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I had originally written this series of posts in honor of National Simplify Your Life Week, which falls during the first week of August, I decided to make a short list of 7 easy steps that almost anyone can use to simplify their life starting today. With the New Year fast approaching I thought it might be helpful to post this again for anyone looking to simplify their life and have more FREE time.
Now I’m not talking about anything drastic like selling everything you own and moving into a small secluded cabin with no electric. This actually sounds like a really good idea to me right now but my kids wouldn’t really like that. The tips below will not only help you to simplify your life but they will help you to be more efficient.
Click on each link for more information and helpful tips.
- Take Care of Yourself
- Reduce Your Screen Time
- Learn to say NO without feeling guilty
- Declutter your closet (and your house)
- Get Organized
- Set Up Routines
- Pay Off Those Debts and Bills
I wish you the best of luck with getting your life simplified! Let me know, in the comments below, of any tips that you have used to simplify your life.
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Recently my favorite online calendar service, Cozi, surveyed all the parents who use the Cozi Family Organizer, to find out what they’re doing to prepare, looking forward to most, and planning to buy this school year. Check out the infograph down below.
- 47% of parents say getting their family back on routine is their top priority, followed by organizing all the new events and activities (38%)
- 25% of parents buying something new for back to school this year say it will be a computer
- The #1 thing they’ll miss is time with family, followed by the relaxed summer schedule
I know I love Cozi and it helps keep this crazy Momma on track. Try the Cozi Family Organizer today. It’s FREE! I know you’ll love it.
It’s almost time for many of us to get those kids ready to head back to school. Well, my kids have never left…lol. That’s a plus to homeschooling but sometimes it can be a downside too because this Momma just needs a BREAK every now and then. If my kids can see me then I am ‘on call’. In this tiny house that is pretty much 24/7.
We are gearing up to get ready to start a fresh homeschool year which will be our 5th year! Wow! Where has time gone? Anyway I am so excited to be using the PRAIRIE PRIMER this year. We have enjoyed reading the biography which I had hoped to have finished by now but we aren’t quite there yet. I have pretty much gotten our first four weeks planned out. I still need to look through a few activities and plug them into a few gaps.
1. Learning Disabilities
I am also going to look through some of the new items that we purchased for William. His learning disabilities mean that we do have to practice some things more than others and I really try to keep things interesting. I know I get tired of doing the same thing again and again. When William gets tired of repeating something that usually ends up in disaster. And I realize I am off topic… Oops, sorry guys! Continue reading Top 5 Back To School Worries For 2018
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This post is part of a multi-section post in honor of National Simplify Your Life week which is the first week of August. The original post wasn’t as short and simple as I had wanted it to be so I decided to break it down into a few shorter posts.
Step 5 Get Organized
Whoa! I know this one may be not be easy for some but you can do it! I know you can. Did you that the average person spends about 12 days every year looking for things? I think a Momma spends twice that amount. That’s at least 30-45 minutes a day wasted because you aren’t organized!
Imagine how much money you could save if you had a system for organizing your bills and getting them paid on time! This tip goes along with Step #6 and should come after you have completed Step #4.
Please don’t try to organize until you’ve declutter because it may get too overwhelming. I recently decluttered and organized our whole house and let me tell you that it has made a HUGE difference in our lives! Everyone can find anything at any time and everything has a place.
Getting organized can include things like setting reminders for birthdays, appointments, paying bills, or important events. We have reminders set for just about everything else like library due dates, semi annual bills, some chores, etc. I even have reminders for the due dates for our club’s newsletters and updates.
The easiest tool I have found to keep me organized is my Cozi calendar. I have it on my laptop, my phone, and my tablet. I have also installed it on Mr. Awesome’s phone and my ex husband has access to our calendar as well. That way everyone knows when we have upcoming appointments and events. Cozi even sends out email reminders!
This makes my life so much simpler as I don’t have to worry about forgetting important things, as long as I have remembered to enter them into the calendar. I also use Cozi for my meal planning so I if I forget my grocery list, or if I forget to make one, I can quickly check my phone for what I need to get. Cozi also has so many other great (FREE) resources to help you organize and simplify your life.
If you don’t have a smart phone or don’t want to install another app you can still use most phones to set reminders. You can also use paper and pencil, post its, or find a nice planner to help you organized. I used to carry a small one around in my purse but now I just use my phone which can be aggravating if the service isn’t great.
For keeping our homeschool schedules straight I like to use Homeschool Manager which I believe is coming out with a mobile app. This has helped so much with keeping track of what needs to be done and what has been done. Not too mention the fact that we can instantly print our attendance reports and report cards which is great. So simple and easy!
These ideas may seem like I am contradicting Step #2 but I think that technology is a great thing if used correctly.
In addition to these ideas you may want to work on setting up systems/routines for handling the following:
- bill paying
Keep your systems simple and work on them to make them easy and efficient. Being organized can keep you from forgetting things and save you so much time and money! This can help to reduce your stress and simplify your life. The next step will have more about routines.
You can also check out Make Over Your Year for more ideas.
Be sure to check out the other post in this series for more simple ways to simplify your life.
I know, we’ve all heard about how important routines and schedules are. Some of us may have every minute of every hour planned out on a ‘perfect’ schedule while others would rather just have a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kind of routine. I’ve always been kind of in the middle while I can say that at different times of my life I have leaned more towards one side than the other.
How do we find a balance? Well, the answer is not the same for everyone, every family, or every situation. For instance, there are some children who thrive on strict routines and schedules and they don’t like change, I have one of those children. Then there are some families who are extremely busy with things, maybe a home business, and there is no way that they could guarantee that they would be home by 5:00 every day to eat dinner. Then we have work routines where sometimes there are deadlines and things that must be completed in a certain time frame.
I went through a period of time when I was really sick. I went from being a vibrant young wife and mother (who also held down a 40 hours + job) to almost being bedridden. I had a couple of different surgeries, followed by infections and long recuperation periods. These illnesses triggered an autoimmune response in my body and I have been plagued by chronic pain ever since. I had been diagnosed with scoliosis, DDD, herniated discs, IBS, GRD, hiatal hernia, migraines, and fibromyalgia among a long list of things.
My doctors prescribed a cocktail of medications to help with the problems but those medications caused lots of side effects. I was extremely fatigued, developed seizures, and was constantly having various rashes and other conditions that couldn’t be explained.
During this time my housework really suffered. My house wasn’t a total mess but it did get pretty bad. The more I tried the worse it looked. This caused major problems between my spouse and I. I was trying to keep up with the inside of the house, the outside of house, the garden, the animals, and the kids. I was OVERWHELMED!
Then I found an index card system for housework. They also have a book called Sidetracked Home Executives which I never bought but maybe should have. I immediately jumped in and began to use the system. I tweaked it here and there to make it work for our family. I then developed a similar system for work and it made an amazing difference in my productivity levels.
Unfortunately my spouse wasn’t as thrilled with my new found method. I could never keep our home as ‘show place perfect’ as he felt I should. The marriage fell apart and I moved with my four kids to our current home. This is where I found FlyLady, who has been a life saver to so many people. (You may want to check out the site for yourself.) A lot of the routines I will list below follow along with her basic plans. I again tweaked them to work for our family.
My house is not ‘show place perfect’ nor will it ever be. My house is lived in and it shows. I do get a lot of compliments like, ‘I would never know that you had so many kids here.’. I’m not quite sure what they expect my house to live in but I am pleased to surprise them.
The outside of my house is a bit of a mess and I am working on that. Many people have stopped as they thought I am running a daycare. I guess I kind of am in a way. Some of the mess is beyond my control as it doesn’t belong to me.
I really believe that everyone should be proud of what the Lord has blessed you with. Be content where He has put you and make the best of it. I pray that you will find some helpful tips and suggestions as you read through the links. (If a link isn’t working I probably haven’t been able to work that on it yet, but keep checking and I will get them up.) Please remember to use these as a guideline for setting up your own routines. If something isn’t working then change it and make it work for you. Don’t get discouraged!
FlyHelper | Personal Organizer for Android
‘Your first obligation as a parent is to not bring chaos into your kids’ lives.’
OK, I should’ve written this before I started on the other posts about routines. I didn’t realize, until I was writing another post, how complicated and daunting routines can seem. Truth be told we all have some kind of routine already.
**Please note this post does contain affiliate links to which I may, possibly, earn a small commission from if you click on and purchase an item. For full disclosure click here. Continue reading Getting Routines Started 101
Hopefully you’ve read and enjoyed Feeding an army, part 1.
Now that you have your meal planning started what do you need to do next?
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Well, hopefully you have a handful of favorite recipes on hand, in your file box or in your notebook. Get them out and start checking your local sales before you head to the grocery store. I have my menus set up on a rotating schedule on my online Cozi Calendar. Sometimes I may end up with 2 or 3 meals for the same day. I usually check the sales and see what the specials are before deciding which meals I will be making. I also try to shop for the upcoming week, on occasion I will shop for the month. When I shop for the month I will still go out every 1-2 weeks for fresh produce and other items that we may need. Continue reading Feeding an army, part 2
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Well, as you may know I am a mom to 9. I still have 6 at home so there are plenty of mouths to feed. So how do you feed 6 kids without going broke ? Is it possible to do it healthy and cheap?
Well, I will say that I definitely try to keep it healthy and cheap. We don’t always eat organic and sometimes we do eat more processed foods than I care to admit. We try to grow a small garden as the seasons allow. Our freezers have many bags of berries, fruits and other vegetables that we have grown as well as fish that we catch on our outings.
I shop the sales at our local grocery stores and try to plan my meals around them as much as possible. I also coupon, not extreme couponing, but I really need to focus on it a little bit more. One of the biggest, most helpful things I do is meal planning.
I’m sure we’ve all been there. We are rushing around during the day, cleaning up messes, running errands, and doing whatever needs doing only to find ourselves exhausted. Then we realize that it is almost dinner time and we have no idea what to make. So you have a few options when this happens.
First, you can give them all a PB & J or a bowl of cereal. Second, you could order takeout and then drive to get it and drive back home, wasting time, energy and money. Third, you can go out to eat and spend way more money than you would have if you had eaten at home.
If you had your meal plan ready then you would’ve been able to check it in the morning. You would have seen that you needed to set out some ingredients for spaghetti and been able to plan accordingly. It also helps when you have a plan in hand at the grocery store. It can keep you from making as many impulse buys and help to keep you on budget.
I know that meal planning can be time consuming to start with. It can seem overwhelming at first but don’t let that stop you from trying. Just sit down with a piece of paper and write down ‘Breakfast’, ‘Lunch’, and ‘Dinner’. Now just list a few of your family’s favorite meals down under each heading. That wasn’t too bad was it?
Now you just need to take it one week or one day at a time. I use my Cozi Calendar to set up our meal plans. You can use a notebook, a wall calendar, or almost any online calendar that has the ability to create recurring events. (I touched on this a little in this Instagram post here.)
Here is an example of my calendar set up:
So, as you can see for Breakfast we have a fairly consistent routine:
Mondays: Cereal or Oatmeal
Tuesdays: French Toast (occasionally I make blueberry syrup to go with it)
Wednesdays: Muffins (sometimes we have English muffins or bagels, if I find them on sale)
Thursdays: Pancakes (sometimes I will mix in some blueberries or chocolate chips)
Fridays: Cereal or Oatmeal
Saturdays and Sundays are usually rotated with some of the family favorites like waffles, eggs and grits, Dutch Puff, Monkey Bread, etc.
Please remember that this menu is what works for my family. It is not a one size fits all and I know that it will not work for everyone. Feel free to use this as a guide and change around whatever you need to change to make it work for your family. If your family likes oatmeal more than make oatmeal a regular thing on your menu. However, if they really don’t like scrambled eggs then you probably wouldn’t want to add that as a regular meal.
(If you want to use paper or index cards simply write each meal on a separate page or card. You can organize them by day of the week, or number them 1-31, however you want to do it to make it easier for yourself.)
Then we move to lunches. Many days we will eat leftovers for our lunch. Some days I am really efficient and I am able to put together lunchboxes for the kids. (Or we will assemble them the night as we clean up after dinner.) For the days when I’m not so efficient and my brain is in the ‘What is there to eat? fog’ then I have rotating meals on my calendar to use as suggestions. These are usually quick and easy meals like PB & J, scrambled egg sandwiches, chicken salad, and on occasion we have hot dogs too.
Now to dinners, which for me are a bit more complicated. Again, you will need to go back to your list that you made of what your family likes to eat. Make sure to include your side dishes as well. My family really likes my homemade spaghetti with a salad and sometimes homemade garlic bread, so we have it every month. Sometimes they really like a certain meal but it may be a little expensive so I may set it to recur every 3-4 months. Then for meals for holidays, like Thanksgiving, I set it to recur once a year.
I also have snack suggestions on my calendar because sometimes my brain just goes into a fog and when snack times roll around I just can’t think of what to fix. I don’t keep a lot of prepackaged snacks so most of them are homemade and this helps me remember to make them ahead of time too.
Remember, if you don’t have an online calendar you can do this in a notebook. You don’t have to plan out the whole month at a time, or even a whole week, just start with tomorrow. Once you have a week planned out and written down then you can save it and put it to the back of your notebook and use it to rotate with other menu plans you will be making.
Or if you are using an index card system just move the menu to the back of the file and rotate it the same way. I used this method when I first started planning out my meals. You can also try googling ‘meal planning‘ or search on Pinterest for other ideas.
I hope I didn’t overwhelm you and I will make additional posts to go into more details about how we feed an army here.