I feel as though this season of life that I am in is exceptionally busy – and it is. However, that seems to be true for most of us most of the time. While I stand firmly against the “glorification of busy” the truth is that our lives are full and most of us spend a lot of time on the go – bouncing from one thing to another. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mama like me, or you’re balancing a cocktail of work, school, parenting, volunteering, a social life, and other responsibilities, chances are you feel a lot like I do – like there just isn’t time to get it all done around the home. Here are some strategies I’ve been employing to help me be more productive than just the day-to-day-keep-everyone-alive activities.

  • The 15 Minute Rule Choose a project (like putting away that mountain of laundry or cleaning the bathroom), set your oven timer and get to work. I’m always amazed at what I can get done in a short amount of time.
  • Multi-task Fold laundry while you (gasp!) watch tv or while your little one is in the tub. Empty the dishwasher while your coffee is brewing. Straighten the shoes in the closet when you grab your coat. Take out the recycling when you’re grabbing the mail.
  • Plan Ahead Get ready for the next day before you go to bed. Set out the things you’ll  need (even clothes!), pack your bag, make your lunch, etc. Make your breakfast ahead of time. Laura shared this recipe with us last year. It can be made the night before and is a quick reheat. I love a peanut butter and banana wrap, a sippy cup (uh.. yes I use them in the car…) of milk, and a travel mug of coffee for breakfast on the go. (Speaking of breakfast on the GO, as my poor husband learned – dry cereal on a bumpy GO bus does not a good breakfast make.)
  • Enlist Little Help If you have little ones at home, don’t always try to work around them – get them to help! I shared some ideas on how to do this last year.  A few weekends ago all 4 of us spent the afternoon outside doing yard work. With the help of the Ergo Carrier little man had a wonderfully long nap while Daddy cut the grass (we use a manual mower – its safe!) while little girl and I trimmed bushes, raked leaves, etc… in between trips to the sandbox and rides down the slide, of course.
  • Use That Slow-cooker! I find the morning to be my most productive time and late afternoon to be the worst. It’s slowcooker season again and ours has been getting a work out. You can find some GREAT recipes online for chilis, soups, and stews, or toss in a roast and veggies for a double-duty meal – turn tonight’s leftovers into tomorrow’s stew.
  • Stock Your Freezer It takes quite a while to make a lasagna. At least 45 minutes if I’m really making a yummy one with spinach blended into the ricotta and a nice nutmeg filled bechamel between the layers. (Oh yes – come to my house for lasagna!) However – it takes only a few minutes more to turn that into two lasagnas. Make one for tonight and one for the freezer. Then on those exceptionally nutty days (or when you just don’t feel like cooking) you can pull it out, toss a salad, and dinner is ready with only a few minutes of prep.
  • Just Do It I have found that psyching myself up for a task is often more time consuming and more of a chore than just doing it. Steal five minutes and get it done. As my favourite Nike quote says “If you started your run when you first thought about going, you would be done by now.” Just get it done. :)

Do you have any tips for how to get things done around the home? What strategies do you use to stay on top of things when life gets extra chaotic?

About Elle

Elle is wife, mama, and sister-friend. A certified teacher and former children’s pastor, she chooses to spend her days uncovering the simple joys of life alongside her toddler. She revels in creative messes, outdoor adventures, and cozy conversations with dear friends. She drinks copious amounts of coffee, decorates cupcakes, and is happiest when her home is full and her kitchen a mess. Elle wears her heart on her sleeve and her baby on her back.

Distraction and Teeny Boppers

We can be honest here in this place right?

I sat down to write a post for this week and I remembered how easily I get distracted.

I remembered that when I looked at the clock and realized that it had been an hour since sitting down and all I had done was watch Hanson videos.  The grown woman in me was completely disgusted with myself, but the twelve year old girl in me was SO happy.

And so, although I know some of you are in earlier or later generations than I am, I will share some of my afternoon’s distractions with you:

An Oldie

An explanation of that

And a new selection (of an oldie)

 

What takes you “back” and makes you feel giddy?

What are your biggest distractions? (FYI Youtube is not normally one of mine!!)

 

About Crystal

Crystal is a vivacious go-getter who has a knack for finding the Divine within the ordinary. She spends her time singing in the car, dancing in the living room, and trying to decide what to do when she grows up. Crystal lives and learns in Guelph, ON with her hunky hubby and two delightful daughters.

To-Do List How-To: Making Your To-Do List Work For You

I often start my Monday with a to-do list. On Mondays I’m usually home with just my toddler, and after an often-busy weekend, and with a full week ahead, Monday seems like this glorious opportunity to both catch up on what’s been left undone, and prepare myself for a smooth week. I write my ambitious list, and hope to have everything done by 2:30, at which time I can grab a cup of coffee before waking up the babe and picking up my older son from school. Most often, I complete these tasks by sometime on Friday, and by the time I have finished Monday’s tasks, the list has grown considerably longer.

I like to-do lists. They help me remember what needs to be done (which is getting increasingly difficult as I age and my responsibilities increase. This drives me crazy, because I used to be able to remember EVERY date and duty over a 2-3 month period. Not anymore.). They help me visualize my tasks and prioritize them, and they help me feel a sense of accomplishment when I can check a completed item off (and yes, I do write things on the bottom of the list after I’ve done them just so I can check them off and feel better).

Despite all those great things, I find that there are some negative aspects to a to-do list. There are times when things are so busy, that I can spend so much time just writing down more, and more, and more to-do. Sometimes it seems like I’m almost looking for more to pile-on (perhaps because this writing of the list feels a wee bit productive, and is easier than actually getting up and doing anything?). Depending on my mood, it can also contribute to a sense of failure and hopelessness, as I’m pretty sure, I will never, EVER, be able to check everything off the list.

The List

Despite those negatives, I continue to use a to-do list, and have a few suggestions as to how it can be a helpful tool.

Don’t let it overwhelm you. Pick something, and get started. Sure, it’s good to prioritize and do what’s most important, but if you’re in that overwhelmed state of paralysis, just pick anything and do it. Completing a task feels good, and will usually be enough to keep you going on to other tasks. Something is better than nothing.

Not everything on your list will take the same amount of time or have the same amount of impact. It’s quite possible for you to work really hard for a long period of time and only have one thing to check off at the end of the day.  That one big thing could make a way bigger impact than six little things. Don’t start adding up check marks.

Be realistic. I used to be upset that I couldn’t get all of my to-dos done on Monday. While that would be lovely, I pretty much expect that my Monday check-list will take me all week. And that’s okay.

Let it grow. I used to get really frustrated that I couldn’t get ahead. I felt like there was no way I could ever get everything done, and it drove me nuts. Then I realized that this stuff-to-do problem was a side effect of life. Yep, as long as we keep on living, we will keep making messes, keep needing food to eat, keep needing clean clothes to wear. Rather than viewing these things as tedious jobs that stood in the way of me doing what I really want to do, I’ve reframed them as life. And life is what I really want to do. So, the list keeps growing - that means we’re still living.

Add things you enjoy. Seriously – it doesn’t need to be a list of drudgery. Write down “coffee.” Write down “paint toenails.” Write down “go for a walk”, “read a chapter”, “knit.” Those things that feed you and feel good are just as important as those other jobs. And if you do the things that fill you up, you’ll be way happier about doing the other jobs.

Remember it’s just a tool.

It’s to help you see what you need to do. It doesn’t measure your self-worth. You are no better at the end of the day because you’ve finished everything you set out to do. Some days, you need a nap more than a clean floor. Some days, your kids need to spend time at the park more than they need their laundry folded and put away. Go ahead, write that list. And then get on with living.

About Rachel

Rachel is a pilgrim and poet seeking to find the way of Jesus in the midst of the noisy, messy, tiring joy of parenting two little boys. She can most often be found singing hymns while hanging laundry in the backyard of the Hamilton home she shares with her husband James. She's journaling the journey at www.rachelwallace.ca

10 Must Do’s in Autumn

10 Must Do’s in Autumn

When I think about Autumn I think about everything natural: leaves, trees, scents and aromas of the outdoor, breezes filtering my hair, hemp string tied around everything and burlap decorations galore. Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year; fresh beginnings, a new school year,  new students, old students returning, new commitments, and often new friendships. The best part – Autumn sure is beautiful! Full of colour matching the transition in our lives.

 

Here is a list of 10 things I would not miss! Enjoy!

 

1) Go for a Walk

Embrace all the beautiful colours! It is the most beautiful time of the year! Sometimes we can forget how truly gorgeous it is! Don’t miss it by sitting inside lounging on your couch! There will be plenty of time for that later! Fresh air keeps your blood circulating and your inner self enjoying life. Feel and see the season!

 

2) Go for a Drive

Take a friend or your family and venture up north. Find streets swarming with trees who are waving hello and inviting you to join in their beauty! Talk about the colours and ask each other what you have planned for this upcoming year. Go home feeling inspired and connected with the world.

 

3) Leaves

It might be our favourite childhood memory: get outside! Those leaves need to be raked but most importantly; play in them! Enjoy being a kid again! Create one big massive pile with your kids or friends and enjoy the chaos of leaves everywhere!

 

4) Pumpkin Lattes

Take a friend out on a date to your local Cafe! They have all their Fall season drinks out like Pumpkin Lattes! Enjoy the conversation and laughter as you warm your bellies. With your scrumptious drinks gallivant outside and walk down the streets enjoying all the sounds and sights around. It will be one of the last warm days before the snow hits, so enjoy it to its fullest!

latte

 

5) Carve Pumpkins!

This is one enjoyable decoration that can be done year after year! Check out my Carving Pumpkins in 4 Easy Steps!

 

6) Decorate

There is nothing like making the home feel like Autumn! Decorate! Any excuse to brighten up my home I take with an excited thrill! I love seasons and am a fan of our home being in the midst of it all! The inside should reflect the outside and vice versa! Check out my recent blog on Make the Home Feel Like Autumn DIY.

Treat yourself to one new bought decoration each year. You will find year after year your house getting more colourful and glamorous each item you bring home.

 

7) Potluck Party!

Have an Autumn potluck! Invite your friends and family over for a potluck! Tell them to bring their favourite Autumn themed dish! Your house will be filled with pumpkins and apple scents! Taste test everything and enjoy your gathering

 

8) Be Outside

The truth is: it’s going to get cold out. So sit outside as often as you can before it’s too cold! Sit in your hammock (or on your patio) with a warm blanket, hoodie, hot apple cider and a good ol’ book. Enjoy the sounds all around and fully embrace this moment.

 

9) Open Those Windows!

You and your family will feel so good with the cool Autumn scents entering the home. It will bring freshness and filter the air out before it’s too cold to do so! It might be a little chilly, depending on the weather, but well worth it! Enjoy it while you can!

 

10) Roast Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkins are not around all year so make this a tradition! Have a movie night. Grab a couple cans of organic root beer and roast the pumpkin seeds that have been drying out on the counter. Check out my recipe here. A perfect snack for this month. Enjoy!

 

 

About Ris

Ris is an ambitious musician gunning for new imaginative ideas. She enjoys a variety of adventures and hanging out with her new handsome husband. Together they embark on influencing young minds helping them find hope, truth and love. She is an exciting music teacher, an irresistible songwriter, poet and painter. Strongly addicted to many mixes of green teas, she never passes on meeting up with a good friend and sipping a cup.

‘Tis the Season

I am opening up what could be a monstrous debate here – but I’m doing it with the knowledge that This Sisterhood is a community of  good willed women who respect and value that fact that we don’t all think the same thing.

fever - by george hodan

I read this article earlier about why you should not get a flu shot.  I realize that it is written from the far end of one perspective, and I know that we have all seen the ads and articles that recommend that everyone who is able, does receive a shot.  I struggle to find an article that balances the two perspectives well.  If any of you have one to share I certainly welcome it!

We, as a family, generally don’t get flu shots.  One year I did, because I worked in a long term care facility, and I felt like my not having a flu shot would show a reckless disregard for the elderly people in my care.  That year I got unbelievably sick and so did my then 2 year old daughter.  Likely unrelated, but it does make me wonder.

It is my opinion that there are times that a flu shot is beneficial (if you are around seniors and infants regularly, if a close connection has a compromised immune situation, etc…), but I definitely do not agree with it’s use as the primary defense against the flu.  I do not agree with the t.v and radio ads telling us all that we need to have it, and I cannot stand the “It’s okay to touch things again” messages that are circulating.

I want to know what you think:

Do you and yours get the flu shot each year?

Why or why not?

Did the article I linked to spark any curiosity, or new concerns for you?

 

About Crystal

Crystal is a vivacious go-getter who has a knack for finding the Divine within the ordinary. She spends her time singing in the car, dancing in the living room, and trying to decide what to do when she grows up. Crystal lives and learns in Guelph, ON with her hunky hubby and two delightful daughters.