This is Part 2 on my series called “Putting the Pieces Back Together.” In this series, I explain how I began the process of rebuilding a normal routine after a season of crisis. Part 2 focuses on rebuilding my home routines.
In Part 1 of this series, I explained my overall approach: Start with the easy fixes, and then move on to the areas that were causing the most stress.
Focus on the Areas with the Biggest, Immediate Impact
In my home life, the areas that were easy—though they took time and energy to regain control of—were the laundry and the dishes.
Our laundry had been washed, but the pile to put away had gotten out of control, as had dishes—each of those areas of my home was a one night fix, and then I could slip back into a normal routine to maintain order. Just getting rid of those large piles caused a weight to lift from my shoulders and allowed me to view the rest of the home.
Tackle the Stress Points
After getting quick results with the easy fixes, I moved on to the stress points. The two areas of home life that caused the most stress were our eating habits and the kids’ bedtime routine.
Our eating has been so unhealthy—while I was pregnant, I couldn’t stomach most of the normal, healthy food we had been eating, and I was often so tired by evening that I literally couldn’t think of ideas for dinner. And then after our miscarriage, we had a few weeks where we were able to mostly live off of meals provided by friends and family (and oh, what a blessing that was! Even when I was physically able to cook, finding the brain power to make dinner decisions was nearly impossible).
During this time—which from the beginning of pregnancy to the time when I felt able to start getting my act together was nearly five months!—the kids had eaten a lot of chicken nuggets, cheesy roll-ups, and pepperoni.
But now that I had the physical energy to prepare dinner, I was dreading cooking dinner every single night! I was so out of the regular habit, I almost couldn’t remember what our go-to meals were, and I faced serious decision fatigue when I looked online. Also, I was feeling pressure to please everyone.
The first thing I did was take inventory of what I had and began to replenish my pantry. I pulled a few pre-prepped dinners out of the freezer (Thank you, leftovers and MyFreezEasy!). Having a stockpile of freezer meals gave me an extra week or two to sort through my options for meals and to come up with a plan, again.
I’ve now begun true menu planning and preparing, and making shopping lists to reflect our needs—but I expect to eat from our freezer and use up what we have before fully implementing my meal plan starting in March.
What’s We’re Working On Now
We have just begun working out the kinks in our kids’ bedtime routine. We faced a nightly battle with our youngest, who would chatter and whine and generally act like a pill; Grant and I would end up angry and stressed, and the combination of our frustration along with Sissy’s antics was really adding to Bubba’s stress and making it harder for him to fall asleep.
We haven’t done our new routine for long enough for me to speak confidently that it’s working, but it seems like it is. We have staggered bedtimes so each kid gets my focused attention. Bedtime isn’t going any faster, since it’s now spread out, but it is much less stressful for everyone.
Like meal planning removes the dinnertime stress, I have found that deciding HOW we will handle bedtime before bedtime starts has helped immensely (so far).
In Part 3 of this series, I will talk about how I began piecing back together our homeschool day.