Plan With Me – May 2019

May is upon us and with it Spring is coming. We’ve got some mighty travel plans in May, I’ve got a short readathon, and with the weather changing we are planning a couple of outdoor adventures. Since the month is turning out to be a busy one, and since my planning style has ever so slightly changed, I figured I would do a little Plan With Me.

I’ve talked about my own personal planning style before which is using a physical planner. I prefer to be able to write things out and see them in a physical format in front of me, rather than using an electronic calendar or notebook.

I always find it fun to see how others plan out their time, be it monthly or daily, and I find it gives me new ideas to apply to my own planning. The last time I did a planning post, I was using the Day Designer planner that had a monthly and daily layout. I still really like the Day Designer as a system, but I wanted something a little more “freestyle” for my planning. Somewhere that I could just write notes throughout the day without lines and such.

I did a little searching and found the Hobonichi planners. This is a Japanese company and they offer many different styles. The style that I used is the Hobonichi cousin and I have two notebooks, one for January to June and the second from July to December. I like that this planning system is similar to bullet journaling, but I don’t have to fill out any monthly/weekly/daily options.

So, on to my current planning set up…

Here’s the monthly view:

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Within the month I use colored highlighters (Mildliner) to highlight my posting schedule. I use Blue for A Cuppa Cosy and Orange for my other blog, The Cosy Book Shoppe. Then I use various highlighters to indicate when my husband is off of work or will be gone, or if we are planning an adventure. I like the highlighter look as it gives it a bit of a “cleaner” look to my monthly layout. As someone who wants to quickly look at a month and see what is going on on a specific day within seconds, the highlighters have been a lifesaver. Within the highlighted line I will write in black pen (Pentel EnerGel Needle Tip – .3) what specifically the post, or the trip, or the notation is. Below that I’ll write any appts, important dates, or things to note. I use the sidebar to track my reading through the month, and the bottom sections to track travel and spending.

This planner does come with a weekly outlook, which I like to use for meal planning and as a good breakdown for our week. I mark out my days and times and track my walking and daily reading. This gives me a good chance to look at my week, see where my time is going, and fit in any adventures we want to take during the week. I continue my color coordination in my weekly layout as well using the Pigma Micron Pens.

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Then we get to the day layout. This is a day on one page and has a spot for a time breakdown, a small to do list, and a large area to write on. I do a time breakdown, a water/tea tracker, I extend the to do list a couple more boxes, and use the free space to mind map/brain dump throughout my day. I’ve included a glimpse at some of the past days that give a pretty good look at these spaces. Some days are filled up, others are still pretty empty. I don’t always need to use the daily page and some days I’ll use it as a memory device to remind myself of what we did for a later journal entry or blog post (this is very typical when we travel long weekends).

So, that is my planning set up currently! I’ve been really enjoying the Hobonichi and I think it is what I’ll continue on with for the rest of this year and maybe even next year. Do you use a paper planner? How do you plan?

How Do We Handle The What If

You know that little voice in the back of your head? The little one that only comes out at times when you least need it. The one that offers negative opinions, snide comments and criticisms. That little voice is a right old arsehole (yep-went there) and we all have one.

So, let’s put a little scenario together. You have just made a rather big life decision. You’ve decided to…I don’t know…start a podcast or a blog (because this has to be believable/realistic, but not purchase related). You’ve written your first blog post or recorded your first podcast and have everything set to upload and publish. Everything is done it is just a matter for the day to come that everyone can read or listen to your words.

That little voice creeps in…”What if no one reads it”…”What if someone listens and doesn’t like what I have to say”…”What if they expect more from me than I can deliver”…”What if I am absolute rubbish at this”…And on and on it goes.

How do we handle that? What brings this little voice on?

Is it a lack of self confidence? A desire to please people? A fear of failure? Is it caring a little too much about what people think of us?

Is it all of the above?

I like to think that I am a fairly confident person, that while I want to help people and make them happy, I can’t and not everyone will like me. I’m ok with all of that. I like to think that I’ve overcome a lot of my fear of failure (which I can talk about separately if you’d like). Yet, I still deal with that little “What If Arsehole”. “She’s” a rude voice right in the back of my head that has me questioning myself from time to time.

How do I handle “her”? I don’t. “She” asks me questions like the above all the time. I overthink decisions, I second guess myself, and on occasion “she” has gotten the best of me. I would say 80% of the time I just try to ignore “her”. I try to push further because most of the time “she” comes out when I am on the right track. When I am getting ready to do something awesome (if I can say that), but every once in a while “she” does win. This is a time when I don’t have an answer.

I’m wondering if you have an answer or how you handle your “What If Arsehole”. Where do you think “she” comes from? How do you tackle the self doubt? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

A Little Post About Friendship Groups/Tribes/Villages/Whatever You Want To Call It

I originally titled this blog post “I Don’t Have a Group, and That’s OK” and while that is the overall narrative of my post I felt like it did a disservice to the friendships that I am forming and do have, the people that I would consider a friend “group”…so I adjusted it J

How many times have you heard “Find Your Tribe” or, “My Mom Group”, or really anything along the lines of find your people? I’m betting it’s a lot. Our society is hyper focused on grouping people together. It’s nothing new, it’s always been something that we’ve done whether it be in a positive or negative light. Since social media has become such a large part of our lives it has become even more prominent. You’ve got your followers, your circle of people in your corner of the internet. You find “influencers” talking about how great their tribe is. You find salesman talking about how you can join their team, so great to be part of a team, yada yada yada.

They speak about these teams/groups/villages/whatever you want to call them as if they need to be large numbers. As if you need to surround yourself with many people, all who have your back and all that you would call your friend.

But do you really need that large amount? Do you really need them all to be local?

***Let me say this first- I do believe that it takes a village at times. I do believe that having friends nearby, in your area is essential. I believe that you should always have one or two people in your area that you can count on. If anything, just for your sanity. ***

I don’t think so. I personally don’t want to have a large friend group. I have a select amount of friends (and I don’t say that in a snobbish way AT ALL) that I talk to quite a bit. These are people that I would call in a pinch, that I can tell anything to, that I can count on at any point in time. It is a very SMALL amount. I don’t consider it a group as we are all different and my friendships with each person are different (but the same), but they are my friends. I cherish their friendships and hold them close.

That’s not to say I am not a friendly person. I’ll say hello and have a conversation with almost anyone. I’m talking about friendship, true friendship- that is what I limit. To me, and I think to most people, it doesn’t matter if you know 50 people, if you can’t talk to them, confide in them, trust them, then it doesn’t help.

That may be a harsh way of putting things, but in this I am blunt. Maybe that’s because I’ve people assume that I am not friendly or don’t have a lot of friends. Maybe it’s because I constantly see people bending over backwards to make (and call) everyone they meet friends. I find that that popularity contest that we all felt in Highschool is still VERY prevalent in adulthood.

I guess what I am trying to say is that it is better to focus on quality rather than quantity. That’s what I do and what I would encourage you to do as well.

A Week In Our Life

Good morning! We’ve semi settled into our lives here in Germany and, while we don’t have a house as of yet, we do have a bit of a routine to our weeks. I didn’t want to do a morning or evening (or even Day In The Life) routine as it is bound to change when we get a house and I can do much more before the boys wake up, but I did want to share a little insight into what our week looks like.

We try to get out of the hotel at least 3-4 mornings during the week. The weekends are spent outside the hotel as well, either exploring somewhere new or running errands that need done. I find that the biggest thing for our boys right now is being out and about. In the hotel they don’t really have access to all of their toys, are limited to what activities they can do, how loud they can be, etc. and tend to get stir crazy really quickly. Thankfully the community here has quite a few options, and we have found places to go. I’ll try and keep this as brief as possible for you 🙂

One of the things that we keep in mind is that 4 day weekends typically (but by no means always) fall on a Friday-Monday schedule. When I was trying to break our week down, I purposefully kept Friday-Monday open with MY schedule (of writing and chores) so that I don’t feel so cramped when we go travelling on long weekends. It seems a little crazy (and maybe it is) as what I do can be so flexible, but in my mind if I have my own schedule for getting things done, it makes everything a little smoother. And then everything actually gets done. Some of our long weekends fall on a Thursday-Sunday or Saturday-Tuesday and we just adjust and make it work.

Our Basic Layout is: M/F unscheduled time, T/W Playgroup, Th Library. Read on for the specifics J

Monday:

IMG_6250Monday’s are fairly wide open, we usually head out for a walk to our little park down the road and spend about an hour or two walking/playing/soaking up some sunshine. When it is raining/snowing/can’t head outside, we will hop in the car and head over to some of the stores to walk around. Basically Monday morning is an unscheduled morning that we try to spend out and about. During the boys afternoon nap I’ll tidy and do some reading.IMG_2870

 

 

Tuesday:

Tuesday mornings are spent at playgroup. The boys have LOVED going to playgroup since the first day we went and I love that they get a chance to play with a whole bunch of toys (that we didn’t even have in our actual home), play with other kids, and run/scream as much as

 

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they want. It’s a great way to burn some energy of AND help them develop in ways that they haven’t been able to before now. It’s also nice for me to be able to get to talk to other adults and just relax for a minute. During the boys afternoon nap I generally work on writing and blogging things. I check emails, write or schedule blog posts, review my stats, etc. I basically consider it a “working afternoon”

 

 

 

Wednesday:

Another playgroup morning. After playgroup we will usually run to the grocery store or shopping store to pick up anything that we need. We also typically get lunch out and just have a little mid week treat. During naptime I have another “working afternoon”.

Thursday:

Thursday mornings might be my favorite morning of the whole week. It is storytime/library morning. It’s a little bit of a later start than Tuesday and Wednesday, and it involves soaking up books. What more could you ask for? Colton is starting to really get into books and reading and will finally sit still for story time, so this has become a fun morning for him. It’s a good balance to the two previous mornings of running around with loads of energy. Andrew is a bit more hit and miss with story time (just due to his age and the fact that he’d rather be running right now, he will get there eventually J), but he loves the coloring after the stories. We also usually pick out some books to take home and read, both for the boys and myself. During naptime I usually handle anything that I hadn’t gotten to on Tuesday or Wednesday. This is also when I just do some personal/life admin, journal, handle any paperwork that needs to be handled, etc. I am hopeful that once we get a house and I start working on my actual podcast, that this will be a podcast recording day.

Friday:

Friday is the only weekday that we stay at the hotel. We will try and head down for the community breakfast in the mornings, or I’ll make something special in our room, and then we come back up for a morning of snuggles and cartoons. I find that we do need to have one day where we aren’t doing anything to just relax and not be going all the time. It helps the boys and myself. If the weather is nice, we may head out for a walk, but on the whole we just try to take it easy. This follows during naptime as I will do a little tidying/life admin and then read.

So that is a little bit about what our weeks look like! This is something that won’t really change when we get a house, like my morning/evening routines will change. I still am struggling a little bit with having the newfound free time that I have, but I am slowly starting to get used to the idea of filling what I fill and being able to have a little freedom with the rest. When we get a house and I am able to actually have a full SAHM routine, I’ll talk about how my day is structured/mornings and such in more detail.

 

 

 

 

Tips for Working From Home

I worked from home with part time hours for a smidge over 3 years. During that time I learned quite a few things, both about myself and about creating a work/life balance. I don’t consider myself an expert in any of this, but I figured I would share some of the things that I learned over the past few years in case it could help someone else.

Working from home is a bit of a unique struggle because you want to set boundaries, a time/space for your job that is separate from your everyday life. A lot of times, when that physical space of the office is in our own home, you feel as though you are always at work. Boundaries are much more likely to get muddled or not exist at all. You may feel as though you are never not at work, or like you cannot disconnect from your job.

I learned the hard way on how to make working from home work for me and from time to time I struggled with those boundaries. But, I’ve made it through and I’m hopeful that if want to work from home, you can too!

Tip #1: Create a space that is able to be separate from your home for your office.This may seem like common sense, an office or a desk set up in a quiet corner of your home, but this is probably one of the hardest tips to stick with. When you have that space, you ONLY do work in THAT SPACE. You do not do work in other area’s of your house and you do not bring “non work” into that space. This space would also preferably have a door or some way of sectioning it off from the rest of your house. Think of it this way, when you work in an office, the best part of the day is being able to leave the office and leave your work behind for the evening, right? So, why would you not want to create that same illusion at home. In our previous home, our office was downstairs and was cordoned off by both stairs and a baby fence (as there were times when I would have to contain a child while working).

A note on creating your office space: You do want to make sure the space is welcoming and set up the way you want and need. Make it a nice space that you want to work, not somewhere where you feel like you dread going to. Natural light is a big help, as is small pieces of home décor.

Tip #2: Have specific times set aside as work time.Now, this tip only matters if you have flexible hours, but I wanted to touch on it as I found this was another thing that really helped me and is a hard one to stick with. It’s the same concept as the separate space in your home. You need to have certain hours that are set aside each day (they don’t necessarily have to be the same hours everyday, but should be the same week to week, e.g. M/W/F 8-12, T/TH 1-5) and those are the only hours that you do work during. Now obviously if there is an emergency or something that comes up that changes (as it would in a normal work environment), but the important fact is that you have the stability of hours. You work during those hours and when it is not those hours, you are not working. This is good not only for yourself, but for your coworkers as well (if applicable).

Tip #3: Get Dressed.If you’ve been around here long enough, you know all about this tip. This is a tip that I just apply to life in general, but is even more important when you are working from home. You are not going to feel the same motivation and high productivity level while working if you are in your pajamas or sweat pants that you will if you take a little bit of time in the morning to put on jeans or slacks and a nice top. There is just some sort of way that we all feel when we are in sweatpants that we don’t feel when we are in actual clothes. If you want, you can change into sweats after you’ve finished working to “signal” to yourself that the workday is over and you can relax.

Tip #4: Take breaks, eat your lunch somewhere else, get outside. This is an important one because a lot of times when we work from home, we don’t take the breaks that we need to. We need to get away from the desk, away from the computer (or phone) and out into the world. Realistically, this tip applies if you are working in an office as well. Do not take lunch at your desk, do not skip out on breaks, make sure you are stretching your body out throughout the day. If you don’t, you’ll either feel much more tired come the end of the day or you will be a little bit more short tempered in stressful situations. Take a step away, that is what lunch and breaks are meant for.

Tip #5: Take time off.Another one that feels like a no brainer, but it so hard to do. Here’s the thing, when we are working from home it is actually much harder to take time off than you would think. You’re office is right down the hall and since you are in the comfort of your own home, it is easier to work through a sickness or through a time where maybe you shouldn’t be working. It can turn into a problem and while I wouldn’t say take time off all the time, make sure that you are taking vacation time and if you are sick, take a sick day if you can. Don’t over work yourself simply because you work from home and it’s “easy” with no commute.

Those are my top tips for working from home. If you hadn’t noticed the theme, it is mostly to treat working from home much the same way that you would treat working in an office. You need to have a set space, set hours, and the ability to take breaks. The hardest thing about working from home is that instead of going to and from an office, having a separate space from your home, you are simply walking down the hall (or down some stairs) and there you are. It is so much harder to feel disconnected from work when it is just right there. It can be done though, it just takes patience and discipline as you figure out what works for you.  I hope that these tips will help you if you work from home!

Time to Stop Reflecting and Start Doing

I feel like when we are in a rut or having a tough time, we tend to focus on where we are at. What is going on with ourselves. Why are we in this rut. What has caused this tough time. In fact, I feel like this is something that we do a lot in general. There is A LOT of self reflection going on in our world these days. Reflecting on who we are, how we’ve gotten where we are at, what we want to do, the list goes on and on.

While I am not opposed to a little self reflection and spending time sorting ourselves and our feelings out, I feel like I am starting to see a bit of a problem. The problem where we spend to much time reflecting and not enough (or really any) time DOING. A lot of times we will sit in our thoughts and feelings and try to work through all of our problems and we forget that to work through our problems we have to…well WORK THROUGH our problems.

Thinking can only get us so far. Doing is the next step. And sometimes, sometimes we over think when we should just jump.

Now, I don’t mean let’s just throw rational thought and decision making out the window. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t think things through at all and I’m not saying that we should never reflect on who we are, what we are doing and how we are living.

What I am saying is that there is a time and place. There is a moment that we should reflect, but there is also a moment where we need to stop.

If we are constantly searching for who we are, constantly looking within ourselves that does not leave anything left to experience. It does not leave space for us to explore and truly find ourselves in other situations, in other instances, in other people. There is a whole world out there and we need to go experience it. For we do not truly know who we are until we have lived our lives.

I do not mean to get all personal development-y/serious/meditative here, but this is something that I am seeing more and more of and it is aggravating.

We don’t all need to always be trying to find ourselves. I’m not saying that growth and change do not occur, we are ALWAYS growing and changing (you can see my many blog posts on this), but 90% of this time that growth comes from new experiences, new situations, new people. Only about 10% of our personal growth comes from self reflection. (These are not scientific numbers or study results or anything like that, just my own opinion)

All this to say, that self reflection is good and is something that we all should do from time to time, but it is not something that needs to be taking over our lives. Self Reflection should not be stopping you from living life to the fullest. Make sure that you are not constantly looking inward and trying to find yourself. Sometimes we can only find ourselves by living life.

 

At A Crossroads

You know, it’s funny. I’ve been waiting a while to be able to say that I am a Stay at home Wife/Mom and a full-time blogger/writer. To only list myself as a “Wife, Mom, and Writer/Blogger”. To not have to worry about getting my hours in for my job, getting the endless work that came with that done, and having to fit my passion around those requirements. It’s something that I dreamed of for so long, that really everyone dreams of. The ability to just follow your passion. Who doesn’t want that?

Back in December I talked about how I had resigned from my job. It wasn’t something that would be possible with our move and something that had already been on the table prior. I am not going to get into all of the details of all of that because it’s not really relevant to this post. Let’s just say I am now able to follow my passion and as a family we can live the life that we have been dreaming of.

Here’s the thing, I don’t really know what that truly looks like.

I mean, I know what my life looks like as a Wife. I know what my life looks like as a Mom. I know what I want to accomplish as a Blogger. It’s a strange combination though and it’s something that while it rolls right off my tongue in a happy sort of way, still feels quite foreign to me. The idea that my role has changed ever so slightly. That my days are completely different- no longer searching for random pockets of time to plan a blog post, sneaking in moments here and there while my kids are eating at the table to answer emails or comments.

I took a couple weeks off at the beginning of February, to take a little vacation, to settle in to our new space (not home, not yet at least), to ease what I thought would be a hard transition. It was supposed to be a 3-4 week time period, but I found myself getting restless very early on. We are in a hotel apartment, so we have the cleaners (although I still do dishes, clean our kitchen and do the daily sweeping and tidying), we eat about 3 meals out (sometimes 4), and while I’ve loved catching up on my reading, I’ve missed the act of creating. Of doing.  I needed to write. I needed to get back into a swing of things of some sort.

And now? Well now I’m trying to navigate this new crossroads. Our schedule really only has to navigate around some type of afternoon nap for the kids rather than before when I was having to make sure that we stuck to a strict schedule so I could carefully work everything into a day. We have a freedom to get out, to explore, to DO MORE during the week day. I can truly set my own schedule and as I have access to 99% of what I would actually need to do anything on my phone, we can just pick up and go on an adventure at any time. And as strange as it is to me to say this, it feels weird. Freeing? Yes, but somehow foreign. The idea that our time is wholly ours and we can do with it what we will. I look forward to creating a new schedule that works with everything that we want to do AND lets me follow and nurture my passions along the way.

I’ll conclude this rambly mish mash of a post by saying how blessed we are and how blessed I am. I don’t know what the future will hold for us later on down the road, but I know that I am going to soak up everything I can right now and make the most of this blessing.