Have you thought about your New Year's resolutions? Instead of a resolution looming over you the entire year, consider using our tips to simplify and strategize your life. Below you'll find tips from Hilary (our fabulous copywriter) and Lauren (our CEO)!
Goal #1: Work smarter, not harder
- My mom told me something she heard on a podcast the other day. "If something takes under a minute to do, just do it." I have really been trying to do just that, and it's working out well so far. These are little things I can sneak in when I have a free moment, and at the end of the day, it will have added up to much more.
- My goal is also to spend less time on my phone. When my daughter goes down for a nap, or to bed, it's easy to get out my phone and mindlessly scroll. However, there are so many ways I could otherwise be using my time. Sure, you could tackle some chores, but I'm talking about playing dominoes with my husband, doing a quick workout, reading a magazine, painting my nails, or, you know, sleeping. Being a stay at home mom can feel really isolating, and I find myself using my phone as a way to feel connected to the world.
- I recently read this article on The Every Girl and completely fell in love with it. The advice isn't groundbreaking (it's actually very basic) but it helped me feel like I don't need to be perfect to be a great mom. Number four is my favorite. Whenever I'm asked to bring something to a class party or friend's house, I feel the need to present a homemade Pinterest masterpiece. Next time I'm ordering cupcakes from the local bakery. 🤗
- Keeping up with your inbox is one of the biggest productivity killers. I've learned to set aside 30-minute increments in my day to answer emails and clear out my inbox. I start with the most important issues and work my way to the simple responses. It may be a faux pas, but if a response isn't a priority, I generally push it off a few days. Friends and family know if they need a quick response, texting or calling is the way to go!
Goal #2: Get your child(ren) to help you
- Now that my daughter is 2, it is time to start having her help out around the house. Yes, you heard me! Chores are so important for kids. Not only do they help you out, but they build self-esteem, as well. Kids feel like they can contribute to the family, and it builds skills for adulthood. It is easy to underestimate what kids can do, especially when they're tiny and are still pooping their pants (diapers) on a regular basis. What I learned as a teacher, though, is that they will nearly always rise to the occasion. It’ll be worth it in the end.
- Here's an example of some age-appropriate chores. Remember, they're cumulative and build upon each other. Hell. Yes.
Hilary and I are completely on the same page when it comes to having your children help out around the house. It's great for their benefit but also takes some of the stress off of your shoulders. Huge win, win!
- Create a docking station: As soon as my kids arrive home from school, they know they need to take their shoes off, hang up their backpacks, and place their jacket in their cubby. Even the 2-year-old twins know exactly what to do and love that it pleases mommy so much. I created a little docking station for the three of them with a cubby bookshelf, these bins, and 3M hooks.
- Self-serve snacks: One of my pet peeves is when my kids ask for snacks ALL DAY LONG. To help with this issue we created an area in our kitchen where our kids can find child-appropriate food to help themselves to. These storage containers are great for cereal and crackers. We even have a little measuring cup inside to help them scoop. Their plastic bowls and cups are also stored in a large drawer at their level. We also keep fresh fruit in a bowl they can easily access.
Goal #3: Prepare for the week ahead
- I have a little Sunday ritual. I take some time to fill in my planner with appointments and other obligations. I write out a general to-do list for the week. I write a grocery list and plan out what we will eat this week. I will look for coupons on some more expensive items, and I'll check Target's Cartwheel section (on their app) for any deals.
- Since I'm primarily a stay at home mom, I have learned that my days are very unpredictable. This is the complete opposite from when I was a teacher. My life was planned out to the minute! Literally! Now, I write a general to-do list for the week and plan a little time each day to tackle the list. I don't write anything specific for the day (unless absolutely necessary), and I pick a few items I feel like tackling during that time. It gives me more flexibility and I feel like less of a failure if things don't go according to plan.
- Bullet Journaling: I recently found bullet journaling (I know I'm super late to this party) and fell in love with how quickly you can manage just about every aspect of your life in a visually pleasing way. I stick to the very basic layouts (no caligraphy here), planning my weekly schedule, long-term projects, daily goals (like drinking enough water), and everything in between. It's helpful for me to plan ahead so when I open up my notebook on Monday morning, I can quickly transition into the work week without the extra cup of coffee to jumpstart my brain. If you're interested in a simple layout (like me) check these out. Perfectly simple!
- Meal Planning: I both love and loathe to cook. When I have time, cooking feels relaxing and I genuinely enjoy preparing a nice meal for my family. On busy weeknights, the last thing I want to do is spend 30 minutes in the kitchen. Knowing this about myself, I plan a special meal every week (one that takes around 30-minutes to prepare) and 3-4 quick meals that really only require tossing a few things together. I grocery shop over the weekend so my fridge is fully stocked, saving me from the grocery store on weeknights. My favorite quick meals are Turkey Tacos, Turkey or Veggie Burgers (the Trader Joes Sweet Chili Veggie Burgers (frozen) are amazing! 🙌), and Teriyaki Pineapple Meatballs (Costco!) with pasta. Sometimes I swap the pasta for carrot noodles (also found frozen at Trader Joes) when I'm feeling extra healthy.
Goal #4: Simplify
I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. What do I absolutely need to do ( It's a lot less than I thought. My biggest goal is to accept simplicity.
- This is a goal of mine every year. Being an anxious, Type A personality, I tend to be sorrrrrta neurotic. I have gotten better at saying no to things that make life too busy and hectic. It’s hard, and sometimes I feel guilty, but I’m much happier when I’m not stressed. Remember, "No," is a complete sentence! Don't always feel like you need to give a reason as to why you can't do something.
- I need to be better at setting realistic goals. I love to think I can do everything, but I can't. For instance, instead of cooking dinner 6 nights a week, my goal is now 3-4. I buy prepared food more often, and the meals are more simple than I'd prefer, but it is what it is. My family has full bellies and full hearts and that's what matters.
Simplicity has had a major comeback lately, and for good reason. I find myself striving to simply just about every aspect of my life so I can feel like there's room to breathe again.
- Consider what's most important: Similar to the tips above, simplifying your life is really about figuring out what's most important to you, planning a way to achieve those things, and eliminating the rest. Like Hilary mentioned, learning to say "no" without guilt is key. It's okay to say no from time to time. Every single person you know will understand.
- Channel your inner Marie Kondo: Clutter tends to complicate so a great way to simplify is to reduce the amount of clutter (possessions) in your life. If something isn't 1) useful, 2) meaningful, or 3) pleasant to look at, do you really need it? If the answer is no, get rid of it. It's incredibly freeing to be in an environment where everything meets that 3 critiera.
Goal #5: What can I take off my plate?
I tend to be very good at taking things on and not so good scaling back my life. This is definitely a work in progress for me!
- As moms, our "plates" are always overflowing. Have you heard of the mental load? It's really resonated with me and has rung 100% true. My husband is wonderful and he is "all in" as a father and husband, but there's just something about how differently our brains work. He's not thinking about what to pack weeks before we head on a vacation, and he's not losing sleep about what preschool our daughter should go to.
- I've learned to a) ask for help and b) delegate things to other people when I can (my husband is in charge of certain people's Christmas presents, for instance). I don't like asking for help. I like to think that I can do everything by myself, all the time. That is sooooo far from the truth.
My personality type wants to do everything, all at once. I know that's not realistic (or healthy) so learning to take things off my plate has been an ongoing project.
- Delegate at home: I'm the worst at asking for help, even when it's simply asking my husband to share in the meal prep or start bathtime. But if I don't ask, how will he know I need help? It took a while to get into the routine of asking, but now I'll do it without hesitation. Even better, my husband knows what I'll ask before I do and sometimes has already taken care of it.
- Delegate at work: You have a team at work for a reason. Use them! For some reason I used to be timid to pass along projects to teammates, thinking it was inconveniencing them. Now I know to have an open line of communication. Sometimes it's best for me to keep the task, other times a teammate is eager to tackle it.
Here's to a wonderful 2018!