Back to School: Rhythms and Systems

August 23, 2021

I’m Tanya.
I’ve learned that a little bit of intentionality goes a long way in accomplishing the goals we set for ourselves. This blog is meant to equip you with just that - simple tips, tricks, advice, and encouragement that help you live an intentional life. 
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Who else looks forward to back-to-school to get back into a more normal rhythm and schedule? 🙋🏼‍♀️I know I’m not the only one – I’ve heard it from several moms as well. There is something wonderful about the relaxed nature of summer, but I also believe that schedules help everyone function better. My E1 personality loves a good system, but I also realize that creating a system is not everyone’s strength, nor does everyone need the same structure and organization that I do. Some of you feel very stifled by schedules and you need space for options and creativity. I’ve learned that the things that help me thrive are not the same things that help others thrive. However, I also think that we each have certain giftings and while I can help give you ideas to create a little structure for you and your family, you can help me maintain some flexibility and fun in my life as well!

That being said: here are the areas that I look at when setting up systems for success, and though I doubt my systems will be a perfect fit for you, I do hope they inspire you to think about your own day-to-day living and what order you could create which will make life easier for you and your family.

  1. Morning and Evening Routines (and possibly an afternoon routine)
  2. Weekly Schedule for Household Tasks
  3. Meal Planning

I told Todd the other day that the 3 areas of life that really stress me out (when not taken care of) are meals, our home, and our finances. When any of these areas feel like they’re not being managed well, my life feels a little chaotic. I like to know what I need to make for dinner (and have the groceries purchased!), physical clutter creates mental clutter, and so I like my house fairly picked up, and I like to have a general idea of where our money is going so that we can stick to our budget and financial plan.

  1. A morning routine helps start the day on the right foot, and an evening routine tells the body it’s time to get ready to sleep. In addition, an afternoon routine helps our kids know what to expect when they get home from school, which prevents them from cashing out in front of a screen. It ensures we get our tasks done first so that we can have fun later. Now, life WILL get in the way of these routines, let’s be clear. Though I’d like it to look the same every single day, it won’t. There will be a game that gets us home late, after-school activities that keep us running, or a later than normal night which will mean I have to decide between working out in the early morning vs. getting an extra hour of sleep. BUT…as long as we’re ok being flexible, routines are still worth it!
    1. Here’s a sample of my morning routine:
      1. 5:30 am wake up, drink water, make coffee, read the Word/journal/prayer
      2. 6:15-7:00 change clothes and workout
      3. 7:00 – shower
      4. 7:15 – make breakfast, get ready, help kids get ready 
      5. 8:00 – bring kids to school and head home or head to work
    2. Afternoon routine:
      1. 3:45 – home from school – grab a snack
      2. 4:00 – instrument practice/vball practice/homework
      3. 5:30 – dinner time. Everyone clean up afterward.
    3. Evening Routine:
      1. 7:00 – baths/shower/read books
      2. 7:30 – little girls in bed (age 3 and 6)
      3. 8:00 – J in bed (age 8).
      4. 8:30 – A and E (12 and 10) can read in bed. Lights out at 9:00 pm
      5. 8:30 – 9:30 – finish tidying up the house and prepping for tomorrow, time with Todd, read, bedtime routine.
      6. Lights out 9:30-10:00 pm
  2. Weekly Schedule of Household Tasks – this is going to look different for each person. The person who cleaned for us last year is moving, and I’m going to attempt the Clean Mama routine and see if I can make it work. If not, I hope to hire someone to clean my house again. My main tasks I schedule throughout the week are laundry, vacuuming, dusting, bathrooms, mopping, budgeting/paying bills, meal planning, and grocery shopping. I do 1-2 cleaning tasks on M/W/F (the days I’m not in the office) and then wash a load of laundry a day to spread it out during the week. Here’s a sample:
    1. Monday – Wash boys’ clothes. Boys fold after school. Clean bathrooms and Dust house.
    2. Tuesday – Avery washes her clothes
    3. Wednesday – Budgeting/paying bills and meal planning. Avery folds her clothes after school. Wash girls’ clothes and fold.
    4. Thursday – Wash Todd’s work clothes.
    5. Friday – pick up groceries. Vacuum and Mop floors. Wash our darks and whites. Fold clothes.
    6. Sat – wash towels and sheets.
  3. Meal Planning is in my weekly schedule, but it deserves a category of its own. I’m not a foodie, but I appreciate good food and I know that food can help me live well or it can hinder me from living well, so it’s important that it has a place in the weekly plan and is given some thought. I’ve subscribed to meal planning services and they are great! But they just don’t work well for me or my family. Really, we like to stick to the tried and true recipes that we like, and I’ve found that it’s most important if I eat a nutritious breakfast/lunch/snack. I rotate through the same 3ish options and I’m very content with that, plus it makes planning easy. If I’ve eaten well during the day, then if I choose to make ie: lasagna for dinner, I can serve some veggies and a large salad on the side and have a small portion of lasagna and feel really good, while making something that’s easy for me AND it is something I know my family will like. There will be a day (I hope!) in the future where I’ll have more time to mess with food – but I don’t anticipate that in the next 5-10 years, so I just needed to develop a system that works well for both me and my family, which means simple meals that they love, balanced with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and a few go-to breakfasts/lunches that give me the vegetables/protein, etc. that I need to function well. I listed out about 30 meals that are easy for me to make and are also meals that my family enjoys, so each week I just pick from this list and I’ll occasionally throw a new recipe in there if it can fall on a day where I have a little extra time to prepare it.

Again, these systems might not be the best fit for your family or life, but I do hope it gets you thinking about what systems/schedules might be helpful to create better consistency and functionality in your home. Systems are designed to help decrease our load, not make things harder. DO EXPECT that it will feel a little clunky at first b/c you are doing something new. It might actually feel like more work. But as you get into it and it starts to become a habit, you should find that it frees up some brain space so that you have MORE time to spend with the people you love. That’s always the end goal. If that isn’t happening, then it’s time to re-evaluate or make a change.

I’m constantly evaluating my systems if something doesn’t seem to be working well, b/c I’m a big believer that there is a better way of doing things, we just need to figure it out. 🙂 Don’t be afraid to change a system that is not the best fit for YOU and your family’s needs. You don’t need to do things how everyone else is doing it, and sometimes the best system is the one where you say NO to something that isn’t life-giving or serving you well so that you can say YES to what is most important. 🙂

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