In honor of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share 9 things I am thankful for this year.

I have chosen these 9 things specifically because of how they have helped to simplify my life this year.

Do you ever feel like life is more stressful than not?

Can you never seem to find time to sit and relax?

Is your mind constantly running with things that need to be done?

Maybe one of my 9 things can help you simplify your life and provide relaxation in 2018.

Without further ado here they are!

simplify your life

Google Calendar

Honestly, I have no idea where I would be without my Google calendar. It has allowed me to easily schedule things without having to lug a planner around with me. As long as I have my phone, I know what is going in our lives with a quick swipe of my finger. Additionally, Google calendar has transformed my productivity when I work from home. I schedule all my work on there, and if something needs to be moved it is easy to do so. (side note: the article on the ideal week was a game changer  for creating a work from home schedule that works).

google calendar

Refrigerator to do chart 

We all have chores that we like to get done weekly and monthly. Some of us are better at getting them done than others. I fall into the camp of ahem, not so clean. Tidy – yes to a fault, but clean no. And yes, they are two different designations. To ensure our bathroom is cleaned more than just when we have guests coming over or that we aren’t sleeping on sheets that have been on our bed for six months, I created the chore chart. Is it perfect?  NO. But I will say we are cleaning more regularly, and its prominent location on the refrigerator reminds us of what should be getting done.

to do chart

Saying “NO”

I am getting better and better at saying “NO.” There is nice ways to say no, and you need to be more protective of your time. Saying no is the only way I am able to acheive my goal of blogging. Having big goals has helped me to prioritize my time better. I appreciate more than ever that by saying no to some things, it means I get to say yes to other things. I cannot stress enough how powerful learning to say no has been.

 

Putting Amelia in daycare 4 days instead of 3 days a week

With Brian’s work schedule, we are fortunate that Amelia does not have to be in daycare full-time. Since Amelia has been in daycare, we have had her in the minimal amount possible. This year we decided to try four days a week instead of three though. This allowed Brian to have a better (laughable really for anyone who works nights) sleep schedule, and me to have more uninterrupted time to work. Funny thing about working from home, the husband and kids don’t always respect the work time. Many times I end up with a little person in my lap, unbeknownst to her dad who believes she is quietly playing in her room.

messy kids area
The aftermath of an Amelia day home

Prozac

Well actually, it’s the generic brand, but everyone knows what Prozac is. It’s true this past year for the first time I went on medication for my anxiety and depression. It was not an easy decision for me to take this route. It felt weak. I was concerned about losing control and what side effects it might have. This was (and I’m sure Brian would agree, but he’ll never freely admit it- smart man) the most life-changing thing I did for myself in 2017. I had no idea how much better I could feel. I didn’t know it would help me feel more in control of my feelings than ever before. My stress level decreased. I stopped being so hard on myself. Relaxation and taking time for myself became a priority rather than an afterthought. I didn’t lose my temper like I used to. I really became the person I had always wanted to be.

The best part about it is that I was able to go back off of it for now. It’s one of those things that I will monitor along with medical professionals. I may need to take it periodically, but for now it along with neurofeedback has allowed me to heal my brain. If this is something, your doctor or counselor recommends don’t be afraid. It can help, and it doesn’t mean you’ll need to be on medication forever.

Flipping how we budget (income streams)

Seriously, as a person who loves to budget and spends free time creating debt-free projections and goals how did I not come up with this sooner? It took barely having enough money at the end of one month to figure this one out. We used to create our monthly budget based on the income that we earned in that month. This sounds great, but in practice, it didn’t work. We want to set up our budget at the beginning of the month, so we needed our income more frontloaded (we get paid on the 15th and 30th of each month). So now we use the income from the 30th of the previous month along with the 15th of the current month to create the current month’s budget. Ex: For our December budget we used the paychecks from November 30th and December 15th.

budget

 

Cutting the cable cord

This created less stress because it meant we were finally saving money on television viewing. Since I rarely watch TV it was difficult for me to see how much we were paying every month for cable. The lone holdout on cutting the cord was Brian because he needed to be able to watch sports. Finally, Youtube TV came out with a solution that allows him to watch sports. So in October, we cut the cord. The only painful moment since we cut the cord was when I realized I couldn’t watch the Cubs playoffs. I found a radio and listened just like the olden days.

 

Allowing myself time to relax—-even when everything isn’t done

I will now sit down and read a book even if the house is messy or there are things to be done. Let’s be honest there is ALWAYS something to be done. But now I finally allow myself a break. I even schedule fun things on my calendar. A half day to spend scrapbooking?  Yep it’s on there. It also motivates me to get those other things on the calendar done so I can protect that time.  I will admit that the Prozac I introduced into my life has helped me to do this. I have learned that I am a better person, mother, and wife if I allow myself these sanity breaks. And not just the ‘I’m working out breaks’, but the ‘I’m going to go over here and do nothing productive breaks’.

relaxing in a hammock

 

Listening to podcasts

I started listening to podcasts well before 2017, but this year was when my listening took off.  Depending on the day I listen to between 1-6 hours of podcasts. I know this seems like a lot, but remember I rarely watch television. I listen to podcasts while driving for work, while cooking, cleaning, working out, getting ready in the morning, working on images for the blog. To me, podcasts are my music. They are educational, informative, entertaining and motivating. Be sure to check out the podcasts I’m recommending right now – subject to change at a moment’s notice.

Most of these 9 things were new to my life this year.  I continue to be a work in progress, and some of these things are still a struggle.

 

Are there things that you have done or used this year that have helped to simplify your life? Be sure to share them in the comments section. We all need to help each other out.

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