How to stop managing your time and start owning it

blogowntime.png

Hi, my name is Kendra and I am a recovering to-do list junkie.

Boy, did that feel good to say out loud, err, in writing.

But seriously, I am. Crossing things off to-do lists gave me a high like no other and I used to get my jollies from making as many lists as possible just so I could feel that rush.

That should have meant that I was getting mad things done, yo. Right?

Wrong. Very, very wrong.

In fact, I was less productive than ever when I was in the throes of list-making madness.

I should probably say that making lists has been a hobby of mine since I was a youngster. Even as a kid, I can remember making lists of what I needed to “do” on a weekend, or what I needed to bring to a sleepover, and eventually the workflow of a school project. In hindsight, these lists helped me, but they quickly turned on me and became a dark obsession and form of procrastination.

You see, making the list became more fun than the actual doing of the list items. Raise your hand if you can relate. Lists make us feel productive. They make us feel important. They make us feel powerful. They give the illusion that we are managing our time and isn’t that the phrase of the moment, time management?

Unfortunately, it is all an illusion and the thing that brought me back from the brink of drowning in a pile of sticky notes and iPhone note reminders was giving up managing my time and instead learning how to own it.

It seems like such a small change in words, but it makes all the difference. Managing your time means to take charge or care of it, while owning your time means to take possession of your time and make it belong to you. Subtle, but crucial.

You don’t just manage your car, you own it. You don’t just manage your favorite pair of shoes, you own them. You don’t just manage your wine bottle collection, you own it, girl. It is yours to do whatever you want with it. When you stop trying to manage the time we are given and instead take ownership of it, it’s a whole lot easier to be productive and let go of the crap we don’t want to be doing.

Now, because I am so good at my job, I can already hear some of the moms out there rolling their eyes (eye rolling makes a distinct sound) and saying, “Right. Sure. I’m gonna “own” my time with 3 kids involved in activities, a husband, a job and volunteer stuff on the side.” Well, yes. Because everything you’re doing each day is a choice and while most of us live our lives thinking we have no choices, those of us that take time by the throat and lead it where we want are the ones that become fulfilled and happy, rather than constantly complaining and stressed. That’s just a hard pill for some people to swallow.

To make the pill a little easier to take down, here are some tips for taking ownership of your time and get rid of the antiquated time management thought

Stop making long lists. I was the queen of the long list. “No, no. You don’t get it. I have to get these 27 things done today or the world will implode.” There isn’t a person on earth that needs to get that many things done in a day, and if they do, they have others do it for them. You are only as productive as the things you do in a day. Long lists only waste your time on minutia, usually filler that we put on the top of our lists so we can avoid the really important things near the bottom. Which brings me to my next tip…

Start with priority one and don’t move on until it is done. If I told you that you could pick one and only one thing to get done today, how would that affect your to-do list? You’d be a lot choosier, right? The truth is, you can be that way every day. What is the most important thing that you need to accomplish on this day? It doesn’t have to be big or grand or even exciting. It could be that you need to make dentist appointments or pay that bill that’s been sitting on your desk, or perhaps you need to call a caterer for a party you’re throwing, or declutter the linen closet. Whatever the task is, own it and put it at the top. Everything else you accomplish that day is gravy. When you start with tasks that don’t matter, you fill your day with busy work and never actually accomplish the things you said you would (I speak from experience.)

Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.
— Greg McKeown

Start saying no. If you want to become an owner of your time, say no, a lot. I think this is just a rolling tip of mine for every situation in life, especially for moms. Want more time for yourself, for your kids, for your family, for your spouse? Say no. Say no to things that people ask you to do. There is a quote that has been going around lately that is so true, it hurts. “If it’s not a hell yes, it's a no.” Has someone asked you to bake 4 dozen cupcakes for the PTA bake sale? Unless you can say hell yes, it’s a no. Has someone asked you to watch their kids after school for 2 weeks while their sitter is on vacation? If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no. The only person in control on your time is you, so own it and say a hearty no to the things you don’t want to do, so you can make room for the things you do want to do.

Keep and share your electronic calendar. I am a Google calendar freak. I put everything on it. Every appointment, every reminder, every call. Why? Because if it isn’t on that calendar, I’m not doing it. The trap I see many moms fall into is keeping only a paper calendar at home. While I have and use a large calendar at home, it is a backup for my main phone calendar. We live electronic, busy lives and when we rely only on our calendars at home, we end up over-committing ourselves and not realizing it. Also, electronic calendars can be synced with everyone in your family, so everyone knows what is going on and when. Boom.

Start delegating. The most successful people in the world do something that the rest of us need to take serious note of: they delegate. Delegation is just a way of giving away tasks to others, whether that means in your own family or someone you hire. Your kids can and should be doing chores. You spouse should be helping around the house. You should not be doing it all. Plain and simple. How you delegate is totally up to you and your lifestyle, but if you make it a point to be a mommy martyr and do it all, you will find that it is not only hard to own your time, it is actually impossible. Look into hiring a mommy’s helper for a couple hours a week so you can get work done, go shopping, take a nap, get your nails done or take a walk. Hiring a young teen is much cheaper than you’d expect and those extra hours of focused time and self-care can make all the difference.

Ready to own your house cleaning schedule so it no longer owns you? Grab your free copy of the Everything and the Kitchen Sink house cleaning list.

Go to bed later or get up earlier (or both) This is a delicate subject when I bring it up with mom clients. I will say right off the bat that if you are in the season of “my infant doesn’t sleep”, perhaps this isn’t the tip for you, but the rest of us should take note, myself included. Every time I find myself complaining about not getting things done, I ask, “Well, Kendra. What time did you get up this morning? What time did you go to bed last night?” The answer is usually embarrassing and shines a bright light on how much more time I could have had if I had woken up even 15 minutes earlier. Again, this is all about ownership. Your kids don’t control your time, you do. Your alarm doesn’t control your time, you do. If you know you need an extra 15-20 minutes in the morning to get a quick workout in, take a shower, or just drink coffee in peace, then wake up earlier. Complaining won’t fix the problem. I know, I’ve tried.

Use timers. If keeping tabs on your time just isn’t your thing and you fall into the Pinterest rabbit hole easily, use timers. If you want to clean the house, but only have 30 minutes, set a timer. If you want to research the best curtain for your living room, set a timer and don’t go over it. Timers keep you in control of your time by forcing it upon you. Most of us could easily fall down the black hole of busy work, so set a timer and only allow yourself a certain amount of time to get it done.

Make decisions fast. One of the biggest time wasters I see moms making is hemming and hawing over every single decision. Taking 5 weeks to decide on the perfect car seat for their toddler, making Pinterest board after Pinterest board for meal plans, but never actually making them. Knowing they want to declutter the toy room, but sitting on it for a month deciding which day to start. This, my friends, is called procrastination. It is wrapped in a pretty bow and sold as decision making, but the truth is, it is a waste of time if you aren’t make decisions swiftly. When you take ownership of the decision, you take ownership of your time and can move on to other things that need your attention. So do the research on that car seat, narrow it down to two and make a decision, today.

Be flexible and give yourself grace. Moms aren't nearly flexible enough and don't forgive themselves as easily as they should. Don't be a slave to the clock or the schedule. Have fun, be flexible,  show time who's boss. And every now and then, give yourself grace to write down "Keep kids alive." on your list just so you can have something to check off.


Now that you know you've got a better handle on how to own your time like a boss, applesauce, it's time to get down to business with what you use that time for. House cleaning is usually a nagging chore for most moms, which is why I created the Everything and the Kitchen Sink cleaning list. Sign up below to join The Mother Like a Boss Vault and gain free access to home management printables, worksheets, mini courses, audio lessons and more! This vault is your key to all things #homemakerish and it's totally free.

11 ways to easily speed clean your house

blogspeedclean.png

Oh, house cleaning. It is either the bane of your existence or the happiest joy of your life. Unless you're a freako like me, house cleaning probably doesn't fill your heart with happiness, but no matter how much we like or despise cleaning, the one thing we all have in common is a desire to do it faster.

For moms, most things are about speed. How fast can I clean this up? How fast can I get dinner on the table? How fast can I suck down this glass of wine before anyone notices? Ya know, the important things. Time is of the essence and becoming more efficient AND effective at what we do is the key to gaining more minutes in the day.

As a former professional house cleaner, I've spent years perfecting the art of speed cleaning. As a mom, I'm constantly trying to perfect them. There are tutorials galore on the methodology, but I much prefer these quick tips and strategies from my time in the trenches. House cleaner tested, mom approved.

1. Declutter first. The only thing worse than a dirty home is a clean home with a bunch of clutter in it. When you really think about it, what is the point of hemming and hawing over cleaning when you’re just going to throw junk back on top of that clean countertop? Decluttering your spaces is always numero uno when it comes to speed cleaning. Set a timer and declutter everything in 5-10 minutes. Put it back where it belongs and if you’re on the fence about keeping it or needing it, there is a good chance it can be chucked in the garbage.

2. Start in one area and work your way out. When I had my cleaning business, I was a big fan of starting in the top corner of the house and working my way out. This works in a lot of ways, but mostly it just meant I could do it faster. It made no sense to clean the downstairs floor, then walk on it to go upstairs, then have to come back downstairs and reclean that floor. See what I mean? Make you life easier (and the whole process faster) by “working your way out.”

3. Always clean top to bottom. Along the same lines as above, always start from the top and work your way to the bottom. Seriously. No exceptions, unless you are a fan of cleaning things twice. Ain’t nobody got time for that. What does this mean? It means dust and wash the areas highest up and work your way down. Ceiling fans, cobwebs and the tops of furniture should be done first, then work your way down to the floor.

Ready to makeover your cleaning routine? Grab your free copy of the Everything and the Kitchen Sink house cleaning list.

4. Have your supplies handy and accessible. I talk about this all the time, but it is basically professional/speed cleaning 101. When you don’t have your cleaning supplies right at your fingertips, it just takes up more time. Imagine having everything you need in a bag or a caddy, rather than having to search around the house of the spray bottles, clothes and sponges you need. Huge. Time. Saver.

5. Stick to a routine. I LOVE a good cleaning routine. In fact, I developed a course on that. You can take a look at it here. Having a solid cleaning routine allows you to not only get more done in the house, but do it far more quickly. Once you develop a routine, you’ll notice how quickly things become. Think about how easy it is for you to brush your teeth or tie your shoes. You don’t even think about the steps, you just do it. That’s because it is a habit, created by a routine. Routines create speed.

6. Clean as you go. This may seem like it goes against the tip above about routines, but hear me out. If you have your kitchen scheduled to be cleaned on Tuesday, but you cooked a baked a lot on Sunday, don’t wait until Tuesday to clean. Clean as you go. Wash the dishes while the food cooks, wipe down the stove immediately after it gets dirty, run the self-clean oven setting when you’re done. Cleaning as you go is a speed cleaning tip not many people take advantage of. If you want your house to stay clean, clean it as you go.

7. Leave the floors and glass until the very end. Cleaning can put dust and dirt into the air that will eventually fall onto the floor and usually stick to glass. Leave it for last. Doing it first will just mean you have to do it again, and that is a speed cleaning no-no.

8. Clean the shower in the shower. I can’t believe how few people take advantage of this super useful tip. When are you closest to the shower and all it’s soap scum glory than when you are in it. No stretching over the sides of the tub or worrying about getting wet, because you’re already there. Keep your cleaning supplies right in the bathroom (or even in the shower itself) and go to town while you’re in there. You’ll be amazed how clean your shower stays.

9. Stop worrying about it getting dirty again. The one thing I hear over and over again is, “It just seems futile. It’ll just get dirty again.” Well so will your hair, but that doesn’t stop you from washing it. Dirt is inevitable. Dust is inevitable. Kids are messy. People are messy. Stop focusing on the negative aspects of not keeping a spotless home and instead, focus on how it feels to have it clean, even if that’s for 20 minutes. Your mindset plays more of a roll in how you view cleaning than you think.

10. Set a timer. If you really want to get motivated to clean your fast like Speedy Gonzolaz, set a timer. Do as much as you can before the timer goes off. Boom. Speed cleaning at it’s finest.

11. Be like Nike. Just do it. Don’t worry about not being “good” at cleaning. Stop focusing on what you should do, and how, and when. If you see some dust, grab a rag and go to it. Clutter piling up on the end table? Take care of it now. I can give you tips, tricks and tools for days, but the most important one of all is to just do it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be done.

 


Now that you know you've got a better handle on how to clean the house faster, what about the nagging question, "But WHAT should I be cleaning and when?"  Sign up below to join The Mother Like a Boss Vault and gain free access to home management printables, worksheets, mini courses, audio lessons and more! This vault is your key to all things #homemakerish and it's totally free.

Sign language for every age and stage

A post by Melissa Droegemueller of Rolling Prairie Readers

It was January 2010 when we heard the question for the first time: “Have you considered using sign language with Addie?” We were halfway through our daughter’s initial speech therapy appointment, sitting on our living room floor with a therapist we had just met.

Addie was 18 months old and not yet speaking, although my notes from that first session say she “had some sounds.” Born 14 weeks early, she had already undergone several surgeries and was affected by significant developmental delays like speech and walking. We were eager to try anything our experts suggested, so the next day we headed off to our local library to check out two Signing Time DVDs.

Seven years and another daughter later, we have the hindsight to say that learning sign language with our children has been one of our best parenting moves so far.

And in fact, baby sign language has become much more mainstream over the past few years—many parents are teaching their infants the signs for milk, more, please, and all done. However, many families stop signing once their child begins using speech regularly. Today, I’d like to share with you the countless benefits of signing with children of all ages!

 

Babies

  • Signing with your baby can offer you a view into your baby’s thoughts and needs, aid in bonding, and empower your baby to express him/herself and feel understood long before speech develops.
  • Your infant will also enjoy watching your facial expressions and body movements as you begin using signs to communicate.

Toddlers

  • Signing with toddlers is fun and rewarding because toddlers have a passion for communication.
  • Toddlers’ first attempts at speaking are not always clear. Signing can empower them to express their wants and needs in a way that is easy to understand, which can help reduce tantrums. (Would you rather your child point and whine or show you a sign?)
  • Signing helps toddlers notice details. American Sign Language uses specific hand shapes, and children who are learning signs must first look carefully at the hand of their teacher or parent and then replicate the sign. This type of visual discrimination builds memory, stamina, and other pre-reading skills.
  • Sign language also develops fine motor skills. Toddlers learn to isolate fingers to make the signs correctly, which leads to good pencil control down the road.

Preschoolers

  • At this age, many children are kinesthetic learners, using their bodies to support their brain acquiring new information. Learning the alphabet, counting to 20, and identifying colors all becomes easier with visual and tactile cues like sign language.
  • These movers and shakers LOVE to sign because it gives them an approved outlet for moving in the classroom.
  • Learning American Sign Language is also a great way to build your child’s vocabulary (eg. use the sign for SAD when you come across the word distressed in a story) and clarify what he or she is trying to express when struggling to find the correct word.

Older children

  • Elementary age and older can learn ASL as a second (or third) language, like French or Spanish. Many high schools and colleges offer American Sign Language a foreign language credit.
  • American Sign Language is used by millions of Deaf Americans, and learning some basic signs can empower your child to interact with someone who is Deaf in the future.
  • Finally, sign language is a great way to communicate to a family member across a crowded room or during times when talking would be disruptive.

Over the last seven years, our girls have blossomed thanks to sign language. Both girls are confident, friendly, and strong readers, which seems to be quite common with children who learn ASL as young children.

So today I pass the question on to you: “Have you considered using sign language with your children?”


Melissa Droegemueller is a classroom teacher-turned- homeschooling mama to two girls, ages 8 and 5. Her family lives in small-town Iowa where they go on long nature walks by the lake and even longer bike rides through town to their one (or both) of their two favorite places—the library and the hometown bakery. Melissa is passionate about empowering all parents to be their child’s first & best teacher and nurturing a community of families on a small corner of the Internet called Rolling Prairie Readers. http://rollingprairiereaders.com/

How I stay unfrazzled even as a busy mom

blogunfrazzlednew.png

There is a new word popping up and making the rounds in the motherhood world. I mean, it’s been around for a while, but in the era of social media and everyone knowing everyone else’s business from moment to moment, we’re more aware of the word’s existence. The word many moms are using to describe their current situation at any given moment is frazzled.

This word has become such a part of the parenting lexicon that they even use the word parent in the dictionary definition example. “To cause to feel completely exhausted; wear out: a frazzled parent.”

I’ll be honest and say I didn’t feel a stitch of exhaustion or frazzle until after the birth of my son, who is our second child. My first was a gem. She still is 10 years later. She was the kind of baby that makes you say, “If every kid was like her, I’d have 10 more.” My son is the type that makes a mom say, “If he had been the first, he would have been the last.” God bless him. He didn’t mean to make me frazzled. This feeling isn’t really coming from our kids. It’s coming from us.

Because I had become so accustomed to an easy, breezy child, the birth of my son was a shock to my system and brought my complete lack of routine to the forefront of our home. No longer could I get away with going with the flow every day, nor could I say yes to every single opportunity that came my way. It was a lot to handle and to say I was frazzled is an understatement.

But there is a beautiful ending to my story and it involves a lot of good ‘ol fashioned hard learning that brought me to the place I am now, the place where I don’t feel that exhaustion and frazzle every day. The place where I don’t identify as a hot mess. The place where I am allowed to be a good mom, a good wife and a cool chick all at once without feeling like a big lump of insanity.

Now, I’m going to say something that may strike people as controversial. It may hit a nerve, and that’s ok, because a little raw nerve hitting is exactly what we all need sometimes. We have glorified this way of life in this country. We have glorified the over-worked, stressed-out, messy hair, haven’t-showered-in-a-week, frazzled to the max mom. We’ve glorified busy and made it cool to work yourself to the bones. We’ve glorified mommy martyrdom where mom is the only one doing anything around the house and gets no credit for it. We’ve decided that being a hot mess is just the way it is. And it isn’t. I’m proof.

We’re all so busy being busy that we’ve forgotten what we’re even busy doing. Busy doesn’t just mean “lots to get done” anymore. It now means filling your schedule from morning to night with things you don’t want to do and don’t need to do, all for the sake of saying you did. Somewhere along the way, being a mom who just does the things in a semi-orderly fashion became uncool. Having your ish together is something we roll our eyes at. Homemaking became the butt of a joke, except no one is laughing because we’re too busy being frazzled.

We’re all so busy being busy that we’ve forgotten what we’re even busy doing.

To say my daily life as a mother is imperfect would be an understatement. The fact that I don’t identify as frazzled doesn’t mean that I don’t have moments in Melt Down City, population me. I’ve cried in the shower, I’ve locked myself in my room, I’ve yelled so loud, I thought I’d get the attention of the people the next down over. I’ve lost my shit, found it and lost it all over again. But the truth is, those moments get fewer and further between as each day passes.

I’ve been asked, especially now that I act as a coach and strategist for moms on all things home management, how I am able to keep it “all together.” I’ve laid out a bunch of the ways I keep my cool as a mom below, but the cold hard truth is that the reason I am not frazzled is because I don’t want to FEEL frazzled. In much the same way I don’t want to burn my hand on the stove and therefore keep my hand away from the red hot burner coil, I keep myself away from the things that give me those stressed out feelings. I don’t want to be a hot mess. I don’t want to be perfect, but I don’t want to feel so overwhelmed by life that I forget to live it. I don’t want motherhood to take over who I am and what I stand for in a way that forces me to be a different person, a person who is sad, stressed and sluggish. So I choose not to be that way.

Rather than give a long list of my tips and tools for staying off the frazzle bus, I thought I would instead tell you what I do personally that keeps me away from that stressful feeling.

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know what works for every mom. Some days I’m not even sure the things I am doing are right, but I do know that these are the actions and feelings I have made an abundant part of my everyday living that allow me to see motherhood through the lens of clarity and general unfrazzlement (a word a just made up. Feel free to make it a hashtag)

I prioritize everything I do. Only the most important things get done first. I’m not saying this is without its challenges, because being a mom, wife, friend, sister, daughter, Girl Scout co-leader, business owner and coach makes a girl feel like everything is a priority. It isn’t, and the sooner we all realize that, the sooner we can let go of the stress that holds us down under a pile of bricks. When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.

To that end, I don’t do anything that isn’t a priority. After I become clear about what my priorities are, I refuse to do anything that isn’t one. Again, it aint always easy, but it is necessary. I’d also like to add for good measure that our priorities can and will change regularly, sometimes by the hour. If your priority was to paint the living room this weekend and your 5 year old ends up with pneumonia, your priorities will change faster than you can drive to urgent care.

I say no to a lot of things, both in my personal life and in business. I think I could write any entire post just on the fine art of saying no. Saying no feels both scary and deliciously wonderful all at the same time. When you say no to something, it feels like you’re letting people down, but remember that every no you say makes way for a big, fat, awesome yes to something else. Something you really want to do, not feel obligated to do. Side note: This also means saying no to your children. While this isn’t a blog about how to parent your kids (because I am no expert), it is my humble and honest opinion that your kids don’t need to hear yes to every question. Let them learn how to deal with the word no, and maybe even learn the fine art of negotiation.

I have very set and clear routines. I developed these even more so after my son was born. While dealing with a nasty case of postpartum anxiety and throwing myself into a dizzy almost everyday over what was or wasn't getting done, I realized a clear routine was going to be my best friend. Just like priorities, these change over time. As the kids grow and change, so do our routines, but we stick to them like glue. When everyone knows what to expect each day at very specific times (think bedtime), then it becomes much easier to eliminate stress.

I don’t keep clutter. This probably goes without saying as I spend my days teaching other moms how to manage their homes and let go of clutter to make it easier to keep their homes. Clutter is a stressor that can not only cause you to feel frazzled, but can bring on feelings of high anxiety and depression. In short, your clutter can make you feel downright unhappy. Being surrounded by stuff that doesn’t fill you with joy or serve a purpose is a recipe for stress and chaos. Remove the clutter and make more room for the joy and peace.

I stick to a schedule. My routines are a part of my schedule and I make sure that everyone knows the schedule for the week. We have white boards for notes and a big calendar that sits in the hallway that everything goes on. I use a Google calendar and I literally put everything into it. It has become such a habit now that if it isn't on the schedule/calendar, it isn't getting done.

…But I am also flexible. Because stuff comes up. Life happens. Kids happen. Spilled chocolate milk on the front of your already-late-to-preschool daughter happens. Flexibility is just as important as routine.

I let a lot of things go (physically and emotionally) Hi, my name is Kendra and I am a recovering worrier. I spent much of my life as someone who worried. A lot. The funny thing is, I never worried about the same things other people did, but when I did worry, it would consume my every thought. Learning to let go of the things I cannot control has been a life changer. If I can't control it, I release it and move on. Sometimes, that means letting go of toxic people and relationships because they cause more stress than they are worth. Mama doesn't have time for that.

I have an awesome husband as a support system. I realize that not everyone is this lucky, but I thought it was worth mentioning because there is not a day that goes by that I am not eternally grateful for this support. He keeps me sane and I like to think I do the same for him. If you don’t have that in a spouse or partner, seek it out in your community. Find support. Find the village that it takes.

I ask for help when I need it. This is probably the toughest one of all, especially for us moms with a superhero complex. “Oh, just let me do it. I can do it faster. I can do it better. I can do it all!” Until you’re huddled in the corner, rocking back and forth crying because you can’t remember the last time you peed alone.

I block my time. Whoever invented or first discovered time blocking and brought it to the masses is a genius. This method of scheduling myself has literally changed how I make and use my schedule and created a world where I am not longer stressed about everything that needs to be done (or at least I don't need to be stressed.) Parkinson's Law saws that tasks will expand to the time you allow, so if you mindlessly throw things on a to-do list (yoohoo, exactly what I used to do!) it will take you the entire day to do those things. If you put those tasks into specific time blocks, magically they will get done in that amount of time. The brain is silly that way. Frazzle be gone.

My kids have chores and help with a lot around the house. We are a community in this house and in a community, everyone participates and everyone helps. Rather than play the martyr who spends her days cleaning up constantly after others, we have set very clear rules and chores for everyone in the house. Do they always get done the way I want? Nope. Do I sometimes have to remind them 3 or 4 times? Yup, but I figure that's just part of this motherhood deal I signed up for. In the end, when everyone helps, I can let go of control and let go of the frazzle that comes along with it.

My kids do NOT rule our schedule. This. Is. HUGE for us. Our children don’t run our lives, we do. Our children are not in charge of what we do or where we go, we are. We have them involved in only the things that are important (those dang priorities again.) I personally refuse to spend my adult life running my children to every single possible sport or extracurricular activity. The thought of doing that stresses me out, so I avoid it. We prioritize the most important things and let the rest go.

I embrace the season I am in. At the time that I am writing this, I have a beautiful, talented, totally individualist 10 year old daughter and an empathetic, energetic, stubborn little 4 year old love bug of a son. The season we are in now is vastly different than the one I found myself in 3 years ago, when I struggled to keep my baby from jumping off the stairs every 6 minutes. Things are easier in some ways and more difficult in others and I suspect that it will be this way forever. I'm ok with that. I recognize where I am and when I start feeling that stress creep in, I remember that it won't always be like this. Someday, I may even miss it.

I choose grace, for others and myself. I am not sure I ever fully understood what grace was until recently, but it has become the backbone of my life. Allowing myself to make mistakes every day and learn from them is why grace is so important for me. Realizing that I don't need to chase perfection, but instead be the mom I want to be is paramount to my staying unfrazzled daily. Understanding that others are doing the best they can is just as important. Are you giving yourself enough grace or do you beat yourself up? I suggest grace over perfection every time. You're giving your all and that deserves all the grace in the world, frazzled or not.


If I had to choose one of the above habits that contributes to my unfrazzlement (remember, hashtag that baby) it would be that I keep my house and life uncluttered. Excess stuff is a huge stressor in our lives, but deciding what to toss and how to get rid of it can be an even bigger pain. That is why I put together the "Purge it Like It's Hot" decluttering checklist to use in every room of your home. If you're looking for a way to get off the Frazzle Bus ASAP, this checklist will help you purge your clutter today. No special skills or equipment needed. Just download it from the vault, print it and use it all over to remove the things that aren't serving you or the amazing mom that you are.

5 Ways to Clean up your Diet and Calm down your Baby

Guestpostimage.png

A post by Veronica Lamb of Radiant Life Coaching

“I wish my life was more restricted.” said no breastfeeding mom ever.

However, many moms come to discover that their baby reacts to the food they’re eating.  Baby’s reactions can range widely

  • Skin issues – eczema, rashes, or redness
  • Digestive problems - reflux, excessive gas, green or bloody stools
  • Continual fussiness – disrupted sleep, constantly crying, or constantly needing to be held, rocked, or bounced.

If you've had a food sensitive baby you probably felt restricted by baby's inconsolable crying and avoided get-togethers, coffee dates, dinners, or all public spaces in general.

If you’re lucky, at the 2 week checkup for baby, the pediatrician might suggest that you cut out dairy and then schedule baby’s appointment in another 6 weeks.

If you’re not lucky, the doc says the baby is just colicky and there’s nothing you can do.

Regardless, you’re not really being set up for success. If dairy wasn’t the issue, or wasn’t the only issue, or no one suggested food sensitivity… you show up to the 2 month appointment looking like Doc from Back to the Future and swearing you’ll never have another baby again.

If you’re in that place mama, I feel you. Both my babies have been food sensitive, luckily I learned a lot between the two of them. Here’s my best pieces of advice for calming baby’s system down and restoring peace to your household again.

 1. Track & Record

Keep a food & symptom journal to record everything you eat, baby’s reactions and overall temperament each day. It sounds like a pain, but just keep your journal in the kitchen with a pen nearby. It will help you see patterns and confirm if your efforts are making a difference.

 2. Embrace Minimalism

Ditch Processed & Packaged Foods (as much as possible). If every element of your meal is processed and packaged with 20 ingredients each, you are going to have a heck of a time figuring out which ingredients are upsetting your precious little one’s system. Choose products that have minimal ingredients or just start with raw ingredients.

3. Spring Clean Your Snacks

Snacks are a breastfeeding mom’s best friend. Easy to eat, preferably one handed, and require no cleanup.  Most common snacks have too many ingredients & not enough real nutrition. Keep plenty of fresh fruit around. It’s super easy to grab and eat. Plus fruit has a ton of nutrients you & baby need. Apples, Bananas, Peaches, Melons, the list is endless. Peel/Slice and keep in a simple container. You can also keep fresh chopped veggies on hand with bowl of hummus. The hummus will help you feel full for longer as it is rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

4. Declutter your Diet

Cut out the most common allergens all at once, then experiment with adding them in one at a time once baby has settled down. Once problem foods are removed babies usually start improving within 24 hours and continue to improve as the food processes out of their system. After a day or two of a calm baby, moms are feeling better too.

5. Outsource

There is no shame in asking someone to take a turn with the baby so you can sleep, take a walk, or cook a meal.  If your baby has really got you at your wits end, ask someone to help watch baby while you batch cook a couple of allergy-free meals. Ideally, whoever is helping you can tag team the cooking – you nurse baby while they stir the pot on the stove. They burp & change the baby while you chop veggies. With help, you can easily whip up a couple of allergy free meals in one afternoon to cover your breakfast, lunch, and dinner for several days.

Implement these tips and baby will be calmer & resting better, then you can more easily maintain your clean eating lifestyle. The feelings of restriction will fade away as your little one settles into a routine and baby’s cries don’t dictate every move you make.  If you have a little one at home and suspect food sensitivities grab my FREE video, symptom quiz, and food & symptom journal here.


About the Author

Veronica Lamb is a health coach for breastfeeding moms with food sensitive babies. She helps moms stop the constant crying and restore peace to their household. Meals plans, recipes, and shopping lists make it easy for moms to remove the Top 8 Allergens from their diet and get the nutrition they need without upsetting baby's sensitive system. When not working or volunteering she can be found hiking or relaxing at the beach with her family in Hawaii.  

To keep in touch with Veronica and learn more about her mission and her services, follow her around the web at the links below.

Radiant Life Consulting 

Facebook Group 

Instagram

How often should you clean these 10 common areas in your home

blog10commonareas.png

Don’t you wish that when you became a mom, or a functioning-in-the-real-world adult that someone would have handed you the definitive guide to keeping up your house? But they didn’t, did they? We all just have to learn on our own, which is a real pain seeing as though there are no less than a million things we are forced to learn on our own.

As if the daily duties of motherhood weren’t enough, you’re also burdened with the task of knowing not only what needs cleaning in your house, but how often. Should I be doing it weekly, monthly, every time my mother-in-law announces she is coming for a visit? The struggle is real.

Honestly, the real answer to “How often should I clean this? is “As needed.” Kinda like, how often should I change my underwear? Well, I guess if you have to ask, you probably need to do it.

But the longer answer is that if you get onto a schedule, you won’t become overwhelmed that all the things need to be cleaned all the time. Let me help you out with a few of the most notable areas of the house and how often they should be getting a scrub down.


Refrigerator: Once every quarter at least, but spot clean and remove expired food each week before grocery shopping

Oven: Spot clean as needed, but once or twice a year is fine for a deep clean/self-clean. If it isn’t causing issues of producing smoke, you are okay to wait.

Cabinets: Wash the outside about once a month. Clean the inside once a quarter for areas with food and once a year for areas with dishes and appliances.

Windows: Spot clean as needed, especially in the areas where kid fingerprint smudges and doggy nose prints happen. Give the sills and blinds a quick dusting once a month and invest in professional cleaning of the windows (inside and outside) once a year in the warmer months.

Baseboards: In the bathrooms, I suggest once per month because they can dirty very quickly. Elsewhere, you can dust them quickly once every 6-8 weeks and wipe them down in a deeper clean once every 4-6 months.

Bathtub/shower: This greatly depends on how often you are using it. If you have one bathroom for 5 people, you’ll need to clean it about once a week, but if you don’t use it as often, once a month will do. The key is to get in front of soap scum, rather than becoming reactive to it. Keep your cleaning supplies in the bathroom and make it a habit of cleaning the shower quickly while you’re in it. I mean, you’re already there…

Bed sheets: Ok, there is a great debate here. Some say that they don’t need to be washed as often as we’ve grown accustomed while others, like me, say clean them once weekly. Why? Because I hate sleeping on dirty sheets. I can only imagine the amount of sweat, makeup, crumbs and oil from our bodies and hair that end up on those things each night. I like to be sure I am washing them once a week. It just helps me sleep at night, no pun intended.

Stuffed animals: If you are able to, run them through a gentle cycle on the washer and dryer. I have done this since my kids were little about twice a year.

Dishwasher: Have you ever taken a really good look inside that thing? Or smelled it? The build-up can cause a lot of unpleasant odors and worse, can cause it not to get your dishes as clean. Once every 6 weeks or so, wipe down the sides of the dishwasher and run a cycle of white vinegar through it. Pour about a cup of vinegar into a dishwasher-safe bowl or measure

Under the furniture: If your furniture is on the carpet or a rug, move it once a quarter to vacuum and dust. You’d be amazed how much can build up under there. If you’re furniture is on hardwood or non-carpeted floors and you can see underneath it, use a Swiffer sweeper and clean under there weekly or biweekly, usually depending on if you have pets or not. It’ll take a minute, tops. Promise.

Even if you are a "Cleaning doesn't suck that bad" kinda mom, keeping a running tally of all the things that need to be cleaned in the house can be a daunting task! Sign up below to join The Mother Like a Boss Vault and gain free access to home management printables, worksheets, mini courses, audio lessons and more! This vault is your key to all things #homemakerish and it's totally free.

8 ways to unclutter your kitchen counters (and keep them that way)

bloguncluttercounters.png

The kitchen counters. A space to prepare food, display our meals, gather around with friends and ultimately, become a dumping ground for every single thing in the free world.

The counters in almost every home are a magnet for clutter. But why? Well, they are a horizontal surface, the BFF of clutter and junk everywhere. They also reside in the most visited and used area of the home. For that reason, it just tends to be the place that everything gets dropped and dumped.

The problem isn’t when small piles sit for a day or two before you finally clear them off. The problem is that those small piles, when ignored, become skyscrapers full of paperwork, mail, junk, books, sporting equipment, half-empty bottles of water and soda, pens, bags, and so, so much more.

You know all of this, I know all of this, so how do we stop it? How do we unclutter our kitchen counters and keep them that way?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

1. Don’t bring it into the kitchen

This seems overly simplistic, but most of these tips and tricks are. There isn’t a magic pill for organization and cleanliness that you can swallow. Most of the ways to keep our homes from being taken over by clutter are by making small, easy steps, day in and day out. So in the simplest of terms, if you don’t bring it into the kitchen, it can’t end up on the counter. For example, if you notice that your kids dump their backpacks on the kitchen counter every day after school, designate an area in the mudroom, entryway or coat closet to hold their bags. Often the best way to fight clutter is to just find the right place for it.

2. Commit to a 5 minute round-up every night

I’m all about a good, solid nightly routine. I developed mine many years ago after the birth of my son. I found that I had pretty deep post-partum anxiety and that a routine really helped me to decompress and destress. Since then, I make it a habit to declutter and clean the kitchen every night. What. A. Relief. I take 5-10 minutes max to remove things that don’t belong, throw away garbage, put things back in their rightful “home” and wash off the countertops. You’ll find that after a week or so of this, it will not only become more habitual, but you will probably find that you have less clutter to clean up any way. Habits are funny that way.

3. Keep only what you need on the counters

How often do you use your blender? Are you actually making waffles in that waffle iron? Is the only time you use that espresso machine when you throw your annual Christmas brunch? If so, find another place for it. Can you store it in the basement, in a cabinet, outside on a garage shelf? If you aren’t using it often, it doesn’t need to be stored close by and certainly doesn’t need to be cluttering up your precious countertop real estate.

4. Use baskets with a purpose

Baskets are equally useful and a hindrance, depending on how you use them. If you are going to keep baskets on the counter, be sure they are storing only what you need. Perhaps you organize your spices into a basket, or oils, or the napkins and paper towel holder. Baskets can really help to cut down on the clutter that is spread out, but only if they are holding necessary items and aren’t just a receptacle for more junk.

5. Utilize the sides of cabinets

The sides of your cabinets (as in the end of the countertop, both below and above) are excellent areas for extra storage. Hang wire file folders or small bins to keep those things that would normally end up on your counter.

6. Use hanging rods and baskets for more space

In our home, we have hanging rods and baskets from IKEA. They rock. They are screwed in under the cabinets and hold these cute hanging baskets where we store our spices and oils. I can’t recommend these enough if you are lacking cabinet space and want to organize your things close by.

7. Use file folders

If paperwork is your nemesis, file folders and holders are a great alternative to create a paper pile city on the countertops. If you have a door in the kitchen, invest in an inexpensive over-the-door hanging folder system. We use this in our kitchen and it has completely eliminated any need to keep papers on the countertop. You can get them in different colors, patterns and materials. Win!

8. Give a basket to everyone in the house

Having a basket designated for each person in the house is a really neat way to be sure that everyone gets their sh…stuff…off the countertops each day. During that 5 minute nightly round-up, let everyone take their own belongings in their basket back to their room. You shouldn’t be the only one cleaning up here, mom. Put the responsibility on someone else for a change and give them a basket to carry everything back to their room or play area.


Ok, so we've got the kitchen counter tops down, but what about the rest of the house? Is the clutter taking over and causing you to think "It would just be easier to move to a yurt." The problem is, you don't even know what a yurt is and you love your home, so let's find a better way.  Sign up below to join The Mother Like a Boss Vault and gain free access to home management printables, worksheets, mini courses, audio lessons and more! This vault is your key to all things #homemakerish and it's totally free.

How to declutter toys without losing your mind

blogdecluttertoys1.png

We’re officially past the holiday season. Yahoo. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. I love the lights and the magic, not to mention I live in an area of the country where the possibility of a white Christmas is high. All in all, it’s a beautiful time of year. But with great beauty, comes great responsibility, or something like that. Because when you have kids, the holidays also bring…

More. Toys. More stuff. More things that make noise. More things with small parts. More things that you’re going to step on in the middle of the night. And do you know what you didn’t get more of for Christmas? Space.

The question I get asked the most from moms when it comes to organization and clutter is “What the flip am I supposed to do with all of these toys!?

It’s a delicate question and situation because while we’d just as soon throw every single toy out the window most days, kids are emotionally attached to their belongings. To be honest, so do parent, more than they admit. Organization is also so much more than just getting rid of things, because “things” can just end up back in your home if you don’t deal with the emotional and mental attachment to clutter and set up great systems (See my free video “End the Boomerang Clutter” here.)

So when it comes to the toys, where do you start? What do you do with it all? Let’s take a look, girl.

1. Have a plan. Most decluttering projects come on a rainy day when mom trips over a Hot Wheels car and angrily decides she is getting rid of all the toys. While that sounds really amazing in theory, just chucking everything out the door won’t really fix the problem, and will probably leave your kids upset. Having a plan beforehand means that everyone knows what to expect and when.

2. Involve the kids, even if you don’t want to. There is a lot of controversy and discussion over whether you should involve your children in your decluttering and organizational efforts. While going it alone may be quicker and seem more efficient, it can also send the message that their input isn’t important. Especially for children who form strong emotional attachments to their toys, this can be pretty devastating and even cause them to tighten their grip on their personal belongings. My advice is always to do what you feel is best for your child. If you have the kind of kid that won’t even notice the difference, then by all means, go to town while they are at school, but if your child tends to lean toward attachment, involve them in the process. Discuss the importance of decluttering and allow them the opportunity to choose what goes and what stays (to a certain extent, obviously.)

3. Play on their empathy. By nature, kids tend to be super empathetic, far more than adults who have been tainted by the ways of the world. Children love to be giving, loving and nurturing, especially to other children. One way to help children to let go of their belongings is to reassure them that their toys will find a home with other children who can love those toys and give them the playtime they deserve. I should also mention that I don’t advocate playing on guilt and making them feel badly that they have so many toys while others go without, but instead assuring them that they toys they don’t play with could be loved so much by someone else, rather than sitting in a toy chest. Think Toy Story 3...I weep just thinking about the end of that movie.

4. Enact a “One-in, One-out” rule. I am a huge fan of this for every room in the house, not just for toys. You know how it is. You go to Target and buy yet another pair of boots, or a bra or a porcelain bird figurine for the desk and come home to realize you already have enough of all of those. Rather that keep everything around, treat yourself to new things by getting rid of the old. Toys can work the same way. Did you daughter get a new doll for Christmas? I bet there is one or more dolls that aren’t even being touched that you could get rid of now. New Play-Doh comes in, the old, hard Play-Doh goes it. It is a fantastic method and takes very little effort. One comes in, one goes out.

5. Get rid of broken toys and games immediately. You’re never going to fix them. Admit it. Throw them away. Good riddance. It feels so good, right?

6. Make it fun. Look, asking kids to get rid of toys or at the very least organize them sounds about as much fun to them as getting a filling, but if you can make it fun, they are far less likely to associate the whole experience with doom and gloom. Turn on some music, make it a game, see who can fill the “donate” bin fastest, see who can separate the toys by size/color/type the fastest, etc. Fun always rules the day with kids, even if it means they are getting rid of play things.

7. Avoid large toy chests. The big toy chests of the past are best to stay in the past. Kids now have more physical toys than they have in years past and the toy chests and bins meant to hold all the toys simply don’t work anymore. They often overflow and make it difficult for kids to find the toys they want and put their toys away. Rather, utilize smaller bins and spaces, such as a shelving unit or cubby system. Not only does this make it easier to separate like toys, but won’t deal with the heaps and overflow nearly as much as with one giant toy bin.


Ok, so we've got the toys under control, but what about the rest of the house? Is the clutter taking over and causing you to think "It would just be easier to move to a yurt." The problem is, you don't even know what a yurt is and you love your home, so let's find a better way. Sign up below to join The Mother Like a Boss Vault and gain free access to home management printables, worksheets, mini courses, audio lessons and more! This vault is your key to all things #homemakerish and it's totally free.

10 places you can quickly declutter right now.

blog10placestodeclutter.png

Home organization and decluttering is an undertaking, I know. There is a reason the business of professional organization exists. It can seem totally overwhelming, time consuming and confusing. What do I keep? What do I trash? Where the hell am I supposed to put all of this stuff? How do I keep it looking this way? And so on…

While organizing everything you own may (and probably will) take a while, declutter can be done a lot faster than you think. The reason I have found that getting rid of junk, trash and overall clutter takes so long is because we A) pine over our things for way longer than we should, and B) we have decided that it is going to take a long time and therefore, it does.

The mindset that tasks will be lengthy and un-fun is no joke. Take laundry for example. I hate laundry. Yuck. I’ll scrub and scrub toilets for days, but please dear Lord don’t make me put away another piece of clothing. In my head, the task is far more daunting than it is in real life. I build up my unhappiness before it even happens. One day, while I groaned about having to put my son’s laundry away, I decided to time it. It took me exactly 4 minutes and 46 seconds to put away a full load of 4T clothing. Under 5 minutes and you’d swear by the way I was carrying on that someone had asked me to disarm a nuclear weapon.

Mindset is everything.

When we get out of our own way and make a decision to just do it, we are far more capable of getting down to brass tacks and just doing the damn thing.

This is how decluttering works. When you spend too much time pining over what needs to be done, you talk yourself out of it. The word that is thrown around in my area of work is “ruthless” and this is exactly how you should be when decluttering most areas of your home. Be ruthless. Don’t be romantic about the brochure for your local children’s museum. Be ruthless instead.

Alright Kendra. Fine. I get it. Be ruthless. (eye roll) But where am I supposed to start?”

Here are some places you can declutter right this second without having to give much thought to it at all. Watch your spaces transform and your home feel lighter.

1.  Magazines. We don’t have magazines in our home, because I stopped all subscriptions. Anything I need to read, I read online. Why? Because I knew I would hoard them longer than I needed to. If you’re done reading it, recycle it immediately. Want to keep a fabulous recipe from it? Tear it out and keep it in your recipe folder. Better yet, scan it and keep it in a desktop recipe folder. If you really feel badly about recycling such a beautiful piece of print art that is a magazine, donate it to a local doctor’s office to use in their waiting room.

2.  Makeup. Take a look at your makeup kit/drawer. If you can’t remember when you bought something was, it has been too long. It’s expired. Chuck it. Not only is this good for your cluttered area, but it is good for your skin. Expired makeup is horrible for your precious body and can even cause infections. Yuck. Make room for newer makeup by throwing out the old pronto.

3.  Underwear/bras/socks. Just like the makeup, if you can’t remember when you bought it, it probably needs to go. If it has a hole in it, it needs to go. If it is so worn that the printed tag is faded, it needs to go. Remember, we’re being ruthless here. A quote I heard many years ago was “Bras shouldn’t celebrate anniversaries.” A-to the freakin’-men

4.  Expired food. Have you ever opened your fridge to get out a piece of fruit, only to be hit by a wall of stink so horrible, you’re likely to pass out? Me too. Going grocery shopping before you actually clean out of your fridge each week is a hazard because all the new food just pushes the old food to the back, where it sits, rotting and smelling up the joint. Take a garbage bag and 5 minutes, and remove all expired and rotting food. Your fridge and nose will thank you.

5.  Brochures and pamphlets. Unless you plan to travel back to 1999 in the near future, before every single business on the face of the earth had a website, you don’t need them. A few weeks back, a camping brochure came in the mail from Girl Scouts. Excitedly, I put it in our file folder in the kitchen, only to stop myself by saying “Wait! This is all online and I am going to be signing her up online. I don’t need this. Bye.” Recycle those bad boys and clear some space.

6.  Broken toys. They are broken. You won’t fix them. You know it, I know it. Throw them out now. Also, note that broken toys can be a safety and choking hazard for small children. Even more reason to say “Sayonara.”

7.  Games with missing pieces. If the missing pieces are essential to the function and playability of the game, it is time to throw them away. You can’t use them or enjoy them, so why keep them around?

8.  Gross shoes. Unless they are your “I wear these when I garden or work outside” shoes, those old, tattered, yucky shoes gotta go.

9.  Toothbrushes. Ew. Again, with the anniversary analogy. Splurge this week on some shiny new toothbrushes for the whole family and get rid of the brushes with half the bristles gone.

10. Chargers for electronics you don’t use. I recently came across a charger for a phone I had in 2005. Two. Thousand. Five. Needless to say, I won’t be needing the charger for the flip-phone with the long, extendable antenna.

Ok, so we've got these places taken care of, but what about the rest of the house? Is the clutter taking over and causing you to think "It would just be easier to move to a yurt." The problem is, you don't even know what a yurt is and you love your home, so let's find a better way.  Sign up below to join The Mother Like a Boss Vault and gain free access to home management printables, worksheets, mini courses, audio lessons and more! This vault is your key to all things #homemakerish and it's totally free..

The dirtiest areas in your home you're forgetting to clean

blogdirtyplacesathome.png

We all know we should keep our homes clean, if for no other reason than we want to be able to friends over for coffee every now and then without wondering if their shoes will stick to the kitchen floor. Oh, you don’t think about that? Just me? Hm.

The truth is, having a clean home isn’t just about the way it looks, but about removing the germs and dirt that can get and keep your family sick. We all know we need to vacuum the carpets and wash the toilet and put away laundry (eh, sometimes) but what about those areas that collect dirt and germs on a regular basis that we totally neglect? Let’s dive into some of the biggest culprits.

 

1. Your cell phone. How often do you give your cell phone a good cleaning? And wiping the screen on your pant legs to remove the greasy fingerprints doesn’t count. Our phones have become an extension of our hands and therefore, an extension of how we pick up germs and bacteria. Our phones spend their days in our hands, in and out of our pockets, purses and bags and near our face. They are a hot bed for dirty, nasty little creatures. Making it a routine to clean your entire phone often will help reduce the germs that you pass from it to you and vice versa.

2. Your light switches. If you have light colored light switches in your home like I do, you will probably notice upon further examination that they are covered in grime and dirt. And why wouldn’t they be? We touch them all day long, and so do our kids. Especially when sickness runs through your home, cleaning off light switches is a super important task in keeping the spread of germs down. It takes less than 5 minutes to clean off all the light switches in your home, either with a damp cloth spritzed with disinfectant or vinegar or a Clorox wipe.

3. Your door knobs. Much like the light switches above, door knobs are used all day, every day and are rarely cleaned. Think about the last thing your child touched (their nose, their mouth, their butt…) and now think about them opening and closing the doors in the house. Barf, right? It is really easy to clean these and can be done exactly like the switches. Honestly, I walk around the house with the container of Clorox wipes and clean off knobs and switches at the same time.

4. Your remote control. I remember many years ago, I took a good look at our remote control and I almost threw up. We use it so often and without really looking at it that I had never noticed how dirty it was. The areas between the buttons were clogged full of dirt and grime and the buttons were greasy. A great tool for cleaning remotes, or anything with buttons, is a Q-tip dipped in isopropyl alcohol or your favorite disinfectant. The Q-tip gets right in between the buttons and removes the years of finger grime (and let’s be honest, probably food remnants.)

5. Your fans (both ceiling and free-standing) Fans are so easy to ignore, especially when they are running. But the second you turn them off, you see the dust hanging from the blades like jungle plants. The same goes for free-standing fans, whose blades collect dust, dirt and grease easily. For ceiling fans, use a pillow case to cover the blade and remove the dust and dirt. This prevents the dust from falling over the floor and walls. To clean small standing or desk fans, remove the cover, rinse with soapy water and wipe the blades with a damp cloth. Done and done. No more blowing dust into the air.

6. Bathroom walls and ceiling. Even if you have a ventilation system in your bathroom, it is likely that the water and steam is collecting on the walls and ceiling, possibly creating a mold situation. The best way to combat this is to use the vent fan as often as possible and also clean the walls and ceiling on a regular basis. If you see the start of mold (black, gray or green dots usually in the corners), get on top of it as soon as possible. You don’t want to mess around with mold. Wipe the area down first with a mild soap and water. Let it dry completely and then go back with a bleach/water solution and apply. After 20-30 minutes, apply more bleach/water solution and wait for it to dry. This cleans the area and also removes the mold.

7.  Your range hood. When I used to own a cleaning company and do rental clean-outs, this was one of the dirtiest places to tackle. Why? Because the grease collects so easily and the steam creates humidity that makes the grease stick even easier. The easiest way to clean the range hood is with a good degreaser or Dawn dish soap with hot water. Spray the degreaser on and under the hood and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Drape a towel over the stove top to collect any run-off and prevent an even bigger mess (who has time for that!) Scrub the top and under side with a non-scratch sponge and repeat as necessary. When the range is clean, it will appear to sparkle like magic. Try it, you’ll see.

 

Now that you know all the gross, grimy places you’re missing in your home, you can get down to the business of cleaning everything else. But, uh, where do you start? Even if you are a "Cleaning doesn't suck that bad" kinda mom, keeping a running tally of all the things that need to be cleaned in the house can be a daunting task! Sign up below to join The Mother Like a Boss Vault and gain free access to home management printables, worksheets, mini courses, audio lessons and more! This vault is your key to all things #homemakerish and it's totally free.

5 Myths of Modern Homemaking

bloghomemakingmyths.png

Homemaking. That word either brings up happy thoughts, a look of disgust or total apathy. I’ve been through all three in my adult life. Some people believe it is an antiquated term while others embrace and enjoy it. I’m here to tell you it doesn’t mean what you probably think it means.

The dictionary simply defines homemaking as the creation and management of a home, especially as a pleasant place to live. That’s it. No apron or heels, no need to be subservient or have all your shhtuff together. No need to be perfect. It is simply the act of creating and managing your home, which as a mom, you do every day even when you don’t mean to.

Homemaking isn’t even singular to moms, or wives. Single men and women are homemakers, too, as the “make” their homes a pleasant place to live, even if only for themselves.

So why is it that the idea of homemaking gives so many modern moms feelings of reluctance and uncertainty? Because we’ve been fed myths throughout our lives about what being a “good” homemaker is all about.

I’ve dedicated my business and life to helping moms become “homemaker-ish” and giving them permission to create and manage their homes on their terms, and part of that is dispelling the myths about homemaking that keeps us all from fully embracing our homemaker-boss status.

Myth 1: It’s only for stay-at-home moms

While stay-at-home moms are often lumped into the homemaker category and many even list this term as their occupation, they are not the only ones who make a home. Imagine a mother who works outside the home. When she comes home in the evening, she cooks, cleans, manages the finances and schedules, gets the kids ready for the next day, takes care of herself and the home. She is just as much a homemaker as the mom who spent the day at home taking care of the children and the home. Both are equally important jobs. Both are homemakers.

Myth 2: You have to be perfect all the time

Somewhere along the way in history, being a homemaker meant having a picture-perfect life, home, appearance, kids, marriage, schedule, meals, etc. Now, with the advent of Pinterest, the beast in being fed even more as we scroll through photos of crisp white linens and cream colored living rooms as we look around our multicolored homes littered with Barbie accessories and Hot Wheels. Being a homemaker isn’t at all about being perfect or keeping a perfect home. Aside from the fact that “perfection” only exists in the eye of the beholder, it is insane to think that 85 million mothers in this country are going to do things exactly the same, all the time, based on what Pinterest says. I hereby give you permission to be an imperfect homemaker.

Myth 3: It’s a religious thing

While there are many websites, businesses and organizations that are centered on being a Godly wife and homemaker, the two aren’t necessarily linked at all. I know plenty of kick-ass homemaker wives who consider themselves atheists. Religion isn’t the driving factor of being a homemaker. Much of the reason I started my business was the serve those mothers who wanted to learn to be effective homemakers and managers of their domains,  but felt intimidated by the idea of homemaking as a religious notion. Whether you feel that homemaking is a calling from God or do it because you just love the art of it, both are totally and completely wonderful and accepted.

Myth 4: Being a homemaker isn’t for modern women

Ouch. I hear this one a lot and it makes me cringe. While I am all for the women’s movement and want nothing more than to raise my daughter to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants, I also think that somewhere along the way, we gave the impression that being a homemaker wasn’t “good enough” for modern ladies. That somehow, cooking, cleaning and planning a family’s schedule was beneath them. That, in my humble opinion, is a big load of boloney. I have been a successful business owner for 11 years, had my kids in daycare of with a nanny and consider myself to be pretty modern and I also identify as my family’s homemaker. I wear that title with honor and know that making my home comfortable and as stress-free as I can means that my kids, my husband and I can all be better people. Cleaning gives me joy, planning give me joy, providing for my family gives me joy. We can be whomever we want as modern mothers, homemakers and all.

Myth 5: Homemaking is about being submissive.

Do you know that when I released my latest course, I had a “friend” who has no children tell me that the art of homemaking encourages woman to be submissive? Luckily, I have thick skin and no time for nonsensical comments, but that made my roll my eyes so hard, I gave myself a headache. I know women who make their homes and aren’t married, who have no children, who split the work with their husbands, who split the work with their wives, who work full time, who work part time, who have kids living at home, who have kids not living at home and everything in between. Submission has nothing to do with homemaking and the two have someone become intertwined through the decades. I don’t clean my bathroom because it is my wifely duty, I do it because having a clean bathroom makes me feel better. I don’t like germs, I don’t want to sit on a toilet that has pee all over it and I want to shower with a tub that doesn’t give me the willies. It’s my choice, and it’s yours too.

Now that you know all the myths around homemaking, you can get down to the business of grabbing the bull my the horns and killing it as a modern homemaker. But, uh, where do you start? Even if you are a "Cleaning doesn't suck that bad" kinda mom, keeping a running tally of all the things that need to be cleaned in the house can be a daunting task! Sign up below to join The Mother Like a Boss Vault and gain free access to home management printables, worksheets, mini courses, audio lessons and more! This vault is your key to all things #homemakerish and it's totally free.

6 Ways to Make House Cleaning Suck Less

“Dammit! I have to clean the house again? Didn’t I just do this like a week ago, and the week before that? I need to get one of those self-cleaning homes.”

This is the conversation most of us moms are having with ourselves each time we look around at the dirt and mess and realize the house didn’t keep itself clean like we had hoped. For most people, cleaning sucks.

Not for me. I’m one of those rare unicorn crazy wackadoodles that LOVES the clean. This probably works out for the best since I ran a cleaning company for a decade. I’m not sure if I loved to clean before I started it and started to love cleaning because I started the business, but either way, I enjoy the act of cleaning. It makes me feel accomplished. I like when things look, feel and smell clean. Sometimes just the smell of nothing indicates to me that an area is clean (like a bathroom where I don’t have to smell pee anymore from the almost 4 year old boy who can’t see to aim.) But I know that not all moms share my enthusiasm for the act.

The thing is, and this is going to make you say “Girl, you crazy!” cleaning does not have to suck. Cleaning probably sucks because you may be spending our time doing the wrong things. It isn’t your fault. No one handed you a manual when you became an adult entitled “Cleaning and Housework 101” Maybe I should write that. It can be handed out at high school graduations, or in the delivery room.  

I did sit down and really consider why I don’t hate cleaning and I discovered that there were some strategies I use that cleaning just plain suck less. Now, I can’t guarantee that you will leave this post and merrily scrub your house top to bottom while humming like a Disney princess, but I can say that using these tips will allow you to clean more effectively and hopefully make the entire process seem less unappealing.

1.  Set up a schedule. Nothing says “This sucks.” like an impromptu cleaning session in the middle of a super busy day. Setting up a schedule means that not only will you get to everything, but you know what to expect. For example, if you have dusting the living on the schedule for Wednesday, but you notice how dusty the mantle is on Monday and become overly stressed about the task of having to do it right now, you can put your stress to bed knowing it will get done in a few days. A schedule keeps us accountable and it also breaks up big, daunting tasks (like cleaning an entire house in a day) down into small little, manageable chunks. Set up your cleaning schedule around your regular schedule. If Mondays are just a complete nightmare for your family’s schedule, don’t put any more than the bare minimum on that day. Do the dishes, wipe down the counter and leave the bigger tasks for the days that allow you more time.

2. Delegate the stuff you really hate. I don’t know about you, but I had kids so I would have someone to take the burden off of me in the house. I kid. But really, if there are jobs you just really hate, delegate those to your kids as chores. If you have more than one, allow them to alternate chores every few weeks or months. Even better, hire someone on a semi-regular basis to do those things. Maybe you can keep up with the weekly cleaning, but would love someone to come in each month and give the house a good, thorough cleaning of all the small areas you don’t get to. Or hire a mother’s helper once a week for an hour or two to fold and put away laundry. Find ways to delegate out that things that you really just loathe doing so you can focus on things that don’t make you want to throw a tantrum.

3. Let your cleaning products do their job. I don’t care how much you love cleaning, scrubbing sucks. It is time consuming and takes a lot of energy. A great way to combat this is to let the products do their job. Are you one of those people who sprays your cleaner and then immediately wipes it up with a cloth? Wrong way, sister. Most products, even those that are natural, are meant to sit and penetrate the dirt, grease and grime. It is how they are created and intended. Spray your worst areas down first and let the products do their jobs. You won’t have to put in nearly as much effort to scrub them clean.

4.  Do a little bit at a time. As a professional (I feel like I should be wearing glasses and a tie when I say that) I highly recommend doing a little bit at a time versus having a cleaning day. Why? Because unless you have a day in the week that you can completely and happily dedicate to cleaning the entire house, you won’t get it all done and you’ll probably resent it the entire time. Most people hate cleaning because they let it go so long that it becomes an overwhelming thorn in their side. Doing a little bit at a time takes away from that. Find pockets of time to get things done. Even 5 minutes can make a big difference. Cleaning the bathroom while your kids are taking a bath, wash the dishes while the food cooks on the stove, dust the living room while you watch your favorite show at night. Using the cleaning schedule and this method together make the entire act of cleaning much easier. For those that say they don’t have enough time to even get 5 minutes of cleaning done, I say, if you had time to read this post, you have time to clean the kitchen counters. How you like them apples?

5. Make it fun. Come on. We all do it, so do it more often. Turn on the music, or your favorite audiobook or podcast and get to work. Listening to something you love makes the time zoom by.

6. Change your mindset. I am all about positive mindset. You can call it woo if you like, but the truth is, our mindset dictates everything we have and do in our lives, including the chores we do in our house. Rather than seeing cleaning as something you have to do, decide that it is something you get to do. When I look around my house, I am overwhelmed not by the amount of molding I have to dust, but by the fact that I live in such a beautiful home surrounded by beautiful things and beautiful people that fill my life with love and abundance. I look at our new furniture and rather than think “Just another thing to keep clean.” I remember back to the time when having this furniture was so far out of our reach, I would have given anything to have it. I feel grateful to have a house to clean and to have spunky, healthy children who make messes. It may sound Pollyanna, but it’s not. It’s all about seeing it in a different light. You don’t have to walk around all day in a state of naiveté over your chores and obligations, but you can choose to see that you get to do these things versus having to do them.  

 

Even if you are a "Cleaning doesn't suck that bad" kinda mom, keeping a running tally of all the things that need to be cleaned in the house can be a daunting task! Sign up below to receive your free house cleaning master list, broken down by room. Print it out, keep it in a binder, hang it on the wall (it colorful and pretty) and use it to create your cleaning schedule or just as a useful guide for #allthethings that need to be cleaned in our homes.

8 Habits of Highly Organized Moms

8 Habits of highly organized moms

“How are you always so together?” someone once asked me. The question caught me off guard, because somedays, I don’t think I have anything together. Like, at all. I feel like the entire book is coming apart at the seams and I’m over here like “I could go get the hot glue gun and put it back together or I could finish watching this new Hulu show.”

It wasn’t until I sat down with a friend who said that I always seem to be together and have everything in my home and life organized. The truth is, I do, and I don’t. I don’t live in a Martha Stewart catalogue, but I don’t live in filth either. I hate having disarray in my home and so making sure things are tidy (ish) and organized is a priority for me.

As I can tell you from years and years as the owner of a cleaning and organizing business, this can be taught. I promise you. It isn’t about knowing some secret handshake that the others mothers aren’t privy to or having some kind of exceptional skills that give you the power to be Pinterest-perfect at any given moment. Like anything else I teach, it is all about good, solid strategies and habits. A good habit (or a bad one for that matter) can change everything for you.

I began thinking about that things I do that make running my house a little easier and keep things more organized. I also thought about the moms I know in my life who always seem to have it all together. There were some glaring similarities and I have compiled a list of the habits of highly organized moms. They are pretty easy to implement so you too can be a super highly organized mama (I said that in my best As Seen on TV voice)

1. They have a routine. They don’t just have a routine, they live and die by it. Now, sometimes I see moms who say they have a routine and what is really happening is that their routine is that they have no routine. Inception-y, right? A good, solid routine includes tasks and actions done the same way each day that make running your life easier. For example, I don’t have a morning routine, I have a nightly routine. Why? Because mornings are unpredictable. Kids get sick in the middle of the night, the alarm doesn’t go off, you snooze through it, you spill coffee on yourself, the car won’t start and so on. However, evenings are in my control. I get as much done at night as I can. I have the coffee maker set, the clothes out for everyone in the house (aside from my husband. He’s a big boy and can do that himself), bags packed and near the door, breakfast decided on, dishes done or in the dishwasher, lunch money given or lunches made, etc. The more I get done, the easier my mornings go. The enemy of organization is having no routine in place.

2. They get ready first. This can spark some controversy, but what I hear when people tell me why they can’t is a lot of excuses. “I don’t want to get up earlier. My kids are too demanding. It makes me a bad mom..” blah blah blah. I know the natural inclination is to get everyone ready to go first, but it really doesn’t serve you. Again, things with kids, just like mornings, are unpredictable, but you aren’t. Take a shower, get dressed, and feed yourself BEFORE everyone else. Then, when your toddler decides to dump her Cheerios on your dog’s head, you won’t have to worry about still needing to get yourself ready. I have had kids for 10 years and have prepared myself first every single day and it has worked like a charm.

3. They declutter often. Put it on the calendar, have a set day or do it at the same time daily. However you choose to do it, declutter often for maximum organization. I have said it many times, decluttering is like showering. You can’t just do it once and expect it to stick. It has to become a part of your life and routine (there’s that word again.)

4.  They do a load of laundry each day. Now, full disclosure, I hate laundry. Like, give me 20 bathrooms to scrub and I’ll be in heaven, but laundry? Barf. It’s just so tedious to me and never ending, but the thing that gets me through is putting in a load every single morning (or at least every other morning.) Because I hate laundry, the last thing I feel like doing on a Sunday afternoon is sifting through a mountain of a week’s worth of clean laundry and separating, folding and putting it away. It’s my nightmare. Instead, I do one per day. And don’t say you don’t have time. Throw a load in before you leave in the morning (or after breakfast if you stay home), throw it in the dryer when you get home or midafternoon and take 10 minutes in the evening to put it away. Done! I know, I hate laundry, too. Remember?

5. They clean often and as you go. The way I am able to stay on top of the cleaning and organizing in my house is that I clean as I go. I don’t have a set day of the week or month to do everything, mostly because as much as I adore cleaning, that’s not how I want to spend my days. Rather, I choose a few things each day and do them. While my son bathes, I clean the bathroom or fold towels. I keep Clorox wipes on each level of the house and grab one daily to wipe down various yucky spots, like the handrails and light switches. When I see crumbs, I just vacuum before someone steps on them and crunches them up even more. Cleaning as you go can take as little as 5 minutes. Your house stays tidy without you having to invest hours of your time into it.

6. They say no, often. Highly organized moms say no often and yes enthusiastically. What does this mean? Say no to things that don’t serve you or your higher purpose and say yes to things that light you up. Period.

7. They delegate to others and accept help. When was the last time someone asked you, “Hey, do you need any help?” or “Let me know if you need any help!” And when was the last time you actually took them up on it? Moms love to be martyrs, I should know. I have played the part many times. “I guess I am the only person in this who can do this! UGH” Even I am annoyed with myself when I do it. Being highly organized means delegating to others and accepting help when it is offered. Give your kids more to do, hire a mother’s helper (for more help with that, head to my post on that very subject), say yes when your mom offers to watch the kids for a few hours, swap babysitting with a friend. Give yourself permission to NOT do it all.

8. They avoid procrastination. I know, but it feels so good in the moment. However, procrastinating just leads to heartache down the line. Keeping your home and life really organized is all about doing it now and not later. I have to push myself to do this as it doesn’t come naturally, but It has paid off throughout my years as a mom. If I can do it today, I do it today. I don’t kid myself into thinking that I will have more time tomorrow, because odds are, I won’t. Perfectionism can really stunt our ability to do things now, as we keep telling ourselves that we’ll do it when we have it all figured out ( and what do you know, I have a post on that very topic right here) We also think we will have more time later, but often, later keeps getting pushed back further and further. As someone amazing said once, “Someday is not a day of the week.” Amen.

 

Ok, so we've got the kitchen counter tops down, but what about the rest of the house? Is the clutter taking over and causing you to think "It would just be easier to move to a yurt." The problem is, you don't even know what a yurt is and you love your home, so let's find a better way.  Sign up below to join The Mother Like a Boss Vault and gain free access to home management printables, worksheets, mini courses, audio lessons and more! This vault is your key to all things #homemakerish and it's totally free.

5 Easy, One-Step Tips for keeping your home Clutter-Free

Clutter. Damn the clutter. All the clutter. It’s all around us. I would like to blame my husband and children for it, but the truth is, I am just as much to blame. Even though teaching others how to remove clutter and manage their homes is literally my business, it doesn’t mean I don’t fall prey to clutter every now and then. I am only a Target-loving human just like everyone else!

So how then if I am to love places like Home Goodes just as much as the next mom am I able to keep my house from become a literal explosion of clutter and disorganization? Strategies. After 10 years in the biz, I have developed some clear strategies that work time and time again. Some I learned easily, others the hard way, but the truth is, there is nothing like a good strategy to keep your house running like a well-oiled machine.

I’ve put together some of my top tips for keeping your home less cluttered without having to go through multiple, crazy steps to get there. Because when you are a mom, the easier, the better.

1.   Minimize paperwork. If it can be found online or isn’t super important (like a birth certificate or a marriage license) avoid keeping the paper form of it. Paper is like a virus. It starts small and spreads exponentially until it is so out of control, you can’t find your way out. Toss junk mail before you even get into the house. Keep only what you really need and get rid of the rest.

2.  Give everything a home. Everything! The enemy of a tidy home is when items are homeless. Everything in your house should have a home and if you can’t find a place for it, truth time, you probably don’t need it. When items don’t have a home, they often end up sitting on horizontal surfaces like the kitchen counters, desks and dressers. Instead of taking everything out of your pocket every day for a year straight and dumping it all on the dresser, have a specific place for your keys, your wallet and the loose change. Not only are things less likely to stay on the counter, but when everything has a home, people other than you can put them away (i.e tiny humans)

3.   Set up a decluttering schedule. No this does not have to be complicated and you don’t have to search through Pinterest for ideas. This can be as easy as saying that one day per month, you will spend 30 minutes making rooms as uncluttered as possible. A great way to do this is as a blitz attack. Take a box or boxes and go around for 5-10 minutes, collecting as much clutter as you can. Garbage, things that aren’t in their home, things you want to donate, etc. A good 10 minute blitz attack can really take care of the clutter. Like anything else, the power of keeping a clutter-free existence is in the up-keep.

4.  One-in, one-out method. I am a BIG fan of this. When you bring something into your home, like say, a new pair of shoes, toss one out. Or put it in a donation bin. Not only does this allow you to get rid of things you don’t need, but you aren’t sacrificing the fun of buying new things. It’s a win-win. If you buy a magazine, toss the last edition. If you buy a new winter coat, donate the old one. It’s like keeping a constant state of homeostasis in your home.

5.  Develop a minimalist mindset. While this may take longer than some of the others, it can have a profound effect on your home and life. Most of us live with limiting beliefs and the thought that we need more. It is part of our DNA and now a part of our society. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting to have and be the best. I am all about breaking through your upper limits, but often we are surrounding ourselves with “things” in the hope that they will make us feel better, feel important. The truth is, when you develop a minimalist mindset, you become more aware of how little the things around you mean in your life. This is difficult when you walk into Target and see all the things. Like, of course I need that ceramic bird figurine. Mind your business. But is that bird figurine going to honestly fill you with joy or does it fulfill a need in the moment that won’t be there later. When you start to notice that you don’t need as much to feel happy, and in fact feel happier when you aren’t surround by clutter, you’ll feel yourself disallowing the clutter to come in in the first place. And ultimately, that’s what we want.

Ok, so you've got some great tips for keeping your home from collecting clutter, but what about the junk that's already there? Is the clutter taking over and causing you to think "It would just be easier to move to a yurt." The problem is, you don't even know what a yurt is and you love your home, so let's find a better way. Sign up below to join The Mother Like a Boss Vault and gain free access to home management printables, worksheets, mini courses, audio lessons and more! This vault is your key to all things #homemakerish and it's totally free.

How your perfectionism may be causing procrastination

We hear it from the time we are little.

“Practice makes perfect.”

Or course, moments later, we are reminded that no one is perfect.

After being fed a bunch of conflicting information about perfection, it is no wonder that we become adults who can’t seem to win the perfectionism battle. 

The topic of perfectionism comes up a lot with mothers and why shouldn’t it? We are all trying to do all the things and be all the things for everyone else and ourselves. We want to do it right and do it well. Actually, not well. Perfect.

The problem is that, as the old saying above goes, no one is perfect. So like chasing an imaginary unicorn that doesn’t exist, we spend our lives following the illusion that if we just try hard enough, work long enough or do more, we’ll be closer to perfect.

Pshh. It ain’t never gonna happen and the sooner we realize it, the sooner we can move on with our fabulously imperfect lives.

The problem is that perfectionism comes in many shapes, colors and sizes and does not always show up as the type-A, OCD-style mom that we are used to. Perfectionism is sneaky and shows up cloaked in other robes, making us believe she isn’t there. But that sneaky bitch always manages to find a way in and does some serious damage while she is there.

As a coach and strategist for moms, I have seen that the most prevalent way that perfectionism shows up for mothers is in the form of procrastination.

I know you are probably thinking, “But how is being lazy at all similar to wanting to be perfect.”

Procrastination rarely has anything to do with being lazy and everything to do with the paralysis that occurs when we are too worried about having things done perfectly to even begin.

Here are some ways perfectionism may be showing up as procrastination for you.

1. You won’t start unless you know you can finish the entire project, meaning you won’t ever start because you’ve convinced yourself that you’ll never be able to finish it.

2. You feel paralyzed before starting something new, even when you have all the plan laid out.

3. You constantly worry that it won’t be done right.

4. You refuse to delegate work to others, but still find yourself putting it off.

5. You set impossible deadlines that you know you won’t reach, thereby reinforcing your need to put it off until a later date.

Sound familiar? Well, I will raise my hand because I have experienced almost every single one of these as a mother, homemaker, business owner and just a person.

The desire to do and be perfect creates such havoc in our minds that our egos scream “JUST STOP. Don’t bother trying. You’ll never do it right. It won’t get done. You don’t know what you’re doing. It won’t look as good as someone else. You won’t be able to maintain it. Just forget about it.” And we listen, because usually, we don’t know any better.

When we are worried about making the wrong decision, we do nothing instead. When we worry that we won’t know how to do it right, we do nothing. When we aren’t exactly sure where to start, we do nothing.

Take redecorating your living room, for example. You look at it every day and would love nothing more than to repaint, get new furniture, plaster the walls with beautiful art work and photos and redo the floors. You’ve set aside a budget and know that you could send the kids away for a weekend to get it all done.

But you’re frozen. “What if I pick the wrong paint color? Or the couches don’t match the walls. Or they are uncomfortable? What if the floors scratch too easily, or the art work is outdated? What if I spend all this time redecorating and then I don’t like it? Or I can’t finish on time? What if I am left with a bigger mess, or I remember how bad I am at painting? What if I can’t find exactly what I want? You know what, I’ll just put it off.” And so you do. Your need to know every single detail and perfectly execute has now stopped you from performing a task you would love nothing more than to accomplish. Perfectionism came in dressed as procrastination and killed your dreams.

So where does perfectionism come from and how can we stop it?

Basically, perfectionism is neediness. Like the most obnoxious boyfriend you’ve ever had, who called or texted you 100 times a day wondering where you were, how you were doing, and why you hadn’t called him back, perfectionism nags at us constantly, telling us that the small victories we have acquired throughout the day aren’t good enough.

Rather than “Great job!” perfectionism’s motto is “But why isn’t it all done?”

It’s no wonder we all sit around on our proverbial (or, uh, literal) couches in our pajamas doing nothing when we’d love nothing more than to reach our fullest potential as mothers, women, partners and human beings.

It’s time we put a stop to it, once and for all.

1. Remember that done beats perfect every time. If you can get off that couch and just do something, you’ll see that the feeling of doneness trumps perfection each and every time. Because perfection will never exist, the feeling of accomplishment that comes with just doing one small thing will create the momentum to keep doing more small things which add up to big things.

2. Develop finite goals that you can give you quick wins. Why is it that we give kids a piece of candy or a sticker for just sitting on the potty even when they don’t actually do anything is said potty? Because the positive reinforcement of meeting even a small milestone creates the momentum to push forward. How effective do you think potty training would be if we said things like “Geez, Billy. Your first time on the potty and no poop? Why can’t you get this right?!” Develop small goals for yourself. Maybe organizing the entire house to look like a Martha Stewart catalogue is a bit lofty and daunting, so instead, set a goal to declutter the junk drawer in the kitchen.

3. Realize that mistakes are learning experiences. It is so cliché to say that there is no such thing as a mistake if you learn from it, but it’s true. That’s why clichés exist. Each time you fall off a bike is a learning experience. You learn how to hold your hands, steer and peddle. You get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. You know who you won’t learn how to ride a bike? By sitting around thinking about how perfectly you want to ride it right out of the gate. There are very few mistakes in this world that can’t be fixed or learned from. Dive in and learn to embrace mistakes for the glorious teachable moments that they are.

You may never be able to fully stop perfectionism from creeping into your life, but you can start by recognizing how reckless she is by causing chaos and keeping you paralyzed by procrastination. She'll keep showing up, like that friend you can't get rid of, but stand up for yourself and tell her she isn't welcome anymore. Tell her you've chosen a more honest friend, one who stands by you even when you make mistakes. Choose enoughness over perfection. She's more fun at parties anyway.

 

Are you living with procrastination overload? Is the fact that your to-do list is longer than your done list everyday driving you to say "Screw it! I just don't do anything! Sign up below to join The Mother Like a Boss Vault and gain free access to home management printables, worksheets, mini courses, audio lessons and more! This vault is your key to all things #homemakerish and it's totally free.

How to prepare for holiday guests (while keeping your sanity)

blogholidayguests.png

Well, the holiday season is approaching fast. Fa la la la la, la la la oh crap, when was the last time I cleaned the guest bathroom?!

The holidays bring joy, love, gratitude, cold weather (for us in the northeast), but they can also bring stress, unhappiness and an overall grouchy demeanor. One of the main culprits of this is hosting guests in your home. Not only is the very act of having additional people in your house a lot to handle, but the stress over the condition of your home is enough to make any mom throw in the towel and down a bowl of eggnog.

Cleaning and tidying before company is basically a rite of passage for mothers, but it doesn’t have to be the holy grail of stress that we have made it out to be. Here are a few tips for preparing your house for company without losing your sanity in the process.

1. Create a calendar. The worst thing you can do around the holidays is to go into them blind. Create a calendar for the months of November and December and keep them handy. This seems like such a simple tip, but you’d be amazed how many people forget to plan out the dates. I mean, Christmas comes on the same date every year, so why do so many of us wait until the last minute to get everything done, as if it just popped up out of nowhere? Write down the arrival and departure dates of your guests (if they are staying with you) or the dates that family will be coming over. Be as specific with times as possible.

2. Have a plan. Now that you know exactly when your in-laws will be arriving and how long Aunt Millie will be hanging around, you can work backwards to create a plan. Do you need to grocery shop, prepare meals, clean, organize, declutter, decorate? Write it all down in a brain dump. I am a fan of the brain dump because it gets everything out onto one piece of paper. Nothing gets lost. From there, you can start to create your plan. It doesn’t make sense to clean the bathrooms 2 weeks in advance since, unless you plan to go un-showered in that time, you’ll be using the room during those weeks. However, can you prepare meals in advance? Prep some food? Declutter the guest room? Decorate the house? Fill in your schedule with tasks that can be done every day (or every few days) until your guest arrive.

3. Use baskets. Are you looking around and thinking “We have too much shit in this house! What am I going to do with it all?” If the thought of doing a major declutter or organization project before the holidays makes you want to curl in the corner and rock, then don’t. Instead use baskets to do a quick and easy tidying of the house and put the baskets where they won’t be seen. Remove piles of papers, magazines, toys or other clutter and place them in baskets (small or large, depending on the amount of clutter. I love round laundry baskets for this) to be gone through at a later date. Warning! Remember that moving clutter from one place to another doesn’t actually solve the problem, so you will need to be disciplined enough to take care of it after the holidays are over.

4. Prioritize. Is the time to finally declutter that hallway linen closet right before you have company arriving? No, probably not. Prioritize the things that need to be done. Guest towels clean (also known as “the nicer, cleaner towels” if you’re in my house)? Check! Bathroom clean? Check! Extra food in the house? Check! Wine on tap? Check, check, check! Now is not the time to do all the things, now is the time to do the right things. The rest can be done later. If you notice things that really need a good scrub or should be decluttered, take note and come back to it after the New Year.

5. Let it go. Is your mother-in-law the kind that likes to make mention of that cobweb in the corner that she swears has been there since the last time she visited? Do your friends like to comment on how “quaint” your small home is in comparison to their large McMansion? Let it in, then let it go. The comments people make, especially when they are in your home, is more of a reflection on them than it is on you. Do the best you can to make their visit or stay comfortable and welcoming, but leave it at that. You’ll never be able to do everything or make everyone happy, so it is important that you give yourself grace above all else. This is your special time of year too, so be sure to pat yourself on the back and give yourself an extra cookie or two for your efforts. Be an Elsa. Let it go.

Looking at the holiday calendar and getting a major case of to-do list-itis? Sign up below to join The Mother Like a Boss Vault and gain free access to home management printables, worksheets, mini courses, audio lessons and more! This vault is your key to all things #homemakerish and it's totally free.

Why you should hire a mommy's helper (and how to do it the right way)

blogmommyhelper1.png

There is no doubt that childcare (and the price of it) in this country has become a hot button topic. Working parents spend months researching the best daycare providers, nannies and babysitters that will watch their children full time. But what about those times when you need someone to watch the kids while you work in the house, or do chores, or run quick errands? Enter the mother's helper.

I don’t know that I used the term mother's helper before 6 years ago, but as I look back, that is exactly what I was as a young teen. I had several “clients” that paid me to entertain their children while they did chores, cooked, cleaned, and worked out. At the time, being completely naïve about what went into raising children, I thought “Geez. This mom can’t get this stuff done without paying me to watch her kids?” Young Kendra deserves a good smacking.

The misconceptions that moms should be able to do it all, and work, or do it all while they stay home with their children, still run deep in our society. I see and hear it every day with my 1-1 clients and followers. Honestly, the misconceptions make me gag. As a business owner, I am encouraged and even expected to hire help. It is seen as unprofessional to try to accomplish all tasks by yourself. You are encouraged to leverage your time and your skills, hiring others to take the smaller tasks off your plate. Yet somehow, raising kids is the kind of job you are expected to do with little or no outside help. Making and managing a home, not to mention that gazillion (a rough estimate) other things that go into raising kids, are supposed to be done effortlessly each day by mom and mom alone. Well, maybe some help from dad. Sometimes.

I call foul and instead proclaim “All hail the mommy’s helper!”

So what exactly is a mother's helper?

This gal (or guy) is slightly different than a babysitter or a nanny as they assist the family while one or both parents are still home. While most helpers assist with entertaining the kids, they may also help with household chores, like laundry, cooking or cleaning. Basically, they are another set of hands, giving relief to mama.

Did the thought of that kind of help get you all giddy with excitement? Did you immediately think “Uh, but where do I find someone. How do I hire them? What should I have them do?” All common questions.

The best way to find a mother's helper is from referrals. Ask your friends, neighbors, colleagues and family if they have any young girls that are interested in making money as a helper. Do you have friends or neighbors with teenage daughters that are looking to babysit? Reach out and ask. Unlike a traditional babysitter, a helper can be much younger, sometimes as young as 11-12 as you won’t be leaving the house. At 12, I was plenty mature enough to watch after my younger siblings and do household work.

The other benefit of having someone younger is that they are eager to learn and gain experience which will help them get babysitting jobs in the future. While I don’t agree with stiffing anyone, helpers are often much less expensive than a babysitter, again because the amount of responsibility they have is far less.

Is it absolutely necessary to hire someone in their teens or preteens? No, ma’m. Many women of all ages make excellent mother’s helpers, but I have found that younger girls are more flexible with their schedules (they are too young to have jobs or boyfriends…hopefully) and are eager to learn and help.

The interview process

A question I am asked quite a bit when I bring up this topic is how to interview a potential candidate, how much to pay them and how to act as a “boss.” These are all pretty important questions.

How much should I pay her?

How much you choose to pay your mother’s helper varies about as much as the amount of times your kid changes his mind about what he wants to breakfast. There are a lot of variables, such as location, age and experience of the helper, duties you expect to be performed, amount of time needed, etc. My best advice is to ask around and do your research. If you have gotten a referral, ask what price they pay their helper. If all else fails, go to the source. I remember being asked as a 15 year old girl what I “charged” for babysitting. Flabbergasted, I said “Uh, whatever you want to pay.” That was the wrong answer and the person hiring me gave me the best “lecture” I have ever received. She let me know that I should have a price in mind of what I thought my skills were worth and never to let my clients set the price. Wise, sage advice. While a 12 year old may not have a solid answer, or may come back at you with anywhere from $1-$50, it is a great learning experience to ask them what they have received in the past and if that is what they charge. For older teens and adults, ask them their price straight-up. Money is a touchy subject that we could all get past if we just talked about it more.

What should I do during an interview?

During an interview, or meeting, be sure to have the potential helper interact with the kids, especially if that will be their prime focus. Are they kind, fun, playful, interactive? Do your kids seems to jive with them or do they have a look on their face that screams, “Get her out of here!” Use that mommy intuition you know you have and go with the candidate that seems to gel with your kids and home easily.

What else should I know?

Always go in to any working relationship with clear, unflappable expectations of the relationship. The worst thing you can do (and I speak from experience, believe me) is to hire a mother’s helper, give her vague instructions and then become resentful that she isn’t performing the duties that you didn’t tell her she was supposed to perform. Do you expect the toys to be cleaned up before she leaves? Would you like her to be off her phone for the majority of their work? Are you paying her to entertain the kids and make snacks? Be clear about your needs from the get-go. Remember, you are doing this to remove stress from your life, not add to it. I remember hiring a babysitter once and coming home to find that every single toy, and I mean every single toy in the house was scattered across the carpet. I hadn’t been clear that part of the job was to make sure I didn’t have a mental breakdown upon returning home or emerging from my home office.

Set boundaries, for her and for you. Are you totally okay with your helper entering any room of the house or is the master bedroom off limits? Do you have specific food that the kids are allowed to eat or do you have a “just eat whatever” philosophy. There is no right or wrong answer, there are only boundaries. Set them early and stick to them. Physical and emotional boundaries are so important when you have someone working in your home and with your children, even if the person working with them IS a child. I know that as a babysitter in my teens and then as the owner of a cleaning company, I loved boundaries. They made me feel secure that what I was doing was the right thing, all the time. When people know what to expect, they can do what is expected of them.

The most important tip I can give you, from the bottom of my heart is to let go of perfection. Will a 12 year old girl do things the way you would? No, no she will not. Will you have moments when you want to step in and do it all yourself? Yes, yes you will. But resist the urge if you can. A mommy’s helper can give you an abundance of freedom that you normally wouldn’t have, to get done the things that you otherwise wouldn’t have the time for. Whether you plan to spend that time cleaning out closets, or catching up on laundry, or watching your favorite TV show, or working on your newly formed part-time business, give yourself the time and let someone else entertain the little ones.

Now go enjoy that morsel of time, mama. It's worth every penny.

 

Even with the right printables and checklists, reluctant homemaker-itis can still seep in. Sign up below to join The Mother Like a Boss Vault and gain free access to home management printables, worksheets, mini courses, audio lessons and more! This vault is your key to all things #homemakerish and it's totally free.

5 Ways to enjoy time with your kids

blogwithkids.png

It’s a sweeping cliché in the parenthood world that time flies by and you should enjoy your little ones while they are still, ya know, little. We all know this, we all hear it and we all say it, so why aren’t we putting it into practice? I know for myself, the issue isn’t as much that I don’t have the time as it that I am not enjoying the time that I do have.

You know how it goes. You plan out an evening of playing Pretty Pretty Princess with your 4 year old daughter. She’s excited, you’re excited (sort of), but when the time comes all you think about is your to-do list that sits idly in that notebook over there on the counter. You want to enjoy the time with your little princess, but the squirrels in your head seem to have other plans.

We want so badly to soak up the time we have with our children, but somehow lose sight of how to enjoy it.

Here are a few ways to get back the fun of spending time with your kids, no matter what age they are.

1.  Remember what it was like to be their age: Aside from the reeeally young years, it is pretty easy to remember back to the days of being a child. Even if all you have are a few memories from that age, I bet they are filled with laughter and love. That is how nostalgia works. We brush over the negative and remember only the butterflies and unicorns of yesteryear. If you want to enjoy the moments with your child, remember back to a time when you were the same age. Don’t you remember how tall you felt atop your dad’s shoulders, how free you felt when your mom spun you around in circles, or how loved you felt when your mom would spend the afternoon teaching you how to bake cookies, or draw, or drive? It is easy to get caught up in adulthood, where fun is sometimes nothing more than an exit on the highway of life, but remembering back to the age of our children can bring us back to the fun of being young and help us enjoy the moments we have with them.

2.  Ask them what they want to do: Have you ever planned an activity or outing with your kids, thinking “Aw, damn. They are gonna be stoked!” only to realize that your kids are so not into that? Not only is it a bummer, but no one really enjoys themselves. Instead, ask your kids what they want to do. Do they want you to join them for an exclusive tea party, or go bike riding, or hiking, or sit and draw? Maybe they want to go roller skating and sit and listen to you tell them stories. Perhaps all they want is to run around the yard for a half hour and play tag until you are both so exhausted, you fall to the ground and giggle. It is always more enjoyable to be with a willing participant and kids love to feel that they have some control over what they do (even if it is just an illusion.)

3.  Be spontaneous: Nothing can spoil your happiness like planning something for a long time, only to have something sabotage it. Something like a sick kid or bad weather can put a really bad taste in your mouth and although I am a firm lover of all things planning and organization, I also know the joy that comes with being unplanned and impromptu. Some of the best times I have ever spent with my kids and husband have been on a Sunday when I woke up and said “Ok. Pack up. We’re driving up to Lake Placid today.” Or “Let’s do a waffle bar for dinner!” It is in those moments that I am truly happy and joyful because I know that I am totally present and in the moment.

4.  Schedule one on one time: This is the exact opposite of the last tip, but bears just as much weight. Kids of all ages, whether they want to admit it or not (and many older kids won’t) want 1-1 time with their parents. They want to the center of attention and feel like their specific needs are being met. The best way to do this is to schedule is. Maybe you have a standing date with each of your kids once a month. You can switch up what you do or where you go, but having that date to look forward to makes the time together so much more lovely.

5. Be. Totally. Present: There is nothing that steals the joy away from a moment with your kiddos like spending the entire time thinking about the past or the future. Our mom minds are labyrinths of whats and hows and whens and what ifs. Although it serves us to be thinking one step ahead when it comes to planning, it makes specials moments with our children less enjoyable. Try to be totally present when you are with your kids. Notice their smile, the way they walk, how they talk to you, what they pretend to be. Soak up every second you can. This is often easier said than done and takes practice. We are so focused on so many things that it is our default to be thinking about something else no matter where we are. Break out of it, see the time with your kids as special and precious and enjoy.

However you choose and spend and enjoy time with your children, don’t judge yourself too much or beat yourself up either. Chances are, they won’t remember all the things we didn’t do but wishes we had, they’ll remember all the times you made an effort to enjoy their company.

I want you to have more time to enjoy with your kids, but I know that time can seem limited for us mamas.  Sign up below to join The Mother Like a Boss Vault and gain free access to home management printables, worksheets, mini courses, audio lessons and more! This vault is your key to all things #homemakerish and it's totally free.

8 great ways to make your house LOOK and FEEL clean

blog8ways.png

Let’s face it, not everyone has a dedicated cleaning day. Honestly, as an expert in this area, I don’t even recommend it. Using an entire day to clean the house, unless you have absolutely nothing else to accomplish, is a waste of your time, energy and bandwidth. Cleaning “as you go” during the week is a far better use of your resources, keeps your home from getting messy and leaves you much happier as you expend less energy scrubbing for hours on end.

But even if you do clean every day, there are areas that we always miss. We forget, we neglect or we just plain don’t realize need cleaning. These tend to be the areas that make the house look a whole lot dirtier than it actually is.

In my cleaning business, it was amazing how much more sparkly and clean a house could look just by focusing on some little tasks that had been neglected for a while. Whether you’re looking to spruce up your home before a big party or are just hoping to make your house feel a little cleaner, these recommendations will give your home the quick boost it needs.

 

1.       Doors

Take a look at the nearest door to you. How does it look? I mean, aside from looking like a door. Really look at it. If you’re anything like most people with kids, the door is covered in smudges and scuff marks, leaving it looking dingy and dirty. A quick cleaning of the doors can really improve the overall look of the entire house. If you have white doors, use a magic eraser to remove the scuffs and a bucket of soapy water and cloth to clean the smudges and dirt. It really is amazing how much of a difference cleaning the doors can make in your house, and in a pretty short amount of time.

2.       Baseboards

Baseboards, while beautiful additions to the décor of a home, are a giant pain in the behind most of the time. They are collectors of dust, dirt and grime throughout the house. The good news is that they are super easy to clean and make a real difference in how clean the room can look. White baseboards that are dirty give the entire all a wall a ho-hum look, while clean baseboard brighten the room. If they are just dusty, use an extender dust wand. If they are caked with dirt, dust or grime (which happens the most in kitchens and bathrooms), simply wipe down with warm water and soap or your favorite all-purpose cleaner.

3.       Blinds

Whether you have faux wood, real wood or vinyl blinds, chances are they aren’t being cleaned as often as they should. And with good reason. They are a pain. But it makes a big difference when they ARE clean. To make it easier, break it down by room. Commit to cleaning blinds in one room a day. Dust the blinds with large slats with a microfiber cloth, a Swiffer or a specific blind cleaning tool. My recommendation for dirty vinyl blinds? Just buy new ones. Honestly. The amount of time it takes to thoroughly cleaning the cheap $5 blinds could be better spent just about anywhere else. They also tend to break very easily. Just like the commitment to cleaning one room at a time, replace the cheaper blinds one room at a time, too.

4.       Sliding glass doors/glass storm doors

With kids and pets, it’s like smudge city on those glass surfaces, isn’t it? It’s like the kids and dog noses know how dirty their tiny little prints will make the door look. Clean them often if you want a super quick fix for making the room appear cleaner. For some reason, a clean glass door just makes the whole room appear to shine.

5.       Outside of kitchen appliances

Like the glass doors, appliances are a magnet for smudges, fingerprints, dirt and grease. We tend to touch and grab the appliances with grime already on our fingers, hence the constant battle to keep them clean. If you’re running low on time and want the kitchen to appear sparkly, give the outside of the refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave and stove/oven a quick cleaning. Whether it is stainless steel or mirrored, you’ll give yourself a pat on the back for getting that “this room looks super clean” feeling for only 5 minutes of effort.

6.       Throw pillows

I have a love/hate relationship with throw pillows. I love the way they look in the store, on my Pinterest feed and for about 13 seconds after I bring them home. But then, inevitably, my kids and husband insist on sitting on them so violently that they look their fluffiness and end up flat and sad. Perk them up by throwing them into the dryer for 15 minutes of so. The heat give umph back to the pillows. When I am expecting company, I always give the throw pillows on the couch some attention. It makes the whole room look clean and orderly even if I haven’t done a damn thing besides that.

7.       Curtains

How often do you clean your curtains? Be honest…come on. They are SO easy to forget. However, they are also collectors of dust, dirt and anything else that splashes, sloshes or spills on the floor. If you live in a home with anyone effected by allergies, cleaning the curtains is also a great way to reduce the effects of those allergies. Throw them in the wash (or take them to be laundered if they require more specialized care) one room at a time. Bonus: anything freshly laundered makes the room smell better. Awesome!

8.       Walls, especially in entry ways and stairs

I am unsure why kids need to touch the walls constantly. Like, here is a beautifully painted wall, let me put my grubby little fingers all over it. But such it is and the walls in areas like stairs and entry ways become inundated with fingerprints and dirt. It’s such a quick fix that makes a huge difference. In fact, many times you don’t realize how dirty is actually was until after you see it clean.

Keeping your house cleaning on a regular basis can feel about as futile as brushing your teeth while eating Oreos, but if you can manage to do one thing at a time and keep these neglected areas from getting too dirty, you'll create the illusion of a polished home. Hey, an illusion is better than nothing, right?


Even if you are a "Cleaning doesn't suck that bad" kinda mom, keeping a running tally of all the things that need to be cleaned in the house can be a daunting task! Sign up below to join The Mother Like a Boss Vault and gain free access to home management printables, worksheets, mini courses, audio lessons and more! This vault is your key to all things #homemakerish and it's totally free.

 

 

 

 

 

A mom's beginner guide to meal planning

blogmealplanning.png

You hear the words every day and they make you cringe. You wince at the question because you just don’t know the answer. You’re scrambling each day to find a suitable response, but you’re at a loss. You know even if you have an answer tonight, tomorrow, the question will pop up again.

“Mom, what’s for dinner?”

If your house is anything like mine, the question gets asked at about 8AM. Why is it that children need to know what dinner will be before they've consumed breakfast? Do they understand the stress that takes over when we hear that question and don’t know the answer? In a world of uncertainty, meals shouldn’t be one of them.

And that is where meal planning swoops in to save the day.

Did you just shrug your shoulders and think, “Ya. I know all about meal planning and I don’t have time for it. I don’t even know where to start!”

That’s the go to answer for most moms and I get it. The thought of planning yet another thing is daunting, but I am here to tell you that NOT planning is costing you a whole lot of time, money and energy.

Meal planning doesn't have to be difficult. It doesn't have to be labor intensive or scary or done months in advance. It doesn't have to be done by only moms who are skilled in the kitchen or who love to cook. Meal planning is simply the act of scheduling and/or prepping your meals ahead of time to save you the exhaustion of going through the “What’s for dinner?” rigmarole every night.

I am a mom of two and meal planning quite simply saves my sanity. On weeks when I have let it slide, I find myself stressed and disorganized, especially during the school year where at least 3 out of 5 weeknights are filled with some kind of appointment, meeting, activity or get together.

I would also like to mention that I am not a chef or even an amazing cook. I do alright, but I by no means have some kind of special cooking skills that make meal planning any easier. I’ve just learned how to do it efficiently, working around our schedule and our food preferences. And I’d love to share it with you, too. Sharing is caring, right?

The most notable excuse for why my mama friends, clients and followers have not implemented meal planning into their routine is because they don’t know where to begin. There is a big world of meal planning information out there, so let’s break it down.

Make a master list of meals or recipes you’d like to use

Every home has their go-to recipes that show up week after week. Whether it’s your world famous lasagna, taco Tuesdays, or homemade pizza, add it to a master list. Write down every meal you can think of and get your kids to help, too. Ask them what meals they would enjoy. The point of the master list is making it easier to choose the meals that you’ll schedule. You don’t want to sit down with a calendar and have to come up with recipes out of thin air. THAT is stressful. As you learn new recipes or try out new meals, you can add them to the list.

Discover new meals

After you’ve added all your staples to your list, go searching for other recipes. Pinterest is recipe and meal planning heaven, but your friends and family are also a wealth of information. As them what their favorite dinners are. Remember to gather a wide variety. Meats, vegetables, crock pot meals, casseroles, frozen meals, soups, stews, pasta dishes, etc.

Decide how far in advance you want to meal plan

It’s best to start small and work your way up. If you’re new to this whole meal planning endeavor, start with a week. As you gain more skills,  you can plan out much further, which I will say it an absolute delight and takes a tremendous amount of stress off you as a mom. I have had clients that had 2-3 months of meals planned out, written on a calendar, hanging in the kitchen and it worked like a charm for their large family. Meal planning isn’t just about taking the stress off you, but about creating routine and predictability for your family. When kids can see what is for dinner each time, they are less likely to ask for fast food or takeout, at least in my house that is true. My daughter loves to look on the weekly meal planner and see what each night will be.

Get out your calendar and take a look at the schedule

This is such an important part of meal planning effectively. Your family’s schedule will dictate which meals you plan for what night. When are your activities planned? Do you have parties to attend? When are the kids needing to be taken to sports or school activities? Do you have meetings? Dinner planned with mom and dad? There isn't much point planning a big sit down Thanksgiving-style meal for a day that you won't be home until 6pm.

  • For busy evenings, plan quick meals. Sandwiches, soups, salads. Anything that can thrown together quickly, cooked quickly or that doesn't require cooking at all. Who says sandwiches aren't a dinner food?
  • Plan homemade meals for days with less activity. If you have the time, use those days for big meals that take up more time. Here's a bonus tip: If you have the time to put together a big, home cooked meal, double it and freeze the rest. Now you have a delicious home cooked meal for another busy evening.
  • Prep freezer meals and casseroles for emergencies or last minute changes. We all know that the best laid plans don’t always work out. Things come up when we least expect them and it is wonderful to have a few meals prepped at all times, frozen and ready to be cooked when needed. Casseroles and Crock Pot dump meals are perfect for this situation. They can be easily thawed or thrown in the oven or crock pot.

Now, its time to get down to the planning and the shopping

Before you go anywhere or buy anything, take a look at what you need for each meal. Maybe you know the recipes by heart or have them written down. Perhaps you found them on Pinterest or your favorite cooking website. Take inventory of what you already have. Do you have all the condiments, spices and herbs that you’ll need? Do you already have a few pounds of chicken breasts in the freezer? This is all about saving time and money, so you don’t want to come home with ingredients that you already have.

The key here is to make 1 trip for all of your ingredients. Going to the store multiple times throughout the week not only cuts into your schedule and wastes time, it cuts into your budget. When you run into the store for a $5 item, you’re likely to get drawn in by the sales and impulse buys and walk out having spent $30. Believe me, I’ve been there. “Oooh, look. Chips are on sale!” Bye bye budget.

Now, let's prep.

Alright, alright. You did the planning, you did the shopping. So, now what? Now, we do some prep, because a plan is only as good as the preparation you do before it.

Divide up meats into meal portions and freeze. It is wasteful to thaw 2 pounds of chicken to cook one meal that requires a half pound. Decide how much meat each meal calls for and divide it up accordingly. Likewise, cook any meat that needs browning, such as ground beef, turkey or chicken. The last thing you want to be doing on a busy Tuesday night is browning meat that could have easily been done days before when you weren’t running around trying to remember where your daughter put her tap shoes.

Now, chop your veggies. Just like with the meat, the more you get done ahead of time, the less you will need to do on those busy weeknights. A tip to make meal planning even easier is to use your veggies and meats in more than one dish. Are you using peppers and onions for fajitas? Use them for a soup, too. Or breakfast, or a Panini at lunch. Good meal planning means using as many of your ingredients as possible for as many meals as possible.

Put together all of your casseroles or frozen meals. Be sure to label them properly with the meal name and date. The date is important. No one wants to eat a frozen baked ziti that you made 6 years ago. Yum.

And guess what. You're a meal planner. You've planned, you've prepped and now all you need to do it cook (or at the very least, heat stuff up) and you're the boss, applesauce.

Speaking of applesauce, don't forget the sides. I buy brown rice and steamable veggies in bulk or when there is a sale so I always have a yummy, healthy side dish in a pinch.

Remember, have fun. This isn't supposed to be a chore. Cooking and providing delicious and nutritious meals for your family is supposed to be wonderful, not fill you with dread. The planning is what makes it wonderful and takes the stress out of the constant starting over every day.

So, the next time your kids ask, "What's for dinner?", take look at the meal schedule, answer them confidently, then punch your fist in the air and pour a tall glass of wine. You've earned it, lady.

Sign up below to join The Mother Like a Boss Vault and gain free access to home management printables, worksheets, mini courses, audio lessons and more! This vault is your key to all things #homemakerish and it's totally free.