Year of the Move: Organize & Evaluate

{You'll want to read my follow up to this post in which I pretty much say I couldn't do what I laid out here in this post. Nothing like writing to keep you accountable.}

I've noticed that picking a word for the month or even the year is a common theme for bloggers (maybe also for people at large but I don't ask friends "what's your word for the year?" so I'm not sure). I can see great value in giving your month or year an overall direction, mission, or vision to keep you moving towards your goals (or helping you to find a goal).

Some of these words are very inspirational. Take Megan’s blog, SortaCrunchy, for example. Her family’s words of Give (for the year) and Oasis (for the month) have given me shivers of excitement or had me jumping for joy in my computer chair. Like when her husband cleaned out their whole kitchen so it is easier to show hospitality (giving in their oasis).That stuff gets me excited.

My word for the year carries less emotional punch but underlies every part of our lives right now.


In the most literal, “pack all your downsized belongings in a trailer and leave the country” kind of way. In that one little word is SO much work. Because it’s not just an idea for us to mull over, it’s an action for us to do. 

In January, I took that big action word - move, and broke it down into the smaller action words - organize and evaluate.



I love organizing. I'm not just good at doing it I actually like it. The reason this is not an organizing blog is because Rachel at Small Notebook does that so much better. And look where all her organizing is taking them - to Florence for the winter!

I might not write about it often (ok, just a little) but organizing is the tool I use to accomplish the other things I do write about. Being organized is how I make time for home learning, cooking healthy meals, being outdoors with my family, writing, photography and other creative pursuits.

And being organized is how we’re preparing for this move.

The main things we are organizing right now are our time and possessions. Going through each and every thing we own to either keep, sell or give is both liberating and exhausting. Right now it's the never ending task but at the end, oh baby, it will feel wonderful.

currently organizing crafts, school/office supplies, and tools
buttons were the prettiest of these to photograph

Last month I made some changes to our daily routine to make time for organizing this move. Much of our day is quite similar to what I outlined in homemaking and homeschooling but there have been some definite changes.

  • Less computer time for me, like in the evenings when I used to do blog maintenance, networking, and photography work - gone.
  • Children's sleep schedules are shifting, which influence our evening family time. As they grow older they stay up later and I lose quiet time at night. So now, at least for this season, I go to bed early (sometimes Celine tucks me in!) so I can have alone time in the morning.
  • As they are able kids are taking on more kitchen related responsibilites.

I've outlined our winter-getting-ready-to-move daily schedule below. The times listed are approximate though most meals and bedtimes are fairly fixed. Each day follows its own rhythm but this is our benchmark so if we get really off course we know where to turn back to.

the end of morning quiet time as the sun streams through the kitchen window


  • 6:00 My quiet time. I started at 6:30 and have been backing it up step by step. I desperately need this quiet time in my day. Time to think, pray, read my bible and journal before the work of the day begins in earnest. I also spend a little bit of time doing creative work, either writing or photography.
  • 7:30-12:00 Breakfast, chores & school. Errands once/week. I’ve written about this routine lots. Not much has changed in this part of the day.
  • 12:00 Lunch prep, eating and clean up.


  • 1:30 Writing and kids play.
  • 2:30 Projects, playdates, outdoors, move prep, deskwork. Activity varies with the day.
  • 5:00 Supper prep and end of the day clean up. By 6pm I’m done my major work on the computer for the day.


  • 6:30 Family supper and clean up. Our time to reconnect after the day.
  • 7:15 Moving work - organizing, packing, correspondence, research. One night/week library visit. Friday night - family pizza and movie night.
  • 8:00 Inspirational activity (family story or game) and snuggle. Younger two kids are in bed around 9pm, Celine goes to bed when she wants, usually by 10pm.
  • 9:30 Shower, personal reading and bed. Asleep usually by 10:15.


  • One day a week outdoors as a family.
  • One weekend a month an outdoor trip.
  • Occasional hospitality, not as much as we would like but this is not the life season to be building community.
  • As of February, Damien is taking off each Friday (saved vacation days) till we move to work on the house. So this means two days per week working on house projects in preparation for finding tenants, except one weekend/month when we go backpacking.


The main things we are evaluating right now are our goals and resources.

There is a lot to evaluate in a big life change like this. It seems we have been seriously evaluating our lives for the past couple years but this move takes that up a notch.

This winter I have spent a lot of mental time evaluating my personal goals as this move enables us to write a new script for our family and gives us all the opportunity to "try out" for new parts. I want to make sure we hold onto the best of what we've achieved in our family so far while readying myself to wholly embrace the new opportunities that are to come.

  • Who am I exactly besides mother, wife and homemaker?
  • If I could do anything with my time, what would I do?
  • What are my passions?
  • What am I happiest doing?
  • Who am I created to be?

Answering these questions honestly and without fear is not easy and it is my mental work right now.

Having set our sights on what we want for our family we need to evaluate all our resources. Of course we did this already in depth last year as we planned a budget and timeline for this move. But now we need to refine and tweek those numbers, making many hard choices on an almost daily basis.

We also evaluate the less tangible resources. The relationships and experiences we have built over the years that will help provide the foundation we need for this next big life adventure. We are counting on those resources, in addition to our savings, to get us back on our feet again once we move.

Organizing our time and possessions, evaluating our goals and resources is the work of this life season. Somedays my brain overloads and I have a hot bath and go to bed extra early. Other days I am higher than a kite as I think about the possibilities for our future and anticipate this next step.

As you can imagine it's intense around the Tougas home these days. The inevitable consequence of this intensity is having to outsource and make compromises.

I plan to share those with you soon. Because you can be rest assured we are not attempting to do it all. Outsource and Compromise, certainly not sexy words for the season but definitely where we are at. So stay tuned...

« Celebrate Winter
Celebrating Chinese New Year »
  • Baleboosteh

    Baleboosteh on Feb. 2, 2011, 10:37 a.m.

    Thank you so much for writing this. I badly needed a new perspective on organizing today. I feel as though I am in a constant battle to reclaim ground from the chaos in our home. I love to organize - but, unlike you, I am not very good at it. I think my problem has been that (along with having just far too much stuff) I don't usually give organizing its "own" time. I always feel as though I am stealing time away from other more important things in order to do it. But it is important, vital even, so I need not feel guilty about doing it. I especially liked your words: "Organizing is the tool I use to accomplish the other things I do write about". I will try to carry that thought with me today.


  • Francesca

    Francesca on Feb. 2, 2011, 11:24 a.m.

    I'm staying tuned, and can't wait for part two. I find that I need to "reorganize" (big word for me, as I'm not very good at organization) our time etc all the time, as priorities and interests shift constantly. As soon as we settle into a new routine, we have to change it, and the rhythm of our family life couldn't be more changeable - and we're not even facing an international move :) Your evaluation work is something that we should all take the time to do on regular basis.


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 2, 2011, 11:58 a.m.

      I am always shifting things thought they might look more static. After writing this I am thinking we need to shift Laurent's bedtime because he likes hours(!) to unwind in his bed at the end of the day. And going to bed at 9pm is pushing it for him to get up by 7:30 the next am.

      Now with our move coming up and SO much to do we have to stick to our schedule fairly closely in order to get everything done in time. 


  • SavvyChristine

    SavvyChristine on Feb. 2, 2011, 2 p.m.

    I know how you feel with having to look through and decide upon every item in your house. It's good that you're starting early! Mr. Savvy and I had three weeks, and at the end it was a little hairy. Good luck! I know you can do it!


  • tara

    tara on Feb. 2, 2011, 2:26 p.m.

    I sense that if any one family can be prepared for this move, it is your family. Your organizational skills are quite impressive and something I am afraid I lack. Perhaps you will inspire me to fit it into each day.


  • Leilani

    Leilani on Feb. 2, 2011, 5:15 p.m.

    I think "move" is a hugely exciting word...I must be ready for a change, haha. I was just thinking about how a year or two from now, your new readers will have to come back to these posts to follow the story of how you got to where you are...but we have the privilege of following along in real time! Good luck and...enjoy!


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 2, 2011, 5:33 p.m.


      Thank you for this. I question boring you all with these details but my life is these details right now and I have to write it out to make sense of it and keep myself accountable.

      I thought of leaving these details in my personal journal but decided to share it here for a few reasons:

      Creating the life we want is a lot of hard work, I don't want to hide that reality.

      In the future I want to look back on this intense time and know we got through it.

      I want to point folks here when and if they ask how we made such a large change in our family life.


  • Katie

    Katie on Feb. 2, 2011, 5:42 p.m.

    Hi Renee,

    I have been following your blog for a while and I think you and your family are such an inspiration.

    This is random, but I was wondering what font you used and where you got it from in the very top 'organize and evaluate' group of words? Thanks a bunch!


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 2, 2011, 7:03 p.m.

      Katie, I used the free wordle application to generate those word clouds. I'm not sure what font that is but if you create your own you can play around with different fonts. If I remember correctly (no promises) I think it might be Loved by The King.  


  • nicola@which name?

    nicola@which name? on Feb. 2, 2011, 11:33 p.m.

    Excellent post, Renee. I like Small Notebook, too, but one can never compare oneself to another blogger and get away with it. You are you and you bring wonderful insight to your posts, so posting more on organization would be welcome to me! Nicola


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 3, 2011, 12:17 a.m.

      I try not to compare myself but some people are so succinct in their writing, Rachel one of them and I am always so... not. But thank you for loving me just the way I am (smile).


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