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  • Writer's pictureBrynn Paulin

Daily Joe - Bare Necessities

Yesterday, I mentioned topics to look for at the beginning of this 100 Day blog challenge -- today is Day 2, BTW. After yesterday's intro, I'm building on the topic of streaks and talking about how I make myself feel in control when things have really gone off the rails.

It all comes down to:

Bare Necessities

Yes, taking you back to a simpler time with that title, but that's what it's all about: simplicity. I'll admit that I can be one to make elaborate morning routines. They last...about three days. I do not have time or the mental bandwidth to do a complicated (or lengthy) list of things in the morning.

I understand that there's probably science to the whole morning routine thing. If you do these things, you will succeed. Spoiler alert: they just made me busy. And guilty when I didn't do them all. And behind in my day because...I was trying to do them all.

That's a terribly unpopular opinion on morning routines, but I said what I said.

BUT... I do believe you need to have a set of guardrails that keep you on track. Your rails might not be the same as my rails. And that's okay. You need to figure out what your Bare Necessities are because mine won't help you. You're the only one who knows what works for you. I'm going to share mine and why, just to give you an idea. These are not my morning routine, literally one of them needs to be done in the morning as far as my needs. The rest are during the day sometime.

Before I go on, let me explain a titch more. Like I said, these are like guardrails for me. If I'm getting these things done, I feel like I'm doing okay. I'm okay. Sometimes, you just have to tell yourself that. I'm okay. Because it's really easy to be disappointed in ourselves when we don't get everything done that we think we need to get done. When we feel like we failed again. When we don't do as much as [fill in name]. When [fill in name] seems to have all her ducks in a row and you don't even have ducks.

Guess what? [Fill in name] probably thinks her life is going to hell, too.

You have to know what your basics are. YOUR basics. And do those. And if you're anything like me, you'll try to overcomplicate things. Don't. For your own sake. You need to know what it means for you to be doing okay. That's totally up to you and no one else. No one else's opinion matters when it comes to your wellbeing.

Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a butt, too. What did we learn in kindergarten? Keep your hands to yourself. Pay attention to you. In this case, I'm giving you permission not to do the other thing we learned in kindergarten. You don't have to share. You don't need to take part in someone else's opinion of what you should do. Even mine. Ironic, right?

So a little background here and how I got to the point of basics. In August, my daughter-in-law went back to work after maternity leave. Where she works, they have good maternity leave by American standards and the baby was almost four months old. You know what's tough around here, though. Finding child care. Waiting lists in this city are 50-300 children long. Not even kidding. They were talking about it on the news yesterday.

So, in August, I started taking care of my grandson. And he is definitely the center of the universe. I'm so blessed to be able to spend this time with him. But I know why people have babies young. They keep you running. At the same time, my writing life was in ramping up mode that it always sails into toward the end of the year. And the authors I edit for were also in end-of-year ramping up mode. To say my regular work hadn't lessened is an understatement.

In the first month or so, the baby would not sleep unless I was holding him. He was at an age where he didn't really play either. I got nothing done. Not a thing. By the end of the day, I was exhausted, too. I would write and edit because I had to get the work done. To say everything else crashed and burned is pretty much an understatement.

That's when I started implementing my guardrail system, my bare necessities. Now for me, some things are a given, like hygiene and getting the dishes done. I'd like to say cooking, but really, we ate out a lot before I gave myself a firm talking to about figuring out how to do better there. (See, this is what I mean about not talking nicely to ourselves all the time).

So what are these "guardrails"? Don't laugh. They might seems super simple to you, and like I said, they're probably not the same ones you'll need. They're what I need in order to feel like I still have control, I'm still taking care of me and I'm still moving forward.

Make My Bed

Yeah, yeah... A lot of experts talk about this one. Make your bed because at the end of the day, you can see that you accomplished this one thing at least. To me, that reasoning seems like it's just expecting your day to be a train wreck, though. For me, I just like the feel of getting into a bed that's been made. I like walking into my room and seeing it neat. I know some people who hate making their bed. And that's okay for them. For me, it's self care. There's nothing fancy about it. To tell the truth, I usually make my bed about an hour after I get up, while I'm getting dressed. Yeah, while I'm actually getting dressed. It's weird. I know that. It's just how it is.

With that, I always change my sheets on Sunday morning. There is nothing like sleeping on clean sheets the night before starting a busy week. Also...self care.

Practice Spanish

I mentioned this in my streaks yesterday. I started learning Spanish during the pandemic. When we were all stuck at home, it was something for me to do, and I just kept doing it. I need to feel like I'm learning something every day. And someday, in a million years, maybe I'll be conversational in a foreign language. So I take 10-15 minutes every day and just practice. FYI: I use Duolingo on my phone (not an ad) and I love it.


I read every day. Shocker. Actually, though, it can be difficult sometimes. When I'm stressed, I don't have the attention capacity to read more than a paragraph. So every day, I make myself settle enough to read a chapter minimum.


I write 3-5 pages in my journal a day. Sometimes more than pages. That's where I keep my daily gratitude list, track my streaks and basically record whatever is on my mind. It's not fancy as far as my format. It's just whatever random things are on my mind. Sometimes, I record things that happened, and often, I work out problems or things that I need to do. It's one of the best parts of my day.


This is the easiest thing to drop, which is why I'm doing 30 for 30 right now. In temperate weather, I like to walk the dog and baby. But sometimes, I put it off too long or the weather is too hot too cold too wet too outside, so I find myself at the end of the day not getting in my movement. I have a new solution to that. Don't laugh! I put on a movie and I march, kinda quickly, while watching it for a half hour. I very rarely take time to watch TV or movies, so this is actually a treat to myself. And strangely, I end up burning more calories than taking a regular walk.

(Pro tip, from a non-pro, lol: amp up your speed for a scene then go to regular pace for the next scene. It's like mini-HIIT)

Pick Up

And I don't mean CLEAN. I mean pick up. When the baby leaves for the day, I pick up his stuff and put it away until he comes back. Before I go to bed, I take care of my clothes. I hate cleaning, like most people, so I try to pick up when I leave the room (i.e. take my stuff with me, make sure the blanket from the couch is folded again, take care of mail right away). That makes it way easier when I do clean because there's not stuff all over, and in between, it makes the space look neater, which in turn, makes me feel better.

Get Seven Hours Sleep

Look... I like sleep. Also, I have trouble making myself go to bed at night. But I can't sleep in late--because of my internal alarm, my dog, and good old-fashioned and completely unreasonable guilt about sleeping in. Thing is, I know I need at least seven hours sleep to function well. So this is another thing I try to control.

And...that's it. Literally. That. Is. IT. Those are all my guardrails. If I'm getting those things done, I'm winning at life. Let's face it. Sometimes, the bare necessities are all you can manage. Control what you can control. These aren't my goals. I'll talk about that in a couple days. This is just my foundation so I can work on other things (or not work on them on those days when I can't). These are habits I do so I can feel like... How did I put it yesterday? Like I haven't gone off the rails, gone sideways and barrel rolled down an incline.

I know you know what I'm talking about with that feeling.

I figured out my guardrails from pure desperation. Sometimes, that's what it takes. So what are yours? Write them down. Figure out "why" those are important. Are they really essential to you or do you just think they are? Is there something else essential, an "I don't wanna", that you know will make you feel more in control of your life?

Set up some personal rails. Don't make it hard on yourself, but be honest. You'll thank yourself later.

What I'm Up To Today:

Well... Watching the baby for one. I'm also finishing the plot on the book I was working on yesterday and writing several chapters on my book that releases on Thanksgiving. Time is running short. I need to pick out a new movie to march to. I'm thinking The Meg. I'm also getting in an early morning shopping trip, because:

Love you more than coffee!


PS: remember how I said yesterday that my blogs had to be at least 300 words for my 100 Day Blog Challenge but would probably be more because it's me? Yeah, this one is 1854 words.



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