Ways WE Simplify our Lives
From switching to one screen from the next, in dealing with kids, partners or just a general feeling of “WTF” in our lives, we might find that we are busier than expected with this “new” virtual world around us. When coping with stress, simplifying our lives by changing up our routine can make things that much easier. From splitting the workload to prioritizing tasks, there are a lot of things you and your loved ones can do to ease into the next season.
Okay so this first one may be a little….unorthodox. I call it progressive. We have mentioned this one before. We divide up dinner days. So, Amanda does Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. Darrell does Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. We are not obligated to cook a meal - we are obligated to provide and clean up a meal. NOW, what this means is on Amanda’s days - Darrell HAS NOTHING TO THINK ABOUT OR DO with regards to dinners. And vice versa. He can come home from work, relax, do whatever. This ends that circular conversation of “what-do-you-want-for-dinner? I-dont-know-what-do-you-want?” bullshit and saves EVERYONE time and energy. I get to make whatever I want, buy whatever I want and we eat it. I then clean up. I can get the kids to help, or not. I can take us out to a restaurant, we can order pizza or I can make a gourmet meal. We each know what the family likes/dislikes and we go with it. The kids and the in-laws even know this schedule! Now, there obviously is some flexibility - if Darrell is working late on his night, he still organizes the meal, maybe it is pizza, or something in the crockpot - or I order take out and he pays for it - the point is, it still reduces that brain congestion.
We also divide up laundry. My useless superpower is stain removal. So, I wash and dry the laundry. Darrell is particular about how things are folded, so he folds the laundry. I literally get to wash it, dry it and then DUMP IT ON THE BED. Ahhhh…Another piece here - is that I ONLY do laundry ONE DAY A WEEK. On Sundays. I may do a quick load (now with masks etc) throughout the week, but every Sunday morning, all of the kids bring in their laundry baskets to be washed. I wash, dry and put it in the basket and take it to their room. They are responsible for folding and putting away their own clothes. Keep in mind they are 12, 14 and 16. This works for us. I do our laundry the same day - two to three loads for us. So, I will easily do five to six loads of laundry for a five-member household, weekly. I don’t think that’s too bad, and it cuts down on having to think or worry about it. A trick, which has burned me in the past, I wholeheartedly admit, and if you know me, you know I will do this again and again - is that I only do a whites, darks and *maybe* a coloureds load for the grown up laundry. The kids stuff usually is not super precious, so if something runs, it runs. I will keep new/brightly coloured stuff out until it has been washed - otherwise, each kid gets one load. We have an energy efficient top loader, so it all fits.
Also along these lines is that I do NOT own anything that cannot go in the dishwasher (and washing machine, for that matter) on a regular basis. I do have some fancy glasses, or the odd super crusty pan - but on a daily basis, if it can’t go in the dishwasher, I don’t own it. Just ask my previously loved Lace & Twig mug which came to an unfortunate death when one of the kids put it in the dishwasher. This just simplifies things for us - it keeps the counters clean, and then we don’t have to worry about loading/unloading the dishwasher AND hand washing things unnecessarily. We also have the kids take turns unloading - we rotate through based on age (youngest to oldest, or oldest to youngest).
Pre-schedule and Automated* payments
A disclosure here, we are both fully self-employed so this may be different or not work well for you. We pay our bills, including mortgage etc on the same day each month. What we do is know that our fairly fixed bills are due on specific dates - let’s say gas is due on the 12th and insurance is due on the 17th. We have it set in our banks so that each time those bills are coming due - they are automatically paid. Now, this is not set up automatically through the company (that just feels yucky to us) but via the bank. So we have set recurring payments on our bank website for those dates and the amount of the bills. This works great for things that are fairly static or equally billed; internet, alternative TV, cell phones, insurance, heat - heck we even do the kid’s allowance this way! We have never signed up to have funds automatically come out of our accounts or credit cards as some companies like to offer for our “convenience” as it feels precarious (okay fine, shady) for us. However, this is a great way to mostly set it and forget it.
Let’s keep in mind we also pre-schedule as much of our lives as humanly possible because it is functional for us, we like to plan and it creates a feeling of safety we both know we need. I even pre-schedule my monthly self care routines in advance. I know if it is scheduled I will not blow it off, if it is not scheduled I will question if I “need” it and may try to skp it in favour of something else for someone else and not at all self-care related. Trust me, I need all the self-care I can get.
Outsource Less Desirables
There are tasks NO ONE likes or wants to do (hence the dishwasher). Wanting your partner to want to do them, sadly, doesn’t work either. So, we’ve come to the conclusion (and we want you to come to the same conclusion!) that we don’t need to be heroes and do everything ourselves. Disclaimer here: we recognize that ideas like the ones below may not be feasible for every family. This point involves paying for services which is a privileged place to come from. We also want to make it clear that we budget for these things because they are important to us - so we happily give up other purchases or activities to compensate for these expenses.
What does outsourcing our less desirables mean? Darrell and I have a cleaning service come into the home - every other Monday for the last number of years. Always on Mondays, we rarely vary. We do NOT clean outside of this time. We will get the kids to clean/vacuum etc as part of their chores, but we rarely do anything outside of this biweekly cleaning. We pay for the service, and, if you’ve been to our house, you know we generally are clean. This works for us because we have no pets at all, and teenagers only every other week. If you have pets or children all the time (God bless your soul), it may be a little more of a scheduling challenge; maybe you’d want to get a weekly cleaning, or monthly deep cleaning so that it is less cumbersome.
As we are a blended family - we have our children one week on and week off. On the weeks we do NOT have the children (also the weeks we have the cleaning service come in), we order a Good Food Box. We get one for four days and just use this for our dinners. We can figure out the other days of the week, but this way we don’t have to grocery shop, or think about post-work meals. We even have select dinner nights, but more on that shortly. We chose the Good Food Box as it also has breakfasts, and has good heart healthy and clean eating options. We found a lot of them were high in sodium and starches - neither of which are good for us.
State of the Union
Finally, we know that moments of connection are very significant to us emotionally as a couple and mentally as a family. We set up our day so that every single day, we have coffee together. We tease about whose turn it is to make the coffee, we sit in our fireplace room, and we talk. We talk about anything and everything. It could range from the day's events, to something going on with our kids, to just talking about the birds and squirrels outside. But we do this every day as a moment of connection and to check in with each other. It could be as little as 15 minutes to as many as 30 minutes. If there is something bothering one of us, it’s an opportunity to discuss it. If we need to just vent, or organize our thoughts, this is the time. It allows us to be heard and supported. We may not get to have this for the rest of the day, but this is a moment that allows us to do this.
I recognize that these things that we do are only small, seemingly insignificant things, and that they are wrought with privilege of having a two income household, so please forgive me. I wanted to draw attention to the bullshit idea that one needs to be hyper-capable and do everything themselves and that it is not a reality we pretend to embrace. We need help, we want help so that we can do the things we do best. We simplify our lives in these little ways to reduce the decision fatigue, and overall exhaustion of the current climate to allow us to focus on the things that matter; Ourselves and You.