Things that Worked in 2022


1. Making our bed.

I have never in my life consistently made the bed. Even as a child I don't remember that being a "must" in our house. As an adult, I've never cared that much about making the bed, but early in 2022 I guess I started pregnancy nesting, because I went on an organization and buying spree for a bit. One of the things I did was get new sheets, pillows, and comforter for our bed. We had the same everything since we got married 11 years ago, and I wanted something new. I also rearranged our room completely, flipped the head of the bed to the opposite wall, moved our dresser to a different wall, and got rid of a bookcase I didn't like and moved a different bookcase in there. 

After all that, I loved how fresh and clean our room felt. The rest of our house is a disaster most of the time with kid toys and dishes and random paper scraps (whyyyy is there always paper everywhere???). I wanted our bedroom to be one area where the kids didn't go and where at least one thing was consistently clean. Strangely, after never having had a bed-making habit, this one instantly stuck, and I've made the bed most mornings since. There are occasionally days where I just don't get to it, but a good 5 days out of 7 our bed is made. It's weirdly a habit that brings me joy. Who knew? Planning to keep this rolling into 2023. (The kids' beds do not ever get made, in case you were wondering. On the list of things I care about that's not even on there.)

2. Silicone mat for dishes.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like dishes rules their lives. It's a necessity for living, but it's not my favorite chore. Jordan and I have gotten into many a fight about the dishes (and, ahem, about how to properly load a dishwasher). The sink quickly fills up with dirty dishes, and then the pile just sits there staring at me while I procrastinate. The full sink also keeps us from ever cleaning larger pots and pans, so those sit on the counter taking up space and staring at me while I further procrastinate dealing with any of it and building up resentment toward Jordan for not doing it either.

A few months ago I got an idea to buy a large silicone dish mat to put on the counter to the right of the sink. I realized that part of the problem with the dishes piling up in the sink was because we didn't always have time right then to actually rinse and put dishes in the dishwasher, or the dishwasher was full of clean dishes but we didn't have time at the moment to empty it, thus nowhere except the sink to put dirty dishes. The silicone mat has been an absolute game changer. Maybe my best idea from last year, honestly. This probably seems obvious, but it hadn't occurred to me before, and it's been working so well. 

Now, we immediately rinse dirty dishes and stack them on the mat, keeping them out of the sink and waiting to be loaded in the dishwasher. I've been able to keep up with larger pots/pans much easier, and my sink is usually empty, which is just nicer to look at. I've also found that it's faster to load the dishwasher when I have a stack of stuff already rinsed and ready to go vs. rinsing and loading one by one. And, I think the faucet runs less this way too.

3. Breakfast menu.

J is very concerned about food. He constantly asks what we are eating, when he can eat, and is also unfortunately in the worst picky stage so he thinks almost everything is "nasty." He usually says this with a plugged nose just to further drive home his disgust. Breakfast was always an issue, because he would wake up with a specific idea in his mind of what he wanted. A lot of the time we either didn't have it, or I didn't have time to make it, which caused a huge meltdown that completely derailed our morning routine. Or, each kid wanted something different to eat, and I didn't have time for that either.

I thought of a breakfast menu but put off actually trying it for a while because I felt too lazy to implement it. However, it's been completely amazing and something we are continuing in 2023. I gave each day of the work/school week a breakfast item: toast, cereal, oatmeal, frozen Eggo waffles, muffins. I try to always have at least one kind of fruit on hand to offer throughout the week with the main item, mainly bananas, strawberries, and blueberries are the favorites. So, for example Mondays are toast days. We have toast, and that's all I'm offering for breakfast, along with fruit. If you don't want toast, you can eat the fruit. If you don't want either, that's fine, but then you won't eat. I do tell them that any day of the week they don't like what we are eating they can eat toast. Because toast is easy and R and J can make it themselves.

It has worked so well with the kids because by now they know what food goes with what days. I knew from the start that there would be days they didn't want what was offered, but I just remind them that today is Monday, and we are having toast, and if you don't want to eat it, that's fine. I know this won't be a good system forever, but it's working right now and has eliminated arguments about food in the mornings. It also helps because on the weekends I make sure we have everything we need for breakfast during the week, and if we don't have something (ran out of cereal or milk, for example) I will make sure to go to the store before Monday morning.

4. Dinner menu.

Can you tell I've been trying to simplify my life? ha. The breakfast menu was going so well that a few months ago I made a dinner menu. This one is a lot less rigid than breakfast is, but it's really been helping with weeknight dinner decision fatigue. I get overwhelmed by the endless recipe options and end up defaulting to the same few ideas over and over. I decided to try out assigning each day of the work week to a food genre, which I liked as a looser version of an official meal plan. I've never been able to keep up with meal planning, but this has been working great for us. 

Your categories will of course change depending on what your family eats, but ours currently are: pasta, tex-Mex, meat, leftovers, pizza (we don't have a breakfast or dinner plan for weekends). The "meat" day is extremely loose. This literally means just something with a meat as the main ingredient--for example, a pot roast, chicken breasts, pork chops. Tex-Mex usually means tacos or nachos, although I have made a few other things. We do homemade pizza every Friday, and that's been nice for the kids because they like it and it's easy. On Thursdays we usually have several leftovers from the previous weekend and week that we need to eat, so that's a random day. Similar to shopping for our breakfast menu, this dinner menu is great because if I don't have time that week to come up with specific meals for each day, I can at least make sure I have ingredients for the categories (by that I mean, making sure we have spaghetti sauce, making sure we have tortillas, etc.).

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Those are just a few things we implemented in 2022 that worked and that I want to continue in 2023. Even just writing out that short list was encouraging to me! I feel sometimes like everything is a giant mess and I can't keep it together, but this year we found a few things that have worked really well for our family's current stage of life. I'm interested to see what else we can find to continue to improve this year!