If you could use one word to summarize your year, what would you use?
For me, 2016 has been a year I would simply call 'hectic'!
With our home renovation; having to move out for 4 months; the huge process of moving back in; our continued work on home projects; my husband's long work hours; me working every spare second on moving my business forward; and big changes with the kids, it has been a hectic year for sure!
However, although it may sound like it, I am definitely not complaining. Our renovation has been truly life-changing and I am appreciative every day of what we have accomplished. We are extremely blessed to live the life that we do. But I sure am ready for a break over Christmas!
I think everyone starts to feel this way as the year comes to a close, so it's a good time to reflect on the things that are working in your household... and those areas you want to improve on for next year. Here's a list of the top 5 things I did this year to keep my family organised, and the ones I want to improve on for 2017.
1 | A weekly to-do list to set priorities and goals
No matter how busy our week has been, I've always made sure to write a to-do list. Typically, I like to do this on a Sunday afternoon or evening, so I know exactly what's coming up for the week ahead. I find if I try to do this on a Monday morning, I'll already be feeling on the back-foot, so a Sunday works best to plan what I want to accomplish.
For nearly the entire year, I've been using my Master Planning List, where I break down all the project I want to work on and the things I need to accomplish. I then choose from this Master list to come up with my top 1-3 priorities for each day on my weekly planner.
In the last few weeks I have modified things in order to sort the types of projects I'm working on into categories. I'll share this new process in the New Year, as I'm still making some modifications, but the weekly planner with priority goals has worked brilliantly thus far.
2 | Continuous decluttering in each area of the home
This year I have done two massive decluttering sessions - one as I was packing up before the renovation started, and the other when we moved back into our house. These bigger decluttering sessions were done in order to stay on top of all our 'stuff' and be sure we're only holding onto those things we use, love and need.
This is the kind of decluttering I was facing when we moved back into our house... Not pretty!
However, I've also done lots of mini-decluttering sessions throughout the whole year (learn about decluttering 101 in this post). The great thing about decluttering is that it doesn't always have to be a massive undertaking. If you do it on a regular basis, you'll be able to prevent those big clutter piles from building up in the first place.
Here are some areas to regularly declutter:
- Paperwork - sort through your paperwork on a daily basis when you bring in the mail and collect any paperwork from the kids. Immediately get rid of anything you don't need. Pin any notes or invitations, and set up a mini-command centre to file and sort paperwork tasks (see our previous command centre here). Aim to hold onto as little paperwork as possible!
- Bathroom vanity - on a periodic basis, go through your beauty supplies and get rid of anything past its use-by-date, and products you don't use or like anymore.
- Garage - if you're a keen DIYer or just use your garage a lot for different purposes, it can all too easy for it to become a jumbled nightmare. Aim to give the garage a big declutter at least once a year to get rid of anything you haven't been using, as well as a mini clean up at the completion of a home project.
- Kids' clothes and toys - have a box in your child's wardrobe labelled 'donate or pass on' so you can put clothing straight in the box when your child has grown out of it. Donate or pass on the items when the box is full. Toys can take over the house if you're not careful, so it pays to declutter at least twice a year - before birthdays and Christmas is ideal. Read more about the toy decluttering process here.
- Kitchen - the biggest problem in the kitchen can be holding on to far more kitchen utensils than necessary, and having a junk drawer (or two!). Stay tuned for my new guide being released in a few weeks that will give you the exact strategies for getting your kitchen more organised!
3 | An effective morning and evening routine
We have our morning and evening routines pretty down pat, which I think is important when you have kids, so they know what's happening and where, and when they are expected to help out. But it also helps to create a stress-free start to the day for us all, and the ability to fully relax in the evenings.
Our typical morning routine (on a day where there's kinder drop-off) goes like this:
1. I'm up from 5.45 either doing work or going for a walk, so it's cuddles and sharing what we dreamt about (usually hilarious) when the kids wake up around 7am
2. Get out the breakfast supplies - we used to do this of an evening, but now only do it on the days that I'm working so we're extra prepared
2. After breakfast, I empty the dishwasher, and put the dirty dishes straight in
3. Make lunches
4. Clear and clean benches and table-top
5. Kids have a play while I shower and get dressed. Put on a load of washing, and prep for dinner if I'm feeling super-organised!
6. Kids get dressed and then it's teeth and hair brushing time
7. Pack bags for the day
8. Have a story on the couch so we're not feeling rushed
9. Head out the door
The evening routine typically involves toy pack-up (not always an easy ask of my 3 year old!), dinner, kids' showers, play, story, kids to bed, we have our dinner, then clean up and relax in front of some Netflix :) We always aim to end the day with a clear and clean kitchen so we can start each day afresh.
Do you have a set morning and evening routine for your family?
4 | Giving extra responsibilities to our children
One area that has been a massive change for our family is the amount of responsibilities the kids now have, particularly our 5 year old. He has actually asked me for a chore chart (#mylittleprodigy) that I'm planning on creating with him over the Summer.
Giving our children extra responsibilities, and encouraging them to be helpful family members, helps them feel more independent and keeps family life running more smoothly. It also allows me to feel a little less like a slave, which is something I'm sure a lot of mums can relate to!
Although there are definitely still the occasional battles, the kids now both get themselves dressed, put away their pyjamas, put away their clean washing (I still help my 3 year old with this task but she likes to have control - "I'llllllll do it!!!"), help to set the table for breakfast and dinner, and bring the dishes to the sink. My son likes to help pack his kinder lunch-box, and they both sometimes help with dinner prep and baking sessions. Costumes a given.
Do your kids like to help out around the home?
5 | Staying on top of the paperwork and emails
Although I slacked off a little when we were staying at my mum's during the renovation, I always maintained my sorting system for receipts, paperwork to-do's and bills.
When we moved back home, I did a major sort through of the paperwork accumulated over 6 months, and have now returned to my previous paper-sorting system. This basically involves placing tasks in corresponding file folders and placing these in different slots of our paper organiser according to what task needs to happen when.
If it's not a quick task I can do on the spot, such as filling out a form or making a quick phone call, I designate one day a week - usually a Friday - to go through all paper related tasks and get them done in one hit. This system has served me well for over 3 years :)
The 3 areas I want to
improve on in 2017
1 | Meal planning
At the start of the year, I was really on top of my meal planning. I was planning ahead for the month, had reduced my grocery shopping to just once a month (with a few top-ups in between) and had a fairly big stock of back-up meals for busy nights.
I'm blaming it on the renovation, and calling the rest of 2016 a write-off in this department, because I just can't seem to get back in the swing. Think I got too used to my Mum doing all the cooking while we were living there for 4 months! We still eat healthy and nutritious meals most nights, but I'm totally out of my planning swing.
I find this frustrating on a daily basis as I know how much time, effort, energy and money I could save by planning my meals. Meal planning is the biggest organisational area I need to get back on top of in 2017. Who's with me?!
2 | Setting goals for each quarter
Hubby and I have been talking a lot recently about the importance of goal-setting - must be an end of year thing. We both want to set some concrete goals for each quarter, related to our finances, fitness, family, personal and business goals. I think it's so important to look at the year ahead and set some priorities in order to feel like you're accomplishing things as the year passes.
3 | Embracing change
I am, by nature, a worrier, particularly when it comes to my kids. I am extra emotional about my son starting school next year and my daughter starting kinder, even though I know they'll both love it (seriously, I can cry at the drop of a hat). I am worried about the change to our routine, having to get to school every morning and afternoon - I'm so not used to that! I am anxious about not having enough time on my business, then feel guilty when I'm working and should be spending quality time with the kids. Mum guilt is a constant!
For me, the tricky thing about being a stay-at-home mum is that, until both kids are in school, each year is so vastly different in terms of our daily routine. I've been incredibly lucky to be able to be home nearly full time with my kids since they were born, which makes the thought of every returning to full time work a completely foreign and scary concept.
However, instead of constantly stressing about the future, I hope in 2017 to focus on embracing the changes and living for the moment. The kids are only going to be little for such a short amount of time, so I want our 2017 to be focused on family and fun... and maybe a holiday somewhere in there!