The Weekly Ramble 8/12/23

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trees on a hillside with a hiking path going through.

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Whoever said life gets easier with older kids was wrong.

It gets better, richer, and more amazing as you get to know your kids and the young adults they become. But, it doesn’t get “easier”, at least not in terms of time constraints and responsibilities.

Sure, I no longer change diapers or prepare every bite of food they eat. But, my days are probably fuller than they were when all six were dependent on me for all the things.

I woke up yesterday morning feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. The weight of my world, to be clear.

There are so many things on my plate these days: homecare, homeschooling, work, finances, relationships, and…. moving. Not to mention trying to take care of my personal health, something I didn’t do much of when the six were all dependent on me.

I spent some time brain-dumping it all in my digital journal:

brain dump in my handwriting in different colors.

I texted the screenshot to Fish so I could get a voice of reason to help me wrap my head around it all and figure out a path through.

Last year, I really focused on taking care of my health and found that just doing the basic things for “optimum health” was a full-time job.

How in the world do you work into that practice everything else: marriage, family life, homeschooling, work, and moving after 14 years in one place?

I’ve always been someone who could accomplish a lot if I got into a zone. That is, to ignore everything else so I could just focus. I’m not sure that I can ignore everything else right now. So what to do?

Eliminate, automate, delegate — and simplify

Years ago I read The 4-Hour Workweek in the hopes it would help me streamline my life as mom and make a million dollars in minimal time. The book did not deliver on that promise of joining the “new rich”, but it did provide me with a mantra when I’m overwhelmed.

Not just a mantra, but a path through the overwhelm.

Eliminate, automate, delegate is what I got from that book. This Forbes article reminded me to throw in simplify for good measure. (And yes, I’ve always been a nerd applying business principles to my home life.)

Here’s the gist of this process through the overwhelm:

Eliminate: What is on my list that I don’t really need to do? I have been known to put too much on my plate, so eliminate is a reality check for me. Is that really necessary or is it just pie-in-the-sky good intentions?

Automate: With tech being what it is, can I set anything to be done automatically or almost automatically? This can be things like the same meal every day or the same grocery delivery each week.

Delegate: Do I think I have to do it all? With kids as old and capable as they are, I really don’t have to do it all. Bryan and I have always had the practice of tag-teaming and being able to pick up the other’s slack when necessary, but he can’t read my mind. Either way, there are likely things others can do instead of me.

Simplify: Where are things getting too complicated? How can I apply the touch-it-once rule? How can I make something simpler? If I’m gonna do it myself, how can I get through it as fast as possible? For me simplifying means creating a system that can be repeated without a lot of thought in the moment.

(I’m rebranding this step Systemate because I’m a nerd who loves a rhyme.)

upside down palm trees against a blue sky with white puffy clouds.

What to Eliminate for this season?

I’ve always been one who liked to do all the things and am tempted to bite off more than I can chew.

But, for this season, I’m going to eliminate or postpone:

  • counting macros – I’ve had good success doing it for the last three weeks, but it just complicates life right now.

  • learning new things for business – I will make that more intentional for the winter, but let’s put that on hold.

  • video – Bryan and I have talked about producing more video, but I think we should wait until after the move. (postponed)

  • College apps and the homeschool affidavit – These aren’t due until mid-October. I’ll put a reminder on the calendar and let my brain let go of this. (postponed)

  • SAT/PSAT – None of the boys took the PSAT and it’s been fine. CSU no longer requires SAT. I can let both these things go for the girls.

What to Automate?

I made a second pass through the list to see what could be put on auto-pilot. Since there isn’t a lot of shopping to be done due to our pantry challenge, there’s a lot less to automate in that regard.

But I found a few things:

  • weight training – Based on schedules, I think this will be just three days a week. Not as good as five, but a lot less stress and early waking.

  • therapy – I have dates scheduled through the move so I’m just not going to think about it until I get there.

  • Club – I can prep Club resources for September and October in advance and have these ready to go. Not quite the same as automated, but close.

  • social media – This is part automate/part eliminate. I have a VA who schedules most of my social media, but I feel a burden to be present in stories. I think I’ll need to shelve that for the next couple of months or at least put less pressure on myself.

  • MKS – The workshop lessons are all written and scheduled; the slides and live streams are as well. Most things are automated, It’s just a question of doing my own homework and being present for my students.

  • regular homeschooling – This is pretty much already done as the girls are registered for online high school classes with an accredited classical school. I am scheduling a check-in for grades and homework for Friday mornings.

  • community college – FishChick16 (a high school senior) is taking a community college course. Unless we move closer to campus, I’ll be driving her and then working in the library while she’s in class. I’ve already purchased her book and the parking pass. We’ve worked out a schedule, so it’s just a question of doing it.

fruit display in the grocery store.

What to Delegate?

I made several passes through and was able to identify a few areas where my kids who can drive can help out a bit more. I even texted them so I can get this on their radar.

  • prepping meals with coordination with me since we’re doing a Pantry Challenge

  • chore coordinating for FishKids – it would be good to get back to routines and make sure people do laundry on their assigned day, etc. This doesn’t have to be me, especially since the kids have pretty healthy relationships when it comes to this kind of thing. It won’t get ugly.

  • grocery shopping – again with some coordination with me because of pantry challenge

  • delivering discards to Goodwill as the piles accumulate

  • Wednesday p/u and d/o of the girls

What to Systemate?

This is where things got kind of interesting, figuring out how to make things happen with less stress.

  • getting my steps, reading for fun, Bible study – I plan to rope these all into 1 hour on the treadmill. Boom.

  • blogging, Substack, Q4 posts, client work – I’ve refined my ideal week so that I’ve got 3-4 work days per week to make sure this happens.

  • food – While we’re still doing our pantry challenge, going through the MKS homework is helping me narrow in on what kids will eat (apparently baked oatmeal and muffins is not it) so that meal prep is easier. I’ll meal plan in conjunction with our PC, then create a grocery list for the guys to shop. I’m hoping to include the kids in more day-to-day prep as well as make bigger batches of the things that need using so that it’s easier to use them up.

  • bookkeeping – This is my area of responsibility, so I can’t delegate it. I’m just going to schedule it for Saturday afternoons before dinner.

  • moving prep – This really needs to get done, so I’m setting a deadline. Be ready (dejunked, deep cleaned, and ready to pack) by September 1st.

  • moving admin – This has taken a lot of brain space as we learn the market and try to figure out what we want/what will work. I’m putting this on the back burner until 9/1. I feel a lot more pressure/anxiety to get this house ready to move out of.

  • homeschooling – In addition to general support and transport, I’ll be checking in on grades every Friday morning. The girls’ weekend activities will be dependent on their progress. They both have light schedules on Fridays so that gives them time for catch-up. Planning on this now helps set the expectation going into the new year.

side by side images of jessica before and after brain dump.

My oh my! That made me feel better. On the left is how I looked and felt before my brain dump. The right image was taken when I finished this activity.

Try this process and let me know what you think!

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