How To Simplify Fall

One of my favorite quotes by Rach Kincaid is “brave yes, firm no.” I want to spend my time doing exactly what God wants me to do (even if it’s scary or hard) and not being distracted by other good things or worse, by bad things.

Now that our vacation to the beach is over (last week was fabulous and amazing), we have officially started our fall season. This has nothing to do with pumpkin spice lattes or the first day of fall and everything to do with Justin starting classes (as teacher and student), ball starting, and us swinging back into homeschool after taking most of August off.

How to Avoid Overwhelm: write it all out

My first reaction to fall was “oh my word, there’s so much to do!” So I grabbed a sheet of paper, a ruler, and a pencil. Then I lined off the seven days of the week and started filling in the blocks when we need to be out of the house: ball practice, church, Awana and choir practice, speech appointments. Once I had those marked off, I started adding in times for school and when I was going to work on the blog. I planned a spot for meal prep and made some notes for ball practice snacks and activities.

In other words, everything we had to do got a time. And we have time for it all without it even being crowded. There’s no way to know that without writing it down. When I looked at our schedule I felt much less overwhelmed. Now if you do this exercise and feel overwhelmed, you need to quit a few things if you at all can. That’s the “firm no” part of this equation.

And then I planned the things that stress me out every single time. I wrote down dinner ideas; I made a list of snack options. I wrote down what days I was doing what work for the blog and podcast. Do some of the brain work ahead of time.

How to Get Help: a book to read

While we were at the beach, I read Lara Casey’s new book Cultivate. It was a perfect read for this season of life and really confirmed some decisions I had made about this fall. I only have time to do so many things and I need to pick them carefully. This is an exercise you have to do with only God in mind. This is not about impressing other people with your life. She talked specifically about all of our gardens being different. My life shouldn’t look like yours and yours shouldn’t look like your best friend’s.

There’s always a place for flexibility: sick kids and unexpected opportunities occasionally crop up. But with the schedule I know that if I’m not doing my work, it’s a self-discipline problem. I’m distracted or I’m choosing to do other things. I want my focus on Jesus and what He’s given me to do. I want to cultivate this life, not look for quick fixes.

How to Make It Work: a few lifestyle changes

-Purposeful social media usage. I’m not trying to quit social media but I do want to use it wisely. It’s hard to focus on reading lessons if I’m scrolling Instagram.

-Prioritize sleep. I’m going to try to get up a little bit earlier (not much, we have a three month old, remember?) but this is about bedtime. I’ve scheduled time to work and if I do the work then, I should just be able to go to bed at an appropriate time. GET REST, MAMAS. You’ll be so much nicer.

-Prepping. I made a list of simple meal options. Food for six people gets complicated, especially with our dietary restrictions. A plan for snacks and meals, especially on ball practice days, will simplify my life. Then I scheduled an afternoon for food prep: boil eggs, make croutons or pizza dough, etc. An hour of planning for our week and homeschool every weekend will go a long way too. You should know what’s happening during your days before it actually happens.

Again, my favorite tool for managing my time and our weeks is my Get To Work Book. At the end of the year it even turns into a kind of journal as I make notes about our life in it as it happens.

Put your schedule, your planner, what you’re doing in front of your face and look at it. You don’t have to remember the whole thing but you do have to remind yourself of it. My planner sits on my “command center” on the corner of the kitchen cabinet. It holds my planner, my iPad and keyboard, and my pencil. Tape your to-do list to the kitchen counter and hang your schedule on the refrigerator. Keep it on your phone if you do digital. But keep it in front of your face.