Preparing for the week ahead

 

Do you ever get to Monday morning and feel massively unprepared for the week ahead? The school run on Monday morning seems to take me by surprise some weeks as I rush around trying to get forms signed, scramble together the weekly school money and write a shopping list as I forgot to order a grocery delivery for Monday morning AGAIN and now have to go to the shop. 

Want to join me in being more organised?

If we take just fifteen minutes on a Sunday evening to prepare, it can set the week up so much better. Let's get planning:

1. Run through the week

On a Sunday evening take a look through your diary for the week. I use a traditional diary for appointments as we have so many, then bullet journal my daily to-do lists so the diary doesn't get too cluttered. We only have the one car so if my husband needs the car for work or an appointment we work that out too. Taking a few minutes to do this means I'm not suddenly panicking about the logistics when I realise there are consecutive appointments one day. I asterisk something that requires an action out of the ordinary. Next week you can see I'm going on the school trip on Thursday as a parent volunteer, and on Sunday we've a dance class I've still not arranged a babysitter for...! Oops! 

Next week's diary before I've worked out logistics, and I've just noticed I'd forgotten to write in GB which is at 6.30pm on Tuesday, so looks like Colin is taking the boys to the opening of the Square by himself!

Next week's diary before I've worked out logistics, and I've just noticed I'd forgotten to write in GB which is at 6.30pm on Tuesday, so looks like Colin is taking the boys to the opening of the Square by himself!

Make sure to plan your travel time to and from things that are coming up, check logistics for children (who is doing school or day care pick ups and drop offs each day) and ensure you haven't forgotten to arrange a babysitter! This can be a useful time to also jot down a few to-do list items for the week. 

2. Meal plan for the week

This works best immediately after the diary check. By knowing what's on each day you'll know better how much time you'll have to cook or eat. For me, every other Wednesday we do donkey therapy a distance from home in the late afternoon, so dinner is something I'd batch cooked and frozen. Normally my husband gets home before we do so all he has to do is heat the dinner up and cook some rice to go with it. Other days I'm in the house first thing so I might use the slow cooker as I'm around to prep it but then out later on. I enjoy menu planning and cooking and find it's the one part of home keeping I'm good at, but even I need to be disciplined about doing this and setting up the week better. The result of not being stressed at 4pm each day about what's for tea is priceless. Especially when you've preschoolers and that's the part of the day things go crazy!

3. Set uniforms or clothes out for the first couple of days

This has actually been one of the most useful things I've got into the habit of doing. I've started setting out uniforms at the start of the week and it's normally enough to get me to Wednesday, maybe longer if they aren't too dirty too quickly! I set everything out in piles for each day down to socks and pants so there's no searching for them either. I don't always do this for Rory as well but he starts daycare on Mondays from next week so I'll be adding his Monday things into a pile too to make it smoother. This only takes a few minutes of your Sunday evening but time that you easily get back in one morning of not having to run around stressed looking for clean trousers or matching socks!

How about adding in your clothes for the Monday too? Even setting out a top and trousers eliminates that decision fatigue we face every morning when we look in our wardrobes and think there is NOTHING to wear!

4. Get cash out for the month's activities

I just don't do cash. I use my contactless debit card everywhere (hence why I lose control of what I'm spending day to day!) and if I do get notes out at the ATM for school snack / lunch money I end up having to break them to get correct change. By doing a trip once a month to the bank to get bags of pound coins just for school funds and tots groups, it makes such a difference. I don't allow myself to use the money for anything else and I've already made up Daniel's school money for the next two weeks. I've even have written in my diary to call at the bank the week after next for the next month's money. It would be much easier if schools would allow us to bank transfer the amount every half term or something but without that, this is working much better for me, after spending the first two months of the school year scrambling the money on a Wednesday morning (it's due in on Tuesdays) having to resort to my collection of five pence pieces some weeks! 

Last year we went to a lot of mums and tots groups and I used to write in my diary the entry charge (normally a pound or two) so I would have the right money with me. 

5. Relax and take some time to yourself

The tasks above shouldn't take us long. At this point, it's time for a glass of wine or cup of tea and a curl up on the sofa with a book or box set for the evening. Having a relaxing night on Sundays definitely sets us up better for the week ahead. And your mum was right, don't stay up too late doing nothing. Head to bed at a reasonable hour and get as much sleep as those toddlers allow!

What about your Sunday nights? What things are a necessity to keep the week ahead functional?

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Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning's End

    

It’s day 31, I’ve actually written something every day this month! When I came up with my blog name I was thinking about how I longed for contentment in my home. A feeling that often wasn’t there at the end of each day. The joy in parenting and homemaking wasn’t there. I just felt so discouraged. I read blogs where life at home with children was presented as a series of quirky vintage tea cups on a perfectly clean kitchen island unit. Or a perfectly put together outfit for the school run. This is not my reality, and I don’t think it is for many of us. My life is chaotic, messy, fun, exhausting, relational, filled with more love than I ever thought possible but also more frustrating than I ever could have imagined.

I wanted to encourage women that there is contentment, happiness, joy to be found in being homemakers and mothers to young children. To encourage parents of children with special needs that our homes can be as full of joy as everyone else’s. (I’ll let you in on a secret, I actually think our lives are happier because of our special children, but that’s for another post!) To think about how as a Christian, God has called me to a new life in Him, that my identity is not in being a mother or a homemaker, but in a daughter of the Living God and that this brings the deepest joy.

This month I looked at various things that made my home happy over the month, from hobbies to people to activities we’ve done. I don’t know exactly where I’m going from here but I’m excited that I’ve finally taken the first move with my writing.

It does the heart good to focus on the positives. Our brains are malleable and by recalling things we’re grateful for each day we can rewire our brains to be happy. Our homes can be like this too. So let’s start by being thankful for the small everyday things like our children giggling, or time spent with our best friends who know exactly how we take our coffee. What can you be thankful for today?

My Parents

    

Quite honestly, I’m struggling. I’ve started writing entries for today (well, yesterday) on 4 different subjects. Having to write about things that make us happy as a home hasn’t actually been that easy. Some days were but many were clouded by the difficulties of day to day life. Our home is in chaos right now thanks to my inability to clear clutter. There are piles everywhere. I feel overwhelmed and a poor stay at home mum. I’m not great at any of the tasks that role tends to cover apart from cooking. Cleaning, playing with children, organising a household, clearing clutter, making appointments in a timely fashion. When I’ve had a bad day (I have plenty) it can be hard to reflect on any positives or things that made our home happy that day.

So today I’m writing about my parents. On Saturday evening we had a dinner to celebrate my mum’s ‘retirement’ (she finished work this summer at 57, so it’s not traditional retirement!). It made me think I should write about her and my dad because I had a very happy childhood and look back to those happy memories and hope that I can replicate some of that for my own family.

My mum won’t read this, so I can say the things she’d be too embarrassed to hear! Our house is happier because of the love and example my parents showed me, and also because of all that my mum and dad do for us. It’s not your traditional parental help. We’ve never done the ‘go round on Sunday for a roast’. Instead, my mum and dad have built understairs storage, hung wallpaper, done the architectural plans for our extension, cut our hedge, laid carpets, taken down sheds. Basically, if there’s a manual job needing done, my parents probably came to help us with it! My mum has a work ethic I couldn’t even come near. She rises early, does half an hour of intensive physiotherapy (she has severe scoliosis and was wheelchair bound six years ago), then starts into work. And for her now, finally, that work is at home. At the moment they’re doing a big building project at their house and living right in the middle of it as well as doing as much of the work they can themselves. Their energy and commitment to just keep going is incredible. I get so distracted when I try to work hard around the house and wish I could have my mum’s determination and my dad’s selfless attitude. And for just general life at home, I never remember my mum acting like she was bored at home with us - she to make every day fun and yet perfectly ordinary. And now as grandparents, my parents bring happiness to our home in that role and I only hope I can bring some of the qualities they have in parenthood through to me being a parent. 

That was the week that was....

    

This was the week that was…

…the week we had our first detailed meeting with Daniel’s teacher and we couldn’t be happier. The school are renowned for their inclusive approach and they have been fantastic at integrating Daniel into all the class activities while also ensuring he gets the support he needs for speech development, gross and fine motor skills and making friends and interacting with others in the class. I loved that the start of his draft plan for the year started off with a list of positive points about him, “Daniel is a delightful, engaging boy” was the first one. How wonderful to hear this about my precious boy!

…the week I did some planning for our Woods family holiday to Centre Parcs at Easter. I am very excited! My mother and father in law are treating us all to the holiday which is incredibly generous and I’ve enjoyed spending some time collating everyone’s responses to what activities they wanted to do. Called for some serious Excel spreadsheet usage! I miss using Excel every day. That is serious geek admission.

…the week our Homestart volunteer started. This is a wonderful service that supports families with young children who are struggling. It took me a long time to admit I needed help (Rory was 10 months before I finally asked for as assessment) but now a wonderful lady will be coming every Friday morning for two hours to play with Rory and allow me to get Daniel’s paperwork up to date, make phonecalls, chase hospital appointments, declutter, do some cleaning all while Daniel is at nursery. She is lovely and already Rory adores her, he was laughing away when I wasn’t in the room so it’s a great fit and I’m very excited about how I’m going to get our house running a little better!

…the week that my sister in law and her husband got a little Beagle puppy. He’s called Harvey and he is so darn cute! We had a dog for 5 years and I miss him so very much even now two years on, and I am excited to get to spend some time with Harvey, Rory loved him too!

…the week that Colin and I eventually got out for dinner to mark me leaving work last October! We used a voucher to go to a local restaurant that we love and had a lovely child free wine fueled early evening dinner while my brother looked after the boys and gave them their dinner at home. Fab!

A Special Guest Contributor!

  

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.
— Abraham Lincoln

So tonight, with no little fanfare, I am pleased and somewhat nervously welcoming a guest post from my husband, Colin. I have literally no idea what he has written about and he's posting this himself so it's with faith that i hand over my lovely blog for the evening! (The quote is his too; *rolls eyes*)


As you might have gathered from the many entries in this blog, there are a million different things that make our home happy. There is however a consistent theme running through them; two themes really but they’re not entirely independent of each other!

The first theme is…… Nicola!

As you can tell from her writing, my wife is a thinker. She spends a lot of time and effort thinking about what is good for our family and our home. She reads countless books, articles, blogs and more. She reads about God’s plans for a family, about homemaking and housekeeping, about educating children with special needs, about disciplining children in a gentle and loving way… the list is practically never ending.

When we were going out (‘dating’ for our American visitors!) she used to tease me about how much harder I had studied than her just to get up with same classification of degree. (She actually revisited that theme only yesterday! Have to let her get her victories where she can nowadays!). Now that we’ve been married over eight years though the shoe is now very definitely on the other foot. I have developed an intellectual shortcut over the years – I’ve learned from extensive experience that if Nicola has read up on a topic that she cares about, that not only will her views be well formed but they’ll also be persuasive and compelling. She really does take time to know what’s she’s talking about and what she thinks that means. All of this means that there is often no need for me to do anything like the same amount of research on a given topic. I have confidence in the opinions and ideas that she forms as I’ve seen how time and time again, they’ve been proved sound by time and events.

 

Cloth Nappies – an evidence based, well thought out decision that I am glad to have been persuaded of!

Cloth Nappies – an evidence based, well thought out decision that I am glad to have been persuaded of!

 

Of course, no-one is free from mistakes – I’m sure she has it in her to get it wrong from time to time. But it’s not common!

You can see from a quick browse through the pages of this blog all the different ways that this body of thought has been applied in our lives. All these little things that make our home happy come from the same source – Nicola. Me and the lads are just here for the ride!

 

The second theme is….selflessness.

It’s easy in the midst of the chaos of every day life to find yourself getting caught up in what is best for me, and losing focus on the people and things around you. Whether that’s not wanting to be the one who has to get up at stupid o’clock AM when our youngest son decides that the day really ought to be getting started now, or the one to go back to the dinner table once the boys are in bed and begin the painstaking process of cleaning, wiping, brushing and otherwise removing the residue of another chaotic mealtime!

At this time in our family life, I go out to work, while Nicola stays at home and raises our children. Believe me when I say that although there are many days when I’d like to be the one to stay home and take them to one of the many inspiring and engaging activities Nicola has planned, there are equally plenty of days when I burst free from the house and run for the shelter and relative calm of my office; hot coffee on tap, adult conversation and intellectual stimulation.

 

A good day to be in the office!

A good day to be in the office!

We’ve been parents for just over four years now and now, more than ever, it needs selflessness to keep things running smoothly. I’ve suffered from ill health for years now and when I’m going through a period where I’m particularly unwell, my ability to contribute plummets. At times like that, and day to day, Nicola has demonstrated an unending capacity for selflessness. I find that both inspiring and a little intimidating. It’s not easy to stay on message all the time. But having said that, I know from experience that the days in which my selfish desires for rest or my own entertainment creep to the fore, are the days when home life does not function as well, and is not as happy, as it could be. A happy home is one where the load is shared, where each person feels valued and appreciated and where people do their best to put the needs of the others before their own.

 

 

 

 

 

Bathtime...ish!

   

 

Bathtime is not a frequent occurrence in our home, except when I’m pregnant (I was known to bath 3 times some days when pregnant with Rory, it was the only time I felt vaguely comfortable!) but finally today we had a pleasant and uneventful bathtime. Daniel has only let Colin bath him for years, any attempts I’ve made have resulted in either no bath or a kicking and screaming match and certainly no hair washing. Rory loves a bath but it’s hard to find a time to give him one when Daniel isn’t around so it just ends up being a rare event.

But back to today and something that makes our home happy. Bathtime was a happy occurrence. (mostly)

And then I realise this wasn’t just about having a pleasant bathtime for the first time. It’s the fact that it showed me that Daniel struggling with something doesn’t have to be a lifelong concern for us. He’s currently on thickened liquids for his dysphagia, but this might not be for life. His speech sounds have been very basic, but recently there are some very clear sounds.

And then I start to understand it’s not just Daniel that shouldn’t be put in a box when he can and does change with time. I realise I can too. So tonight I go to bed happy that I may be able to change. I can get better at running at household, it will just take time. I will get the house decluttered. Just because these are struggled for me today doesn’t mean they always will be. And so it is for all of us.

Plus there’s the added bonus that a smooth bathtime makes for cute photos…

 

Outsourcing

   

Today our home was made happy by paying two men to come and cut the lawn and the hedge for the pre-winter cut. We live in a corner site and the hedge cutting is a BIG job. I couldn’t be trusted with clippers (seriously), so it falls to Colin and over the past few years there have been a few times we have had to turn to family and church friends for help as his health hasn’t been up to it.

A rare appearance by me on the hedge cutting task!

A rare appearance by me on the hedge cutting task!

 

I wrote in my bullet journal yesterday on my to-do list for the week both tasks, and was thinking that means Saturday morning needs to be dry for Colin to get it done and he needs to be well enough to do it. Literally a few hours later for the first time ever we had a cold call at the door from a gardener who was going to be cutting our neighbour’s hedge today and offered to do ours when he was in the area. He gave me a good price, then knocked a further £10 off it and the lawn done too when I said I’d think about it. So we phoned him last night and said we’d like him to do it.

Our garden this evening. Such a difference to a few hours ago and worth every penny!

Our garden this evening. Such a difference to a few hours ago and worth every penny!

 

And this evening I’m feeling really happy we spent money in this way. Outsourcing makes sense. Some tasks aren’t areas of expertise, others aren’t much fun, some people work so hard that their free time is valuable and needs to be preserved, others (like Colin) need to rest as much as possible when not at work for health reasons. For all these reasons and even if you just fancy a treat, I think it’s really valuable to outsource tasks. For us, I think this will mean a hedge cut once or twice a year now as I can see the value in having others do the task we find tough. I have friends who have cleaners, others get their grocery shopping done and delivered by the shop, people might pay a personal trainer to keep them on task at the gym (although the training itself can’t exactly be outsourced) or a personal shopper to help them pick out clothes. There are so many ways the load can be lifted.

So today I’d encourage you to think about a task that’s been on the to-do list for a while. Is there any way you could outsource it? A DIY task that might be better paying someone to do? Signing up for a year long grocery delivery service and stop going out to the supermarket yourself? 

Bullet Journaling

   

Bullet journaling may just have saved me. Big moment here as I admit to something I don’t talk about. I have attention deficit issues. I suppose everyone knows it as ADHD. I try so hard to just survive as an adult, and often feel like I cannot keep on top of anything. When I was working, it took all my effort to make that my focus. When I had just one child I could focus on that, but having two children with different needs to look after all day took so much of my brain power to keep on top of that the housework suffered. Daniel’s therapy schedule suffered. My brain was packed full of stuff and honestly I felt, still do feel, like I was failing as an adult. If Colin wasn’t here I’d be bankrupt from disorganisation. A diary was never enough for me to keep on top of to-do lists and our schedule, particularly when Daniel arrived as he had therapy and medical appointments so I used big desk weekly planners that you can buy in Paperchase to write down what was on and my to-do lists, and had a monthly meal planner that I wrote out by hand at the start of each month.

Neither of those systems were particularly portable though so when I read around the new year about bullet journaling I decided it was worth a go. It has been so much more than just a journal/planner, it genuinely makes me functional and therefore happy.

For those of you who don’t know what it is, the initial bullet journal plan is having a clear analogue system (ie an actual notebook) that you customise for yourself, so it includes a future log (a long term planner for dates in the medium length future, like a concert you’ve tickets for), diary, to-do lists, noting eventful things that happened, anything you want, using a set key, numbered pages and an index. However, there are some hilariously over the top bullet journals out there. If you look on Instagram and Pinterest you’d think some people were full time bullet journalers their beautiful pages must take them so long to create.

A screenshot from the bullet journal website explaining how the key works. You might notice the ADHD right there with my web browsing and how many tabs there are! I normally have about 25-30 tabs open on my phone, and on each web browser on the laptop too!

A screenshot from the bullet journal website explaining how the key works. You might notice the ADHD right there with my web browsing and how many tabs there are! I normally have about 25-30 tabs open on my phone, and on each web browser on the laptop too!

To be honest though, for me I need a visual weekly planner like my old Paperchase ones, so I draw them out each week (takes about 5-10 minutes to set up) and some weeks the week gets away from me and I don’t do dailies, other weeks I do a mixture. I have seasonal to-do lists, a page outlining Daniel’s settling in hours at nursery, did a planner page for my mother-in-law’s 60th which I organised, had a two page spread of things I wanted to watch at the Olympics, just a big variety. I often have weeks when nothing gets added to the weekly layout over and above the dates I had sorted at the start of the week, and a few ‘memories’ pages have two or three things written on them and that’s it! Still, it’s not meant to be perfect and it is working at keeping me on top of things. Mostly.

This week's layout

This week's layout

Personally the intricate layouts that entire blogs are built upon now aren’t really the point of the system so while they’re nice to look at, that’s just too much work and I know I would spend all my time creating fancy pages and not doing any of the tasks I was writing about!

Daily Entries

Daily Entries

So for most of this year I’ve finally felt like I’m treading water not drowning thanks to my bullet journal. Plus, it’s an actual miracle it’s not been flooded by water or coffee yet! My hope is that I will be able to get Rory minded a few hours a week and I can get some decluttering and cleaning done and hopefully by the time I’m 33 I’ll finally be a functioning adult. 

Music

    

Music is one of those things that almost everyone gets enjoyment from. It’s been proven to have positive effects in increasing IQ, aiding heart disease and improving mood. So how can we use it in our homes to make them happier places? For me, it’s about having music playing regularly, although not all the time – our brains need quiet to think. Both live music, making it ourselves and listening to music made by others. We have a Spotify (music streaming service) subscription and have various playlists that we use to set the atmosphere in our home. I thought it might be interesting to look at a few of them and what’s on them:

-          Have a Great Day! Songs like You Make My Dreams Come True, Walking on Sunshine, Don’t Stop Me Now – classic popular songs from over the years. We play it in the mornings to start the day off on a bright note, and I love the fact the kids are getting to know songs from other decades that we grew up with. Nothing sophisticated I know, but good old fashioned pop songs that make you happy!

-          Dancing With Daniel: a playlist of songs since Daniel got up on his feet that we noticed he particularly loved dancing to. I am slightly embarrassed to admit some of the hits on here like All About That Bass, Moves Like Jagger and Get Lucky are some of the favourites. I love that he can ask for his own music to be played (and the fact it’s not nursery rhymes on tape!)

-          Operation Sleep: the playlist we used with Daniel when trying to get him over to sleep and that we still use some evenings in the ten minutes before bed. I used to be able to judge a bad night by which song we got to before Daniel fell asleep! It’s some lovely piano music.

-          Folk Off You Folking Folker: guess who named this playlist? And yes, it’s folk music! Upbeat stuff for car journeys or Saturday afternoons while cooking.

-          Piano: a collection of some beautiful piano pieces, composers like Einaudi, Beethoven, Bach, which I like to listen to if I’m working (as background noise)

Then there are days that I put a worship CD on while the boys are playing and we sing and dance to it or just use it as background music (but those words settling in deep to their hearts).

There is something special about real live music making in your home though. As I play the piano, the boys are fans of coming to the music room with me and Rory will sit and play to my left and Daniel to my right while I try and practice in the middle! Colin has a harmonica which doesn’t get played nearly enough. And then there was the term I tried to take up cello which had been a lifetime dream, then discovered I was pregnant with Daniel so may have that as a hobby when the children are learning how to play instruments themselves, I could sit at the back of their class cramping their style!

My boys' own pieces that I play with them

My boys' own pieces that I play with them

Great music can make a fairly normal day turn into a happier one and all helps create a special atmosphere in the home. Do you have any funny playlists on your phone or Spotify?

Striving for a Simpler Life

    

We've all seen those lists. Blog entries about them. Magazine articles on them. Entire books are built around them. Lists that will 'solve' your problems. I’ve seen:

5 ways to get your toddler to stop throwing food

8 ways to be happy

10 ways to prevent animal cruelty

20 healthy snacks

27 ways to promote your infographic (I did not make that up)

And my personal favourite... 52 ways to simplify your life. A real list. 52 ways to make your life less complicated. That sounds like a whole load of effort and things to do to just make life simpler! 

Anyway, I read these lists and sometimes pick up some great little tips, but more often than not they overwhelm me. It's too much information, too much expectation and just makes me feel inadequate as a mother, or a woman, or in running a house. I try so hard, but there are days when just getting through the day is the goal. I think we all just need to cut ourselves some slack. I read a lot of blogs and people can make it seem have it all sorted: they have carb free, gluten free, sugar free diets; they get up an hour earlier than their family to pray just like the woman in Proverbs 31; a household chore list than never runs behind schedule; zero clutter; a fit and healthy body; and 6 homeschooled, happy children. 

Real life for me is a three bed semi detached house (I’m guessing clutter isn't as much of a problem if you have big house, or a garage, neither of which I have), church commitments, freelance work in my evenings, stay at home mum to two boys, trying to run a home, and throw in more hospital appointments for the three men in my life in a year than most people have in a year and to be honest, living simply often feels like a pipe dream.

 

But our home is definitely a happier place when we do some things to try and live simply:

-          Preserving as much weekend time to do nothing as we can. We rarely attend birthday parties and try to spend a significant amount of our weekend as a family. At the stage of life we’re at we’re just coming into the crazy busy season many of our friends are in with sport on Saturday mornings, swimming lessons, church kids clubs, lots of class birthday parties and we have made a conscious decision to preserve this weekend time as much as possible. At this stage I can’t see us sending the boys routinely to birthday parties or doing sport while in the lower half of primary school anyway. This more simple style weekend works for us and helps us give some breathing space and rest at the end of each week.

-          Saying no to things altogether. Lots of people feel the need to say yes when people ask them to do something but I try to say, “I’ll get back to you” or“Let me have a think about it” and if it doesn’t work for me, I will say no. Having said that, at church alone Colin takes Sunday School, I take the beginners class (for playgroup age), I take GB on Tuesday evenings and play the piano in church on occasion too. So maybe I’m not great at saying no…!

-          Deciding in certain seasons to say no. This is different to saying a total no, but knowing that at certain times in your life you can change your yeses to a no. I was a leader of the GB in our church for a few years, which was an early evening commitment on a weeknight, but found it tough going to do when Daniel was a young baby (I took about 4 months off) and into toddlerhood when I was back at work. We took a decision for me to take some time off when we were hoping to get pregnant with baby two, which meant I had a year off when pregnant and a year off when Rory was young and returned this autumn. It is ok to take time off ministries for a period of time, to step off the school parent-teacher group for a year, to give up a hobby or evening class for a term. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the schedule, this may be the solution!

-          We take a screen free period of time when we’re feeling overwhelmed. In February this year we went screen free. Well, I did, Colin decided to go off social media (mostly) while I went more fully into it, but the principle was there that I wasn’t using the internet to google “What tooth comes through next in a baby” or “How long does it take to cook a pork chop?”. I felt more grounded in my day to day life and enjoyed not having the drip drip of social media throughout my day. I’ve got bad at letting it slip back and could do with more simplicity these days. Time for restricting my screen use again I think!

-          Eliminating decision fatigue. Daniel doesn’t have a set school uniform this year apart from his jumper but to save me thinking about each element of the uniform each day I decided to buy 4 plain navy bottoms, plain white tshirts, blue socks and a pair of white trainers and that’s his ‘uniform’. We do it with food too - I used to do this better with set types of food for dinner each evening but now I plan for the week with some days the same (fish on Mondays, veggie on Tuesdays) and it means I never have the last minute panic at 4.30pm as to what’s for dinner.

I realise the journey to simplicity is a long one, and I’ve so many steps I could still make. Life often seems overwhelming and I’d love to make it much simpler. I know that decluttering my possessions, my decisions and my schedule will all make life feel lighter. Harder to do though, isn’t it?