Have it your way: 33 ideas to spark more free time

Recently, I had the privilege of getting to know the mother of a dear friend. We talked about the trials and stresses of new home ownership and tight finances when you’re starting out in family life. For instance, when she was a new mother (with four children) and they moved into their home, she said it was 100 small things that got them through, like the move from brand name Cheerios to knock off bags of cereal. Finding ways to free more time in your schedule is like that, too. To jump start your own path of 100 small things, today I offer you 33 ideas to spark more free time. 

33 Ideas to Spark More Free Time

  1. Mix your favorite go-to spices (cinnamon and sugar counts!)
  2. Use Youtube to learn how to slice weird shaped fruit or veggies
  3. Download an app so you can capture your mental to-do list on the fly
  4. Put your keys in the right hand pocket every time
  5. Use Amazon auto-ship for toiletries that you buy every month (works for diapers, too!)
  6. Create a family habit of 10-minute cleanup before the bedtime routine starts
  7. Have multiple laundry baskets so that you can sort clothes as you take them off
  8. Make your kids and spouse responsible for packing their own lunches
  9. Set out your outfits for the entire week (no more rushing around to find the right shirt!)
  10. Put only the utensils you most often use in your kitchen utensil drawer
  11. Use see-through food storage containers so your food doesn’t go to waste
  12. Set your email account to automatically file e-receipts in a separate folder
  13. Get yourself on the federal do-not-mail (or call) lists
  14. When you’re online shopping, commit to purchasing from a company you trust and avoid wasting time on bargain hunting
  15. Unsubscribe from listservs whose emails you never open
  16. Use your lunch break to squeeze in a workout or a trip to the gas station
  17. Elbows up! Learn to gracefully say “no” to activities you would rather not do
  18. Plan for activities you *do* want to do, so that they are sure to happen
  19. Ask yourself, “does this serve me?” when you’re doing something that’s not productive. (Sometimes the answer is yes, in which case you should absolutely continue!)
  20. Set a timer for things you know could accidentally make you lose track of time, like online shopping, Facebook, or reading a book.
  21. Chop extra veggies while you’re in the kitchen and freeze what you don’t use
  22. Batch cook
  23. Don’t set a snooze alarm (you won’t hit snooze too many times, plus you’ll sleep longer)
  24. Stack your folded laundry in a way that lets you see everything, so you’re not digging for what you want.
  25. Give away jewelry you don’t use anymore
  26. Organize your grocery list by section of the store
  27. Set boundaries with what your little ones play with…you should not have to search for things that you actually need.
  28. Get your spouse and kids on board with choosing a home for things that sort of float around (in our house, it’s the salt shaker).
  29. Keep a just-in-case bag that lives in the car (water, diapers, extra clothes, snacks, toys, sunscreen, lotion and earrings for you…). It’s your backup to the bag that goes with you everywhere.
  30. Create a routine that helps you see where your time-saving gaps are. For us, setting 6:00 as dinner time set off a whole chain reaction of choices that help us get to 6:00 without stress. 
  31. Set up auto bill pay for as many things as you can.
  32. Use mini-gaps between activities to start a piece of housework
  33. Throw a pillowcase in with the laundry loads, so you have a backup “basket” to stuff clothes in if the actual basket wanders off.

Commit to Actively Looking for Time Saving Moments

Saving time is a journey that will never end, because our lives constantly change. The kids get older, we get new jobs, sports come and go, we try new hobbies… Along the way, you’ll figure out some time saving tricks that you keep around, but there are others that will only be discovered when life calls you to new rhythms and routines. 

Your challenge is to commit to actively looking for those 100 small things you can do to save time. You’ll know you are successful because suddenly you have 10 minutes to read a book, or you’re playing with your kids before dinner when there used to be no time. Maybe you’re getting a little more sleep. Maybe you finish the dishes and look around and think, “Now what do I do?” (Yes, this can be you!)

Whatever it is that you long for, its 100 small choices that save time that will get you there. Plus, you’ve got a head start with these 33 ideas to spark more free time. Get going, mama bear! I believe in you. 


***How about you? What are the small things you do that save a tiny bit of time? Please share in the comments! You never know who you might be helping out. May our loving energy inspire and cheer each other on. Go mama!

A potter wheel to symbolize keeping the idea of a Focus Wheel to keep the kid blues from ruining the day

Keep your “kid blues” from ruining the day with a Focus Wheel

Have you ever been through an intense period of time with soaring highs and hard lows, and over time the hard parts sort of fade away from memory and all you can remember is the laughter and fun you had? Like you, I’m in the thick of the early years of parenting. Even on the worst days, I know I’ll mostly remember the best ones. My husband and I will look at each other and say, “Wasn’t that fun?”. Right now, though, there are some days where I feel anxious or lonely or totally spun. Those are the days when I lean on a Focus Wheel activity to keep the “kid blues” from ruining the day.

To feel better, go general

You know how you would never expect your child to go from very sad to giddy and happy? If you’ve ever watched a grown up tickle a crying child, you know what I mean: it just doesn’t work. The leap is too far. 

The same is true for you. You’re not going to go from flustered to merry and bright. However, you can get yourself to a better space by going general about the situation, and continuing down that thought path until you really do feel better.

For example, let’s say at least one child is fussing and you’re running late and you just spilled something on your clean work shirt. You’re totally frazzled right? First, breathe as deep as you can until you have some distance from the situation (as in, you’ve dropped sweet fussy babe off at day care and are driving alone in the car).  Next, without talking about the specific things bothering you, you can get to a better spot by being general about the problem and your life.

An Example

Here’s an example of a verbal focus wheel (because you’re driving in this scenario and not with a journal). The word flow might sound something like this:

“I do not need everything running smoothly to know that everything is going to be okay. I know that things get easier and easier. I’ve had hard days before and move through them and done it with grace. In fact, I’m really good at moving through hard places and I am a better person for it. This is just a phase and I’m in the right place and I am the right person for this moment. I love where I have been and am certain that I will love where I’m going. Plus, I know that I always figure things out and that I can trust myself. I can trust the future. There’s nothing I can’t have or do or be and all is well. All is well. All is well.” 

Do you get the idea? Before long, you will find that you are calmer and more present. You will feel at least a little better (and maybe a lot better) than you were five minutes ago. You’ll keep the “kid blues” from ruining the day. I promise.

The FOCUS Wheel, Explained by Experts

Gabby Bernstein, an author considered a thought leader for the next generation by Oprah, has taken this concept mainstream. You can hear her talk about it in this Marie TV episode, called “How to Reclaim your Joy When You Feel Like Giving Up.” I love that she’s broadcasting this idea, but she would be the first to tell you that it is not originally hers. It comes from another thought leader named Abraham Hicks, someone that’s a little more in the land of “woo”  and less mainstream. That said, if you can accept the idea of using what resonates and leaving the rest behind, then this link for the original thinker behind this concept is a good listen.

I have been using this focus wheel practice for years and it is one of the best tools I’ve come across to get into a better emotional state. I’ve used it to get from a state of worried to expecting amazing experiences. I’ve gone from self-doubt to confidence, from feeling deeply negative to feeling easier about situations. 

Once, I used it on a stopped bus in Ecuador at 3 o’clock in the morning. I journaled myself into an expectant state that yes, my new husband and I would get past a landslide and make it to our connecting flight to our Galapagos Island honeymoon. 

We did. (And that’s a story for another day!).

Your Turn

I hope you give this a try sometime. You are an amazing, hard working, brave mother and a focus wheel might be just the re-set you need to get your mood in a better-feeling place. Why not? Your life is calling.


***Tell me, what do you do to keep the “kid blues” from ruining the day? Share in the comment section, and be sure to share this post on Facebook or Twitter! go mama!

Feel-good image of mint flowers in mortar and pestle

Why I Know You Will Heal

Tis the season for intentional gratitude, so before I dive into today’s post on why I know you will heal, I want to start with a great big, heartfelt thank you to you. Thank you for following these posts, and for telling me in person or on social media that they’re making a difference. You’re the reason I write. If I can help you draw space, and peace, and happiness into your life in any way, I will have succeeded. Your support keeps me going. Thank you. 

There is also a lot to be thankful for outside of this blog. I’m grateful for my sister’s happiness with her new husband and farm. I’m grateful for the huge, loving community that showed up to support us in our renovation (the end is in sight, and we could not have done it without you). I’m grateful for friends and family far and near – you’re the reason I showed up on this planet, and I love you so much. Finally, I’m grateful for the fact that our bodies have infinite capacity to heal, which brings me to the topic of today’s post. 

Self Care to Feel Better than Ever

Sometimes self care really is about focusing on the basics. I’ve spent time in a number of recent posts sharing self-care strategies like mirror work and self talk (and how to practice self care at family gatherings). These are super important. But in the mind-body-spirit continuum, the body piece is important and can have a huge impact on your thoughts and feelings. In fact, research is increasingly linking things like anxiety and depression to gut health. 

If you feel like there was a time when you had more energy and brightness to meet the day – when you felt less worried, anxious, down, or zombielike – felt more you, then read on my friend. There is so much hope for feeling more like yourself. In fact, I don’t just hope you feel better – I know you will feel better. The reason why I know you will heal is because you are a powerful force when you make up your mind to do something.

What I share here is a mix of articles and books found through my own efforts to get back to a happy, “normal” state (i.e., none of this is professional medical advice). After having my daughter, the physical toll left me with a degree of anxiety that I didn’t want to just “live with” forever. I had some other non-urgent but not-going-away things that I finally decided to do something about. The results from this path have been amazing. With that, here are some tools that I hope will help you launch your own journey to well being. 

The quick hits

You are your own best healer. Fortunately, some of the cheapest and easiest things to do are already at your fingertips. The trick is to be conscious about following through. Try to:

  • Drink 8 glasses of water a day
  • Up the veggie intake. Half your plate should be veggies. 
  • Lower your sugar intake. (You might even give yourself a three-day, no-sugar challenge to help re-set).
  • Get your heart going. A five-minute dance party with your kids counts. Or try a ten minute walk-jog-stop to pet a cat… that counts too! No one’s watching. You can build up. 
  • Take your vitamins and fish oil
  • Laugh often
  • Nap
  • Send gratitude as often as you can remember

A little more effort, but every bit worth it

Pregnancy takes its toll on a body, and small imbalances can make your whole system feel off-kilter. Whether you recently had a baby, or your sweet chilli bean was born years ago, it’s never too late to ask a doctor to order tests to check out how you’re doing with things like vitamins, folate, and iron. A thyroid test can also provide clarity. Your doctor can help you decide the best tests. Afterward, if you feel like something is still missing, keep researching. Do your own homework so that you go to the doctor armed with good questions. 

A find at the library got me started on this track, called The Postnatal Depletion Cure by Oscar Serrallach. Check it out or find something like it – you’ll realize how not alone you are, and that this is not your new normal. In fact, it may just be a window that gets you feeling even better than before your pregnancy.

Why I Know You Will Heal

I came across a quote recently that really resonated: “The path to healing is not linear.” Some days you may feel totally energized by the changes you want to make in your body and life. Some days you may feel down and wonder if all this work is getting you anywhere. For me, this roller coaster has been very much a part of my journey over the last eight months. Some days, when results are not obvious, the only thing that keeps my spirits from sinking too far is choosing to believe the thought: “I have decided to heal, so I will heal.” (Because decisions send incredibly powerful messages to our brains and the universe to line it all up and take action). I know you will heal, too, if you so choose.

Sometimes healing takes time. Begin anywhere.

Sometimes you may try the wrong thing. Clarity comes through action.

Sometimes you may get overwhelmed. It’s normal. Keep going.

Inevitably, you will succeed or transcend, or both. Because you decided to.

Dear woman, you are more powerful than you realize. You created a family who you surround with love every day. You make your dreams come true. There is a light in your eyes that is only yours. 

It’s really up to you, this healing you seek. I hope you get there. And even though we may never meet, I like to think that you and I are part of a vast river of women whose spirits are cheering each other on. You are not alone. I am grateful for you. Go mama.

Woman in striped dress walking down beach path

Clear out your closet for new dreams, more time, & self care

The funny thing about letting go of stuff is that you give a gift to yourself. Not only does the absence of something unwanted feel like a relief, but you create space for life to draw in more of what you do want. It’s a physical and spiritual act, this letting go. In the dance of motherhood, and career, and heart, and life, the spiritual side of me needs to be heard and honored more than ever. So this month, as the snow starts to fall in Milwaukee and as light dims earlier each day, I have decided to clear out my closet. It’s a deliberate act of making space for new dreams, and one of self care. The icing on the cake is that it will put more time in the day.   

Use your Closet to Make Space for New Dreams

Recently, I listened to a podcast by Ingrid Fetell Lee where her interviewee shared a story about clearing out unwanted clothes from her closet and not only did they she feel like she had more to wear, but she suddenly felt free enough to quit their job and try something new. That story totally resonates with me. There’s something freeing about removing the physical proof of our past – who we were and what was working for us then – in order to move into a space of who we are now and who we want to be. 

Who is it you want to be? This slice of life has caused new dreams to form in you. So why not send your signal into the universe (and to yourself) that you’re ready for them. Clean out that closet…then the dresser…then the forgotten boxes in the basement. Finally, release whatever else that’s filling your space and making you feel stuck. You are so free, if only you allow yourself to see it

Use Your Closet to Boost Self Care

You are a beautiful human being, you know that? Every inch of you. And getting dressed should be a fun way of celebrating yourself on the daily. However, if you’re like me, you have clothes you keep around because they’re functional, not because they make you feel beautiful or brighten the day. We all do it –  we keep things that look nice, but they show too much cleavage or don’t fit quite right or we convinced ourselves in the store that we can make it work, but never got around to actually making it work. Sometimes we keep stuff because a relative bought it. There are clothes kept for reasons we’ve long forgotten. 

Now imagine – how would it feel to have and wear only clothes that fit right and feel good? How would it feel to spend less time worrying about or adjusting what you’re wearing? Pretty good, right?!?

You deserve the kind of self care that comes without having to think about it. You deserve to wake up to a closet of only outfit options that you are excited to wear. 

Clear out your closet to save time

If drawing in new dreams and self care aren’t enough of a reason to clear out your closet, then perhaps this info will seal the deal: when you make repetitive motion by choosing or finding clothes, you are wasting your time. Think about it – how much time do you spend when you search through a drawer for a shirt two or three times before finding it? How much time do you spend just deciding what to wear? 

In the end, clothes can create a waste of time that really adds up. We blow by the fact that the problem could be fixed in the rush of getting ready to leave the house. And because it’s not addressed, it comes up day after day after day. You’re losing minutes without even realizing it.  I’m tellin’ ya – solving this problem will make mornings run a little faster.

Action Challenge

This month, I invite you to join me in a very loving and intentional act of letting go of clothes that no longer serve us. To help, Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up recommends that you:

  • Thank your “get rid of” clothes out loud. Thanking is a way to honor how they served you and send them on their journey with gratitude. 
  • Get rid of anything you keep out of a sense of obligation, functionality, or guilt. You have permission.
  • Keep what sparks joy (I love this one!)

I also came across this Apartment Therapy blog post by Arlyn Hernandez, which has a quick-hits list of stuff to toss like those shoes that always hurt, old bridesmaid dresses, and things that you kept last time you cleaned out your closet but haven’t worn.

I hope you enjoy yourself as you clear out your closet to make space for new dreams, more time, and self care. Turn on some tunes. Sip some wine. Enjoy the memories your clothes bring up, even as you thank them and say “yes!” to whatever’s ahead. 


***I’m curious, what dream are you ready to draw into your life? Let me know in the comments! May our lovin’ energy inspire and lift each other up. Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing, thanks for being you. go mama!

Silly photo of a dead potato - could've saved it with these food tips!

Your fridge is a time-sucking black hole (& what to do about it)

How many times a month do you find yourself throwing out food past its prime? It’s embarrassing, but I’ll admit that my family tosses food weekly, and there’s usually a monthly deep dive into the fridge for lost and forgotten food gone bad. It’s like a time-sucking black hole for food that we shopped for, cooked, packaged away…and then let spoil. For me, the worst part is the time spent cleaning up and feeling guilty about all the wasted food. If only there were easy ways to avoid this waste, right? As it turns out, the interwebs have a lot to say on the subject! This post is full of suggestions that will help our fridges no longer feel like a time-sucking black hole.

Six ways to keep food out of the trash

Be creative before tossing. Stale bread can be croutons or breadcrumbs. Freeze veggies for before they’ve gone completely bad – they’re perfect for soup or stew. This Huffpost article has some other suggestions on this front.

Make sure fridge temp is correct. Fridges that are too warm or too cold can cause food to go bad, and might also be a safety hazard. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the refrigerator temperature should be kept at or below 40° F (4° C). The freezer temperature should be 0° F (-18° C).

Invest in some produce saver sheets. Amazon has a bunch of options, like these FreshPapers. Throw these in the fridge drawer with your fruits and veggies to prolong their freshness. The reviews speak for themselves.

Store food in a way that’s easy to see, or at least labeled. Try to use clear containers to store food, so you have a constant visual reminder that it needs eating when you open your fridge. And if it’s not in a clear container, label the container with its contents and the date cooked.  

Shop for only what you need. This National Geographic article talks about how we shop with this psychological need to store and save, which means we buy more than we need. Queue the dark music for food gone bad (and time wasted cooking it!). Over the next couple weeks, spend some time noticing how much your family eats compared to how much you buy. Watch how much of your leftovers go to the fridge when perhaps they’d be better preserved in the freezer. And if you want that mental security of knowing there’s reserve food, stock your pantry with dry goods. 

Think of your freezer as short-term storage. Laura Moreno, a food waste expert featured in the above National Geographic article, suggests using the freezer as short-term storage. Those frozen leftovers can be a big time saver during a busy week. They are also just one stop away from the trash can if they develop freezer burn, which is extra incentive for using them within a couple weeks (which is probably the window you’ve got before forgetting they exist). 

Our turn – no more time-sucking black hole fridges

Over the next month or so, I’m going to start implementing these tips in my fridge and kitchen. I don’t want a time-sucking black hole fridge lurking in my kitchen. I want everything we cook to go into our bellies. I hope you’ll join me in this effort, for the sake of your own time and tasty cooking! 

***Find any of these ideas useful? If you’re thinking, “Oh yeah, this could definitely help in my kitchen” – please share this post on Facebook or other social media. This is a growing community and every share makes a difference! With gratitude, -Ashley

Self care and delight is possible for any mama (like this one, holding her baby's feet)

The New Mama Guide for Self Care & Delight

I knew to expect my life to change forever after having a baby, but I couldn’t fathom how lost I would feel at first. All of my ideas of self-worth and success and “who am I” became a tangled glob of putty for a while, and in some ways, I’m still sorting through the beautiful mess – deciding which parts of me to carry forward and which ones no longer serve me. It’s actually a huge gift, becoming a mother – it’s a space for conscious self creation. A space that requires grace for beginning. And then – oh yeah! – self care. That thing that all the blogs and all the family tell you to do, but which can feel easier said than done. In today’s post, I’ll share some suggestions that will help you boost self-care and moments of delight to even the most tired of mothers.

BTW, this written in honor of a friend of mine; she just had a baby girl. I’m so thrilled for her, and for all of the new mamas out there who are navigating this strange new space. If this isn’t you, I bet you’ll still find an idea or two that would feel really good to use in your own life. And if you know a mama who could use these words, please share this post! May these self-care ideas help you navigate this slice of life, wherever you find yourself. 

Bursts of Self Care

Here are some self-care biggies that you may already know, but perhaps have yet to do. Please permit me this very gentle reminder. 

  1. You deserve to ask for all the help you need during this time. Consider this: from the outside looking in, people honestly can’t know how tired or lost or anxious you might be feeling. You know why? Because you’ve spent your life convincing others you’ve got it all together, and you are really good at it.  What you think is obvious sorrow or anxiety may not be obvious. They don’t know. They want to be there for you. Ask for what you need.
  2. Find or build a community of women who are in the same young-child phase. Having someone to text and say, “Today was hard,” somehow makes the day feel less hard. Someone to share your happy moments with makes them feel even happier. Life feels better when shared.
  3. Reframe “success.” This one is something I really struggled with. I went from being able to get all sorts of things done in a day to really struggling to feel successful, period. The dishes? Half done. The laundry? In the washer, but forgot to start it. That art project I was working on? Ha! So…if you’re a goal setter, set one (and only one) goal for the day. Something achievable within the day’s awake hours. 
  4. When you see your reflection in the mirror, tell yourself you’re doing a great job. Tell yourself everything you need to hear most. Remember to use your name. I promise you will see it in your eyes – the person looking back from your reflection desperately needs to hear these words. 

Moments of Delight

Moments of delight are another a form of self care that you can capture for yourself. 

  • Color: bring some sunshine into your home with a little color. If you’re feeling frumpy or underdressed, put on some earrings that make you smile. If you’ve got a shopaholic in your family – ask her to grab you some bright, happy colored t-shirts that will brighten your day. Buy some flowers. Add color to your life where you can! 
  • Smells: Smells are a great way to create calm and happiness. What smells can you bring into your home that will make you take a big breath and relax? A favorite tea? Cinnamon sticks simmering on the stove? Your favorite comfort meal? A scented candle?
  • Sounds: Sounds are powerful. For instance, you know which playlists call you when you need an energy lift, or something soothing. Youtube is great for hours-worth of nature sounds if being outside helps you quiet your mind (and you’re now stuck indoors!). 
  • Give gratitude: Gratitude for what’s at hand can help soothe a tired spirit. It doesn’t have to come from a joyful energetic space. Even small, quiet gratitude can help. Gratitude for the colors you see on your walk, or the comfort of your pillow, or the smell of your baby’s head. Gratitude for how good it is to have a voice that can sing. Gratitude for the bird that flew by. 

full steam ahead!

Welcome to this journey of motherhood! Often, I muse about how many folks out there give a strangled laugh and say how hard parenting is. (Well, it is hard sometimes). But mostly, I don’t understand why that’s the going phrase. You and I did not start families because we wanted hard lives. We did it because we want growth, and joy, and laughter, and fun. After all, it’s exciting to launch a dream and watch it unfold. With today’s tips for self care and moments of delight, maybe it will feel a little bit easier.

I’m so excited for you and so glad we’re in this together. You are an amazing mom and a light in this world. Your kid is so lucky to have you. You’re doing it right. You’re in the right place. Welcome to the club. go mama! 

***Go Mama Love is a growing community of mothers with a focus on self care, saving time, and tons of validation. If this article spoke to you in some small way, please share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter. Every share makes a huge difference! With much love, -Ashley

Women laughing together

What to do when you feel isolated

Today’s post is dedicated to all the moms out there who feel a little isolated. Sure, it might not be an every-day thing – and sure, you probably have friends who love you tons – even so, you perhaps have moments when the kids are asleep and it’s just you at home, wishing you could be out in the world somewhere, meeting people and hanging out with friends just like you used to when you were a little more free. The real kicker is that it’s hard to know what to do when you feel isolated!

If you hatch a plan to get out of the house, I’ll give you some back pocket pointers to help make it easy to make new friends. 

Step 1: Recognize the limiting belief

You know how people say it’s harder to make friends as an adult? I’ve often thought that yes, that’s the case – for all the reasons that you and I are well familiar with. But then I met my husband. He’s one of those people that can go away for a weekend and come back with at least one new best friend. Or he’ll come home from a bar, or band practice, or anywhere with people present, and often say he shared a meaningful conversation with someone.

His example makes me re-think the idea that adults don’t make friends easily. In fact, I’m starting to think that the phrase is a limiting belief, if repeated often enough and ingested completely. I’m ready to re-frame this limiting belief and if you find yourself in the same boat, I hope you will join me! 

Steps 2-4 (which you’re about to read) come from conversations with and observations of the social butterflies in my life, my husband included. When I use these strategies myself, I often find myself with a new friend. They work!

Step 2: Believe you are worth knowing

The key to making a meaningful connection with someone is believing that you are worth knowing. And you so are! The trick here is to choose your self-talk before meeting someone (and even in-the-moment, if needed). 

Instead of, “What if they don’t like me?” Try: “I’m worth knowing, and the people I meet are worth knowing.”

Instead of, “I’m not good at meeting people.” Try: “I have beautiful relationships in my life.”

If you need an extra boost of self confidence, check out this post about all the ways you shine.

Step 3: Only tango if it’s fun

It takes two to tango. If the conversation isn’t flowing, you have every right to politely close it up and move on! 

It also can help if you remember that most people spend their time focused on their own inner dialogue and worry about how they sound to you. You will be way ahead of the game just by showing up, eager to really listen to people’s stories and ready to share a few real and true things about yourself. 

Step 4: Have a back-pocket question strategy

Ok – let’s say you’ve done all the prep work. You’ve reframed your inner dialogue. You know you’re worth knowing and you’re really eager to learn about other people! There’s just one piece left: what to say? 

I have a few questions I pull out in a pinch, and they follow this trend:  

  • Start with something super light, and each progressive question digs a little deeper
  • Stay open-ended, which will give you a chance to learn something that will spark more conversation 
  • Get to know the mom – don’t focus on her kids the whole time

Here are a couple of question sets. Borrow them or make up your own!

  1. What’s one of your favorite things about living in (your city) and why?
  2. What is the best wisdom you’ve heard that helps you with parenting kids at this age?
  3. What has been bringing you joy these days?

Or:

  1. Where do you like to take your family for fun?
  2. If you had a magic wand that could make anything happen for you or your family, what would it be? 
  3. What do you love about your life right now?

There are countless more questions you could ask. The article, “200 questions to get to know someone,” by conversationstarterworld.com could probably give you a few more ideas.

Go for it

Remember that you are a great mom, and a good friend, and absolutely worth knowing. There are so many other moms out there, wishing for friendship. Now that you know what to do when you feel isolated, you can become that warm person who makes the first steps. So get out there and do a social activity that you enjoy. With these strategies, you will be so easy to get to know! 


***I’m curious, what are your favorite conversation starters? Do you have strategies for building new friendships? Please share in the comments – may our lovin’ energy inspire and lift each other up. Go mama!

Woman who knows where her car keys are and gets places on time

How to be the mom that gets places on time

Do you ever feel like there are some moms who manage to juggle it all and still be on time, but that’s just not in the cards for you? Oh hey – nice to meet you! We’re in the same boat… but this boat’s headed for smoother waters. It’s completely possible to chip away at those things that keep you from being on time. Over the past six months, I’ve turned myself into someone that arrives on time. It feels strange, and awesome. Stick around – I’m going to show you how to be the mom that gets places on time.

The obvious things (that perhaps you haven’t committed to routine yet)

First, let’s acknowledge that there is a general routine in the chaos of getting out the door. And in that routine, there are many small things that can go sideways. You might have a different reason you’re late every day of the week! This is totally normal, and something you can fix. It won’t happen overnight, but as you chip away at time-saving for each piece of your get-out-the-door routine, you’ll find that it gets easier and easier. Suddenly, the random things that pop up no longer become the reason you’re late – you’ve made space for them. 

So, here are some activities and I challenge you to pick one that you can implement right away! Success creates momentum, so go for it! 

Options:

-Set clothes out the night before (and your kids’, or have them do it themselves if old enough)

-Have lunches prepped the night before and stacked together in the fridge

-Have breakfasts pre-made, ready to go in seconds or minutes

-Resist the urge to hit snooze

-Have cute, back-pocket hairstyles that you can throw together in minutes (youtube is awesome for inspiration!)

Let’s take it one step further

Ok, so let’s say you’ve done those things and they’re helping a lot, but you’re still struggling with how to be a mom that gets places on time. This is the point when you have to put in a little more work to figure out exactly why the problem is happening. As I explain in more detail in a recent post, there are pain points in any process (like getting out the door), that have causes that aren’t immediately obvious. Your job is to do the work of figuring out why. Check out the post when you have a sec – it’s a goldmine. 

The gist is that you have to ask “why” in response to a problem until you really understand why it’s happening. 

Where the heck did my keys go? (again!?!!)

Here’s an example from my own life: two to three times a day, I waste time looking for my keys. Honestly, most mornings I could be out the door two minutes sooner if I only knew exactly where my keys were. 

I bet you’ve got something similar. Maybe it’s your glasses. Or your hairbrush. Or your toddler’s second shoe. THOSE are the timewasters that we need to pay attention to. I promise, you will give yourself so much freedom if you start to notice them and chip away at them. 

As you read this, keep in mind that the solution I arrive at it is unique to me. If you have can’t-find-the-damn-key issues, I recommend you follow a similar process to discover what’s at the heart of the issue for you! 

Problem: I waste minutes, multiple times a day, looking for my keys in my purse.

Why? Because I don’t always put them in the same part of my purse. 

Why: There’s lots of pockets. 

Why? Because there’s no easy place to hook them. They just fall into whatever part is open and get buried. 

AHA! That’s the root problem. There is no obvious home for them. 

Your turn: become the mom that gets places on time

Ok, so I’ve found the root cause of my problem. There’s no obvious home for my keys. Now that I’ve figured this out, I can create a real solution  – I’m going to attach a butterfly clip to my key ring, so that I can always hook my keys to the same place in my purse. I’ll try it out for a while and if I find there’s still some annoyance, then I’ll take another crack at root causes.

Above all, remember that we’re after progress, not perfection. On time or not, you’ve got this mom thing covered and you’re doing a phenomenal job. Smarties like you and I? We keep the ball rolling. 

***I’m curious – what time-waster did you decide to address during this exercise? Tell me what it is and what your solution will be. I’m eager to know how you plan to become the mom that gets places on time! And don’t forget that your response in the comments may inspire someone else. May our lovin’ energy lift each other up. go mama! 

blue butterflies - magical as these time-saving techniques

3 Magical Time-Saving Techniques

Would you like to learn three magical time-saving techniques that really work? I hope so, because today’s post has some of the most important wisdom on saving time that I could share with you.

One of my favorite work experiences was becoming a Green Belt in Lean while working in a state government position. The time-saving skills I learned were eye-opening and if I get right down to it, they’re half the reason I started this blog: I want you to have more time in your life. You see, my vision is a world of daughters who grow up into women who love themselves. And who better to show them how to do that than their mothers? Mothers who have time to focus on self-care?

Background

To give credit where credit is due, “Lean” is a philosophy and methodology often attributed to the Japanese company Toyota. It comes with all sorts of japenese terms and methods that work, but they can also be hard to remember. The other thing is, there are loads of other people who have developed quite similar methods for saving time. 

What you’re going to get in this and other blog posts are tactics used by all kinds of people and families and companies, boiled down in a way that works for a busy mama like yourself. After all, you’re not a government worker or a car factory employee. And even if you are, any concepts we pull into our home to save time should feel good, flexible, open. 

Technique No. 1: Mindset Shift

Here is a mindset shift that can change your life because it will completely change your approach to problems and people: It’s our systems that make life hard, never ourselves or those around us. 

It’s our systems that make life hard, never ourselves or those around us. 

-Ashley Fisher, www.gomama.love blogger

It can be so, so, so tempting to get frustrated with things going wrong (or time being wasted) and furiously labeling someone that you actually quite like as the culprit. (If only they would try harder, and be more organized, your life would be easier). (Or maybe the culprit is you and you’re snapping at yourself again?)

The thing is – and I promise this is true 98% of the time – you and everyone you love are victims of your own design. We move in these systems that are riddled with flaws that do things like cause car keys to be lost and dinner to be later than you meant and everyone to get out the door 10 minutes late. And because we don’t realize the systems are the problem, our annoyances turn into real live arguments and finger pointing that hurt ourselves and the people around us. 

The beauty of knowing this is that you can completely shift how you approach frustrations at home or work. If everyone can get behind the idea that problems are not caused by people, but by systems, then we can get to the business of fixing them. All egos and relationships remain intact. 

Technique No. 2: Identify a problem, then pause. 

Ending wasted time habits is kind of like kissing your kid’s scratched knee. Just like how the kiss magically makes everything better, there’s something underneath the surface of your wasted time that needs to be addressed. Putting a band-aid on it just isn’t enough, you’ve got to lean in to the heart of the matter. 

When it comes to saving time, the root cause of what’s bothering you is where you need to focus. In other words – and this is super important – you have to suspend your brain’s amazing ability to problem solve. Because your brain is most likely to create a band-aid instead of a magic kiss. When you identify a problem that needs fixing – pause. 

Lesson No. 3: Ask “why” as many times as it takes

To get at the root cause, it helps to ask yourself “why” a number of times. This forces your mind to problem solve in a permanent way. I’ll give you an example. 

The dreaded clothes pile

I used to take 15 or 20 minutes cleaning up a pile of clothes in my room every week. And no matter how many times I renewed my resolve to put away clothes when I changed, it somehow fell to pieces. Finally, I started asking myself “why.” 

Q: Why do my clothes pile up on the floor?

A: Because I change when I come home from work. 

Q: Why do I change when I come home?

A: Because I want to be more comfortable, so I put on jeans and a t-shirt. And my work clothes get dropped on the floor.

Q: Why? 

A: Because I’m usually in a rush to get to my next activity, and the laundry basket is over in the closet. 

Aha!!! There it is. The laundry basket is not where I physically change, and I’m in a rush to get somewhere else. 

So, after finding the underlying issue, I re-organized my room so that I am forced to change clothes next to my laundry basket. I have those 15 minutes back every week now, and my room looks a lot better. 

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn to use these 3 magical time-saving techniques to fix something in your house that’s bugging you. Something that wastes your time. Remember: It’s the process and not people that have caused the problem. Don’t try to solve your issue right out the gate, or you could end up with a band-aid that doesn’t work all that well. Finally, ask yourself “why” until you reach an “Aha!” moment. You’ll probably come up with a solution you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. You’ll probably save some time! 

***I’m curious – what time-waster in your house are going to take a look at, now that you’ve got these three magical time-saving techniques? Write it down in the comments. Because even though it might feel small, making a comment is an action. And action creates more action. go mama! 

horse and rider on watery beach inspiration - your reflection can change your life

Your reflection can change your life

I know we haven’t met yet, but I bet I could name five things about you that are totally amazing. Sure, it’s a little unconventional to compliment someone you’ve never met, but let’s admit it – we could always do with a little more love in our lives! But here’s the deal: If I get any of these right, then you agree to say them to yourself for a whole week whenever you look in the mirror. Why? Because your reflection can change your life. 

If you say loving things to yourself in the mirror often enough, you’ll start to believe them, and belief in oneself has the power to change worlds.

Do you want to change your life?  

Do you accept the challenge? 

Five Amazing things that make you shine

Here are five things that make you shine: 

  1. You have an amazing laugh that makes other people smile.
  2. You notice things that others don’t.
  3. You are smart.
  4. You are resilient – it doesn’t matter what comes your way: you figure it out.
  5. You love deeply. Your love has changed people’s lives (and your own) for the better. 

How’d I do? Did I get any right? I hope you’re nodding. I hope you’re remembering these truths about yourself. 

Why complimenting yourself matters

I was reminded recently about how easy it is for women to lose sight of what’s real and good about themselves. There are so many of us who struggle to name five or ten positive things about ourselves. At some point in our lives, we direct criticism inwards. Eventually, we start to believe that criticism. Eventually, we forget the light that we are. 

I know, I’ve been there. I’m still there, sometimes. That inner critic is always lurking until I shine a light in her face and say that those thoughts don’t serve me anymore. The inner critic has no choice but to be quiet when I decide to speak differently to myself. 

Beautiful spirit, a huge part of loving ourselves involves speaking gently to ourselves. We must build ourselves up just as much as we build up our kids and those we love. This is even more important as mothers. We’ve become experts at being hard on ourselves, but to give our daughters the very best shot at operating differently, we must first change ourselves. If we can learn to love ourselves, we set our daughters up with a huge head start in doing the same. They learn first from us. 

We’ve become experts at being hard on ourselves, but to give our daughters the very best shot at operating differently, we must first change ourselves.

-Ashley Fisher www.gomama.love blogger

Motherhood and the Self Esteem Nosedive

Being easy on ourselves about how we mother is another great place to start, when it comes to self talk. Tell that mirror you’re an amazing mom, because you are!

Psychology Today has a nice article where counselor Megan MacCutcheon talks about self-esteem, and the toll that trying to do everything perfectly takes on women, especially when we become mothers. We fill so many roles, and we strive to be good at every one of them! We have this idea that not being “perfect” (whatever that is) means we’ve failed. 

Being a mom is actually an ideal place to start noticing self-talk that hurts our inner psyche and hearts. I say this because life is more in-your-face than ever before. So maybe we can notice our inner life a little different, too. Maybe now is the time to change. 

Your turn

I did win, right? Are you ready now to fill your end of the wager? (I know at least one of the compliments we started with were right. Hint: You have an amazing laugh. You’re resilient and smart. Your love changes people’s lives.)

Actually, the way I see it, there are only winners on this one. I wouldn’t set you up to fail. 😉

Your reflection can change your life, starting now. Every time you see your face in a mirror, look into your eyes and say kind things to yourself. Tell yourself what a good job you just did getting everyone to school and work. Tell yourself how strong and independent and smart you are. Tell yourself how great your laughter is. Tell that woman in the mirror that you love her. She needs to hear it. She’s probably been waiting to hear it for a long time. 

***I’m curious, what’s something you love about yourself? What will you tell your reflection, and are you ready for those words to change your life? Write it in the comments. May our loving, positive energy lift each other up. go mama!