Family vacations, road trips and summer go hand and hand.
Whether you’ll be on the road for days or just hours, the following tips are bound to make everyone happy and the time spent on the road more enjoyable.
All it takes is a little planning, some creative ideas and you’ll be off on a family adventure you won't soon forget. It may even turn out so well you’ll want to do it again next year.
Hold a Pre-trip Family Meeting
Plan the route together including where you’ll stop along the way and make some decisions re: what songs will be added to a family playlist (for singalongs). Discuss what types of car games and activities each family member wants to do.
You may want to plan to play games like “I Spy” and The Alphabet game (where you find each letter of the alphabet on signs or cars). Create a binder for each child with travel activities, games and a map inserted into clear plastic sleeves. Pack some dry erase markers. Eliminate the "Are we there yet?" questions by having your kids follow the route on the map.
Get Active During Rest Stops
Whenever you stop for food, gas or a bathroom break make a point of doing some active games like Frisbee, playing tag, or timed races around the car (see if your kids can beat their time from the last stop) etc.
Refreshments to Go
Stock a cooler with fruits and veggies (e.g. grapes, apples, baby carrots and celery), homemade energy balls, protein bars, and granola bars.
Try to keep sugary snacks to a minimum to avoid sugar highs and reduce backseat fights.
For long trips, pack up different non-perishable snacks for variety each day.
Make a water only 'in the car' rule. Bring refillable water bottles (labelled for each family member). Pack a 4 L jug of water and refill individual bottles at rest stops.
Encourage drinking half an hour before a planned stop so everyone stays hydrated but you don’t have multiple pleas for bathroom breaks along the way..
Limit the use of electronics by implementing a point system to earn screen time. Activities like family game participation or individual reading/ journal time can be given a certain number of points..
Older kids could earn more personal screen time by using their smart phones to look up information about the area when you’re driving through and sharing it with the rest of the family.
Prepare for Motion Sickness
In addition to a first aid kit you may want to consider packing a travel sickness bag. Such a kit should include a large sealable bag packed with hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, a hydrating drink like Gatorade, bottle of water, motion sickness meds, bread sticks or soda crackers, sea bands, a couple of plastic bags, a second large sealable bag and a garbage bag.
*Surprise bags either individual or group (shared activity) to be revealed at select times during the trip.
*Buy baking sheets from the dollar store and use as magnetic and activity boards (affix a peel and stick white board or chalkboard sheet). Kids can then use magnetic letters or play with toy cars on a hand drawn roadway. If your child wants to make friendship bracelets simply bring along some embroidery string and a roll of tape to secure the string to a baking sheet.
*Keep entertainment within arm’s reach by filling a suctioned shower caddy with toys and games and securing it to the side window they are sitting next to..
*Make car naps or individual music/podcast time more enjoyable by bringing along throw pillows packed inside regular sized pillowcases and a different coloured sleep mask for each child.
*When travelling with young kids, keep food mess to a minimum by covering your car seats with a fitted sheet. Use twin size sheets for bucket seats and a double or queen for bench seats.
*Make snack time fun by filling plastic Easter eggs with surprise snacks and pack them in an egg carton.
*Before the trip have young kids make their own edible necklaces (e.g. with pretzels, Cheerios, Fruit Loops on string licorice) to enjoy along the way,
*In addition to non-perishable snacks like granola bars and trail mix, assemble and pack single portions of healthy snacks like celery and peanut butter, or assorted raw veggies and dip in lidded mason jars. Place the peanut butter or dip in the bottom and add the vegetables on top for a relatively mess-free snack.
*Create a DIY travel LEGO case by repurposing a metal lunchbox. Insert a green LEGO board and fill with LEGOs.
*Make an “I Spy” bottle by filling a 2 L pop bottle or sealable clear plastic bag with rice, small toys, beads, buttons, and other colorful objects. Create a checklist (visual or text) to go along with the bottle (or bag) and have your child cross off each item once it’s been spied.
Last but not least, bring clean BBQ tongs for all those dropped toys and sippy cups.
For more 'Family Road Trip Tips & Ideas' watch...
Do you struggle to try to get everything done but feel you fall short at the end of the day? I can relate as I used to stay up late and get up early in an attempt to get everything done.
I also regularly tried to pack in some self-care like taking a relaxing bath or meeting friends for coffee or a walk.
The problem was I would pack too much into a typical day. I keep adding things to my schedule and found myself rushing from activity to activity and ended up compromising my health. I wanted to do it all but my energy would either peter out before the day did or I unrealistically would pack so much into a day that there was no way I could get it all done.
That was when my 'to do' lists were long and my frame of mind was in a totally different place. Today, I make my 'to do' lists on a piece of paper the size of a post it note and don't put as much pressure on myself.
What changed, you may ask? Well aside from the simple facts that my life was leaving me feeling drained and my health was starting suffer, I finally took a breather and stepped back from the busyness of my life long enough to ask myself, “Why I am I doing all this?”
The people in my life were taking a back to all the stuff I was trying to do and fit into my already full life.
As a small business entrepreneur, I was juggling multiple clients, taking classes and was doing a variety of different things in order to help others and chase the almighty dollar. Unfortunately it came at great personal expense. While I am passionate about my professional organizing career and coaching others, it can also take too many hours away from other things that are important to me, like my family and friends.
In short, I was too busy for my own good, and the good of my loved ones.
I was aiming to be all I could for everyone in my life. The reality was I wasn't super woman and I wasn't perfect but I sure was acting like I was. I became a great juggler of many things at once and a pro at packing lots of stuff in a day with little space between.
For some reason, I operated under the belief my ‘to do’ list was temporary and one day my inbox would be empty and my life would be calm, relaxed, and happy.
Boy was I wrong!
The reality was that as soon as I checked the items off my 'to do' list there were more to replace them. The list of things I had to do in a day felt endless, not to mention, overwhelming.
The inbox of my life was always full of stuff left to accomplish. The reality is I will never get everything done, nor will you.
A light bulb moment came around the time I read something Richard Carlson, PhD and author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff book series, wrote about the importance of reminding yourself that when you die, your inbox won't be empty.
His words sure hit home! He made a good point. An inbox is meant to have ‘to do’ tasks in it and by its very nature is not supposed to be empty.
If we live our lives based on the stuff that automatically gets put in our inbox (if we don't say no) no wonder so many people find themselves overwhelmed. It’s the best recipe for exhaustion, I’ve ever come across.
Why is it that we feel we have to do so much?
We often find ourselves uber busy and doing stuff that in reality isn’t important. Unfortunately far too many of us are caught up in the cycle of trying to be everything to everyone. We wear all our accomplishments like a badge. Being crazy busy, as exhausting as it is, is just what we do, it's what society seems to expect. If you slack off you're an underachiever. And, slowing down and not keeping pace with of everyone else is unthinkable.
It was only when I acknowledged that one day I'm going to die leaving a heck of a lot of stuff unfinished that it really hit me. So, if that was going to be my reality anyway, why was I spending so much of my time trying to do it all?
Regardless of what I did or didn’t do now, my plate at the end of the day was still going to be left unfinished.
I took a serious look at what I was doing. Was I spending time on important stuff and with people who were important to me? Yes, to a certain extent but I was also wasting a lot of time on stuff that really wasn't important and in the big picture of my life was actually holding me back from what I should be focusing my energy on.
My life was unbalanced. I was more exhausted and stressed than I was happy and content. Inner peace was a foreign concept and my sense of well-being took a backseat to a feeling of overwhelm.
I decided it was time to end my obsession with trying to do it all. I started spending time making lists of things that were personally important and things that were not. I also started prioritizing better and dropping items from my ‘to do’ list.
I remain a work in progress and still struggle with finding a healthy balance of the things that really do need to get done with the things that are important to me. Now that my ‘to do’ list is shorter and only filled with my priorities, my day-to-day is much easier to schedule, I’m happier and I have more energy to enjoy the important stuff.
Is your personal inbox overflowing?
I welcome your feedback re: the steps you’re taking to reduce the stress and overwhelm in your life.
What have you found that works and what challenges do you still face?
Please leave your comments below. Thanks and have a beautiful day!
Life can be busy, but when it is, it’s all that more important to find ways to stay connected.
Here are 5 good ways to keep that bond with your kids despite the busyness.
Unplug and Be Present
Tech-free interaction is key to getting and staying in touch with our kids. Live in the moment and enjoy it. Kids grow up far too fast. Be in the moment as much as possible every day.
Bond Over a Project
We can all benefit from a team accomplishment. Schedule a basement clean up or a Saturday morning house clean. Then celebrate a job well done with a family reward.
Schedule Family Dinners
Eating together as a family every night may not be doable but schedule as many family dinners as possible and make the most of them. Incorporate some fun questions and silly games.
You can never hug too much. Kids of all ages need physical contact. Hug frequently, give shoulder massages, back scratches and foot rubs.
Life can be busy but taking the time to put a love note in your young child's lunch box, leaving a post-it note on your teen's bedroom door or sending regular thinking of you texts or notes of encouragement can go a long way to building self-esteem and making your child feel loved.
How do you stay connected when life is super busy? Please share your tips and ideas about what works for your family.
Please leave your comments below. Thanks and have a beautiful day!
Today’s kids are so plugged into technology it’s little wonder, grandparents feel so disconnected from their grandchildren. Aside from having a basket for them to place their devices in when they enter your home here are a few ways to carve out a little ‘connection’ with the younger generation.
Share a Favourite Spot
Take your grandchildren to a spot that has a special meaning to you. It could be a hiking trail, a beach or a park. Sharing your love of nature can be a catalyst for bonding.
Sharing a little family history with your grandkids can go a long way to making them feel part of a greater ‘whole’. What fond memories do you have of your childhood or their mom or dad’s? Share them via a story swap. Decide on a topic and then either take turns telling the story to each other or with older kids, write down your stories and then swap them.
Garden with the Grandkids
If you have a green thumb share your love of gardening with your grandchildren. Get them some kid-sized gardening gloves and tools and introduce them to seeds and soil. Gardening offers up not only some quality time together but it’s also a good way to teach kids about nature and sustainability.
Crafting is more than simply being creative. A joint craft project is a good way to engage and share in the benefits of working together as a team.
Do you have some good tips for connecting with the younger generation? If so, I'd love to hear them.
Please leave your comments below. Thanks and have a beautiful day!
Has texting replaced talking or has yelling at your kids become more common than playing with them? Granted, life can be busy, but being in constant ‘disconnect’ is unhealthy and can really have a negative impact on all members of the family.
Instead, find creative ways to reconnect and grow your relationship.
Here are some of my favourite ways to connect with the young people in my life…
Take Your Kids on a Date
We typically schedule dates with our spouses, so why not our kids? Carve out some one-on-one time, take them out to breakfast, lunch and a matinee, or be game to try an activity of their choosing.
Share an Adrenaline Rush
Want to really bond with your kids? How about taking them bungie jumping, zip lining, or white water rafting? A little too adventurous for you, how about go carting, bumper cars or horseback riding? The key is to get your heart racing with an exciting activity.
End the Day with a Snuggle and a Chat
Bedtime is often the best time of the day to catch up. Create a one-on-one night time ritual with each of your kids. You can encourage conversation with questions like ‘What’s the best, worst or silliest thing that happened to you today?’ If you child isn’t too talkative, that’s okay. Just having you present and available to snuggle and listen can mean the world to a child.
I'd love to hear about some of the ways you enjoy connecting with your kids, grandchildren or nieces and nephews.
I welcome your comments below.
8 Cleaners That Should Be Cleaned Before You Use Them
Simplifying one’s life is all about working smart and being efficient with our day-to-day tasks so we have time for the other more important things and aren’t overwhelmed with stuff left undone.
Another large part of living a simple life is doing things right the first time. This time of year many of us turn our thoughts to spring cleaning. Whether you typically reserve your heaviest chores for an annual spring clean or are more of a maintenance cleaner, there’s a lot to be said about using clean tools and appliances for optimum performance.
Cleaning your cleaners on a regular basis means you aren’t just moving dirt and bacteria around, you’re doing it right the first time and keeping your home and family healthier in the process.
Following are eight cleaning tools that in my opinion are worth keeping clean.
You dishwasher may do a good job at disinfecting your dishes on a daily basis but it will only work optimally if you keep it free of debris, soap scum and grease.
To kill germs, erase soap scum and cut through films of grease start by removing any debris from the bottom of the drain with a rag or paper towel.
Then pour white vinegar into a cup and place on the top rack of an empty dishwasher.
You can further deodorize your dishwasher by sprinkling a cup of baking soda on the bottom. Run a full cycle on the hottest water setting.
Does your washing machine stink? Foul odours could be caused from a build-up of detergent/fabric softener, bacteria from clothes or damp clothes left in the machine for long periods of time. Dampness in an enclosed area tends to breed mold and mildew.
Running a load of hot water won't zap all the germs, especially strains of bacteria like E. coli and salmonella from underwear or kitchen cloths which can live on washing machine walls and spread to other garments.
The best way to disinfect your washing machine is to use a combination of white vinegar, baking soda and hot water.
For top loading machines use 3 to 4 cups of vinegar to 1/2 cup of baking soda.
For front loading machines use 1/4 cup of vinegar to 4 tablespoons of baking soda.
Let the solution agitate for a bit and then sit for 30 to 60 minutes. Then start the machine, let the water drain, wipe and air dry.
As for your dryer, get in the habit of discarding lint after each cycle and at least once a month, remove the lint trap and vacuum the area.
Without proper maintenance, a vacuum is only good for moving dirt and dust around. A vacuum can get so clogged up with dust and allergens that it becomes less effective each time you use it.
The good news is you can clean your vacuum without having to take it apart.
For bagless vacuums you should be emptying the canister after each use.
For vacuums with bags, replace the bags when they are only a third full. Clean the filter by removing any build-up with your fingers and then shaking out the dust (ideally tap the filter against a hard surface like the exterior of your home, a tree or fence to remove any remaining dust). Consider replacing the filter once a year.
Make sure your rotating brush is free of hair. If you can't pull the hair out, use scissors to cut through the strands.
If worse comes to worst and you find your vacuum isn't performing up to par you may want to take apart each removable component and use a smaller vacuum to clean out the nooks and crannies.
If you notice a funky odor, give the individual vacuum parts a thorough washing (also press an old toothbrush into action as a small detail brush). Make sure all parts are completely dry before you reassemble them. The last thing you want to do is cause a breeding ground for mildew or mold growth.
Always shake off your dusters outside. To really clean your dusters you may want to use a canned air spray (typically used for key computer keyboards) to eliminate every speck of dust.
Once you’ve cleaned your floors you’ll have a dirty broom unless you shake it off outdoors. In addition to regularly removing debris from the bottom of your broom you may also want to occasionally wash the bristles with warm water and a mild detergent.
Let your broom air dry (ideally outdoors) with the bristles up. Then, store your broom on an elevated hook or upright with the bristles up to prolong its life.
We all know that sponges are breeding ground for bacteria. You can cut down on the gross factor though by disinfecting your sponges every couple of days and replacing them monthly.
To disinfect, soak your sponge in water and then place in a bowl and microwave on high for a minute. (Never microwave a dry sponge as it could catch on fire.)
Use 1/4 cup of water for scrub sponges and 1/2 cup of water for cellulose sponges.
For ‘scrub’ sponges, microwave on high heat for one minute. Add an extra minute and heat ‘cellulose’ sponges for a total of 2 minutes on high. Keep an eye on your microwave to make sure the sponges don’t dry out. Let your sponge cool down for several minutes before touching.
Alternatively, put a sponge into a regular dishwasher load of dishes, using the "heated dry" setting or soak in full strength vinegar for 5 minutes, squeeze out the liquid and let dry.
Keep several sponges on hand to serve different purposes and to avoid spreading bacteria. If you're using a sponge for pots, a sponge for counters and a sponge for dishes, try cutting the sponges into thirds to save money.
Microfiber cloths are ideal for picking up dust and debris and are certainly a better alternative than disposable cleaning cloths. You also don’t need to use cleaners with them, just water.
Toss your microfiber cloths in the washing machine with your regular laundry detergent. Just don't add any fabric softener as the oil's will clog up the fibers and render them ineffective.
A mop is like a sponge in it has the same potential to spread germs and dirt all over again if it isn't cleaned first.
If your mop has a removable head, toss it in the washing machine and run it with a cup of chlorine-free bleach and hot water.
For traditional mops, soak it in vinegar periodically and wash it with dish detergent and hot water after each use.
Squeeze out excess water and let it air dry. Store the same way you would a broom with the head up.
The biggest mistake is leaving a damp mop in a pail. It will just breed bacteria. Make sure your mop is thoroughly dry or you might as will not have cleaned it the first place.
So, what cleaner are you going to clean first?
I would love to hear your thoughts on cleaning your cleaners and any particular tips and ideas you'd like to share on the topic.
Please leave your comments below.
Do you ever yourself missing out on things you value because there aren’t enough hours in a day? I used to. I had my schedule packed so tight of ‘work’ stuff there wasn’t a lot of room for the important ‘family’ stuff.
Finding time for what’s important can be a challenge in our busy day-to-day lives but it CAN be done.
The first step is figuring out just what your priorities are. Next, you need to make some conscious decisions what you will and won't do and then commit to altering your daily routines. It takes discipline but the rewards are oh so worth it.
It really comes down to scheduling and priority management. For instance, consider how much more time you’d have if all family members got their hair cut at the same time instead of making separate trips to the hair salon over the course of a month or six weeks? (The same goes for routine medical appointments like dental check-ups.)
And what about routine tasks like cleaning the bathroom? Wouldn’t it be more efficient, not to mention easier, to quickly spray the shower after you use it instead of having to scrub off the soap scum that’s built up?
We often do things a certain way because it’s a habit, and not because it’s the best way to do it. By altering some of your habits, creating new ones, and doing away with ones that are counterproductive, you’ll find you can actually carve out more time in an average day.
Set your priorities and stick to them. Never start your day without a plan, or spend more time on the trivial and less on what’s really important. Not having a plan is one of the best ways to derail your day.
Here are a few ways I like to save time...
Group like errands together
Plan in advance. Schedule errands based on location so you aren’t driving all over town.
Don’t just buy one greeting card
Stock up on several greeting cards at the same time. Having a healthy supply of cards for all occasions saves a huge amount of time. Keep a good supply of stamps on hand as well.
Do the things only you can do and then pass along the rest to others. Think of delegating this way; you’re not losing control, you’re gaining control of your time and your life.
Do your office filing once a day
I find I’m more productive when I save all my filing to the last half hour of my workday when I’m clearing up and preparing my notes for the next day.
Simplify your hairstyle
Simple “wash and go” hairstyles are tops in my book. Having a no fuss, no muss hairstyle goes a long way to getting you up and out in the morning. I purposely grew my hair long so I could pull it back and save time on styling.
Keep your gas tank above a quarter full
Waiting to refuel when your tank reaches empty may result in adding undue stress being late for work or an appointment (which can cause a domino effect and can turn into a negative for a whole lot of other people).
Decrease time spent in line
Stuck in a long line at the bank or grocery store? Opt for the line that’s next to an unopened till, that way if it does open, you may be able to move from last to first.
Keep your wardrobe functional
Wash and wear is the way to go. If you’re serious about freeing up more time consider getting rid of any clothing that demands special care. If it doesn’t go in the washing machine, it doesn’t go in my closet.
Watch less TV
I rarely watch television anymore and when I do I'm selective. I make a plan to watch a specific program and then turn it off. Alternatively you could record favorite shows and watch them at a more convenient time. Being able to fast-forward through the commercials is a huge time saver.
Stop mindless surfing
I never surf the Internet or spend time on social media without a clear objective and setting a timer. I rarely ever read email forwards and if I do, it is over my lunch break and not at the start of my workday.
So what actions are you going to take today to start freeing up your time so you can focus more on your priorities?
I welcome your feedback.
Please comment below.
Do you procrastinate?
I used to. It’s one of my natural tendencies. While I thrive on the pressure of deadlines, I also acknowledge the self-sabotaging behaviour of leaving things to the last minute. Over time I've made some positive changes to the way I do things. These days I'm better able to stay on top of what needs to be accomplished in any given day from both a business and personal perspective.
The first step to combat my chronic procrastination was to alter my mindset. In other words, I had to get my head in the game. I took an honest look at how my habits supported or stopped me from accomplishing what I set out to do. I gave some thought to my priorities and set myself up to succeed.
I got rid of negative routines like checking my email first thing in the morning before tackling some of the priority items on my daily 'To Do' list. I also learned not to beat myself up but instead encouraged myself to make some positive changes and to be open to shifting gears in a way that allowed me to accomplish the tasks at hand now, instead of later.
While I haven't conquered procrastination completely, here are some helpful tips I've picked along the way in my efforts to stop wasting time and get more done. I hope you too find them useful.
Don't let fear get in your way
Deal with fear by staying in the present. Remove the focus from yourself and onto what you need to accomplish. Take the time to prepare for the task at hand. Believe in yourself. Let go of expectations. Forge through the fear and take that first step. Move forward one step at a time. You gain confidence by experience. Don’t allow fear to hold you back – take action and see what happens.
Break down BIG projects
If you have a lot on your plate and you can’t delegate – break it down. Get the details out of your head and into a plan of action. Start with one small step you know you can do and then commit even as little as 10 or 15 minutes to get started. Take action. The key is to set yourself up so you can succeed one small step at a time.
Get advice from someone in the know
Don't remain frustrated. Instead seek the expertise of someone who can help. If you're unsure of what to do, call in someone who has some experience with the matter at hand. Don’t spin your wheels (and waste countless hours and energy) trying to figure something out yourself when you can seek help. Find the help you need and take action.
Delegate or motivate yourself with a timer
Stop putting things off simply because you hate doing them. Either delegate or commit to doing it and get it done ASAP. Set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and just dig in. Try to get your most dreaded tasks accomplished earlier in the day so they're behind you and you can move forward in a positive manner. Think of how great you'll feel once your task is behind you.
Focus on the key action steps
Take an honest look at what you need to achieve today and what actions you must take in order to accomplish all you need to do. Keep it simple. Focus on your primary action steps and don’t allow yourself to get side tracked.
Take it one step at a time
When you focus completely on the goal at hand, you increase your efficiency 100 percent. Set a time limit for your task, accomplish it and move on. We are more productive when we are working against the clock. Setting time limits and adhering to them will be a work in progress but it's well worth the effort once you see the improvement you’re making.
Keep moving forward
Unlike standing still, taking action propels you forward. Sometimes it may feel like you're taking one step forward and two steps back but it is movement nonetheless. Keep going. Be consistent. Don't give up and start procrastinating again. The more consistent action you take, the better the results.
Make yourself a priority
You're important. Practice self-care by giving yourself permission to take breaks and to rejuvenate between tasks. Decide on how long your breaks will be and what form they'll take. Pushing through when you're exhausted is counterproductive. Regular exercise and a good night’s sleep needs to be a priority. It's easy to procrastinate when we're tired and run down. Instead pace yourself by taking frequent breaks but be discipline to get back to the task at hand once the break is over.
Pick one task and get started
Select a task you’ve been putting off like clearing the clutter from your dining room table that has become a catch all for everyone’s stuff. Set a timer and get moving. Trust me, you’ll feel great when the nagging task is a thing of the past.
What have you been putting off?
Have I inspired you to take action?
If so, what is your first task or project you're going to tackle?
Please comment below.
Are your evenings a blur of extra curricular activities, household chores, and getting ready for the next day?
You’re not alone.
Meltdowns – they happen more often than not on weeknights and during the most challenging part of the day when we’re juggling schedules, dinner prep, chores and homework. The cause of the meltdowns is simple – family members are after tired, hungry and irritable at the end of a long day.
But what’s a family to do?
Following are some weeknight survival tips for families who have had enough of weeknight chaos and are looking to make some simple yet positive changes.
GET ON SCHEDULE
First off, you need to backtrack. Getting behind schedule is a major factor to weeknight dilemmas. The problem is we often miscalculate how long it takes to do something and to travel from point A to point B.
Work in reverse
If you begin with the end in mind you can usually figure out what it will take to meet your deadline. For instance, if your kids have an 8:30 p.m. bedtime, you’ll want to make sure dinner is finished by 6:30, the food needs to be prepared and on the table by 6 p.m. Factor in sufficient time for homework, chores, and extra curricular activities and if your kids are really young – bedtime stories.
Add a cushion
No, I’m not talking about a sofa cushion – sitting on one too early in the evening will slow down your productivity and can actually add to your stress. There will be time for relaxing later. What I’m referring to is a time cushion – a buffer if you will, where you guard yourself against the worst-case scenario. By factoring in a 10 to 20 percent time cushion you’re better able to deal with the unexpected.
Have a game plan
Spend some time on the weekend planning for the week ahead. A good weekday/weeknight game plan includes menu planning for weekday meals (including school lunches and having a plan for when you're going to shop), reviewing what's on the family calendar and possible batch cooking for the week ahead.
Don't let others hold you up
Not allowing others slow you down can be challenging especially when you run into chatty co-workers or friends in the grocery store on the way home. One of the most effective things to do is to pull out your car keys, wave the keys, take a step back and say, “It’s been nice talking to you but I’ve got to run.”
Weeknight efficiency is all about staying on task and keeping to a schedule that works. Try not to get too distracted by things that come up but when they do, just try get back on track as quickly as possible.
Outsourcing at home can be as beneficial as it is at the office.
Adding another pair of hands into the mix can make a huge difference to the ease of your weeknights. Delegating can be as simple as having an older child play with a younger sibling while you’re making dinner, getting help folding the laundry, or having your spouse or child walk the dog.
Depending on your family situation you may want to consider outsourcing to a neighbouring teen who would appreciate the odd baby sitting or dog walking job.
Get your kids into the routine of using labeled folders to organize permission slips, homework, tests etc. so you can relax and review their paperwork after dinner when things have calmed down.
“I’ve got to do…”
Do you really? Granted there are times when you really need to do things like laundry but often we add unnecessary stress by just feeling we’ve got to do something when it really doesn’t need to be done just then.
Sometimes if you can shift things around to a time when you’re more clearheaded and not as tired, you can be much more productive even if it means getting up an extra 15 to 20 minutes earlier to throw the laundry into the dryer or make lunches.
“I can’t survive without multitasking.”
Can you survive the stress caused by forcing your brain to try to do two things at once? You see, trying to do too many things at the same time impedes our efficiency. Sure something simple like preparing veggies and chatting about your kid’s day is one thing but more involved tasks cooking dinner, folding clothes and helping your kids with their homework, or any tasks that have you running back and forth is counterproductive and unhealthy.
“Electronics save my sanity.”
Electronics as a whole do little to ease daily stress. In fact, studies have proven just the opposite is true. Spending too much time on your computer, cell, or watching TV can ramp up your anxiety level and is a prime distraction away from what should be your priority – your family.
Do yourself and your family a favor - don’t text or answer your cell, check your email, or zone out in front of the TV during weeknight family time. Also consider the example you're setting if you don't.
So having said the above, what are you going to do to simplify your weeknights?
If things are running along nicely most weeknights do you have an pearls of wisdom you would like to share?
I welcome your comments below.
We all have things in life we want. Some of these things maybe dreams while others are goals. The difference between the two lies in our action or inaction.
For years, I collected books on simplifying and rarely cracked a cover. Instead, I let the books pile up and collect dust. Why did I buy them in the first place?
I was tired, overwhelmed and wanted to simplify my life but not to the extent I was ready and willing to actually make it happen.
I was too busy and caught up in the here and now to take any steps to turn my dream of a slower, more fulfilled life into reality.
Instead, I continued along with the everyday. Days full of activity and responsibilities with a few healthy self-care habits spread here and there that made me a happy yet not I was taking any real action toward what I desired most.
Can you relate? Is there something in your life you play lip service to but find yourself not taking action on?
What's wrong with this picture? It boils down to the simple fact that talk is easy, action is not.
I had to figure out what was holding me back. I knew what I wanted; I just didn't know how to get there.
For me, it was a personal health scare (and no doubt in part, also turning fifty) that brought about some soul-searching. The time to make some positive changes in my life was now.
First, I needed to clear myself of everything that was holding me back. I needed to find a way to let go of the heavy stuff that had been weighing me down. I had to take an honest look at my daily habits and routines. What was working and what wasn’t. What was positive going forward and what was holding me back. In short, I needed to open myself up to new experiences, opportunities and be willing to establish new habits and routines, and get rid of the old.
Before I could make any external moves in the direction I desired, I had to take the internal action of exploring what I needed and wanted. Personal reflection gave me the answers. I walked and sat in quiet until I knew what it was I needed to do.
It was only when I took an honest look at was holding me back did I find clarity and coupled with that, the ability to clear the stuff that had been getting in my way.
While I didn't personally have an outward abundance of material items to free myself from, I did have to explore why I was continuing to do nothing towards what I claimed to want.
Coaching and supporting others in their goal of removing the unnecessary in their lives comes naturally but when it came to looking at my clutter, it was a real challenge.
For me, clutter was found in day-to-day busyness and a jam-packed schedule. Somehow I ended up filling my life of unimportant stuff. So much of the important stuff rarely saw the light of day.
Sure my life was organized and I regularly practiced self-care. I am a professional organizer and life coach, after all. I had neatly organized closets, cupboards and storage shelves full of stuff; lots of family and friends whom I would make the time to get together with on a regular basis but I was also putting everyone else's needs above my own.
Can you relate? Many women can as it is our nature to nurture.
It was only after I took an honest look at what was holding me back and causing so much dissatisfaction, was able to move forward, set a game plan and take action.
I admit it isn’t easy. I’m a work in progress. I still have a lot to learn but by going inside myself and exploring both the negative and positive, and by accepting not ignoring the feelings I have, I'm able to stop the habitual cycle of my negative actions.
By addressing my internal needs, concerns and acknowledging my feelings; I have gained wisdom and the knowledge that some of my negative feelings were actually causing my actions or as it were, inaction. By ignoring these feelings I would have continued spending more time on the negative.
It’s only in letting go, am I able to move forward. To free and unburden myself of the unnecessary so I can focus on the necessary.
In quiet, I continue to learn how to better direct to myself. How to continue go right not left, as I travel the paths of my life.
Through mindfulness and meditation I'm learning how to align my conscious and subconscious mind and break the negative patterns that I had lived with for so long.
If I truly want different results, I have to stop doing the same things over and over again.
Today I’m focusing on 'exclamation mark' living. I want to live my best life and encourage others to do the same. To make changes first in mindset then in lifestyle via a commitment to change, as well as the discipline and consistency it takes to get there.
I honestly believe living outside your comfort zone is the best way to grow and achieve. Staying within the safety and comfort of old habits will do little to increase your happiness or propel you forward.
Align your heart, mind and actions; and positive things will happen.
Stop wasting time gathering ideas of things you want to try like recipes, crafts and DIY projects (e.g. the ones you collect on Pinterest boards but never do), and start taking action today on the things that speak to you and move you in the direction of achieving your bigger goals.
Make the time for self-evaluation. Really listen to your internal self - your needs and desires, your strengths and weaknesses. Trust that you have your own best answers.
Start today to live your priorities and stop living against your values.
Remember, a goal without action isn’t really goal at all.
What are you waiting for?