This is episode 36, and we’re going to answer some questions you’re struggling with right now. How do we plan for a season unlike any we have lived before? How do we set up routines and rhythms when we don’t know what could happen tomorrow? How do we get the most important things done each day, and how do we decide what those are? And how do we make sure our needs are getting met as we meet the needs of everyone else around us? We may not know what’s going to happen this school year, but there are principles we can apply and a plan we can create to help. Let’s do that today!

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August 17th episode 36 Creating a Rhythm that Works for the New School Year

Hi, friends! This is Self-Care and Soul Care for the Caregiver, and I’m your host, Sandra Peoples. To us, self-care isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. We’re abiding caregivers who want to take better care of ourselves so we’re able to care for our loved ones who rely on us.

This is episode 36, and we’re going to answer some questions you’re struggling with right now.  How do we plan for a season unlike any we have lived before? How do we set up routines and rhythms when we don’t know what could happen tomorrow? How do I get the most important things done each day, and how do I decide what those are? And how do I make sure my needs are getting met as I meet the needs of everyone else around me? The truth is we don’t know what’s going to happen this school year. It’s going to look different for each one of us. But there are principles we can apply and a plan we can create to help. Let’s do that today!

First let me share something exciting happening in September. I’m releasing a new book! In partnership with Million Praying Moms, we’re releasing Everyday Prayers for the Special-Needs Mom! I’ll tell you more about it at the end of our time together today.

Ok, let’s jump into today’s important topic. I asked my friends in the Abiding Caregiver Facebook group when school was starting for them, and the range was pretty wide, from early August to mid-September. Our school year starts this week and next week. And it’s going to be pretty different! Mondays especially are going to be busy for us, with trips to two nearby towns for David’s co op and James’s therapy. In fact, that’s why I waited an extra day to release this episode. I wanted to live through a Monday before I talked about it! It’s going to take me a couple weeks in this new rhythm to decide what routines will work best for us. So my goal is to pay attention and ask a couple big questions over the next couple weeks and then the first week of September be ready to create a new ideal week plan. We talked about creating an ideal week plan back in episode 007, but the plan that worked for us pre-covid probably needs adjustments or even a complete overhaul now!

The good news is one of the downloads available to Patreon supporters for Sept. is an ideal week grid. You can join me that first week of September or whenever it works for you to lay out what your ideal week would look like. But before we’re ready for that step, we need to observe and pay attention. We can’t make a plan when we don’t know what we’re planning for. But if we take a couple weeks to feel it out, we’ll be able to make a more effective plan moving forward. As we pay attention to how we feel and what we get done in the next couple weeks, we can ask ourselves some questions. I’m going to share those questions with you and then answer them myself!

  1. What’s working right now that I want to keep up in the next season? We can all find at least a couple positives from the spring and summer. Did you enjoy having breakfast together? Did you get in the habit of walking the dog more often? Did you try new recipes that should make it into the regular rotation? If you’ve already started school, what’s working about that routine? Pay attention to what feels right about what’s happening right now.
  2. Next, ask what isn’t working? Think not only of your family members’ needs, but also your own. What areas or situations need new solutions? Do you need to make changes around the house so cyber or homeschooling is easier? Did you get out of the habit of cleaning because people weren’t coming over and that was your usual trigger for cleaning, so you need a new routine? Is social media overwhelming to you and you want to make a plan for phone-free weekends?
  3. Third, what habits do I need to create? Friends, we’ve talked about how challenging this transition will be because making decisions feels harder. In episode 26 on the decision fatigue we’ll face as we adjust to life after the pandemic, we hit on being overwhelmed by the options that will be available to us again. The key to protecting yourself from decision fatigue is making fewer decisions, and that’s possible when we create helpful habits. The easiest way to form a new habit is to create good habit triggers. We talked about that in episode 8, but I’m sure like me you are out of your routine to the point that you need to establish new triggers. You don’t have to rely on motivation or the perfect scenario to happen when you set up habit triggers you can rely on. And that will keep you from decision fatigue.

Ok, I’ll answer those questions now, and then we can hit on one more important question we need to ask in this new season!

  1. What’s working right now that I want to keep up in the next season? We have made some positive changes to what we eat, specifically decreasing the number of times we eat out. We’ve paid more attention to our budget as we align it with our priorities and not just our whims. James has a psychiatrist we like, and he is doing well on his med. I have a therapist I like who I would like to keep seeing. I’ve made some positive social media changes that have been helpful to decrease my screen time and helped me enjoy my feed more. One of my goals at the beginning of all this was to connect with a friend, and according to my Streaks app, I’m on day 122 of meeting that goal! So I’d like to keep all these up in the new season!
  2. Next, ask what isn’t working? My office space wasn’t working since I shared it with David’s xbox. We already changed up that room to make it work better. Mondays aren’t working yet. Our first one was challenging. I thought I could hang out at the library between dropping David off and picking up James, but the library said I couldn’t sit down anywhere. Dinner was a challenge too because Lee and David will be working out at their boxing gym from 5-6. But James wanted to swim when we got home, from 4-5. That doesn’t leave me any time to do much planning or prep work! I’ll need to have a good plan ahead of time and do some prep in the morning. As we move through this week and next week, I’ll pay attention to even more things that may not be working. By the beginning of September, I should have a good idea of our rhythms.
  3. Third, what habits do I need to create, and how can I set myself up for success? I’d like to get back in the meal planning routine! That will help me keep up with our goal to eat out less. I have a weekly meal plan printable that’s been a huge help since it released for Patreon supporters last month. I also need to adjust my laundry routine. My trigger has been all of James’s bathing suits being dirty, so I’ve had to do loads more than once a week. But he’ll be swimming less, so hopefully I can get back to a laundry day. I also want to pay attention to habit I want to create for my own self care. Since I’ll be home schooling David, I won’t have time alone most days. That’s an important part of my self care, so I’ll need to find time in the week to make that happen. As the weather cools off, I also want to walk more in the evenings. I was doing that in the mornings after I dropped off James at therapy, but Lee takes him each morning now so I can get David started on his school work.

It kinda sounds like a lot to manage, but the best thing about creating an ideal week is that the work is done! I’ll make the best decision about how to spend each hour of each day and then make that happen. I can tweak it for sure, but hopefully if I pay attention in the next couple of weeks before I write out the ideal week plan, it will work well for us. Ok, now there’s one more big question to ask for the new season.

How can I prepare for big changes to our new routine? March feels like forever ago, but in episode 015 we talked about How Caregiving Families Can Prepare for Emergencies and Epidemics and I created A Check List for Caregiving Families Preparing for the Coronavirus that still has some helpful advice. But what you may need to prepare for at this stage is different. I think there are two big situations to prepare for: what would you do if you or another family member tested positive and had to isolate, and what would you do if school closed down for a short or long period of time? The next question to ask is what can you do now that would help life go easier if either of those scenarios happened?

The answers to those questions are going to be different for each one of us, but they are worth thinking through! I’ve had friends who have had to isolate while either waiting for test results or because they were positive. And we’ve already heard about changes made on college campuses because so many are testing positive. No matter what our opinions are about the spread and the tests, we’ll have to work within the decisions school districts make. And since we don’t know how many weeks we’ll get of whatever education plan we’ve chose before it changes, we can plan ahead because we know what worked and didn’t work for our families in March.

Friends, I know it’s hard to move forward with so many what ifs and maybes. But you know whose already pretty good at that? We are. Caregivers. We’ve built up our resiliency muscles, and as we abide in Christ, we’ll be able to face whatever comes tomorrow. And if we ask ourselves the questions I’ve shared in this episode, tomorrow will be easier no matter what happens. Join me in prayer now as we wrap up our time together,

God, 1 Cor. 14:33 says You are not a God of confusion but of peace. We ask for Your peace as we adjust to a new season. We ask for Your wisdom as we create new routines and rhythms. And we ask for Your strength as we align our decisions to Your will for us. Thank you for caring about the details of our lives and using those details to make us more like Christ. In Jesus’s name, amen.

I have an exciting new resource to tell you about today.

It’s a new book I’ve written that will be released by the Million Praying Moms team! If you are parenting children with special needs, learning disabilities, or mental health challenges, you’ll want to check out, Everyday Prayers for the Special-Needs Mom.

In Everyday Prayers for the Special-Needs Mom, you’ll spend twenty days in prayer with me as I share Scriptures that have a message especially for moms like us, guide you through a prayer based on each passage, and encourage reflection through helpful questions. No matter what age your children are or what diagnosis they have, the truth of Scripture can speak to your situation. Visit to learn more or visit the shownotes at for the link (and you’ll get to see the book cover!). It will be available as a standalone book both digitally and as a paperback!

Thanks again for joining me today! I hope to meet you back here next Monday! In the coming weeks I’ll have an interview with Gillian Marchenko about mental health and a chat with my husband Lee! Two conversations I know you’ll enjoy! Remember, apart from Christ we can do nothing, but with Him, we have everything we need as we live out our calling as abiding caregivers.

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