All posts by Merdrick

Task Management

Last week we talked about shifting your thinking. It’s one of the steps I think is most important and also the hardest. This week we are going to look at something a little more tangible, task management. 

I realized that it was taking me too long to put away laundry because my kid’s clothes are often inside out. I was spending too much time turning everything right side out. So I stopped. My daughter recently wore a pair of pants wrong side out because that’s how they came out of the drawer. I’m not taking the time to fix that and apparently, my kids don’t care! And next time they’ll be correct because they turned right side out again when she took them off! It seems to only bother the adults when kids wear something wrong-side out or backward. Let’s let it go!

I’m sharing this story because your task list is long. And it could likely be shorter. But you’ve said yes to too many things. And you’re doing too much.

Do you know where your time goes? Not just guessing, but truly knowing? 

Do you have a sense of all your tasks? Including activities, commitments,  and upcoming projects? 

Do you spend your days with tasks running through your head? 

And have you ever timed your tasks so that you know how long a recurring task takes? 

Track your time

Even if you think you know where your time goes, it’s helpful to track your time. Over the course of a week, document each task, in 30-minute increments. This doesn’t mean that you sit down at the end of the day and write down what you think you did. You stop what you’re doing every 30 minutes and write it down. Use these resources to help with this.

Then go back and review your week. How much time was spent on social media? What time was wasted on activities that were unnecessary? How much time are you spending on work tasks? Were there any surprises or did it make sense to you? 

Use this information to change your future scheduling. Identify what’s working and what’s not. 

Complete a Brain Dump

Your brain was designed to have ideas, not hold them. Take 10 minutes and write down everything that’s on your mind. All the tasks, big or small. 

Use a piece of paper. Use a Google doc. Try a task manager. Make it easy. 

Then, gather all your flagged emails. All your post-its. All your other lists. 

And in front of you is likely something overwhelming. It’s everything you’ve committed to. 

Take a breath. We’re going to work through this. 

Often, the act of getting these thoughts out of your head and documented in front of you helps you prioritize what’s next. You can see what you can delete or delegate. And you can see what needs to be done today or this week. 

One of the best things to do here is to make sure all your projects are broken down into the smallest next step. It’s easier to take the next step than look at a task that says monthly report. What does that mean? But when it says call Tom in sales for June’s numbers your brain knows what to do next. 

This topic is bigger than what I’m going to get into here. Start with the brain dump and initial triage. Then write out each step of a project, no matter how small. 

Time Your Tasks

This is a great idea for all of your recurring tasks. Laundry, meal planning, monthly reports. Anything you do on a regular basis. 

Time them.  Don’t guess. Humans are terrible at estimating their time.

Once you know (roughly) how long they take, you can schedule them.

This is task management at a high level! If you want more ideas, take this quick course or join my virtual community!

Shift Your Thinking

In the next few weeks, we are going to walk through the acronym STRIDE. It covers the ideas I believe are most important when it comes to how we spend our time. Let’s take a look at Shift Your Thinking.

shift your thinking. a picture of a lightbulb

My youngest takes her socks off and leaves them wherever she happens to be. So there are socks everywhere. My kid’s idea of cleaning up is making a pile of their toys somewhere without actually putting them in their homes (we have this conversation on a regular basis, we’re working on it). 

We just moved into a new home. And are likely moving back out shortly because there are so many things wrong with the house that we can’t live here until things are fixed. (a story for another time). So we haven’t unpacked much more than we need. And most of that stuff is sitting on the floor, the kitchen counters, and the couch. Because we haven’t bothered organizing items that are going to back in boxes soon. 

It’s overwhelming. It’s draining. And it’s frustrating. 

Have you ever looked around your house and seen nothing but piles of things that need to be dealt with? 

Maybe it’s looking at all the projects you have for work. You feel like you’re never going to get them completed on time because there are too many and the deadlines are not possible. 

Or you’ve looked at your schedule and wondered how so many activities ended up there. How are you going to get your family to all these places during the week and ever eat dinner together again? 

Society has us believe that we need to do it all. Take it all on. Say yes to everything. Be busy all the time. Consume. Consume. Consume. 

But is that really how you want to be living? Being resentful that you’re working and taking care of the kids and cleaning the house and doing laundry and signing everyone up for activities and planning the next vacation? You are wondering why no one else is helping or participating?

You’re exhausted? And drained? And over it?

There is a better way. And that starts with shifting your thinking. 

First, it’s knowing that you don’t need to do it all. That your partner is capable of doing things around the house. And if it doesn’t seem that way, then maybe some counseling is in order. And your kids are capable of participating in household chores.

It’s understanding that you don’t need to be constantly scheduled with activities for you and your family. That even if each of you takes on one activity per season that’s still plenty of practices, games, and places to be. 

It’s shifting expectations, not lowering them. Do you need to sweep your kitchen floor every night? Or get to inbox zero every day? What happens if you don’t? 

I’ve decided that I’m not organizing a house that is going to be packed up again soon. I’m going to focus on spending time with my kids and on my work. And maybe relaxing when I can. Because although this house has some structural issues, it also has a beautiful backyard. And sitting outside enjoying the quiet of the neighborhood while watching my kids play on the swing set is a beautiful thing. It’s finding a bit of joy in the chaos. 

When you start focusing on the right things. What really and truly matters today. You start getting stuff done during the day. You make progress on your projects and your tasks. Because they belong there. They’re what matters to you and your family and your career. 

Where can you shift your thinking today?

Want to get started on how to shift your thinking? Sign up for the PDF below, or join my virtual community!

    Sourdough starter. Growth. Finding your passion.

    Many articles from the past year would make you believe that you are not doing enough. With so many people being home during the pandemic you suddenly had time to clean out your closets, finish all those personal projects that have been lingering on your to-do list, and learn a new language. And if you didn’t suddenly find yourself motivated to tackle all of these things, well, that’s on you. It’s not that you haven’t had time, you’re just lazy and lack discipline. 

    Huh. Really? 

    lack discipline text says: your worth is not equal to your productivity. How much you get done each day does not make you sho you are.

    Because you weren’t also taking care of kids while juggling full-time work or just trying to get through the day because it seems as though the world is coming down around us. 

    I have shared how I feel this pandemic has wiped the slate clean for many of us. How this is a great time to think about what we want our lives to look like as we move forward. And not to rush back to the craziness of life BC (before Covid). 

    It’s ok if that hasn’t happened. If you’re aware of it but not ready to process it or figure it out. 

    We are going to be processing the trauma of this pandemic for years to come. Disruption is everywhere. And the changes keep coming. 

    The pandemic is still here. And as long as people are still refusing to get vaccinated and wear masks, it’s not going anywhere. Until more of the global population has access to vaccines, it’s not going anywhere. 

    And we are going to struggle to move forward until that changes.

    There are many articles out there related to your productivity and the pandemic. Getting motivated to work during the stress of a pandemic. (here are my thoughts on that) That with no commute, you have so much more time on your hands! You should be working more! 

    Because our society will have you believe that the more you get done, the more you produce, and the more you cross off your to-do list, the better! Because our value is all about productivity. 

    No. It’s not. 

    You are not your productivity.

    If at the end of the day your kids are loved and fed, you are doing enough. 

    Surviving a pandemic is enough. 

    One of the things we talk about in my virtual community is that knowing what’s important to you helps you prioritize your tasks. You focus on the things moving you, your family, and your business/job forward. That productivity is not about getting it all done every day.

    If you’re struggling with this, let’s talk. I want to help you clarify these things for you. Even if it’s to set you up for success as we move out of the fog of this pandemic.

    Check out the PDF below to get started on this topic.

      Manis/Pedis. Massages. Bubbles baths.

      Manis/Pedis. Massages. Bubbles baths. Chocolate (or your favorite junk food). 

      I don’t believe any of these things are really self-care. They’re what society has told us is self-care. 

      massages. bubble baths. self-care.

      And we’re told that we should be taking care of ourselves. Not feeling guilty for taking that bubble bath or getting a massage. 

      And yes, we should be taking care of ourselves. And no, we should not be feeling guilty for filling our cup. 

      But we need to take some time to figure out what really feeds our souls. And, we should be taking the time to find activities that we truly enjoy. Not what we think we should be doing. 

      We need to be building lives that we don’t need to escape from. 

      This means that we don’t need a weekly massage so that we can have an hour of quiet time because we have time to ourselves and for ourselves built into the week (and we actually make that time happen).  

      That we’re not hiding in the pantry eating cookies straight from the package while hiding from our kids because we actually enjoy spending time with them. We fill their cups too and we have scheduled breaks from them to fill our cups.  

      Yes, I do enjoy my hot chocolate. I believe chocolate feeds my soul. I am also aware that it’s a quick fix. It’s not going to fix whatever it is that got me to this place of feeling drained. 

      Now, if you love your weekly massages, then have them. But don’t use them as your only form of self-care. Same for manis/pedis. 

      What do you do for self-care? Beyond bubble baths and massages? What really feeds your soul?

      For me, going to bed early with a good book fills my cup. Sometimes it’s a long phone call with a friend. 

      Want to get started on creating a life you don’t need to escape from? Start with this PDF. Or, contact me and let’s chat!

        The Sunday Scaries and the Need to Escape

        It’s Sunday night. I’m wondering what the heck happened to my weekend. What exactly did we do? I think I crossed a bunch of tasks off my list. The laundry is washed and dried, not necessarily put away. I’m tired. And I’m starting to dread Monday.

        I’m looking at my calendar and tasks for the week. The week looks full. Maybe even overflowing. How am I going to get through this week? I’m tired just thinking about this week. I already wish it was Friday! 

        dread Monday. woman looking overwhelmed at the clothes and mess in her living room.

        Sound familiar? 

        Life doesn’t have to be this way! Because we don’t have to continue to be so busy that we’re exhausted simply thinking about our week. 

        We don’t need to dread Monday!

        What if you designed a life you don’t need to escape from? 

        If you knew your daily priorities and that you were able to complete them? 

        Maybe you even have time for activities you love? For that ever-elusive ‘me-time’? (I promise, it is possible!)

        I want you to do something for me. Spend some time thinking about what you want your life to look like in the (near) future. If you didn’t have the dreaded Sunday scaries.

        Maybe it’s planning something fun that you look forward to for Monday or Tuesday nights. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be a regular phone call with a friend. A virtual dance class or yoga class. 

        Try saying no to any new activities that come your way, while you figure out what activities you and your family want to take on next. Not signing up for soccer, dance, and piano lessons for each kid. Pick one activity for each family member (which can, honestly, still be a lot to manage each week). 

        I know that might feel like a lot right now. I’m just asking you to think about it. 

        I think this pandemic has changed so much for all of us. In big and little ways. We’re physically and emotionally exhausted and drained. Our routines are a mess. Our ability to make decisions is fried. We never know if the decisions we’re making are right. 

        Maybe you’ve spent the past year and a half barely surviving each day. It was all you could do to get your work done and take care of your kids. You looked at Facebook and felt like everyone else was taking on a new hobby or finding their passion (whatever that means!). 

        And you know what? That’s ok. 

        Simply getting through each day is sometimes enough. Sometimes that’s all we can do.

        I’m so tired of hearing people talk about getting back to normal. I don’t want to go back to normal. I’m not even sure what that is. I don’t want to go back to who I was in 2019 or even February 2020. I’m not the same person. 

        For me, this pandemic has wiped my slate clean. It’s clarified so much for me. What’s important to me. Who is important to me. What I want my life to look like in the future. 

        Honestly, rebuilding from scratch sounds less exhausting than going back to the way things were. Where you ran from one activity to another without really thinking about it. Attending every birthday party, sports activity, and event you were invited to. Using retail therapy as a way to feel better about how crazy things were. And talking about being busy like it was a badge of honor. 

        How about creating your life with intention. Building a life that you don’t need to escape from. That doesn’t require weekly massages or bubble baths to relax or feel slightly better about things (next week’s topic). 

        What steps can you start on now? They can be the smallest steps necessary! Take that first step and see where it leads you!

        Keep reading here and here. And if you want some help on this, check out this PDF. It’ll walk you through steps on designing a life you love!

          A Simple Game Of Mousetrap

          Have you ever played the game of Mousetrap? I remember sitting in my grandparent’s house, putting the game together. I don’t think we ever played the game as designed. Just put the pieces together and sent the marble through the system.

          a game of mousetrap put the pieces together.

          There’s cause and effect. If something goes wrong, the end result is different. But, when things go smoothly, you get what you want at the end (unless you’re the mouse being caught). 

          It builds on itself. You need the pieces to connect in a certain way for it to work. 

          The same can be said for systems (and routines) in our own life. Pieces need to connect in certain ways. And when something is off, things can go wrong. 

          What routines in your life need some work? What systems can you create? 

          As we start a new school year, what routines do you need to build back into your family? 

          Here are a few to think about. What do you need to put in place? What needs to be tweaked?

          • Laundry 
          • Meal planning 
          • Family meetings 
          • Processing emails (personal and work)
          • Recurring work tasks

          This week, as you’re thinking about meal planning, here’s something to help you! My friend, Mary Gaul, designed a Magic Meal Planner for you. No more wasting food, time, or money. 

          The Magic Meal Planning System is a paper planner that includes your meals for the week and a built-in grocery list.  Along with Mary’s systems, tips, and 6 weeks of meal plan ideas, it makes meal planning, shopping, and prepping easy! 

          It helps you have a clear answer to the question – “what’s for dinner tonight?”

          Go to and get yours today for less than one meal out for a family of 4! 

          Use the code Meals10 to save $10!

          Follow on Facebook: @MagicMealPlan

          Contact Mary with questions at

          Contact me and let me know what routine you are going to focus on this week!

          Go To Bed

          That’s right. You and your kids need to go to bed. Yes, it’s August and it’s still summer. But, school is going to be here before you know it. Here in the Denver metro area, schools start in mid-August. 

          If you’ve been letting your kids stay up late and sleep in, now is the time to get back on a better schedule. Don’t wait until the night before school starts to enforce an earlier bedtime. It takes several weeks to shift things. Start to shift things by 10 minutes each night. Slowly get back to a school-night bedtime. 

          Spend some time thinking about your evening routines. What can you do at night to make your mornings better? Pack lunches? Pack backpacks and work bags? Set out breakfast? 

          And, you need to go to bed too.

          Sleep is important. If you’ve been skimping on sleep because you feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do, then stop it. Sleep (and taking breaks) actually helps you get more done each day. 

          go to bed bedside table with book and flower.

          When you’re tired, you’re not efficient. 

          You make mistakes. 

          You’re slower both physically and mentally. 

          So go to bed. 

          Ok. Now that you’re getting some sleep, start thinking about your morning routines. Are you getting up earlier than your kids? What needs to happen in the morning to make the rest of your day easier? Run the dishwasher? Put dinner in the crockpot? Here are a few ideas for morning routines. 

          Think about your evening and morning routines now. Start working on sleep habits for you and your family. Start the school year off on the right foot, not kicking and screaming! 

          If you’re not sure what you want your routines to look like (and really, who knows what school is going to look like again this year) let’s talk! I can help you create routines to make your mornings and evening better for everyone.

          Not sure you’re ready to dive into changing your routines but want to get a little bit of support? Sign up for a free PDF on my STRIDE Method. Everything I do in my business (and in my own life) follows these ideas.

            Where Do I Even Start?

            In this beautiful book I read with my kids, Suzy is told by her mom to pick up her room. Her room is such a mess that she’s not even sure where to start. She feels overwhelmed by the mess. What should she do? 

            Man starting at brick wall with question marks on post-it notes. Where to start?

            Have you been there? 

            Have you ever taken a look at your kitchen, the piles of kids’ toys, your to-do list for work, and just stood there? 

            Overwhelmed and unsure of where to even start? 

            I have. 

            The endless lists. The piles that keep appearing, like a game of whack-a-mole. The dishes, laundry, kids’ toys. The emails, slack messages, interruptions. 

            Where do you even start? 

            Do what Suzy and her mom do. (and what I do with my kids when their toys are all over the house). 

            Play the seek and sort game. Pick one task, one list, one subject. And start. 

            Process your emails (not just read them, but respond, delete, file, figure out the next action). 

            Find that one task that’s been lingering on your list and do it. 

            Find all the tasks that will take less than two minutes and see how many you can do in 30 minutes. 

            The point here is to pick one spot, any spot, and tackle it. 

            Set a timer for 15 minutes and work on that task you have been avoiding. 

            And, if you’re really struggling, put all the tasks on separate sheets of paper in a bowl and draw one out. Do it. Repeat. 

            Seek. Sort. Start. 

            Contact me and let’s get you started playing the seek and sort game!

            Or, share your email below for a PDF to help bust you out of procrastination!

              It’s Not That Simple

              I’m standing in my kitchen. I need to empty my coffee maker. I’d like to clean it out too.

              it's not that simple Toys on stair with foot about to step no them.

              But I’m stuck. The compost bin is full and if I attempt to dump coffee grounds in it, the grounds will end up all over the counter.

              I don’t want to take the time to empty the compost bin before I clean out the coffee maker. It’s a few steps, but it feels like too many right now. I have other things I need to get to. 

              So, I do what any sane person would do in this situation, I walk away to deal with it later. 

              While this is a simple (and maybe silly) problem, this feeling of being stuck, of wanting to deal with something but feeling overwhelmed by the steps, is common. 

              It might be wanting to hire a housecleaner or a nanny. Maybe it’s getting your kids to do more around the house. Or you want regular date nights with your partner but don’t have a reliable babysitter.

              Whatever it is, take a few minutes to figure out the steps to get you there. Whether it’s researching babysitters or asking your neighbors for their housecleaner recommendations.

              Whether it’s something where you need to do it yourself or you want to delegate it, getting started is tough.

              But think about what that’s costing you in the long run. If you could hire a nanny or a house cleaner, what kind of time would that get you? 

              Figure out the first step and then take it.

              Join my virtual community, Chaos Contained. We talk about this stuff (and more)!

              And, if you’re based in Denver and that project includes offloading a chore, try

              Or, receive a free PDF to help get you started.

                Let’s Play

                Have you lost your ability to play? 

                ability to play. empty swing on a beach.

                When we become mothers, we’re so focused on raising children, taking care of the house, working, etc. that we forget how to have fun.

                Our society makes us think that leisure time or doing anything for fun, without a purpose, is lazy. That there must always be a purpose to something. And yes, we talk a lot about productivity and priorities here. 

                It’s also important to play. Taking a break, resting and recharging helps our productivity. We might come up with a solution to a work problem while on a hike. Maybe the next great idea for your business comes while walking your dog or spending time with friends. 

                We often collapse on the couch to watch TV because we’re too exhausted to do anything else. But watching TV is not always restorative. We choose it because we’re not sure what else to do with our time. It’s an easy choice. Or we’re folding laundry, paying bills, or doing something else while we watch TV. 

                And we don’t need one more thing to do. It’s easier to keep plugging away at our to-do list. We’ll do something fun when our kids are older or the to-do list is done.

                What if we took the time to play? 

                The National Institute of Play says on their website that play is the gateway to vitality. 

                Studies have shown that kids who have more unstructured free time to play are more social and academically proficient in life. It’s important for kids to have unstructured free time. This is where they learn social skills, their own limits, etc. 

                But play shouldn’t be only for kids. Adults need it too. And it needs to be something we for the fun of it. 

                Escape Adulthood is one of my favorite places to remind me to add a little play to my life. They remind me to stop being so focused on my to-do list and be more present. To find ways to add fun and whimsy to my days. And that it doesn’t need to be a big event for it to be fun.

                Play could be learning a new instrument, taking voice lessons, learning how to sew, volunteering, taking a class on any topic that interests you, hiking. The point is to do it for the fun of it. Not because you need to do it for work or you want to lose ten pounds. 

                I want to add more play to my life. Find new hobbies, learn new skills. And learn to be more present. I’d like to buy a piano soon and start taking lessons again. I’d like to snowshoe and cross-country ski. I also want to check out some dance classes from Put On Your Dance Shoes (POYDS). Or, if you want some virtual yoga or meditation in your life, check out Cindy Glennon Wellness

                What about you? What do you for fun these days? 

                Email me and let me know what you do for fun! Or schedule some time to chat so we can help you find time to play!

                Big Rocks and Sand

                You’ve likely heard the story or watched a video about big rocks and how it relates to your time.

                what are your big rocks? jar of rocks.

                Big rocks are the important things in your life. Tasks that support your values. To-dos that move you forward in your business or your personal life. Activities that are important to you. And the sand and pebbles fill in the other parts.

                If you fill a glass with sand (emails, interruptions, time-wasters), there is no room for the big rocks (exercise, time with family and friends, work tasks that truly move your business or career forward). But, if you fill the glass with big rocks first, the sand fills in the cracks around them. 

                You can have the same amount of sand and rocks. Same size cup. Different order of dealing with them. 

                Spend some time this week thinking about your big rocks. What are they? Are you making time for them and scheduling them first? Figure out what they are and start scheduling them first. 

                Let the sand fill in around them. 

                And remember, sometimes we have to say no to things that seem good because they’re not great. And they don’t support our big rocks. Maybe they get put on the someday/maybe list (a topic for later this month). Or maybe you simply say no because they don’t support your big rocks. 

                When we focus on our big rocks, even through small steps each day, big things can happen. 

                Schedule a call with me or send me a message if you want help figuring out your big rocks! Or get a PDF to help get you started.

                  It’s Never Enough

                  Do you spend your days (maybe pre-pandemic) running from one activity to another with your kids? Playdates, tutors, sports, music lessons, one right after the other. Until you get home and realize you never planned dinner and the kids still have homework and you’re all exhausted? Then you remember that after dinner, you or your partner are running back out the door to attend one of your own commitments at church or school or somewhere? And it feels like it’s never enough.

                  empty swing on the beach. It's never enough.

                  Why do we do this to ourselves? Are you happy never really being present and with being exhausted all the time? 

                  Do you do it because you feel you need to? 

                  Because you’re so busy you’ve never taken the time to think about why you’re doing all of this? 

                  Time studies show that working moms spend as much time with their kids each week as stay-at-home moms in the 1960s. And SAHM’s spend more time with the kids now than in the 1960s. 

                  (I will pause here and say, all moms work, whether they have a paying job in addition to child-rearing or not. For the sake of this discussion, working moms are those who have a paying job. And SAHM’s are full-time stay-at-home-moms.)

                  And, no matter what we’re doing outside of parenting, society tells us it’s never enough. It starts with mommy and me classes (why dads aren’t included here is a topic I’ll get into soon). Then all the afterschool activities and the intensive help with homework and school projects. 

                  And it intensifies as kids get closer to college age. We’re conditioned to believe that our kids must get into the best colleges or they won’t be successful in life. Heaven forbid they want to go to the local community college or try something different with their lives. That’s not ok. We’ll look like failures as a mother. 

                  And, to be a good mother, we must be on the PTA, attending all activities that we possibly can, volunteering in the classroom, and bringing homemade goodies anytime food was required. 

                  I volunteered once in my kids’ preschool and decided that it was not for me. I did volunteer a few times during my oldest’s kindergarten and first-grade years. And I left the PTA because I think schools shouldn’t have to fundraise and it just creates even more distance between wealthy and low-income schools (also a topic for another time). And I’m not going to feel guilty about any of it.

                  If you want to volunteer for these things and it works with your schedule, then do it. If it doesn’t, then let it go and don’t feel bad about it. Society needs all types of people to function. We cannot be all things to all people. 

                  On one hand, many articles (mostly in the 80s and 90s) came out telling mothers they were abandoning their kids by going to work. That this was going to be the downfall of society because moms were working outside of the home and not home raising kids and taking care of the house. 

                  At the same time, time studies were showing that mothers were spending more time with their kids than previous generations. 

                  So our society is built on this myth that moms must spend all their time enriching their kids’ lives.

                  And as mothers starting working outside the home, they started sacrificing sleep, self-care, and their sanity to spend as much time as possible with their kids. 

                  And feeling guilty about the whole thing because they feel like they’re failing no matter what they’re doing! 

                  Let’s all admit that this is hard. Parenthood doesn’t come with a guide. We’re doing the best we can with the resources we can. Whether you work outside the home, stay at home, work part-time, have no choice for either one, or fully choose it, let’s all support each other in this. 

                  If you don’t want to volunteer on the PTA or in the classroom, don’t. If that’s your jam, then do it. Let’s be aware of these myths society is selling us and know that we’re all just doing the best we can.

                  These are all things we talk about in my virtual community, Chaos Contained. If you want to dive into this topic more, come join us!

                  Or contact me and let’s chat about how this shows up in your life.

                  You can also start by signing up below for a free PDF that helps you get started on this!

                    The Ideal Mother

                    Last week we talked about maternal gatekeeping. How, as women, we’re conditioned to believe we’re better at parenting and housekeeping than our partners. How we are the ones who need to control everything, to ensure it’s done right (or done at all). And how we need to stop letting society create these ridiculous standards. 

                    This conditioning comes from what’s known as the Ideal Mother. This is the idea that a mother know’s best. We’re led to believe this from a young age. 

                    Men are conditioned to believe they are the ideal worker and the breadwinner. Jobs are designed around the ideal worker. The person who is always available for their work. They don’t have a life outside of work. It’s expected that there’s someone else (usually a wife), at home making sure the kids are taken care of, the house is cleaned, and dinner is on the table. 

                    So what happens when the wife works too? Life gets complicated. Women are expected to work like they don’t have a family to take care of and care for their family like they don’t have a job. 

                    But this isn’t possible and it isn’t fair. And it’s time to break this expectation. 

                    And it starts with a conversation. 

                    Yes, this might feel like one more thing you have to do. And it is. But it’s also the only way we’re going to change things. We need to get our partners on board here. And not in a guilt and shame-filled way. But in a way that leads us to be true partners, sharing childcare and household tasks in a way that’s fair to everyone. (that is different from sharing things 50/50). 

                    woman overwhelmed by too many tasks around the house. the ideal mother maternal gatekeeping

                    One of the first things to discuss is an acceptable level of cleanliness and which Eve Rodksy, in her book Fair Play, labels Minimum Standard of Care. These are the agreed-upon expectations of everything in a house. Who cleans out the cat litter and when does it happen? What about the trash? What about family activities, like soccer, piano lessons, church choir, etc.? How many activities does each family member take on each season? How often do you have family dinners? 

                    When my kids started elementary school, I decided we were only attending birthday parties with my kids’ friends. Not every birthday party. We were not going to sign up for every activity possible. Each person gets one, maybe two activities per semester. 

                    Remember, you do not need to spend every day after school driving your kids around to activities. Pick one of their favorites. Carpool. Schedule things so it all happens on one crazy day, where you have take-out for dinner. Or where you can trade off with your partner on who does the driving. Meet a friend for a walk around the park while your kids are at soccer practice. Or spend one-on-one time with one kid while the other(s) are at practice. 

                    Don’t feel obligated to say yes to everything.

                    There is no need to wear yourself out. It is ok for kids to be kids. To learn how to entertain themselves. Let them figure it out. 

                    If you want to talk more about how to incorporate this in your life, how to let go of all of the tasks, schedule some time with me!

                    If you want a PDF to get you started down this path, sign up below.

                      It’s Just Easier If I Do It Myself

                      How often do you find yourself muttering…it’s just easier if I do it? Then spending the rest of the evening resentful that you did something that you feel you shouldn’t always have to do? 

                      It's just easier Woman standing in kitchen surrounded by laundry, dishes, and trash.

                      What if, instead, there was a conversation about the task and the opportunity for someone else to do it?  Maybe it wouldn’t always be on you. If expectations were set about when and how a task was done (and who was going to complete it), it would happen without you constantly asking. 

                      It is possible. 

                      Women are conditioned that we’re the more capable parent. So we take over every aspect of raising kids and taking care of our house. 

                      This is known as maternal gatekeeping. It impacts relationships with our partners and our kids. It can be unconscious and unintentional. But it’s detrimental. (It can also happen in families where the parents are not together.)

                      Our society has told us that if a child isn’t thriving, it’s mom’s fault. If the kids aren’t wearing matching clothes or spending all their waking moments at some enrichment program, that they’re never going to get into a good college and will fail at life. 

                      None of this is true. And we need to stop buying into it. 

                      My kids have dressed themselves from a young age. They often don’t match. Their clothes are inside out or backward (sometimes both). For me, it’s more important that they got themselves dressed and have agency over their own lives. It doesn’t even matter if they’re wearing weather-appropriate clothes. I just want them dressed.

                      And, there are costs to taking on all the emotional and mental labor of a household.

                      We’re tired, exhausted, drained, cranky, sleep-deprived. We are not taking care of ourselves so there’s little left to give to others. And we don’t see a way out. 

                      We still see dads as clueless, almost like another child we have to take care of. But dads are actually fit to parent. And we need to let them. It might look different than your way, but that’s a good thing. 

                      So what can we do about it? 

                      First, we can be aware of when we’re doing it. Are you redoing the dishwasher after someone else has loaded it? Do you passive-aggressively complain about how your husband never empties the trash? Are you grumbling about how you always plan the family vacations and never enjoy them because it feels like it’s just as much work as being home? (That last one is me!) 

                      Then have a conversation with your partner about it. Without blaming or shaming your partner, talk about how you want things to be fairer around the house. Find a couples counselor who can work with you through this. Schedule time with me to talk about it. Read the book by Eve Rodsky called Fair Play

                      Talk about what really matters in your life. What is essential for everyone’s happiness? 

                      Want to talk about this more? Schedule some time with me!

                      If you want a PDF to help get you started on this, send me your email!

                        Helping Is A Lifeskill

                        A few weeks ago, we were all picking up the house so that we could more thoroughly clean it. My 5-year-old daughter refused to participate. She’s 5. She’s stubborn and she’s not going to do anything she doesn’t want to do. 

                        So I let it go and we all moved on. 

                        A little while later, I hear her saying she’s cleaning up to help me. Because mom needs it. 

                        helping is a lifeskill. boy cleaning up toys

                        Now, I understand that often our kids do stuff around the house to help mom. Mom’s the one who manages the chores and house cleaning (more on why this is a problem at a later date. 

                        But I didn’t like the way she said this. I didn’t like that she was only doing it because mom was mad. 

                        My kids need to learn how to pick up after themselves. And participating in a team (family) is a life skill. Helping is a lifeskill. So it cleaning up after yourself. Our kids need to know how to do this stuff on their own. 

                        We need to all participate in keeping the house functioning. 

                        Here are some ideas to get everyone involved: 

                        • Make it fun. Don’t tell your kid to go clean their room. Their brains will shut down and it won’t happen. 
                          • Help them play the seek and sort game.  
                          • Turn it into a game. We play basketball with my kids’ laundry. You can do the same with any toys that go into a bin. (side note, don’t use bins with lids. 
                          • Have kids race against you (never against each other. Siblings are already competitive enough). See if they can put something away faster than you. 
                        • Make it easy to put things away. (Lids add one more step). 
                        • Have special time with them first. 
                        • Do something fun together as a family once you’re done. 

                        If your kids are older, these same guidelines apply. Get them to participate. Ask them how they want to participate (and skipping out is not an option). 

                        Keep it small. We clean half the house each weekend so it’s not overwhelming. We pick up most of the mess each day so it doesn’t get overwhelming. 

                        How cluttered your house gets is up to you and those who live there. What is your level of acceptance of mess? I don’t have the energy for a spotless house every day. I do like a weekly reset. Figure out what works for your family. 

                        What steps can you take this week to get back on track? If you want some help with this, schedule a call with me or look at how we can work together.

                        Overwhelmed By The Options

                        As we’re coming out of the pandemic fog and intentionally rebuilding our lives, let’s take a look at our task lists. There might be piles of things that need to be cleaned out or purged. Maybe you have lists of house projects you wanted to do during this past year but never got around to. You might have activities you want to get yourself and your family back into. Are you overwhelmed by the options?

                        man looking at stickie notes of question marks on the wall. Overwhelmed by the options.

                        Around here, we had delayed doctor’s appointments (dentist, eye doctor, physicals, etc.). We had closets full of things we’d purged but hadn’t donated. There are projects around the house we’ve been delaying. All of these are decisions weighing on our brains that we’re not taking care of. So they rattle around in our heads because our brains wonder why we’re not immediately taking care of them. 

                        We’ve been talking about what we want the next few months to look like. Our kids won’t be vaccinated for a while, so not much is going to change for us. We’d like to spend much of the summer camping. There are a few friends we’d like to see. Otherwise, we’re going to continue staying home, hanging out in our backyard. Making homemade ice cream and playing in the sprinkler.

                        Last week I asked you to start thinking about the things you want to keep or shift going forward. How’d that go?

                        Are you diving back into everything or taking it slow? 

                        One of the things I’ve most appreciated about this past year is how it forced families to slow down. To stop running from one activity to another. Families are no longer spending their weekends attending birthday parties and soccer games or other sports. And no longer reaching Sunday night exhausted and not ready to start the next week. 

                        I think society has us conditioned to believe that we must say yes to everything that comes our way. Our kids won’t get into a good college if they’re not playing multiple sports in elementary school. That our kids are going to cause trouble if every moment is not scheduled. 

                        But what does that do to our family time and our own sanity? When we simply become activity directors and drivers for our kids. Scheduling playdates, music lessons, sports, etc. for every minute of the day? When do our kids simply get to be kids and learn how to entertain themselves? It is possible for your kids to learn how to entertain themselves. It might take some time, but it can be done. 

                        As you discuss what you’re going to start doing over the next few months, think about creating family meta-decisions. This is an overarching guideline used to make decisions. It could be that each family member gets 1 activity per semester, including parents. Maybe it’s one sport and one other activity. One could be that each parent has one night each week where they are out of the house. Every Friday is a family movie and pizza night. Whatever works for your family. 

                        Create these guidelines and they’ll make your schedule easier to figure out. These guidelines create guardrails against the craziness of diving right back into everything we think we missed. They will help contain the chaos! 

                        Read more about meta-decisions here.

                        If you want to talk more about how to incorporate meta-decisions in your life, schedule some time with me.

                        And, if you want a PDF on how to start thinking about these ideas, sign up below.

                          Coming Out Of The Fog

                          We’ve all been in a fog this past year. There has been so much unknown, fear, and uncertainty. As we move forward to the next chapter, it’s like we’re coming out of the fog. Let’s make sure we come out of this fog with some intention and focus.

                          I’ve heard from many moms how much they’ve enjoyed having family dinners together on a regular basis. Not rushing around from so many activities. Not being so overbooked on the weekends. I’ve enjoyed not rushing around in the mornings getting everyone ready for the day. I like that we all sit down for lunch together.

                          stone steps through green grass. coming out of the fog

                          Yes, moms have been overwhelmed with so much this past year. The unknown. Remote learning. Decision fatigue. Working while your kid is sitting next to you at the dining room table. The piles of laundry and dishes that seem to accumulate when you’re not looking (which, let’s be honest, is not just a pandemic thing). The fact that everyone has to eat what feels like all the time. The worrying about the health of loved ones. The laying awake at 2 am worrying about everything. Again, the unknown.

                          So what’s next?

                          As life around us starts to open up, what are you doing next? Take some time to answer these questions. Ask your family these questions! Use them as a starting point for what’s next.

                          • What is it you want to keep about this past year? (For me, it’s Sunday night card games with my husband).
                          • What from your pre-pandemic life do you not miss? (For me, it’s saying yes to things because I feel I should. I’m going to be much more intentional about how I spend my time).
                          • What do you want your life to look like going forward?

                          Let’s not go back to the crazy, overwhelmed, rushing around we did pre-pandemic. Say yes to what is important to us. Let’s build back better than we were in 2019. Let’s get intentional about our lives.

                          Who’s with me?

                          Keep reading about this topic:

                          One Big Interruption

                          Feeling Uprooted? Start Planting New Seeds

                          If you want some guidance around getting started on these ideas, schedule time with me or sign up below.

                            More Thoughts On The Dishes

                            Do you ever redo a task that someone else has done because you didn’t think it was done well enough? Maybe it’s the dishwasher, maybe it’s folding laundry, maybe it’s something for work. 

                            And how often do you complain that others in your house don’t help? Do you spend your time with friends complaining about how you do it all around the house? How your partner just doesn’t see all that you do or even know that you do it?

                            You’re exhausted, overwhelmed, tired of it all? 

                            I wonder if we bring some of the chaos on ourselves

                            I wonder if by redoing a task that someone else completed, we take away their power and motivation. Thereby starting a cycle where they stop doing it and we get mad because now they’re not doing it. 

                            I had a college roommate who would reclean the bathroom after I cleaned it because he didn’t think I did a good enough job. So I stopped cleaning the bathroom. Maybe he got mad and now he thought I was lazy, but I’m not going to do something that someone else is going to redo. It’s not worth my time and effort. 

                            What if our partners (and maybe even our kids) feel this way? They’re tired of being nagged, of having their work redone. Of wondering why they even bother if it’s not good enough. 

                            Last week I talked about how men and women have the same level of messiness. But women are conditioned by society to care more, to get to it quicker. So we expect tasks to be completed on our timeline. Not allowing others to have their own agency. 

                            I wonder what would happen if we set the expectation of when something needs to be done and then let our partners do it on their time.

                            It can start with a conversation. With our partners. With our families. With a counselor.

                            Remember that half the population wasn’t raised to see all the work it takes to run a household and raise kids. It’s not that they’re ignoring it, they don’t know it exists. And, as women, when we take it all on, our partners still don’t see it because we’re doing it. 

                            These changes require patience and time. We’re not going to change these deep-seated tendencies overnight. But we can start. 

                            Let’s start by making it more visible. Stop doing all the housework after everyone else is in bed. Stop redoing something someone else has already done. Even if you can fit more dishes in the dishwasher or think something should be folded differently, stop yourself. Try celebrating that someone else did it and now you don’t have to. That’s one thing off your plate! 

                            Folding laundry Arm throwing laundry in to baskets redo a task

                            My kids don’t fold their clothes. The clothes get sorted by item and shoved in drawers. They know how to fold, but I’m not going to spend a bunch of time folding their clothes or nagging them to do it. We sort them, play a game of basketball as they toss their clothes into the drawers, and call it a day. 

                            Ask for help and give the other person ownership over the task. They’re not helping you, you’re working as partners. Buy the cards from Fair Play and use them as a discussion around household work. 

                            We aren’t going to solve this problem with a conversation, but we can start shifting it with a conversation. 

                            Want to keep talking about this? Join my FB Group or my Virtual Community.

                            If you want a PDF to help get you started on this task, simply provide your email below.

                              The Dishes. Again.

                              The dishes. Again. 

                              With four people home all the time, we run our dishwasher a lot. There is often a clean load in the dishwasher, with even more dishes sitting on the kitchen counter waiting to be dealt with. 

                              I realized recently that I had it in my head that my husband expected me to deal with the dishes. Yes, we’re both home all day. But my schedule is more flexible, I’m with the kids more during the day, working while they’re in their remote learning classes. So, of course, why wouldn’t I be the one to deal with all the household tasks too? 

                               dishes. again. let's change the narratives.

                              Then I realized how incorrect this thinking is. It wasn’t that he expected me to do it. He wasn’t thinking about it at all. He was focused on work. And he would deal with the dishes later, after work, while he was making dinner. 

                              I read an article in the Atlantic about how men and women are equally messy. But men don’t notice as much. Women feel a lot of pressure to keep their spaces clean and organized and pretty. Ourselves too. Now, I will leave space in here on how we feel more in control of our lives when we’ve cleaned and purged our house. I too clean and organized when I’m stressed out.

                              But, women are conditioned from a young age that keeping the house and family organized is our responsibility. We wrap our worth up in it. Women operate on a different time scale than men. So it appears that we take it all on because men won’t. When men just haven’t been conditioned to deal with it as quickly as women. 

                              And the pattern continues. Women take on the tasks because we think men aren’t going to do it, instead of letting them do it on their own time. Then the men just stop doing tasks around the house, because the women do it all anyway. And it continues. 

                              And our kids see this. They see mom doing all the household chores and the organizing of schedules and planning of everything. And they grow up thinking that’s how it’s done. 

                              It’s time to change that narrative. 

                              I realize that I’m asking women to take on one more thing here. I’m also asking women to get their partners in on this. To start having these conversations together. To start shifting the dynamics in your house to more equity. Involve everyone in the household. Down to the youngest child. 

                              When my kids complain about not wanting to do something around the house, I remind them that we all live here. We all contribute to the household and we all need to work together. And then we read a book titled The Great Zooberry Debacle: A Tale of Many Hands.

                              Here are some more thoughts on this topic. And if you want to talk more about this, schedule a 30-minute phone call with me.

                              If you want more information on how to start this work, sign up below! You’ll receive a free PDF with questions to help get you started.

                                Who Has The Time?

                                Do you time block? Do you know that is? Time blocking is assigning a specific time to a specific task. This could work in several ways. 

                                time block. rock in sand.
                                • Processing emails at specific times (30 minutes at lunch and the last 30 minutes of your workday).
                                • Scheduling all the calls you need to make for work on Thursday morning. 
                                • Blocking time once a week for planning the next few weeks (so important to keep you on top of things!). 
                                • Mondays are for marketing, Tuesdays are for staff meetings and open office doors for any staff questions, and Wednesday morning is for creative planning, etc. 
                                • Scheduling time each week for bigger projects that require focused deep work for several hours.
                                • Do laundry or buy groceries on certain days. 

                                Time blocking ensures you get the big stuff done. It’s scheduling the big rocks and letting all the sand fall around them.

                                Spend your days focusing on your priorities, not flinging from one task to another. You get ahead of the fires and last-minute urgent tasks.

                                And when you block the time on your calendar, you’ve made time for those priorities. Your brain can rest because it knows the important tasks are taken care of.

                                What happens if you’ve blocked your time but a crisis interrupts it? Good question.

                                If this happens, it helps to have a handle on your tasks and schedule over the next few days or even weeks. Then you know what time blocks to switch around. Take some time to reschedule a few things so you can deal with the interruptions. And do this only after deciding whether the interruption needs to be dealt with right away or if it can wait.

                                Read more about where your time goes here. And if you want to talk about how to incorporate time blocking in your days, schedule a call with me.

                                Sign up below for a PDF to get you started in changing your relationship with time.