My favorite season of the year is finally here and I am happily baking, decorating and enjoying the colors and crispy air that accompany the autumn season!
Fall tends to be a busy season for my family and it tends to be the time of year that I dedicate to tweaking routines to be more in sync with the pending holiday season.
While this year is bound to be different like everything else has been in 2020, there are some surefire resets that I find help me stay centered during a busy season.
It can be hard to manage things as school and work obligations tend to pile up during this time of year and I like to streamline as much of my other obligations to make sure I get some time to enjoy the festive fall and holiday seasons.
Here are a few of my tried and true autumn hacks for simpler, happier living!
Meal Prep Madness: While I spent pretty much every day in the past six months cooking for my family, one of the things that helps make that chore to be a fun activity and not so much of a burden is to meal plan and then prep for the week ahead. While it may seem cumbersome and time consuming, spending about an hour or two on a Sunday afternoon will save you a ton of time during the busy work week. Spend a few minutes mapping out your week and consider easy to heat proteins you can mix and match. For example, I might brown a couple pounds of ground turkey and split the meat between tacos and teriyaki bowls later in the week. A couple pounds of marinated chicken breasts can be used as a side for chicken Alfredo one day and tossed over salad greens for a light dinner later in the week. Google meal planning templates for some guidance (Daily Burn has some printable ones that I really like) — and once you get started, you may find meal planning and meal prep to be a staple of your Sunday afternoons!
If you do not want to spend the time, look into some of the meal kit options that are offered. These are delivered directly to your doorstep and include all of the ingredients needed for a tasty meal. A fun recipe card is included and some of them even prep the produce for you so you can just combine ingredients and get that meal on the table. While you still meal prep during the week, if you have a meal kit that comes with three meals, you can save yourself time shopping at the store as all of the materials you need for the week are included in your box! Add a meal or two from things already in your pantry and freezer and you are all set!
Automate the cleaning routine: By the end of the work week, my house looks like I lost a game in Jumanji. By the end of that same week, I am equally disheveled and tired and in need of a recharge, which is not exactly the recipe for a successful cleaning session! Instead of jamming all of your cleaning into one exhausting day, dedicate each day to some cleaning chore in the house. For example, Mondays are sinks and surfaces — give them all a wipe down so they are sparkling clean to start the week. Tuesdays are dusty spaces — buy a dusting glove to keep those dust bunnies at bay! Wednesdays are one of two vacuuming days to keep the house feeling and looking clean while Thursdays are the day to declutter all the things that are left on the counters and staircases. Friday is freshen up Friday and I make sure that the pantry and fridge are cleaned out and trash is removed from bedrooms. This way, by the weekend, I am ready to vacumn (again), mop floors and tackle big ticket things like laundry and grocery shopping! Bring your kids or roommates into the routine by assigning them a room! Cleaning is a must in your house but when you automate it into your daily routine, it doesn’t take such a chunk of your weekend leisure time away!
Holiday Fun: I will confess to you that the biggest reason I love this crazy season so much is simply this — it is my gateway to my favorite time of the year!
Yes, I am one of those crazy holiday people who watches Hallmark Christmas movies in July and cannot wait to begin decorating and shopping for the holiday season. While some of that is sheer gusto for the season, there is a pragmatic reason behind it as well. For me, planning for the holidays lets me get done the “work” of the holidays so that when the season is actually here, I actually have time for the fun stuff — watching Christmas movies, baking cookies and decorating my house.
So, how you do prep now, in October, for the holiday season? Set up your holiday spending budget and plan how to accomplish everything on your list.
Plan a few must dos each week so that by the time everything is in full holiday mode (and things are potentially sold out or backordered), you are shopped and ready to go. The website minted.com has a great holiday planning checklist that helps you plan how to budget your time and money as well as reminders of ways to streamline other things on your holiday planning to do list.
While planning ahead may seem counterintuitive to a simple lifestyle, just a little advance preparation can go a long way to creating more time in your life for the things you enjoy the most.
(Editor’s Note: Kristine George is a freelance journalist who resides in Easton.)