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There are seasons where you just can’t be as present in your life as you’d like to be.
I’m experiencing one of these seasons now. I’ve just had a baby. (An amazing, perfectly squishy, exhausting baby.)
There are probably some women out there who, 8 weeks postpartum, are on top of the world. They’re back at work. Their houses are spotless. They are wearing (clean) clothes. Maybe they have slept in the past week or two.
I am not these women.
Don’t get me wrong. I am savoring this season of my life. Perhaps I’m not relaxed, but I am thrilled to bits with my baby and I know that his itty-bitty-ness will expire.
I choose to live on purpose – so I need to make him my priority and make all the memories I can with my limited, exhausted brain power.
I’m not allowing the demand of “life” things to get in the way of that.
I had fair warning that this season of life would be a little overwhelming. I listened when experienced mothers told me about the sleepless weeks, the crazy hormones and the general utter madness that is your first few months as “mom”.
So I took some steps to make sure I wouldn’t have to worry about most of my regular “duties”…
And it’s working!
I don’t have to worry about bills, cooking, shopping etc…
I have to admit, that organizational system number one is not something I came up with originally… the credit card company, phone company, gas company AND the Canada Revenue Agency all called me in November to say – “Why don’t you send us money anymore?”.
Seriously. In my last few months of being pregnant I really dropped all the balls and I (who NEVER pays a cent of interest) literally just quit paying all the bills. I didn’t even realize time was passing and bills were due. I saw the envelopes, but it didn’t occur to me to open them.
Save yourself this headache. Please.
If you are entering a season of life where you might not be totally present, you can use these organizational systems to get your life on autopilot (and shake a little of the responsibility).
# 1 Set up automatic bill payments and use a budget app.
I set up all my bill payments to come off my credit card and my credit card to be paid from my checking account. (I collect the points on my credit card this way.)
Even if you don’t use a credit card in your day to day life, you can set up automatic bill payments through your checking account. (The caution here is that you need to have your finances under control to do this. You need to know you’ll have enough cash to cover your bills every month. If you haven’t reached this point yet, check out my ten steps to stop living paycheck to paycheck.)
To keep track of your spending and make sure you don’t have any scary surprise bills (which can happen in the excitement of, say, new baby shopping…) set up and be diligent about using a good budgeting app, like YNAB (You Need A Budget).
# 2 Meal plan around freezer meals and pantry staples.
My Wonder Women (gram, mom, sister) helped me make two months worth of freezer meals. These have been my lifeline. Every night G says “what’s for dinner?” and every night I look at him like he has two heads. Who has time to think about dinner?!
Fortunately, I don’t have to THINK about dinner, because dinner is already made.
I also purchased (a ridiculous amount of) the things that are so easy to make it’s almost a crime. (Stuff we wouldn’t normally eat…but the goal is auto-pilot right?) My pantry is full of minute rice, instant potatoes, and canned soup.
# 3 Have a basic cleaning schedule.
If you can get yourself onto a basic cleaning schedule you’ll have a pretty decent shot at keeping the house from growing weird mold.
(If I’m being honest, the weird mold was the motivation for the basic cleaning schedule… at first, I didn’t even realize that days were passing.)
When I say basic, I mean basic. No dusting of ceiling fans, baseboards or cupboard tops here. (Those things should be done BEFORE you check out from your life, if possible. If not, then just accept that your baseboards will be cleaned when life is back to normal and that is ok.)
A basic schedule should include toilets, sinks, shower + bath, kitchen, vacuuming, garbage and laundry. You just need to keep it together, you don’t need to keep it pristine.
I do toilets and sinks at the start of the week (like “sometime on Monday”), I give the kitchen a wipe down every night before bed, and laundry and vacuuming happens over the weekend.
(Picking up of each room I still do every day… and there is ALOT of picking up to do. But it’s SO important if you want to keep things under control and prevent total chaos.)
Find a routine that works for you and make it happen.
# 4 Make a household supplies inventory.
I made a list of all the household necessities we used on a regular basis. Then I set aside a corner of the attic and over the last couple shopping trips pre-baby I filled it with 2 months worth of toilet paper, paper towel, shampoo, body wash, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, diapers etc. Stuff that you just don’t want to run out of.
Hang on to the list (stick it in your planner) and keep track of when you’re running low on something. There’s no guarantee life will be back to normal in two months time, and don’t count on yourself to remember to check your stock pile before you DO venture to the store.
# 5 Use a planner and write everything down.
I’ve never been a planner girl. I’ve always kept track of things in my head. And I’ve done a good job of it. Until the “great bill payment fisaco of 2016” that is. I promptly bought a beautiful planner and now I am on top of stuff again.
Every morning I can see exactly what needs to happen today, and every Sunday night I check back over my week to make sure all the things got done.
I might have puke in my hair…
But my bills are paid, my family is fed and my toilets are clean. If I don’t manage to put on real pants (or get out of bed before 11 am) at least I know I’m sort of keeping it together.
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