Techniques

Organize Your Holiday (Free Guide)

Organize Your Holiday (Free Guide)

It is time to prep for the holidays! There's so much to do in the coming months between holiday get togethers, Christmas shopping, decorating, baking, card sending, etc.. It really can be a daunting time of year. To help you (and me) out, I put together a little planning guide to take us from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

Does Your Schedule Run Your Life?

Does Your Schedule Run Your Life?

Do you ever feel like your schedule is running your life? The other weekend was kind of like that. On Saturday we had an inspection at my house at 9 am, T had dance class at 10, I had to go to the store to pick up something for my brother's pot luck engagement party later that day, a house showing at 2pm, and then the engagement party at 4pm.  After the engagement party my husband also had a cast party for a show he was in while I stayed home with the kids.  The next day my son had picture day at the dance school at 11:30, and then I had to pick up my in laws, and then my daughter's cake, and be back home for Hailey's birthday party at 2pm.

Small Habits to Keep Your Motivation

Small Habits to Keep Your Motivation

We all have those days. You know, the ones where you are running on coffee and fumes. Every sound your child makes sounds like nails on a chalk board. All you want to do is go back to sleep, but the list of things to do: contact the cable company, prepare a report, contact the doctor's office, get a gift for so and so, .... its never ending.

How to Use a Mind Map for Your To Dos

How to Use a Mind Map for Your To Dos

Are you a visual thinker? Do you like using pictures to help you organize your thoughts? I love making to do lists, but list creation doesn't always work for some people.  Often times visual people have a harder time creating successful to do lists.  A great tool to use when creating a to do list around a particular project is mind maps.    

5 Top Tips for Decluttering With Kids

5 Top Tips for Decluttering With Kids

Decluttering is hard. Decluttering with kids is even harder.  When we start to sort through our kids belongings, we get nostalgic, they discover how much they really love that thing they never played with for the last year, and letting go becomes hard.  The following 5 tips will help you to declutter your kids' rooms with less stress and more fun!  

The Busy Mom's Guide to Spring Cleaning

The Busy Mom's Guide to Spring Cleaning

This guide walks you through some of the major areas of spring cleaning the busy mom way.  It has been spring for a few days now, so its officially time to start opening the doors and windows and cleaning house.  But if you are like me, you don't suddenly have tons of time to devote to cleaning.  This post will break down how to get that deep down clean feeling in your flooring, windows, and curtains with simple steps and in less time!

5 Web Tools for Organizing Your Life

5 Web Tools for Organizing Your Life

Do you want to get organized but can't seem to find the right tools to help you do it? Organizing our homes and our lives is a constant struggle. New things keep entering our homes and new commitments are added to our schedule.  However, the right tools can go a long in easing the process.  Unlike many tools that claim to help but just wastes more time setting up, the following 5 tools have actually helped in organizing my household and my time.

Goal Setting to Help You Get Organized

Goal Setting to Help You Get Organized

The new year will be starting in just a week and a half which means we are at the time of year where people are reflecting on the past year and making resolutions for the future.  Did you set resolutions last year? How did you do with keeping them? Many times we set a resolution or goal for New Years and we make a big punch to reach it in the month of January and then our efforts slowly fizzle out. Or we write them down on a piece of paper that we never look at again until a year later when its time to set a new set of goals.  Then were run around all year feeling super busy but with no direction and therefore accomplishing far less than we could.

Tips For Reducing Your Holiday Shopping Stress

I know, I know, it's not even Halloween and I'm talking holiday shopping.  I'm the first to complain when I see Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving.  I am all about giving each holiday it's due. Plus now that I have a child that can actually anticipate holidays, I don't need him pestering about presents so far in advance.

On the other hand, there is no logic to cramming all that shopping into the month of December.  I mean with so many other holiday things to do like holiday parties and visiting Santa, who can possibly do all that and not stress?! Not I. For me, slow and steady wins the race.  So, here are some tips on how I keep holiday shopping stress free.

  • Start Early

    If you haven’t started yet, start now. There are two big benefits to this; time and money.  Starting early means you have months to get your shopping done instead of weeks. No pushing your way through over crowded stores. No running around on Christmas Eve. No rushing from store to store because what you want is sold out.  Expense wise, you get to spread the cost of the holidays over multiple months prior to the holidays.  Unlike spreading the cost over multiple months after holidays, this method does not involve paying interest.

  • Make a list

    Make a list but only be super specific when you have to be.  For example, Tyler is at an age where he wants specific things.  He wants to complete his collection of Ghostbusters mystery minis, and he wants certain Lego sets. Items for him are very specific.  Hailey on the other hand is unable to voice her opinions. Therefore, her list might look more like: clothes, stuffed animal, educational toy. For my brother I might write model train equipment.  Then anytime I find model train equipment on sale, I can buy him something and check him off my list.  The less specific you can be for people, the better.  Then you have a broader range of options and can find better deals.  Of course, you want it to still be something they would want/need and like.

  • Put your list into a spread sheet

    Make a spreadsheet listing each person or group of people you need to buy gifts for in the first column.  For example, individuals I need to buy gifts for include, my hubs, Tyler and Hails, my nephews, my mom, my brother, etc.. Groups might be my aunt and uncle, Tyler’s teachers, etc. In the next column list what you plan on purchasing them.  If they are getting more than one item, make a new row for each item. The next 3 columns are as follows: bought, wrapped, delivered/shipped. You could of course do this by hand, but I love the clean look of spreadsheets!  Print out your completed list and bring it with you wherever you go. If you are not sure what to get someone, leave their line blank.  You can fill it in when you get inspired.  Now anytime you find something that someone on your list would like, you can check it off your list.  No more over buying because you forgot you already got something. This also keeps track of your wrapping so you won’t get behind on that either. Check out my sample spreadsheet below. Note that this is not my actual list incase these people are reading my blog…

 

  • Make 2 lists for your kids

    If you have been through any gift giving occasion with kids before, you know you will be bombarded with questions from relatives of what to get your kids.  Be prepared.  Once you make the list of things that you will be getting your kids yourself, make a second list of things that they want or need.  Keep this second list with you as well or give it to your husband, but not both.  You need to have a designated go to person for this list.  You don’t want both parents giving items out because the whole purpose here is to avoid multiples of the same gift.  Now when someone asks what to get your kids, your go to person can give them items from your list.  Be aware that these people may not necessarily get the item you suggest to them, but you can hopefully prevent multiples of the same gift.  You also avoid the texts back and forth “did you get so and so this?”, “No, OK then I’m getting it”, “OK so then what should I get them now?”….  You can always hold onto the list and if your kids didn’t get the item for Christmas, now you already have a list for their birthday!

I hope you find this list helpful! Do you have tips to reduce holiday shopping stress?? If so leave your tips in the comments!

Cheers,

Emily

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Using the Calm Before the Storm

I don't know about you, but I already feel it.  The mad rush that begins in October and doesn't end until the new year.  Halloween is huge in my house. It's my husband's favorite holiday and it has rubbed off on me as well.  October is a crazy month for us fill with events and activities for the season.  There's Apple/Pumpkin Picking, Harvest Fest at the New York Botanical Garden, Boo at the Zoo, The Count's Halloween Spooktacular at Sesame Place, and of course Halloween itself.  We also host a marshmallow roast every year around Halloween.  On top of that, our 5 year wedding anniversary is October 29th.  Are you feeling overwhelmed yet?

Then the holidays start with Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping, holiday lights shows, Christmas parties, visiting Santa, and Christmas itself. Add to that my sister in laws wedding in early November, and Hailey's baptism in December, and the next few months are packed.  And of course there's still grad school and work and family and life.  For these last two weeks of September I will be enjoying the calm.

How I will be Using the Calm

  • Altering costumes: T's Halloween is in so, in the next few weeks I will slowly be taking it in.  The character he wanted to be didn't have a costume in toddler size, so there is a lot to take in... I ordered a plain dress for my costume and once it arrives, I will need to add a few extra touches for my character.  Hailey's costume is ordered and some pieces have arrived.  Luckily, her's doesn't need much work.  As for the hubs, he likes to take his costume into his own hands... Note: I am being purposefully vague here.  I want you to really enjoy the big Halloween costume reveal!
  • Planning our weekends: There are a lot of activities that we want to pack in to a short period of time.  This is especially true in October.  In the next 2 weeks I will be prioritizing the activities we want to do most and try to schedule times to do them.  Since my husband works weekends, this may be difficult.  We may recruit grandma to join us for the more minor activities and make sure the hubs is there for Sesame Place and Pumpkin/Apple Picking.  My husband already took the day off for Halloween; it's that important.
  • Start Holiday Shopping: Holiday shopping starts now.  If we see something that T seems to like in the store, we make a note for his Christmas list.  Hails is a lot easier seeing as how a 4 month old doesn't really make demands regarding toys.  Also, presents for friends and relatives starts now.  If we see something someone would like we just pick it up and save it for the holidays.  This also goes for holiday outfits.  If we see something now, we just pick it up and save it.
  • Plan for Hailey's Baptism: We are not having a huge get-together, but we will have a little reception for family and close friends after Hailey's baptism. So nothing crazy, but there will be invitations, food, and some decor.  Oh, and of course, cake.  Definitely something DIY which I of course will share here!! So, the planning for that will start now!

That's it.  I mean it would be silly if this was a long list.  It wouldn't be calm, it would be just as stressful as the coming months.  These four things however can really help us to enjoy the experiences of the holidays instead of being bogged down by the stresses. I always get my holiday shopping done by the latest, Black Friday.  This way in December I can enjoy the holidays and just have to do some wrapping.  I like to have our October events planned so we are not stressing about fitting everything in, but instead enjoying the events. As far as November, I am lucky to have 5 sister in laws and a wonderful mother in law, so Thanksgiving is never stressful for me. I bring my always requested dessert which you can find here, and maybe a side or two.  Everyone chips in, so it's not so overwhelming.

So, are you enjoying the calm before the holidays?  What are you doing to make the holidays less stressful? Share in the comments and let's help each other out!

Cheers,

Emily

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How to Create Your Morning Routine

Last week we talked about creating an evening routine in order to have a smoother morning. You can read about that and get the free printable here. With school starting in a few weeks, many of us will be changing up our morning routine. This year T will be enrolling in an early learning program for the first time so there will be new things to add to our routine. The following are the steps to follow when transitioning to a new routine.

Steps

1. Perform a brain dump of everything that needs to get done in the morning. This should include absolutely everything including what you already do now.

2. Once you see everything listed out, dole out the tasks to who will accomplish them. Maybe mom dresses the baby and dad helps dress the toddler. Maybe mom puts lunch in the bag while dad puts the baby in the car seat. Everyone shock have jobs to do and they should know what they are. This will help mornings run much more smoothly. There will be far less confusion.

3. Put together a schedule. With more things to do in the morning it's good to put together a time table of when things should get done. This way you know if you are on time or not. Everyone should have their own schedule. You don't want to have to look through a bunch of items to figure out what you need to do. Have a toddler who can't read? Use pictures to create his or her morning routine. For example toucan have a picture of toothpaste and a toothbrush followed by a picture of clothes and then a picture of breakfast.

4. At least a week before school, have a trial run of your routine. See if anything needs to be changed or times tweaked. Practice until you think it's just right.

5.  Build an extra few minutes into your routine for the inevitable mishap. Things happen. The baby has a blowout just as you're leaving the house or the toddler spills juice on his school clothes. It's best to have a few minutes built in to accommodate these types of events.

Are you ready for back to school or are you dreading it? I just registered T yesterday and it got very real.  While I'm excited for T to make new friends and have stories to tell of what he did, I still can't believe how fast he's growing up.

In the meantime, we will enjoy whats left of summer.

Cheers,

Emily

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers