One of the most important lessons I have learned as a mother is that time is my most valuable blessing, & the thing I can never have enough of
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Can we chat a second about the value of time? I feel like it’s something we all totally get in theory, our time is valuable, yada yada yada. But, do you actually live like you really get that? Like do you prioritize where to put your time and energy? Make conscious decisions about what to let go of?
Time Freedom through the Automation of Day to Day Tasks
For me, the first thing that I let go of was the constant battle to keep milk in the house. I don’t mean I actually gave up having milk in the house, but rather the constant struggle to do so. Does anyone else have struggles around this? (please tell me it’s not just me!)
Between the constant near-daily calls to see if I needed to stop on the way home for milk, calls to my husband to have him get some on his way home, last-minute or late night runs to the store to get some, and arguments over someone not telling someone that they used the last of the milk, milk was becoming a point of contention in our house and frankly a ridiculous place to put my time and energy. I mean, it even sounds unnecessary and ridiculous, doesn’t it?! Add in the layer of trying to make sure it was reasonably affordable organic milk we had on hand…it was just plain stupid.
My first delve into automation was to solve this problem and take back the moments of my life lost to this insane conversation. I wasn’t consciously choosing to automate my life, but I never wanted to talk about milk again. I found a local organic creamery, I ordered a super cute stainless steel milk box for the porch, and I put in our first order. Now, on Friday mornings my oldest puts the empty glass bottles back in the porch box on her way to school, and shortly after they are retrieved by the milk truck when they drop off a supply of milk for the following week.
Not only did the whole milk conversation disappear from my life, but countless hours of my time were saved, our milk tastes way better, and as an added bonus, we have gotten to return to a simpler time when the milk truck pulls up in front of your house and your milk is dropped off in glass bottles that are returned and reused. We are also supporting a local family-run farm that is kind to their animals. I couldn’t be happier with this experience and I can’t imagine a time when I would ever stop this process. Next step: ordering an organic Friday night dinner and Saturday morning baking item from the same creamery!
People will ask me if this is reasonably affordable. Well, honestly, at first I wondered the same. In reality, as much as I would love to do all organic all of the time, it just isn’t always feasible. I have some general rules I follow when figuring out where to spend the extra money on organic, but I can tell you, milk is on that list. Delivery wasn’t a whole lot more per liter than it was to purchase at the store, I’m not spending gas money every couple of days taking extra trips to the store, it is a daily staple in our lives, our recycling has been reduced, and countless hours saved, so for me, yes, it was worth it.
Beautiful fresh organic milk showing up at my door every Friday morning taught me something that was bigger than expected. It taught me that I could actually very easily take action on small concrete things in a way that I could take back what is so important, my time. Once I opened the door to automation I couldn’t help but step through it. Slowly I started to open more doors, until I started to feel a sense of time freedom that I hadn’t had in a long time.
Find your own local creamery and get your milk delivered. You will thank me. Seriously. Our local creamery offers organic milk, which is perfect for us because milk is one of the things in our home that I prefer to be organic. There are, however, a lot of milk delivery options out there that offer non-organic options. Milk delivery is not hard to find, especially if you live in or are closer to an urban area. Just type milk delivery and your city into google and see what you find!
Create a monthly meal plan, and rotate through it each month (or do a two month one if you have a lot of family favourites!). Stop putting time and energy into this every week, or every day. Having a monthly meal plan of your family favourites allows you to quickly and easily organize monthly or weekly grocery lists, which allows for further automation! It my seem like some work up front, but this pays off huge in terms of the time you gain back. We still love to try new meals, so we do have “new meal” nights on our monthly calendar.
Find yourself a butcher you trust, and order a monthly meat package. This is particularly easy if you are using a monthly meal plan! We have a couple of local butchers that have excellent meat packages, but there are also a lot of meat subscription boxes out there (check out butcherbox.com or butcherbox.ca) that offer high quality meats, delivered right to your door! While we go organic if possible, if we can’t do organic we are personally looking for grass-fed, free-range meats.
One of my favourite ways to get farm-fresh organic produce is to participate in a farm co-op. Most programs are set up that you pay for a “share” of crops, which typically provides you with a monthly or weekly seasonal produce box. This is so great, both for filling in a lot of the produce on our grocery lists, but also to bring new vegetables into our home that we wouldn’t typically buy. We can all be creatures of habit, so I love that our produce box brings new foods to try into our home. We are so lucky to have an organic produce farm just down the road, but co-ops are widespread. Some even allow you to pick out fruits and vegetables with “credits” at their local market stands!
Amazon subscriptions can be so incredibly helpful for bulk grocery items, but also for things like diapers. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had to do a last minute run to a local drugstore to grab overpriced nighttime diapers. Amazon subscriptions have completely solved this problem for me! No more overpriced diapers from wherever I can grab them because it is a last minute scramble!
I have to be honest. I have been ranting about Instacart like a lunatic for months now. It has surpassed my excitement over my milk by leaps and bounds! Instacart has simplified by life sooo much. We started using Instacart about four months ago, and I will NEVER go back. In those four months I have ordered 36 times, and according to the app saved nearly 50 hours of time. Now to be honest, that 50 hours would be a VERY conservative estimate. While some of those were small grocery shops, a lot of them were large orders, and would certainly take a good deal of time in the store. Factor in the level of distraction that can happen and the driving to and from the store, I would probably say I have saved closer to 75 hours.
Instacart has been the single most valuable tool for me in taking back my time.
Wash & Prep Produce
Every Sunday when my groceries have arrived I wash and prep that weeks produce. This makes a world of a difference for me. It gets meals made in an efficient way, but it also saves time doing dishes and a whole lot of mental energy. Check out my recipe for produce wash!
Cleaning supplies that I use regularly come in the mail. This is easy because I am all about green cleaning and no longer use any cleaners with toxins in our home. It has been a bit of a process to switch over, but we now 100% use essential oils, DIY cleaners and Norwex in our home. This has reduced allergies, asthma symptoms and migraines, so is incredibly worthwhile for us. However, I still don’t want to spend a lot of my time shopping or making products.
I use doTERRA’s On Guard laundry detergent for laundry and On Guard cleaner concentrate for the majority of my cleaning. I also use a lot of essential oils for specific cleaning purposes around the house. Given I have replaced so many items in our home with doTERRA’s oils and products, I use their rewards program to receive my monthly order in the mail consistently, and to utilize points for freebies. There is no more thinking about what I need around the house. It just shows up. Best. thing. ever.
hygiene & skin care products
Hygiene and skin care products are on complete automation in our world. We use a lot of doTERRA’s products, from shampoo and conditioner, to skin care and bubble bath. Our deodorants show up regularly thanks to Native Deodorant. My husband’s razors show up thanks to the Dollar Shave Club. These are such simple things but this kind of automation takes the thought process out of things works so well for our family.
This has become one of our favourite afternoons together. I hate being out of things and scrambling at the last minute. It leaves me feeling drained when things feel chaotic.
Once a month, usually the first Sunday of the month, it’s on our calendar to do DIYs. On this day I do the following:
- top up foaming hand washes
- fill cleaning spray bottles
- make dishwasher tabs
- refill or make new soft scrubs for cleaning
- make shower melts, bath salts and bombs
- top up rollers (our growing pains roller has been emptying quickly lately!)
- scan the calendar for any upcoming gift giving occasions and make any DIY gifts (teacher gifts, grandparents birthdays, holidays, etc.)
We do this together for a few reasons, but mostly because it gets it done quickly (usually within an hour or less unless there are lots of gifts to do) and because it instills a sense of responsibility in my kids. It is also important to me that they learn the importance of a green lifestyle and toxin free choices. This is also the day our inner scientists come alive and the kids get to do some experimenting. They often ask to invite friends over to help make our cleaners, which I love!
This is an area that I have just recently put on auto pilot. We have loved having a fun new activity show up each month. It has also saved me from having to try and find new creative ideas, shopping, and trying to ensure that activities meet everyone’s needs. Some of the options out there even include more than one activity. I love these boxes and spread the activities out throughout the month.