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! 

tasty breakfast pic to inspire batch breakfasts

55+ tasty, speedy breakfast ideas

Dear readers, dear friends – one thing you should know about me is that I put my money where my mouth is. The speed-up-your-routine ideas I provide are only on this blog because I’ve tried them, they actually work, and my life has been made better by them in some way. I want this for you, too. So today, I offer you 55+ tasty, speedy breakfast ideas.

How do breakfasts work in your house? We all know the importance of breakfast, but I bet most of us would raise our hands if we were sitting in a room and someone asked, “Who here struggles to find time to make a good breakfast?” 

And another question we’d probably raise our hands for: “Who here wishes they could enjoy their breakfasts a little more?” I don’t know about you, but the food I often grab to eat on the way to work hardly counts as something I’m enjoying. 

Today, I offer resources that will put some flavor back into your mornings and make it easier to get out the door. You heard that right, getting ready to leave the house will be faster. 

55+ tasty, speedy breakfast ideas

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, batch cooking is a huge time saver. You get lots of meals made at once, and you minimize the amount of dishes later in the week. Surprisingly, most batch breakfasts work really well as a freeze-then-thaw meal. So why not batch for breakfasts? The below blog links have over 55+ tasty, speedy breakfast ideas. One of these should strike your fancy!

Kristin Appenbrink on thekitchn.com has a great article with 30+ batch breakfast ideas. The range from carrot zucchini pancakes, egg muffins, frozen burritos, muesli or oatmeal with fruited yogurt mixes, and for a little fun – yogurt and fruit breakfast popsicles. All of the 30 meals look delicious and are worth a try! 

Kristine at Kristine’s Kitchen Blog has a fun article with some smoothie recipes as well as a breakdown of smoothie basics. You basically get the idea of what you need on hand for smoothies and the different flavor and nutrition directions you can take them. 

Or try this one by Julie from Julie’s Eats ‘n Treats. She’s put together over 25 crock pot recipes that are sure to be easy to throw together, tasty, and filling. 

New habits take time, but you’ve got this

As with anything, it takes a little time to start a new habit like how breakfast is handled. But we both know that it’s something worth doing. After all, if you can do it in a way that not only keeps you and your family feeling full, but saves you time?! That’s a win all around. And I can tell you from recent experience as I’ve made changes in my own kitchen, it gets easier and easier. 

And hey, know what else? In the end, if you pan out a hundred miles, the big picture is that you are doing an amazing job at being a mom. Be it cereal or casserole, the breakfast menu pales in comparison to this monumental thing you’re doing in raising humans who know they are loved. Well done. 

***I’m curious, what are your family’s favorite go-to breakfasts? What fills your bellies and tastes good, to boot? Please share in the comments! May our lovin’ energy inspire and lift each other up. go mama!

Pro Tips to Turbocharge Dinner

What do you love most about your evenings? If you’ve had a day at the office, are you getting some sweet time with your kiddos and/or getting dinner on the table? If you’re a stay at home mama, do you get a much needed break? Whatever your situation, I bet you are the heroine who gets at least half the dinner meals on the table each week. I bet you’d also love some pro tips to turbocharge dinner.

I enjoy cookin’ dinner. After working at a computer all day, it feels so good to feast my eyes on colorful vegetables and immerse my hands in interesting textures as I chop, rinse, and stir. But I’ll tell ya one thing – I do not love how long it takes to cook! Love doing it, but wish it could go faster. 

For today’s blog, I’ve done some scouring of the internet to bring you pro tips to turbocharge dinner. In other words – it’s time cooking dinner went faster! I’ll share a few of their ideas here and also give you links to the full articles. You should also check out this earlier post with 5 essential time saving tips for your kitchen.

Straight from the pros: turbocharge dinner

Sarah Crow at Eat This, Not That! recommends that we: 

  • Use “mise en place,” which is a french term that means “to put in place.” In other words, get everything ready, chopped, and prepped before you start cooking. Your meal will turn out better and feel less chaotic as it’s prepared.
  • Get some kitchen shears to make cutting faster
  • Make one-pan meals that roast meat and veggies together

In a bon appetite article with a sweetly playful voice, Christina Chaey suggests we:

  • Stock up on ingredients that feel fancy, but are super easy to cook. Ground lamb, anyone?
  • Consider the freezer our best friends. Use it for leftovers, for extra bags of tomato sauce, for extra bags of pre-prepped fresh herbs, for pre-sliced fancy bread that you can throw in the toaster. You get the idea. 
  • Cook grains in extra-large batches. The leftovers will inspire other meals during the week, and the grain part’s already done!

Taylor Isaac at CookSmarts has our backs with an article that talks about saving kitchen time on the cooking and cleaning side:

  • Keep a trash bowl or trash can near you. We waste precious time going back and forth to a trash can!
  • Prep dry ingredients first. This lets you re-use your measuring cups and spoons without washing in-between. 
  • Batch prepping = batch cleanup. (Notice a batch theme across these authors?!)  Batching makes meals big enough for leftovers, and means you’ll have less dishes to wash on those leftover nights. 

Let’s do this!!!

Well, there you have it! Straight from experts who have shortened their cooking time. I’m going to be intentional about employing some of these points in my own home, especially the “mise en place,” – aka prepping before starting to cook. We’ll see how it goes!

***I’m curious, what are your go-to tricks for making dinner quickly? What’s your turbocharge dinner secret? Make sure to write it in the comment box! Give this go mama community some inspiration – after all, we could all use a little more time in our lives! go mama!

How to say “no” with class

Hey there! We may have never met, but let me tell you something I know about you: you’re a class act. You probably show up every day determined to do your all, and let me tell you – whether you know it or not – it’s working.

Speaking of doing our all, that sometimes mean we let the things we most want to do slip to the wayside because we take on a lot. Saying no can be really hard to do – especially for women. We grow up being taught the importance of pleasing other people and it creates invisible chains on our time. Then, we become moms, and our time is precious in a way it never was before. But saying no?!? It’s hard!

Today, let’s talk about how to say “no” gently and well. In other words – learn how to say “no” with class! We can say no in ways that don’t hurt feelings and that honor ourselves and our needs. We can say no so that we make space to all the things we care most about. 

Three Ways to Say No with Class

Here are some suggestions that you can riff off of. I’ll follow up with an explanation of why they’re good!

  • “I’m flattered that you asked me. However, it won’t be possible for me to help out with X.” 
  • “Oh, that [insert activity] sounds wonderful. I’ve been feeling spread thin lately with everything going on and need to take a pass. I hope it goes really well and I’ll be thinking of you!”
  • “You know I value our friendship/this cause. Unfortunately, I can’t be there. As a rule, we keep Sunday afternoons for our immediate family to spend time together and get ready for the week.”

(More examples for saying “no,” can be found at this blog post by Marie Forleo. Her focus is primarily the business world, but the basic concepts still apply). Using her advice, we can see that all of the above points are great examples because they:

-preserve the dignity of the other person

-are kind

-are honest

-allow you to set your boundaries without apologizing for them, and

-don’t leave an opening for the person to push back

If for some reason the person does push back, take a firm stance and remember that you are a kind and loving person and it’s going to be okay. Say, “I’d rather not,” or, “I’m not able to, but thanks again for thinking of me.”

Remember Your Body Language

While you’re at it, keep in mind that your body language and tone are speaking even louder than your words! Keep your shoulders down and stand confidently. Make your voice drop at the end of a sentence instead of letting it rise. This keeps your statement a statement instead of some sort of iffy question that someone will try to poke holes through. 

Last – don’t for a second feel guilty about honoring yourself and your life and your needs. After all, in the end, whoever you are talking to also wants you to live your best life. You’re a class act. You do you!

***I’m curious, what activities in your life are you ready to say no to? And how will you say it next time the opportunity comes up? Tell me about it in the comment section. May our lovin’ energy inspire and lift each other up!  go mama!