Creating a Happier Space
Last week, we focused on prepping and taking care of ourselves...this week, we're focusing on our space. Before we jump to taking care of our space, think back over the last week and determine 2-3 of the items that worked really well & try to continue them throughout this week.
Now on to taking care of space, just like taking care of yourself matters, taking care of your space also matters. Does this mean you need to run out and re-decorate your space? No. Does it mean you should over-extend yourself to buy a bigger and better house? Also no. It means that your space should be tidy and uncluttered, organized and structured. The people within your home will function best in a space that supports their needs.
If we think about choosing a school for our kids, whether it's a preschool or a college, a big portion of our decision would be based on how the actual space looked and felt. We wouldn't send them to a preschool that perpetually had goldfish smashed into the carpet and sticky fingerprints all on the windows would we? We also wouldn't be too keen to send them to a college campus that had weeds popping up along all the walkways. Why? In that instance, we'd be quick to tell you that we'd want them in an environment conducive to learning. A place where they can study and have their minds open up to new ideas and concepts. Well guess what? The place where your kids actually learn the most is your home. You should make it count.
So let's get started on making our environments conducive to learning and growth...which leads to happiness.
Sunday: Write down your menu for the week, while you're at it get everyone's input. Mealtime is the heartbeat of home. Can I say that again? Mealtime is the heartbeat of the home. I know we can't all gather around the table each and every night, but push hard for it whenever you can. Just last night, we ran into a problem. The sun was setting and we were headed out to enjoy dinner as a family (minus my son at soccer), as I was literally putting dinner on the table, we had a solicitor show up at our door. My husband went to answer and I knew he wouldn't have the heart to be short or clipped. I sat at the table and thought, these are the silly choices we constantly have to make. Be nice to the solicitor or cut it short and spend that time over dinner outside. Honestly, we are down to 15 minutes over the dinner table. I quickly decided to help him out and sent Max to tell him that dinner was ready. He did not disappoint. "Dad! Dad! Dad! Dinner's ready! No dad, mom said dinner's ready! Dad! You gotta come eat!" I mean, no one can turn that kid down.
Anyway, back to writing down you're menu, this is helpful to me so that I'm not scratching my head each night. I don't choose overly complicated meals on days we've got lots going on & I definitely overcook and leverage leftovers. It's not so much about what you're eating, but about who you're eating it with.
Monday: Prep tomorrow's meals today. If Monday is a hectic day, swap this to another day. The point is to prep ahead a little bit. I might grate the cheese, cook the chicken, make the salad dressing or chop the veggies, depending on what we're eating. This allows for something to go wrong on that busy-jam-packed day. That day happens to be Tuesday at my house, so I do some prep on Monday. I've found it really cuts down on the swears the next day. ;)
Tuesday: Make your bed within 10 minutes of being awake, bonus points if you can get your kids to do it too. My mom used to make us clean our rooms before school and I learned that if I just made my bed, she wouldn't notice the shoes strewn about or the pile of neglected clothes. I've turned into that same mother and have actually realized that just making my bed makes my room feel 85% more tidy. That's just my opinion, but there is actual science to back it up as well. It has to do with accomplishing something within the first 10 minutes of your day, that small accomplishment, makes the accomplishing more things easier throughout the day. In simple terms, making your bed sets the momentum of your day. It's also a nice way to finish out your day...even if you had a no-good-horrible-terrible day, you end with that small accomplishment in the morning of a made bed. We've literally had in-depth dinner conversations about it in the hopes I don't have to threaten to get my kids to make their beds. So far, 1 is really consistent...the others, well they are threatened and rewarded and threatened and rewarded. I'll keep you posted when I crack the fool-proof code #never.
Wednesday: Make a house cleaning playlist & use it. You know all those songs you jam out to on family road trips? Put them all on a playlist -- or borrow an upbeat playlist from Spotify or Amazon. Now use it. At least once a day, my kids will hear the music get turned up and I'll rally them to do a 10 minute clean up. I set the timer & everyone cleans up for 10 minutes. if they start to complain, well I inform them, that it's just 10 minutes...if the complaints continue, they have 12 minutes and so on it goes. Most times they don't complain much anymore. Honestly, most nights, we can get our whole kitchen clean in 10 minutes if everyone helps. The music helps everyone to move a littler faster, and well, if it's loud enough I can't hear complaining if it's happening and even if we go over that 10 minute timer, everyone is usually having fun at that point and they don't mind finishing up. The best part? It always ends with a great dance party.
If you have toddlers, my favorite way to get them to clean up was to choose a secret item. Whoever picked up the secret item would get a treat (of the starburst variety). I never actually choose a secret item ahead of time, I just looked to see who was doing the best job & chose something I knew they had picked up. This works great if you have one that never pulls their weight. If everyone did a great job, well that day I would miraculously have picked 3 secret items and wouldn't you know it, each one of them had picked up a secret item.
Thursday: Create a designated space for backpacks, briefcases and purses. Always running around looking for something? Today is the day you create a designated spot for it. Hang hooks for backpacks in the garage or laundry room or mud room -- whatever or where ever, make a spot for it. This will make getting out the door so MUCH easier. We have some vintage lockers in our garage. There are six lockers, so my oldest three, each use two. One is for school backpacks, the other for sports stuff. They also plaster all their stickers here. ;) .
Friday: Spend 10 minutes organizing the pantry. It's the closet we all use the most -- take 10 minutes and get it organized. If you have older kids, do this together. Show them where the cereal goes, how to stack the cans so that all the green beans are by each other. This way, when groceries need to be unloaded, they aren't putting things away in odd spots....which then leaves you tearing about the pantry, when you're trying to make dinner in a hurry.
Saturday: Tackle the yard together. I grew up with a mother that woke me up at 7:30am on the weekends, claiming that I was, in her exact words, 'sleeping the day away!' She made us work hard and I'm forever grateful for that. Little did I know how much work it was getting your kids to work! In those days, I thought I was doing her a favor, you know, dragging myself out of bed to do a half-baked job on the yard, complaining as I went. Now I realize, she was doing me the favor, while telling me all along, 'one day you'll love doing yardwark.' Guess what? She was right.
Do not do the disservice to your kids of not teaching them to work. I realize it's work to teach them to work, but if they never mow the lawn, they'll never feel that satisfaction of a crisply mowed lawn, which is honestly one of my favorite things. If you put in the time to teach them, it will really pay off. These days, I haven't cleaned a toilet in close to 5 years.
Feel free to use your playlist while you do it.
Hi, I'm Amy. When I'm not scouring the valley for the perfect new house, you can usually find me in the kitchen with a gaggle of kids. Chips, salsa and a Diet Coke are usually in hand.