be quiet in their room. That is mommy's sanity time to clean, do laundry, work on dinner, etc.
4:00- Usually I let the kids watch one show when they get up. I either sit with them, or I am still making dinner. We used to do reading and a snack after nap time which was good too, but we moved their nap later, so it's too late for a snack.
4:30- Cleanup time. This is one we haven't been great at, but when we are, it helps a ton! While dinner is finishing up, me and the kids go and clean up a little. Picking up toys is the main thing. That way after dinner, we aren't having to clean as much but can enjoy some family time.
5:00- We usually eat dinner between 5-5:30. This is when my husband gets home and the kids are hungry, so I try for that.
5:45- Clean up/Family Time- One thing we have done is my husband help the kids clean up one room and I clean up the kitchen. During the warm months, we love taking a walk or playing outside at this time. It's pretty flexible.
6:30- We start getting the kids ready for bed and cleaned up. We either do bath time or put on jammies and then do our Bible story and songs together. We love this time as a family and try to do it all together when possible.
7:00- Kid's bedtime. After the kids go to bed, we usually have some aftermath to still clean up. After that, we usually try to relax a little playing games, watching tv, reading, etc. We like setting aside one night a week for "date night" where we plan something special usually at home. It's good for us to have focused time on each other. We also like having people over, or going to a friend's house, once a week for fellowship.
9:00- Get ready for next day. We have found that when we make sure everything is laid out for the next day and ready to go, it's way easier to get up in the morning and carry out our plan.
Between 9:30-10:00- Go to bed