What to Do When You Have No Energy – Systems for the Home [Episode 112]


Click below to hear about systems for the home: 


With the demands of teaching, we often come home with no energy but are faced with the demands of our home life as well. And just like we have routines put in place to make things easier at school, we can do the same when we’re at home. So, in today’s episode, I’m sharing my best systems for the home that will help you maximize your energy from the day.

Each of the systems for the home that I share helps you manage the daily tasks of running a home, how to build in more time for yourself, and ways to relax and boundaries for a better mindset. Even though each of the five systems might not work for everyone, I encourage you to take what serves you, particularly depending on where you are in your season of life.

I know this is a deviation from the normal topics we discuss on this podcast, but I believe it’s something that’s going to help you optimize your time at home. So, if you didn’t have enough time to recharge or get that energy boost over break like you had wished, implementing these systems for the home (and systems for school in next week’s episode) will help transform your life! 

Topics Discussed:

  • Five systems to maximize your energy at home
  • The importance of everyone contributing and finding time for yourself
  • How these systems help you optimize your time at home
  • The technology boundaries that need to be set to give your mind a rest

Resources Mentioned:

Related Episodes and Blog Posts:

Connect with Rebecca:

More about Secondary Science Simplified: 

Secondary Science Simplified is a podcast specifically for high school science teachers that will help you to engage your students AND simplify your life as a secondary science educator. Each week Rebecca, from It’s Not Rocket Science, and her guests will share practical and easy-to-implement strategies for decreasing your workload so that you can stop working overtime and start focusing your energy doing what you love – actually teaching!

Teaching doesn’t have to be rocket science, and you’ll learn exactly what you need to do to simplify your secondary science teaching life so that you can enjoy your life outside of school even more. Head to itsnotrocketscienceclassroom.com/challenge to grab your FREE Classroom Reset Challenge.

Rebecca 0:00
I don’t know about you, but my kids are back in school today after a much needed two weeks off. But if your schedule is anything like ours, and if your time off looked anything like my families, it just was not enough time. You know, yes, we got to have our holidays. And maybe there were a few mornings where we didn’t set the alarm, even though your kids might be your alarm like mine, but it just was not enough time to truly recharge. And maybe now you’re back to school and another semester and you do not have the energy boost or refresh that you were counting on this time off providing. So that is where you are this week’s episode. And really next week’s is for you. I’m going to be talking today about a few of my best systems for the home, just to help you when you’re getting home at the end of a long work day, and you have literally no energy, but you still have all the responsibilities of your life outside of school. So without further ado, let’s dive in. This is secondary science simplified a podcast for secondary science teachers who want to engage their students and simplify their lives. I’m Rebecca joiner from it’s not rocket science. As a high school science teacher turned curriculum writer, I am passionate about helping other science teachers love their jobs, serve their students, and do it all in only 40 hours a week. Are you ready to rock the time spent in your classroom and actually have a life outside of it? You are in the right place teacher friend, let’s get to today’s episode.

Rebecca 1:46
I’m really excited to talk about home systems with you. Because I do feel like my home is something I have had to optimize, if you will, over the years, just to be able to balance all of the different hats I have been wearing in these last few years. And in this season. Like yes, I am the CEO and founder of it’s not rocket science. I always say yes, this is my full time job. But also being a stay at home mom is technically my full time job. I am our house manager, I am our default parent, my husband does work 40 hours a week outside of the home, I work in the home. So anything that’s going to revolve around the house, it still kind of defaults to me, because I’m the one here, my oldest is in kindergarten, but my younger two, just go to a little morning preschool three mornings a week. So I very much run this business part time, you know, during nap times that kind of thing. So I do kind of still see myself as a stay at home mom by while still trying to scavenge 1520 hours a week to do it’s not rocket science and to do this podcast that he loves so so much. So I just feel like in order to do that, I’ve had to be really, really strategic about how I do things in my house and how I run my home. And so I’m really, really excited to share these things with you. I know it’s kind of, you know, a derivation from our normal talk picks on the secondary science of a five podcast. But I really hope that it does help you. But before I kind of share some of my best systems, I do need to preface this because every one of you listening like each one of us, we’re all in such different seasons, what is helpful for a childless 23 year old listening to this, versus a 33 year old with three little ones at home versus a 43 year old with big kids and all of the extra curricular hubbub that comes with having big kids like, those are just three examples. And they are so different. And that’s just, I mean, there’s so much in between as well, you know, so I know that even getting started with this, I cannot speak to every person listening in every season because you’re also different. And even I’m thinking about myself, like what was hard for me. And maybe what I needed to optimize two years ago is very different from what’s hard for me now and what I need to optimize now in my life. So first and foremost, I just want to say, if you haven’t listened to last week’s episode, which is episode 111, you need to do that first. It is all about priorities and boundaries for the new year. But a really key part of that episode is naming and identifying your current season and thinking about your priorities and boundaries for the new year with in your current season. And I really think you need to be aware of where you are right now, before you dive into this episode. Okay. And then the second thing I kind of want to preface is, I hope as you listen to these ideas, you take what serves you and you just leave what doesn’t. Okay. I think sometimes I can personally fall into the habit of listening to someone’s recommendations and what works for them. And all I’m thinking about is the rebuttal of like, Oh, well that one worked for me. because and I’m just constantly trying to justify why, why it won’t work for me. And I just want to encourage you, just like I’m trying to, like work in myself, just to listen and maybe get some ideas. And instead of thinking how it won’t work, maybe think, Oh, I wonder how I can maybe tweak this idea to make it work well for me and my family, or you know, whoever is close to you in your life. Because you’re I mean, I’m very aware, it’s highly unlikely that every single thing I share is going to all be helpful for even one of you. But I hope that some of it is maybe one of the five things I share is and it just gives you maybe some ideas and inspires you for how you can maximize the very little energy you may be coming home with at the end of the workday. Okay, so let’s dive right in. The first system I want to share is, I just think it’s so important and it has helped me so much to have a set day of my week, where I meal plan, and grocery shop. Again, for me, I personally meal plan on Thursdays at some point on Thursday, it’s like on my running weekly to do list every Thursday meal plan. And every friday i grocery shop, I have fallen on these days, because personally, I like to go into the weekend when we’re home with a full fridge. And also I’m typically the most tired on Thursday. And that tends to be when our fridge is the least full. And so I’m most likely to end up defaulting to take out on Thursday. And it kind of works out well because I’m really tired. I don’t have any food in the fridge typically. And so takeout falls nicely on that day. And then Friday, I can kind of like, give myself a little if I need because I’m so close to the weekend to do the grocery shopping, get that painful task done. And then we go into this weekend being home and we just have like, all the food. I love it. That’s what works for me. There’s no rules here. You can pick any day you want. But I do think picking a day really helps. Because if you’re anything like me, I just like have so many memories of like being at my desk, it’s 445, five o’clock. I’m like we don’t have anything for dinner. I’m having to decide like, can I convince my husband to just eat canned tomato soup and grilled cheeses when we get home? Or should I do what I said I was gonna do and go to the grocery store and get a rotisserie chicken or you know, get whatever. And it’s just like this constant looming thing of like, what are we going to eat. And I think the more people you add to that your family, the bigger this burden becomes of what are we going to eat. And again, maybe your hack in your system is you don’t do any of the meal planning grocery shopping, and your partner or your roommate does that and that’s totally fine. But again, I’m speaking from the context of my own situation here where this is a responsibility that falls into my plate. And I honestly want it to because I really care about what we eat, and I care about the groceries we get. So I’m not trying to like offload it to my husband or outsource to somebody else. Okay, so I think having a set meal planning day helps. And then all the other days, the week you’re free. Like you don’t have to stress I don’t stress on Tuesday or Wednesday, like Oh, I wonder if I should get groceries. Nope, I don’t need to because I know I’m going to plan it out Thursday and I’m going to get them on Friday. And then I think what helps me with the meal planning part is I have a notepad where I just like write out each day what we’re going to have, and I’ll link in the show notes is nothing fancy, you could literally just use notebook paper or like a whiteboard. But I also have a list of meals on my phone that we make. And if you just like pause this episode, I bet in under 60 seconds, you can make a list of all the different traditional meals that you make in your house okay, and I recommend dividing them up either by theme or maybe even by type of meat. So for example, if you’d like to have a lot of variety in terms of the type of meat you have, maybe you list out all your meals by these are all the chicken meals I make these are all the pork chops, pork tenderloin, you know ground beef, venison, fish, whatever. Vegetarian, maybe you have a couple days we when we were first married, we tried to have at least two vegetarian meals a week, mainly because of the cost. So I think you can divide it by meat if that’s something important to you. I think sometimes I think the dividing by meat is nice. I like to shop at Aldi, and they don’t always have all the meats every week, so you just kind of bought they always kind of have like chicken breasts, but they don’t always have chicken thighs. They don’t always have like a pork tenderloin. But based on what they do have I can then meal plan from there so you can divide by neat meat. I think another thing is nice is to divide by category. That’s currently how my meal planning lists ideas are divided up. I have all of our different like pasta, Italian dishes in one list. I have all my Mexican dishes one list all my Asian dishes in one list. I also have like a category of just crock pot meals or fast meals for when it’s a night that you know my son has a basketball game we’re gonna get in late, what’s something I can make in literally 15 minutes. I have a list of different sheet pan meals, different things we grill. And then I have like our cheap meals that I love to make again because I like to have like one or two nights a week that are cheap. So you can divide it any sort of categories you want. But I think having that’s really helpful and then as you go through your week i like to write out my our schedule first like, okay, Monday night, there’s going to be a basketball practice during dinnertime. So we’re not going to all eat at the same time or we’re going to eat late so it needs to be something in the crock pot or quick for me. Wednesday is typically nine when we try to go on a date night if we can. So our kids always eat frozen pizza, which means I don’t want to have pizza like Tuesday or Thursday because they’re gonna probably have it Wednesday. So you just kind of plan out your schedule and then you plug in meals. I have a friend who literally has the same seven categories every week because that’s what serves her Sunday they do Brenner. breakfast for dinner Monday at some sort of pasta Tuesday some sort of taco or derivation of tacos. Wednesday is pizza Thursday, some sort of Asian meal Friday, they grill out Saturday, they do sheet pan Saturday, like and she just plugs in from our list every week. So make this as rigid or as loose as you want. But I do think the key is having your set meal planning day you actually meal plan and your set day you actually grocery shop. And you don’t have to necessarily go in the store. You can do delivery, you can do pickup, there’s so many options nowadays. It’s just amazing. But one little extra tip on this that I learned from Kendra Kendra Dachi, the lazy genius who y’all know I love is that she said in their home, they can’t go a full week without getting groceries just because of they go through fresh stuff so quickly with their big kids. And she also is like much more into cooking than I would say I am. So she’s like, I don’t want to like plan seven days out. That’s just not her vibe. She’s more of like a 3d art person. And so what she does though, is she goes to the grocery store one day a week, and then she gets grocery delivery from Walmart or something another day. So maybe it’s like for me, I’ve started kind of doing this where I get my groceries from Aldi on my Friday mornings. And then Monday or Tuesday, I’ll get a Walmart delivery order. And something worth checking out is, you know, you can get I think it’s like maybe $99 a year to get the free delivery. But also your credit card, if you have one may have like a special deal. Ours is like part of our credit card that you can get Walmart delivery for free. It’s like Walmart Plus subscription. I don’t know why, but it is. So I can get that Monday or Tuesday. And the nice thing is like, if you forget something, if you know, a kid comes up to you, and they’re like, I ran out of toothpaste, but you already went to the grocery store for the week, it’s no big deal, they can wait three days because you’re gonna get another order then or you run out of strawberries or you did your meal plan, but you realize you forgot to get parsley for recipe that’s coming in a couple of days, you know that you can kind of make it work with those two days. So that’s kind of like a little bonus pro tip there. Okay, my second home system is a laundry system, okay. And there’s two ways you can handle laundry. And I think it totally depends on your personality. You can either pick one day where you batch and do it all or kind of do a load a day. Okay, I have a friend who likes to batch it because she kind of feels like the loaded day and makes her feel like she’s always doing laundry and never done which is kind of true if you do a load today. So she just picks Fridays or her day where you know, she starts to load before work. As soon as she gets home, she switches it she kind of does laundry on Friday night. And you know, Saturday morning, they all put it away as a family. For me, I kind of like doing the load a day. I don’t like it backing up that much. But I also don’t really mind doing laundry as much because here’s why I think the key to your laundry system. Okay. So just like I think the key to your grocery system is just picking a day and actually meal planning. I think the key to the laundry system is that it’s everyone’s job. No one person can do the laundry for all the bodies in the house. It’s just too many bodies. I think it makes sense to be particular about groceries and meal planning. But I think you don’t need to be particular about how clothes are put away. You know, like just let it ride. I have another friend who she’s like I just stopped folding my kids clothes because they don’t care. So literally she opened they open the drawers in their house and they just lay clothes flat on top of each other and it’s fine. She’s like your kids are digging through their drawers anyway Where are you going to fold it all up and I just loved the freedom in that and that you don’t laundry doesn’t have to be done a certain way. So I really recommend adopting this system of everyone in my house contributes a laundry in some way. For me personally I’m in charge of like the everyone’s in charge of getting their hamper to the laundry room when it needs to be done. And also I have another role where I will never start laundry before bed because I don’t like it to sit in the washing machine. So like if you drag a laundry hamper down at 7pm Like it’s not happening you can your it’s going to be started tomorrow. So even my children have learned like they need to bring it down in advance of the day that they need something so everyone contributes everyone brings their hammer down, I put it in the washer, I transfer it to the dryer and then I put it in another laundry basket from there. Then everyone puts their own laundry away period. Oftentimes I have more capacity again since I am the one person who’s here all day. So I may fold all my husband’s things but I leave it out on his side of the bed and he puts it away and I think one thing that does help is I put the folded laundry like on your pillow I do it for myself to put it on my pillow. I don’t have it lot of space, I don’t have a chair that I can like dump it on. And so it kind of forces me before bed like I need to put this away before bed. And I think that’s another thing like, I took the time to do this, you can respect my efforts by putting it away the day that I do it. And my kids too, they can put their own laundry away my three mil now for but even when she was three daughter, she loves turning inside out clothes right side out. And so she turns all the clothes right side out. And then we just laid them in the drawers together. And they she does such a good job with it. My oldest, he’s five is actually a little particular about having his clothes folded. And he really likes to do that. And so I let him do it. And he does it while I do the babies. And it’s just we all work together on the laundry. I think that’s critical. Another thing I’ll say about laundry is can it for my chemistry teacher to understand, consider the limiting reactant here, like what’s the one if you feel like there’s one kid or one person in your family that you’re having to do their laundry more than once a week like it’s this always coming up, find out what the limiting reactant is and make sure you have enough of it. So that you can go seven days without doing your laundry, you know, you can get really rigid with this. Again, I have a friend the same one who does the meal plan days and has really specific themes for each day. She also has a day of laundry for each kid in person in her house. And then a day she does sheets day she has towels. So she has her all her days divided up that way. And they have assigned days, which is great. You don’t have to do that unless it serves you. But I really think that having the right amount of clothes so that you’re doing laundry once a week for each person is the ideal. And here’s why. I think if you have more clothes than that, and you’re doing laundry every like 10 to 14 days, for someone in your house, it’s too much laundry, like that’s kind of what happens with my husband and I have to end up doing two loads, and then it takes twice as long just to get his done. And then it just feels like such an insane amount of clothes to put away. Like I would rather do it once a week and have less to do and put away then do it once every other week and have doubled the amount. Again, for me just mentally, it’s feels overwhelming. The other thing is you don’t want to be doing less than that, like, your kid only has four pairs of pants, then you’re gonna and you’re gonna have to do your know your laundry every four days, I would recommend getting enough pairs that they don’t, I made sure for my oldest all those public schools here have a uniform, I made sure that he has six pairs of uniform pants one for each day and an extra pair in case there’s an accident or you know, I somehow get behind on the laundry, you know, we have a tiny bit of buffer, but I was like I’m just not going to do this or or hope that his pants keep stay clean that I can let them rewear them when you know that’s not the case. So I think really considering what your limiting reactant is, is super helpful there. And then the last thing I’ll say about laundry is I really, really recommend doing separate smaller loads as opposed to throwing it all together. It’s like I have three kids, instead of doing one giant load with all their stuff, which could definitely fit for a week because they’re all small, I would rather divide it into separate loads. Now I only do two kid loads, but I do it based on the room that they live in. So my two of my kids share room, the baby’s on its own. So I do the baby laundry and then I do the big kids laundry. I think having it narrowed down to the location it’s going is really helpful. And I also think that sorting takes up so much time. I swear, the bulk of laundry time is not actual folding, it’s the sorting of the things. And so I think if you already keep the laundry separate, that already just helps so much in terms of eliminating some time in the in the sorting. So I hope that helps. But my biggest tip here for laundry again, in establishing your system is remember it’s everyone’s job you don’t need to be the only person doing it. Okay, wow, I have gotten long winded on just talking about grocery shopping in laundry and I’m sorry I did not meet you. I thought this would be like a short and sweet episode. But I genuinely get so excited talking about this stuff because it’s It sounds simple, but it’s really helped our family and our culture and my stress levels and my energy levels so so much so I’ll try to go faster in the last 3/3 system or hack or routine I would recommend is run your dishwasher every night before bed no matter what even if it isn’t full. Y’all. We never have dishes in the sink in our house ever. Period. It does not happen okay. Why? Because every night no matter what, as I’m you know quieting the house and setting up the coffee pot for the next morning and getting ready you know to go to bed. I put everything that needs to be washed in the dishwasher and I set it to run. Then when I wake up the next morning while the coffee is brewing and while I’m frothing my creamer, I unload the dishwasher so it is empty before any other human walks downstairs in my house. So my kids know it never goes in the sink. It always goes straight to the dishwasher. My babysitter’s know I’ve trained them the dishwasher is always dirty. There’s always room for you to add the dishes here. Okay, do it every night before bed. I think we get into this habit of not running it because it’s not full. And then you end up like always needing to run it you get this backlog of dishes like I just think if you run it every night it’ll make such a big difference. And I know that might hurt some of you guys, you’re thinking about the water and stuff like that. But I guarantee it’s all evening out in the end, in terms of your time. And then also, like, some days, you might even end up running it twice, because you have too many dishes. And I’ve actually talked to a few of you about this who have bigger kids, and you’re like, we have to run it twice a day, I think that’s fine. Like, I would plan on that if you have big kids, or I noticed when I’m hosting, like, before people come to my house, I tend to do like an extra run of the dishes. So I have it empty before we host people because I know we’re gonna have so many extra dishes. But I really think getting into that system and anticipating it. And so you can be proactive about your dishes, rather than reactive prevents there being any sort of backlog. They’re like kind of adjacent to that, as I mentioned, you know, I do all the things before bed, and in the morning, I empty it. I recommend for my fourth system, if at all possible. And if you have a newborn, or any sort of baby that’s waking you at night, this is less likely to happen. But I really think having some sort of morning buffer time is so important. Like Do not press snooze four times, do not set your alarm to wake you up for the minimum amount of time you need to get ready and get out the door in the morning and all your people, like give yourself buffer time, whenever you think you need to get up, I would wake up 30 minutes before that. And I know that’s disgusting and terrible. I hope system five kind of helps with this. And I’ll share in a minute. But I just think having a slow start has blessed me and my family so much. I love that I have 30 minutes to wake up before I have to talk to another human, I drink my coffee hot, I do my little chores with emptying the dishwasher. You know making sure all the lunch boxes are ready to go that we packed the night before. All That Jazz, I sit down and I read out a few moments of quiet before anyone comes in, I just think it’s such a mood boost, it actually boosts your energy more than the 38 minutes of sleep would I genuinely think it’s a better spent 30 minutes of time. When I’ll say on the weekends, I don’t do this, I just let my kids wake me up. And I always like I mean, I like it. I like that like extra sleep, I guess. But I do wake up a little grouchy here. And I’m starting to think maybe I should just have my buffer time on the weekend too, because it’s just such a gift to me and my family. And then last but not least, system five is having some downtime at night so that you have this capacity to wake up in the morning. And here’s what I mean by this. I think sometimes we’re such zombies. And we finally get everyone to sleep, that we just sit on our phones and we scroll for an hour or we start binge watching some TV show or whatever, I really recommend two things. And I would call this system, you know, like maybe nighttime tech boundaries, I don’t know. But one thing is my phone is set to go on downtime from 9pm to 7am every day. So I don’t want to look at my phone after 9pm. So I have it all shut down, I typically go to bed at 10. So that gives me an hour where I’m not looking at a screen. And I think it’s so helpful for my brain in my mind to settle down. And then I also tend to get up at 6am. So that gives me an hour in the morning, when I’m by myself six to 630. And then I’m with the kids getting them up and ready for the day 637 Or I’m not looking at my phone at all. And I again, I just think it makes such a difference for my mental state. I also recommend no TV on weeknights. And I know you may hate me for this. But again, I just think the times that I feel the most tired are the times where I get the kids down and then I sit on the couch and we watch two or three of them show and then I trudge upstairs and I’m scrolling on my phone and then you know I’m waking up the next day exhausted. I’ve just found like if we get the kids down, and then we spent some time time together talking, or I’m just reading I can just fall asleep so much easier. I feel like my brain feels so much more rested. Like I’m looking at plenty of screens all day, I don’t need to look at a TV screen too. And then it makes the weekends for extra fun Friday night, Saturday night. And I do we do our TV on Sunday nights because usually watch Sunday night football like it feels like a little bit more fun and a little bit more of a treat because I’m not, I’m abstaining during the week to give my brain more rest and reset time. So those are five ideas for you five ways I’ve kind of optimized my own energy my own time in a in a really tight season. And what I haven’t had a lot of it and I hope that they will help you as well. And stay tuned for next week we’re gonna talk about systems for school to support you when you don’t have any energy. So not just systems for the home but systems for the job too. So thank you for listening to this episode. If you want any links, you can find them in the show notes at it’s not rocket science classroom.com/episode 112 And I would love if you would leave a review today if one of these tips excited you I’m not even gonna pick one if any of these kind of got your gears going and got you thinking how you could use this in your own

Rebecca 24:43
life. I would love to hear about it. And I would love for you to leave a review. Alright teacher friends that wraps up today’s episode. If you’re looking for an easy way to start simplifying your life as a secondary science teacher, head to It’s not rocket science classroom.com/ challenge to grab your classroom reset challenge. And guess what? It’s totally free. Thanks so much for tuning in and I’ll see you here next week. Until then I’ll be rooting for you Teacher friend.


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