My family and I recently moved to sunny Arizona in the heart of hiking and climbing country, two of our favorite things to do. We quickly realized we were never going to enjoy some the best hiking and climbing in the country if we didn’t starting planning to make it happen. We have a 2 year old and a 7 month old and with my husband working long hours at a new job it’s hard to find the time to get it all done. The key for me was to schedule EVERYTHING. I love to fly by the seat of my pants and do the spontaneous thing but with two kids in cloth diapers, starting a garden, landscaping a barren property and the other million and one things to do with a new house it just doesn’t work for me anymore. Here are the things I plan and how I plan them.
To Do items: At the beginning of the month I think of everything I want to get done and I write it down in a large list. Then at the begging of each week I use a white erase board to write down everything for that week and what day I’m going to do it. I only put two to three things on the list a day and I only put things I am unlikely to get done without a list. For example I’ll put “tear apart pallets to make a bench”, but not dishes. Or “till up garden” but not sweep the floors . The floors will get done, eventually. the dishes get done one way or another, but the things I really want to get done like making or creating or calling someone wont get done unless it’s on a list. I usually give myself more to do than is possible but it keeps me focused on what I really want to get done.
Groceries: From the list of meals I make a grocery list and only go to they store twice during the month. This is the hardest part. Every month I feel like It’s not going to work. I forget something and think I have to have it. Instead I just make it work. I make more bread, I change the menu, I do what I have to, to make it work. This is the biggest money saver that I have found, hands down. And of course I’m not perfect at it.
Meals: I make a list for the month of all the meals I am going to make. There are repeats and leftovers are scheduled. I know the days that will be busy, such as the days my husband stays late at work and the days we go to the local climbing gym after work, or when we meet for a small group at 6:00. For those days I have learned simple is better and a full belly makes everyone get along better. I make things like pre-cut up quesadillas and sandwiches for dinner in the car or on the trail. For some reason I used to feel like such a failure if I didn’t put a lot of work into a dinner. When I was working if I couldn’t be there to make a nice meal I would try to make it before hand and have my husband warm it up or assemble the parts. Now I’m OK eating sandwiches if it means I get to spend time doing something I love. I don’t know why that was so hard for me. It is such an easy answer. It’s cheap, healthy, and fast. And honestly it’s good for not overeating. No one overeats on sandwiches. Maybe it’s because you know how much you’re supposed to eat or maybe it’s because they’re good, but not good enough to gorge yourself on. Lastly we always save the leftovers from the week for the weekend. This gives us time to go climbing or hiking without any clean up or prep time. We eat the leftovers until they are gone and I don’t start on the next week’s meal list until all is eaten. This saves us a lot of money and time.
Hikes: At the beginning of the month I write down some hikes we want to go on or find new ones . One week we do a hike close to home the next week one farther away. Sometimes we change it up. Such as when we did an exceptionally challenging hike close to home the next week we stayed close and went for a short walk while we recovered. We don’t go every week but just having a fun option makes it so much easier to get out of the house and do something.
Exercise: Ever since my youngest started sleeping little bit better I do 15-30 minutes of exercise after getting up at 6:30 and having quiet time. Many of the mornings my youngest sits and plays and I have to stop and take care of her but it still makes a huge difference. Just a little time to take care of myself physically and spiritually makes me a better mom, wife, and human. It’s hard getting up early, I don’t like it and every day I say maybe I’ll sleep in, but then I tell myself “You’ll be so much happier if you just do it.” So I usually listen to myself. Honestly this is the area I am most inconsistent with. I do rock climb once a week and hike or climb most Saturdays but with varying wake up times and my own laziness it doesn’t always happen and I’m ok with that.
Household Chores: I do all the Laundry and ironing on Monday. It’s not a great day, it’s super busy but then it’s all done…sometimes.
This plan clearly won’t work for everyone, but planning will. Just ask yourself at the beginning of each month and the beginning of each week. What do I want to accomplish this month/week. How do I want my week to go? I have a whole month/week something fun should happen, and something I’ve been wanting to get done should get done. Take the time to think about your time. It will change the way you look at everything.