Hey, friends, we are going to talk about the next item on my list of doable resources for peace and sanity. My goal is to encourage you in your life, and hopefully, to enable you to have courage to tackle some of those areas that may have you backed into a corner. First, I want you to remember that I’m a mom just like you, and my life can get pretty nutty at times! I may be the one writing this, but that doesn’t put me in a place above you at all. In fact, God usually appoints the one who needs to hear (repeatedly!) the message, to be the one to deliver the message. I know this to be quite true! So, look over to your “fellow soldier in the trenches” and wave hi!
Let’s enjoy a little chat about success and sanity…
We humans are always looking for ways to make our lives easier and bit less crazy. At times, we spend more energy on trying to find a shortcut or a organizational tip than if we had just gone ahead, dug in, and persevered with a task in its original form. If you are visual like me, you even want your day planner to be attractive because that will help me stick to the plans inside its covers. I’m laughing at my self as I write this. I wonder how much time and effort I have spent trying to make my life look less crazy to myself!
So, how can we tame the crazy, keep our lives organized to a sane degree, keep a healthy balance, without turning our organizing and planning into a major life focus. (You may actually want to spend the majority of your time planning, organizing, and cleaning, and if you do, bless your heart. I love you!)
I do believe whole-heartedly that if you want to have peace and rest in your life, you have to control the things you are meant to control and let go of the things you were never meant to control!
The majority of the moms I’ve met view having an organizational system as a necessary, but sometimes allusive tool to keeping our sanity. I’m one of those people who needs to know where things are. If I can’t locate something I need immediately, my kids run for the hills – they know I’m not going to be happy. (I’m working on this – honest!) I’m also not one of those people who wants to spend all day cleaning, organizing, and reorganizing. In my nearly twenty-four years of being a wife and more than twenty-two years of being a mom, I’ve experimented with many types of organizational systems. I have discovered what it takes to keep a comfortable balance between organization and OCD.
In this post, I’m going to share with you the key elements that I consistently employ to maintain that balance. (If you haven’t read part 1 of this blog series, you may want to pop on over and do that first…) So, what was #1 in this blog series? Routine!
Add to that…
For our family and home, the key to keeping organized is maintaining a doable system. If your dream organizational system is so extreme that it takes up way more time than you actually have to spend on it, well… it’s not going to serve you well.
The secret to a doable organization system is controlling the “stuff” of your life a little every single day, so it doesn’t end up controlling you.
These are the necessary elements of a doable organizational system for my family. Remember, yours may look slightly different!
- A doable budget. I put this right at the top of our doable organizational system, because money can cause a lot of stress and fear that will affect every area of your life. My hubby and I have completed Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey, and this has helped us back the money monster down into the cage where it belongs! As is necessary with every tool, we have adapted it to fit our individual needs. Out of all of the budgeting tool available, I recommend You Need a Budget (YNAB) the most highly. This handy-dandy program has an app that both my husband and I downloaded to our phones (available for iPhone and Android). Each month, I go on my laptop, look at our bills, our income, and when everything is going to be intersecting. It takes me about 15 minutes a month to update our budget on the computer, which in turn syncs to our phones. We both are diligent to record every purchase or bill paid into the right category in our phone apps. It immediately updates so we both can see what we have left for the month. I LOVE this program – it truly allows us to give every dollar a job.
- A doable menu and food shopping plan. We all have to eat, and it’s better to eat foods that are good for you! In our family, my husband is the one who really enjoys cooking. I know how to cook, also, but I tend to approach cooking as a chore. (Although I really do enjoy turning on music, cleaning the kitchen well, and making a delicious supper for those few evenings a week we are all home to sit down around the table.) Having a well-stocked kitchen can be a challenge in the time department and in the budget department. I have developed a system of once-a-month shopping for the staple items needed to stock the pantry and freezer. Our family eats very little processed foods, so at the beginning of the month, I take about a third of our food budget for that month, and I go to Aldi and Costco. This keeps me out of the grocery store except for a weekly run to replace fresh produce, milk, bread, eggs, etc. I do not do a strict menu, but I do have a list of meal ideas for the month from which I choose every day. Again, the reason this system works is that it doesn’t take a huge percentage of my time. It allows me to control the food “stuff” in our lives without allowing the controlling of it to take over my life. Balance!
- A doable family calendar. This is pretty self explanatory. At the end of each month, my hubby and I sit down together and update our calendars. We do it before I make the budget out for the coming new month, so I know if we have something “extra” coming up. We also make sure that the kids have updated us on coming events. No one likes double booking, and taking ten minutes a month, gives us peace that we have the calendar worked out.
- A doable chore chart system. My kids do chores. They have made their beds, cleaned their rooms, and washed their laundry from the time they were about 5 years old. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have to occasionally remind them to pull their weight around the house, but most of the time, it only takes a “look” from me, and they hop to. My chore chart is, you guessed it, doable. I’ve learned that I’m not going to spend ridiculous amounts of time on a weekly chore chart, so I made a master copy of all of the chores it takes to run our house. I printed it off, covered it in clear laminating paper, and hung it on the fridge. Each month (or two!) I rearrange names on it. Seriously, I do not spend more than ten minutes a month on chore charts. As you can see, I use a color coding system, which indicates if the chores should be done daily (blue), weekly (green), or monthly (purple).
- A doable planner. I don’t want to spend too much time on this one, because everyone has varying taste for their planners. But after trying many different types of planners, I’ve landed on one that fits my needs beautifully. I call my Well Planned Day Planner my “brain in a book” and use it for everything in my life except my work plans. This thing has calendar pages, daily plan spaces, perforated shopping lists, budget lists. I use the homeschool edition, because, well, I’m a homeschooler (and let’s face it! we make a lot of lists!).
- A doable expectation. I probably should have placed this one at the top of my list. It’s really that important. So many of us have unreasonable expectations of ourselves. Although the Philippians 4:13 says that we “can do all things through Christ who gives us strength,” that doesn’t mean we are expected to be perfect. The only way we are going to know exactly what is expected of us is to be in tune with the God who made us and loves us. He’s the one who has the plan for us.
Join me next time, for #3 in this blog series, as we look at the importance of scheduling and spending time alone with Jesus.
Love you, friend!