Create a Sustainable Life of And: The Basic 5

Create a Sustainable Life of And: The Basic 5

I've found that making routines automatic is key to living a full life. Keep the easy things easy so the hard things can be hard. 

I've coined the phrase The Basic 5. No matter what, every week, we all need to solve for these 5 areas of our lives. 

The Basic 5

If we’re not intentional, these basic areas of our lives become places where we react to the day instead of being planful and creating systems to keep life sustainable. That’s the magic place in life - to have behaviors in place that allow a level to be maintained that keeps the home/ environment/ family operating in a way that can be sustained over a long period of time. 

What does the opposite look like?

These extreme highs and lows are all too familiar for high achievers. Layer on a two-career family and if the simple things can’t be simple - relationships begin to get weary and everyone is grumpy all week long. 

Define your minimum

Instead of identifying your goals for these areas, identify your minimums. A minimum is the thing you absolutely, positively can do on your worst week. Every single time. No exceptions. Our goals can often only happen in ‘best case’ scenarios. But our minimums can be done with near 100% compliance. 

Example: brushing your teeth. For most of us, this is a personal hygiene minimum. It doesn't matter how late you are to a flight, you’re going to spend 15 seconds brushing your teeth. 

By defining your minimum and implementing a system that will allow it to run smoothly, you have more capacity to take on the Ands in your life.

Identify Who Is Responsible 

After you have determined your minimum expectation, you have to decide who is responsible for making sure the minimum is done every week. Just like in our professional lives, if it isn’t clear who is accountable - then no one is accountable and the likelihood of completion is very low. 

There are three options for responsibility :

Do It: There are things I am responsible for and I do them. They are mine to keep and manage.

Ex: Food: I plan, meal prep and cook the food for our family each week. I enjoy cooking and it brings me joy to make food for my family. 

Delegate It: assign responsibility to a family member. Ensure they understand the commitment, are trained on how to do the job and know the expectations of timing. 

Ex: Cleaning out my car: My two older girls do this every other weekend. I taught them how to sweep, dust and refill supplies (snacks and tissues) in my SUV. 

Hire it out: Making the intentional decision to hire out tasks that take you away from quality time with the relationships you value is a high-value decision in my book. As we have continued to have more earning opportunities and our kids have become more involved (re: travel sports) this has been a critical piece to our ongoing sanity as a family. 

Ex: Laundy: All laundry done weekly. Wash, dry, put away is completed by our Home Manager (hired through MySherri). 

Think through your own minimums

Here is a more detailed description of The Basic 5 to help you think through the minimums in your life. 

  1. Food: Everyone needs to solve for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Food needs to be bought, prepped and prepared. Who is planning, who is grabbing groceries, when is it being prepped and prepared? Will you eat out? Will you eat at home? Who will pack lunches? 
  1. Laundry: Everyone has laundry. Those of us with so many kids have mountains of laundry. Who is going to wash and dry it? Who will fold? Who will put it away? Will laundry be done on the same day every week? 
  1. Home: How is your home being solved for? The grass needs to be mowed, the bathrooms need to be cleaned. The toys need to be picked up. How are these things going to happen and who is going to do them? What about the nightly ‘pick and put’, will counter tops be cleaned off every evening? Who will unload the dishwasher, when will it be run? 
  1. Family: When you have a family, you have to solve for their care in order to be able to do the things you need. When they are little, this may look like daycare or a nanny. Who is dropping them off, who is picking them up? When they are in school: How are they getting there, what do they need for the day, what are they eating, how are they getting home? If you don’t have kids, this may look like solving for pets or elderly parents.
  1. Self: How are you taking care of yourself? If you don’t take care of yourself, it’s difficult to care well for others. Are you waking up early to get a workout in? Going to bed early to make sure that happens? Maybe this looks like taking some time for yourself once a month to get your hair done or get a facial. 

Create your own minimums

I’ve created a worksheet to help you define what your minimums are for each of the Basic 5. 

Your's will obviously look different from mine. Maybe your kids are in high school and they own their laundry. Maybe you have a dog, so you family section looks like taking care of him. Maybe your husband cooks dinner, so he is the owner of that section. The idea is to figure out what you need to have happen to make your life run smoothly and stick with it. If you are constantly trying to solve for these things, your capacity will run out very quickly.

Revisit this monthly as you’re getting started. I review every time we have a significant change in our family schedule. That is when things to break and I fall behind. 

Hope this helps you and your family maximize the peace in your home and time together. Let’s keep the easy things easy! 


To hear more about The Basic Five, check out this episode on Scared Confident.

For recipes to help you with your Food minimum, I love to use 1 protein to create multiple meals throughout the week. Check that out here.

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