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! 

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