Monday, January 18, 2010

Settling Back into "Normal"

For those of you who know our family personally, "normal" isn't a phrase that immediately comes to mind when you think of us. I realize this. But our version of normalcy is what I am going for as we head back into our regular lives. With Inessa here, the Christmas holiday, and some school snow days thrown in for good measure, we are feeling a bit off. And while all those things were fun and special and amazing, I think the best way to deal with our missing Inessa funk is to sink back into the comfort of routine.

Of course every routine can use some fine tuning, so that is the challenge before me as we settle back into normal. While I could always fake my way through managing the house, errands, school work, cooking, laundry, etc. etc. I would like to some day arrive at the place where I actually am on top of it all. I've spent a little time trying to decipher what would help, and I have come up with a few areas for improvement.

1. Less TV. Less computer. Yeah, that one is gonna hurt. I will say that Mark and I don't have many TV shows that we have been sucked into, and with the end of the football season swiftly approaching, I imagine this will get easier as we go. But in the afternoons I have been known to put the TV on for "background noise" (a lame excuse, since by that point in the day the two boys are home from school and sufficiently provide background and foreground noise...), and then found myself totally sucked in to whatever talk show happens to be blah-blah-blahing in the "background". I am also a notorious waster of time online, which I find ironic because there are only about four websites I check and no matter how hard I try, I can't think of anything interesting enough to Google that's new.

I don't necessarily think TV and computer are inherently evil, but I do think they eat away precious time I need to be spending elsewhere. So, while I am not giving them up entirely, I am striving to finish the "to do" list first, and then turn on the TV or computer.

2. Meal Plan. I know that planning meals ahead saves us money, but I have come to realize it saves me lots of time as well. One month last year I made out a 30 day meal plan, bought all the groceries for it I could (minus produce and dairy which I bought as needed), and then prepared as much of the meals and froze them as I could. Wow! What a difference, not only in our grocery bill but also in my general disposition. Let's be honest, I am not a huge fan of cooking, so getting a meal on the table with as little thought as possible is a huge plus. On the nights when I look at the clock at 5:00 and think, "What am I going to feed these people?" I may get a meal thrown together, but I inevitably end up frazzled and exhausted the rest of the evening. I know I can do better with just a little planning ahead.

3. A Few Evening Minutes. I confess it here. Once the kids go to bed, I generally stop "working". I know that is when most other women get lots done, but I have never been able to keep going after 8 or so. I would like to blame this on my two years of fatigue, but it pretty much started well before that! I like having my evenings free, but I realize there are a few little things I could do after the boys go to bed that would help tremendously in the mornings. For example, I can pack much of the boys' lunches the evening before, which would only take about five minutes. I could be sure the kids have clean socks ready. I could make a "to do" list for the next day. None of these things will significantly cut into my evening, but all of them could help our mornings run more smoothly.

So as we start back in to the old routine here, I hope to be able to work on these three things. I know eliminating some of the usual time and energy culprits will make our "normal" life a little easier.


Renovation Girl said...

That TV/Computer one-that's our biggest downfall! Right now, we're both sitting on the couch, watching the TV while working on our laptops. Pathetic! I love meal planning, but it does take time. Some weeks it works, others not so much. I'm back to cooking in the slow cooker more so that I can make large portions-one set to eat, the other set to freeze.

Aly-Rae said...

Sheesh Ann. Thanks for the "wisdom".
Just when I was happily and lazily going about passing out on the couch each evening in front of the TV or computer killing my brain cells and accomplishing nothing.
Seriously though, well put. I shall consider implementing similar ideas.
Love you!