A Day in My Life: Daily Routines

routine

Over the course of the past several months (about 5 months), I have worked my way into a daily routine that has helped me to thrive as a stay at home mom/homeschooling mom.  It also has helped me tremendously with my bipolar and anxiety.  One of the things that my doctor told me is that someone with bipolar needs routine.  We need to go to bed and wake up about the same time every day.   We need a daily routine that keeps us moving even on our worse days.  And we need to do our best to not take naps during the day because we need to sleep at night :-).  I have learned so much about myself these past 5 months, and I’m so grateful.

The biggest thing I’ve learned about this is that routine is self care for me.  Without it, I cannot function fully.  I wrote a post about it several months ago: Self Care for Me Looks Completely Different than I Thought it Would Look.

This is what a day in my life looks like.  Every day, I get up and spend time in Bible study/prayer while drinking my coffee.  The kids and I gather up dirty clothes and put them in the washer.  I take a shower while the kids do their chores and get ready for the day.  I make my bed.  I make a quick breakfast and we eat (or we eat something I made previously).  Then, we do school.  Somewhere in there, I move the clothes over to the dryer.  After school, I fold that load of laundry and we all put it away.  That’s the laundry for the day.  I make sure to always keep dirty dishes in the dishwasher so we don’t have dirty dishes in the sink.  Once they are clean, Karis empties the dishwasher.  I do one weekly chore per day such as dusting, floors, meal planning/budgeting/paying bills, washing sheets/towels, “town day,” and bathrooms (and floors again).  Sunday is our rest day.  The kids clean their room at least once a week, but I don’t worry so much about the state of their rooms.  Mostly I just want them to keep their floors pretty clear and beds made.  We keep the living area picked up most of the time.  If the kids get something out, they put it back.

We eat lunch at noon (because either we eat in the dining hall here at camp or we eat when Robert comes home for lunch).  After lunch, we go for an hour long hike.  We have several trails here so I try to vary it so the kids don’t get too bored.  They don’t love hiking, but I need it (and I won’t go early in the morning because it’s too dark).  I count it as “PE” (even though they do play outside or ride their bikes for hours).

After our hike, the kids are free to play outside for the rest of the day.  Somewhere in there I let Karis and Levi have some electronic time (Ethan could care less about electronics).  Some days it’s more than others… just depends on the day.

I struggle with what to do with this time.  Usually by this point the house is clean and the laundry is caught up, so I don’t know what to do with myself!  Sometimes I bake.  Sometimes I read.  Sometimes I blog or just spend time on my computer.  I don’t really have any hobbies (besides blogging), so some days I end up bored.  Everyone keeps telling me to pick up a new hobby.  The idea of anything crafty stresses me out.  I’ve thought about sewing, crocheting, knitting, etc… and I get anxious just thinking about it.  So crafty is out.  We can’t garden here because we live on a hill of rocks.  I am open to suggestions!

Honestly, because of this, I wish I could handle an at home job… but I can’t handle working (which I’ve written about many times).

When my kiddos were littles, I never thought there would be a day in which my house was clean/laundry caught up and I’m bored.

Anyway, I have been asked many times how I keep my house clean, keep caught up on laundry, and homeschool.  I just thought I’d give you a peek into our day!  I can’t say that every day runs smoothly, but more days than not with this daily routine.  I’m praying that I stay mentally healthy (with this great medication that I’m on!).  I’m assuming things won’t run as smoothly if I dip back into depression.  For now, I am grateful for the good days and just take one day at a time!

Figuring Things Out

IMG_3390

I’ve been working hard on making homeschooling an awesome experience.  I found the “perfect” curriculum after hours and hours of researching.  I created a schedule.  I have prepped in advance.  We have a chore chart.  I have a daily routine for myself (which has worked wonders, by the way).

I started noticing myself getting overwhelmed pretty quickly.  I was obsessing about the fact that the spelling curriculum I bought was so teacher intensive, and I didn’t know how I would make it work with three kids (on top of teacher intensive reading and math, which I feel need to be teacher intensive).  I was literally thinking about this constantly while on VACATION.  Robert told me to choose something else, less teacher intensive because it has to be a good fit for all of us.  But, I struggled with that.  I mean, the spelling curriculum has amazing reviews and is supposed to be one of the best.  I had a hard time letting that go.  I finally bit the bullet and ordered an easier, cheaper spelling curriculum and have the one I had bought all boxed up, ready to return.  I have to do what works for all of us, including me.

I also have been worried about sticking to a schedule.  I’ve been talking with some other homeschooling moms and I realized something.  I have been in a classroom in one way or another for 18 years!  Since my junior year in high school.  I have the classroom way of doing things engrained in my mind… I have been trying to bring the classroom into my homeschool.  It doesn’t work that way!

I’ve heard this is pretty normal for any homeschool mom, and especially common for moms who used to be teachers.

After reading Teaching from Rest this past week, I’ve decided that I need to take a step back, look at what will work for OUR family, remember who I am, and decide what my kids need to thrive.  I feel much better today about everything.

Starting Monday, I am going to focus more on routine than on a schedule (like I did when it was just Karis at home).  I’ve noticed lately that my kids have been sleeping later, and I’m going to take advantage of that!  I’m going to try to relax and go with the flow.  We will still get through everything we need to, and I’ll have less stressed out kiddos in the process.

I also planned to add in morning time (poetry, read-aloud, Bible/prayer, and calendar for the boys), then spelling, then history, then science, then art/music one week/two weeks at a time.  I have since decided to just stick with morning time, reading, writing, and math for now.  I need to keep it simple until we are in a good, solid routine before making things more complicated.

I’m looking forward to the time when I have some homeschooling behind me and feel more comfortable with how I am doing things.  I know it’ll come with time… I just need to relax in the meantime :-).

What is “Real Food?”

nutrition

***I wrote this YEARS ago.  It was on my old blog.  I decided to copy/paste it here (with a few added notes) as a reminder to myself and just to share some information that I once spent hours researching.

There is so much debate as to what “REAL FOOD” means.  For years, this would frustrate me because I never knew what to believe or follow.  I have done much research over the years, and I have come to the conclusion that real/whole food means that the food hasn’t been processed or refined. It is a food that is in its original form. The best way to eat is to cook from scratch using whole foods.

Whole grains
Grains are one of the most widely controversial foods right now.  There is much debate about whether or not your body needs grains, whether you should cut them out completely, eat whole grains only, or eat some… I have come to the conclusion that it’s just up to you.  How do you feel your best?  Most people can and should eat whole grains, some can’t.

Whole grains contain fiber, iron, protein, calcium, essential carbohydrates, and minerals.

This includes whole grain breads (I either make/use sprouted or whole wheat), whole grain pasta, brown rice, oats (steel cut and rolled), quinoa, brown rice, etc.

Fruits and Vegetables
You need at least 4-6 servings per day, heavy on the vegetables because they do not contain sugar.

Fruits and veggies give your body countless vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, fiber, carbohydrates, and other nutrients. Organic is best because they are not sprayed with pesticides and herbicides.

Proteins
Protein is necessary for developing the right amount of blood cells, and it gives you more energy! It is important to get protein from a variety of sources including:

  • Pastured/grass-fed meats, poultry, and eggs (high in iron, complete protein and fat, and rich in minerals)
  • Nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews, etc)
  • Seeds (flax, sunflower, pumpkin)
  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc)
  • Whole grains (wheat, spelt, quinoa, oats, etc)
  • Sprouts
  • Nutritional yeast (this can be found in health food stores; we sprinkle it on fresh, stove-popped popcorn)
  • Beans and lentils
  • Wild caught fish

Fats
You NEED healthy fats. Fats provide energy, and aid in the absorption of calcium and Vitamin A.  Good sources are avocadoes, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil (research shows that even though this has saturated fat in it, there are many nutrients in it that counter act the saturated fat; we use it in some things such as baked oatmeal, muffins, etc), butter (same as coconut oil), eggs, meat, and milk. Through research, I have learned that canola oil isn’t good for you as some think.  It is highly processed and genetically engineered!  Here are some reasons why we use the fats that we use:

  • Coconut oil
    • According to  Mercola, coconut oil is the “smartest oil you can use.” Benefits are: “promoting heart health, promoting weight loss when and if you need it, supporting your immune system health, supporting healthy metabolism, providing you with an immediate energy source, helping to keep your skin healthy and youthful looking, supporting the proper functioning of your thyroid gland.”
    • Food Matters considers this one of their Superfoods. This is straight from their website: “Coconut oil’s saturated fat is of the medium-chain fatty acid variety, which are digested more easily and utilized differently by the body than other saturated fats… the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil are sent directly to the liver where they are immediately converted into energy. Coconut oil will actually speed up metabolism so your body will burn more calories in a day which will contribute to weight loss. Coconut oil supports healthy metabolic function and is a revered anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal agent. Pacific islanders deem coconut oil to be the cure-all gift from nature for all illness.”
    • The Weston A. Price has a study on coconut oilOrganic facts says that coconut oil has many benefits including: hair care, stress relief, skin care, premature aging, heart disease, weight loss, pancreas (treats pancreatitis), digestion, immunity, healing, infections, liver, kidney, diabetes, bones, dental care, HIV, cancer. Go to their website to see the explanations of all these benefits.
    • The list could go on and on for all the research that shows coconut oil to be one of the best.
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil- Made from the skin of olives.
    • Because it’s made from the skin and not seeds, it requires less pressure and lower heat during the pressing process; this means that the nutrients are contained in the oil.
    • This is high in oleic acid and in linoleic acid.
    • It is slow to spoil.
    • Contains 90% unsaturated fats.
    • This oil contains omega 3 and omega 6, but not a high source of it (information from askdrsears.com).
  • Butter-
    • According to the Weston A Price Foundation, butter contains Vitamins A, D, and E.
    • It contains lecithin, iodine, and selenium.
    • It contains short and medium chain fatty acids which have strong anti-tumor affects.
    • It contains the minerals manganese, chromium, zinc, copper, and selenium.
    • Butter provides the perfect balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids (this is the best in grass fed butter)
    • It protects against heart disease, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, thyroid health, digestion, weight, etc.

 Water
A lot of water (at LEAST 8 cups a day) is necessary. Naturally decaffeinated and herbal teas are included in this category. I also drink La Croix water!  It’s sparkling flavored water.  Yum.

 

Organic and Why It’s Important

I don’t always have money in my budget for organic everything, so I pick and choose.

Organic foods are not sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. Pesticides and herbicides can alter hormones, can disrupt immune systems, and can cause certain types of cancer (breast, uterine, prostate cancer, and leukemia). See “external toxins” for more detailed information on what pesticides and herbicides can do. Organic meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not contain hormones, antibiotics, steroids, or pesticides. Meats, poultry, milk, eggs, etc are the highest on the list to buy organic, if possible.

  • Local harvest is a great resource for finding CSA’s, Farmer’s markets, Farms, etc that sell organic foods in your area.
  • A great resource to find out more information on organic foods and why they are important is Organic Consumers.

Pastured animals and eggs

I can’t always afford grass-fed meats, but I always buy cage free eggs.

Eating grass-fed/pastured animals and eggs is more important to me, even, than organic.

Pastured means that the animals are not confined and are able to graze the pasture. Not only are the animals able to eat grass, they are able to walk around, which means they exercise. Because of this, the meat is lower in fat.

The benefits of grass-fed vs. grain fed are that pastured animals (beef, pork, chickens, etc) contain more omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, and Vitamin A, beta carotene, lecithin, and are lower in fat. Pastured animals and eggs contain no hormones, antibiotics, or steroids. And, most of the time, they don’t contain pesticides.

A great resource for finding grass fed meats, poultry, and eggs is Eat Wild. Not only will you get a lot of information, you can search for local farmers that sell pastured meat, poultry, and eggs.

Real Foods has some more information on why to eat pastured animals and eggs.

Sweeteners that we use (in moderation)

  • Sucanat (SUgar Cane NATural)- evaporated cane juice.  Keeps all of the original nutrients intact because it is just evaporated… not refined or processed at all.  Another brand/type is called Rapadura.  It’s basically the same thing.
  • Raw, unfiltered, unheated, local honey
  • Molasses
  • Pure Maple
  • Stevia (a natural, zero calorie sweetener) 
  • Erythritol (I use Swerve… mostly in my tea… it’s a sugar alcohol)

Foods, drinks, other things to limit/avoid

  • Food coloring
  • Artificial flavors and sweeteners
  • Caffeine- Some is okay, but excess can cause many problems.  Also, if you drink this, you need to drink more water to counter act it. Caffeine is a diuretic. It depletes your body of necessary water and nutrients.
  • Nitrates- these are found in lunch meats, hot dogs, and bacon that is not specially made nitrate-free.
  • Refined sugars and flours- these can cause diabetes and can alter brain chemistry. They do nothing good for you.
  • Hydrogenated oils (“trans fat”)- this raises the bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol. This oil is found in many packaged foods and commercially fried foods.
  • High fructose corn syrup- found in almost every canned, packaged product. Look at labels!!
  • Alcohol (mainly for me because I’m an alcoholic!), cigarettes, drugs

Back to the Basics

IMG_3248

For years “natural living” was my way of life, and I made sure everyone knew it.  I was obsessed with that way of living.  It was all I thought about, all I talked about.  My friends all saw me as the “crunchy mama” because of the way I ate, my home-births, baby-wearing, cloth diapering, natural products, natural supplements, essential oils, etc.  In fact, my mom actually called me “Earth mama” (whatever that means haha).  It was my identity.

Last year, I decided it was time to shed that as my identity.  I no longer wanted to be known as the “crunchy mama.”  I wanted to be known for who I was, and that wasn’t actually who I wanted to be anymore.  I needed freedom.

Over this past year (+) I have been running far, far away from that title and identity.  I have gone completely the other direction, and in some ways I’m thankful.  I have rid myself of some unnecessary stress in the process.  I have been focusing mostly on my mental health, and natural living just didn’t fit in there in the midst of it all (some people say that natural living would help with my mental health and I believe that can be true, but with the extent of my mental illness, I believe it would only make a dent).

In the process of shedding my “crunchy mama” image, I have picked up some bad habits.  Some of those include “Little” and “Debbie” in the title.  Along with “Coke” and “Zero.”  I mean, I have always struggled with Coke Zero, but I have hit an all time high with how much I drink.  I buy 24 packs and go through them quickly.  It’s bad.

I have also gained about 25 pounds this past year and a half.  Some of that is because of my medicine.  But I do believe some of that is the fact that my eating habits are not near what they should be.

Today (after eating my processed/frozen crap for lunch), I decided that I need to make a change. I know HOW I should be eating; I’m just not doing it.  In fact, most of the foods that I should be eating are in my refrigerator and/or pantry.

My goal these next few days is to take a hard look at what I have been eating, and what I can do to replace the junk with healthy foods (for my family and myself).  I’m not planning to diet, but to just be healthy (will still allow balance for those times that it’s not possible to eat healthy).  Also, I have been spending WAY too much at Walmart, and I plan to switch over to HEB and try to reduce our grocery budget while still eating healthy.  I spend a LOT on junk that isn’t necessary, so I think it’s very possible to do.

Robert and I are going to Big Bend next week, then I plan to come back from that trip eating better and continuing the hiking that I have been doing (though this week we haven’t because of bad weather!).  The kids and I will hike every afternoon as our “PE.”  I am hoping that I am not so exhausted at the end of every day, I’m hoping to at least reduce the amount of Coke Zero that I drink, and I’m hoping to make treats just that… treats, not a daily thing.  I will get back to baking/making foods homemade again.  I love baking, why not use it for healthy foods?!  We have so much healthy food in our pantry!  A huge bag of steel cut oats, rolled oats, whole wheat flour, sucanat (a non-processed sweetener), raw honey, lots of coconut oil, etc.  I’m already equipped!  Now to just add to that the fresh, whole foods, and I’m all set!

Balance is a good and important thing.  But I haven’t been eating balanced.  I’ve just been eating badly.  And I feel worn out, exhausted, and I’m over weight.  I just want my health back.

Going back to the basics!