Picture of a happy sheep - sweet image of moving less and smiling more!

How to move less to smile more (& save 15 minutes!)

Hello, my friends! I hope this moment finds you enjoying yourself. Perhaps worrying less, just for today. Speaking of worrying – it’s sort of the opposite of the promise in this title: “Move less to smile more.” Oh hey! – pop quiz – based on the title, what do you think today’s post is about?!

Is it:

  1. Someone finally telling you that you can be happy without exercising, 
  2. A silly game where you freeze and your kids try to do anything they can to get you to smile! or 
  3. A method to less stress when knocking out your to-do list at home

If you guessed 3, then you’re right. Giving you strategies to save time at home is my jam and today’s topic could help you free up at least 15 minutes a day. That said, I do think the freeze game would be a lot of fun and produce loads of smiles. Kid antics are the best. But I digress…

Let’s talk about movement

Movement (or motion) is one of the “eight wastes” commonly cited in companies that do lean process improvement. It happens at work, and it happens at home. It’s an action that could be completely erased if things were set up differently from the start of an activity. And its existence as a “waste” is largely hidden. What we do notice is the stress we feel from things not flowing smooth as we’d like. 

Take me for example. There are numerous times a day when I move across the house more times than would be needed if I organized the space a little differently, or perhaps dedicated myself to forming a new habit. (New habits are super hard to create, though, and worth a post all on their own)! Some examples might include:

-Looking all over the kitchen for a utensil that is not where I think it’s supposed to be.

-Running back and forth across the house to find the right scarf or shoes

-Opening and closing a cupboard 20 times in a night to get to the trash can while cooking or cleaning

-Looking through my closet hangers for a particular shirt over and over until I find it

Wasted movement, time, and stress

I swear to you, if you ever time yourself when doing an activity, you’d be surprised at how fast time disappeared due to wasted movement. That back-and-forth I sometimes do looking for the right shoes easily wastes 3 minutes if not more. Looking for the missing kitchen gadget can take 4-5 minutes until I find it or give up and look for a plan B. Those minutes are precious if it’s the difference between being late for work or having dinner on the table before your hungry kids lose their marbles. 

I know that timing yourself is pretty unlikely to happen. Heck, we moms are just trying to get through to the next thing! But if some part of your mind turns on and even starts a slow “one one thousand, two one thousand” count… consider it a success. It means you have officially noticed a sore spot in a new way. You’re noticing that this is something you don’t have to keep doing.

That’s huge! Noticing is half the battle…next is the fun part: you get to be creative and solve the problem. Maybe something gets reorganized. Perhaps the trash comes out of the cupboard for the whole time you’re cooking. Or maybe outfits get paired together and set aside at the beginning of the week. The options are really endless!

You are a natural problem solver. Identify the pain point and go for a fix. If it doesn’t work as well as you’d like, try something else later. Keep at it, mama bear!

Shoot for 15 minutes

Remember, it’s a mama who moves less and smiles more that we’re after. There are probably at least 15 minutes a day that could be freed up by making small shifts that use less movement. I know that’s a big promise, but try it and see. All the tiny movement issues you solve will add up. 15 minutes! Why, that’s enough time to read a chapter of that book you’ve been dying to finish. Mmmm, sweet down time.  

****I’m curious – what would you do with 15 more minutes in your day?! Have a little fun with this prompt and tell me in the comments! 

Woman shining a light at night, like seeing the real monster in the dark

The Real Monster from a Thump in the Night

My husband and daughter are sick with the flu. The last thing I needed was a monster in the dark! Fortunately, it turned into a laugh-at-myself moment that I don’t mind sharing

My husband’s been sleeping in the spare room in the basement in an attempt to keep me healthy. Good plan…but last night at 1 a.m. I let my sick daughter into bed to snuggle. Figure I’m more likely to stay healthy if I sleep longer, and her getting some snuggle time was the key to sleep. We do what we gotta do. Anyway… I get up to use the bathroom and tell her I”ll be right back. It’s about 3:30 at this point and I don’t bother turning the light on. I hear a thud, thump thump thump. I know it’s my sweet toddler coming to join me…but it’s 3:30 in the morning and I’m in the dark and my fully adult brain thinks “Oh God! Monster!” 

How to Face a Monster in the Dark


This week I happened to speak with two people on the front end of their careers. We teach what we most need to learn and it’s a funny thing, but what I taught them is something I have learned, but am also still learning. I shared that it’s hard to see the success stories of peers who make big news and not feel like you’re floundering – that because things haven’t lined up perfectly you’re making a mistake. There’s so much anxiety and self-doubt wrapped up in thoughts like that. So much of our own light diminished by these phantoms. They’re like my toddler monster in the dark – something wonderful is coming your way but because you can’t see it yet, you hear thumps and your brain thinks, “Oh God, Monster!” 

Even from this vantage point, with a budget and policy career I could follow as long as I desire… that urge to look around and compare myself to others is still present. Funnily, I don’t compare myself to other moms. I love that you’re out there making home for your sweet children, uniquely and beautifully as only you can. My comparisons are more to do with people who (on the outside) appear to have careers that light them on fire. The ones who wake up every day and love what they do from top to bottom. My dreams are turning toward something like that. I think it involves having a purple streak in my hair. Whatever and whenever that may be. 

Carry On, Sister

In the meantime – my work – our work – is to realize that those monsters in the dark are possibly something wonderful headed our way. We have to be brave enough to step out into the hall where the monster is and take a look for ourselves. Could be she’s the best thing that ever happened to you and you’ll get a lifetime of hugs and smiles and great big “Hooooo-RAHs! because of it. Could be there’s purple hair streaks and maybe more creativity and baking and flowers and gardening and kindred spirits. More sunshine-filled moments that carry us along these beautiful days.

**** What about you? What big or small dream is growing in your heart? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section. My our lovin’ energy inspire and cheer each other on. Go mama! 

Woman running...just like busy moms run all the time. Let's prioritize!

3 Mom-Approved Ways to Prioritize

“Prioritize!” It’s one of those hot button phrases out there, whether you’re a busy mom or a busy business person. Speaking as a mom, I also know that it can be tough to prioritize a to-do list when all of it is necessary for one reason or another. In the end, though, prioritizing is a form of self care. It keeps you calm and confident. That’s why today I offer you 3 mom-approved ways to prioritize, used by myself and other mothers.

Method 1: The Urgent vs. Important Grid

This is my favorite tool that I’ve come across that helps prioritize. I use it at work and home. I don’t even know if it has an official title, but it looks like the below picture. As you can see, the most urgent, most important to-dos go in the upper left box. Next are the top right and bottom left (not urgent but important) and (less important but urgent). These get done after your most urgent/most important stuff is done. The bottom right is for everything else…stuff that would be nice to get to. I often find myself chipping away at that one when I only have a minute or two and can’t get into a bigger project.

The beauty of this is that it 1) forces you to define what is urgent and what is important, and 2) it captures everything in your brain so that you’re not doing a mental juggling act all the time. It really makes it easy to decide what to do next. Pro tip: use a post-it note inside each quadrant so that you can fill it up and replace it instead of re-drawing the grid each time it fills up.

Remember to throw self care activities in the mix!

Method 2: Ask 3 Key Questions

In this short video, Dr. Kate Northrup discusses the three questions that help her prioritize. She shares examples from her own life. Importantly, the stuff she keeps on her “to do list” become part of a weekly to-do list. Such a great concept because the reality is that life throws curve balls all the time, so take the pressure off of a daily list and make a weekly one! 

The questions that Dr. Northrup uses to prioritize are:

-Does this need to be done?

-Does this need to be done by me?

-Does this need to be done right now? 

I’ve already taken a page from her book this week and started asking myself, “does this need to be done by me?” Without even thinking about it, I tend to add stuff to my own to-do list without taking into account that my husband is probably up for helping if I just ask. Those birthday party invitations for our soon-to-be 2 year old are about to become a joint project!

Method 3: Order Your Life Priorities

The last of the 3 mom-approved ways to prioritize involves writing down your life priorities in order of importance. Then, as possible activities present themselves, say yes or no based on how well they accomplish your priorities. The Confident Mom has a post that gives an example of how one mom used this approach in her busy life so that she says yes to only what’s most important. Surprisingly, this mom ranked her kids #4, but if you look at her higher priorities (God, Husband, Home) you see that all of it combines to create a loving home for her kids.

The lesson here? You can prioritize areas of your life and you have every right to order them how you please. You’re the best mom your kids could have and everyone who loves you knows it. <3

Wolah! There you have it: 3 mom-approved ways to prioritize, offered by mothers who want the very best for your happy home and life. Sending all life’s brightest blessings to you this week. May you find yourself reveling in small moments that are only yours to cherish. Life is good. 

***If you found any of these ideas useful, be sure to share the blog link on Facebook and other social media. Sharing is caring!