There are Two Very Important Things I Did Differently This Morning That Made Me More Productive.

Well it’s Monday morning again, and it’s time to get the house ready for the entire week. As always, there is laundry to be washed, carpets to be cleaned, furniture to be dusted and produce to be chopped and organized for the week. Oh yeah… I’m also home with two children under the age of two. Let’s not forget that.

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Usually I wake up with the dreaded hours ahead feeling quite overwhelmed from the items on my to do list that I never write down. The morning usually seems rushed, uncomfortable, and full of chaos. So this morning, I decided to do something different. I decided that I wasn’t going to leave my bedroom until the bed was made, and I was fully dressed from head to toe; socks, shoes, everything. The night before, I had spent some time reading a blog by another mother who swore by this method of starting her day. Her reasoning was that if you have your bed made and your shoes on before you start your day, you approach your day with my professional outlook.

So I thought I’d give it a shot. This morning, I took my time, made the bed, got dressed head to toe, & put my socks and shoes on before even leaving my bedroom. From there, I started my day. And to my surprise, everything went more smoothly. Not only was able to move quicker with more control in chasing the kids, I had a more confident stride my step…Along with a better attitude. I was able to empty the dishwasher, start a load of laundry, make breakfast for the entire family, pack my sons lunch and snack, & get everyone dressed and ready and out the door within 1 hour’s time.

As someone who thrives on being productive, I find some of these days where I am home with two children under the age of two very frustrating. And what frustrates me the most, are those moments when I think that I’m being clever with one child in a highchair eating breakfast, another sitting at the table eating breakfast, and I think I can leave the room for a moment while the baby of the group is sleeping to unload the dryer. And when I return, I find blueberries strewn across the floor, strawberries squished and splattered against the wall, my oldest boy taunting my toddler in her highchair and the baby of the group screaming for a feed. Pair that with me being in my pajamas with only 30 minutes left to get everything together before my son needs to be at school. Seems about right that I should be putting myself first and getting dressed top to bottom with shoes on before any of this chaos inevitably happens.

So what’s the point of my story? The point is I’ll be putting myself first every morning from here on out so that I can take myself seriously as a stay at home mother. I can’t imagine that my children take me any more seriously than I do with my hair disheveled, my clothing askew and running around in slippers all morning so why should I? Being a stay-at-home mother is not only a privilege, it’s a profession. It is my job to raise these little rascals to be decent human beings but above all to know how to take care of themselves and be able to do so in the midst of chaos. Because that’s exactly what the professional world is, at least where I live – one big world of chaos.

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Want to Get Healthy? Reorganize Your Fridge!

Today, I made my first trip to The Container Store! I had hoped to walk in and walk out with just a few items but as you can imagine walking into a store like this as someone who appreciates organization left me with a few more items in my hands and I had anticipated.  Nevertheless, it was a very good trip. And as a result, I was able to organize my refrigerator for the kids the way I had intended in addition to a few other things around the house.

Items I purchased:

BPA Free Food Storage Containers

Buy from Amazon for $25

Umbra Square Crunch Can 

I bought this for my daughter’s room to pick up loose toys and stuffed animals.  The Umbra Crunch Can is durable as well as safe for those clumsy falls that inevitably happen with a toddler running about.

Buy from Amazon for $19.99

If your house is anything like mine, then efficiency is extremely important when it comes to packing lunches, snacktime, and having food available at the drop of a hat for hungry little mouths after school.  Since the birth of my third child, I’ve not had the opportunity to organize my refrigerator the way I had hoped to prior to his arrival. So after my jaunt to the container store, I came home and looked at the disarray that was my refrigerator. And I remembered, when I was a little girl, after each trip to the grocery store, it was my job to slice and dice all of the produce and put it into the appropriate Tupperware containers for easy access.  This was not a fun sure as it included chopping a 5 pound bag of carrots along with washing and drying every leaf of every head of Romain lettuce that was purchased for the week, however, it helps the entire family work more efficiently during the week.  So in short, in addition to helping my family, I’m turning into my father. Ha ha!

Organizing the refrigerator for children to be able to find their snacks is actually quite simple it’s just something that you have to keep up with every week. It’s definitely a commitment. But, it’s a commitment that I’m willing to make if it means saving myself 5 to 10 minutes in the morning or in the evening when it comes to preparing these foods for my children.

Here’s what I did:

1. Stock Up

I picked up a surplus of the produce items that my family enjoys knowing that by putting them in storage containers, they would stay fresher longer.

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2. Set Aside the Appropriate Containers

While shopping for produce, I made sure to match the right containers with the fruits and vegetables that I wanted so that they would not only fit, but match how I would normally store the original containers in my refrigerator.

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3. Choose a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables

When I buy my produce, I am sure to choose the colors of the rainbow not only for variety, but also for the many benefits that come with eating fruits and vegetables that are rich in color.  Chop them up as you’d like and fill each container to the top.

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4. Make These Foods Visible

Kids will choose snacks based on accessibility and visual appeal.  By choosing foods that are bright as well as nutritious, your child will most likely reach for these foods first.  Place these containers within reach so that they can easily grab a snack independently.

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My beautifully reorganized refrigerator

NEW! OPAL Mom™ Products Help You: ORGANIZE, PRIORITIZE, ACT & LET GO

OPAL Mom™ Product Line

OPAL Mom™ is excited to introduce a new product line via CafePress that will help you Organize, Prioritize, Act and Let Go during your busy day.  As moms, we have the world on our shoulders when it comes to maintaining a sense of balance while caring for our children, homes and even careers outside the home.  We now offer four different products to match the four focuses of OPAL Mom™.

Opal Mom Mugs

OPAL Mom Mug BOLD 3

Organize your thoughts in the morning with your favorite coffee or tea in the OPAL Mom™ Mug.  OPAL Mom is For Moms Who: Organize, Prioritize, Act, & Let Go. Start your day with this reminder!

 Price: $14.99  ADD TO CART
Product Information

  • Small measures 3.75″ tall, 3″ diameter; Mega measures 4.5″ tall, 3.75″ diameter
  • Small holds 11 oz.; Mega holds 20 oz.
  • Black color-changing mugs available in small only and are heat sensitive. Simply add any hot liquid to the mug and see the mug turn from black to white with your unique design.
  • Dishwasher and microwave safe

Opal Mom Journal

journal

Prioritize: Need a place to jot down your thoughts? Or perhaps write down your to-do list?  Prioritize your day using the OPAL Mom Journal!

Price:  $19.99  ADD TO CART
Product Information
Stay organized with our custom journal, available with your choice of 4 different paper options so you can manage all your note-taking needs.

  • Size: 5″x8″
  • 160 blank, dot grid, college ruled, or task pages
  • 60lb book-weight (24 lb bond)
  • Front cover made of 12pt glossy paper
  • Back cover made of thin flexible textured plastic

Opal Mom Sigg Water Bottle 1.0l

OPAL Mom SIGG water bottle

Act: Take action and take OPAL with you everywhere you go! Remind yourself to Organize, Prioritize, Act and Let Go with every sip!

$29.99  ADD TO CART
Product Information
Help save the planet while you rehydrate in style with an eye-catching water bottle from SIGG. Made from a single piece of aluminum, it’s ultra-lightweight yet rugged and crack-resistant. To minimize unwanted tastes and scents, the inside is lined with a water-based, non-toxic epoxy resin that is compliant with FDA anti-leaching requirements.

  • Holds 1.0L
  • Recyclable & reusable
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Do not freeze

Opal Mom “Let Go” Yoga Mat

OPAL Mom yoga mat

Let Go: Find a moment to “let go” in your busy day with the OPAL Mom “Let Go” Yoga Mat.  Workout, practice your daily yoga routine, or just sit and meditate for 10 minutes.

$54.00  ADD TO CART
Product Information
Our premium yoga mats feature edge-to-edge printing, a textured, non-slip backing, and 1/4″ thick cushioning so you can strike any pose in style.

  • Measures 72″ x 24″ x 1/4″

What I learned from a 100 year old cigarette pack

I fell upon this while drinking my coffee this morning and found it hilariously useful.  At least there was a dual purpose to buying cigarettes 100 years ago.  Gallaher’s Cork Tipped Mild Cigarettes apparently used to come with life hacks included in every pack.  Each pack offered tips on anything from how to keep your plants watered while away, how to preserve freshly laid eggs, to how to make a fire extinguisher out of household items.  What do you know…each pack of cigarettes came with a little home economics lesson.  I suppose that outweighed the health hazard?

Well, regardless, now I know how to water my plants while I’m away.  AMAZING.

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100 year old life hacks that still work today http://ow.ly/Bya3R

Finding Balance When Pregnant and Caring for Multiple Children

This past week, I’ve been caring for my two children with the help of my in-laws while my kitchen is renovated in the city.  Being in my third trimester, I’ve had to strategize the day accordingly in order to reserve my energy and still be able to parent effectively while my husband remains in the city to oversee the project and continue to work.  So, how do I do it and continue to work as well?  I always refer back to OPAL. Organize, Prioritize, Act and Let Go.

There are always going to be days where I seem to have way to much on my plate despite my best intentions to plan ahead.  These are the days that include endless demands from my children, seemingly endless work emails and deadlines, and of course, making sure to take time to address my own needs as a mother and this time around, a pregnant woman.

So, this week, this is how I’ve utilized O.P.A.L. to set myself up for success:

ORGANIZE:

WORK

  • I reserve time in my schedule for my work obligations and other appointments.

KIDS

  • FOOD: Snacks and quick breakfast foods are placed in a bin where they know to go if they happen to wake up early or get hungry before meal times.  At the beginning of each week, we talk about what these foods will include. Usually, it comes down to 3 choices of Lara Bars, dried berries, and roasted plantain chips.
  • ACTIVITIES: In the morning, the kids have the choice of either drawing or reading while I blog, email and make work phone calls.
  • NAP TIME: Scheduled for the same time each day
  • QUALITY TIME: Every afternoon, I’ve set aside time to bond with my son with a quiet activity, and the morning, with my daughter.

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PRIORITIZE:

This varies between WORK and KIDS.

logan painting

However, the kids always come first so what I do to prepare them for my workday is I fill them in on how the day is planned.  My son and daughter both are familiar with how my workday unfolds with regard to blogging and training clientele, so what we do, is we plan activities for them during that time.  Perhaps one day it will be reading quietly, another working on an art project or spending time with their grandparents.  This planning together helps them understand that their well-being is my first priority.  Of course, if things come up, work takes a back seat, but at the same time, my children know that in order to live, I need to work.  So, we work together always.

 

ACT:

In order to make some of my most well thought-out plans work at least 50% of the time, I need to act upon them.  This not only includes following through with work, but following through with my children.  This means honoring promises made and also holding them accountable for their activities so that I can honor my work appointments.  I find it important for my children to know that while they are my first priority, they need to learn patience as well.  As a mother, it is always on my mind to jump to their every request, but taking these moments to pause are important for me as well to be able to follow through in teaching them to wait when the time calls for it.

 

LET GO:

*Sigh* This is my biggest challenge.  I’m one of those people who sets out to conquer the world on a daily basis and expects just that.  Letting go for me doesn’t mean letting go of my goals and aspirations for the day.  It means trying my best and letting go of the result.  Sometimes this means letting go of the fact that all of the items on my list my not be finished, but that the ones I do finish are done to the best of my ability.  It may mean that I need to let go of my best intention to stay patient with my children and not carry the guilt of borderline losing it during a very packed day.  Sometimes, it means that I just say, “My best today may be my worst tomorrow and that is ok.”

 

 

Getting Through the Mommy-Do List (or ANYTHING for that matter) with Four Simple Words

My daily mommy-do list is always full of things that need to be done before the day is finished with many carry-over items when life needs my attention more than what’s on the list. This can be frustrating at times, but when it comes down to what really matters, some of those things on the list can wait. To help me determine which items can wait, and which need my more immediate attention, I use four simple words: Organize, Prioritize, Act and Let Go.

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Today, I haven’t any clients to see, so I’ve constructed a list of mommy-do tasks to tackle for the day. When I have days where I don’t have to work outside of being a mommy on-the-go, I fill this list with a slew of items that I am determined to accomplish before the day is over. As I sit here sipping my coffee, I’ve already cooked and eaten my breakfast, finished a load of laundry (that now needs to be dried and folded), had our upstairs neighbor dump a bucket of water on their back deck only to rain down and soak all of the furniture on my back deck, spoken with said neighbors and attempted to soak up the mess, and written the original version of this entire blog only to have it randomly erased (and unsaved) by WordPress. Great start to the day, right? But here I am, starting over. What can I say, I’m an optimist and overachiever (understatement of the year). So, before I let my head get in the way of what will actually happen during the course of today, I’m going to share how I integrate OPAL into my day to help me accomplish what is needed without getting overwhelmed or worse, down on myself.

ORGANIZE

In order to conquer the world, I of course need a plan of action. For some this means making an actual schedule where their time is held accountable by a timetable, and I’ve seen plenty of these SAHM templates online. For me, this works for all of 1 day before I’m found curled up in a ball, in the corner, quaking from an irrational disdain that I have for the piece of paper containing the time table that “made me” slave all day. So, when I decide to ORGANIZE, I simply make a list of the things that I would like to achieve for the next day.

PRIORITIZE

If you’re anything like me, you may find your list looking like a bucket list. In my mind, I am super woman and can fly from one place to another managing to finish everything in a matter of seconds before my kids decide to tear it apart again. In the real world, I’m still pretty amazing, however, I’d like to have my sanity when it’s time to go to bed. So, I PRIORITIZE what’s on my list. First and foremost, I PRIORITIZE my health and well being. Without them, I cannot be asked to do much of anything without growing impatient, stubborn or downright pushy with anyone that I encounter. So, the first things that I push to the top of my list are the very things that will put me in the right frame of mind to mindfully go about my day. These things may include working out, meditating with my children, taking time to write my thoughts in a journal, or just taking 10 minutes to sit and do absolutely nothing. I cannot stress enough how important the practice of self-care is when setting out to be productive for the day. After these things are set, I take a look at the rest of my list and choose three small tasks along with one to two larger tasks.

ACT

Now that I’ve ORGANIZED and PRIORITIZED my list, I feel pretty accomplished. However, ACTING on what I’ve set out to do is the actual goal. I’m one of those people who abhors being told what to do, (partly why I own my own business and am a personal trainer for a living) so my list of tasks needs to look particularly appealing. This is also why I put self care items at the top of the list. I am more likely to ACT upon my attaining my goals if I feel important and nurtured from the start.

LET GO

This is the most important of all the words for me to follow. It’s usually when my family is fed, the kids are bathed, story time is finished and everyone is in bed that I revisit my list to see what is left. It’s usually at this time that I also feel as though I can tackle everything that I didn’t PRIORITIZE on my list in addition to the items still left on it like doing an extra load of laundry, mopping the floors and even cleaning the bathroom. This is where I need to LET GO. If I didn’t PRIORITIZE it on my list, then it doesn’t need to be tackled for the night. On the flip side, if I didn’t finish everything on my list, that is ok. I decidedly take this time at the end of the night to listen to my body and how I am feeling. If I still have the energy to finish up a few things I started earlier in the day, then I will finish those things. However, if my day was rife with more challenges than I expected, then I might revisit one of the self care items on my list and repeat so that I can have a more restful sleep in preparation for the next day.

Following these four words that make up the OPAL in OPAL Mom™ really help me when it comes to doing anything. It’s not just the mommy-do list that needs to be addressed in my day, as I’m sure is the same for other mothers out there. One of the great things (and challenging things) about being a mom is that our days change from moment to moment requiring us to stay on our toes and be adaptable. And if all else fails, there’s always tomorrow.

For more information about my mommy blog and to join the OPAL Mom™ Community Forum, please visit: http://www.opalmom.com