Get it, Girl…A Guide to My Get It Done Weekend

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I’m not naturally the most tidy person.  My husband would back me up on this.  When we were first married, I would marvel at his compulsion to straighten every rug in his vicinity or to wipe out the bathroom sink each and every time he brushed his teeth.  These types of things did not even occur to me.  But as I’ve gotten older (sigh), as I expend more time and energy picking up, wiping up, and scrubbing after these tiny little human beings I call my children….as I take more pride in my home and my belongings that I work so hard for…I’m finding I have changed.  The little things bother me now and unfortunately, with working full time and having two small children, the small things tend to accumulate into big things very quickly.

I wish I could say I have it all together, that I do a load of laundry every day, that there aren’t dishes in my sink, that my tub is clean…but that would be a big FAT lie.  Although my home isn’t a pig’s sty, it also isn’t immaculate.  I visit the houses of others and find their homes spotless and smelling fresh and clean and I’m jealous…and confused.  How do they do it????

I set out with a mission this weekend to get my house in order.  This was the first weekend that wasn’t loaded down with activities and I decided I was going to make the most of it.  I’m a visual person so I worked up two visual aids to keep me accountable and on point.  First I made a time table of my day.  See below.

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Please note that I do NOT typically wake up a 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday but I had a lot of ground to cover.  A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!  When calculating my time, I tried to account for the day-to-day stuff like working out…eating…blah, blah.  It sounds ridiculous but when I get focused in a cleaning frenzy, I can go without meals.  So it’s important to plan these things into my day.  My blocks of time ranged from one to two hours and consisted of the following:

  • Start laundry and workout
  • Change laundry and make breakfast
  • Change laundry and clean dishes and kitchen
  • Change laundry and clean bathrooms
  • Change laundry, pull sheets and comforters for washing and clean bedrooms
  • Lunch time! Clean up kitchen
  • Change laundry. Jera’s nap time. Clean living room
  • Change laundry. Floors, floors, floors!
  • Shower. Live life.

Now to make sure I stayed on focus, I made a second, complimentary list that broke down the chores within each room (with a nice little check box that I could mark as I accomplished each task…see, told you I was a visual person).  See below:

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This is how it went.  My dream list.  If I could accomplish everything within the given room, this is what I would accomplish…

Kitchen

  1. Collect dishes from around the house and wash, dry AND PUT AWAY
  2. Organize the Tupperware (would it be wrong to say God-forsaken Tupperware???) cabinet.  Throw away Tupperware with no matching lids!
  3. Wipe down counter tops, table and dust the hutch
  4. Clean out the refrigerator
  5. Make shopping list
  6. Clean out closet and pantry

Bathrooms

  1. Clean bathtub, sinks, toilets and counter tops
  2. Clean mirror
  3. Review closet organization

Bedrooms

  1. Remove and replace sheet, blankets and pillowcases
  2. Put away and organize toys
  3. Polish furniture and clean TVs
  4. Organize shoes in closet (this is becoming a REAL PROBLEM AREA)

Living Room

  1. Pick up toys and misc.
  2. Dust furniture and fireplace
  3. Clean TV and other glass
  4. Clean and organize basket, trunk and closet

Floors

  1. Vacuum living room and bedrooms
  2. Sweep and mop bathrooms
  3. Sweep and mop kitchen and hallways

I made it through my day and found my lists SOOOOO helpful.  I didn’t complete every task (I got through roughly half) but I found the error of my past ways.  Being on a time schedule, I was forced to leave a room before I finished up my “task list”.  I have found that typically when I clean, I get distracted very easily.  I have good intentions of making  my way through the whole house but what happens is that I start in one room and I will come across something that is driving me nuts.  For example, I was full-force ready to dive into our closets in the kitchen and start to organize and de-clutter when I found that my hour was up and it was time to move to the bathrooms.  Without my time schedule, I would have started on my closet, which would have led to me cleaning my hutch too and I would have HAD to wipe down the cabinets.

I tend to need each room to be perfect before I move on to the next room.  And because of this…I NEVER MAKE IT TO THE NEXT ROOM!!!  This is so unbelievably true.  This is why I feel like my house is never clean.  I can never make it through the whole house.  I get one room really, sparkling, smell-good, eat off the floor clean and the rest of the house is still a mess and I’m out of time.  By the time I make it to the next room (days later), the first room is dirty again.  So this weekend, thanks to my time schedule, I got the dishes washed, dried and put away, I got the counter tops washed down and I made my shopping list.  And the rest of my kitchen (even the horror of a Tupperware cabinet) all stayed the same.

The good news, no, the great news, is that I made it through my whole house!!!  Yay!  And yes, I did celebrate with a big, delicious steak on Saturday night.  I pay myself in copious amounts of protein.

Okay, back to the matter at hand, I need to start doing something different.  I’ve been turned-on to a website called flylady.com.  It’s all about keeping your house tidy and taking care of yourself at the same time.  I’m only on day two of this big, glorious plan laid out on the website but I’m starting by believing it’s a possibility.  I’m believing that it is possible to work, to be a great wife and mom, to not be overwhelmed, to do a little every day and not allow things to pile up, to not feel like I’m constantly behind…cue the music…“Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer. Not a trace, of doubt in my mind. I’m in love, and I’m a believer. I couldn’t leave her if I tried.” (Yes, I’m bobbing my head while I type.)

I will update at a later time as I move forward on this clean house journey.  Fingers crossed.  By the way, after this weekend of cleaning and getting my right foot forward, I’m feeling great about starting this upcoming week.  I hope you are too.  Let’s have a week of getting up on time every day, being high energy, full of faith and putting positive energy into the world.  Let’s have a week that pushes us forward to the people we are made to be.  Ready,set, GO!

Chew Like Crazy

I’ve always heard people say “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” This phrase creeps into my mind on weeks like this week…weeks of pure panic and stress. I’m a young mother of two who works full time and loves to be involved…so of course my life is INSANE. I knew this month would be a rough ride and it hasn’t disappointed.

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My week thus far has gone something like this:

 


Every Day:

5:00 a.m. – Workout

6:00 – 8:00 a.m. – Shower, hair, makeup, dress the kids, morning chores, drop daughter to  the sitter, drop son to school and get to work praying not only that I’m not late, but also that I’m early enough to get a decent parking space.

8:00 a.m.- 5:20 p.m. – WORK.

5:20 – 9:00 p.m. – Dinner, Homework, Piano Homework, Bath time, Bed time stories, Laundry, Dishes….Husband

Monday

5:45 – 6:45 p.m. – Daughter to gymnastics

6:00 – 7:00 p.m. – Son to batting practice

Tuesday

6:30 – 7:00 p.m. – Tiger Cub Den Meeting

Wednesday

6:00 – 8:00 – Church duties for Lenten Season

Thursday

5:45 – 6:15 p.m. – Son’s piano lessons

6:00 – 7:00 p.m. – Scout Committee Meeting

For better or worse, this is a typical week in the Hafele House.  We live full throttle and most days I love it.  But this week has been a mess.  Last weekend was even crazier than usual, jam-packed with activities and I didn’t get to prep for the upcoming week.  My prep time is vital to surviving this modern day lifestyle.  Prep is essential to “having it all”.  So by Thursday morning when I discovered my husband was down to his last pair of underpants, my kids had no matching socks, we were out of fresh bath towels, there were dirty dishes by the sink and loads of laundry sitting in baskets staring at me…I knew that all of this chaos was a direct result of not prepping properly for my week to come.  Someday I will learn that above all other important things, I must make time to prepare myself. 

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I thought it would be fun to share a few of my pointers with my readers.  These are the little things that save me from weeks like the one I just had.

Here goes…these are my rules for biting off more than I can chew:

  • How are you spending your time?  Are your activities ones that center around your interests and those of your family/children/friends?  If you find yourself devoting a lot of time and energy toward something that just isn’t something you love, don’t feel guilty for moving on.  The fact is that we’re all busy and our time is limited, so my advice is to be selective with where you spend it.  Today I do not volunteer for any organization unless it is related directly to my family and/or my children.  It’s a win/win when I get to volunteer and spend extra time with my little loves!
  • Plan ahead.  This is one of the biggest factors for  determining the kind of week I’m going to have.  I can expect to not come directly home any night of the week.  I can expect to be spending my lunch hour running my preschooler back and forth to school or planning for our next scout den meeting or Sunday school class.  So on Sunday, I take the time to plan and prep as much as possible for the upcoming week, starting with my meals for the work week.  I have a meal plan which my husband is aware of and can step in and help out with depending on who makes it home first.  I prepare as much food as possible ahead of time to make week nights just a little easier. I also prepare and package all of my lunches for the week.  In addition to being handy, this keeps me healthy and eating right even when I’m stressed for time.
  • Plan ahead – Part Deux.  I set out my workout clothes the evening before in my bathroom.  It’s harder to skip a workout when you know your clothes will be taunting you after you’ve slept in and decided to be lazy.  I also hang my outfit for the next workday in the bathroom so it’s ready to hop into directly after my post-workout shower. And I’m less likely to crawl into my frumpy, old, go-to outfit when I plan ahead.  I mean who really feels like wearing a pencil skirt at 6:00 in the morning.  Not me!  But at 10 p.m. it always feels like a good idea for the next day.
  • Buy a planner (a paper planner) and use it.  Yes, an old fashioned, pen and paper, prehistoric, like the kind your grandma uses, type of planner and write everything down in it.  I wouldn’t know if I was coming or going (seriously) without mine.
  • Ask for help.  Yes, when I need help, I ask for it.  If that means asking my mom to watch the kids for an extra 20 minutes or asking the husband to pick up an extra chore or household duty, I ask for what I need.  I’ve found I have to be direct about what I need.  Shocker…but no one can read my mind.  It took me a while to figure that one out.
  • Sit out when you need to. Tonight was that night for me.  I had to cancel out of my Thursday night Scout Committee Meeting…I hate to not make it to a meeting, but when my household has exploded around me, I always try to remember to put first thing first.  And my family and my home always come first. Always.
  • Lastly, CHEW.  Yes, I said CHEW.  Chew like hell.  I say bite off more that you can chew, have your drink nearby just in case you need help washing it down, have a good friend on hand that knows the heimlich maneuver (you know, just in case), AND CHEW, CHEW, CHEW.  A full, busy life is a happy life for me.  Sometimes it is overwhelming but it is also rewarding.  So I choose to chew.

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So these simple things are what help me survive being a working, volunteering, crazy mom.  What are your secret weapons of survival?  Share them with the women in your life…goodness knows, we all need the  help.  You never know what will work for you, so be flexible.  I will be back on the ball this weekend, prepping and planning and hopefully having a smoother week next week.  But all’s well that ends well, and I survived!

 

 

Stress Mess

I’m heading out of the office for the day…I must make it down two flights of stairs, through three sets of doors (one which I need to enter a passcode to open) and across the parking lot to my car all while carrying :

  1. my planner (aka “my life in a little leather book”)
  2. a few emails I have printed so I don’t forget to do task a, b and c later in the evening…or week….or month…or whenever I get to them
  3. a carton of cookies I will be delivering to my mom
  4. my lunch bag still filled with lunch (since I forgot to grab it from the fridge as I headed out of the office on break)
  5. a ziplock bag with two hard boiled eggs (don’t ask about my odd eating habits…I’m currently eating “clean” or something like that).
  6. 2 lbs of raw ground beef that I picked up from the grocery market over my lunch break (taco night…woot woot)
  7. hanging awkwardly from my shoulder is my purse… with my shaker cup hanging dangerously out of the top
  8. hoisted against my shoulder and leaning on my forearm is a box filled with summer sausage, cheese and crackers.

This is me. This mess, this crazy amount of chaos, this balancing act is me…all the time…every day. Did I mention I’m wearing 3″ heels???

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So I rush to my moms to pick up my kiddos and I’m down one box of cookies, but I’ve been raised one backpack and 3- and 7-year old bodies of pure energy. We pull in at home and it’s unloading EVERYTHING from the car, making supper, practicing piano, homework, stories, bedtime and I. AM. BEAT.

I’m thinking of my coming week and I know I have a Sunday School class to prep for, a Boy Scout meeting to plan, a holiday party, a wedding, my son’s first day of bowling…and I’m feeling overwhelmed. Sound familiar? You can relate, right?

As I was leaving work today, hands full, looking like a hot (hopefully at least halfway decent 😉) mess, a friend of mine followed me out of the building. She just eyed my struggle and smiled…she’s been there. I shared with her that I feel like I’m constantly feeling like I’m swimming in chaos. I see these other people go to and from here or there and they’re hands are empty. They look relaxed. How do they do that??? My friend looked at me and said “You wouldn’t have it any other way.” Whether I like it or not, I know she’s right.

I tend to walk a very fine line between blissfully active and anxiously overwhelmed.  At times I’ve slipped right off the edge and landed square on my rear. These are the times that I start to count my burdens, my worries, my anxieties. I start to count and recount, I begin to list, I can’t sleep and I can’t move forward and somehow I can’t seem to get a single thing accomplished. Stress is like a thick fog. If you let it surround you, you can’t move in any direction with confidence. You’re stuck. The good news is I’ve learned something along the way. I’ve learned a new way to carry my load. A way to turn bricks to feathers and it all begins with gratitude.

Today I’m overwhelmed.

So I begin to think of what I have to be thankful for. I’m so thankful to be healthy today, for the ability to move and be active, to not be limited in my energy and capabilities. Sometimes being grateful starts very simply. The more stress I feel, the simpler my gratitude list needs to start. Sometimes it’s the air in my lungs, my feet on the floor. When I start with the simplest things that I normally take for granted, I can gently roll into the bigger, more obvious things in my life. That small bit of gratitude can grow into a warm, glowing, large sense of thankfulness for my children, my husband, my family and home. The realization comes to me that all of these blessings come with responsibility. That feeling I was previously interpreting as stress, I can now see as my privilege. How fortunate am I that these are my problems?

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Gratitude is an amazing gift. Developing an attitude of gratitude is like removing a blindfold and seeing the sun for the first time. When I am focused on the stress and the to-do list, I’m wandering in the dark. But when I start to focus on gratitude, I am able to not only handle the stress…I am able to be thankful for it. Because after all, these things are not stress, they are my greatest blessings…my children and their activities, my church and my growth in and with God, my home and my household, my career and my professional goals. It is truly a matter of perspective. And I have decided I will be thankful.

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What do you have to be thankful for? Consider what is stressing you right now. Can you look at those stressors from a perspective of gratitude? Can you transform your brick into a feather? I encourage you to give it a try. Trust me when I say it takes some practice. But once you get it, the first time you remove the blindfold, you’ll gain a true understanding of the power of gratitude.

 

I am the Tickler of Toes…Among Other Things

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After my first blog, I was talking with a friend who also blogs. She said to me “I’m not a writer”…to which I responded “I’m not a writer either.” That sentence, that thought, that discredit, stuck with me. Why do we do this to ourselves? True…blogging, practicing my writing, exercising this rarely used art form of prose, is very new to me. But what would I have to accomplish to make me a writer??

I came across this same quandary when I began running 3 years ago. I’d repeatedly tell people “oh, I’m not a runner…” What I was thinking and feeling is “please don’t judge my running…I’m not fast…it’s not pretty…I look and feel like I’m dying when my feet are pounding the ground…so don’t call me a runner and don’t measure me by this high standard.” Today, I’m still not the fastest and I can’t run the farthest. Look at me in the pic below with this fancy little medal (…I still didn’t consider myself a runner even at this point). I was still discrediting myself saying “All of the good runners were participating in the half today…that’s why I was able to win the 5k.” When I look at myself and know those thoughts run through my mind, I can’t deny that’s it’s disappointing. We have to believe in ourselves. Love ourselves. Today I consider myself a runner. So what has changed???

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I began thinking (super scary, I know). The primary thing that has changed in my running is my perspective. I have the same tiny frame, the same slender muscles, the same excruciatingly pained face (lol)…but my perspective has changed. I haven’t  changed; my mind has changed.

Who would we be if we stopped discrediting ourselves and discounting our abilities? If our minds stopped telling us what we can’t do? I decided to try an exercise and list everything, every single thing, that I am. This is what I came up with:

  1. a Christian
  2. wife
  3. mother
  4. daughter
  5. daughter-in-law
  6. sister
  7. sister-in-law
  8. friend
  9. Godmother
  10. aunt
  11. niece
  12. granddaughter
  13. employee
  14. executive assistant
  15. ….this is where I started to have more fun with this exercise…you’ll see
  16. Runner (YES!)
  17. Writer (really…I changed my mind on this one)
  18. cook
  19. financial guru
  20. motivational speaker
  21. church council member
  22. scout den leader
  23. volunteer
  24. dog mommy (to my Rusty-Roo)
  25. carer for the sick
  26. tickler of the toes, arms, bellies, underarms, necks…you get the idea
  27. dancer (in my kitchen at least)
  28. singer (also in my kitchen/sometimes shower)
  29. music enthusiast
  30. bath lover
  31. love lover 😉
  32. Over-sharer (refer to #31)
  33. cleaner
  34. bedtime tucker
  35. Reader of stories
  36. Hair obsesser
  37. smile giver

And this is where I ended. I’m really quite terrible at some of these things (totally referring to singing). But these things make me feel alive. These things bring me joy. What if I start focusing on all of the things that I am and stop discounting myself by stating what I am not? You don’t have to be the best at something to BE IT. You just have to do it. From your gut, do it and love it. And there you are, the writer, the runner, the singer, the [enter the thing you desire/fear here].

That’s it. It’s simple really. Forget “I’m not”….it’s a pretty useless statement. Let’s be what we set out to be. Let’s challenge ourselves and love ourselves. I challenge you  to get out your pen and paper and make your “I Am” list. When you do it, ignore the fear. No one is seeing this list but you (unless you decide to blog about it!). You’ll be glad you did it. My last piece of advice, once you’ve written these things on your list, be them. Don’t step back, don’t discount, don’t discredit, and don’t be modest. Get out there and take life by the reigns. BE IT.

Living by Design

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The New Year has got me thinking…as it often does. Thinking of my goals, my wants, my needs…and with the assistance of some fantastic podcasts and a fancy motivational dvd, I had an epiphany. At 31 years old (or years young if you ask me), I had lost my way a little. Not in a living-in-the-streets-type-of-dramatic kind of way but in a I’ve-been-so-busy-getting-by-that-I’ve-stopped-giving-it-my-all kind of way. Whew, that’s a lengthy description but true.

In my teens and early 20s I had this belief that I could step into the adult world, marry the man of my dreams, work the job of my dreams, live in the big house, buy the new car, have the perfect children, etc., etc. Then I graduated college. I married a great man and got a good job and have been blessed to have two beautiful children. But other things have been harder. I discovered making a life, digging in and creating the life of your dreams, is hard. Like really hard. I suffered some terrible losses. And somewhere in the struggle, somewhere along the way, I started to doubt myself.

My blind faith that anything is possible left me. When did that happen. When did I decide to settle? That my dreams were too big? That I didn’t deserve the things I wanted? I don’t remember the moment. It was a lot of moments. The moment I was told I miscarried my first child, the moment I didn’t get the shining review I wanted at work, the moment I lost a dear friend to suicide, the moments I faced addiction in those around me, so many moments that chipped away at who I am…who I thought I could be.

So what? We all have hard times. I know that this is life on life’s terms. So, this epiphany I had, it woke me up. It gave me the kick in the rear and the slap in the face that I needed. I remembered that I have been created. I am not here by accident. Because I was made with purpose, molded, designed…shouldn’t I be aiming for my greatest potential? Why not me?

So going forward, I will try my hardest ALL the time. At work, with friends, at church, but especially in my home. I will put positive thoughts forward and send them out into the world. I will not dwell in the negative; I will not worry. I don’t know how I’m going to get to where I’m going. But that’s the fun of the journey. I’m taking a leap of faith and giving this life (this absolutely beautiful life) I’ve been given everything I’ve got.

I hope you will too. Do YOUR best, not your neighbor’s best. In the words of my 4th grade teacher, do your personal best. We were all made with purpose. It’s our responsibility to dive in and discover what that purpose is. We won’t find it while we idly wait. Purpose won’t come to us. We have to seek it out…I think it’s time. 2016 holds tremendous things.