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Slow Home Essentials: Weekly Rhythm

Slow Home Essentials - Creating a Weekly Rhythm

There are 168 hours in the week.

You, me, the Prime Minister and Beyonce – we all have 168 hours, and we can get a lot done in that time.

But how often do you feel like those 168 hours are nowhere near enough?

There are too many tasks, too many appointments and too much housework. You’re pulled in all directions, and while trying to get everything done, you end the day feeling as though you got nothing done instead.

So you try to set up a strict routine, carving out specific blocks of time for specific tasks. It works for a while, but then life intervenes. Someone gets sick, the vacuum cleaner breaks, you have to work late or get called for jury duty.

Your life isn’t made for strict routine.

Rhythm Over Routine

I’m a huge advocate of living a rhythmic life, as opposed to a strictly routine one. The notion of rhythm is a much friendlier, more flexible option, and it fits comfortably in our life.

Over the years, I have adopted a rhythm to my mornings and to my days. And last year, when I reached a point of massive overwhelm, I decided to adopt the idea of rhythm into my weeks too.

For the last 12 months, I’ve had a crumpled piece of paper stuck to the fridge. It’s a simple list, written in my own shorthand. But it also plays a massive part in creating (and maintaining) our Slow Home. It’s my weekly rhythm.


What my Weekly Rhythm Looks Like

The list is divided into three sections.

1. Dailies

At the top I have a list of Dailies (thanks to Patty from Homemaker’s Daily for the term), which is simply every task that needs to happen on an-almost daily basis. Things like ‘get dressed’ or ‘feed dog’ don’t appear here, because, really, that stuff just has to happen.

For me this section includes:

  • sweeping (kitchen and dining areas)
  • make beds
  • load of laundry or two
  • wipe over kitchen benches
  • wipe over bathroom vanities

The aim of doing these little jobs every day is that it cuts down on the amount of deep cleaning I need to do. If I sweep, do a load of laundry and keep the bathroom vanities clean most days, I’m allowed flexibility. I can skip a day at home to go to the beach or watch my daughter’s ballet concert, and the house won’t be tragically messy when I get home.

It’s all about doing a little bit of work each day (15-30 minutes, maximum) to help minimise the workload later and keep your home running well. Which means you’re less likely to feel stressed, frantic and overwhelmed.

2 & 3. Weeklies

Below the Dailies is a row for each day of the week. Each day has two columns next to it.

The left column shows the household work for the day, while the right shows what activities we have outside the home.

I try to limit the number of items in either column to a maximum of three. Some days have only one task, and some days have no organised activities. Again, this builds wiggle room and flexibility into our days. If we want to go for a bushwalk, we can. If the kids are sick and need a quiet day, we can do that too.

For me, for our kids, for our stage in life, this idea of rhythm fits really comfortably within our days.

How to Create Your Weekly Rhythm

Print off the worksheets I’ve created for you. You can download them by clicking here.

1. The first worksheet asks you to write down all the jobs that you need to get done in any given week. Include things like cleaning the bathroom, doing the laundry, ironing, vacuuming, mopping floors etc. Break the bigger jobs down into smaller ones if you need to (for example, I clean toilets on a separate day to the rest of the bathroom).

2. Include all the tasks you like to get done on any given day. Things like making the beds, cleaning the kitchen benches, wiping down the vanities, doing a load of laundry, etc. Don’t forget you may not get every one of these done every day, but if you get the majority done the majority of the time, you’ll be golden.

3. List all the extra activities or regular appointments you have during the week. Include your work hours, school or preschool times, dance classes, sporting matches and training, regular catchups with friends, play group, church, etc.

4. Take some time to look over the list you’ve just created and give some thought to how you like to structure your week. For example, do you feel better if you can clean the bathrooms and floors just before the weekend? Then think about scheduling those tasks for Thursday or Friday. Are the kids at preschool on a Monday? Use that time to do the grocery shopping or do the ironing.

5. Using the second worksheet, list your Dailies and then plot out every day, listing 1-3 tasks for both housework and activities.

Stick the list on your fridge and refer to it every morning. Even if you know what’s on for the day, having a point of reference and a short list of tasks makes your day seem much more manageable. Plus, I find it helpful to be able to explain to the kids that I have to clean the bathroom, then I can play with them.

This stuff isn’t sexy.

I feel weird writing about it in such depth, to be honest.

But you know what? Thinking through this stuff in depth, right now, will set you up for a much smoother, easier, more flexible rhythm at home. One that will last you for months or years, and free you up to do the fun things like playing with your kids, or going for a coffee with a friend, writing a blog or reading a book.

Putting in the work now could reap benefits for years to come.


(Looking for more ideas on rhythms and rituals? Grab a copy of Destination: Simple – Rituals and Rhythms to Simplify Your Daily Life.)

50 ways to (seriously) reduce your food waste

50 ways to (seriously) reduce your food waste - Episode 169 of The Slow Home Podcast

I’m going to say this straight up: today’s episode is BIG. It’s packed full of practical tips and it moves prettttty fast. But I also think it’s going to prove to be super valuable. And I don’t just mean valuable in terms of the quality of the info we share, but also quite literally – in terms of the money you’ll save and the positive impact you’ll have on the environment. In short, this is an epic poggie.

So what exactly do we talk about in this epic, valuable pogpast? Food waste.

Ben’s got some astonishing stats to share in this episode, but needless to say, the level of food waste in Australia alone is eye-wateringly high. And given what we know about food security in the developing world, and even many communities in our own backyard, it’s truly devastating to think about. And while some of this waste is a result of systems put in place by massive supermarket chains both here and globally, a lot of it is not. Much of the food we waste in Australia is wasted in our own homes, and it’s this waste that we want to focus on in this big ol’ pogpast.

In part today’s episode is a pretty natural continuation of the overall theme of slow living – quality over quantity, use only what we need, local, intentional, environmentally conscious – but it’s also been spurred by the recent ABC series, War On Waste. If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet I’ve included a link to it at the bottom of this page, along with a heap of other helpful resources. It makes me happy to see the ideas of sustainability and mindful living start to make their way in to the mainstream and I hope this is a sign of big changes to come. (God knows we need it.)

Despite my occasional dip in to big-picture despair, however, this episode is the antidote to the what-can-I-do’s. It’s quite literally packed full of things we can do today. OK, probably not all of them today, but I can guarantee you there is at least one idea we cover in this episode that you can try today. No purchase of backyard chickens necessary.

We start the show with a list of our own tips, tricks, hacks and changes, and follow that with a bomb-awesome collection of your tips, gleaned from a Facebook post only a couple of days ago. You guys are clever and committed and your ideas make me so so happy.

So BEHOLD! Our monster list of tips to help you minimise food waste:

Planning and Organisation:

    • Meal plan regularly and be realistic with that plan. If you know you’re exhausted by Thursday night, then don’t plan and buy the ingredients for a super-involved meal. Chances are it will go to waste. Similarly, if you’ve got kids and you wish they’d eat broccoli but you know they gag on it it, then buy a different veg instead.
    • Meal prep once a week (or at a regular time that works for you). We spend an hour or two most weekends doing things like cutting veggies for lunch boxes and dinner sides, maybe cooking a few big trays of roast veg or a pasta sauce and the difference it makes during the week is amazing. Not only do we have the makings of a couple of dinner meals, but we also have at least a few days worth of lunch sorted too. Think things like: felafel, fish cakes, meatballs, pasta sauce, stews, soups, curries, salads in a jar for work lunches, hommus, veggie sticks…
    • Go shopping with a list and don’t deviate, to avoid the just-in-cases or the impulse buys
    • Be sure to learn your quantities and buy only what you need.
    • Check your pantry and fridge before you go shopping or write your meal plan
    • Use what’s in your pantry and fridge before shopping or plan next week’s meals around what’s already in there.
    • Make a habit to clean out the fridge before you do the groceries. Doing this gives a good indication of what you are and aren’t actually eating, and allows you to use what’s already there in the meal you go shopping for. It also stops food from mouldering away at the bottom of the fridge for weeks on end, as the leftovers get used up or composted.
    • Embrace leftover meals! We have one, sometimes two nights a week where we plan on eating leftovers. This, plus the fact we eat leftovers for lunch quite often means we don’t usually have leftovers in the fridge by week’s end.
    • Scratch it nights are bomb. It’s basically a meal where we use what we’ve got or have something simple from the pantry. It sometimes looks like an omelette or veg on toast, other times it’s French toast or pancakes.
    • Be less fussy with the appearance of food. A bendy carrot is fine to cook. Cut out soft spots. Mould is obviously to be avoided but don’t be so hasty to toss the entire lot if one apple goes bad.
    • Know the difference between Best Before and Used By dates, and (in some instances at least) go on smell rather than date. Yoghurt, dips, sour cream etc are good examples of this. Seafood is probably not.
    • Treat the “Use within 5 days” warning with scepticism. Be curious before assuming food has spoiled and defer to the common sense taste test.
  • Keep perishable food that won’t last long at the front of the fridge to ensure you don’t waste it.

Good Food Storage Habits

    • Put dry goods in containers once they’ve been opened so they don’t go stale, get weevils or spoil. (Crackers, flours, pasta, cereal etc)
    • Lots of veg can be stored in containers in the fridge to avoid becoming dehydrated and lacklustre. Celery, carrots, cucumber sticks, carrot sticks, zucchini, beans, snow peas, herbs – simply trim ends and put in glass jars in the fridge with a little bit of water in the bottom. This keeps them fresh all week.
    • To keep kale, spinach, lettuce and other greens fresh for as long as possible – rinse well and trim as soon as you get home from the shops or market and wrap a stack of the leaves in a damp clean teatowel, storing in the fridge. This keeps them fresh and green for much longer than leaving them in the crisper.
    • Meat – only keep out what you’re cooking in the next day or two. Separate rest of the meat into meal-size portions (or better yet, take containers to the butcher and ask them to separate for you) and pop in freezer, labelling if you need to. (We don’t.)
    • Glass jars are great for storing excess veggies, fruit, herbs, sauces, etc.
  • Sturdy glass containers like Pyrex are great for storing excess meals, meat, bones, offcuts for stock and soups, etc.

In the Freezer:

    • Broccoli and cauliflower stems can be fried up or rinsed and blitzed in a blender. Freeze the blitzed stems on a tray and transfer to jar. This can be added to sauces, pies, soups etc. It has the benefit of adding nutrients to your meals, and is undetectable to fusspots/kids.
    • Don’t compost your squishy, over-ripe bananas. Peel, slice and freeze on a tray, then transfer the rounds to a container. These are perfect for for banana bread, smoothies, protein pancakes etc
    • Freeze your parmesan rinds and add to soups.
    • Keep all your veggie offcuts, peels, skins and trimmings in a container in the freezer. When there’s a good amount, put it all in a big saucepan, cover with water, and cook for a few hours. It makes a delicious rich (free!) veggie stock that can then be frozen and used as needed.
    • Do the same with your leftover meat bones, roast chicken carcasses or seafood.
  • Try a bulk baking session once or twice a month. I make things like chocolate cake, date loaf, chocolate slice, bliss balls and apple muffins, freezing them in containers until needed.

Random Food Waste Tips:

    • Think about food as money. When you have to toss out your waste, picture yourself tossing cash in to the bin. It’s a great motivator to waste less food!
    • Chickens are great for reducing meal scraps to virtually zero. So are dogs!
    • Composting and worm farms are excellent for those scraps chickens can’t or shouldn’t eat, as well as scraps like egg shells and coffee grinds.
  • Composting/worm farm/chickens are great but don’t let them become your easy out. Try to only give them genuine scraps and veg offcuts, and instead focus on maximising your use of all the good stuff.

Now over to the collective wisdom of you, our wonderful listeners!

There were, of course, some common ones that many of you contributed, including:

    • Meal planning.
    • Composting (traditional pile, compost bins, enclosed tumbler set up OR Bokashi bin, which can be used to compost dairy and meat).
    • Backyard chickens and other pets.
    • Making your own freezer scrap stocks (both veggie and meat versions).
  • Be sure to eat leftovers for lunch/dinner.

Then there’s these super practical genius ideas too. Many of which I’ll be implementing over the coming weeks!

    • Freeze apple slices left over from the kids’ lunch boxes and when there’s enough, use them to make apple sauce. Freeze leftover cheese (you know the slightly hardened, maybe slightly sweaty pieces left over from a party) and use it for homemade mac and cheese. (Morgan)
    • Freeze foods that are commonly used but rarely all used in one recipe. Chopped onions, celery, small portions of lemon/lime juice, etc. (Candace)
    • Keep the top shelf of the fridge for food that needs to be eaten in the next few days. When going through the fridge, move things up to the top shelf as needed. (Em)
    • Use a meal planning framework. For example: Meat free Monday, Taco Tuesday, Pasta Wednesday, Soup/Slow Cooker Thursday, Freezer Food Friday, Kids Choice Saturday and a big, more involved family meal on Sunday (which is then used for leftovers during the week). (Briana)
    • Learn to recalibrate quantities of ingredients as your household needs change. And then challenge yourself to the occasional month of cooking from food that’s already in your freezer or pantry. This will likely mean lots of soups!  (Jennifer)
    • Combine backyard chickens (who get the fresh scraps) with a soldier fly larvae farm (that gets the rest of the scraps or anything not suitable for chooks). In a big old life cycle of food recycling, the larvae are then fed to the chooks. (Wallace Bear) 
    • Figure out how much meat your household eats in one meal (this family of four eats about half a pound of meat per meal, which is approximately quarter of a kilo) and then freezes meat in those portions. Pull out the meat as needed a day ahead and defrost in fridge. (Jessica)
    • Learn to love casserole dump bags! When you arrive home with your casserole ingredients, prep all meat and veggies straight away and put everything together in a large zip lock bag, freezing it until needed. Then when it’s time to pop the casserole ingredients in the slow cooker, it all goes in together. (Wendy) 
    • When meal planning don’t forget to account for all three meals a day and two snacks as well. This can help stretch her shopping out, saving money and food waste (Abby)
    • Get an enclosed composter, which means you can put soup bones and other traditionally ‘uncompostable’ materials in there. (Amanda)
    • Make a fried rice with all the little bits of veg left in the fridge at the end of the week. (Kim)
    • Move to Florida in summer! It’s so hot that there isn’t much cooking to be done (except the occasional crock pot meal) and as a result, eat mostly fresh veggies and fruit. (Deb)
    • Try getting a weekly seasonal fruit and veg box delivered. Plan your week’s meals around what’s in season once the box arrives. (Carly)
    • When meal planning, go all in. Figure out how many apples, oranges etc you eat in a week and buy only those amounts. Invest in a thermos for leftovers for school or work. (Kel)
    • Cook less food than you think you’ll need. If people are hungry there is always snacks like fruit and cheese. (Colleen)
    • Write a list and keep it on the fridge, to act as a reminder of what needs to be cooked or eaten before it goes off, then use that list to inspire meal planning and online food shopping. (Mandy)
    • Delay food shopping for a few extra days and get creative! (Sam
    • Worm farming is great for those people who don’t have the space or inclination for traditional composting. (Amy)
    • Avoid stockpiling randomly. Instead try having a 72 hour kit of ingredients and keep very little else on hand. (Danielle)
    • Make delicious bubble and squeak with leftovers! (Lisa)
    • Focus on only buying fresh fruit and veg, so all the leftovers can be composted. (Dallas)
    • Buy only what you know you’ll eat, not what you think you SHOULD eat and not what you wish
    • Make Friday night dinner an “allette”. ie An “all goes in the omelette”. (Mamta)
    • Make end of week stews and soups, learn to grow your own, learn to dehydrate foods. (Angel)
  • Keep leftover cooked veggies in a container in the freezer and make felafel out of it. (Teach me your ways!) (Margaret)

PHEW! I told you there was a lot of wisdom in this episode! If you’ve got a cracker of a tip we haven’t included please leave a comment below and we’ll pull them all together and update the master list.

In the meantime though, let us know what one change you’re going to make this week to reduce food waste, and be sure to share it on social media too. (You can use #slowhomepod everywhere there are good hashtags).



Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

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Slow Home: Cleaning Rhythms

Slow Home: Cleaning Rhythms - Episode 148 of The Slow Home Podcast

In the final of our cleaning related episodes (I know many of you have found these really helpful, which is awesome, but I’m not going to lie – I’m looking forward to not thinking quite so much about cleaning again as of next week!) Ben and I look at our rhythms. Specifically the rhythms we’ve developed at home that allow us to stay on top of the home maintenance and ensure things never get overwhelming.

It might seem like over-engineering, but I’ve been using a version of this rhythm for years now, and while it’s changed as circumstances have shifted and the kids have gotten older, it’s served me incredibly well and it means we can minimise:

    • the amount of time we spend thinking about cleaning
    • the overwhelm that strikes when there’s a build-up of jobs that haven’t been done frequently enough. (A bathroom left for a month takes much longer to clean than a bathroom that’s cleaned once a week, for example)
    • the stress and willpower factors involved in cleaning – I don’t need to think too much about housework at all, but simply go through the rhythm that’s in place
  • the chance of things ever getting truly out of hand which in turn means cleaning takes less time, less energy, less product, less of everything.

In order to work out our rhythm, I simply wrote down all the weekly housework tasks and split them up over the days of the week that make sense for us. For you it might be a matter of doing all the housework on a Saturday morning or a Thursday afternoon because your schedule doesn’t allow for it to be split over days. Whatever works is the order of the day here!

And, despite the fact that I feel like this is very dull, I’ve been assured that this stuff is interesting to some of you, so I’ve written a simplified version of our rhythm below, to give you an indication of how this actually looks in practice:


    • Clean kitchen (15 min) – tiles, bench tops, microwave, cupboard doors, fridge door, stove top
  • Wipe bathroom vanities with towel and change towels (2 min)


    • Change bed sheets as needed
    • Wash linen
  • Laundry


    • Clean glass (10 min) – shower screens, back doors, mirrors
  • Admin/bills


    • Clean toilets
  • Dusting


    • Clean bathrooms
    • Vacuum
  • Mopping as needed

(Almost) Daily Tasks

    • Wipe kitchen benctops
    • Wipe bathroom vanity
    • Sweep
  • Laundry

Less Frequent

    • Oven
    • Fridge
  • Pantry

This week’s action is simple: write a list of all the home maintenance tasks you need to do each week(ish) and then spilt them up in a way that works for you. Delegate and schedule as needed, then stick to the plan for a week and see if it reduces stress/mess/cleaning time. And let me know how you go with it – I’d love to hear!



Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

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3 Steps to Rediscover Your Rhythm

I like to think of myself as a pretty good dancer. Which is fortunate, because no-one else does.

But when I have a couple of champagnes, or when I listen to Dance Apocalyptic while cooking dinner, none of that matters because I am convinced I look amazing.

What I actually look like is this:

But that’s OK. I feel like I have rhythm. The moves feel good. I feel comfortable. Yes, I look like a frog in a blender, but I feel great.

And that’s what rhythm is all about. Feeling comfortable. Knowing the tempo, knowing the moves, knowing (or not knowing, but feeling OK about that) what comes next.

Feeling good in my day is one of the main reasons I aspire to having rhythms (not routines) to my mornings, my days, my weeks. You can read more about my reasons for that here, but suffice to say rhythm is a much friendlier way to approach your days, and  as far as I’m concerned, rhythm is where it’s at.

But what happens when you mis-step? When your flow is interrupted? When the tempo changes unexpectedly? When someone gets all up in your dancefloor space and throws you off your game? What happens when you fall out of rhythm?

How do you get that back? Or how do you find a new one when you’re reeling? When you’re struggling? When you’re stuck doing the Running Man and getting nowhere? (Sorry. I’ll stop the dancing analogy now.)

That’s where I’ve been for the past couple of weeks. I’ve lost touch with my rhythms, some of my circumstances have changed, we’ve been fighting virus after virus here at home and things felt really freaking hard all of a sudden.

It left me feeling anxious and overwhelmed and depressed. Everything that used to just happen as part of my rhythms suddenly stopped happening. Things that were easy got really difficult. I thought there was something wrong with me.

Turns out I just lost my rhythm.

So how do we get it back?

1. Check in with your discipline.

First I needed to figure out if my rhythm had to change or if I needed to sack up and re-engage my discipline. Turns out it was the latter.

I had gotten a little lazy in the approach to my days, and things had fallen by the wayside.

I had stopped writing my 3-item to-do list. I had stopped working through my Dailies and my Weeklies. I had been doing what I felt like doing, rather than what I had already established needed doing.

I got back to the things I know work for me, stopped being lazy and suddenly my rhythms felt a little closer to being right.

So check in and see that you’re still doing those things you know are necessary. Sure, you might not want to. But if you’ve worked through the process of establishing rhythms already, you know those tasks need doing for a reason.

So do them.

2. See what else has made its way in to your days.

Commitments, responsibilities, projects, shoulds, yeses and new interests all squeeze their way into our daily lives over time.

I’ve got two new projects underway that weren’t on the radar when I established my rhythms earlier in the year and I hadn’t made any room for them. But there I was, expecting those same rhythms to continue to help me get it all done.

I needed to shift things around, re-prioritise, decide on what remained important and what was no longer a high priority. Continuing to do that helps me see where I need to make more space and makes it easier to spot those time-sucks and energy vampires that sneak in to my days.

So re-evaluate the current flow of your days. What’s changed? What habits have slipped? What seemingly small shifts have happened? These could be the key to finding that rhythm again.

3. Finally, be kind to yourself.

Some seasons of life – be them a day, a week or a month – are tougher than others. Life has a way of squeezing meetings and phone calls and sick kids and deadlines in to the same week. Understand that there is going to be ebb and flow to your life, and accept that there will be seasons of busy-ness. This is not a failing on your part.

I can see that these few weeks would have been busy regardless of my rhythm, simply because a whole heap of stuff happened at the same time. While it’s helped a lot to take the first two steps and check in with myself, it’s also helped to show myself some kindness.

It takes the pressure off a little and stops me from making it seem worse than it really is.

So by all means, check in, re-evaluate, re-prioritise and re-invigorate your rhythms, but understand that this rhythm-less phase will pass soon enough. And in the meantime, be kind to yourself.

Losing your rhythm is not necessarily a bad thing. It can force us to re-evaluate and re-establish our priorities, and help us see what stuff should be removed or downgraded from our days. It doesn’t feel good at the time, but work through it and you’ll be ripping up the dancefloor again in no time.

O is for Organised Enough: A-Z of Simple Living

simple living
{via Charlotte’s Fancy}

This January, we’re taking an in-depth look at the why and how of simplicity with the A-Z of Simple Living. If you want to make 2015 the year you create a simpler, slower life, why not join us?


So often simplifying is mentioned in the same breath as organising.


The logic goes: in order to be living a truly simple life, you must have a host of systems in place that will organise every aspect of your day.

You can schedule your hours, systematise your housework, organise your wardrobe, catalogue your paperwork, arrange your kitchen utensils, reconfigure your garage to hold more stuff and roster your down-time.

But true simplicity means many of those systems are unnecessary.

  • I do have a calendar but much of my weekly schedule is in my head, because it’s really not that complicated.
  • I don’t need a special shoe rack to organise my shoes – I don’t own that many.
  • Filing cabinet? It has one drawer.
  • Toys? They all have a place in the play room.

Living a simple life means that being organised for the sake of being organised is largely unnecessary. If you strip away what you do not need, you will find that life doesn’t need nearly much organising at all.

But Being Organised Helps Me!

To a point, yes.

Life is busy. And some organisation helps corral the busy-ness of life into a semblance of order. So I’m not telling you to do away with your diary, bill paying system or ironing baskets. If they help you in creating a less stressful day, wonderful.

But at some point we start to organise instead of simplify.

Life Is Not Organised.

You need to leave space for life to happen.

And life is messy. Life is uncertain. Life is spontaneous. Life is not organised.

You are reading this because you want a simpler, slower life. And while being organised – to a point – means you have time and space for life to unfold peacefully, over doing it means you run the very real risk of sucking the joy from your days.

And that’s our end goal isn’t it? To rediscover the joy. The zing of doing something spontaneous. The flash of excitement when you realise, “Why the hell not? I’d love to go to the beach/play in the sun/have a nap.”

If you over-do the organising, if you schedule the guts out of your days, weeks, months, school terms, you risk losing one of the biggest joys in life – spontaneity.

So my tip:

Be as organised as you need to be. No more.

Organise what you really need. But don’t turn to organisation simply to store more stuff in your space or cram more committments in your days. The key is to take away what isn’t necessary and good. There you will find your simpler life.