Summer break is a wonderful time to streamline your life!
Without school to worry about, kids have more free time for learning new tasks. If you start now, by the time school starts, everyone will be used to the new routine.
What to Streamline During Summer Break
Each July, I dedicate time to streamlining. This month I’ll:
- Work with the kids to make an annual meal plan
- Create a master shopping list
- Assign new morning, table, farm, and afternoon chores for each child
- Provide instruction in the new chores
- Assess my business and progress toward goals
- Unsubscribe from email lists that I no longer read
- Evaluate our routine blocks from last school year and reassess as necessary
- Make decisions about the upcoming homeschool year and get basic planning complete
It seems like a lot, but by taking it one task at a time, I’ll have the majority of the upcoming school year planned by the time August rolls around. And that saves a ton of time in the long run!
Let’s look at each area.
Annual Meal Plan
An annual meal plan cuts out any “What’s for dinner?” questions. It eliminates unnecessary cupboard rummaging.
I’m able to memorize recipes, and look for efficiencies in the kitchen.
I love it! And so do the kids. In fact, I think they’d be pretty happy just keeping the same menu all the time. But, I like to switch things up a bit each year.
We recently updated this plan, and if you’re interested, you can find all the details here on my other blog. I can’t believe this was our fourth annual meal plan–time sure does fly!
Master Shopping List
I don’t like sitting down to make a shopping list before I head to the grocery stores each month. But, if I don’t, I end up spending way too much money guessing what I’ll need that month.
My master shopping list works in conjunction with my annual meal plan. It has every ingredient I could possibly need. I also included prices and quantities for a month.
To create it, I look at my meal plan and start writing down ingredients. I use Excel, because I can filter out duplicates and easily sort by store.
Then, before I shop each month, I just take a quick look at my list and update any quantities. Then I hide any items that I need “0” of, and hit print. My shopping list is ready to go!
And just in case I forget to actually bring the list, I keep it saved in Dropbox. That way I can pull it up on my phone if needed. (Not that I’d ever actually forget that list :D)
Another benefit of doing a master shopping list? I can easily see my budget for the month. If it’s too high, I sit down and do some readjusting of meals and ingredients to cut the expensive stuff.
My kids each do chores every day. We do chores for a couple of reasons.
- Keeping the house takes many hands.
- Chores develop a good work ethic in my kids.
- I’m not really raising kids, my goal is to raise adults who know how to function in society. Being able to keep their own homes is a huge goal.
I’ve learned that a year is the perfect amount of time for the kids to have the same chores. During the year, they really learn the skill. They become expert sweepers, wipers, and washers.
And I never have to guess who does what. By the time August rolls around, everyone has the chore chart figured out. When school starts back up again, it’s one less thing I have to worry about.
Here’s a look at the chores:
- Gets dressed.
- Brushes hair.
- Makes their own bed.
- Picks up a certain part of their shared bedrooms.
- Completes a bathroom chore.
My school aged kids and I tackle these. We do table chores three times a day, after each meal. These chores have made a huge difference in the state of our home!
The table chores are:
- Putting food away
- Unloading dishwasher
- Loading dishwasher
- Wiping the table
- Cleaning chairs
- Wiping counters
- Sweeping kitchen & dining room
- Washing large dishes by hand
With all of us working, the kitchen is restored to order quickly after each meal.
I handle many of these, because I love being out with the animals! But, four of the kids each have one chore:
- Feeding and watering rabbits.
- Checking the pigs’ water
- Checking the cows’ water
- Feeding the chickens
The kids also look for eggs around the farm, since my free ranging birds don’t seem to appreciate their nice coop.
These get dropped during crazy times of life, but it’s definitely time to reinstate them. We’ll be working on the following deep cleaning tasks (one per person per weekday):
- Cleaning the fridge
- Organizing a kitchen cupboard/drawer
- Wiping the stove
- Cleaning the microwave
- Wiping cupboard faces
- Wiping kitchen stools
- Washing windows
- Cleaning the ceiling fans
- Wiping off walls
- Decluttering surfaces
- Organize toys
- Organize clothes
- Trash dump
- Book duty
- Decluttering (*2)
- Straightening books
- Cleaning the game shelves
- Toy duty
- Strip bedding (*3)
- Gather rugs
- Dirty clothes sweep
- Wipe washer & dryer
If we keep up on all of our chores, and do one 15-minute cleanup each day, our house stays in pretty good shape. It’s not beautiful, but it’s maintained and good enough for company. A decent house is a lot less stressful, and way easier to work in!
I make it a point to spend time teaching the new chores. The first few weeks everything takes a lot longer than normal. I’m teaching, helping, and watching the kids as they work.
Once the kids have their chores down, I just have to worry about mine, and doing basic supervision. My time requirement is definitely lowered at that point!
Assess Business Goals
Each January, I set some goals for my business. Since the year is half gone, it makes sense to revisit those goals and see if I need to adjust.
This refocusing helps me reprioritize my work schedule and streamline as much as possible. Batching works well for some tasks, so I can look for additional tasks to batch. I also revaluate my posting schedule on each of my blogs.
Be watching for a post sharing my reflections and adjustments later this month!
I wind up subscribing to several feeds throughout the year, but they don’t always wind up being a good fit for me. Or perhaps the focus of the newsletters has changed.
Taking time each day to delete a bunch of emails adds up. So, I streamline by unsubscribing from ones I’m frequently not reading.
Now that I know more about how bloggers and companies typically pay more the more subscribers they have, it doesn’t make sense for me to have someone paying for me when I’m not actually reading what they send.
And if you’re subscribed to my blog, but find yourself not reading, please don’t feel bad about unsubscribing! I totally understand.
Routine blocks dominate our schedule. We have blocks of time dedicated to:
- Family Writing Time
- Quiet Reading Time
- Family Play Time
- Quiet Time
By teaching the kids what to do in each block, I can then mix and match our schedule as needed. The blocks can be rearranged to fit in an appointment or extra work hours, or a fun project.
I’ve learned that teaching flexibility through these blocks helps my kids learn to be flexible. That’s important!
Since homeschooling isn’t the point of this blog, I won’t hash out all my plans for next year here. If you’re interested, check out my Maggie’s Milk blog, where I frequently post about homeschooling.
Streamline During Summer Break
Taking time to streamline during summer break cuts back my daily decisions. I free up brain power, and have extra time to work.
It works well for us, and if you’re struggling to do it all, I’d recommend seeing what you can streamline. If you do, let me know in the comments below.
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