The start of a new year and a new decade is here and like many of you, I am already feeling the inevitable resolve to take the turn of the calendar into a chance for new beginnings and fresh starts.
Even as I was in the midst of my December holiday preparations, I was already longing for this season of fresh slates and strategizing new ways to bring simplicity and peace to my daily routine.
Like many, I tend to start strong but by the time the busier seasons of spring and summer arrive, tend to fall into my old (and far more complicated) habits!
Knowing this is likely again this year, I have some new strategies to make my quest for a simpler lifestyle and more satisfying daily routine become the norm and not the exception.
Some of these strategies have been shared with me by others — so I am happy to share the knowledge in the hopes that one of these sticks as a simply living mantra in your life!
Happy New Year to all of you — I hope the new year and the new decade bring you all of the fulfillment and happiness in the world!
• Let It Go: This past year, I channeled my inner Elsa (Frozen fans will understand this) and let go of the things that do not bring me joy.
If that weekly book club obligation is turning into just that — an obligation, consider removing it from your schedule and giving yourself a little more breathing room.
If you are finding that you or your children are overscheduled, take some time to look at what you have on your plate and see what you can take off — if you enjoy it, that’s fine.
But if you look at something with dread or with a groan, find a way to remove it from your list of obligations.
I love volunteering — and have a hard time saying no — but have found that I am much more productive and happier in those other outside activities when I can find more meaningful ways to contribute. In this case, it’s quality over quantity!
• Take Care of You: In the past, I have always let self-care be one of the things on the chopping block when times get busy — it was the easiest to cut and frankly, seemed kind of frivolous to keep on the list of things I budgeted time for.
As a working wife and mom, things like free time, reading and exercise are just not priorities — and I always worried about taking time away from my family, which already feels like too little to begin with.
When you take care of yourself — whether it is giving yourself an hour of exercise each day or giving yourself some down time to read, exercise or just go to bed a half hour earlier — you recharge your batteries in a way that you never really appreciate until you do it!
Remember what I said about “quality over quantity” here!
Even if you lose an hour or two of family time, if you are self-actualized and happy, you convey that energy to your loved ones and can spend more meaningful time making memories together!
A great way to do this is to use your calendar to block out a half-hour each day doing something just for you — it can be yoga, reading, exercise — or even going to bed 30 minutes earlier.
After a month, see how you feel and see if you can bump up that time to 45 minutes each day.
You will inevitably find more joy in your down time — and will get through the other parts of your day that are not so fun, knowing you have something to look forward to!
• Send Out an SOS: I don’t know about you, but the work of the household can be a bit overwhelming at times.
I have a wonderfully supportive partner in my husband, who takes care of many of the bigger household chores while I tend to other things for our family — but the weekends still feel like a big old game of catch-up on chores — so much so that we feel busier on the weekends than we do during the work week.
I am a bit frugal and our family really doesn’t have a ton of extra in the budget, but finding help with some of those really time-consuming chores has become a lifesaver for our family. For example, if you do not love landscaping and find that it takes up hours every weekend, why not hire a local landscaper to help you?
It would be supporting a local business while freeing up time in your weekend for other things.
Chances are, hiring a professional will take far less time and you can find some extra things in the family budget to swap it out for.
In our case, we gave up dining out for a month to cover the expense — and it was well worth four extra nights of cooking at home to take that burden off our to-do list.
You can do this with lots of things that sit on your plate undone — the house cleaning, the landscaping — or whatever chores are taking time away from what brings you joy.
If you cannot find money in the budget, consider trading out chores with a neighbor.
Could you clean their house in exchange for some plumbing or electrical work? Tutor their teen in your favorite subject? Pet sit for them in exchange for a night of babysitting? Be creative!
(Editor’s Note: Kristine George is a freelance journalist who resides in Easton.)