Category Archives: mindset shift

What Are You Escaping?

I know my life is reaching a point of overwhelm when there are too many post-it notes. When I feel like all I’m doing is creating to-do lists. But not actually doing any of the tasks on the post-its or lists.

When this happens, I take a few minutes to get all the tasks and ideas out of my head. Then figure out what really needs to happen right now, today, or this week.

When we have a sense of our commitments, it’s easier to say yes or no to something. If it’s a work project, we can talk about renegotiating deadlines. If it’s a volunteer commitment, we know if have the time to give. If it’s our kids asking to do one more activity, we can have a conversation as a family about whether it makes sense or will lead to more overwhelm.

How many things have you said yes to in your life because:

what are you escaping
  1. Didn’t know how to say no at the moment?
  2. Felt obligated to do it even though you really didn’t want to?

Remember that every time you say yes to something you are saying no to something else.

And sometimes we have to say no to something that seems like a great opportunity because we know that there’s a better one out there. (Or, we know we need to leave breathing room in our schedules). Make sure that yes is worth it.

I want you to design a life that you don’t need to escape from. One that doesn’t have you dreading every Monday. Where you aren’t resentful of the activities you and your family are committed to outside of work and school.

It’s a life full of activities and tasks that deserve to be there.

This takes time and reflection, both of which I know you feel you don’t have enough. But we can change that, together!

You Are Not Your To-Do List

That’s right, you are not your to-do list!

Our society will have you believe that your worth is wrapped up in how much you get done each day.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not.

Your worth has nothing to do with how clean and organized your house is.

you are not your to-do list

It has nothing to do with how much you get done each day.

It’s not even connected to how many activities your kids do each week or how good they are at any of them.

And it’s most definitely not connected to whether or not your kid’s clothes match when they leave the house (or if they brushed their hair).

You are not your to-do list.

You are worthy simply because of who you are.

From One To The Next

As I write this, I’m sitting on the couch, still drinking coffee (and still in my PJs). The kids are at school (my husband has morning drop-off).

Looking at my to-do list for today it has more than simply work tasks on it. I need to change the sheets, get my kids signed up for swim lessons, and schedule a dentist appointment.

One of the reasons moms are so exhausted is they’re never just focusing on work or just focusing on their kids.

You are constantly switching between tasks. And that constant switching is exhausting. You’re never focused on one thing. There are many things rolling through your brain.

You likely thought of 6 things you need to do today just while reading this email!

The mental labor of keeping a household running is exhausting and overwhelming.

So, what can we do about it?

First, start with a brain dump. Get all the tasks and ideas out of your head. Your brain was not meant to hold more than 4-5 ideas at a time. You don’t need to remember that you need toothpaste, write it down and stop thinking about it!

one to the next

This step alone is helpful. And it can be overwhelming to see all those tasks listed in front of you. You don’t have to do all those tasks today! I promise.

Having them documented helps you categorize them. So you can run all your errands at once instead of going to the grocery store or Target 5 times over 2 weeks.

The other tip I have for you is time blocking. Have certain times of the week or day when you complete certain tasks. I have Monday morning blocked off for all my marketing tasks. I have a checklist of everything I need to do. My calendar is blocked so people can’t schedule appointments with me until after 10am. I sit down and work my way through my checklist.

Same for laundry. I have certain days of the week I do laundry. I’ll do the occasional load if necessary. But for the most part, if your laundry isn’t in the laundry basket when laundry is done, it isn’t getting clean!

What can you time block for yourself this week? It could be a work task or a household chore.

Dads Don’t Babysit

When you see a dad at the playground with his kids, what’s the first thing that goes through your head? Is it different than what you’d think about a mom at the playground?

When your partner takes care of the kids for an afternoon while you run errands or hang out with some girlfriends, what is going through your mind?

dads don't babysit

When I or my husband heads out for an evening with friends, the other one is fully in charge of the kids. That means if there’s a meltdown happening as I head out the door, I leave. Because my husband is also a parent and he can handle it. But I’ve had friends bail on dinner because one of their kids was having a tough time going to bed.

Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. If you feel your kids need you, then give them that attention.

But if you’re staying because you don’t think your partner can handle it, let’s talk about that.

There is this double standard in our society. When dads do something like take their kids to the park, we see it as this hero move. Oh, look at him, spending time with his kids. He’s such a good dad.

Yet, I could guarantee you we don’t say that about moms. When we see a mom at the park, it’s not a big deal. We’ll judge her for being on her phone or not playing with her kids. Maybe the kid falls down – it’s the mom’s fault. Not just what kids do.

My husband doesn’t babysit. He’s not a hero for taking the kids to the park or sitting down to play legos with them. He’s a dad. This is what parents do.

I’ll stay off my soap box for how our society has created this mess and how we feed right into it as parents.

But remember this, dads don’t babysit!

Do You Use The Word Busy As A Defense Mechanism?

“Busy is just a euphemism for being so focused on what you don’t have that you never notice what you do. It’s a defense mechanism. Because if you stop hustling—if you pause—you start wondering why you ever thought you wanted all those things.” ― Jodi Picoult, Wish You Were Here

I was talking with several parents about all the after-school activities they were doing. And someone said she does all the activities because everyone else in her neighborhood did too. What if she skipped out on soccer and her kids missed out spending time with the other kids on the block?

And while I can understand that mentality, what if there are other parents doing the same thing? What if out of five families on the block, only 2 of them enjoy soccer. And the others are doing it because they feel like that’s the only way for their kids to have friends or spend time with others?

What if one of them stopped for a season? Chose a different activity? Or let the kids ride their bikes instead of attending a structured activity?

Jumping off the hamster wheel can be scary.

It’s easy to fall into this pattern of doing what we’ve always done. Of taking on the activities of those around us. Believing that by cultivating our kids skills they will grow up to be successful adults.

And we don’t spend much time thinking about it because we feel we don’t have the luxury of that time.

Our society has us constantly striving for the next best thing. We rarely take the time to evaluate what we’re doing and if it’s what we really want.

My challenge for you this week is to take even a few minutes. Take 20 minutes and evaluate all the activities in your life.

  • Think about how you want to be living your life. What do you want your days to look like? What memories do you want to have when you look back on your kids’ childhoods?
  • Write down all the activities you and your family are doing (outside of school and work).
  • Do these activities fit within what you want your life to look like?
    • If yes, great!
    • If not, how can you let them go?

By taking the time to evaluate the activities in your life, you will likely find something you can let go of. You’ll get some time back in your schedule to focus on something you truly want to be doing.

You’ll find that there isn’t clutter in every crevice of your day!

And your future self will thank you!

P.S. Ready to take this further? Schedule a Get on Track call.

Are You Blorft?

“I was a little excited but mostly blorft. “Blorft” is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years.” ― Tina Fey, Bossypants

I was sitting on the playground recently, watching my kids play and listening to a group of parents talk about how hard it was to get together with their friends.

A dad was describing this long text thread of trying to get together with a friend to go rock-climbing. They live 30-minutes away from great climbing, but could not find a time when they were both free at the same time.

blorft

Same story for a mom trying to make plans with some girlfriends.

There were all the activities that the kids were doing. Soccer. Piano. Swim lessons. Dance. Gymnastics. Tuesdays and Thursdays were out. Saturdays too because that’s when the games are. And the multitude of birthday parties and other kid-centered activities that happen.

If there’s more than one kid, the activities likely fall on different days, so there goes most weekdays.

And I say there thinking to myself – it doesn’t have to be this hard, does it? It shouldn’t be this hard to make time to see our friends. Why do we design our lives to revolve around our children?

Society has led us to believe that we need to do everything for our children and keep them fully entertained all the time. That it’s selfish for us to do anything for ourselves.

Play dates. Sports. Music. They must be achieving and growing.

What happened to kids entertaining themselves while mom and dad sit and have a quiet cup of coffee together?

What would happen if you said no to a birthday party and instead spend some time with just your family? Or hired a babysitter (or a neighbor) to watch your kid(s) while you and a friend went and took a walk or went for a cup of coffee?

What if each family member took one activity off their plate for the next few months? What would that extra time do for all of you?

You can design a life you love. Not one that’s requiring you to respond to stress with the torpor of a possum.

What would you let go of today to make more time for your friends?

Your future self will thank you!

Valerie

Are You Often Striving For Perfection?

Do you have such high expectations of yourself that you feel like you are never living up to them?

That you are constantly striving for perfection and it’s never enough?

Maybe you spend time late at night cleaning the house so it’s organized and clean all the time.

Or you stay up late perfecting a report for work, a presentation you’re giving, or an email you need to send a client.

Maybe you worry that you’re not doing enough for your kids. That they’re not in the right activities that are going to get them in to the right college.

And you feel like it’s never enough and that you are failing every day.

It seems like if we don’t meet our expectations, we question ourselves, not the expectations.

When maybe it’s our expectations that are the problem.

I think it’s society that’s setting us up for failure.

One of the things I focus on in my client work is designing a life that you want. Not living like society or social media tells you.

But focusing on what’s important to you and your family.

Instead of striving for some version of perfect that society is telling you to strive for, clarify your own version of success.

striving for perfection

What are your goals? And what small step can you take today to move toward them?

What short-term tasks can you let go of to focus on a long-term goal? It might be letting the laundry sit for another day while you do some research on spending a summer in a foreign country. It could be hiring someone to deep clean your house once a month so you can spend time hiking with your family.

Ask yourself if the world will stop spinning if the task isn’t done perfectly. I’m guessing the answer is no. So maybe good enough or done is OK.

Don’t waste your days living someone else’s life!

Define your own success!

If you’re ready to figure this out in your own life, schedule a Get On Track call.

It Doesn’t Have To Be This Hard

Do you have days where you feel like you missed a class on how to be an adult?

Where the to-do list is overwhelming and never-ending? And you wonder if you’ll ever feel on top of your game?

I know I have!

This is why I created Stride Productivity and my virtual community, Stride Together.

Because being a mom is hard. Being a mom while also working a full-time job or running your own business is hard. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, it’s hard!

And I want moms to know they’re not alone.

I want moms to know what it feels like to not have clutter and tasks in every crevice of their day.

To make time for fun.

To spend quality time with their families.

And to have a sense of control.

It is possible.

If you want to learn more, schedule a Get On Track call with me today. Let’s talk about how to help you stop feeling so exhausted and drained.

She Wanted To Help Me

How did it get so messy? Does a pack of wild animals live here?

Big sigh

We were all picking up toys and clutter 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.

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.

We are a team in our household. Keeping the house clean and organized is not just mom’s job. It’s everyone’s job. Because we all live here.

We don’t clean the house to make mom happy. We clean and declutter the house so we can find what we need and don’t get ants.

Everyone participates 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.
to help me

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).

Build routines around decluttering and cleaning.

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.

Everything has a home, so it’s easy to put things away.

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.

Spend some time this week talking with your family about how to start working together to keep the house functioning. Pick one of the above ideas and put it into action!

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?

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?

where to 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. The work projects.

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.

Identify the next step on an important work project and take it.

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

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

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.

Your future self will thank you.

This is a true picture of my kid’s old playroom. It was amazing how quickly they made a mess to the point that they couldn’t play in it! And we had to pick one spot, one toy category, and start cleaning up! Life can feel this messy sometimes, huh?!

Watch As She Bends But Never Breaks

In the song, Surface Pressure, from Encanto, we find Luisa singing the following lyrics.

I take what I’m handed, I break what’s demanding But

Under the surface

I feel berserk as a tightrope walker in a three-ring circus

Under the surface…

I’m pretty sure I’m worthless if I can’t be of service…

Pressure like a drip, drip, drip that’ll never stop, whoa

Pressure that’ll tip, tip, tip ’til you just go pop, whoa-oh-oh

Give it to your sister, it doesn’t hurt

And see if she can handle every family burden

Watch as she buckles and bends but never breaks

Luisa is singing about how she feels so much pressure and is wondering if she can handle it.

She’s always been expected to be the strong one in the family. And the family and town keep throwing tasks at her and expecting her to take more and more on.

She feels herself crumbling under the pressure. She also starts to realize that she doesn’t always have to be the strong one. That she doesn’t always have to take everything on. That she’s more than the strong one. And she really needs a break.

Do these words resonate with you? Do you feel the pressure of taking everything on yourself?

You take everything that’s thrown at you. You bend but never break.

But underneath everything, you feel a bit berserk? Trying not to crumble under the pressure? Feeling like your worth is wrapped up in service to your family?

Maybe you too are developing a twitch in your eye from the pressure.

Know that you don’t need to carry the weight of the world by yourself. That you and your family are a team. You work together.

Know that you don’t have to do every task on your to-do list today.

One of the things I work on with my clients is making sure that what’s on your list belongs there. Today and long-term. You don’t have to say yes to everything.

The world will continue to tell you that your worth is wrapped up in your task list and how you serve your family.

I will continue to tell you that this isn’t true.

If you are curious about what it would be like to work with me, schedule a Get On Track session!

Are You Still Making Their Lunches?

In the movie Bad Moms, Amy (played by Mila Kunis), has taken on so many tasks in her family. She does her best to make her kids’ lives magical. She does their homework. Makes their breakfast. Makes their lunches. Drives them to all their activities.

She does it all.

And she’s exhausted.

At one point, after she’s realized how hard she works and how she’s done doing all the tasks, she tells her kids to make their own lunch. They look stunned. Mom has always done everything for them! And now they have to do something for themselves.

And you know what happens? They figure it out.

Yes, they grumble a bit. They leave a mess in the kitchen. But they make their own lunches.

Moms have been told, over and over, that in order to show our kids that we love them, we must do everything for them. From making fancy breakfasts every morning to packing their lunches, and maybe even doing their homework.

Go overboard for the holidays with decorations, gifts, food.

Throw elaborate birthday parties.

We sign our kids up for so many activities and schedule numerous playdates.

Because society has told us this is what we’re supposed to be doing. That this makes us good moms.

When in reality, it makes us tired and resentful. And makes our kids rely on us for everything.

Now, I hate making lunches. Always have. So I taught my kids from a young age how to make their own.

Do they make a mess? Yes. Do they help clean it up? Yes. Are they getting better at it? Yes.

We make it as simple as possible. Pack snack-size containers with raisins and goldfish on the weekends so that they’re ready to pack (the kids help with this too). Keep ingredients to make sandwiches on hand. Have a list of easy-to-make lunch ideas. And we work on making lunches together, after dinner each night.

Eventually, they’ll be able to pack their lunches without help.

What’s something that you can start teaching your kids to do on their own? Something you can eventually move off your plate, onto someone else’s?

Yes, it might get messy. Yes, it might take some time for your kids to learn. But in the long run? It’s better for all of you!

Reply to this email and let me know what you are going to start working on with your kids?

Your future self will thank you.

P.S. Want to learn more about what it’s like to work with me? Schedule a Get On Track call!

Do You Ever Do This?

When I was in college, my roommate would reclean the bathroom after I cleaned it. He didn’t think I did it right.

So I stopped. What was the point of me taking the time to do something that someone else was going to redo?

Have you ever done this?

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.

Be honest, no one is watching you read this.

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 we have such high expectations of ourselves and those around us that no one will ever live up to them.

Or society has conditioned women to believe that we’re the only ones capable of doing these tasks. And if they’re not done our way, then we’ve failed somehow.

What 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.

reclean the bathroom

Woman standing over dishwasher

I have a friend who argued with his wife about their dishwasher. She was constantly reloading it after he loaded it. He told her he was going to stop loading it if she continued to redo it. What was the point of him doing it if it was just going to get redone?

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

I’ve 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 in their own way. Didn’t remind them. Didn’t nag them. Let them do it on their own.

Instead of maternal gatekeeping (something that’s seated deep within women where mothers know best and should be in charge), what if others participated?

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 all.

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!

Think of what you can do when you’re not doing everything?

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.

Give someone ownership over a task. They’re not helping you, you’re working together.

Start paying attention to everything that you’re taking on. It’s not going to change overnight, but let’s start with some awareness.

Your future self will thank you.

Let me know the last time you redid the dishwasher! (I’ll keep it between us!)

And come join me on Instagram!

Dirty Dishes and The Invisible Load

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. So many dishes!

so many dishes

At some point, I realized that I had it in my head that my husband expected me to deal with the dishes. Yes, we both work from home. But my schedule is more flexible. So, of course, why wouldn’t I be the one to deal with all the household tasks too?

Sound familiar? As moms, we take on all the household tasks because it feels easier that way. Without thinking about it.

In reality, 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 organize when I’m stressed out.

But, women are conditioned from a young age that keeping the house and family organized is our responsibility. Our worth is wrapped 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 in their own way. Then the men just stop doing tasks around the house, because the women do it all anyway. And the exhausting cycle 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. Where everyone in the household is involved, 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.

Start paying attention to when you take it all on. When you are the one worrying about everything and feeling like people are judging you if things aren’t perfect.

Your future self will thank you.

When you’re ready to stop feeling pulled in too many directions and add a sense of control and peace to your days, schedule a call with me, and let’s talk about my coaching programs.

Some Days It Never Ends

Some days, it never ends.

Get the kids up.

And get breakfast ready.

And help the kids pack their lunches

And remind the kids to put those lunches in their backpacks, not the counter.

And get kids out the door to school.

some days it never ends

Then start my work day.

And then remember we need to figure out what’s for dinner. And maybe buy groceries.

And add 3 more things to my task list for work.

Some days, it never ends!

It feels like the task list never gets shorter.

Some days the list truly gets longer!

At times it feels like we’re failing. Maybe you’ll try a new tool or hack and it’ll work for a while. But you eventually find yourself back where you were, overwhelmed and overcommitted. Feeling like it’s never enough.

Sometimes we wonder if we missed a class in school on how to do this thing called life.

I assure you that you did not miss a class. You are not failing. Our society has led women to believe that in order to have it all we have to do it all.

When dads don’t get paternity leave, moms simply get better at doing all the things. Not because they’re better at it by nature, but because they’re the ones doing it every day.

Over time, this leads moms to feel like we need to take on everything related to the house and kids, on top of running a business or growing our own careers. Because we’ve been led to believe that this is what good moms do and nothing will happen if we don’t take care of it.

But when both partners are involved with the household and raising of children, life is richer for everyone.

Getting everyone involved in a household doesn’t happen overnight. And it doesn’t happen by putting up a chore chart or reminders.

It takes time. Conversations. Family meetings. Work on everyone’s part.

But it can happen. This is the work I do with my clients. The work we talk about in my community.

Want to get started? Go here.

If you’re wondering if you missed a class on how to do life, let’s chat! Schedule a call with me!

Your future self will thank you!

The Holidays Are Here!

The holidays are here! Are you ready? 

The pandemic is still complicating things. It might still be a year for social distancing and smaller parties. Or more of staying at home and visiting friends and family on Zoom. 

the holidays are here!

Regardless of how you spend the holidays, here are a few ideas for thriving, not surviving. 

Simplify

Maybe you’re one to go overboard for the holidays. Everyone gets gifts. You mail cards to everyone you know. And your family is wearing matching PJ’s in the photo that’s on the card you send. 

Before you go nuts, take a minute and step back. 

Make a list of everything you do during the holidays. Look at the list. Examine it. 

Do these tasks make you happy? Or are you doing them because you feel you need to? Are there a few that you can skip? 

Pick the few items that make you happy. Cross the rest off.  No one will notice! 

Ask

Ask each family member to pick one activity they enjoy and want to do during the holidays. 

Schedule it. 

Stick with the activities that your family enjoys. Skip the rest! You will all be happier. 

You do not have to say yes to every event that comes your way. If you love attending all the parties and it fills you up, then go! 

But realize that might not be true for everyone in your family. Or you. And that’s ok. 

Say yes to the events that you and your family get the most out of. 

When you’re overbooked, you don’t enjoy the holidays. It feels like one thing after another and before you know it, it’s January and you’re left wondering what happened. 

Being intentional about the events and activities you take on helps you feel present at each of them. Sinking into the fun of the moment. 

Simplify Some More

Are you hosting a meal? What can you do to make it easy? In our family, the person hosting makes the main dish and everyone else brings a side dish. Everyone signs up for something so we don’t end up with 6 side dishes of mashed potatoes. And it takes the pressure off the host to not be in charge of everything. 

Maybe it’s never been done this way in your family. Maybe it’s always been on you to make the holidays happen. That doesn’t mean you can’t request a change. At least start the conversation. It could be as simple as everyone else bringing appetizers or desserts. 

After The Holidays, Evaluate

In January, spend some time thinking about what worked and what didn’t work in December. What did your family enjoy? What do you wish you had skipped? Take notes and put them somewhere you will find next November. 

Try a few of these ideas this year. The key is to only do the things that make you happy. Don’t wear yourself out doing everything! Doing a few things allows you to enjoy those activities and tasks and get the most out of them. 

If you want more ideas on how to simplify your life, sign up below!

    Around The Next Bend

    Years ago, my husband and I went hiking in Acadia, in northern Maine. As we were coming back down the trail, we kept thinking that the trail would end around the next bend. Around the next bend, we’ll be back at the car. This went on for some time. It seemed the trail was never going to end! 

    around the next bend.

    We still joke about it. It’s become a mantra in our lives whenever something seems to be taking longer than it should. It’ll end around the next bend. 

    Maybe this is how you feel about your to-do list. That you’ll get through it soon. It has to get shorter sometime, right? If you just keep chipping away at it. Skipping sleep. Not taking breaks. 

    Around the next bend. 

    Let’s be honest. In this case, it’s not going to end around the next bend. There will always be something on our to-do list. It might feel more manageable some days or weeks. But there will always be tasks. 

    I’m not telling you this to make you sad and feel defeated. I want you to make the realization that it’s ok to take a break from the list. To put something fun on it. Or even put it in a drawer for the afternoon and go do something for yourself. 

    Then, after that break, come back and let’s talk about how to handle the never-ending list. When you really feel like you don’t have the time to deal with what’s on it. Or to even make a dent in the list. 

    Where do you start? 

    Start with a brain dump. Take 10 minutes and write down everything that’s floating around in your head. All the ideas and tasks. Find the post-its and notes you’ve left everywhere. Get them all in one spot. Pull out tasks lost in your emails. 

    Once you have all the tasks in one place, it’s easier to see your priorities. It can’t all be a priority, so you’ll need some guidelines here. Ask yourself the following questions: 

    • What are the quickest / closest deadlines? 
    • What is making my business money? 
    • What project do I need to get started on soon? 
    • Are there tasks on here that I can delete or delegate? 

    What are the next steps? 

    Next, write out each step, as small as possible for all your projects. This helps you get moving on your projects because you know the next steps. 

    You can’t claim you don’t have the time, because you can make the time for small steps. 

    What are your goals and values? 

    Another place to start from is understanding what’s important to you. When you know your goals for your business and your family, you can easily identify the tasks that get you there. Anything else can be deleted. 

    Say No

    The next part is learning to say no. When you know what’s on your plate, you know if another project or client is the right fit. 

    Remember, future you is just as busy as today you. Only say yes to something in the future if you would say yes to it tomorrow. 

    Saying yes to a big project means saying no to something else. 

    Maybe a goal of yours is to spend more time with your family or on exercise or to create another part of your business. Saying yes to a new project or client might take away from that. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it. 

    That to-do list might never end, even around the next bend. But you can take back control and deal with it in a way that works for you. So the trail doesn’t feel so long. And you can enjoy the scenery along the way.

    If you want more ideas on how to deal with that never-ending to-do list, sign up below for weekly tips and tricks!

      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!

        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, Stride Together, 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!