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Organizing Month 11:Clearing out Holiday Stress

Organizing Month 11: Holiday stressWith the end of November comes my second to last installment of my walk through the book “One Year to an Organized Life,” by Regina Leeds. So far in this series we have tackled emotional and physical clutter and it has made all of the holiday activities so much easier. Here are links to the spaces we have organized so far; Kitchen, Garage, Bathroom, Bedroom, Paper Organization, Memorabilia, Travel, Kids Rooms, Living/Dining Room.

The author said it but I didn’t really believe it until Thanksgiving came upon us. She stated after creating organizational habits throughout the house this year your home will now support you during the holidays instead of sabotage you. She was totally right!

The freak-out begins

Every year about two weeks before Thanksgiving, I start to get anxious. I start to freak out imagining all that has to get done before Thanksgiving. Creating lists upon lists or what needs to be cleaned, purchased and cooked.  Tending to take on way to much this time of year, the process of prepping for the holiday’s makes me over complicate all of these things.

I worry will there be enough food? I envision how messy my house will be for guests.  Not to mention the time it will take to shop, prep, cook and clean the house, while still having to work a full-time job. Add to that the anxiety of seeing Christmas ads all over the place by early November. Are they kidding I haven’t even gotten through Thanksgiving yet and I’m already feeling the pressures of Christmas shopping?

Turkey, family and flooring oh my!

Well, to my surprise this year that didn’t happen when by all reason it should have been worse. See, about two weeks before Thanksgiving we were scheduled to get new flooring installed through almost all of our home. This renovation was scheduled for October but had to be postponed due to Hurricane Matthew.working-mother-clip-art-multitasking_mom1

Not only did I have my entire house in shambles, I had no floor for about a week and a half before the big day. Almost the whole house of furniture was packed into three bedrooms and we were still living in it! So roughly about four days before Thanksgiving, I had to put my entire house back together.

Still we could not move all the furniture back completely until the baseboard’s were done THE DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING. What? When I should be prepping, cleaning and cooking I had to move furniture.

The weird thing was, this year I was not stressed. I truly believe all of the work of de-cluttering had played a large roll in this lack of the anxiety I have come to associate with Thanksgiving.

In fact, once the floor was installed we realized how much nicer our home felt with less stuff. As we moved in some furniture, we uncluttered more and decided to get rid of pieces to make our small home feel more open.

During the renovation my kids and I were stuck in the bedroom and front yard for much of the time. I took this opportunity to further pare down my children’s belongings and tackled the scrapbook cabinet I had mentioned in a prior post. Getting rid of toys, cloths, and video games I missed on the first go around. Once that was done we moved on to Thanksgiving.

What was Thanksgiving like as a kid?

The first section of this chapter, in my view, is the most important. Surprisingly it has nothing to do with organizing your physical space. Instead it deals with confronting where your holiday stress comes from and setting your intention for this years celebration’s. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is huge.

It starts with several journal questions that dive into what your holiday was like as a child. They seem like simple questions at first but help you to discover some thought patterns that may be trapping you into a certain way of thinking about Thanksgiving.

Growing up my parents hosted Thanksgiving. My mom and Dad where really good cooks and dinner was always delicious. However my cousins, who would come over, had a beautifully decorated and immaculately clean home. My family… not so much. I remember being the only one to clean the house before Thanksgiving because I was embarrassed. To me our house was always a mess, our furniture was old and out dated. It was nothing like the clean, well-kept home my cousins had.

Looking back I realized my parents were more concerned about the food they prepared and the family time we had.  They were never much for appearances. Not having a ton of money or time, they felt these resources were better spent on providing a great meal, not on the appearance of the house.

However, after answering these questions I discovered the majority of my Thanksgiving stress was generating from this memory. It was not in the food preparation so much as the house cleaning I worried over. It was so difficult to keep the house clean to the way I wanted with two dogs and two children.

Mom, we really didn’t need a 20 lb Turkey

The other thing I realized is I completely over spent and over-cooked for Thanksgiving dinner. Every year I would watch my parents prepare Thanksgiving enough for 30 people when we where only 10. One year my mother even bought a 20 lb turkey! So growing up I always thought this was the way Thanksgiving was done.

This discovery was made when I was making my Thanksgiving menu, something that the author advises in the third section of the chapter. Going down my list, noting all of ingredients to shop for there was a nagging feeling to make this list longer. Eventually my husband asked why I was trying to make Thanksgiving stressful for myself by adding more to do? He was totally right. I didn’t have the time or the energy to add more and why did I feel like I needed too?

This Thanksgiving we had a wonderful time and I actually got to spend it with my family instead of in the kitchen. I allowed myself to take some shortcuts and help by purchasing cake and pie instead of making it myself and let my husband do the clean up.

Thanksgiving isn’t suppose to be about stressing out, or having an immaculate home filled to too much stuff. It is about family and making memories. So this year I am setting my intention on that.

[ctt title=”‘The holidays are about families celebrating together-the holiday is not supposed to be perfect,’ ” tweet=”‘The holidays are about families celebrating together-the holiday is not supposed to be perfect,’ ” coverup=”bla8Z”]from One Year to an Organized Life by Regina Leeds.

Back to school and back to the basics!

success in parentingChildren are back in school!

How much preparation do you give your children? My kids have been back in school for several weeks and the prep work made the process so much easier.

What am I talking about?

 If we want our children/students/grandkids to be prepared, we need to teach them routines. In the weeks prior to the start of school I began my preparation. This included adjusting morning and nighttime routine such as getting up and going to sleep.

 We love the summer as much as the next family, but we needed to gradually adjust our sleep schedules, slowly, to come more in tune with what they would look like when school started. This was a gradual process. If you would like more information, I have a series of videos in my Facebook group, bit.ly/SuccessinParenting, where I spoke about the specifics of changing these schedules as well as other routines.

The biggest struggles in my family at this time: meal planning/times and extra-curricular activity schedules. Why are these times a struggle? Meal times are my nightmare because I do NOT cook (it is not from a lack of trying). The other difficulty is scheduling of soccer practices/games. I am sure I am not the only one with these types of struggles, right?!

Let’s begin with how schedules interfere with meals. My 8-year-old and 16-year-old are both on traveling soccer leagues for different cities. Gavin, my baby, has practice on Monday & Wednesday evenings from 5:30-7 pm. McKenzie, my middle child and my girl, has practice Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 7-8:30 pm. Do you see any meal planning difficulties?

It gets better… Not really…Beginning next weekend, they will both have games on the weekends. So what is a mom to do? I picked up my essentials: a highlighter, calendar, and cell phone. Once both schedules were released I got down to business.

Comparing the kids’ schedules and our schedules took some work. We reached out to our extended family members and friends to help when we didn’t have enough adults to cover both activities. It takes a village! Pre-planning our schedule has been a life-saver in my house! Develop and utilize strategies and tools that work best for your family to fit in multiple extra-curricular events.

I have found it is better for my family to have a plan for everything from after school until bedtime, but it looks different for each of my children. A lot of the time, our schedules have to be on a sliding scale from strict to flexible. If you have a child that learns best with visuals, provide a picture schedule. Place the schedule in an order you think will work best. Then watch your child for signs of fatigue and frustration.

If you see these, change the arrangement of the pictures to work for your child. For a child that learns best through the auditory modality, record their schedule on an audio device so that they can stop and replay instructions as needed.

Here is a new strategy that someone recently shared with me. It can be modified in several ways and your child can try their hand in helping to color it and/or set the tasks. Click the link below to learn more about the After School Routine Clock.

 

http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/91715/school-routine-clock

Now on to the food.

I love to eat and I would love to say I am a fantastic cook! But because I have the inability to cook, it wouldn’t be the truth. Meal planning is how we survive. My hubby plans and preps meals for the week, typically. He preps each meal the night before so that all I need to do is heat it. He’s awesome!

Does this always work as planned? Heck no! I still burn meals, arrive home later than scheduled, have errands to run, etc… But I have backup plans! Eat a gluten-free (gf) diet can throw a wrench in plans sometimes, but it  can make easier too. I always have gf pasta, veggies, and other staples readily available to prepare on the fly.

There are a few items I can almost always successfully make like: garlic bread and grilled cheese. But those are not meals nor are they nutritious. My suggestion is to stock your pantry with nutritious items that are easy to keep on hand and simple to prepare.

What types of time management strategies do you currently have in place? How do you manage the time for homework, snacks, chores, etc….?

 

 

 

 

Save Yourself Time and Money Doing This One Thing

Save yourself time and money by doing this one thing

It’s called Simple Stockpiling

With the fall season descending upon us, the start of school, football and the return to routines, I have been thinking of ways a working mother can save time and stream line life. The return to the busy school schedule, working, and managing a household can really take a toll on time and money.

To free up more of the precious commodity of time and save some dollars for the coming holiday season (It is only 16 more weekends till Christmas!), I have started to stockpile household items I use frequently. Like a squirrel collecting nuts to store for the winter, stockpiling can be a great fall habit that can free up time and money for a working mom.

I know what you are thinking. I don’t mean stockpiling like the show “Hoaders,” or “Extreame Couponing.” But a little prep during the fall can really help cut down on needless trips to the store. With these concepts in mind and a little planning now you can be fully stocked to hold you over for months.

This doesn’t have to be done on a grand scale, just pick up a few extra jars of tomato sauce and pasta and you will always have the makings for a quick dinner. Add a few extra tubes of toothpaste to your shopping cart when they are on sale. This simple stockpiling can give you piece of mind and these small efforts will add up giving your more of what you need most, time an money.

It doesn’t have to be racks and racks of floor to ceiling cereal boxes in your garage. There are a few things you can think about when out shopping that can save you time, energy and money based on some stockpiling principals.

Watch for sales and buy multiples during them

Don’t have to go crazy and buy the whole store out. But if it an item that has a long shelf life and you can get it for a good price. Take advantage!

Only buy what you know you will use

The key to a stockpile that will save you time is to only purchase what you will actually use. This will prevent you from having to run out to the store for an ingredient. It also will save you from having to eat out when your pantry is empty. Have a few staples stocked up will prevent this from happening. In the end you will have to shop less giving you more time to send with family.

If you can only stockpile one thing make it toiletries

Items like toothpaste, shampoo conditioner ect. have a longer shelf life then food items. They also tend to have a higher price point on non sale weeks. It saves you time and energy to know you will always have these items on hand when you need them. No more worrying about running out of TP. (Trust me…we have all been there.)

 

Memories are Life’s Compass

time-stands-still-1153574

Memories are Life’s Compass

By Trish Russell

How do you create memories in the midst of life’s mayhem?

It’s easy. Seriously. I promise. I’ll give you my secret after I share WHY doing this will be of value. Don’t worry, I’m not going to say anything like, “Re-prioritize, unplug” all the advice we are ALREADY bombarded with daily.

First, why make memories? I mean really, pause and make memories? Because that’s what our kids will remember about us. That memories we build with our little ones are their life compass. Did we read to them? Were we interested in the stores they shared? They will recall the emotions wrapped around the images in their brain.

Still not convinced?

When the kids grow up and move away I hear that will happen one day.” I will be very sad and feel a gaping hole where my heart used to be. I will need a coping mechanism. I see the writing on the wall and don’t want to be consumed by depression and sadness that comes from missing them everyday. Therefore, I want a way to continue connecting with my kiddo’s, even when they become grown-ups and fly the nest.

So, for the plan…the answer…the KEY to memories.

Pick ONE thing. Pick a normal, everyday part of life YOU love and invite your people into it. Yes, creating lasting memories that will transcend time and space is that simple.

What does this look like? First, answer one of the following question:

Do you have a hobby that captivates your heart?

Are you a movie fanatic?

Is music a gift of yours?

Identify one part of your daily or weekly routine that brings life to YOUR soul then include your family members in it. Ask their opinions on a project or what to watch. Honor their ideas.

For me this area of life is cooking and baking. I love being in the kitchen. I find my center, peach and joy there. ince this is m ONE place in the house, I like it a certain way. In order to back and cook with my 4 year-old. I need to let go of that control and embrace themes.

For my husband, I continually ask what meals he enjoys and rotate them on the menu. We have an eat-in kitchen. That kitchen area has become a visiting place for me to connect to other mom’s and friends. My most sacred kitchen space is where I share activities that I can include my loved ones in.

This is not always easy. Some days I become frustrated because it is MY place and activities. Those moments are normal and if you acknowledge those feelings will arise they diffuse so much quicker and you can move on to making memories.

The other neat part about inviting those you love into your favorite space or activity is they will want to bring you along in their adventures too. Sharing life with family is complicated, beautiful and hopefully full of the unexpected.

Need some ideas to get started, meal times are the easiest ones for me

Banana split Sunday

Pizza & movie Friday

Chili & Games Saturday

To see more about Trish Check out her Facebook Group Our Modern Village

 

Why I had to break-up with cake decorating

cakeFor any of you that have been following this blog for a while you have heard me talk about, and seen me post my cakes. Last year, I decided to get serious about cake decorating and pursue it as a business. I got business cards, attended conferances and classes, and started taking on a steady stream of orders at a reduced starter price. The last part might have been my down fall.wpid-20150905_131320-1.jpg

I research the heck out of running a cake business and felt I was ready to get started. However, I lacked the confidance in my skills to charge full price, so I offered my services for a deep, deep discount. In January, I was gung-ho, and took on enough orders to carry me thought until April. I was so stoked! But then an odd thing happened. A week before each order was due, I found myself getting nervous, anxious and irritable. I was unable to take care of my house during the week before the order due date. I also found ,as much as I might try to schedule things outside of family time, it was always seeping into those hours.wp-1456191905077.jpg

In addition to the family intrustion, money was becoming a huge factor. Each time I had an order due I would have to do a fairly large outlay of money in supplies. In most cases the supply cost far exceeded the cost I was charging for the cake. So it was almost as if I was paying the customer for the cost of letting me do a cake for them. This started creating additional resentment and anger towards the craft.

I found with each order my resentment grew. I was sacrificing time with my family and it was costing me money in the process. Ok, I was learning but was it worth it? I was starting to feel like it wasn’t. But I was resistant to giving it up, I didn’t want to be a quitter.wp-1454870790682.jpg

By the end of Febuary I started to realize I was not in love with cake decorating like I had been just a fewmonths prior. I wanted to devote more time to my family, and had started wanting to expand the reach of my blog. My interests were changing and I found that I no longer wanted to decorate cakes anymore. After a long conversation with a trusted friend she stressed the idea that I must narrow my focus and pick where I wanted to go. Then I finally made the desion that I would no longer take on any cake orders and let the idea of a cake business fade into the background.

The other twist to this story was once I shared this with my family, they were surprisingly excited about my decision. They felt the resentment, anxity and neglect that was brought on by this venture. They wanted to be supportive of me and said nothing. But in reality they secretly wanted me to stop doing cake decorating. I had no idea this had such a big obvious impact on my family, but there it was clear as day. My kids were only little once and I was exchanging time with them for a business that I didn’t even enjoy anymore.wpid-wp-1445282137010.jpg

I might decide to try and start a cake business one day when I have more time. When my children are older. When I’m not working full-time. But for now I have decided to keep it as an occasional hobby and something to bring me joy. Not stress.wpid-20150822_162657-1.jpg

So what is my reason for telling you this story? To reinforce the idea that it is ok to change your mind. Sometime if it’s for the right reasons, it’s ok to be a quitter.

 

New $$$ Poll! Which things are worth spending money on?

Sometimes it is true that you get what you pay for. What items or services do you feel this is the case? Here in this new poll we find out what most of you think is worth spending money on. We can all learn from each other so please expand on there answer in the comments. You can see mine below.

What happens before the grocery store?

 

wgeaThat box of sugary cereal sitting high on the grocery store shelf. Those bananas in the produce section, The gallon low-fat milk in the dairy case. As a family we hastily run thorough the supermarket grabbing these items, but do we ever think of how they got there? More importantly, do our children understand that these items don’t magically appear on grocery store shelves? They are grown, cultivated and raised to become our food.

Our children are now generations removed from the agrarian system and really might not have a grasp of how our food is produced. This thought occurred to me as I was attempting to overhaul our household diet a few years back. When every item in your pantry is surrounded by cardboard, how will our children ever learn what real food is?grocery store

It became an important endeavor for my children to learn what real food was. Not packaged Goldfish crackers, but real fish. Not Oreo cookies, but oranges. Not Eggo waffles but real eggs. So I embarked on a journey to educate myself and them. This entailed learned about not only how things grow but also about the circle of life.

They are still young and I didn’t want to get to graphic about it, but I felt it was important to have an appreciation for the idea that meat doesn’t come from the meat counter. Some animal gave its life to nourish us.  Like Mustafa from the Lion King says, one day we will become the grass the animal eats and we will nourish it. We depend on each other.

To teach them some of these pretty heavy concepts, I looked to my local community for help. First I became part of a Community Supported Agriculture program. For a fee these programs give you a portion of what the farm produces. Sometimes it’s a little, sometimes the box is over flowing. It is all based on the harvest. So every other week, my children traveled with me to the farm to pick up the box and see what vegetables it contained. They also were able to tour the farm and speak with the farmers. You can see if your community has a CSA program at LocalHarvet.org

In the summer, I also try to take the kids to a local “U-Pick.” A U-pick is a farming area where you can pick as many items that will fits into a box or bucket for one price. I will have them pick cherry tomatoes and green peppers then they help me cook them for that night’s dinner. This way they not only had the fun of picking the vegetables they also got to see first-hand how they become a meal.

The toughest concept, but one I feel was the most important, is to have respect for our environment and the animals in it. Eating meat is not a bad thing, it is what is something natural. However, it is important to have an appreciation for the animal that gave its life for our food. So whenever possible, I try to buy grass fed and humanly raised meats and fish. Yes, it is more expensive and not always in the budget. However, if my children can learn to be good stewards of our planet, that we are all connect, and to respect other creatures. That lesson is priceless.

 

 

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