When Being Home is…Overwhelming.

Man, it’s been a strange time hasn’t it? As the entire world seems to slow to a halt and we are all thrust into this new normal, it’s easy to get…well overwhelmed. As an introvert this is even easier. I think it’s also so easy to forget about this when you are not an introvert. But this post isn’t really about that.

Let me be clear…this post is not about the quarantine, shelter in place, isolation, lockdown, whatever you are referring to it as in your own country. I am 100% in favor of this and believe that is absolutely necessary. To me, this is not up for debate. This virus is not something to mess around about (and honestly if you just follow the mandate of staying home, it won’t be a long process to have it work its way through and out) and I am not going to debate something that, at this point, is semantics. Many countries have issued a lockdown measure of some sort, so whatever your feelings are, you are locked down.

This post is about what this actually looks like in terms of mental health. Of what we can do about that, of what we can do with our kids, what we can do for ourselves, and how we work through all of the confusion, overwhelm, and upset. No matter what end you fall on, no matter how this affects you economically, we are all dealing with a lot of feelings.

I don’t have all the answers on this. In fact, as I am writing this, I am struggling myself. I’m struggling with the amount of noise in our home, the never ending feeling of chaos, the nonexistence of a true routine, trying to do some form of “school” with a toddler who desperately just wants to go TO school, and trying to navigate having all 4 of us home ALL THE TIME. As much as I love my family and I’m grateful to have this time together, it’s TOUGH, and I think that is something we can all agree with.

For me, I am struggling with feeling overwhelmed with…well everything. We’ve finally got things up and running for Colton’s school, but that is creating it’s own problem (you can read about this below), I’ve got a million things that I want to accomplish, my husband is still working and going to school, and our house is just…much louder than normal. As an introvert who absolutely needs quiet and alone time it’s just making this a lot harder than I thought it would be. Today is the first day that I just wanted to breakdown.

So, what can we do?

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photo credit Daisy from Daisy Zimmer Photography (full photo on my SM)

I talked about how to stay positive last week (you can read that HERE), but what else can we do? I think honestly, the first place to start is to communicate and talk or write it out. Tell your partner or spouse what you NEED in a way that is constructive. For me personally, I NEED to have quiet time. I need to have 10-20 minutes at different points throughout the day of just quiet. Now, this is almost impossible with two toddler boys, but I try to find little pockets where I can take it. I also listen when he tells me he needs something. We are trying to find a good give and take with all of us being home as he is still working and doing school during this time. He has things that he needs the time to do and needs to take care of, and sometimes that means locking himself away for a couple of hours to get those things done.

So, for example, doing a little yoga first thing in the morning. My husband stays quiet during this and does his own thing (homework, check news, check emails) so I can ease into my morning before chaos ensues and the boys wake up. Once I am done with yoga, I try to take another 15 minutes to journal. I write out EVERYTHING. What I am feeling, what I am seeing, what I am hearing. I write about how the previous day went, what I want to accomplish today, and just a general “get your mind right” moment.

Another chance I get to get a little quiet (and build the endorphins) is a run (I mean it’s more of a run/walk, but you get the gist). This week I started doing the Couch to 5K program in an effort to get a little break/me time in my days. Since we are restricted to the house EXCEPT for groceries/meds and exercise outdoors, I am taking full advantage of the exercise outdoors option. This gives me a chance to just wander back into my brain, check out of real life, and run my feelings out.

Speaking of music, I find that just jamming it out to your favorite song or playlist is an excellent option. Blast the tunes, have a little breathing session or dance session and dust of the cobwebs in your mind. Music is such a big part of my attitude and I find even just two songs (right now Sunflower by Post Malone and SOS by Aviccii) is all I really need to get a mood booster. It also gives my kids a chance to wiggle about and I’m not hearing the nonstop chattering. We all seem to come together for those couple minutes, and it works.

Something else that I think is really important is to lean in toward whatever you are feeling. This is an overwhelming time and we are trying to figure out what life looks like and it’s ok to feel mad, to feel sad, to feel overwhelmed. It’s ok to take some time out to feel those feelings. THEY ARE TOTALLY VALID FEELINGS TO HAVE. No matter what your background is, no matter how this affects you, it is OK to feel this way. And right now, more than ever, I think that it is important for us to process those feelings. We will have a harder and faster burnout if we just continue to try and put a happy face on and hold it together.

This is especially true if you are a mom. Your kids are likely scared, nervous, freaking out, confused, mad, sad, everything that they can feel, they are feeling. While our first instinct is to hold it together, to be the strong one, it isn’t’ bad for them to see you struggle too. It helps them process their own emotions if we can be clear and concise about it. For me this is really key for when I am feeling frustrated or sad with not being able to do something or needing some space, my boys pick up on that and I explain to them exactly what is going on. This then stimulates a conversation (in as much a 4 and 2 yr. old can do) about how we are feeling. So, lean into those feelings, process them, and it might be easier for you to move forward and find joy in the little things again.

Going to quickly touch on school (as I don’t really know that I can truly talk about that). School is a hard one. I feel like we’ve really hit this hard as even though Colton was only in preschool for a month and a half he got really attached to it. If he could go every single day he could. It was his space to learn, to engage, to have a little “life of his own” for lack of a better phrase. He LOVED it and to have that yanked out from under him so soon has been a real struggle for him. Further, we are continuing with a digital learning plan with his school and that’s been…hard. He doesn’t have the same focus at home that he does in school and, of course, at home he also has little bro who wants to be involved. It’s been hard to try and explain to him what is going on and how we are handling everything right now, because the moment we explain it to him he just gets sad and says he wants to go to school. It breaks my heart.

I know that you moms of older kids are feeling that same pressure, but also adding in the academics to it as well. Luckily with Colton in preschool the hardest thing we are dealing with is focus issues, his academics and such are fairly straightforward for him. I’ve been reading posts from various teachers who all seem to agree- with this new normal, it means we need to adapt across the board. Forcing the kids to sit at a desk for 8 hours at home is just not feasible. So, lean into your kids. Listen to them when they say something. Interact with their needs. Some kids may work better at home when there is noise in the background, some kids may need to be at a desk every time they work, some kids may be focus on real world learning more than classroom. Each school is handling digital learning differently, but from what I’ve seen there is time that they meet with their teachers and do their work, and then there is free work time. Balance both of those with some real-world play and real-world lessons and a routine will start to emerge. This is a whole new level for all of us…give yourself and your kids grace. It’s not easy, but they will be OK.

Finally, if you are in a financial spot to do so, try and support some of your local or online businesses. I’m going to share a couple of my favorites that I have either ordered through already, or will be ordering through over the next couple months…

https://www.rachelallene.com/shop Rachel Allene is like the jolt of sunshine that we all need anyway. Her products are not only practical (hello mugs and shirts and coffee? We all need those), but they are absolutely adorable! They are the perfect amount of whimsy, beauty, and season. I highly recommend checking her shop out for your mugs and shirt needs.

https://www.bookshelfthomasville.com/ This is a small, local, independent bookstore in Georgia that carries most new releases, along with some merchandise. They are doing online orders, but also curbside pickup if you are in their area. I always love supporting independent bookstores, so this is the perfect chance for you to do so as well.

https://kelseyconversephotography.pixieset.com/guestlogin/travelprints/?return=%2Ftravelprints%2F If you are looking to spruce up your interior wall game, check out Kelsey’s travel photography. These are some incredible photos and would liven up any room that you want to. I would also just recommend following kelsconverse on Instagram because she is one of those genuine souls on the internet.

Also, as many have suggested, buy gift cards to some of your favorite spots. This is a great option if you want to support restaurants or other smaller in store places. OR if you want to support, but don’t need anything at the present moment. Buy a gift card and gift it or save it for a special occasion for yourself. This gives a small business some much needed cash flow in this trying time.

Finally, go show your blogger friends some love! Click on the links to their most recent posts, like them, leave them a comment, and spread the love around. Ultimately what this time is teaching us is to slow down, remember what community really is, and enjoy a little breather from the busy world we live in.

How We Are Staying Sane in This Time at Home…And How You Can Too

Ok, so this is now our new normal…kids at home, off school (though not entirely), working from home, husbands working from home, parks, playgrounds and other spots not accessible…it’s a lot of “at home time”. Now, I’m a homebody and introvert as it is, so this isn’t necessarily a huge deal for me, but I recognize that for some people it can be quite jarring. Throw in kids being home from school, but not able to go do anything and then have to do homeschooling, along with trying to work from home or just keep the house clean and the laundry done…it’s a lot. So, how do we stay sane?

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I’ve both worked from home and been a stay at home parent (doing both of those for about 3 years) and have come up with a couple of things that helped me. I also have found a few resources that helped out with educational purposes (for our age/grade level), boredom, and just general resources to have and today I’m going to share it all with you in the hopes that it can be helpful to someone else.

Tip #1: Get dressed. This is probably one of those things that I just preach about all the time. I’m a firm believer in how you look/carry/take care of yourself plays a direct role on your outlook and productivity. So, every morning get up and get dressed. I don’t care if that is putting on leggings and a sweater, your comfiest jeans, or dressing to the nines with heals and a smart outfit, just get dressed in something OTHER THAN your sleeping clothes. While it may seem like we don’t have a lot to do during this time, getting dressed will have a huge affect on your mood and outlook. Start doing this and you’ll feel less like just a bump on a log.

Tip #2: Get Active. We can’t do a lot right now. In our area all of the parks, hiking spots, and outdoor activities have been largely closed off as an extra precaution. That doesn’t mean that we can’t move our bodies. We are still able to go for a walk in our neighborhood (which we are doing as long as the weather holds out for us), we can do indoor at home workouts (which we do), and we can have spontaneous dance parties (which we also do…a lot). Being active, getting your body moving and your heart rate up, releases those feel good endorphins in your brain and helps you stay uplifted.

Tip #3: Eat Properly. I think this is the one that I probably struggle with the most (especially right now), but what we put in our bodies plays such a role, similar to what we wear. This is not the time to just eat junk food, pig out because we are bored, or snack all day long. It’s tough because we are at home all day and have easy access to whatever we would like in our kitchen, but avoid it. Eat as you would if you were not home and you will feel infinitely better. Personally, I find that if I am eating a lot of junk or crap food, I not only want to eat more of it (seriously who ONLY eats the recommended portion of chips?!), but I also end up feeling even more like a bump on a long afterwards. Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy options (I’m still working on this) and leave the junk food for special moments that you really need them.

Tip #4: Set a Flexible Routine. This one applies more to those of us with kids (specifically preschool/elementary school aged), but I find that a flexible routine really helps when it feels like everything has been upended. What I mean when I say flexible is that I try to be understanding when the boys have had enough of an activity. Let me give you an idea…Our days breakdown like this:

9AM : Everyone is up, dressed, fed/eating

9:30AM-12:OOAM: Indoor Playtime and School Work. The boys will play throughout the house and I will try and squeeze in worksheets, coloring, reading, etc. to continue to stimulate the brain activity and learning that Colton at least has gotten with school.

12PM: Lunch

12:30PM-2:00PM: Outdoor Play. It’s been much warmer and more spring like the past couple days to in between lunch and naptime we will run outside and play. I’ll take a book out there and read as well.

2PM-3:15/30PM: Andrew Nap Time. Colton and I will spend about 10-15 minutes reading a book and then he will get a little online educational screen time. If he has done a lot of “schooling” already then he can have some screen TV time. This is also when I get on the computer and do some writing if needed OR I’ll do a bit more reading. Overall it’s quiet time across the board in our home.

3:30PM-4:00PM: Afternoon Snack. We didn’t used to do an afternoon snack, but since school has started up it’s been instituted.

4:00PM-6:00PM: Walk/Bike Ride/ Outdoor time. Again, trying to soak up the weather when we get it, this is just another extension of playtime. If the weather is bad we will do some indoor activity or snuggle up for a movie.

6:30PM: Dinner

Post Dinner the boys have playtime in their rooms until it is time to clean up and get ready for bed. This is important as it gives my husband and I a chance to catch up and have some time together as well as a little quiet just in general.

Now, I just use blocks of time within the day. I found that I prefer planning in these types of increments (that’s a whole separate post), BUT it gives for flexibility. If Colton is really struggling to focus at times, I can let him do what he likes, and we will come back to that particular activity later. However, it’s also not just a free for all in our day. The boys know when they are going to get to do something within the day (i.e. Colton knows that we will do “school” in the morning, but he can play the computer school in the afternoon). This obviously changes based on what your school is actively doing about online learning, but for us this works. They get a chance to both learn school subjects that they need to, but they also get some real world learning too.

***For educational needs we are using a couple of different resources. First off we have a workbook that we brought with us for preschool aged children that works through prewriting skills, shapes, letters, numbers, and other necessary skills. We do a couple of work pages out of that along with the other resources listed below.

I print out math worksheets from k5learning.com. Most of these are geared towards K-5th Grade (as the web address would imply), but there are a couple that can be adjusted to the preschool age level as well. I have printed a couple of letter worksheets from this site as well.

Scholastic has a site that breaks down a daily guide HERE. They supply a book, a movie, and then some fun interactive games that include both and stimulate brains. We’ve only done one or two days through this, but Colton has really enjoyed the entire process. It brings some of the things that his teachers are working on in the classroom into our home (the little quiz about first, next, last was a big thing).

Abcmouse.com This has been a big one for us. We used this prior to the closure, and both of our kids absolutely love it. Colton has learned so much through the site and Andrew has loved watching them read the books to him. It makes me feel a little bit better for them having screen time since they are learning something (beyond just the Paw Patrol theme song and missions).

Youtube has some great educational options to choose from as well so you can turn that screen time into something too AND many zoo’s are doing Facebook Lives or Videos talking about their animals while the zoo’s are closed (Cincinnati has been a great option). I have also printed off the Discovery K12 homeschool sites preschool “syllabus” or learning guide just to make sure I touch on all the different options for what the kids need to be learning.

There are so many more out there that I haven’t even touched on. We are in a unique situation with only having one in school and it being preschool, so it’s pretty easy to work with. I know a lot of elementary schools (and upper level) are doing an online learning program and may have different requirements. My only suggestion would be that if it falls into their rules and parameters that you work with your kids. If they are really struggling to focus and they can take a little break, let them.

Tip #5: Keep in Touch. I came across this on Social Media and thought it was a great idea. If you are an extrovert, or someone that just needs adult contact beyond your significant other or roommate, or parents, then video chat with friends! Technology is a great thing and we have such an opportunity right now with the ability to very easily have face to face conversations over our phones. Set up “phone dates” with your friends and chat with them over the phone or through video. It may not be exactly what you picture, but it’s better than absolutely nothing.

Tip #6: Keep Your Brain Engaged. Another big one just in overall terms of feeling “productive”. Here’s the gist of what I am going to say…don’t spend all of your time binge watching Netflix, or scrolling Social Media, or watching YouTube. Look, I’ve got nothing against a good binge watch, wasting away a few hours watching a show that is just that addicting. I’ve done it many a time and will probably do it quite a bit over the next bit of time. BUT don’t let that be the only thing that you do. If you are spending that much time looking at a screen, letting your mind lull, it’ll start to play out in other areas of your life. Take this time to get your brain engaged in something you love or something you’ve always wanted to do. I know that I plan on catching up on a lot of reading, which serves as both a brain engaging activity AND a means of escapism. I also plan on doing a fair amount of writing (even though my posting schedule is drastically changing- more on that soon). There are so many options to keep your brain engaged, pick up a book (need ideas? HERE is a link to my goodreads where you can look at what I’ve been picking up), start a blog (this blog post by Helene In Between is a great guide if you are lost in that process, but want to do it), learn a new skill, take an online class (here’s a good option to search classes, but there are SO MANY free college courses out there and sites like SkillShare that charge a monthly subscription, but give you such a broad scope of tailored classes). All those things that you’ve been saying of I don’t have the time for this? NOW you do. So, use that time. Engaging your brain will make you feel productive, it’ll make you feel like yourself, and have you feeling positive about staying home all day.

Ultimately my tips can be summed up into ways of making this time at home, this abrupt change, into something positive. Keeping our spirits up and our outlooks positive is about the ONLY WAY we are going to get through this with our sanity. As always, caffeine is our friend (except when it disrupts our sleep), music is a great way to bring a smile all around, and checking in on friends and family is a must. Do you have any tips to add?

Welcome to Our House: Entry and Kitchen!

While the library/office may be one of my favorite areas of our home, the Kitchen is the heart of our house. It’s the first room that I fully unpacked and put together, the room where I probably spend the most amount of my time, and it is an area that brings me a lot of joy (and practical utility). Our kitchen is a pretty fair size here in Europe and I have found different ways of maximizing our space and trying to keep the counters as clear as possible.

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I am attaching our little front entryway to this as it is the second thing you see when you walk into our home (the first being a welcome sign) and I really like how it came together. Also, I will put where things came from if I know, or where you could find something similar in parenthesis after.

So, we’ve got a tall wardrobe right when you come in which holds handbags and coats, as well as cleaning supplies and some kitchen linens. Spinning around you see our “home” sign which changes out seasonally (given to us as a gift), and then our storage cabinet (Target). The top drawer is a sort of “junk drawer” and the bottom cabinet portion is full of cookbooks and such. On top of the cabinet will rotate seasonally, in the spring/summer I’ll typically have fresh flowers, then in Autumn/Winter I’ll have a candle burning. This is also where any mail or papers that need to be handled will congregate.

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The pictures on the wall were all taken by me. From Left to Right: Stream at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, Cherries from our Backyard, Taco Night, Tea in Northern Virginia, Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany.

Now, to the kitchen…

Before I get really far into this- I think my favorite part is that our kitchen has its own door to the backyard. It’s a benefit not only for hosting in our backyard, but with keeping the kitchen cool. We don’t really have too many wall decorations in our actual kitchen, aside from a little bit here and there and I don’t know if that will really change as time goes on. We will see.

So, now getting into the actual kitchen. It’s a fairly basic set up, the first two drawers being our cutlery, the bottom cabinet being baking dishes and pie pans. The first top cabinet is my little tea and mug heaven at the front of our kitchen. On the counter we have our produce basket (I would recommend looking at Home sense/Home goods for one), toaster, and cookbook stand (Amazon). All of our cookbooks are stored just outside the kitchen except this one, which holds the recipes I use the most often.

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The next cabinet holds our spices and baking things (flour, sugar, brown sugar, etc.) and as you can see, the shelf above that holds various drink items. The drawers hold all of the cooking/baking utilities and measuring cups. The cabinet underneath holds pots, pans, and bowls. We’ve also got our most used cooking items, knife set, kitchen aid, and cutting boards on the counter. I feel like our counters are right at the cusp of being too cluttered, but I feel like it still works out well and the kitchen is able to be used without much complaint this way.

IMG_2986Before we get to the next rounds of counters, you can see our meal board and recycling station. I’m a big meal planner and found that having a board that lists the dinners for the week for everyone to see really helped eliminate the “what’s for dinner” conversation I seem to have daily with my family. Recycling is very big here in Europe and we have a total of 4 of these containers to separate out almost all of our things. The three you see here are for plastic, mixed, and glass. The basket on top is for paper recycling and our metal bin is above the fridge. Bins are from IKEA.

 

The second side upper cabinets holds all of our plates, bowls, and drinking glasses. We’ve also got the smaller cabinet for to go cups and water bottles and a portion of another larger cabinet is for my husband’s work meals/snacks. The bottom cabinet holds our large collection of Tupperware.

We have a large cabinet at the end of the kitchen that serves as our food storage/pantry. We bought a shelving unit from IKEA to add some much-needed space and it’s been working out very well for us at this point. Honestly- our pantry never ends up being as organized as I would like it to be (never has been), so it is something that I am continuing to work on. Shelving unit was perfect though (IKEA).

Finally, one of our only décor pieces is this sign above the door. We purchased this at a Cracker Barrel right after we got married on our way to our Honeymoon. It’s just one of those phrases 🙂

And that’s our kitchen! I hope you enjoyed! We’ve got one more room to “unveil” and I’m just working on putting the last touches on it before showing you.

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!

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.

Friday Morning Cups

This picture may seem simple. May seem harmless. Just a book and a cup of tea. Nothing more to see, right? Wrong. Now I don’t expect you to infer what I am about to say, nobody could just from this picture. But that is why I’m saying it. That is why it’s just a simple picture, with a much more powerful caption. Often times this isn’t something that is spoken about beyond the “shtick” that many moms have started to claim. There is nothing wrong with that, but it can be a dangerous line between what is normal and a funny “just a mom thing” and what is needing a little more attention

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Here sits my now cold cup of tea untouched along with my unopened book (that I started a night or two ago and haven’t touched since). If you know me, you know that either of these things being untouched is unheard of. Instead, I have been sitting here in my chair, staring out the window, utterly spent. Trying to recoup what little I have left.

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Motherhood is the most incredible gift that I have ever experienced but it is also a uniquely exhausting and trying time. It is a constant, overwhelming, role and there comes a time (for all of us), when we are just spent. When we have nothing left. When the simplest of things (like drinking a cup of tea or reading) can just sit for hours without being touched. We are not good at asking for help, we are not good at saying that we are overwhelmed, we just keep trying to hold everything together, while seemingly pulling our own selves apart. There is a level of exhaustion that is normal and then there is a level where you may need to talk to someone or need to ask for help.

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Don’t do what I did for a long time. Don’t try and hide how you’re feeling, or pretend like you’ve got it all together. Don’t always put yourself last. Every once in a while (preferably before you feel that last fraying string snap), tell someone. Reach out. Say I need a minute, 5 minutes, an hour (he’ll be ambitious and go for a couple hours if you can). You’ll be better for it. Your spouse will be better for it. Your children will be better for it.

Time Management : My Daily Breakdown

I’ve been talking about Time Management for a couple of posts now and wanted to give an example of how I apply what I’ve been talking about to my own days/weeks/months. It may seem complicated, but it actually isn’t. I just treat most of my tasks as “jobs” that I have to complete everyday. I also do have a part time job that I work the same hours for everyday. I find that I need to have a bit of structure to my days as I work from home and so this is what I do.

To start with: I use a paper planner (insert gasp here). If you’ve been following along this past year, you will know that I am a pen and paper kinda girl and prefer to write things down. It’s a kink in my brain that I just remember and feel more organized when I can write something out. I personally use and love the Day Designer planner system. There is a spot for me to mark out my time during the day, along with a daily to do list, top three priority list, and a couple other little boxes. I’ve got the perfect amount of room. I’ve used the Flagship for 2018 and loved it, although I am thinking about getting a mini for 2019.

The first thing I do is write down my to do list. I color code everything based on what it is for. Each color represents something different, household chores, appts, blog, business, work, etc. I put EVERYTHING on my to do list. Not because I need reminded of it, not because I want to feel “busier” than I am, but simply for the satisfaction of having checked it off. I won’t forget to dust the Living room on Tuesday by any means, but I like to keep track of everything that I am doing. It’s also key when you are first trying to develop a habit, or get back into a habit. I will also mark down in the notes section when a package is supposed to be delivered as our post people don’t ring the doorbell when they deliver…we’ve had packages just sit in the rain all afternoon because of this.

The next thing I’ll do is block out my times every day. I may be a little crazy about my time, but my days are usually planned to a T. I work weekdays in the afternoon for my job, so my mornings are spent with my children, writing, doing household chores, at appointments, whatever else. I’ll notate if I have a blog post or video going up that day, what time it will be at, as well as any appointments. This gives me a pretty good sign of what my actual day is going to look like and helps me narrow down my top three.

The final step is determining what my “Top Three” are for the day. I don’t always do this, but if I’ve got a lot going on, and am not sure if I will realistically get to everything on my to do list, I”ll mark down what I think I need to prioritize. Some days my to-do list becomes a list of other things (such as future posts I want to do, different things to order), things that don’t need to necessarily need to be handled that day, but that I want to remember for a future day. So, having the Top 3 can focus my mind when I do get a chance to work on items.

Once those three steps are complete I’ll briefly look at my day again and mentally block times out to accomplish what I need to accomplish. For example, I typically write my blog posts mid morning (like 10ish), while drinking my second cup, so I’ll try and make sure any cleaning I need to do is done between breakfast and mid morning. Since I work all afternoon on weekdays, any top 3 items that are non work related have to be done before 1pm and I’ll take that into account (as I don’t necessarily write everyday).

Most days I am able to cross everything off my to do list by using this system and most days I feel really productive! Of course, there are days that it doesn’t happen. I am living life and some days we just chuck the to do list and play all morning instead or I’ll spend a morning reading. That is ok and because of my time management, I know that I can make up anything missed on another day.

How do you do your Time Management? Do you have any tips or tricks?