My tips for staying above water

I was talking to Aaron last night about how the past few years have been a funnel of work. Hyper focused on getting to a goal and picking up whatever we could along the way to stay afloat.

The photos we have framed and hung up on our walls are all years old and when I look around I’m still looking for my wispy haired little girl to be painting on my walls or my blazing blue eyed boy to be looking at me just so, probably with food all over his face.

Painting (ehum, her face?)

Happy Napper

It’s not that we missed anything, we just weren’t watching it as closely as before. And now the time has passed but we’re floating, finally. As a family, a couple. Myself, as an individual. I’m starting to feel like I can float as a mother. Not without trying and not bypassing the work, but like I can finally feel my wings.

Of course I know there will be times when the chaos overtakes our lives again and with parenting, the joy is bigger as they get older but so are the challenges. So here’s my tips for when that shadow of fear creeps up on me, something I can always look back at and remember that I can do this – because I already have.

For the home:

Prioritize and Blank Slate:
Planning is one of my favorite parts of home ownership, redoing is another. It’s overwhelming though, so take steps. The house we bought was empty for YEARS before we found it and although we (hopefully) found all the surprises with our inspection – each season might bring a new challenge this first year.

What I’ve found most helpful is to change what you can only if that change brings a blank slate.

We learned we have a massive yard after moving in (yes, after!) and I love to garden – but this year was all about prep. We had to remove trees and brush, kill poison ivy and dream up a few great ideas.

Cutting trees down

Used to be a jungle.

For the kitchen:

Break it down.
For me, I love to be in the kitchen baking and cooking. I love food prep and freezing meals. Making lunches, hosting parties, having snacks for everyone who enters our doors. I can easily overwhelm our tiny fridge, miniscule freezer and my family if I don’t have a plan. Not to mention our budget.

So I meal plan. (Or check out this video tutorial I did here.) It’s a process and it does take time, but from my menu plan I make a grocery list and then spend less at the store. It’s tried and true, it works.

Most of the meals I make require prep time and fresh ingredients. Last night we had ratatouille, caprese salad and green beans with dinner rolls. Tonight we’ll have beef stew from the crock pot but I cut all the veggies and precooked the beef chunks last night and threw everything in a crock pot bag so this morning all I had to do was put the bag in my crock pot, and add the wet ingredients (which I also threw together last night).

Stew bag.

The idea is to have less work, keep the house cleaner and engage with my family. But I get there by working harder at first, so when my energy and patience runs out, I can sit and relax instead of running around forgetting essential things. (Don’t worry, this happens often! It’s work to be on top of things, but this is the work that I know pays off. Andrea actually just wrote about this beautifully. I love how she doesn’t let me think it’s easy for some people to be so on top of it, because it just isn’t.)

These are a few of the ways I stay on top of the whirlwind since starting school, changing schools, settling into a home (changing out seasonal clothing without involving packing boxes?!??!?! IT’S LIKE CHRISTMAS!) and realizing the growth in our family requires new patterns and definitely more of an idea of what we’re doing. (Aaron and I feel like we’re growing up, too.)

Tomorrow I’ll be back with my tips for the relational side of life. Kids & Relationships. How are things in your camp?

6 thoughts on “My tips for staying above water

  1. It is more work than I thought it would be to keep a family on track. One of the best things I did for us back in August before the September Chaos hit was filled out our calendar with every possible events, appointment, or activity I could think of. I felt a little crazy putting our life on paper 6 months in advance, but this has saved us so much stress not only with planning meals around events, but also we have an accurate picture of how busy we actually are, which makes it easy to say no to random things that pop-up and threaten to steal the margin/buffer we have built up. Maybe this seems inflexible or anti-free spirit to some people, but I feel like it has actually given us a new kind of freedom. Thanks for sharing and letting me share too 🙂

  2. That’s a great tip, too! I do the same thing with our calendars. These past few weeks were ridiculous – which is now why I’m reminding myself of how not to do what we just did. (ha!) I love being able to menu plan around our calendar, crock pot tonight because of something on the calendar, etc. and knowing my windows of “time to get something done” ahead of time keeps me on track with everything that needs to be ready leading up to those times.

    I know what you mean about the freedom that comes with having what may seem like an anti social calendar up and running. It’s way easier for us to yes to plans if we know we’re not compromising school or other commitments.

    Thank YOU for sharing 🙂

  3. Yes! This is all so true! Sometimes I wish it wasn’t such an ongoing and evolving process…but I’m getting used to that “wash, rinse, repeat” cycle – maybe it takes 7 years of motherhood to get there?!! And, guess what?! Ultimately your blog was the “tipping point” for me to try out the menu planning – the way you presented it just spoke to me at the time. And I’ve been doing it for over 2 years now – and it has helped in so many ways of keeping a food budget and keeping me sane! 🙂 Thank you!

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