As I write this column, I am in the second month of the COVID-19-induced shelter in place.
In some ways, this virus has imposed simple living on many of us whether we wanted to simplify things or not.
My May calendar — which is usually chock-full of youth baseball games and practices, after-school activities and work — has been wiped clean.
Work is telework, the kids are doing virtual school and all of those things that keep us out of the house are gone.
While I do not know how long this shelter-in-place will last, I do know that living simply, even amidst a significantly simpler schedule, does not occur as naturally as I expected. Some days, I find myself productive and on schedule; others, I stay in my pajamas until close to dinner time.
Living a meaningful simple life is easier said than done, but having some time to reflect and practice this art during the recent state of events has helped me come up with some go to activities and practices that are helping me maintain sanity, self care and hopefully, develop some long term habits that I can continue once life returns to our pre-virus normalcy. I suspect that our definition of “normal” will shift too, so I invite you to try some of these and see if they are helpful for you! Stay well, friends!
Flexible Meal Planning: If you have read any of my past articles, you know that I am a huge proponent of meal planning as a means to simplify your family routine.
I tend to base my meals on what is on sale at my favorite grocery stores and go from there — but these days, finding the things that used to be easy to access is not quite the same. I still try to get things on sale but with so many shortages these days, I have to be a little flexible with my approach!
I’ve been relying on my freezer and cookbooks more these days — and have found that Googling the ingredients I have on hand rather than the ones that I want to cook with has given me more success with my meal planning!
For example, last week I planned to make a recipe for “taco spaghetti” and realized that I did not have the tomatoes or the cheese I needed!
I ended up discovering a fun new recipe for something called “porcupine meatballs” that uses ingredients I have in my pantry!
While I am looking forward to being able to meal plan with some more certainty in the future, finding apps that help me use what I already have on hand has been a real game changer! Two of my favorites are SuperCook ( and My Fridge Food (
Schedule What Matters: Being able to be home for an extended period of time has made it clear to me just how important structure is to my well being.
While I don’t have the appointments and time constraints, following a self made schedule has been my real recipe for sustaining sanity!
I don’t set an alarm but my body clock tends to help me stay on a schedule — and scheduling time to do the things that give me joy — chatting with friends, meditation, reading, crafting or baking with my kids — have made me realize the things that I need to really prioritize once our lives inevitably fill up again with commitments from the outside world.
If you are loving those family movie nights or home improvements that you are finding time for these days, schedule them into your weekly plans! You will find yourself happier and more focused throughout your day knowing that you have these on your calendar to look forward to!
I even ditched my thick fancy 2020 planner for a simple white board calendar that everyone can see.
It is posted for everyone to see and helps keep me focused on those days when lounging in my pajamas and watching Netflix feels like the best choice (which on some days, it absolutely is!)
Clear the Clutter: One of my biggest concerns about the recent pandemic has been the idea that someone in my family would get sick and then be quarantined to a single room or two of the house.
This concern drove me to do a major deep clean of each room of the house that included some serious decluttering.
I mean, if I have to be requested for 14 days in a room, I want it to be pretty awesome, right?
Cleaning, decluttering and really organizing our living spaces has given our home an appeal I forgot it had! I can’t guarantee it will stay this way once our schedules inevitably return to “normal” but even my messy children admit that the simpler decor and streamlined look of our home has helped them feel more comfortable.
I discovered a few fun apps that really help with this process! The
Sortly app allows you to create an inventory of your home from your furniture to special collections/knickknacks. Use this app to keep track of everything from your kid’s video game collection to electronics.
Sortly lets you photograph, list, categorize, and search through everything you own, which may help visual leaners to see what they have and declutter from there! The app is free to use for the first 100 items and if you decide it is useful, there is a $5 monthly subscription fee.
Another fun tool that may help you reduce a ton of clutter in your junk drawers and cabinets is the Centriq app.
You can toss all of those product manuals and have them at the touch of your fingers with this app, which will organize all of your manuals and warranties in one easy to access space.
While you are creating your digital library, consider using that “Notes” scanning tool on your iPhone to scan and save all your receipts and papers!
(Editor’s Note: Kristine George is a freelance journalist who resides in Easton.)