It’s been a crazy year for us. Bill and I went on a getaway the first week of February. The following week started a four month process of getting our house ready to sell and moving to a new city. The summer was filled with unpacking followed by a month-long hospital stay when Josiah made an early appearance, then life with a newborn, figuring out our way around the city, getting our church going, and learning a whole new way to do life. As things started slowly settling in, I finally looked around and realized what a mess everything had become. I have house clutter, schedule clutter, body clutter, marriage clutter, parenting clutter, sin clutter, financial clutter. Honestly, I can’t think of anything that feels together.
For a woman who loves order, that’s been hard for me. And sweet. I’ve learned much about what it means to live by faith alone, not my plans, order, and knowledge. It’s also been kind of like those moments when you lose a to-do list that had some 200 items on it. You’re forced to start the list with new eyes, realizing you didn’t really need to do all those things that have been adding weight to your shoulders, just cuz they’re on the list.
While some of the messiness has been good for us, most of the clutter that’s appeared has made life more difficult, distracting me and my family from following Jesus. It’s not that I feel like we’re falling away from Jesus–just that the daily junk obscures my view of him. This is about repenting of the foolishness of letting the worries of this life become the main thing.
Doing one of those complete overhauls, though, seems far too overwhelming and impossible. You know the switch-to-organic-exercise-get-enough-sleep-get-organized-drink-water-have-a-date-night-be-consistent-with-your-kids-pray-daily-journal-etc. overhaul that will bring overnight happiness? Soooo, I decided to try a 21-day approach instead. This comes from the fact that they say (before I die, I want to meet “they” and “experts”) it takes 21 days to form or break a habit. I think this number is probably as reliable as the number eight when it comes to how many glasses of water you should drink a day, but that’s the number I’m choosing nonetheless.
Every 21 days I’m giving myself three things to work on. This doesn’t mean I’ll let the rest of my life go to the junk yard (at least I don’t think I will), but there will be more emphasis on the three goals than some other things at the time. I’ll be posting my goals on here along with an update on how it went, mainly for accountability. And maybe it will help some of you, too.
I actually just finished my first 21 days last week, so I’ll be posting today about both the past 21 days and my new goals. Nothing has been life-changing here, but there has been a bit more peace in our home lately by God’s grace. Here were my first goals and some of the outcomes:
Grocery shop each Friday at Aldi: The thing that’s probably added to body and financial clutter the most this year has been eating out. I’m a couponer. I can feed our relatively large family for a very small amount. But when transitions started happening this year, couponing, and really shopping in general, took a big back seat. We’ve eaten out. A lot. And our bodies and budget show it. I haven’t gotten back into couponing much yet, but I wanted to start with simply making my weekly Aldi run for items I need from my menu. There’s no magic to Friday. It’s just the day that works best for us.
The result–we’ve eaten at home almost exclusively the last 21 days, I’ve lost a small amount of weight, and we’re enjoying more conversations around the table instead of in the van, our second dining room. It’s also been nice to see a bit more money in our account.
Get at least seven hours of sleep each night: I can be (notice I said “I can be” not “I am”) a disciplined person. I love hard exercise, I can control my eating habits for months at a time, I rise early, I keep a schedule. All of these require sacrifice. I DO NOT want to get in bed at a reasonable time each night. I’ve never had any discipline in this area. Seriously, how hard is it to just get in bed? For me, stupidly hard.
The result–I never realized I could get to 1:00 p.m. and not feel the need to crash. Who knew!? And a better rested Courtney is a calmer, kinder Courtney. I also realized my body requires closer to eight hours of sleep, so I started making those adjustments, too. More than anything, the Spirit revealed to me my idol of vegging each day. I realized I don’t, like I thought, stay up late to get things done or to spend time with Bill. Rather, I feel entitled to simply veg, whether that be in the form of watching TV, reading, or gossiping about others (openly confessing that is a ridiculous amount of my “quality” time with my husband–whole future post there).
Do one color group of laundry each day, start to finish: I have a few friends who enjoy doing laundry. Can we all agree these are my weird friends? A consistent saying in our house is “Mom, I don’t have any underwear!” This is usually followed by me telling them to wear the same underwear they had on all day yesterday while I scramble to get something washed. They MIGHT have on clean underwear by the end of the day, and they might just go through the same ritual the next morning…
The result–my kids have had clean underwear every morning for 21 days! Our house has seriously been so much more ordered from this alone, mainly because there aren’t clothes all over the place. Dressing in the morning is crazy faster for everyone because clothes are washed, folded, and where they are supposed to be. What are we going to do with all our free time?
Next “21 Day” Goals
Continue With Previous Goals
Drink eight glasses of water a day (*snicker based on above article): Bill picks on me all the time for getting through an entire meal without taking a single drink. I basically go through the day feeling constantly parched, but I rarely drink anything. I am a logical creature, eh? Half the time, though, when I’m feeling sluggish, not much gives me more energy than taking a big swig of water.
Organize something each Thursday: House clutter being addressed here. I can’t find anything, and this is producing many of the same results as the laundry problem above. The magic of Thursday is the same as the Friday Aldi magic. It’s simply the day it works best for us.
Prep all meals in the morning while the kids eat breakfast: This is something that’s been in the plans for a while, but not something I’ve ever consistently done. I have the most energy in the morning, but when cooking time rolls around in the evening, I’m done. Enter more eating out problems. When I’ve done as much as I can in the mornings, I’m more likely to simply throw something in the oven or toss the premeasured (and thawed!) ingredients in a pot to stir.