3 Small Changes That Have Big Impact (I've Tried Them!)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Hi and happy Tuesday, all! Things have been and might continue to be just a bit quieter around here as my day job is extra busy and, of course, I have the kiddos and their activities and daily needs to meet on top of that. But I love this space so much and my goal is that even if I can't post as frequently at times, I post thoughtfully and about things that I think are helpful/inspiring/relevant as much as possible.

With that said, in the continued spirit of the freshness of a new year, I want to share three small changes I've made within the last several weeks that have made a big difference in my life so far. These are doable -- maybe even obvious -- everyday lifestyle changes (and they're free!) that have added up to less stress, more time, and better quality of life. 
1. Meal planning. I know you're probably hearing a lot about meal planning right now since a lot of people start diets at the beginning of a new year. I so admire those who make huge (and even sometimes drastic) lifestyle changes when needed. I've learned over time, though, that when I make small but mindful shifts in my everyday life, it tends to stick better for the long haul. Every Sunday morning, iced coffee in hand, I carve out some time to plan our dinners for the week. Here's how I do it:
  • Pick a time. For me, Sunday mornings make the most sense. I have backup to hang with the kids so I can tackle planning in (our version of) peace and it's the beginning of the week. I've actually grown to really look forward to this Sunday morning ritual!
  • Gather necessary supplies. I grab a pen, list notepad, my weekly meal planning pad (like this one or this one!), my planner, and a cookbook or two/my phone for Pinterest. 
  • Consult the calendar. The first thing I do is take a look at our calendar for that week and note any nights we will be out, will have a visitor, or plan to go out to eat. That way I can plan accordingly.
  • Check for ingredients we already have. I like to really try to use up what we have. So if we already have a bag of frozen peas and a box of pasta, I might start by looking up recipes that use both (just as an example!). While I'm looking through the pantry and fridge, I note all of the daily staples that we're out of and begin making my grocery list on the list notepad. 
  • Browse cookbooks/Pinterest. These are my top places for finding new recipes. I like to try at least one new recipe a week, as we can get stuck in a rut pretty easily if we don't put some effort into finding something new. I'll start jotting down meals on my weekly meal planner, usually accounting for 1-2 meals out (if we do two, one is inexpensive/quick like Chick fil A, Chipotle, takeout Chinese, etc.) and one night of leftovers.
  • Complete grocery list. I'll make sure I add ingredients from each recipe to my list as I go (I'm a non-complicated ingredient gal) and once I'm finished with the list I'll either immediately put together an online grocery order (curb side pick up is a mom's best friend!) or we'll plan which evening we'll do our shopping (if we go in person, we usually go as a family).
And that's it! It's simple but effective and I've found almost meditative. When I meal plan, we eat healthier, less money and time is wasted, and the week just goes more smoothly because the "what's for dinner?" question is easily answered. :)

2. Going to bed by 10pm. Maybe a lot of you are asleep earlier than this, but typically I'd be up working until 11:30 or 12. I almost always need to work after the girls go to bed, but I realized that I could adjust the day's schedule so I could still get to bed at a decent time. So now I try to do some work after they go to sleep, usually from about 8-9:30pm. That last half hour I try to read, blog, write, etc. Something relaxing and just for me. If I still have more to do, I'll set my alarm for 6am and get a head start on the day before the rest of the house is up. By shifting my sleeping hours, I'm now getting eight hours and making the most of my time both at night and in the morning. Don't for a second think it always works out perfectly (of course I hit snooze some mornings!) but I've found that, overall, it's really helping to improve my productivity and overall mood. I don't start the day feeling so stressed and rushed!

3. Doing the laundry every other day. Steve and I split chores pretty evenly and the laundry has always been one of mine. I have to admit: I always did the laundry weekly. It would pile (and pile) up and then I'd throw several loads in at once, usually on a weekend. By the time everything was out of the dryer, the mountain of clean clothes would sit next to our bed waiting to be folded for... far too long. Please tell me I'm not alone! 

Since the beginning of the year, I've been trying to throw a load in every other day. It's usually almost a full load and I fold the load the very same day I wash it -- not too daunting, since it's just a small pile and not a mountain! For weeks, our clean clothes have actually been fully stocked in our drawers and, although this definitely makes me #old, it's kind of life changing.

I'd love to hear: what small changes have you made that have made a big impact on YOUR life?


  1. Amen to the meal planning. It makes such a huge difference for me now!

    1. Me too! I actually look forward to it so much, and it really sets the tone for the week. Have a great day!

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  2. I love this. I already do my laundry throughout the week for the same reason. I am working on the going to bed by 10 pm or enough to get 8 hours of sleep.

    1. The laundry has been life changing for me! And you can do it as far as getting those eight hours. We deserve that rest!


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