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. For a little fun, I have a pop quiz to kick things off. Based on the title “How to move less to smile more,” 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 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!

Woman hiking on mountain. Live with no regrets.

The No. 1 Question to Make Sure You Live with No Regrets

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that I’m all about helping you to shrink the time it takes to do housework and general life routines. My goal is to help you enjoy your beautiful life to its fullest. But I also think it’s important to keep the big picture in mind. Do you prioritize the things that will fill your heart? The things you’ll remember? I know it can be easy to forget this in the business of mom life. So today I offer you a key question that will help you live with no regrets. 

The No. 1 Question Is….

“Will I regret missing this?”

That’s it. Simple question. Pivotal answer. 

This message keeps crossing my path, and I’m grateful for it.

Flashback: I’m 18 years old and listening to a speech during Freshman orientation. Obviously I’m very cool because I now have a dorm room and a roommate and my parents are in another state. The speaker says: “You’ll never remember the time you spent studying. You’ll never wish you studied more.” He was speaking to a room full of high achievers. Many were about to disappear into books for four years. We would occasionally spot them at the late-night coffee shop in the library basement or on a quick run for the Walla Walla-famous taco truck. Because of that speech, I spent my college years asking, “Will I regret missing this?” If the answer was yes, I opted for the adventure over studying. Those were good times. 🙂

Flash forward 14 years: I’m now a mom and there is no orientation for a thing like this. The dorm is now a house, the roommate a husband. Obviously I’m less cool but also more real and solid in myself. Half my brain is devoted to a tiny human at all times, and some days the to-do list goes on and on. But there is a world full of voices that sing the same song as that speaker. The ones that say, “live with no regrets. Remember your beautiful life.” These are good times.

One of these voices appeared in a great article on NBC News about the mental load of motherhood. One woman shared: “I always thought forward and asked myself the question, “Will I feel bad if I miss this [family event]?” If the answer was yes, I didn’t go. No one will remember the business meetings I missed, but my family will remember the precious moments I was there for! That no-regret policy became my North Star.” 

You can have fun AND keep your clean-house standards

Now, let me be clear that prioritizing memory-making over a spotless house isn’t about lowering your standards. “Lowering your standards” is darn hard to do and it doesn’t make anyone feel good! I believe there are ways to keep your standards while having as much fun as possible.

You can check out these 33 Ways to Spark More Free Time for some easy-to-implement ideas. Another recommended post is 3 Magical Time Saving Techniques, which will help you nail down the exact things that waste time in your unique home and life (the stuff that no one can figure out for you). All told, if you can shrink the time it takes to get the less-fun stuff done, you amplify play time. 

There’s always the nose scrunch…

I do sometimes wish that I could do that famous nose wiggle from I Dream of Jeannie. Cute little nose scrunch and BAM! The house is clean. If I ever figure it out, I promise I’ll share! In the meantime, give yourself a big “Hell yeah” for all that you do accomplish. You are strong and brave and creative. A force to be reckoned with! And because you deserve the very best life has to offer, I hope you look toward these next days and weeks with an eye toward what will be most fun. May you live with no regrets. The dishes will be there when you’re good and ready.  

***Brag time! Tell me about a time when you chose fun and family over the work calling at you. What memory did you make? I’d love to hear, so be sure to share a comment. Go mama!

Woman and baby in stroller, enjoying the day

How I made free time during 6 months as a single mom

It’s been a journey, writing weekly blog posts and incorporating what I’m learning into my life. What made this fall extra trying was that our second floor became a full-out renovation zone. My husband disappeared into our upstairs for days on end while I kept the wheels rolling for home life. This meant I had to learn how to make my own free time during 6 months as a single mom.

I’m not saying this to complain. Acting as a solo parent was how I contributed to our renovation. But I can say, holy cow do I have all the respect in the world for single mamas. Massive respect, also, for all you mamas out there who have a partner but carry the lionshare of the house tasks and child rearing. It’s never ending and thankless. You deserve standing ovations every. single. day.

Lessons from 6 months as a single mom

Without further ado, here are the top things that I learned in my “single mama” months as I sought to spend less time on house stuff so that I could squeeze in time for myself. 

  • Quitting time: 9:30ish became the time when I allowed myself to stop moving for the day and do something for me before bed. It is a boundary that continues to feel important.
  • Edge time: If I find I have a few minutes between things, I’ve started chipping away at a chore I know I’ll have to do later. Something as simple as unloading half the dishwasher before work means that I’ll have a faster time getting the kitchen cleaned that night. 
  • Batch cooking: I’ll say this one a thousand times, I’m sure. Batch cooking on Sundays has saved an hour or more of cooking and cleaning every night of the week. 
  • Your ONE thing: I decide what the most important task is. The thing that makes everything feel easier or better once it’s done. This helps keep smaller “task” distractions from eating up your time. It also helps me redifine “success” in this crazy life…I wrote a post on it that you can check out here
  • Bedtime schedule: Creating a routine that gets sweet child to bed on time is key. For us, getting dinner on the table by 6 practically guarantees lights out by 7:30. Ah, sweet silence! 
  • Schedule time to make time: Now that I look for invisible systems in my home that waste time, I see them everywhere. I quickly learned that unless I schedule time to actually make the changes, they don’t happen. If they don’t happen, then I miss out on time that I could be having more fun with my family or doing my own thing. 
  • Habits are killer: It is super hard to break habits, especially ones that started way before kids. To help stop myself in the middle of something that doesn’t serve a purpose, I’ve started trying to ask “does this serve me?” If the answer is no, it’s easier to drop it and move on. 
  • Online time: We all know the internet is a rabbit hole. By shifting my internet habits in small ways, I have managed to spend less time online. For instance, I don’t bargain hunt if I’ve found a company I trust and know my way around their website. I have unsubscribed from listservs so there are fewer emails in my inbox. Sometimes I set a timer to limit the time I spend online, including for activities like blogging or facebook. All this keeps me plugged in, but on my own terms. 
  • Savoring time: Over these last months, I have developed a gratitude for mindset for the time I do have with my husband and daughter. I have choir once a week and instead of Oh crap, I’ve got only seven minutes for dinner! It has shifted to Ah! I have seven minutes to enjoy myself. That simple and genuine shift allows me to be more present and really enjoy myself, even in small bursts. 
  • The sanity clause: Elbows up, mama! Don’t overbook. Trust your gut. Say no graciously and firmly. Ask your partner to say no or back out of things if the sanity clause means that your relationship will be in a better place or his/her presence will allow you to get more alone time. 
  • Loving the life I’ve got: This is a perspective on time in the larger sense.You probably get it when I say that I often feel like I need to have, do, and be more in order to feel successful. Having kids puts a huge speed bump in that race…maybe for the better, if I let my heart do the talking. I know I’m going to miss these days. I’m going to want them back. So maybe my rhythm is slower for a while. Maybe I don’t travel much or go out much. Loving this life just as it is right now is the brand of “success” that I’m learning to run with.

There you have it! The quick-hits list of how I’ve learned to save time and appreciate time over the past months – my keys to making free time during 6 months as a single mom. All of these bullets cover (like I said) a very intense time for my family. Renovations, my husband’s band and shows, my choir, full time work, raising a child… it hasn’t been all roses. It’s been messy and beautiful and a journey. 

Thank you for the enormous love you give your family <3

The way I see it, if you have time to love yourself, then your children have a real good head start in becoming adults who love their lives. I hope the lessons learned in my “single mom” months can somehow help you shift into a place where you have more space for your own beautiful self care.

In case anyone hasn’t said it yet today, thank you for all you do. Thank you for keeping the wheels on the tracks in your house, day in and day out. Thank you for the massive care and energy you put into your family. This world hums and thrives because of you and all the souls who cook and clean and watch over, making home for us all. Namaste.

***Go Mama Love is off and running! If this article spoke to you, please share it on Facebook and “like” my Facebook page “Moms with Time.” Your support in this way means the world to me.

Dresses on a clothesline - Moms can get it all done with a little guilt-free help :)

A happier way to “get it all done.”

I joined a couple of online mom groups last month. Through other mom posts, I realized how common it is to feel like it’s a personal failing if we can’t get it all done. Today I explore that idea – I consider why we shouldn’t feel that way. Second, I explore how to release that sense of guilt around getting help. (P.s. if you’re on a budget, we’re in the same boat and I’ve got you covered!). 

Why you shouldn’t feel guilty if you can’t “get it all done”

Congratulations, mama bear! A fabulous, holy, heart-filling, hugely time-intensive human being has landed in your life. For the perhaps the first time ever, you can take a big breath and revel in the fact that you get to move through your days without the “perfection” mindset that you maybe used to have. After all, something done is better than nothing done. You have every reason not to be hard on yourself for an unfinished to-do list. 

An article in Verywell Family points to data that moms with toddlers can be interrupted 210 times a day to attend their toddler’s needs. According to researcher Gloria Mark, who studies digitial distraction at the University of California, Irvine, it takes just over 23 minutes to regain your focus after a distraction. However, unlike the workplace, attending to a child can lead all over the place and easily go beyond 23 minutes.

No wonder moms struggle to do it all! You are losing time and focus because a child needs you. There is no shame in that. In the end, I hope this knowledge gives you some peace and a reason to be easier on yourself. No one can “get it all done” in a home full of interruptions. 

A new way to “get it all done”

If I have convinced you that you don’t need to carry the load of“getting it all done” on your own personal power, allow me to convince you of one more thing: that there are areas in your life where you can and should consider calling in help. 

Elizabeth Dunn, author of Happy Money, introduced me to this idea of intentionally buying time. She finds that people who spend money to buy themselves time or experiences are often happier than those who spend money on things. If you’re a parent, odds are that buying yourself time is what will allow you to have space for fulfilling experiences. 

Fortunately, even budget-strapped people can find ways to creatively buy time. Consider: regardless if what the going rate is, there are probably neighborhood kids who would babysit, mow the lawn, or weed the garden at a price that works for both of you. There are of course professional companies that can also come in and do yard, cooking, or housework, for a higher price and expert service. And if you really want to get creative, perhaps you could barter with a friendly neighbor: one hour with your kids gets them a jar of your blueberry kombucha. You get the idea…there are ways to buy yourself time on any budget. 

As a child, my husband’s family lived off one salary; his dad was in the early years of building a name for himself as a Milwaukee historian, and his mom stayed home with the kids. You can imagine how tight their finances must have been, and how his mom probably needed more breaks than she was getting. Cash strapped as they were, they managed to hire house cleaners once or twice a month. It gave his mom a little less to do, and helped keep the peace in their home. 

How to Not feel Guilty about buying time

When it comes down to it, buying time takes intention. First, you have to decide that the status quo in your house has to go: it’s time to buy time. Second, choose to feel good about this choice. This is a case where money (or maybe a little creative bartering) really can buy happiness. 

In a great article called “Why You Feel Guilty When You Spend Money and How to Stop,” Dani Pascarella writes, “A big reason why people feel guilty about spending money is they fear that it could be going towards something better or more important.” She says the solution to this problem is creating a budget where some of your money is set aside to spend on whatever the heck you want. This is guilt-free spending with your happy self waiting on the other side, so get on it! 

When it comes down to it, just about everything you do at home could be outsourced in some way. So consider what you like doing least – maybe that’s a good place to start buying time. Or consider the tasks you don’t mind, but do most often… that could be a great place to bring in help and free some time.

You are incredible

I’m not sure how any of us comes to the conclusion that we have to do it all, and do it alone. But if you find yourself in that boat, take a step back and congratulate yourself for all you’ve done. You are incredible. Then, take a moment to acknowledge that your heart and happiness are worth letting some of that stress and responsibility go. Start looking forward to that breathing room you’re about to buy. 

******

I’m curious – which household activity are you most excited to hand off in some way? Write it down here in the comments! Your comment is a commitment to making this change, and it may just inspire another mom to do the same for herself. May our lovin’ energy inspire and cheer each other on. Go mama!

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!

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

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!