How I Became More Easy Going By Planning Ahead!

posted by Andrea | 01/31/2017
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In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not really a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of gal!

I like structure, order, and routine; and even though SO many people told me I would become more easy-going after having children… I really didn’t believe them.

I suppose that since having children, I have relaxed in some areas (like the cleanliness of our home, what I now consider “gross”, and how my children look in public) but in most other areas of life, I have tightened the reigns, gotten even more organized, and planned even further ahead.

Ironically, I’ve noticed that planning ahead and creating more structure has allowed me to relax and become slightly more easy going in so many situations.

Let me give you a few examples…

MEAL PLANNING:

It would be an extremely rare occasion for me to skip meal planning for any given week.

No, I don’t particularly love meal planning… but I do it because I know from years of experience that taking 10-15 minutes to make a meal plan will save hours of time later in the week — not to mention boatloads of stress and frustration.

NOTE: for those of you who don’t necessarily love meal planning, or just don’t know where to begin, I’ll be sharing a bunch more tips later this week!

When I have a meal plan, I have no stress when 5:00 rolls around because supper is usually just coming out of the oven.

I can make many of my meals the night before or in the morning because I already have the ingredients ready to go — which means I rarely have to scramble at the last minute.

I rarely ever resort to fast food simply because I didn’t have time to make anything — but instead, I plan in fast food or pizza into our meal plan as a “fun night” we can all anticipate and look forward to.

I can fairly easily accommodate guests for dinner, even on a last-minute notice.

I can try to always incorporate one kid-friendly food into each meal (even if I know the kids might not love the main dish).

ARRIVING ON-TIME:

I often find it amusing that the same people are chronically late for the same things week after week, month after month.

I know there are some mental and physiological things at play here, but even still, arriving late for almost anything is a pet-peeve of mine… so we always try to be early. If I know I’ll need to get all the kids bundled up, we often leave 20 minutes earlier than I think we’ll need to leave so we arrive 10 minutes early. Then we sit in the car and finish a movie or play a game.

While some of you might be rolling your eyes right now, I know for a fact that leaving early and arriving on-time is a huge positive in our lives.

I’m not constantly yelling and nagging my kids to “hurry up”.

We don’t feel rushed or always behind.

I don’t feel frantic or stressed when I’m driving.

We aren’t frazzled when we reach our destination.

A small traffic delay, accident, or train won’t totally throw off our trip.

Everyone is in a more positive mood.

I’m not THAT lady who’s always late for everything.

PACKING for FAMILY VACATIONS:

Oh my word — I hate traveling. HATE IT.

I don’t mind being at the destination, but the process of packing and loading, driving or flying, and then unloading and unpacking is enough to cast a shadow over even the most exciting vacation.

If it were up to me, we would simply stay home ALL THE TIME… but since the rest of my family apparently enjoys vacations (probably because they don’t have to pack or plan) we venture out of the house occasionally 🙂

And when we do, I make sure to plan ahead and pack well in advance.

Since we usually use all travel-size cosmetics, I can literally pack everything almost a full week ahead of when we need to leave. We just add in the kids’ monitors, favorite blanket or stuffed animals, and our laptops the day we leave.

This might sound crazy to some of you… but since I dread the packing and traveling process, planning ahead helps me to relax and enjoy the vacation once we’re there.

I don’t worry about forgetting something important because I know it’s all there.

I don’t have to run around the house at the last minute stuffing things into suitcases.

I don’t need to buy anything when we arrive or try to do without for the whole vacation because I forgot something important.

I don’t stress about leaving on time due to last-minute packing (you all just read about how I like to arrive on time!)

MY BLOG:

Transitioning from a “work from home adult” to a “work from home mom” was definitely a HUGE learning curve, but I eventually found my footing again and have continued to make small (and large) adjustments as we’ve added children to our family and as the children’s needs have changed.

One of the biggest and best changes I made years ago was to start writing almost all my blog posts 1-2 full weeks ahead.

This means I write almost all my blog posts 1-2 weeks before they are published (I finished this post on Jan. 23) and wow does this make a HUGE difference for me and my family! (NOTE: I don’t write my Peek Into the Week posts that far in advance.)

I don’t have to stay up late trying to frantically finish a blog post (I did this all the time when I first started blogging).

I don’t have to take time off because I’m overwhelmed or running behind — I can simply take time off because I want to enjoy a break from work.

I don’t have to cancel on a client because I can’t finish their sponsored post by the agreed-upon deadline.

I don’t feel rushed or overwhelmed with my job — which means I don’t experience burnout.

I don’t remember the last time I had writer’s block because I always have anywhere from 5-15 post ideas drafted at a given time.

I don’t have to hire child care for my kids because even if we have a few busy days where I don’t get much time to work, I’m still far enough ahead that it doesn’t really matter.

I don’t get completely thrown off if we get sick, if out-of-town visitors stay at our house, or if other fun opportunities and plans arise.

It seems fairly obvious to me that the result from ALL my planning ahead and organization is that my business can almost always take a backseat to anything else going on in my family and my life without much interruption for my readers — a work-from-home person’s DREAM if you ask me!

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So I guess, in a way, I DID become more easy-going after having children… but only because I am even more structured, even more organized, and plan even farther ahead!

That might sound like a crazy oxymoron… but it’s completely true for my life!

I still wouldn’t consider myself “easy going”… but thanks to faithfully planning ahead and incorporating order and structure into my days as much as I can, I am able to enjoy the benefits of a simpler, less stressful, more relaxing, MORE easy-going way of life!

Can anyone relate?

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31 comments

  1. Georgia

    02/01/2017

    I so relate your dislike for traveling. I hate to travel, I cannot emphasize it enough how much I hate to travel. I did many years ago make a list of what needs to be packed when traveling. I just print a new one out each trip, I check whatever I pack and then put a line through it when I repack to come home. This simplified my life so much. I also have much of the packing done before it is time to leave. On my list is remember to put out the trash, we turn off the main water line so there will be no ruptures with nobody here to know it and things of this nature also.

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  2. Kim

    01/31/2017

    I totally get what you are saying.
    One example is: when we have a large group over for a meal, I work very hard to get prepared, organized and “done ahead” as much as is humanly possible…..and I find myself so relaxed and focused on my guests when I do that. I have been to people’s homes where the hostess is still preparing food, setting tables, etc., as she visits with us and she does that very, very well. I do not. I cannot handle the distraction…………..it stresses me and makes less people focused.

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    Andrea Reply:

    YES!! I’m with you on the entertaining part. If we’re having people over, I plan everything well in advance and make recipes I can mix up ahead of time and just have in the oven or slow cooker. I hate all the last-minute stuff when guests are here.

    I also know someone who waits until the last minute for EVERYTHING when she has guests over… and unlike your friend, mine can not pull it off while mingling. She gets extremely stressed and frustrated, she makes a huge mess trying to do everything at the last minute and then spends forever cleaning up after the meal (because she made such a big mess) that she never sees any of her guests. It’s almost to the point where we don’t even enjoy going to their house for meals anymore because it’s so stressful and chaotic.

    Thinking of these situations is always my motivation to continue planning ahead!

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  3. Hannah Beth Reid

    01/31/2017

    I related SO MUCH!!! I love doing fun things…as long as I can anticipate and plan for them! I’m very glad to know I’m not alone in these feelings. I kind of enjoy the planning and packing for trips because it allows me to feel prepared, thus taking away much of the stress that I’ll forget something…if that makes any sense. Must be a control issue…

    Also, I am very glad to see someone else who takes a stool out of town! We usually do and miss it greatly when we forget it. Even the time we left it at a hotel hundreds of miles away, it was worth it (it was the same beige color as the bathroom…replacement stool is bright green!).

    Thank you for this post!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Oh yes, we take the stool with us everywhere — usually a potty seat too 🙂

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  4. Gaynor Williams

    01/31/2017

    With regard to packing for holidays, we have a motorhome and go away regularly, both at home in the UK, and in Europe. I have a master packing list which has everything I might possibly want to take on it, though we don’t take every item on every single trip. I just print off a copy before each trip and cross things off as we pack. I can also use the list for a hotel or villa holiday, when we’re obviously taking much less. Using a list gives me peace of mind, particularly after I managed to leave the dog’s epilepsy medication behind on one trip and forgot to take any undies on another!

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    Andrea Reply:

    love this! so efficient! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  5. Shelly Smith

    01/31/2017

    I like your shopping list in the picture above. Do you have a link to that pdf? Thanks!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Why yes I do! Here’s the link (and you can download AND edit it for free!) https://andreadekker.com/free-grocery-list/

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  6. Rachel

    01/31/2017

    At the beginning of our marriage, my husband was always waiting on me to finish packing the suitcase because I was using the toothpaste, hairspray etc. He came up with a simple but brilliant for us solution – buy 2 of everything and keep one packed in the suitcase. So our suitcase stays packed with toiletries, we just add the clothes and he can pack the car while I’m still getting ready – if necessary. Works great for us.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes! We don’t travel nearly enough to warrant buying 2 of everything, but we do have a full set of travel size items that stay packed up for whenever we need to travel. The only thing I need to add is my mascara because I think it goes bad if you leave it open and sitting around for too long.

    That said, I’m SO used to having everything ready to go that I actually forgot my mascara on our last trip 🙁
    Glad you have a system that works so well for you — I’m sure you enjoy traveling more because of it!

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  7. Megan

    01/31/2017

    Random question, but do you know what book Simon is reading in the car picture? My boys love trains!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — sorry Megan! I just went back and looked at the picture but I don’t remember what book it was. We get boatloads of books from the library and that picture was taken 5 months ago.

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  8. Julie

    01/31/2017

    Totally agree with everything! Planning ahead and managing my time saves me so much headache and stress! I have 4 kids and always try to get all doctor’s appointments scheduled first thing in the morning (the dr is running on time) and on days the kids don’t have school (so they don’t miss out on school or activities). In January, I sat down and scheduled all the kids’ doctor, dentist, and optometry appointments for the entire year. Feels great to have it done and already on the calendar!

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  9. Debbie

    01/31/2017

    I’m also not a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind a gal. Being a worship leader at our church I usually plan my music set 2 weeks in advance. I even have to plan what I have to say in between songs, if needed. I’m not as good as being “on time” though. I’m on time if I have a responsibility to do for that function, but otherwise I tend to be late. It’s something I need to work on. One of the things I noticed that’s hard for a planner like me is that there’s hardly a downtime. As soon as I’m finished leading on a Sunday and I’m scheduled a month later, I’m already thinking of the next time I have to lead and planning that set. It seems my “planning” is putting me in a constant “have to finish” mode even though there’s still time to relax and not do anything. Any advice on that?

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, I totally understand the whole “never stopping” part of planning ahead. However, if you weren’t planning ahead, you would still be “never stopping” because you’d always be rushing at the last minute and then playing catch-up.

    That said, I’ve often felt this way about my blog work — working 1-2 weeks in advance, but never getting much down time. So what I TRY really hard to do every week is to write 1 blog post per night, Sunday – Thursday night. Then I don’t do much if any work on Friday or Saturday. Of course, if I have a busier week, I might need to do a few things on Friday and Saturday, but for the most part, I still get 2 days “off” each week and it’s really refreshing to know I’m done with my work before the weekend hits!

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  10. Lee Winemiller Cockrum

    01/31/2017

    I wish I could “channel” your brain to get myself together! I don’t have any kids but I could still benefit from most of this! I’m looking forward to the meal planning tips, that could be a great place to start!

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  11. Rose

    01/31/2017

    Brava!!!!!

    I loved today’s blog!!!! I can totally relate! I have 3 sons and my youngest has special needs and in a wheelchair. I can say that I am NEVER LATE to anything—-because of planning ahead! If I am late to a doctor visit/therapy session, then it’s either going to have to rescheduled or our time gets shortened..causing more stress! Our loss—- there really isn’t an option for me to be late! BUT…I will admit that I am AWFUL when it comes to meal planning and prep! PLEASE get that blog up about meal planning ASAP!!! Stress..tons of cash spent on takeout, and the GUILT that it causes me! I know I could be doing something better for my family and budget! Love reading your blog Every SINGLE Morning!!! I totally look forward to your honesty—-❤️❤️

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’m often asked “how do you get here early with 3 kids?” and I always want to say, “I leave my house early with 3 kids” but I know how snotty that sounds 🙂
    We all have the same number of hours in our day… I’m always 5-10 minutes early, other are always 5-10 minutes late. I don’t do anything special except leave 10-15 minutes before the people who are always late. It’s not rocket science, it’s just a little planning ahead!

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  12. Birthe

    01/31/2017

    Hi Andrea, I can totally relate. I have only one child but boy would life had been easier before when I would have known to organize and plan ahead like I know now. Thank you for your great at blog, it’s my favorite
    I started reading your blog shortly after Nora was born and haven’t missed ONE post since then!
    Greetings from Germany

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much for your kind words Birthe! I’m thrilled you’re reading all the way over in Germany!

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  13. Adri

    01/31/2017

    Hi Andrea, as far as planning meals ahead. I have a similar philosophy to yours and always enjoy reading your ideas…but I’m dying to know if you’ve bought or thought about buying an Instant Pot? I broke down and ordered one as my teen boys are getting more and more involved in middle school and high school sports, which cuts into meal prep time (events/practices always right at dinner time)

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    Andrea Reply:

    no Instant Pot at our house. I honestly had never even heard of it until a couple months ago. I can definitely see the appeal, but right now, I don’t think I have a use for it (I’m home ALL day so I can easily start things in advance).
    I’m pretty stingy when it comes to buying kitchen small appliances because I hate how much space they take up in my kitchen (I don’t even own a blender or a stand mixer!) so it takes A LOT for me to be willing to buy another small appliance. 🙂

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    Deb Reply:

    No stand mixer? That is my MUST HAVE….you would love it. You could even get a cool color to match your kitchen!

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    Andrea Reply:

    We had a stand mixer for about 5 years after we were married and I hated it (It was the expensive fun color kind too). I never used it so I sold it on Craigslist before we moved. I’ve never regretted selling it and now enjoy all the free space on my counter and in my cabinets as a result. My hand mixer has worked just fine for ALL my baking endeavors (even bread!)

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  14. Pamela

    01/31/2017

    Yes. Me too. Another post I resonate with so much!

    A sidenote: I have noticed that you use the word “boatload” frequently. Is this a Michigan word?!!? I had never heard it before reading here. Maybe it’s a midwest thing? Makes me smile whenever I see it in print.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I have no idea if it’s a michigan thing or not… I just like it as an expression more than “a lot” 🙂

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    Ashley Simmons Reply:

    Here in Louisiana we say “boatload”.
    I am extremely organized and structured which tends to make people think that planning consumes most of my time when actually I feel like I have so much free time because of it. Love all of your post Andrea!

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    Andrea Reply:

    exactly! I often have people sarcastically ask if I spend all day planning for the next day… if only they realized how much time and energy I save by spending a FEW minutes planning ahead!

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    Bonnie'sMama Reply:

    We say “boatload” in Kansas and Indiana, too.

    Thanks for this post, Andrea. It’s good for me to think through the positive results of planning ahead, and the negative results of not planning ahead. The more children I have, the more I need to plan, too.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha yes! More children = more planning for me too!

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