After a wonderfully loosey goosey holiday season, I’m looking forward to having a routine around here again. And one step further, I’m adding more structure to my days than I had before. This feels attainable to me this year more than in years past for several reasons.
First, the girls’ ages. Hailey is 7 and Kaitlyn is 4 1/2. While they are at home with me, they are old enough that I can (and should) expect autonomous play. Reason number two this feels like the right time for this shift is the restructuring of how I blog. Focusing in on more thorough topics (quality over quantity), I am no longer hostage to waking up early and running to my computer to crank out a post. I’m excited that my Instagram stories and weekly newsletter (sign up here!) offer insight into our day to day life, while blog posts can be my creative space to explore more in depth topics.
I also want to be more transparent with you this year. I think I’ve done you and myself a disservice by not sharing more openly about the time and effort I put into blogging. I guess I was nervous that if I called it a job, it would make it less fun or it might turn you off. However, blogging is my job. It’s a flexible one that I am passionate about and thoroughly enjoy, but it does require consistent attention. So with that, I want to be open about what it looks like to try and balance working from home, homeschooling, living a healthy lifestyle, and maintaining a strong family bond as a wife, mom, daughter, and sister. Spoiler alert: it’s an ongoing challenge!
Just as every year David and I do the State of the Family date night where we comb through our finances, discuss the previous year’s successes and shortcomings, then address the coming years’ goals and plans, I like to do a similar self-analysis. This conversation happens mostly in my own head, but I also bounce a lot of this off David because he is my best friend and sounding board. I tell him my goals for the coming year and together we refine them, then delineate a plan to put them into action.
If you don’t do something similar, I’d encourage you to. The new year is the perfect time to pause, reflect on the last year, lay out goals, and develop a plan. It doesn’t mean you’ll stick to it perfectly all year long, but having a direction and a starting point is empowering.
It may be that January energy pumping through my blood, or the Tim Ferris/Tony Robbins podcast I recently listened to, but now more than ever I believe we are in control of our lives more than we give credit to. We have the power to make real changes if we put forth targeted effort. If you don’t like your income- change it. If you don’t like your relationship- change it. If you don’t like how you spend your days- for goodness sake, change it. So I’m taking my own advice on this one and changing how I set up my day to ensure I can get to all the things I want and need to accomplish each week to get me to my goals.
Long story short (though, I guess I’m a little late for that), I’m excited to take control of my days in 2019. I’m sure things will evolve as the months go by, but to start the year, this is how I am structuring my days.
- I’m starting each day at 5:00 AM. The girls usually sleep until 7:30 AM, but even if they don’t, it is a house rule that they are not allowed to come downstairs until 7:00 AM, so the hours between 5:00-7:00 AM will be my personal hours. I’m using them to exercise, journal (a new habit I’m trying this year!), plan my days, sip tea, meal plan, work on personal projects, get dressed, etc.
- Once the girls wake up, I am switching to mom mode. I like breakfast to be a time of bonding where we sit down, talk about the dreams we had last night and our plans for the day.
- After breakfast we start school. We do school until lunch time, which is usually around 12:15 PM.
- After we clean up lunch, I’m punching in for work from 1:00-3:00 PM. I use this time to write new blog posts, respond to emails, plan future projects, make phone calls, etc. During this time the girls can play, read, sleep (though they never do)- whatever they want to do honestly, but I want them to understand that mom is working and I expect them to treat my work time with the same respect they treat dad’s work (if not in the hospitals, David works from home). This will be a learning curve for all of us, but I am ready with a list of chores to dole out if needed. 😉
- After 3:00 PM, I put my mom and wife hat back on. That means sports and activities, making dinner, doing laundry, quality time with David, etc.
I am really looking forward to this new structure. I’ve always worn the fact that I’m a multi-tasking master with pride, but I think in some ways it has been a weakness. I believe the secret to success in this new structure will depend on these things:
- Being protective over the time segments and not bringing a task from one area into the next designated time slot.
- Being fully present in the segment I am in. My girls will have my full focus during our homeschooling hours and a lot of my attention after 3:00 PM, too, so I won’t allow myself to feel guilty for not being present with them during my work hours.
- Turning off notifications on my phone. I’m the person that can’t stand seeing notification bubbles on my phone. I must rush immediately to clear them, but I’m learning how much of a time suck that is. I usually pride myself on how quickly I respond to emails/DMs, but I need to check myself and make sure I’m not letting the notifications dictate my time.
- Batch work. I’m new to batching, but I’m going to give it a try. Here is a great post on the benefits of batch working. I also want to apply this to homeschool (planning lessons out 1-2 weeks at a time) and meal prep (I’m drinking celery juice every morning now and it makes a lot more sense to wash a ton of celery at once rather than prep it each morning).
I’m jazzed up about 2019 and the good things to come. More than ever I believe in the power of a positive mindset and a plan and hope you are feeling a similar energy, too!
What is in store for you this year?
What goals and intentions do you have?
What steps are you putting in place to reach them?
John J. Stathas says
Whew, your positive energy just bounced out of my computer and got my “giddyup” going! Loved the blog. Structure is so important for success. Also, I believe journaling is a great tool for raising one’s self awareness and, thus, more cognizant of potential changes needed. You’ve put a lot of your desired depth and quality into this one. Thanks for that!
Love this. I am planning on making some changes this year as well, and one thing I struggle with is making sure that I’m focused. I want to be more focused on my kids and family when I’m in mom/wife mode, but I also want my kids to appreciate that when I’m in work/me mode I need to be allowed to work in peace and that they are more than capable of keeping themselves busy. I think I’m going to make it a rule to find a place for my phone and love that idea of setting a schedule so that way my kids get my undivided attention for a certain amount of time. Thanks for the inspiration!!
Love this! I love your attitude about your working hours and the girls’ ability to play independently. So many of my friends feel like they always need to entertain their kids. I really think they’re doing a disservice by not urging them to entertain themselves and play independently. It robs them of developing creativity and good habits in my opinion!
I agree with your dad, too. Your positivity jumps off the screen!
Brittany Dixon says
Sometimes I have to remind myself I’m not their cruise director! Plus, they know they aren’t allowed to use the word bored so they better figure it out 😉
I love the structure! what time do you go to bed to be up at 5am? I love the idea of alone time before everyone is up but I just can’t seem to get to bed early enough to make 5am feel comfortable to wake up at.
Brittany Dixon says
My brain is usually mush after 7:00 PM, so I try to head to bed around 9:15 and am usually fast asleep before 10:00 🙂
Wow–your energy and positivity (is that a word??) is amazing. Great post–I love that you are making time for yourself (which is very important when you are constantly giving to your family and friends). Also think it is important that children learn to play and entertain themselves too. Wonder where you got the idea, if you are bored I’ll find you something to do ;).
Keep up the good work!
Thanks so much for sharing such positivity and inspiration for 2019!! I love following along through Instagram and the blog, and you have inspired me in so many ways! I have a quick question – are you planning to stick to your basic daily plan on the weekends as well? I am in a very different life stage with a 3 y/o and 1 y/o LOL, but I struggle on the weekends sometimes because I want to sleep in and not wake up earlier than everyone else, but then I feel like I am paying for it by being “behind” the rest of the day, you know?! <3
Kelli H says
These sound like great goals! They are very inspiring. I’m starting the new year off with a month of no instagram and I’m loving it so far. It gives me more time to read and finish chores without interruptions. I also want to focus on my physical/mental health more by going to the gym at the minimum three times a week. I love taking cycle, TRX, and yoga. It’s so important for me to feel sane since most days I’m home with a one year old.
I love following along with your routines! Your goals are always realistic!
How often do you make fresh celery juice? Can you make it in advance or does it lose its benefits if it is not fresh?
Brittany Dixon says
Thanks, Jill! 🙂
I’ve been making it every morning and it isn’t too much of a pain. According to Medical Medium, the master mind behind the celery juice craze, it’s best to drink right away but is OK if it’s within 24 hours (in a mason jar in the fridge).
Haley @ Hobson Homestead says
So I have a potential blog topic for you! I’m wanting to know tips for work-from-home moms. It doesn’t mean working full time, just part time on your blog counts (because blogging does take time!) I’m trying to up my freelancing hours for 2019 so I’m trying to figure out a good balance. I love that you have set hours–I think that’s great. Hopefully I can do something similar when my baby is napping more consistently. I don’t work at night after the kids are asleep simply because I’m too tired! Any other tips? Do you hire a babysitter so you can work? Do you have a house cleaner? Do you do laundry all at once or a little every day? Obviously meal planning is big. I’ve got some things I do to make it work but am looking for any more tips 🙂
Brittany Dixon says
Hi Haley! I love that your business is growing; how exciting! Each year has looked different in what has worked for me- from waking up at 5AM and working them taking the kids to the gym with me later, to having them in preschool so I have a couple hours, working during nap times (which is now a thing of the past), and in the summer I hire babysitters to come once or twice a week (but that doesn’t work so well during the school year). I try (not always successfully) to do a little laundry everyday. Plus Hailey can now start laundry and both girls can put it away (though I still fold 99% of it). I have a house cleaner and it is hands down my favorite investment! Like you said, I meal plan because it makes the biggest difference in my weeks. Basically I have to adjust things every 6 months or so which makes it hard for me to offer blanket advice. However, if you can find a sitter one a week for a chunk of 5 hours, I highly recommend it! That has worked SO well for me when I’ve been able to make that happen. Good luck and congrats on the growing biz!
Late to responding, but I enjoyed reading this post! Kudos to your early wake up time (meanwhile, I could count on one hand how many times I’ve willingly gotten up before the boys :). And I agree, in order to be productive, you have to drop the multi tasking and give it your full attention. I am mostly “on” as a teacher when I’m at work, so that when I leave, I leave it behind. Also, it’s been about 3 weeks now since I got rid of my smartphone, and the impact has been profound. I have never been good with restrictions, so for me, just getting rid of it was the simplest and best solution. I’m loving 2019 without my smartphone; I actually feel much more relaxed and less anxious (even though, I wouldn’t consider myself normally to be an anxious person). My downtime feels more relaxing and enjoyable. I am loving reading and writing again, and sometimes just sitting there with my boys, doing nothing other than watching them. I really feel in a sense that I’m taking back control of my time and my life, and at the same time, given the opportunity to feel inspired and creative again. And loving the little changes, like hand writing out my recipes instead of storing them on my phone, travel planning using guide books, maps and my laptop versus my phone, have made a huge difference as well in my level of enjoyment. Here’s to a great 2019!