Monthly review: creating variety amongst the sameness

making small changes to family life to create more variety

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It took a couple of weeks into staying at home under Stage 3 restrictions for me to start to notice one particular change in the kids and even in me.

The kids have always been happy to eat the same thing for lunch for a number of days in a row, have last night’s dinner for breakfast etc and I have always been someone who is very happy to have the same thing for breakfast or lunch every single day.

But since we have been under “stay at home” restrictions this has changed. The kids and even I have been seeking more variety in what we eat. Initially, I was a little frustrated when there were complaints about “nothing to eat” especially because I knew there was plenty of good food in the fridge that they usually would eat.

After chatting to one of the kids about what items they would like me to get when I was out food shopping on the weekend, I began to realise, that the food we are eating is one of the few things we can create variety in. It wasn’t that they didn’t like the food I had available, they just wanted something different.

Our days may be turning into GroundHog day, but at least we can mix up what we have to eat!

With this revelation I have changed a few things about the food I am making for the family:

  • I am making sure I am cooking their favourites but in smaller quantities than I usually would. I am not factoring in they will want to have it for lunch the next couple of days.
  • I am doing more combo style meals to cater to differing needs. For example the other night I made chicken wings and vegetables, but two of the kids don’t really like chicken wings, so I cooked fewer chicken wings and cooked some chicken sausages as well.
  • I am making sure there is more variety in their lunch options. This has meant an occasional walk to the local bakery as part of daily exercise for the younger kids and we will get some pizza rolls or the like for lunch.
  • I am baking in smaller amounts but baking bi-weekly to have more diversity in snacks for morning tea.
  • I am not making one of our evening meals meatless at this stage. This was a habit I wanted to establish this year, but I am giving up on it temporarily. Dinner time at the moment is a time where we all come together and we play card games afterward which has been so much fun. The older kids are resistant to the idea of having a vegetarian meal and while I could push this with them, I am choosing not to. I don’t want to get dinner started off with a battle. They are all missing their friends, their social lives, their uni and school lives. I have decided for the sake of family harmony, now is not the time for me to push this one.

I do really feel for the kids at the moment and making these small changes isn’t really that much extra work for me. And the reality is that I benefit from the extra work. If the kids are well fed and have some variety in this aspect of their daily life, they are happier kids. Happier kids fight and complain less which equals a happier mum 😊.

What changes have you noticed in your family since you have been staying at home and what have changes have you made to accommodate them?

April monthly review

HabitConnection to goal - Simplify daily life to spend more time with family and friendsQuote - “A simple lifestyle is good for us, helping us to better share with those in need.” ~ Pope FrancisApril Review
Simplify our evening meals (make one meal a week meat free)With five kids, two being older teenagers and one being an adult I need to cook a lot of food. These three also have who casual or part time jobs, so having family meals with everyone eating at the same time is becoming increasingly more difficult.

The types of meals I cook now need to cater more for different sittings of meal times and also larger volumes so they can eat left overs for other meals as needed. This can be time consuming and I want it to take up the minimal amount of time, giving me the greatest chance of eating a family meal with as many kids as possible.

I need to simplify some of the meals I make to make this happen and I also want to reduce meat intake in the house, so want one meal a week to be meat free as well.
"If you want to change the world, go home and love your family." ~ Mother Teresa
You can read the changes I have made to this habit above!
Simplify our home cleaning routineWe have the kids involved in doing work around the house across the week, but it isn't as streamlined and as simple as I would like it to be. We also have a different system of contributing to the housework once kids leave school, so I need to work on simplifying how we all contribute to keeping the house clean and tidy. "The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment." ~ Marie KondoIt is amazing how much easier cleaning is when you have less clutter! The impact of my decluttering is now being felt.

We have reorganised the kids' household tasks to reflect their ages. Once the kids go to uni, they are on a different household contribution set up and we are transitioning the 19-year-old to this now.
Simplify my exercise routineRunning will be my focus for 2020 but I would still like to keep up strength training and do some yoga. I need to work out a way to fit this into my life without taking up too much time or feeling like I have too much to do.

Both the strength training and the yoga help my running, so I need to find a way to simplify how I can blend them into a routine.
“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." ~ Henry David Thoreau
One of the things I am most grateful for with our stay at home restrictions is that I can still run! I wondered whether I would find it hard to stick to my running plan without my running group. While I have missed them significantly, I have actually had some of the biggest running weeks in terms of distance covered for nearly two years.

I have also been doing yoga frequently than I have done for years and making sure I do at least two strength sessions. Plus doing the fabulous PE with Joe with the youngest Monday to Friday.
Declutter one item a day (can be averaged over a week / fortnight)There are cupboards that are too full, bedrooms that look a little messy because they have too much stuff in them. I find I am spending too much time on managing the stuff of the house.

I want to work slowly over the year to really pare back the belongings we have in the house. I feel much calmer with clear surfaces and minimal mess.
“Three Rules of Work:
Out of clutter find simplicity.
From discord find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” ~ Albert Einstein
We just had our autumn birthday run, so we have decluttered to accommodate the new items that have landed in the house. My daughter also kindly went through the school uniform tubs and separated out anything that we will no longer need. We will wait for the school second-hand shops to open up again and donate these items.
Spend an hour outside each dayBeing outside is so good for me in so many ways and good for the kids too. I find the pace of things slows down when I am outdoors.

With my running I do spend time outside everyday, but often in winter this is when it is still dark. I want to spend time outside in daylight hours and also use this time to be with the kids where I can too - who also benefit from more outdoor time.
"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~Lao TzuI feel the stay at home restrictions have made this habit even more important. Being at home a lot can get predictable and monotonous so breaking up the day by getting outside has worked wonders for me.