Road to Minimalism: Creating the Perfect Stay-at-Home-Mom Wardrobe

Practicing Mindfulness and Minimalism to create the perfect Stay-at-Home-Mom Wardrobe!
Mom Improvement Presents: Road to Minimalism: Creating the Perfect Stay-at-Home-Mom Wardrobe

The Road to Minimalism

Every once in a while, I’m going to write about de-cluttering.  I’m calling it “The Road to Minimalism”.  This is because I hope to achieve a minimal amount of belongings by the end of my journey.  I don’t think I’ll ever be someone who could count all my possessions on one hand or anything like that.  I would never try to convince you to live like that, either!  But my personal feelings about ownership have been shifting lately.  Maybe you share some of my feelings?

My new motto, inspired by my journey towards mindfulness and minimalism!
Have nothing in your home that you don’t know to be useful or believe to be beautiful!

Mindfulness and Messes

A great source of stress (for anyone) is clutter.  When stuff is everywhere, we tend to feel a little claustrophobic, no?  Plus, I realized that I would rather have a few nice things than a bunch of crappy, cheap things I don’t really like or use!

I decided to start with my wardrobe because it seemed like a practical, essential place to start.  If I had a small amount of nice clothes, that went together, that I also liked to wear… well, that would be perfect!

Creating the Perfect Stay-at-Home-Mom Wardrobe

I am not fashionable.  Not one bit.  My shopping habits can be described as “erratic”, “random”, and “quirky”.  I tend to just choose single pieces that I like, and assume they will incorporate in with the rest of my wardrobe.  SPOILER ALERT: More often than not, they do not!  And especially after a friend of mine started selling LuLaRoe, my wardrobe became full of things that couldn’t possibly be paired together, because they were unique or crazy prints.

So, time to purge… and wait quite some time before I start replacing.

My Main Methods and Philosophies

There are a lot of articles out there already about how to create a “capsule” wardrobe.  I think this method is a little different than the usual ones.  How?  It’ll be slower.  I’ll be honest, I don’t have the money to buy a bunch of new clothes, so if you’re in that boat, too, try my plan!  The goal is to figure out what we already have.  And figure out how to put those things together in as many different combinations as possible.  So here is the basic plan for creating our perfect Stay-at-Home-Mom Wardrobe:

  1. Go through your wardrobe once each season.
  2. Pick things you know you’re never going to wear again.
  3. Sell them on ebay if they are in good condition
  4. Or donate them*
  5. If you can fit it into your budget, GYPO (see below) can help us figure out as many combinations for outfits as possible
  6. Keep track of what you wear and how often.
  7. At the end of this season, purge yet again, removing the items that just didn’t get used.
  8. Depending on the balance in my paypal account after my ebay sales, I may be able to invest in some new pieces… but that remains to be seen!
Creating the perfect Stay-at-Home-Mom Wardrobe with minimalism and mindfulness!
A well-ordered closet!

Getting Started: Stay-at-Home-Mom Wardrobe Style

To make outfit planning easier, create a “hanger system” in your closet.  I moved all the summer clothes, dresses, and everything else to the back of my closet (I have a walk-in).  If you don’t have enough room to do this, put everything you don’t need away somewhere.  Then put everything you want to incorporate into your seasonal wardrobe on hangers.  We want to see it all together.

Start Removing!

You know what you don’t need anymore.  Get it outta there and decide what to do with it!

*My neighborhood participates in this awesome local recycling program called “Simple Recycling”.  We can leave out bags of clothes and other household things and they get collected right along with our recycling every other week!  It’s a great way to get things out of the house.  If you need suggestions on where to give your stuff, this is a great article.

Creating the perfect Stay-at-Home-Mom Wardrobe... with a LOT of help from an expert!
Photo Credit: Get Your Pretty On

Get Your Pretty On: *Affiliate Link*

Even with all my clothes laid out in front of me, I am not good at putting together outfits.  I need help.  So, I turned to “Get Your Pretty On”.

It’s a pretty awesome “Style Challenge”, created by this adorable woman named Allison.  I loved getting an email every night telling me what I was going to wear the next day- and I didn’t even buy anything, I adapted every outfit suggestion with stuff I already had in my closet, so it was a major savings.  Plus, I put a lot of my clothes together in a way that I never have before!

This is what you get when you sign up:

  • A capsule wardrobe shopping list (you’re free to shop where you want and spend as much or as little as you want; I spent nothing!).
  • Links to shop for recommended items online or in store.
  • A daily outfit idea- created from pieces on the shopping list- sent to your inbox, so you know exactly what to wear every day.
  • Plus, a beautiful, printable outfit guide so you can see all the outfits in one place!

If you are interested…

This is the GYPO website so you can check it out.

And here’s my affiliate link if you decide to buy: The Stay-at-Home-Mom Capsule Wardrobe is $29.  I know that’s a little steep, but it came with so many wonderful outfit suggestions based on just a few pieces, and I already had most of them (or things similar enough) in my closet.

If you don’t think this is the right idea for you, I know that next month, Allison is releasing something called “The Big Book of Outfit Formulas”, and I think it’s only going to be $29.  For a big book full of outfit ideas.  Yes, please!  I can’t wait to get it.  I think it will be the perfect way to look for inspiration in the pile of “blah” that I feel like I have going on right now.

Also, GYPO does a capsule wardrobe for each season of the year, as well as a yearly subscription that comes with access to all the seasons.  If you’re in the market for something like that, I definitely recommend it!  She sends awesome weekly emails with outfit inspirations, and she has a fantastic eye for how clothes go together.

Putting together outfits is just not one of my skill sets, so I am so glad I decided to get some help.  I genuinely feel like I am using my current wardrobe so much more effectively, and it’s way, way easier to get dressed in the morning.

Look for Other Resources

Don’t worry if you don’t want to spend for a program like that!  Pinterest is chock full of wardrobe boards and outfit pins (you can check out mine here).  Or, call a friend who dresses well!  People love to share their knowledge.  Maybe she can come over sometime after the kiddos are asleep and help you go through what you have.  Sometimes a fresh eye can help you see things differently!

Creating the Perfect Stay-at-Home-Mom Wardrobe using Minimalism and Mindfulness, plus some well-organized hangers!
A hanger system helps me track what I’m wearing how often!

Use Your Hangers to Help You Keep Track

If I wear something multiple times, it is getting moved to the very front of my closet.  Things I’m not wearing are getting rotated to the back.  You could also take a selfie of your outfit to help you remember what you’re wearing.  Figure out a way to keep track of your most “popular” items- these are the things that are getting heavy rotation!  For sure you will want to keep these clothes and maybe find other ones like them in different colors/cuts.

It’s really up to you how you want to keep track of this.  Using a Pinterest Board, a Polyvore account, or just a list on paper.  Just try to track 2 things- what you’re wearing a lot of (like blouses, t-shirts or black pants), and what you would like to look for in the future to help you make more outifts.  For me right now, I am jonesing for a good pair of brown riding boots!

Start Price Shopping

I’m not going to do any buying until the end of the season, because I want to really get the most out of what I already have before I add more (remember the minimalism thing?).  I’m going to start making clothes-shopping decisions at least a week-long process.  This will just help me make sure that I really want that item.  If I’m still thinking about it a whole week later, then I’ll start looking for it.

I want to keep an eye out for things that will last me a long time, too.  If I find something at a higher price tag that’s going to give me a few years of good wear (like a good, high-quality pair of winter boots), then I’m definitely going to factor that into my clothes-buying budget.  I won’t know how much I’m going to be able to spend until I’ve sold all my ebay listings.  I’ll let you know when I figure it out!

Great New Year’s Project

If you’re looking for a New Year’s Resolution, this could be a great one!  A cleaned-out closet, a carefully-planned Stay-at-Home-Mom Wardrobe… Happy New Year to YOU!

Best FREE Meditation App for iPad (4 of them!)

Taking time out of your day to practice mindfulness can seem daunting, but a FREE Meditation App can really help!
Mom Improvement Presents: Best FREE Meditation App for iPad (4 of them!)

Taking Time for Meditation

I started meditating, off-and-on, about two years ago.  My anxiety was getting difficult to control and I was having trouble falling asleep.  Using a Meditation App was a great way for me to get started without feeling silly or like I was doing it “wrong”.

Just to clarify, I’m not using meditation to fall asleep.  I’m using it to quiet my mind.  It’s a good way to practice mindfulness.  At night, my brain is often in overdrive.  Sometimes I struggle with controlling negative, unhappy and anxious thoughts.

These are the best meditation apps I have found (I use them on my iPad but I will indicate whether they are available only on iOS or also for Android).  If you want to try them, you can click on the title of the app and it will take you to the apple store so you can download!  (These are NOT affiliate links, I’m just recommending them because I use them and like them).

Best Meditation App to Use to Learn:

4 Great FREE Meditation apps for iPad!
Photo Credit: Headspace Available only for iOS

Headspace

This is the first meditation app I tried.  It is phenomenal.  The beginner’s series is the perfect place to start if you’ve never meditated before.  It consists of 10 guided meditations that are the perfect building blocks.  These meditations are free, and you can listen to them as many times as you want.

The only downside is, if you want to continue your meditation journey, this app gets very expensive, very quickly.  After the first 10 free meditations, you have to subscribe to either a monthly or yearly plan.

The upside to a subscription is that you gain access to an extraordinary library of meditations on lots of subjects.  I subscribed to this app briefly and continued the beginner’s meditation series.  But eventually, I decided I didn’t want to have to pay for the content, no matter how good it was.  It was a monthly expense that I couldn’t justify with our tight budget.

  • Upsides: great for beginners who don’t know where to start.  High quality content and easy-to-use interface.
  • Downsides: content is not as “customizable” as some of the other apps (no timers, varying lengths, etc.), expensive after free content is completed.

Best App for Specific Guided Meditations

4 Great FREE Meditation apps
photo credit: breethe
available for iOS and Android

breethe

breethe is another terrific Meditation App.  It also includes a 7-day “Getting Started” series, which is very good.

Another great thing about breethe is that many meditations come in a few different lengths- for example, 12, 14, or 20 minutes.  This is really convenient if you want to include it in a specific part of your day- naptime, right when you wake up, etc.

While you meditate, the app has absolutely gorgeous landscapes you can look at on your screen.  The recordings are super high-quality.  The amount of free content is slightly limited, and the subscriptions are wildly expensive, but every meditation I have tried has been stellar.  A great variety of lengths and content.

This is a terrific app for people who enjoy meditation and want to continue with some guidance, as well as try meditating on a few different subjects.

  • Upsides: Varying lengths of meditations, great sound quality, beautiful graphics, variety of topics.  Good for beginning-intermediate meditating.
  • Downsides: VERY expensive to access paid content.

Best “Quickie” Meditation App:

Great FREE Meditation App (4 of them!)
Photo Credit: Aura
Available for iOS and Android

Aura

Aura is a decent Meditation App, but it does not compare to Headspace or breethe.  I don’t know this for sure, but I suspect that people can upload their own recordings of meditations to the app.  I say this because the sound quality between the different meditations varies from good to not-so-good.

The free material consists of a daily 3-minute-long meditation (I am doing the “learn mindfulness” series right now).  However, if you want a break from your “scheduled” meditation, you can click the “I’m feeling” button, and the app will select a different meditation for you based on the feeling you choose.

Great FREE Meditation App (4 of them!)
“I’m Feeling…”

I tried this once when I was feeling particularly anxious, and the meditation I was given was perfect to help me feel better.  Another time, I tried the same thing and the meditation that played was totally useless, so it seems to be a bit of luck of the draw.

Great FREE Meditation App (4 of them!)
“How Are You Feeling?”

I love using Aura when I want to do a quick meditation.  The 3-minute length is do-able no matter how tired I am or how crappy my day has been.

Added Bonus: Gratitude Journal

I also love it because I am able to keep a “gratitude journal”; a section of the app on which I can record what I am grateful for that day.  It has been really valuable for me.

What I’m not as thrilled with is the opportunity to “respond” to a meditation after I’ve taken it.  It feels a little too much like homework.  There is a “Community” element to the Aura app that I have not explored at all.

  • Upsides: Great for busy people who want to take a quick breather in their busy day, easy to use, gratitude journal.
  • Downsides: “Busy work” meditation responses, sometimes very poor sound quality, random element of the “I’m Feeling” library.  
  • Unknown Upside or Downside: Ability to connect with the community of users.  Could be great, could be not-so-great.

Best App for Unguided Meditations

Great FREE Meditation App (4 of them!)
Photo Credit: Relax Meditation
Available for iOS and Android

Relax Meditation

This Meditation App has an awesome ambient sounds library.  There is also a library of guided meditations.  I will freely admit, I haven’t explored much of it.

This app was a little frustrating at first, because the first time I opened it, it immediately launched into the “Introduction to Meditation” program.  I had no idea how to change what I was listening to, or how to work any of the customizable options for sounds, etc.  I was instantly totally overwhelmed.

Luckily, after listening to the first guided meditation, I was able to access the rest of the app content and figure out how to work everything.

If you don’t like guided meditations but have trouble focusing on your thoughts, I think the many different ambient sounds could be really helpful for you.  You could listen to the sounds and make that part of your meditation.   Or try focusing on your own breath and use the sounds to “drown out” any distracting noises.  Honestly, you can just use the ambient sounds to help you fall asleep after you’ve meditated!

  • Upsides: Fantastic library of free ambient sounds, another good app for beginners who have never tried meditating.  Also good for more advanced users looking for a new experience.
  • Downsides: Could be initially overwhelming until the interface is mastered, meditations feel long and could be boring for more experienced users.

What is Your Biggest Obstacle?

What prevents you from practicing daily mindfulness, meditation, or gratitude?  My anxiety can spiral out of control quite easily, and meditating is something that has really helped me stay on top of a healthy mind and attitude.  Write to me and tell me what’s holding you back, or if you decide to try one of these apps, let me know which ones!

Easy DIY Linen Cabinet Re-Organization

The Before/After of a successful easy DIY Re-Organization project!
Mom Improvement Presents: Easy DIY Linen Cabinet Re-Organization

My Linen Cabinet… is a disaster!

Easy DIY Clean Out the Linen Cabinet- follow along!
The “Before” shot!

For a few weeks now, my linen cabinet has been… a total and complete disaster.  I recently had to move a bunch of “grown-up items” to the upper shelf of the linen cabinet after I caught my son using my husband’s deodorant on his teeth.  ??????  I have no idea why, and he certainly couldn’t explain himself!

Add to that a load of laundry that I didn’t have time to put away (so I just shoved it into the linen cabinet), plus some sloppy sheet-and-towel-folding and miscellaneous trash = a complete embarrassment!

Easy DIY Linen Cabinet Re-Organization

If your linen cabinet is in good shape, pick another closet or cabinet that needs some work, and follow along!  We have only two objectives for this mission: a quick and clean project, spending minimal time and money!  The only thing we really need to focus on is creating lasting solutions for easy storage, so that we can maintain our beautiful hard work once it’s done!

Easy DIY Linen Cabinet Re-Organization: Problem Solving!
Problem Solving:

We don’t have a linen cabinet, closet or shelving of any kind in our downstairs bathroom.  So this linen cabinet has to store ALL our sheets and towels.

I want to continue to store a few adult items on that upper shelf.  Deodorant, my husband’s electric razor, toothpaste, etc.  It is the safest, easiest place to keep those things.  I want them to be out of the reach of the kids, but I also don’t want to store them down below the sink.  Toothpaste near plumbing and toilet cleaner is asking for trouble!

I wanted this to be an Easy DIY Linen Cabinet Re-Organization!  Including a better, easier way to fold and store sheets, towels and wash cloths so that I could find them and stop mixing up the different types and sets.

Take a second to set your objectives for your re-organization project.  Ask yourself these easy questions:

  1. What do I need to keep in here?
  2. Am I having problems keeping it organized?  Why?
  3. How can I solve those problems?

The Solution:

Easy DIY Linen Cabinet Re-Organization (or another closet you want to re-organize) will have a few basic materials.  These may differ based on what you need.

  • A pencil or sharpie (to mark your paper for cutting)
  • A couple of small boxes
  • optional: A roll of Con-Tact paper, or something similar (I chose this one– I got it at Target for $5.99).

Getting Started:

This will be the most helpful step in the Easy DIY Linen Cabinet Re-Organization.  Pull everything out!  Are there things that don’t belong?  In our cabinet, I found my son’s R2-D2 figurine… Separate the things that don’t need to go back in.  Then put them away where they belong.

Are there things that need to be washed?  I switched out my dirty towels for clean ones, and put the laundry in the laundry room.

Clear your work space as needed.  I folded everything nicely and stowed it away so that I wouldn’t trip over it while I worked.

Replace If Necessary…

I pulled out the old Con-Tact paper that was lining the cabinet.  If you have perfectly good paper in your cabinet, there’s no need to replace it, you can just wipe it clean with a damp cloth.

My paper was peeling off and didn’t look good anymore; most of the cause of this problem is, unfortunately, the type of shelf we have in that cabinet.  The easiest solution to this problem would have been to simply pull out the shelf and replace it.

If you need to replace a shelf or shelves, I would recommend looking at IKEA, they have some amazing closet/storage/shelving solutions for very reasonable prices.

Easy DIY Linen Cabinet Re-Organization
The old contact paper- peeling away and looking shabby!

A New, Fresh Look!

This was my favorite part of the whole project, and the thing that really qualified it, in my head, as an Easy DIY project.  After a good scrubbing of the shelves with a multi-purpose cleaner (I use this one), I replaced the Con-Tact paper.  Then, in a stroke of genius, I wrapped the two small cardboard boxes in the Con-Tact paper as well.  I realized this would make the cabinet look like it had a “theme”, as well as dress up the boxes just enough!

Why boxes?

I wanted to re-use.  We get a lot of cardboard boxes because we get so many products delivered from Amazon.  I like to try to use them all around the house in different ways.  Plus, it was free!

Final Touches

The last problem I had to solve was how to organize my linens.  I have lots of linens that are only partial sets- missing the fitted sheet.  I wanted to figure out how to get them to look nicer on the shelf.  Well, there’s a reason why Martha Stewart is Martha Stewart.  A search on YouTube for the “best way to fold sheets” brings up this video, with her absolutely genius hack.  Just a warning, that video is mostly a commercial for her sheet sets, but it’s worth sitting through because of the advice!

Ta-Da!

The finished product:

Easy DIY Linen Cabinet Re-Organization: the finished product!
All Done! So much better!

Some of the towels were still in the laundry when I took this picture, but you get the idea!  There is now a place for everything.  Wash cloths go in the bigger box on the lower shelf.  Towels in the back, hand towels in front.  Up above, our beautiful, matched, folded and organized linens!  And a smaller box for our “adult items”.  This is going to be so easy to maintain!  I am so, so happy I did this.  It looks so much better and I feel so proud!

What are you going to organize?  Send me pictures of the before and after!

 

5-Minute Face Makeup Routine For Busy Moms

This awesomely easy 5-Minute Face is perfect for busy moms who love makeup!
Mom Improvement Presents: 5-Minute Face Routine

I love makeup.  I love playing with it, I love buying it, I love trying new looks and watching tutorials.  But having time to “make myself up” with two kids underfoot is pretty darn near impossible these days.  So I came up with a 5-Minute face routine that even I have time to do.  I hope it’ll help you, too!  Plus, most of these products that I use are super cheap!

Mindfulness and a 5-Minute Face:

I like to wear makeup because it makes me feel put together and more professional.  If I have makeup on, I am more productive that day, because I feel prepared to work.  This is entirely personal preference, but it also fits in with my mindfulness goals because I view doing my makeup as practicing self-care.  If you are like me, and you think makeup is fun, and you use it as an opportunity to treat yourself with kindness, then this is for you!

An important note before we start:

This post contains a couple affiliate links, so if you clicked on them, I would make a small commission (not paid by you, paid by the affiliate).  I promise, I am only telling you about products that I really like, and like to use, I would never recommend anything I wasn’t totally in love with!  Because I also recommend a few products in here that aren’t affiliate links, I am notating all my affiliate links with the $ sign, to be totally open and honest with you.

A 5-Minute Face requires the right preparation!

Before you start your 5-Minute Face, it is highly advisable to wash your face and use moisturizer*.  I’m not going to lecture you, but honestly, just putting makeup on your face won’t really help you much.  It’ll probably just sink into any fine lines or wrinkles or big pores.  Also, it probably won’t “conceal” anything or look very smooth or well-blended.  So, take two minutes, wash your face and moisturize.  While that’s setting on my face, I like to apply lip balm, such as Smith’s Rosebud Salve$.

Easy 5-Minute Face makeup routine for Busy Moms!
The Next Step: Foundation

The key, for me, to a 5-minute face routine, is a thin layer of mineral foundation*.  I like to use mineral foundation because it goes on very quickly!  I use a flat head kabuki brush (this is my favorite makeup brush of all time) to apply.

It evens out my skin tone and helps conceal redness, but it does not conceal my acne scars.  I am OK with that.  Mineral foundation is quite lightweight, so I can’t even feel it.  I don’t like to wear a lot of makeup anymore, I feel like I am too old (which is silly) but it’s true!

A super quick 5-Minute Face routine!
Next Step: Eyebrows and Eyeshadow

Next in my 5-Minute Face, I fill in my eyebrows with the powder from this eyebrow kit$.  I don’t do a full eyebrow routine**, which is very bad makeup etiquette!  Oh well!  #Momlife?

Then, I will sweep on some lightly shimmery eyeshadow with a flat eyeshadow brush.  From the inner corner of my eye all the way across the lid.

I have deep set eyes (see that link for definition**- make sure to scroll down), so I don’t like to put a dark eyeshadow color in my eye crease.  It makes me look older and more tired.  If you have a different eye shape (this video will help you figure out which one you have**), you can do a darker matte color or your bronzer in your crease instead, this will help define your eye shape and look very natural!

Quick and Easy 5-Minute Face Routine!
The Last Step: Mascara!

Mascara!  I love mascara.  If I felt I could get away with it, I would have a bare face and just use mascara and lip gloss.  After I have a coat of mascara on my lashes, I like to separate them with the wand because I like to look like I have a lot of eyelashes (without using fake ones!).

I am using this mascara right now, it was only $2 and I think it works wonderfully for being so cheap!  I am picky about mascara.  The last one I tried was by Rimmel London and it was absolutely horrendous.  So if you’re in need of a good, cheap mascara, give that one a shot- and that’s not an affiliate link!

So, that’s my look!  Foundation, eyebrows, eyeshadow and mascara!   A 5-minute face- I set a timer to make sure!  If you want me to clarify any of the steps or even just do a quick video, I can definitely do that if it would help!

A few final notes…

*A quick explanation of this asterisk; I used to be a Mary Kay consultant, so I’m still using a lot of the products.  I loved them, that’s why I sold them (obviously) but I feel that it would be unfair for me to try to recommend them to you, so I didn’t want to link to or promote them in any way.

** the blog and videos that I linked to above are from the absolutely amazing Sineady Cady of themakeupchair.  She is an incredible author and vlogger and basically everything I know about makeup I have learned from watching her videos.  If you haven’t checked her out, I can’t recommend her highly enough.  She is a wealth of knowledge, and she has a gorgeous Irish accent, which is very soothing to listen to!

Try this out and then let me know if you like it!

 

40 Minute Focus Cleaning: How I Streamlined and De-Stressed My Cleaning Routine

Change your cleaning world and mindset with this 40-minute focus cleaning routine!
Mom Improvement Presents: 40-Minute Focus Cleaning

House Cleaning…

It’s a struggle, isn’t it?  Especially with little ones.  There are so many frustrations associated with cleaning, from finding the time to do it all the way to actually doing it.  I used to feel like such a failure because I would get so behind on my chores.  The entire house was so messy it made me feel depressed.  I would take hours to catch up on my cleaning… only to have my heart broken when it was messy again a few days later.

If this is how you feel, take heart.  First, remember how much you love your kids and how well you take care of them.  They are your priority right now, and you are absolutely allowed to fall behind on your cleaning.  There’s zero need to get down on yourself.  Give yourself a gentle hug, some kind words, and then we can get down to work.  I have a new system for you to try.  It has changed my world and my whole perspective on cleaning, and I hope it will do the same for you!

This focus cleaning schedule is changing my whole cleaning game plan!
One Step at a Time!

What Does Focus Cleaning Have to Do With Mindfulness?

There’s a simple reason why I call my system “focus cleaning”: because I’m focusing on cleaning!  Before I adopted this system, I was packing cleaning into stressful, frustrating periods of time.  For example, when I was getting ready to have friends over.  I was doing seven things at once: feeding the kids, making treats for guests, cleaning, doing laundry… that’s just not an effective system.  When I changed my methods and scheduled into my day a “focus cleaning session”, my mindset shifted so dramatically.  I focused on one cleaning task at a time, one room at a time, one day at a time.  That’s all mindfulness, baby!

Why Should You Switch to Focus Cleaning?

If you’re looking for ideas and inspirations for cleaning, I’m guessing it’s for a pretty simple reason.  You’re not happy with your system and you want to find a better way. Most likely, your chore list is long, and you try to tackle too many chores at once.  I understand. I will continue to push you in one direction, always, and that is the direction of a focused, intentional, habit-forming lifestyle. The key to changing your system may surprise you, but nonetheless, it’s true:

Spending hours on cleaning won't help you, but this new focus cleaning system will!
Clean Less, Not More!

40-Minute Focus Cleaning

Don’t get discouraged by the name.  This method can be adapted to any period of time, which is the beauty of it. I was inspired to create my routine after reading this post from I Heart Frugal. She created a genius system to clean your house in 25 minutes a day (check it out!).  I knew I could never be organized enough to clean effectively in just 25 minutes a day. But I wanted to clean a little bit, every day, and I didn’t want to clean for a whole hour. So I came up with my compromise: 40 minutes. I also figured I could sneak 40 minutes of cleaning time into most of my days without too much trouble. The time you choose can be more, or less, based on the size of your house, your daily routine, or how much time you want to spend each day cleaning!

Master Weekly Cleaning Tasks List
Click Here to See my Master List!

Start With Your Master List

If you click the picture above, you will see the list of weekly cleaning tasks I use for my house. Check Pinterest to find some really handy checklists and ideas if you aren’t sure what you should be cleaning on a regular basis.

You will notice, there’s a couple cleaning tasks on my master list that aren’t on my focus cleaning worksheet- that’s because they’re in my daily priority picker task list.  This allows me to sneak in a couple extra very short minutes of cleaning every day, which just helps to keep my system running smoothly.

Once I had my master list put together, I decided how long each task would take.  Then I grouped tasks together in a logical way. In general, the tasks for any given day occur on the same floor of my house. This allows me to smoothly transition from one room to the next.  Since I’m doing similar tasks in each room, I can gather all my cleaning supplies at the beginning of the session and have them right at hand when I need them.  Here is my Filled Out Focus Cleaning Schedule so you can see how I do it. But yours can, and might, look totally different from mine, based on your timing, the layout of your home, etc.

Cleaning is a challenge, but if you change your mindset, you can change everything! Check it out!
A nice, clean kitchen!

The Fantastic Upside to Focus Cleaning

Focus cleaning has made such a dramatic impact in my life. I feel so much more confident about my process.  I know what I need to do, and I don’t feel like I’m forgetting or neglecting anything. Even better that that are the results that you can see around my house!

Case in point, my kitchen: on my first day of focus cleaning, I didn’t finish wiping down all my appliances in the time allotted. I got my stove, dishwasher and coffee maker. That’s a key to this process: testing your timing (more about that in a second).  But, the next week, it didn’t take so long to wipe those appliances down, so I was able to move on.  I got The Kitchen Aid, the microwave, the fridge, too, all in ten minutes!  And now that I’m wiping them down on a regular basis, I can even take a few extra seconds to do some deep cleaning.  Like the hinges of the dishwasher, or use the special cleaning polish on my glass stovetop.

This is the great secret to cleaning that I was never able to appreciate or take advantage of before.  It gets easier and faster when you have a system in place. Because I clean the same things every week, they don’t have as much time to get dirty!

Clean less, not more! Change your mindset with a 40 minute focus cleaning routine!
Stick to your time limits!

Chart Your Progress and Look at Your Timing

Like every other goal we set or habit we track, this will be a process.  Especially if it’s a big change in how you are used to cleaning. I found it helpful to make myself a sticky note list for each day of the week, with each day’s tasks written on it. That way I could just carry the sticky note with me while I cleaned, and I could check off each task as I went along.  This meant I didn’t have to memorize my cleaning schedule or worry about forgetting anything.

In the beginning, I also kept track of how long it took me to complete each day’s tasks.  I thought it would be helpful to see if I was, week after week, ending certain days always having extra time, and other days not having enough time. This would have made it easier for me to switch around my task list so that the timing balanced out. Once I got used to my schedule, I am now able to complete all my tasks in my planned time frame.

However, if this isn’t the case for you, then don’t hesitate to change your plan. The point of a really good, effective focus cleaning schedule is to get all your weekly tasks done in as little time as possible. Don’t hesitate to change your strategy if a particular day is always giving you grief or you feel too rushed to get things as clean as you want them.  I made you a  Focus Cleaning Schedule if you need it, otherwise feel free to just use your planner, sticky notes, put something up on your fridge… make it convenient and easy for you to find and use!

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Pick Your Days

My focus cleaning schedule is formatted for 5 days a week.  But if you have a particularly long master list of chores, or much less time you can devote to cleaning each week, then you could consider making your schedule a six or seven day list, just to give yourself the extra chances to get things done. Conversely, if you have extra time in your cleaning schedule or you can get your tasks done more quickly than me, you may not need a full five days!

I Want To Hear From You!

Give this schedule a shot, and then leave me a comment or send me a message! Let me know how it’s going for you or if you need more help, guidance or additional worksheets or trackers!  I truly hope this is the beginning of a new mindset for you on cleaning!  Let me know what I can do to help with that!

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The Liebster Award!

Wow, this is so exciting! I'm nominating these awesome new blogs for a Liebster Award!
The Liebster Award: Discover New Blogs!

I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award!

I am so excited, I’ve only been live for a couple weeks and I was nominated for a new blogger award, called The Liebster Award!  First, a huge thank you to Jillian Hahn from Milk Drunk In Love for the nomination!  Make sure to head over to her site to check out her adorable little boys!

The Liebster Award “Rules”:

According to the official rules, I am supposed to tell you about my favorite blog.  That is very hard to choose!  If I have to choose just one, I would pick the blog that first inspired me and captured my attention years ago: Julie Powell’s blog “The Julie and Julia Project”.  You can still find and read most of the entries thanks to the awesome Internet Archive!  If you haven’t checked that site out, be prepared to spend hours scouring the amazing resources (and it’s all free!)

If you don’t know about the Julie and Julia Project, here is the basic lowdown: Julie Powell was a hobbyist cook who decided to cook her way through Mastering The Art Of French Cooking by the Great Julia Child.  No easy feat!  She got super famous and it spawned a huge writing career and a movie, etc.  The blog is perfect, everything I would want my own blog to be.  She has a signature writing style, tons of charming quirks (major theater nerd and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan), and she really knew how to describe cooking!  Her best passages are these beautiful, apt descriptions of flavors, ingredients and the frustrations and rewards of cooking and learning new cooking techniques.  I can only hope my blog develops that kind of style and uniqueness.  She’s a great, great writer.

Liebster Award Rules!
Liebster Blog Award Rules

“Rules” I am skipping:

According to the website The Global Aussie, where this award originated (I think), I am also supposed to give 10 random facts about myself and, after I nominate other blogs for this award, give them 11 questions to answer in their post!  The reason I am skipping these two things: 1) I do not have 10 random interesting facts about myself, not by a long shot, and 2) that seems like some unnecessary busy work!  We have enough to do trying to get our blogs off the ground without answering random questionnaires!

The Liebster Award
Liebster Award: My Nominees!

My Liebster Award Nominees:

Here are the blogs I have chosen to pass this award onto next:

This Mayberry Life: Danielle’s website looks like it’s going to be a fun mix of reviews, health and lifestyle posts, and parenting.  I like her easygoing writing style.  My favorite post of hers so far is titled “When Side Hustles and Surveys Don’t Work”- I really related!

Shutters and She Sheds: There are no posts yet, but I’m so curious about this site.  The premise behind it- a woman’s solution to a “Man Cave”… I am thinking I need one of those!  Her logo is drop dead gorgeous and it looks like she’s a photographer, too.  This one will be chock full of eye candy once it’s up and running!

Middle Class Muddle: This is going to be fascinating.  Madison lives with her family in the bay area in California- and having lived there myself for a very brief period, I can tell you that cost of living is INSANE.  This blog will be perfect for those in heavily urban areas trying to pinch some pennies!

The Nelly Bean: I love makeup.  This blog is great- tons of neat product reviews and fantastic photos!  Anybody looking for new ideas and product recommendations, stop by this one!

Brew and Bloom: Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.  Travel photos that will make your mouth water.  If you love to travel, this is the one to go to, I can’t wait to dig into all the posts and salivate over these beautiful pictures and travel stories!

Thank you so much again to Jillian for the nomination, and I really hope that I can continue to develop my blog and keep helping all you mommies out there!  Congratulations to my Liebster Award nominees, keep up the awesome work!  I’m super proud of all of us!

Liebster Award Nominees Congratulations!
Congratulations!

Re-Evaluating Your Goals and Maintaining a Positive Mindset!

If you're not hitting your goals, it may not be the goal that needs to change, but instead, your mindset and methods! The "Re-evaluating Your Goals" freebie can help!
Mom Improvement Presents: Re-Evaluating Your Goals

Re-Evaluating Your Goals

We’ve taken the last few posts to make some small improvements to your life. Your focus should still be your 28 Day Goal, and you should be giving yourself time each day to make that a priority. We also gave you the opportunity to set yourself some small daily priorities that give you some structure and balance.

After you’ve practiced those things for a few days, you should be re-evaluating and helping yourself to fix any problems. That’s what we’re going to work on today.  We will be re-evaluating the process and continuing to problem-solve to help yourself feel less stressed and more mindful! And I’ve made yet another freebie to help you do just that!

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What’s Going Well?

Take some time to be positive! Before you can get down on yourself, make sure to look at everything you’ve accomplished.

The top section of your worksheet gives you space for 10 good things. Fill in all ten spaces! You don’t need to dig deep here- even getting yourself dressed, making your daily coffee or tea, or feeding your children counts towards your successes! My most successful mindful moments are the times in which I take a few seconds to focus on life’s small happy moments. Did you share a good laugh with the kids? Take them on a fun outing? Play a fun game or play outside? Give yourself credit and praise for all your hard work. Errands, housework, play time, anything you did for yourself. It all counts for your list! Write them all down and then read it back to yourself and take some time to feel pride. This is a part of mindfulness, too!

 Keeping flexibility and re-assessing your goals is an important part of the process! This will help!

Keep revising your plan!

What Isn’t Working Quite Yet?

Be gentle and honest with yourself about what you still want to change. Start with your 28 Day Goal– how is it going?  How is your tracking? Do you need to change what time you work on your goal or for how long? Does your tracker need to move to a place where you will see it more readily and remind yourself to work on it? Take a few minutes to look at your progress, then brainstorm and problem-solve how to keep working towards it. Do you need more resources, ideas or help? Figure out what you need and where you can get it.

Now think about your daily time-block priorities. Do they need to change? Did you get them done? Do you need to re-configure the timing or change when and how you complete them? More research and brainstorming! And always remember the alternative: you can cut down your priority list to two things for each time block instead of three. If you have been feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, cut down on your work load. Take a look at what you’ve been doing and what you’ve been trying to do, and ask yourself that crucial question, “How can I help myself?” Those answers are the first and best place to start.

The only way to get where you want to be is to keep trying and doing your best!
Don’t Give Up! Keep Trying!

Patience and Perseverance May Be What’s Required

If you’ve been having some success, but you’re just not quite 100 percent yet, then your process of re-evaluating may not need to be particularly intense. If you think you’re on the right track and you just need more practice with mindfulness, that’s totally OK! You can give yourself time and patience! Sometimes creating habits is simply a matter of taking the time to do them consistently. Consistency will come with mindfulness and intention. If you’ve picked something you really want to do, but you’re having a hard time actually doing it, you may simply need to keep trying. If you don’t need more information, more support or reminders, then all that’s left is to breathe and focus.  Take the time in your day to do what you need to do!

The most helpful thing you can do is to practice as many days in a row as you possibly can. This will do 2 things- it will give you the pride of accomplishment and it will help you get adjusted to this new routine, which is the same as creating a habit. One of the worst excuses you can make is “I don’t have time”, because the truth is, if it’s something you care about, you will make the time. This is where an accountability partner or your partner/spouse/SO can help you. If you have someone with whom you’re checking in on a regular basis, then you might be more motivated to do your task.

Daily Self-Care Routines are often very effective if they include positive affirmations, belief in yourself!
Breathe and Focus on a Positive Message

Don’t Give Up; Create an Affirmation

Remember that your attitude can have a tremendous amount of power over your success. In addition to mindfulness, positivity is a huge component of a successful mindset. Give yourself a small “mantra” to say each day, either before or after you work on your goals. Giving yourself permission to change, to improve, to take time for yourself, can be very freeing. Especially if you are prone to guilt about taking for yourself when you have others to care for. I understand those feelings immensely.

But here’s what I also know to be true- something I talked about in my very first post- you will be a better mom if you are a happier mom. Constantly taking from yourself and giving to others will only lead to a deficit in your own personal satisfaction with life. Affirm your desire to create your best “self”, and then you can be your best self for others!  Affirmations can be anything; a positive word or phrase, an inspirational quote that you keep by your front door and read each day before you leave the house, the options are limitless.

What do you need from me?

My next question is very simple- what other ideas and suggestions do you want from me?  We’ve come this far together, we are working hard on small change, building consistency, and making time for self-care!  So, what’s next?  Leave me a comment to let me know what tools you are looking for.  More worksheets?  A podcast?  Posts about specific goal-setting obstacles and how to overcome them?  Let’s keep building momentum together!  And don’t forget to download the freebie!\

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Pick Your Priorities: De-clutter Your Daily Routine!

I'm so excited to practice mindfulness and find some new ways to re-priorities and achieve my goals!
Mom Improvement Presents: Pick Your Priorities: De-Clutter Your Daily Routine!

When I really started to “melt down” as a mom, I lost sight of something important.  I forgot that the key to an organized day is a basic routine.  Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t running amok or something, but with the exception of meals (kids have to eat at regular intervals or they get hangry), we never did anything regularly.  We didn’t have any structure.  I didn’t have any priorities!  As a result, the days felt impossibly long and boring.  There was way too much TV watching.  I didn’t schedule any play dates, or outings, because I was trying to save money.  I felt like the world’s crappiest mother because I had no idea what to do with myself (or the kids!).

Mindfulness

Give yourself the chance to take some time for yourself! Mindfulness can help!
Mindfulness

I’ve been in therapy for almost 4 years now!  My therapist has always stressed to me the importance of mindfulness.  I’m not an expert on that subject, but the basic definition of mindfulness, to me, is trying to focus on one thing at a time.  If you have multiple kids you are probably rolling your eyes right now.  I feel you, I really do.  Having more than one kid means you literally can’t ever focus on one thing at a time, because you have at least two things that always need your attention.

However, there are still ways to practice mindfulness, even with a bunch of kids running around.  Let me give you the best example I have- making a meal.  When I am in the kitchen, if I don’t force myself to slow down, I will try to do all these things at the same time:

  1. Make food for my kids and myself
  2. Empty or load the dishwasher
  3. Clean a sink, countertop or other kitchen item
  4. Put my coffee in the microwave to warm up (guess how many times I remembered to take it out of the microwave when it was done?  I will give you a hint, the answer has a zero in it).
  5. Etc., etc., etc.

Multi-tasking on top of multi-tasking isn’t helpful to you.  It’s probably not even good for you!  My mental state, my ability to remember things, and my ability to focus on the task at hand have increased by so much since I stopped trying to do everything at once.  There will still be times when you have to do more than one thing at once.  But reducing the situations in which you are forcing yourself to multi-task will bring you so much peace and reduce your stress level.  I guarantee it.

There are easy ways to meet your top daily tasks without extending the already over-extended to do list!
Top Priorities List

What are your top priorities?

To put it simply, for right now, your day is going to contain three priorities for each “time phase”.  Three priorities in the morning, three priorities in the afternoon, and three priorities in the evening.  We are not building a full daily routine yet.  That would be too much stress and too big of an undertaking.  We’re simply dividing your day into three basic time periods, and picking three things you want to do within those time periods.

How is this different from a 28 day goal?

The three things you choose should not be big goals.  They should not be big projects.  Ask yourself, “what three things do you want to get done between the hours of 7-noon, noon-5, and 5-bedtime?”  I have made you a freebie to build your list!

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What should I pick?

This is my filled out worksheet, to give you an idea of my three priorities for each time period.

As you can see, I am not doing anything strenuous or trying to shoehorn a big DIY project into my time periods.  I am picking three things that I would be doing anyway (well, OK, the yoga is the hardest one for me to fit into my schedule but I try to do it every day because it’s really good for mindfulness).  But here is why my days are so much more successful: I have basic priorities.  I have the things on my list that are going to keep my household running.  I also have a few simple “pick me ups” (I love coffee!) included to make me feel like I am taking time for myself each day.

Keep your day simple with a trimmed-down task list!
Simple is Beautiful!

Stick to the basics

When you are choosing your priorities, stick to the basics.  If you have trouble remembering to feed yourself because you’re busy feeding the kids, make it a priority.  It doesn’t need to be a gourmet meal.  If you’re not great about breakfast, make yourself have a small bowl of cheerios while the kids eat their breakfast.

If you are picking a household or cleaning task for one of your priorities, pick a quick one.  Unload the dishwasher, shake out the entryway rug, take out a garbage.  We will do a lot more work on creating a household cleaning routine.  For now, your priority should be something small that, if you get behind on it, really drags you down.  If I don’t bring a load of laundry all the way downstairs to the laundry room each day, it sits in a huge pile at the bottom of one of my staircases.  This looks awful!

Do Something for You

Make sure to pick at least one thing that makes you feel better about yourself.  It can be anything.  I picked washing my face because it’s something that I rarely used to do for myself, which made me feel terrible and lazy.  Also, I really love how I feel after I wash my face.  It makes me feel like I am taking care of myself.  That’s so important for us as moms.  We take care of other people all day.  We don’t have the time we need to take to really give ourselves the loving self-care we deserve.  The only remedy in the short term is to find those small daily “hacks” that give us back little pieces of ourselves.  It can be an enormous benefit.

Strategize some
Find your Time!

Find Your Time

Now, you have to commit to yourself.  You’ve chosen your priorities, now when are you going to do these things?  This will be the hardest part, and you may have to continually revise your strategy.  I find my best “sneak times” are at the very end of meal times, right away when I wake up in the morning (before I get my littlest out of his crib), and nap time (my oldest is in preschool for a few hours 4 days a week, this is when my younger son naps).  But if you already have a million and one things you try to fit into nap time, then don’t try to squeeze in anything more.  You will have to find another time.  You may have to get a little creative, but find your time.

Sometimes perfecting the to-do list requires some re-writing!
How many priorities did you check off your list?

After day ONE, re-evaluate

How did your first day go?  Which tasks did you do easily?  Were there any that you had trouble fitting in?  Any that you didn’t get to altogether?

Re-strategize for the next day.  Did you find an extra “sneak time” that you didn’t know you had?  Do you need to find a little extra time somewhere?  Wake up five minutes earlier?  Do a little bit of problem-solving and try again the next day.  If you are really, really having trouble getting three tasks into each time period, then you have a couple choices:

  1. You could pick a different small priority, if you had trouble choosing between a couple and think something else might fit more easily into your day.  OR-
  2. You could go down to only 2 small priorities each time period.  If you have a bunch of kids, they all nap at different times, or you are shuttling kids back and forth to a lot of classes, schools, activities, doctors appointments, etc., then by all means, trim your list.

If you decide to do this, then I highly recommend you do not choose any cleaning tasks for this particular priority list.  These things should be things you do for yourself, to give yourself a small bit of extra TLC.  Cleaning, while highly important in the daily routine, does not count for self-care.

Give yourself the gift of mindfulness- time and patience and a trimmed-down to-do list!
A small gift… to yourself!

Give these little gifts to yourself

You’re at a point in your mom journey in which you need to be replenishing your soul, little bit by little bit.  If you are having trouble coming up with small things that you can use to really help yourself feel better, I highly recommend searching Pinterest, YouTube or the iTunes store for short meditation routines, or breathing exercises.  These are things you can do anywhere, at any time, when you have a spare second.  In line at Target, in the car, right before you fall asleep.  Give yourself the gift of a little bit of love.  You deserve it!

Just the beginning…

This is the first step to a fully built and customized daily routine but you have to start small so you don’t overreach and get overwhelmed.  We are still not adding things to the to-do list, that’s why you need to edit and re-evaluate if you didn’t pick the right tasks.  You shouldn’t feel like you’ve given yourself more work.  You should just feel like you’re slowing your day down and taking a little extra time for yourself.  It probably won’t be an overnight transformation, and that’s totally OK.  The goal is for you to feel like you are working towards some much-needed inner peace.  Any small step that gets you towards that finish line is a step in the right direction!

Don’t forget to download my freebie and then leave a comment or send me a message!  Tell me what your priorities are!  I want to hear what you’re doing to take back your day!  Good luck!

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Setting a 28 Day Goal (or how I learned to do the dishes)

I'm setting a 28 day goal to change my life and I'm going to track my change one day at a time!
Mom Improvement Presents: Setting a 28 Day Goal

In my last post, I talked about setting a goal and creating your path to completion, and I gave you a worksheet to help!  Now, it’s time to talk about the benefits of making your goal a “28 Day Goal”.  This will help you be more successful and intentional with whatever it is you plan to do!  If this post makes you want to change any of your answers in the last worksheet, or set a different goal, or change your methods for achieving your goal, that’s no problem!  You can always print out a new worksheet to revise your plan!

Small Goal, Big Surprise

Sometimes big life changes come in small packages.  In my last post, I mentioned that I took 90 Day Budget Boot Camp.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  I feel like I’m a pretty darn good budgeter and I still learned so much.  PS- I’m not paid to recommend that course, I do so because it’s just a great course!

Probably the biggest, most beneficial takeaway of the whole camp was the “do your dishes” assignment.  The rules were simple: at night, after dinner, you had to clear your sink.  Run the dishwasher, do the dishes by hand, Rosemarie didn’t care how, it just had to get done.

Are you skeptical?  I totally was.  How were my dishes- dirty or clean- impacting my budget?  How was getting them done going to help me pay down our credit cards?  While the direct correlation between budget and dishwasher might be hard to draw… it really does make a HUGE difference in… life.  A clean sink is a major benefit for my psyche.

My life changed when I started this goal- get my dishes done every night, no matter what!
Washing dishes for a better tomorrow!

It’s not actually about the dishes

When I come downstairs to make breakfast in the morning and stare into my beautiful, clear sink, the entire day becomes more manageable.  The clear sink, in this case, represents my clear mind.  I’m free to brew coffee, fill the Brita pitcher, make breakfast, run water.  But I’m also feeling the pride of sticking to a commitment.  Between my husband and I, the dishes are getting done every single night.  That requires a level of discipline we didn’t really have before.

I’m guessing, if you’re looking for solutions to life’s messy problems, that discipline isn’t something that’s super high in your skill set either.  That’s nothing to feel bad about.  I feel like the laziest, most undisciplined person of all time sometimes.  The key to changing your attitude is to change your method.  And that’s what today’s freebie is all about.

Creating daily accountability

The goal you’re working on right now is one small piece of your daily pie.  You picked one thing about your life that made you unhappy, and now we’re going to fix it.  Most likely, you picked something that you do (or don’t do and want to start doing) every single day.  That’s a good idea!  Making something a habit is much easier if you incorporate it into your regular pattern or routine.  That’s what today’s freebie is here to help with- daily implementation.

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A bubble a day…

The cheat sheet allows you to fill in one bubble every day you complete your goal.  We had a tracker for our dishes right on the kitchen refrigerator.  It was there, staring at us, telling us to do that job.  This sheet will be the same tool for you, but there’s a couple important things you need to do to be successful with your tracker:

  1. Keep it near where you are completing your goal.  This could be tricky, depending on what your goal is.  If there really is no convenient place to keep it (if your goal is happening outside your home or in a few different places within your home), then keep it right by your bed.  Tape it to the wall in your bedroom if you have to, and tape a writing implement right next to it so that you always have something to use to fill it in.
  2. This is so dorky, but it helps me to have a special pen that I use to fill in my tracker.  I don’t really know why, it just makes me happy!  Find something like this for yourself.  Maybe you don’t like pens, but maybe you do like stickers!  Find a special sheet of stickers at the dollar store or in the dollar section at Target to use only on your bubble sheet.  Sometimes a simple incentive is all you need to give yourself that extra bit of motivation.
  3. The final element to success with a bubble sheet is the hardest- commitment.  You are making an agreement with yourself that you’re going to complete this goal, and you’re using your bubble sheet to track your success, but you’ll have nothing to track if you don’t do what you need to do.

There were nights when the very last thing I wanted to do was the dishes.  But I looked at my tracker, and I thought about how I would feel in the morning, when I came downstairs to a dirty sink.  My husband and I had made a commitment to stick to something.   No one could do it for us- we had to do it.

Achieving a goal takes patience and time!
Give yourself time to achieve your goal!

Building habits takes time!

Filling in your bubbles could take some real willpower for the first two weeks, maybe even three.  When I was in school, the theory was if you did something 14 days in a row, it would become a habit.  I think they have since revised that number to 21 days.  That’s why I give myself 28 days, pretty much an entire month.  I remember thinking somewhere around day 17 of our dishes goal that it felt like routine.  It felt easy, it felt do-able, and it got done.  We’re also doing other things we never used to do like wiping down counter tops and sweeping the floor!

Break down your goal even more

However, looking at an entire month of commitment to something could probably still be too daunting.  If the idea of one month doesn’t bother you, great, but if it does, then it’s important to break down your mindset even further.  Imagine, for the time being, that you are only going to do your goal for one week.  Once that’s in your head, that temporary timeline should give you the freedom to complete those seven bubbles.  Is a week still too long?  Commit to three days.  Then another three days, and so on, and so forth.  And if you are truly having an impossible time after that first week, then it is time to go back to the drawing board and re-assess your goal.  More about that in my next post. For now, don’t forget to download the freebie.

Each new day brings the promise of a fresh start to complete your goal!
Wake up and try again!

Tomorrow is another day…

You may still miss a day in your first week or two.  It’s very important not to beat yourself up if that happens.  You are allowed to have life intervene, you are allowed to forget, you are allowed to get distracted.  Just get back on the horse.  Your bubble sheet will help you to stay on track, but it is not a magic wand.  Don’t give up on yourself.  You picked this goal for a reason- you want to make a positive change in your life!  Take a deep breath, start over again if you have to, and keep going.  And leave me a comment or send me a message to tell me how you’re doing and how it’s going!  I can’t wait to hear from you!

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Life Change: A Step-by-step Plan!

A Life Change Plan

I'm taking some time to make some major life change! This great freebie is helping me get started!
Mom Improvement Presents: Life Change: A Step-by-Step Plan!

This summer, I took two online courses that really changed my life- the best part? They were both free!  The first course I took is Rosemarie Groner’s 90 Day Budget Boot Camp.  The second course I took is Ruth Soukup’s Crushing It Mini Course.  The first question on the Mini-Course worksheet was an eye-opener for me.  It asks, “The Current Way You Describe Yourself”.  Here is what I wrote:

This is how I used to describe myself! See what I did to change it!
“I feel like a mess!”

I look at those words and I want to go back in time and give myself a hug.  But I was right; I was a mess.  Every day felt chaotic and out of control.  My first step was obvious: our spending had gone wildly out of control.  We went $500 over our budget one month.  I had to repair the damage done to our savings account.  We were going broke!

The Start of Something New

If you pick one goal and work towards it, you can build the momentum you need to keep making other changes, too.  All you need is the smallest taste of victory and the incentive to continue will take hold!  But where do you want to start?  That’s where my freebie comes in:

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You probably have a loooong list of things that you don’t like about your life right now.  This kind of life change, the permanent, habit-building kind, takes time.  That’s where this worksheet comes in.  Pick your top five things you like the least about your life right now, and write them down.

Next, narrow your focus:

I can tell you from experience, trying to fix all 5 things at once will NEVER work.  It’s too drastic.  It would require a kind of discipline and stamina that we just don’t have.  And that’s okay!  This is a “long-con”, something that will happen over many months.  You WILL tackle all five of these goals.  But right now, you have to pick one.  I knew I had to fix our family budget, because, hello, $500.  If you are having trouble picking your first priority from your list, use these rules as a guideline:

  1. You should choose something that needs to change because it’s causing you stress.  You will be very invested in changing this because it is making your life miserable. OR:
  2. You should choose something that you are excited about and really want to do.

These two things might not be mutually exclusive- I was excited to start Budget Boot Camp and I needed it.  But you must follow one of the above rules.  For your first goal, you want to pick something that you have a high probability of accomplishing (remember what I said about tasting victory?).  You don’t want to pick something that you’re not willing to commit to 100 percent.  It won’t end well, and you will just add it to your list of “failed life experiments”.  Pick the thing that lights a fire in your brain.  Then, you need to figure out the HOW.  How can you make this change work?

What resources do you need to start this goal?

How do I find the resources I need to set, maintain or track a goal? Google is my first stop!
A Google Search is a great place to start!

I found Rosemarie in a google search!  If you need help or resources, google is a great place to start.  But don’t just pick the first thing you land on- if you’re choosing an online course, look for testimonials from other people who were in similar situations to yours.  Look for FREE things first- even if you are not on a super strict budget, there is good reason to try to be practical and wallet-friendly. Number one, because there are some incredible free things out there (see my examples above), and number two because you don’t need to stress yourself out by spending a bunch of money on something and creating a sense of “obligation” in yourself to see it through- thereby decreasing your enjoyment of the entire process.

Find the tool you want to use to help yourself.  If you need something basic, like a habit tracker, look in Pinterest (there are about a million free printables that help with goal-setting and habit tracking).  Look for a Facebook group and seek out an accountability partner.  Check your local “Community Education” website and see what they have to offer; if you want to start a new hobby, there are probably a few courses that might be reasonably priced.  It’s a chance to try something new and meet some people along the way!

Life Change: Step-by-Step

Making change starts with a step-by-step plan!
Create your checklist!

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it’s important: write out each step of your plan.  No step is too small.  If you need more room or spaces, print out another copy of the second page of my printable and write in more steps.  The more detail you have, the better.  I’m not re-inventing the wheel here- anyone who talks about goal-setting will tell you that achieving your goal is all about breaking it down.  It allows you to see the path.

Nothing is Set in Stone

Sometimes, when you are setting a goal or starting a project, you think it’s going to go one way, and… quite frankly, it goes another way completely.  If you are on unsure footing here- if you are attempting something really new and different and you’re a little scared- first, good!  That means you are picking the right thing!  And second, give yourself a deadline in the near future to re-evaluate your progress and change your steps if things aren’t working the way you want them to.  I recommend between one week and one month, depending on what your goal is.

DO NOT EXPECT PERFECTION

Sorry, I know capital letters can get pedantic and annoying but I had to make that point loud and clear.  If your new goal is something you want to do every single day, like drink more water or exercise, you need to build up the stamina and the habit over time.  My next post is all about 28 day goals, but for now, what’s most important is that you give yourself tons of patience.  Every day is a chance to try again.  If you miss a day of your goal, or a step in your plan, then those are the things to re-evaluate at your deadline.  The best question you can ask is, “how can I help myself?”  If you’re ever stuck on what to do next, that is the first and best place to start.

TREAT YOURSELF

This part is really important, too, but I need to set a couple of ground rules:

  1. Your reward should be reasonable– if you are trying to stick to a budget, blowing your hard work on something you can’t afford that will put you further into debt is definitely not a good idea.  Set a budget for your reward and stick to it.
  2. Get creative.  What is something you haven’t done in a long time that would really make you happy?  This doesn’t necessarily have to be something that costs money.  If it’s been a long time since you got to sit on your computer and play The Sims for a couple hours, then maybe that’s the perfect treat!
  3. Get your husband/wife/SO/Partner on board.  Their support can mean the difference between success and failure.  They will also be very excited to enjoy your reward with you if it’s something fun like a dinner date or a trip to Target.
  4. The most obvious rule- pick something that you are very, very excited about.  If you really want it, you’re gonna work hard to get it!

That’s it!  Go forth and set your first, awesome, life-changing goal!  Don’t forget to download the freebie!

Write to me and tell me what you’re doing!  I want to hear all about your plan, help you if you have questions, and give you a big, virtual high-five!  Let’s celebrate this new beginning together!

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