ARGHH, HAVING TIME TO DO IT ALL AND STILL BE GREEN?
Okay, I was having a bit of a slump yesterday and couldn’t get an article together. You know, when you have one of those days, where there is too much going on and your head is in a spin. So I thought instead of rushing to get something typed up, I gave myself some breathing space to think. Something we all need from time to time, with life being so hectic running a house, going to work, being a mother/father, good partner and friend. It can all feel like a juggling act.
Once I got time to relax, it got me thinking that life can get overwhelming at times for all of us. Often we want to do the right thing by everyone, but at the expense of not looking after ourselves. I know, too well, but as I have got older I have learned a few tricks to make each day less stressful. Part of this is trying to live a green life. This can bring its own stresses as you take the steps towards change. So I thought I would give you some tips to help you prevent those stressful moments and help you deal with some of them if they happen:
1. Have a morning routine – You probably have heard this before, but even though you know this is true, have you set up your own morning routine? I do get up early (my kids think I’m nuts), but I find I do my best work before the household rises. I meditate for 10 -20 minutes before I do a 20 – 30-minute exercise routine. I don’t go to the gym, instead, I switch on YouTube on the TV and follow Blogilates, as I love Pilates – I feel like I am using muscles I never used before. Then I have a warm glass of water with a few drops of lemon to get ready for the day. I find this gets my digestive system going and I am feeling ready for the day. So what is your routine?
2. Have breakfast – We have all done it, grabbing just a coffee or a get-up-&-go drink, before you whip out of the house, thinking you have had breakfast, only to start picking throughout the day, then to get that slump in the afternoon, that makes you feel you are going nowhere. So you grab a sugar hit. We have all done that, especially because we are always rushing to be somewhere – work, dropping kids to school, going to that appointment, etc. Believe me, you will feel far better taking the time to have a healthy breakfast. I usually have porridge topped with either sultanas and whatever seeds I can lay my hands on (chia, sunflower). I mix it up by having fruit and yoghurt or a poached egg on toast. There are so many healthy ideas for breakfast.
3. Plan your meals – This is something I do every Saturday. By doing this I am organised, reducing food waste, helping the environment. You won’t have to figure out what to cook each night for dinner. This means you will have the food you need for each meal and you won’t be running to the shops every day, trying to decide what to cook tonight. When I don’t have my meal plan done, I get so frustrated because the last thing I want to do at the end of the day is to decide what hungry people want to eat. I end up buying all sorts of stuff to keep the hunger at bay until I can place a meal on the table and then buying too much, as I haven’t decided what I am going to do, Not only is it not good for the environment, but it is not good for your hip pocket.
As you can see from this photo, my meal planner is nothing fancy. I use a pen and paper to write the schedule for the week. This just sits on top of my fridge. Once I have decided what meals I am going to cook, I can prepare my grocery list, checking my pantry and fridge to see what I already have and then writing down the items I need. If you haven’t done it before, it does take a bit of getting use to making sure everything is on the list. But believe me, it is worth it for your sanity.
4. Weekly cleaning routine – Now this is one of those tasks I hate (believe me, I know a few people who love to clean. Whatever tickles your fancy, but it is not for me). I do like a clean house, but also I have learned not to get too stressed if there are a few things out of place. Instead what I do is set aside time to do the house cleaning on a weekly basis. I even get the kids involved. My daughter is now the expert at the laundry, while my son does the bathrooms (with a very watchful eye from me). Rich, my husband is great as he always pitches in by doing the vacuuming, while I do jobs like mopping the floors, cleaning the cooktop and oven, cleaning the fridge, dusting, cleaning mirrors and general tidy up (putting everything back in its place).
By sharing the work, I find we get a lot more done as everyone knows what to do. In the past, I use to try to do it all and I found I had no time to sit down. This may not work for everyone. Your husband or partner may not be able to help or you don’t have a partner. If you have kids, they may be too young to help out. Rich used to work long hours and was often away, so I had to do the majority of the housework at one stage. When you have no one who can share the workload with you, try batching the work. I have found I kept on top of things and our house was clean or semi-clean most of the time. You can do things like Monday is laundry day, Tuesday Bathroom cleaning, Wednesday dusting, Thursday is vacuuming, Friday is cleaning the kitchen and every evening put things back in their place. By batching, you will find you get a lot more done and it won’t feel so daunting.
One other thing on cleaning, as I want to encourage you to live a green lifestyle, ensure you always have vinegar, lemon juice, bicarbonate soda and a boxful of rags on hand. They will clean about anything in your household. For more tips and advice on cleaning visit my article on Greening your Spring Cleaning http://bit.ly/1TpI3In.
5. Use a diary or a planner – Our life is so busy these days; it is easy to forget we have a doctor’s appointment or someone’s birthday. I use a diary as well as the calendar on my iPhone to mark important dates and times. The notifications on the iPhone are great as they alert me when something is about to happen e.g. I set the alerts for birthdays a week before the date, giving me enough time to get a present and a card and to send it in the post. It also means you have more time to be thoughtful about your gift-giving and be more environmentally conscious when you are buying. I am not a planning nut, but having some organisation stops me from being late to a meeting, making sure I don’t forget those who are important or being there at those important times for my kids (school performances). Use whatever works for you (diary, calendar, planner) and feel in control.
6. Shopping the green way – With some planning, you can ensure you are putting some thought into what you buy and use. Shopping can be stressful enough, but if you have arrived at a shop with no firm idea of what you really want, chances are you will not buy eco-friendly products. You will buy what is available at that shop. My suggestion is you spend some time researching before you hit the shops.
If you or your family need new clothes, what is it you need? What sizes do you need? Can you get it from an eco-friendly shop? With a growing family may be the local op shop or vintage clothes seller may be the way to go. If buying furniture, how are you wanting to style the house? Can you reuse what you have got and maybe change it a little to make it fit in? Is there a shop that sells upcycled or recycled furniture in your area?
When shopping for food consider your local farmers market, local vegetable and fruit shop, local butcher and grocer/health shop before going to the big supermarkets. Organic is preferable, as it also considers the environment. Not only are you supporting your local business owners, but your carbon footprint will be reduced and you will most likely buy healthier products from these shops. If you plan your weekly shopping trip you will take the stress away from shopping. Also, going to markets is a good way of doing something with the family, introducing your kids to healthy food and having fun together as a family. Whose up for brekkie at the market?
7. Do you really need to look at that notification? - Yes, we can all be guilty of this. These days we are so distracted by Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, etc., that we forget there are people around us and other things to be done. Social media is a great way to stay in touch, but before you know it you can spend hours on it with nothing to show for afterwards. And this is adding to your stress.
Set a time of the day to do your posting and only allow a certain amount of time (15 – 30 minutes). Set an alarm if you have to (the most annoying one you have got). This way you know when it is time to get off to get other things done and to live life.
My suggestions here are to help you have a less stressful lifestyle while trying to be green but remember to take a moment to relax. Give yourself some time during the day to do what you love or to not do anything in particular. Our brain needs a time out from planning and although being organised can avoid stress, over-planning can add to the stress as you leave no time free.
Stress is bad for your health and that is what we are trying to avoid. It’s important to be aware of your limitations and not to beat yourself up if you can’t stick to your plans. There will be times it won’t come together, particularly in the beginning but persistence and practice of your plans will eventually make it part of your life. Always spread work out over a week and give yourself enough time to finish everything. And remember to have fun!
Let me know if you like these tips. We would really like to hear from you and see what you do to make your life less stressful.
Have an earthly passionate week,
Attracta & the earthly passion team