Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Organizing the Everyday Crazy




Hi, my name is Courtney and my life is crazy. Oh, and yes, I DO like to watch the occasional bad reality show. So much so, that I'll schedule the season premiere on my calendar as seen above.

Don’t judge.

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is how, as a working mom, I keep our life organized. How do we get out of the door in the morning in one piece, sane, and on time? How do you juggle work time and family time? How do you keep it all balanced? 

Well friends, allow me to be honest. I don’t really have a concrete answer to those questions because on any given day, life happens. The day care calls un-expectantly to ask you to pick up a sick kiddo. You get a flat tire. Starbucks is out of pumpkin spiced lattes (the freaking horror!). You get the drift – life happens.

Whether you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom, we all have the same amount of hours in the day to work with. Having said that, I think the key for me in helping our lives run smoothly has been establishing and keeping to routines and keeping a well-organized, day-to-day plan aside from looking at the big picture (Months down the road planning) types of things.

Maybe you’re one of those people who have this organization thing down to a science. Your pantry is all neat and organized with Ikea storage containers and you have pretty little Pinterest chalkboard labels for everything. Your clothes are neatly folded and arranged in your closet and everything is sorted and placed according to color and season. 

Great. But what about your everyday organization? How do you go about your day with an organized schedule and to-do list? Here are my tips on helping to organize the everyday crazy.

Prep the Night Before
Nothing helps me to get my new day going more than going to bed at night knowing that the details for the following day are handled. I wake up feeling far more refreshed and not so much in a panic.

·         Put together and organize kid stuff – handle all of those pesky forms and paperwork and pull together day care and school bags for the next day. Establish a “command center” where all of these items are placed. For me, that’s the end of our dining room table. My purse, Chickie’s school bag and any other items for the next day are placed there so that in the morning, it’s an easy grab and go.

·         Do a quick pick-up around the house – bath time for Chickie is at 7:50. Around 7:30, we do a quick clean up around the house. Toys are put away, the kitchen is cleaned up with the dishwasher going, and all stray items are put away. We get Chickie involved by doing the “clean up song” (which is a perfect opportunity to teach helpfulness and responsibility) and I’ve even started letting her pick out her outfit the night before to try and minimize morning meltdowns and tantrums.

·         Make a to-do list for the next day – This habit does wonders for my productivity. Instead of waking up in a panic wondering what I have to get done for the day, I simply refer to my list to see what’s on the agenda for the day. I usually break my list down to “Need to do”, “Want to do”, and then list any appointments, events, or special reminders like birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays.

When I’m done with my list, I place it on the bar in our kitchen because that’s where I go first thing in the morning for coffee. While I’m waiting for the Keurig to do its magic, I can look over my list and get mentally prepared for the day ahead.

Get the Most Out of Daily Activities
Let’s be honest – no matter how much we plan ahead and organize, there’s no way to predict the perfect day. I do believe however, that we can do our best to try and stay on track to keep things running smoothly. Here are some of my tips:

·         When you rise, put that cell phone away! I know that since most of us use our cell phones for our alarm clocks, it’s only natural to want to get on our phones and see what’s going on but DON’T. Get a cup of coffee. Have some quiet time. Read over that amazing to-do list you planned the night before ;-) If you’re a religious person, use those first few minutes of the morning for devotional time. Point being – put the phone down. Allow yourself some time to wake up and shake off the morning fuzzies. Don’t get sucked into the bright screen and allow emails for the day to run over and dictate your life from the get-go.

For me, I usually sip on my coffee, go over my to do list for the day, and read blogs. This usually takes around 15 – 20 minutes. THEN I get my phone. Trust me, you’ll feel far more refreshed and ready to tackle the day if you don’t get sucked into your phone first.

·         Keep a good routine that works for you and your family – No one in our family is a morning person, but I’ve come to learn that having a good routine in place helps to minimize the cray-cray. We all wake up knowing what to expect and how the morning will play out so there are no surprises. Now, do we have meltdowns and tantrums? Yes. Do we have set-backs? Absolutely – but, having the bones and structure to the start of our day is half the battle.

This is especially true for small ones. Most toddlers and preschoolers crave routine. For us it’s goes as follows:

1.    Chickie wakes up and immediately goes potty
2.    I will get her Cheerios and then she lays in our bed eating and watching a movie. This allows me time to get ready.
3.    Next up, it’s time to get Chickie ready. Clothes, hair, and teeth are all done.
4.    Get shoes on and out the door!

Now don’t get me wrong. We have our struggles all through that little scenario but that’s pretty much the foundation of our mornings Monday thru Friday.

·         Take a break – I’m the type of person who can get very bored very quickly working on one thing. It’s hard for me to sit down and work on one project for a long length of time. I try to break up my day into manageable chunks with little breaks in-between. For instance, if I’m working on a project for work, I’ll go hard for about an hour or so and then take a break and call and make appointments for Chickie, schedule things for myself, or follow up on house and life items that need to be taken care of. I’m getting my work done but I’m also able to handle personal things as well. 

One Last Suggestion…
Find a planner system that works for you. Finding your perfect fit will be worth its weight in gold. I personally LOVE paper calendars and organizing systems. I’m a writer and love putting pen to paper and being able to write things out and see in a planner what my month, day, etc. looks like. It’s what works for me. 

Some people enjoy keeping electronic task lists and that’s great, too. Whatever works for you is what’s important. There was a time when I did try to go electronic and used Wunderlist and Evernote. Both are great products, each with their pros and cons. It’s simply just a process of finding what suits you but do it. It will be worth it.

What tips do you have for keeping the day to day crazies at bay?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Five Friday Faves - The HAPPY Edition



It’s FRIDAY! Let’s celebrate!


Today, I’m all about everything HAPPY. 

Lately, I’ve been trying to limit my time on the Web and electronics period. Some days I succeed and other days, well, not so much. Having said that, I’ve noticed on the days that I trim back my online activities, I’m far more happy, productive, and over-all more at peace with myself and life. I’ve also found that when I do invest time on the Net, I want to read and be more about the things that are uplifting, positive, and noteworthy (That’s a lot for a sarcastic, realist like myself to do, y’all. I mean, I should be winning some gold medals and shit). Do I still fall prey to some of the bullshit? Yep, sure do but I’m working on it.

While I can’t completely eradicate the negativity 100%, finding ways to curb it and avoid it has felt pretty good. Just last night, after we put Chickie to bed, I went to get on my laptop and just looked at Michael and said, “You know, I just really have no desire to be on my laptop or online” so instead, I read a book. 

Imagine that. 

So, today, we celebrate all things happy!

{ONE}
Free Starbucks

Picture this: it’s a typical, chaotic and crazy Tuesday morning in trying to pull myself and Chickie together to get out the door for school and work. I’m crying and whining because I’m fat with nothing to wear, Chickie is whining and crying because I’m making her wear clothes to school period, the cat is whining and crying because there isn’t enough water in his bowl, the dog is whining and crying because he wants to go out, and Michael is whining and crying because everyone else is whining and crying.

You see my point, yes?

Then imagine that for a moment, the storm clouds lift as you go to put on a pair of pants that you haven’t worn in forever only to find that there is a brand spanking new Starbucks gift card in the pocket. I mean, that baby is fresh. Never been swiped and loaded with $20. In that instant, you hear the angels sing and you could give two shits less whether or not your pants pull up over your legs comfortably. 

It’s all good. You have free coffee.




{TWO}
Snapshots from School

Every so often, we get pictures from Chickie’s school. It’s usually the little “look what I’m doing right now” types of things and if I’m being honest, I’m always surprised that the majority of her pictures don’t include her finger up her nose.

{Toddlers and preschoolers are just nasty, y’all}

Earlier this week, her teachers left this picture in her cubby and I simply love it 


 I love how innocent, peaceful, and happy she looks in this picture - just a little girl enjoying tea time with friends. She looks like such an old soul and looking at this picture makes me wish I could keep her like this always because I know that eventually, life will beat her up a little. But for now, we enjoy this.
 

{THREE}
Speaking of pictures from school…

School pictures happened last Friday and y’all…

This kid.

 Every time I look at these proofs I die. The photographer captured her personality to a “T” and those funny smiles? Yep, I purchased those as well. I’m going to be “that mom” for a second and simply say WOW. I’m pretty sure that on any given day I’m screwing up this whole parenting thing so it’s nice to see what a beautiful, smart, and amazing little girl we have. 
 
Having said that, Michael and I are totally screwed in about 10 years.


{FOUR}
Family

Tomorrow is my sister, Ashley’s, Birthday. 

There’s so much I could say about this little nugget (no really, she’s only 5’0) but I’ll simply leave it at this: I love you Ashley. I am so incredibly proud of the strong and independent woman you are and I truly admire your free spirit personality. Life hasn’t always been easy for you but you’ve always found a way to rise above and persevere and for that, you always have my utmost respect and admiration. Your love for life and laughter are contagious and even though I give you a ton of shit for running that loud ass mouth of yours (y’all – don’t be offended. She knows what I mean ;-) ) deep down, I love you for having the strength and courage to simply just be you.

Can’t wait to celebrate with you next weekend!



{FIVE}
Laughter

God, I love to laugh. I mean really. Is there any better feeling than finding or hearing something that just makes your heart happy? Check out my favorite video clips from the week that make my heart happy.

Dear Kitten: Regarding the Dog

The Weird Lies All Couples Tell

 Ellen Introduces Kids to the Technology of Years Past



Have a great weekend, friends! 

http://farmerbell.blogspot.com/2014/10/oh-hey-friday-kayes-2nd-birthday-party.html


http://www.northcarolinacharm.com/search/label/Five%20on%20Friday





Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hump Day Mommy Confessions


{1} Blogging hasn’t been fun for me lately – as a blogger and as a reader of blogs. I hope this changes soon because it has always been something I enjoy. I don’t know if it’s just that I’m creatively tapped out or if I’m just so tired of seeing so many posts that come across as either “My parenting style is better than yours and here’s why” or “Here’s how I parent and if you’re not doing it this way, then you’re doing it wrong” posts. 
 
Here’s a thought: How about we all just parent in our own way, in our own style, and do what feels comfortable for us and our own family. As with many things in life, I will never understand the mind-set some mothers have regarding this topic. OK, so I’m not trying the latest fad in parenting. AND??? Here’s a thought: the way I parent my child has absolutely ZERO effect on you, your child, or how you decide to parent. 

Sure, let’s talk it out. Research the different methods. Find out what the pros and cons are for each but PLEASE stop coming from the view point that one is better than another or that other mothers are wrong if they aren’t doing it your way. Isn’t parenting hard enough without stoking the mommy war fires in this way?

Live and let live.

{2} I used a rubber band the other day to keep my pants together. Fuck, I’m off the charts fat. I need to get it together. I want to be able to be my best self for Chickie and my current state isn’t cutting it. 

{3} For all the complaining I’ve done about Chickie having to sleep in our bed from time to time to get sleep at night, I have to admit that I’ve secretly loved it. There is something about how sweet that little warm body feels all snuggled up to mine that melts me and one day soon, she won’t be doing it at all anymore and I’ll miss it. Lesson learned – stop complaining and enjoy what I have now.

{4} I’m 38 and still feel like the weird kid that no one wants to hang out with. 

{5} I’m growing so accustomed to not having privacy in the bathroom that I’m starting to forget to even close the door at all, especially if there is company. Ooops. Sorry, guests!

{6} On occasion, I’ve lied to random people and told them I breastfed so that I wouldn’t have to deal with their horrible judgy-judgy eyes and looks. In the end, the only thing I feel towards that is sad. Sad for myself and any other woman who has had to do the same because it really shouldn’t be that way.

{7} I feel confident in our choice to be “one and done” but every so often, I think of Chickie and fear the day when I know she will ask me why she doesn’t have any siblings. I hope she understands because if not, and it breaks her heart, mine will break too.

{8} On occasion, I’ve fallen asleep on the toilet at work. The bathroom is so cool and quiet and well…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

What are your confessions for the week?