Where I’ve been, mom guilt and juggling.

As you may have noticed, it’s been a couple months since I last posted a blog entry and I just wanted to say where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to!

I recently started doing hair again. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start that back up again or maybe wait out a position opening at the non-profit organization I volunteer for.  This was a source of great uncertainty for me. I know I’m skilled enough to make it doing hair, I’ve done it before and excelled. The non-profit, though, is a cause that really speaks to my soul, so choosing one or the other really made me look at what I thought about my capabilities and the logistics of each situation. Ultimately I decided to throw myself back into the working world and do some hair, while still volunteering once a week.

I have some guilt about it, if I’m being honest. I lived a certain lifestyle for the past three years (homemaking, momming, etc) that I got very accustomed to. Maybe it was the familiarity and monotony that urged me to look outside the home for stimulation. What would I be missing by being at work? Who am I, really, outside of my child? Both equally scary questions.

I felt as though I had mastered the sahm-thing and that I needed a new challenge to keep my wheels turning. The challenges of working motherhood have been greater than imagined, but that’s the fun of it, right? Not knowing what you’re doing, flying blind, recognizing patterns, and coming to a new understanding of what it means to live, and to love.

I’ve been just chugging along, I have a fairly regular schedule. I’ve been balancing my time away from the home with utilizing my time while I am in the home to keep things going. My husband watches our daughter while I’m at work, and this is a change for him as well. He is really a saint, that man. I really am grateful for how he has stepped up during this shift in division of household duties. I try not to make his honey-do list too long, and he has his own home improvement projects he is enjoying working on.

Our schedules are the same every 2-week period, so I am able to keep a cleaning/grocery schedule. It gets dicey sometimes and we have to make substitutions often, but I think once we get into the swing of things, we can recognize the patterns that will be helpful in deciding how things will get done.

You can’t quantify everything, life happens and schedules get thrown out the window. Flexibility is a must, I’m realizing, for a household to function. Love, really is the most important thing.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions for managing a healthy work-life balance, I would love to hear it or hear any stories you have to tell.

Thanks for reading! x

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My routines explained

A parent’s work is never done. I break up my cleaning into morning, naptime, and before-bedtime routines. This is separate from my regular to-dos which comes more on an as needed basis. Other things I commit to doing them weekly, monthly or seasonally.

You can use the basic outline of this routine to shape your own and organize the tasks important to your home and get them all done!

The ‘structure’ to my routine has greatly boosted my morale and has helped me identify my goals in a clear and concise way.

Morning-

Play candy crush and drink coffee– I’m on a 306 day streak on candy crush and it’s just a silly way to spend time inside my own brain before my child wakes up. I’m on level 1552ish!

Make bed– While making the bed, I clean the room from last nights water glasses and clothes. I take this time to open the curtains even if the sun isn’t up yet. I love sunshine!

Wrangle dishes– Gather dishes from all rooms and put in dishwasher or prepare to do so

Clean coffee pot– after I dump the rest of it in my cup

Sort laundry and load in- Usually I can gather a load of laundry just by doing a lap around the house with a basket

Wash face– Sometimes with cleanser, sometimes just a wet towel. I need to wipe the sleep off my face somehow.

Brush hair- Some days I’ve gotten all the way gto 5pm realizing I hadn’t brushed my hair at all that day, so I moved this to my morning routine just to keep tabs on myself.

Change clothes- I could just wear my jammies all day, and sometimes I just change into different jammies, but day 3 with oatmeal on your shirt can catch up to your self esteem real quick.

Check schedule and order priorities- I glance at my top to-do’s or appointments, and figure out how it will all look, then execute!

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Naptime-

I don’t like to clean while my kid naps, it seems like I’m doing myself a disservice. I could be napping too y’know!

Toys picked up- Before she heads to bed, get all the little pieces at least back into the bin

Dishes in dishwasher- Snack plates, breakfast dishes etc out of the sink

Wipe counters- They are always gross by naptime.

Journal/yoga/self care- When she’s finally asleep and I’ve set myself up comfy on the couch, I do something for myself. Sometimes I need to write my feelings, work my body or do something relaxing (napping) or painting my nails. Nap time is MY time!

Set up wake-up activity for daughter- She’s sometimes grouchy, so having something for her to focus on when she first wakes up really helps the grump. Could be chicken nuggets, or a learning activity. It could even be an episode of Storybots while I finish whatever I was doing. Every day is different!

Before bed-

Food cleaned off dishes/put in dishwasher- I can’t go to bed when there’s food sitting out, I lay awake picturing that scene from creepshow with the cockroaches and I just can’t relax. The dishes don’t have to be done, just food scraped off is fine.

Make sure husbands clothes are in place for morning and lunch is ready to grab- I like easy mornings and a grumpy husband who can’t find his socks isn’t a fun start to the day

Coffee maker reset for morning- We have a timer set so it goes off at 5 and it’s ready when we wake up

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Weekly-

Each day has a focus room, and I do a deep cleaning chore per the room of the day. I alternate wednesdays and tuesdays because I’m typically out of the house volunteering, so I don’t commit to much cleaning those days.
Change sheets- Comforter too, also toddler’s bedclothes

Dust- We have lots of knick-knacks so I dust them and rearrange them. It’s sort of therapeutic.

Vacuum baseboards- Getting the attachment in there and getting all the stale cheerios

Deep mop kitchen and bathroom- I spot mop during the week with my homemade swiffer pads, but once a week I get the real mop out and do the rooms that have tile. Kitchen first!

Go through toys- There’s always fridge magnets or tupperware or something hiding in my kids toybox. While I love the Montessori aspect of kids playing with household stuff, I also need my mixing spoons back.

Scrub toilet and shower- Set the toilet bowl cleaner in to do the work, spray the shower and wipe off any weird soap spots, then swish the toilet. We have hard well water, so we get that weird ring in the toilet and it drives me nuts. TIP: I learned to let the scrubber dry by wedging it between the toilet seats, and it changes the yuck factor BIG TIME

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Monthly-

Wash throw blankets- I’m forever huddled with a blanket no matter the temperature, so I get spaghetti stains out about once a month or whenever they get weird.

Wash windows- My husband has a glass cleaner recipe that we swear by, so once a month we pop the windows down and get the inside and outside and all the cobwebs out.

Spot treat carpet- Whether it’s milk spills or someone stepped on a strawberry, there’s always something to get up from the carpet. I currently have some paint in my carpet I’m doing some experiments on.

Sage the house- I do this with the new moon, which is basically once a month. I also will do it after we host an event or something. Clear all that yuck out of here!

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I’m sure I’m forgetting something but I just wanted to show a more in depth look at how I keep things going. I keep my routine sustainable and realistic and I’m rocking it! I hope this gave you some inspiration on how to make your own routines that work perfectly for your own home.

Do you already have a routine that is important to you? How do you keep your life running hot? I’d love to discuss it with you! Talk at ya later ❤

Accomplishing the Gallery Wall

Before I get into HOW I hung this gallery wall and the process behind it, let me explain a few things first.

We live in my husband’s childhood home, owned by his mother. His mother is a wonderful woman who lives with HER mother, caring for her since she had a stroke several years ago.

They’re both sweet, beautiful women with some serious artistic ability. The grandmother liked to paint, so many of our paintings in our home were done by her. Beautiful landscape pieces that I love.

They weren’t hung all at the same time, so the end result was kind of a mish-mash of fitting the finished paintings wherever they fit on the wall. I moved in three years ago and I struggled to make the home mine without trampling all over the family history in this home.

My solution: An accent wall!

I wanted to show off the paintings in a way that was my own, but that respected the art and the artist. Why does this make me emotional to write about? I just love my home and the land it’s on. My husbands parents built this home basically with their bare hands and I am so grateful to care for this property.

Maybe that’s what homemaking is to me? Maybe that’s why this is all so important.

Alright, my eyes are just watering, just allergies, nothing to see here, back to the point of the post…

The living room had only been painted once, back when they built it in the early nineties, and you could tell. Handprint smudges, nicotine staining, and for some reason, the top of the walls shaded dark by the boards behind the walls. It needed some TLC for sure.

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I didn’t want to change the neutral home-y vibe of the house, so I knew the accent color had to be some kind of grey/brown/beige color. After half an hour at Lowe’s we settled on our colors and matched the original white of the other walls and bright white for the ceiling.

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We priced everything out and decided to just paint the room ourselves instead of hiring people to do it, and after a few hours, I almost regretted that decision.

Make sure if you ever paint a room, that you actually like the person you paint with, because I swear if I didn’t love my husband so much I would have smothered him with the drop cloths… Not really, but I hate to sweat and get grumpy when physical activity is involved.

With the walls finally painted and dry, the next day it was time to figure out how we were going to arrange the paintings back on the wall. Here’s where it gets tricky!

We measured the area on the wall where we wanted to keep the paintings, and then used that measurement to figure out how to arrange the art. Keeping within that area, we laid the paintings down on the floor and shuffled them around until it felt right. Keeping things spaced as evenly as we could, and that the subject of the paintings flowed.

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It’s a common design rule that if you’re going to have a “heavy” side of a gallery wall or the like, it’s best to keep the weight to the left. We have a book case taking up the weight of the wall on the left, so we opted to have the biggest painting above the bookcase and the smaller paintings toward the bottom right.

The test run on the actual wall, we taped up wrapping paper and moved things around a little so everything was perfect. I measured each painting and cut out wrapping paper to the size of each painting and wrote the subject of the painting on the paper so I could keep track. It’s important to remember that this wall was freshly painted so we had to find a tape that wouldn’t rip the paint off. Painters tape wouldn’t do, so I tested some washi tape on an inconspicuous spot and it came off without any problems. I found my least favorite washi tape and hung up the wrapping paper

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Most of the paintings are hung by wires, so we had to measure to account for that, and marked the place we wanted to put the nails. BAM BAM! Then hubby hung them up, and it was so perfect.

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I’m so happy with this wall, it really was the perfect way to turn something that had history into my own.

And was the perfect excuse for new (energy efficient) curtains!

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This will hold me over as far as home improvement projects for a little while, I think. It was a lot of work!

How have you guys been? I have been busy with the holidays and stuff, I’m ready for life to return to normal!

Beginner’s guide to meal planning

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Meal planning can be intimidating. Whether your goal is weight loss or to better organize your day, I’ve come up with a few tips to help you figure out what works best for your lifestyle.

I struggled most with the commitment aspect of it in the beginning. How on Earth could I know what I wanted to eat for dinner next week? The secret here is that the simplicity of already knowing what is on the menu narrows down your options. You have a choice of what you planned, what’s in your pantry, and you don’t have the entire internet worth of recipes to choose from anymore.

They’ve studied this phenomenon, it’s called decision fatigue -when you have a million things to choose from, it’s harder to make that choice. When you have one week of meals planned, that’s seven meals you can choose. If you don’t feel like making what you planned, it’s okay to swap days around! You’ll find you do it less the more you meal plan, though.

It’s soo much less stressful for me to know what’s for dinner, make the dinner and be done with it. My grocery shopping is done, no running to the store for last minute items, and ultimately more time spent with my family. Or bubble baths…

First thing’s first, you must assess your abilities. When I first started meal planning, I literally thought meat sauce with spaghetti was an accomplishment (sometimes it still is) and if I’m being real here, my first meal plans consisted of sauce with different types of pasta at least three times a week.

If this is you, that’s perfectly okay! If you’ve been cooking for longer or are naturally a gifted chef, you can get a little bit more complicated. Whatever your speed, choose recipes that are attainable and fit your lifestyle and schedule.

Making a master list of your favs is also a good idea.

The way I usually plan, I pick recipes for two weeks. Payday to payday, mostly so I have fewer trips to the grocery store. I write a list of days of the week- FSSMTWTFSSMTWTF

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I break those days down into the “type” of day they are:

O– days hubby is off work, we cook together and don’t need leftovers for his lunch

W– days he works and needs lunches and I’m mainly on my own as far as cooking

V– days I volunteer and he cooks, and I usually need leftovers for my lunch

This way I know what days I’ll need to cook meals with enough leftovers, and which I don’t.. basically.

Figure out your “type” of days (you can have more than three!) and what types of meals fit in best. Maybe you have a recurring activity each week where you don’t have time to cook and those can be your crock pot “set it and forget it” meals. Or you can even plan to eat out. It’s your life, you know it best. Observing dinner trends in a journal may seem obsessive but it really helped me recognize my patterns in the beginning.

When I write out my meal plan, I include the day of the week, the type of day, the meal itself, the protein, and the carb/starch (it’s not dinner if it doesn’t have both, according to my husband)

I do this for a couple reasons, one being that it makes writing out my grocery list easier if I know that six meals include chicken breast, three are ground turkey, five are beans, etc… but also because I make my own tortillas, buns, bread, dinner rolls, and need to know what needs to be made ahead of time. You may not need to be that specific, but it really does make the grocery list a little easier to plan out if you know what you are going to be using.

I have a lot to say about grocery lists and grocery shopping, but I’m going to make a separate post about that!

The reason I’m mainly focusing on dinner is because that’s the meal most people actually cook for, and is the best way to ease yourself into a schedule. Starting out planning breakfast lunch and dinner can be a bit overwhelming or hard to stick to, and that’s where I made my first few mistakes.

I keep toddler-friendly breakfast and lunches on hand, like quick grab and go kind of things because that’s easiest for me, and I end up just eating her scraps anyways (like the apples left to wilt with literally half a bite taken out)

So you’ve found your recipes, figured out what day you’re most likely to cook and eat those recipes, wrote them on your calendar, got your groceries and are moving and grooving through life. Dinner time comes around and you realize that agreeing to make lasagna noodles by hand for tonight’s lasagna isn’t going to be in the cards today.. What do you do?

You’ve got a few options. You can swap meals with another day you’ve planned for. This always drives me crazy, I don’t know why I just don’t like to swap days. My favorite solution for this is to find another way to use the ingredients in the meal you planned for. You can turn that lasagna into some other kind of pasta dish. Get creative, maybe throw some balsamic vinegar into the sauce, slap some ricotta on top and you’ve got yourself a really tasty experiment that no one knows wasn’t planned!

Once, I planned for a chicken and squash casserole only to find out that my squash went bad. I live a ways from the grocery store, so I had to get creative. I threw some rice in the rice cooker with a little broth and soy sauce, and there you go, chicken and rice! Getting creative with food is half the fun of cooking. Something I never understood until I (reluctantly) started cooking full meals every day!

This is the video that popped up on my subscription feed that really inspired me to get more serious about my meal plan and she has a lot of great tips as well! She’s great, I watch every video she puts out no matter what it’s about.

There is no one solution to the perfect meal plan, no micromanaged checklist that I could ever come up with will ever be perfect for you. You’ve got to just do it! Trial and error, and learning from mistakes (we call mistakes ‘experiments’ in our house) is how you learn!

As long as you learn something every time you burn dinner or try to thaw chicken in the microwave and end up cooking it (and then crying and having to throw it all away) then all hope is not lost!

I just know that there is an organized brilliant genius chef inside everyone and I want to help find them! I believe in you!

I would really love to read about all your meal planning or prep fails or triumphs in the comments, I’m really interested in learning where everyone is coming from on the subject and keep the learning going!

Hope to hear from you guys! Thanks!

This little planner of mine

With this beast I meal plan, life plan, toddler activity plan, budget, doodle, journal, love and cherish till death do us part.

This one book holds my entire life along with my sanity.
But it wasn’t always this way…

I, like most people, started out by trying to keep all that junk in my head. All my to-dos, work schedule, gift ideas, important dates, etc just floating around my brain waiting for the chance to lay dormant and be forgotten until the day before an event when someone reminds me that I’ve let my life slip out of my mind.

Then, in comes the internet, a glorious place where everyone seems to know everything and rubs it in your face that you’re not accomplishing as much as them.

While partially true at the time, I fell into that spiralling trap of self doubt. Everyone with their fancy planners and stickers and streamlined laundry lists of why they were better than me.
I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to get out of bed next Saturday, let alone meal planning breakfast lunch dinner and planning to scrub the baseboards.

Say “plan” one. more. time!

It just seemed so unattainable. Where do you even start?
Well, I started by thinking I needed every planner system, sticker pack and washi tape 5-pack that the local craft store would sell me. I packed it all into cute little bags with unicorns on them and it felt like I was getting somewhere.. just not quite there. It became more stressful to need all this STUFF that, to be truthful, didn’t work for me like I needed it to.
But what this taught me was not that your life must be out of control if you don’t washi tape time blocks into your planner every evening at 7:15. It taught me that I just needed something that worked for ME and my life.

I learn pretty well from mistakes and if I can share something with you that helps you learn those lessons without the crushing disappointment of failure, well then mission accomplished.
My next post will be a breakdown of how I use my planner, where I got my inspirations, the different sections (if you can call them that) and attributes that keep my life organized. Stay tuned! 📺