13 Habits + Rhythms That Make a Big Difference for Me:

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I’m such a creature of habit. Are you like that, too? I suspect that most of us are – it’s just human nature to gravitate towards what worked well for us last time!

While there are times I certainly enjoy diving into something new (usually for me it’s a fun new recipe to try), I’ve found that a good part of my emotional wellbeing – my general “settledness” – relies on peaceful, predictable routines in my daily life. Some of these rhythms have come and gone for me over the years, but as time has gone on, certain favorite habits have stuck because they are just that beneficial or enjoyable!

My hope is that this blog post either gives you ideas or encourages you to find those same special rhythms to incorporate into your day-to-day living. Here are the things that work for me:

Habits + Rhythms That Make a Big Difference For Me:

Reading before bed // Specifically, for me it is reading James Herriot before bed. 🙂 (I told you I’m a creature of habit!) If you haven’t heard of this author, James Herriot is the pen name of Jim Wight, who was a veterinary surgeon in England in the 1940s. Anything written by James Herriot is a favorite of mine. Bjorn gave me this boxed set of his books for Christmas one year, and I love rereading every book in the series! Herriot is so, so witty, he writes stunning descriptions of the scenery around him (some of the best I’ve ever read) and the way he describes the people he interacts with is both incredibly observant and touching, and hilarious! Plus, you learn a lot about what veterinary work was like back then. It’s just plain interesting to read!

Regardless of what I’m reading – though it tends to be James Herriot books because they help me wind down the best and get lost in another world the best – reading before shutting off my lamp and laying down to sleep is the best feeling. It is a wonderful way to force yourself to set the phone (or computer) aside, and reading is always the perfect rhythm to implement in your life if you feel the need to slow down. Even 5 minutes of reading in the evening can make a big difference in your wind-down routine.

Doing the dishes after every meal // We don’t have a dishwasher, so all of our dishes must be done by hand. Now that we have four people in our family, we’re constantly dirtying new dishes throughout the day! I’ve found that the best way to stay on top of them is to quickly do the dishes after every meal. Doing dishes right away is ideal, anyway, because they’re easiest to scrub clean then. By now, doing the dishes is a predictable, easy next step of our lunch or suppertime routine; our 2 1/2 year old Sophie even asks to help, so she’s learning some important life skills there, too!

(A little side note: unless I am utterly exhausted, I always make sure the kitchen is tidy and wiped down before the evening is over. There’s nothing worse than coming downstairs in the morning to a mess that must be managed – and there’s probably nothing better than starting your day stepping into a quiet, clean kitchen!)

Getting outside // This has made a big difference for me especially during this past summer, which was a stressful one for multiple reasons. Regardless of if we were playing outside in the backyard, or simply enjoying popsicles on the front lawn in the evenings, there was something perfectly soothing about getting outside. Some of my favorite days involved doing computer work while sitting on our swing and listening to the wind in the trees and the mourning doves in our yard. I’ve found that even a few minutes outdoors helped my mental health greatly, and gave me a more positive, big-picture perspective. There’s even an Instagram account called “1000 Hours Outside,” and they provide you with great challenges and inspiration (and printable charts to fill in, if you’re interested) for getting yourself and your children outdoors throughout the year.

I know it’s going to become more difficult (or less enjoyable) for us to be outside here soon, since we live in Minnesota where the winters get bitterly cold and snowy, but whenever possible I want to push myself to bundle up the kids and get some fresh air! But even cracking the window open on a more dreary day can be good for me – just taking time to breathe that fresh air and look outside for a while. Most days this summer I’ve been walking with the kids to the post office, and even that simple errand has been life-giving for us!

Meal planning + online grocery ordering // I like to shop at Hy-Vee, so I use my Hy-Vee Aisles account (either on my laptop or on the app) to do our family’s grocery shopping. I’ve never been one to despise grocery shopping, but I have to say that shopping online makes it so much more feasible and enjoyable! (Not to mention, it’s really useful if you’re like me and struggle to keep a mental total of your shopping trip in your head as you walk throughout the store.) Hy-Vee’s shoppers do a wonderful job shopping for these online orders. I like to mark in my preferences that I’m fine with them making substitutions if need be.

In addition to shopping online for groceries, meal planning is a routine that I think I will always follow over the years. I’ve done it for such a long time, and it really helps me grocery shop more thoughtfully and make sure things get used up from our fridge and freezer. I use my free account on Evernote to keep track of both the grocery list and the list of meals (with links to any online recipes) we’ll be going with that week. Do you like to meal plan as well? I’d love to hear what your favorite system is for mapping out your week’s meals!

Beautycounter skincare routine // I used and even sold Rodan + Fields skincare for a while, but once I stopped being a consultant with them, I found myself increasingly curious about Beautycounter – probably because I follow Espresso & Cream Blog on Instagram! I eventually signed up to receive a sample, and I was hooked! First of all, the products smell so, so good. And while I’m not a 100% natural living kind of person, I do like how they’re committed to clean beauty, and they have a long list of ingredients that they don’t allow in their products. But finally, I’ve found they just plain work so well! I have the Countertime Collection – I’ve been using anti-aging skincare products consistently for years now, and I’m a firm believer that it’s never to early to start working on keeping your skin looking young! And my skin feels so very clean, fresh, and healthy while using this regimen! The cleanser removes makeup better than anything I’ve used before, the toner works so well, and I could go on. I honestly feel like my skin looks and feels so much more healthy. Plus, even though it’s pricey, I’ve found that these products last a long time!

Prioritizing hydration // I used to do a poor job with hydration – actually, for most of my life, I was probably quite dehydrated! When I dealt with anxiety concerns in late 2018, I decided to focus on hydration as one of several ways to take care of my body better. And, it truly makes a big difference! It seems like a common sense routine, but to this day I still have to remind myself to hydrate well. One thing that helps me is making sure I always have a full water bottle near me, whether at bedtime, during a meal, or while working on the computer.

Another “trick” that gets me drinking more water is drinking it with something called True Lemon. It’s literally a crystallized little bit of fruit that comes in a little packet that you can add to drinks. It’s not like Crystal Light; it’s not sweetened or made to be a sugary or diet “drink” in itself – it’s just plain fruit! This was such a great discovery for me. They say that one packet of it is like squeezing one wedge of lemon into your drink! There are other flavors, too – True Lime, True Orange, and True Grapefruit, which, again, are just crystallized lime, orange, or grapefruit, so it’s like squeezing those wedges of fruit into your water! My favorites are the True Lime and True Grapefruit. If you’re looking to liven up your glasses of water during the day, I’d really recommend trying these True Lemon packets!

Taking my prenatal vitamins + Vitamin D // I’ve been very consistent over the past year about taking my vitamins, and I know it’s making a difference! I take prenatals whenever I’m pregnant or breastfeeding, which has included a large part of the past several years! But Vitamin D was a newer addition for me, back around 2018. My doctor suggested I get on a relatively strong dose of Vitamin D, and it has been good and important for me to do, especially over the darker, long winter months around here! I’m not a doctor, of course, so I recommend talking with your own physician, but being consistent in taking prenatals and also Vitamin D have been beneficial for me.

No computer work before bed // If I can help it, I like to keep away from the computer during my wind-down routine at night. I’m okay with letting myself work on the computer a bit in the evenings if need be, but I definitely love reading before bed instead of browsing and looking at a screen!

Showering at night // I used to be such a believer in showering first thing in the morning; however, as a mom, I’ve learned to find time for those things when I can! And I’ve come to really enjoy showering in the evenings because it’s so relaxing – it’s a great way to wind down, too. I actually hardly ever blow-dry my hair; I braid it back into one French braid when it’s still damp, and I let it dry overnight.

Keeping to-do lists in my Erin Condren notebook // In this stage of life, I like to create to-do lists for each day in a notebook. I have a beautiful personalized notebook from the Erin Condren brand – I highly recommend these, as they are such high quality paper! (You can sign up for an account and receive $10 off your first purchase using my referral link HERE.)

I follow a method similar to the one Blair Lamb shared on YouTube a while back. It works so well for me. I write my to-do list for the next day every evening at least, although I do like to plan several days out in advance if I can. Also, my favorite thin-tip marker pens that I use while writing my lists are these pens!

Starting the day with music // Even though my favorite Spotify playlist is called “Peaceful Evening,” it’s still a great one to start the day with. I like to use this portable Bluetooth speaker, so our music can travel around the house with us in the mornings. Music can be such a mood-lifter and day-brightener.

Toddler ready-to-rise clock // This is a relatively new development for us, but we’ve been benefiting from incorporating this into our family’s routine already! We finally got our 2 1/2 year old daughter a ready-to-rise clock, which is a clock that you can set to signal to your child that it is all right to get up for the day. Of course, we’ll still go to Sophie if she happens to need us during the night, but overall, I’d say that this clock has helped her to determine whether it’s really time to be up!

It typically takes Sophie until about 7:35-7:40 am every morning to notice that it’s glowing green, and it is helping her establish that sense of day and night. We set ours to glow green at 7:30 am every day. I love how our ready-to-rise clock also has a little smiling face or sleeping face, depending on if it’s day or nighttime!

Podcasts while driving // Where we live, it can take over half an hour to get to certain major towns for errands, and it’s nice to have something interesting to listen to as I drive. I don’t mind the longer drives, usually, but having a playlist of podcasts that I’m eager to listen to helps a lot! A few favorites of mine lately: Now That We’re a Family, Office Ladies (for fans of the show “The Office”), Grace and Intention, and Your Enneagram Coach.

I’m adding a couple other routines/rhythms here that I haven’t done as much this past summer, but am eager to get back into because of how beneficial they have been for me in the past.

First of all, a more in-depth study of the Bible // While I did read the Bible over the summer, I missed the deeper, more intentional study of it that comes with the CBS (Community Bible Study) program. I’m looking forward to the CBS year getting started up again soon! (This is an international program, and for people of all levels of Bible knowledge who just want to learn more, so definitely look into it in your area!)

Second, getting up before the kids in the morning // I did this so well back in maybe March and April, but for whatever reason, it didn’t happen much this past summer. I find I do a lot better (attitude-wise and even productivity-wise) when I get up before my kids – when I take the time to rise a little earlier, wash my face, do makeup, and get dressed before the family wakes up. It makes a big difference! I’m hoping I can get back into that routine again. I definitely am one of those people who needs about 8 hours of sleep every night, so I am glad I’ve been prioritizing sleep this summer. However, I think if I were to start going to bed a little earlier, I could make this routine happen again!

Now I’d love to hear from you! What is a routine (no matter how big or small) that you’ve implemented lately? What daily rhythms do you love?

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