Struggling to get things done in Empty Nest? Create daily routines and schedules that will motivate and challenge you-and stick to them!
School supplies are a bit of an obsession with me. When my kids were in grade school, some genius came up with the idea of ordering a bundled package of everything on the teachers’ list. I toyed with this efficient option.
After all, my kids would simply pick up the tidy box on the first day of school. This solution would eliminate the frustration of combing picked-over rows of plastic pencil boxes at the discount store.
But where’s the fun in that?
I relished “hitting the trenches” with all the other parents. Each brightly colored, spiral notebook held the promise of a brand new school year with all its challenges and successes.
These tedious shopping trips were also an excuse to spend time with my kids. They were a right of passage signaling the end of summer. A chance to have at least one conversation before the crazy started.
This is What Happens
If you’ve carted your high school graduate off to their newest destination, you’ve done “back to school” in epic proportions. Sure you’ve couponed your way through Bed, Bath, and Beyond with the best of them, but what about your back to school daily routines and schedules?
Once the kids are settled, have you given any attention to the changes in your schedule or the supplies that might make planning a little more fun?
Saying goodbye to young adult children is emotionally draining. For many of us it’s a grieving process. And grieving takes a lot of energy. After the car is unpacked and you’ve recovered from the frantic pace of the last few weeks, you may feel all kinds of emotion.
Some parents do a happy dance, feeling excited and relieved to finally have a break. Others struggle with complete loss and sadness. Most of us can vacillate from one extreme to the other in a matter of hours.
Changes in Your Day
Once we launched our kids, I noticed a dramatic change in my daily routines and schedules. Even if you’re not quite in Empty Nest, but still have one or more children at home, you’ll probably have a hole in your calendar the size of your missing child.
For us, weekends were suddenly free. No more driving a SUV full of pungent athletes all over the state. My morning routine was startlingly off-kilter without scattered toast crumbs and half finished coffee mugs dotting my kitchen countertops.
I found myself at a loss. Where to start creating new daily routines and schedules? If you’re spinning in circles with a new Empty Nest routine, here’s help.
Seize Your Empty Nest Routine
According to Elizabeth Larkin, here are some signs you need scheduling help:
- Misplacing commonly used items, like car keys or glasses
- Shopping more frequently than you would like
- Easily frustrated by mundane tasks
- Buying more organizers than you could possibly use
- Feeling a sense of overwhelm
If any (or all) of these signs describe you, start by printing My Weekly Schedule, and follow the steps below.
My Weekly Schedule printable is a tool to help you prioritize and bring order to your week. Use it with a 12-month calendar to break goals and activities into bite-size pieces.
On the back of My Weekly Schedule, list every task that comes to mind. Don’t take the time to organize your thoughts, just get them on paper and out of your head.
From your master list, choose 3 items in each category: must, should, and maybe.
Choosing just three priorities for each list forces you to simplify and think through your tasks for the week. Minimizing this way will give you focus, but also reduce an unrealistic task list into much more doable chunks.
Keep fun and health goals easy to accomplish. Fun could be something as simple as taking a walk. If you’re not sure what’s fun for you, start with a $5 Friday.
Health goals needn’t be lofty. Make these extremely attainable.
- drink one glass of water each morning
- stop eating after 8 pm
- plan a menu
- ask a friend to walk
Leave the Shopping List blank to fill in during the week, or keep this area for staple items you need regularly.
Use the “Don’t Forget” section for anything from birthday reminders to a personal mantra or scripture you choose as your theme for the week.
Ben Franklin’s daily routine included asking the question: “What good shall I do this day?” each morning and “What good have I done today?” every evening.
Plagued with thoughts about work tasks while you’re doing other things? Use this space as a “mind dump”. The “Work” column can also be a catchall for listing tasks like: books to read, errands, etc.
Once you’ve filled in each space, use the weekly chart on the right column to plan which days you’ll complete each of these tasks.
Routines of the Rich and Famous
Avoid copying someone else’s winning routine or pressuring yourself to work against your natural rhythms.
- Winston Churchill famously conducted his business from bed while he ate breakfast and read the paper until around 11:00 am each day.
- Leo Babauta (Zen habits) wakes two hours before his family and spends time eating breakfast, reading and exercising.
- Evan Williams (Blogger founder) leaves his office to exercise in the middle of each workday.
- Jack Dorsey (Twitter founder) makes scheduling fun by choosing a theme for each day of the week, making sure to prioritize and schedule activities accordingly.
Give yourself a month of trial and error to tweak your daily routines and schedules. Discover which tasks you find easier in the morning and those you can “squeeze in” at the end of the day.
If you’re looking for more help organizing your daily routines and schedules, I’ve made a list of 5 of my favorite planners and websites:
The Happy Planner
My favorite creative, fun planner with a strong crafty vibe. The Happy Planner website has videos and planner decorating ideas that will keep your inner child satisfied.
The Spruce is a clearinghouse of organization and planning ideas for your home. You’ll find articles and beautiful photos sure to motivate you to stay on track.
Living Well Planner
Ruth Soukup’s planner bridges the gap between work and home life with a proven system to simplify and crush your goals. This planner price comes with access to online support and instruction on getting started.
The High Performance Planner
A motivational speech in a planner! This one-of-a-kind approach has lots of room for guided reflections and goal inventories.
Pretty Simple Planners
Basic, inexpensive, and adorable-this planner is a great choice for the no-nonsense buyer.
I’ll probably never outgrow my love for highlighters, sticky notes and spiral notebooks. Even though my days of hunting down the perfect school supply combo have come to an end, thank goodness I’ve discovered some grown up options that will make my kids jealous!