I don’t know about you guys, but for me, yesterday actually felt like January 1.
Right?! So true! And because New Years day was a Wednesday, it felt like the holiday even got extended a few days into the weekend. It’s been nice to relax and enjoy low power mode, but when yesterday rolled around, I was super motivated to get us back into a routine.
I love the freshness and clean slate that New Year’s brings. I love the way the house feels bright and fresh without all the Christmas decor and I really love the crisp, clean look of a blank calendar! There is something about some open white space on a calendar that feels so rejuvenating to me after the busyness of the holiday season.
As I look at our calendar for January and February, I love that it doesn’t feel heavy. It feels light, manageable, and we have plenty of white space to just enjoy life without filling it up with tons of obligations. Today I thought I’d just share a few ways that I keep our calendar simple and manageable these days. These tips might not work for every family, but these are what works for our family!
Guard weeknight evenings
We try not to plan a ton of things in the evenings, but we do have a few standing obligations from week to week. Tuesdays are Justin’s late day at work, Wednesdays I attend a cycling class (and often take some time afterwards to run errands or just sit in a coffee shop to recharge), and every other Sunday evening we have small group at church. Other than that, we try not to schedule much in the evenings, especially during the week. This keeps a built in time to recharge and allow us to have family time without stretching ourselves too thin. Sometimes, there are things like a work dinner Justin needs to attend or a girls night for me, but for the most part, we try to keep evenings free. When we do have a night of hosting friends for dinner (about once a month) or going out for a date night during the week, it’s fun and feels like a treat! Eventually I know our evenings will get busier but for now we’re enjoying that time at home with our little ones.
Keep day-to-day structure the same
In general, our days have the same rough outline. Wake-up/breakfasts, change and get ready, then we leave the house for an hour or two. We come back home for lunch, naps, playtime, dinner, baths/bed. Now, of course there are days that don’t fit this mold but in general, that is our routine. It helps tremendously in simplifying our calendar because I only need to really change up one thing each day: what are we going to do in the morning?
So, what do we do in the mornings? I have a few ways of simplifying that too!
Keep a few recurring activities
Tuesdays, LJ has in-home speech therapy and then we pack up and go to the library for story time. Wednesdays, we go to my bible study (childcare is provided!). Every other Thursday, I meet with a group of friends for a book study/small group while our kiddos play in the host’s basement. These are activities that we do every week on the same day at the same time, so I don’t even have to use any brain power to figure out what to do or when to leave the house. It makes things easy and then I only have to figure out a plan for Mondays, Fridays, and every other Thursday.
Have morning “go-to’s”
For Mondays, Fridays, and every other Thursday, I have some go-to options that I keep in mind and alternate through so I’m not always spending a lot of brain power to come up with an activity from scratch. Some of my go-to’s are:
-go to the zoo (we have a membership, so it’s easy to go for just an hour or two and it doesn’t feel like a waste of money if we’re not there long)
-play at the library (many of our local libraries have great little play areas for kids!)
-trampoline jump park (they have toddler time on Fridays!)
-play date with a friend either at our home or theirs
In the summer we also have options like splash pads, playgrounds, and parks. And some mornings, our “activity” is really more of an errand like a doctor’s appointment or grocery shopping, although I try to do these errands when I have a babysitter or Justin is home so I don’t have to take both kids to the store. It happens though!
I have a whole blog post about saying no, but the bottom line is, I have learned over time that sometimes saying no is the best thing I can do for myself and my family. When I’m stretched too thin, when we’re running from activity to activity, when naps get skipped or we get out of sync, it makes a noticeable difference in my family. We get cranky, our days seem less enjoyable, and we just feel “off.” So I say no to things that I know will mess up our routine. We say no to activities in the afternoon, because that is when LJ naps and I know from experience that no activity is worth messing up naptime right now. I say no to things before 9 am, because it’s took hard for us to get up and out the door without feeling rushed. We say no to back-to-back evening activities that involve our whole family. We keep our normal routine and structure 99% of the time, so when something comes along that is really worth disrupting our routine, we can say yes and know it won’t throw us off too much because the rest of days are still normal.
By sticking to a general routine, having go-to activities in mind for getting out of the house, and saying no when saying yes would stretch us too thin or throw our routine out of whack, we keep a simple calendar with plenty of white space for when things come up. Just the way I like it. 🙂
What do you do to keep your calendar simplified and manageable?