Do a Financial Tune Up and Keep Your Budget on Track

Couple Using Calculator For reviewing their budget. with text 3 simple steps to keep your budget on track

Have you ever blown your monthly budget in the first few weeks? Maybe you find budgets hard to implement and track. Or maybe, over time, you slowly drift further away from the original financial goals. Budgets are key to saving money and keeping your spending in check. Read on to learn about an easy 3 step Financial Tune-Up to help you keep your budget on track so you can spend less and save more.

Yoga Anyone?

This past year a new yoga studio opened up in our neighborhood, less than a 3 minute drive from our house! I thought this would be the perfect answer to fitting into my schedule my desire to exercise. Even better, it was HOT YOGA…something to look forward to on those days when it feels too cold to get out of bed. (I live in Canada, so we have more cold days than I’d like to remember)

With barriers removed, I knew this would be the perfect solution to my dilemma. And it worked…for a while. I got to the studio several times a week and even made new friends that live in my neighborhood, which is gold to an extrovert. My plan was working.



Until…

Fast-forward a few months and my toddler began to have severe separation anxiety. He was up for hours every night wanting to be with mommy and daddy. All of the sudden my perfectly laid plan crumbled. At this point, I was getting so little sleep that getting up early and sneaking out in the dark shroud of morning light was not realistic. Several months passed before I accepted the fact that I was paying a large amount for Yoga but only going once a week. Not the best use of our resources.

The Reality

The reality is, this same thing happens every day to families across North America.  Whether it’s a gym membership or online subscription, our needs, interests, or abilities change and before you know it, you are paying for things you don’t need. But, Melissa, I budget, and I manage my budget every month! Ok, that’s great if you fall into that category, but even if you watch your budget and don’t overspend you could still be paying for things you shouldn’t.

Just like tires get out of alignment through regular wear and tear, our budgets can get out of whack as time passes. One month we say yes to an online subscription, the next we add an app with a monthly fee to our phone. Maybe you’re paying for an activity or service for your kids that you rarely use. Just like unwanted calories, overspent budgets can sneak up on you and eventually; you’re confronted with an ugly truth.

The Answer

So what are we to do? Every 3-6 months, it’s helpful to do a financial tune-up. A financial tune-up requires taking a step back and assessing how you’re spending your money and refining your spending so that you keep your budget on track. You may already be tracking your budget on a monthly basis and have an idea of how you’re doing OR you may be one who just checks the bank account’s bottom line every so often. Either way, this is a time to take a hard look at how things are going, to evaluate your spending habits, and assess if there are things you need to change. Isn’t the idea of saving more and wasting less appealing?

Check out this 3 step Financial Tune-Up that will help you quickly identify opportunities to keep your budget on track!

Step 1: Assess your current spending habits. Ask yourself these questions:

1) Are there any memberships that you should quit? E.g. A gym membership

2) Are there any subscriptions you need to end?  E.g. An audiobook subscription, magazine subscription or online service

3) Are you paying for things you shouldn’t pay for:

  • books – consider the library
  • bottled water
  • banking – go to a bank that doesn’t charge for a checking account
  • ATM fees
  • Extended warrantees
  • Computer programs – consider Google Drive

4) Are you paying your credit card bills on time or paying late fees?

5) Do you need to reevaluate any services? For example, compare Auto Insurance or Home Insurance prices, switch cable or mobile service providers.

6) Are there more economical ways to buy the same items? E.g. Purchasing the cheaper air filters (that actually work better) or saving money on groceries.

7) How are your impulse buys? Do you have to buy something every time you go out? What about for your kid, do you find you’re always getting them a little item from the store?

8) How about your eating out, take out, or food delivery habits…are they in check or have you been overly dependent because you’re just tired of cooking! (been there! 🙋🏻)

9) Are you regularly spending on unexpected or unbudgeted expenses like stopping by a coffee shop or fixing something in your home or car?

10) Are you mainly spending money on your wants or your needs?

11) Are you generous to a fault? Maybe you enjoy treating others, or feel that it’s the right thing to do, but you have budgeted for it.  Examples including paying for dinner for a group, buying an unplanned gift for another, or treating your friend to a mani/pedi.

12) Do you regularly look for deals?

13) Do you have a monthly budget that includes saving goals?

14) Do you have an emergency fund? This is for the urgent and unexpected expenses.

The right question

The question isn’t whether you can afford these items or not. Maybe you feel like $10 here or $20 there isn’t a big deal, but trust me, it adds up! Let’s say you overspend by $100 a month, that’s over $1000 a year. What else could you do with an extra $1000?

Step 2: Create a Plan

Now that you have a good idea of where you’re overspending, create an action plan.   Make a complete list of everything you need to change or reduce your spending. Then prioritize your list. Identify the top 2-3 areas where you can save the most in the next month.

Step 3: Take Quick Action

Within 48 hours, begin to implement your plan. The longer you wait, the less committed you may become. If you need to cancel a gym membership, do it right away. If you need to cut back on restaurants, make an easy meal plan for the week so that you’re not tempted to order out.

Be sure to grab my free printables at the bottom of the post to do your own financial tune up and create a plan to save more money each month!

Want to be Stretched?

Maybe your budget is in good shape and you’re sticking to your original plan, but you want to save more money. Consider doing a financial challenge. What would happen if you cut out restaurants for a month or said no to Starbucks or even your weekend glass of wine? What if you committed to buying nothing other than groceries for a month? How much could you save?

The Quarterly Financial Tune-Up

Establishing a monthly budget can be extremely helpful in meeting your savings goals. Tracking your budget monthly is a great way to help you keep your budget on track. Doing a quarterly or bi-annual financial tune-up is taking things a step further and reevaluating your spending habits.

It’s easy for spending to get out of whack. Life gets busy and you become overly dependent on restaurants, the holidays come and you get in the spirit of giving, or maybe, you’ve signed up for online subscriptions you intended to cancel, but it slipped through the cracks. In order to keep your budget on track do a 3 step financial tune-up: Assess, Plan, and Act!

How To Get Your Kids To Listen

Toddler standing on chair looking at parent with text a simple way to get your kids to listen that every parent should know

Before I was a mom, a friend that shared with me that she never told her kids “no.” In my immaturity, I assumed she wasn’t setting boundaries for her kids. In my mind to never tell them no meant she was always saying yes. Fast forward several years into my journey and I find that I say no, stop, or don’t about 1 million times a day. I know I’m not alone and most parents would love to get their kids to listen the first time!



Common Practice

It’s a common practice with parents of toddlers and preschoolers to be constantly correcting, redirecting, and trying to avoid harm to them, their siblings, or the home! We get tired of the kids not listening and having to repeat ourselves.  It gets old saying don’t, stop, or no and the kids get tired of hearing it. The real kicker, it isn’t very effective (hint, that’s why we have to repeat ourselves so much!) What if there was a kinder, more positive way to redirect your kids and achieve the result of having them stop an undesirable or dangerous activity?!? I’ve got news for you, there is!!! Read on to learn a proven technique to help you stop saying no and to get your kids to listen!!!

What I’m Not Saying

In case you’re like my younger self, I want to clarify this up front. I am not saying that your kids should have a free-for-all and every answer you say is yes. No No No 😉 on the contrary, I am saying that you set boundaries and give direction a different way than you may currently practice.

The Secret Sauce

So, let me give you the secret sauce…the alternative to saying no or any of its variations is to tell your kids what you want them to do instead of what not to do. This is often referred to as a positive parenting or gentle parenting approach. So, instead of saying “don’t stand on top of the table, you could say “put your feet on the floor please.”

The Color Challenge

The reality is, by saying no, stop, or don’t you are emphasizing the very thing you don’t want your child to do. Let’s try this exercise…now, follow my instructions. Are you ready? Here it is: Don’t think about the color yellow? What happened? I’m pretty sure the color yellow popped into your head.

The same thing happens with kids. We tell them not to do something and it becomes the very thing they think about.  Depending on the age of your kids, they may not understand what they should do instead or they may have trouble disengaging with the inappropriate behavior and transitioning to the desired behavior. By telling your children what to do instead of what not to do, you are providing clearer direction and emphasizing the desired behavior.

Here are a few examples:
  1. Feet on the floor (instead of don’t stand on that)
  2. Get a tissue (instead of stop picking your nose)
  3. Let’s save that for after dinner (don’t eat that now)
  4. Take a deep breath (instead of don’t get so angry)
  5. Use gentle hands (instead of “don’t hit, pinch, poke etc.)

Mom upset and looking at her daughter, young daughter plugging her ears

What’s Wrong with Saying No

Some psychologists will say that using negative words like No, Stop, and Don’t have an adverse effect on children. Worst case scenario it damages their self-esteem or makes them a glass-half-empty type of person. Other psychologists say it’s healthy to tell your children’ no. It better prepares them for the real world and sets boundaries.

For me, I’ve found that saying no, stop, and don’t too much gets old and ineffective. We all get tired of it, the negativity wears on the kids and me. They ultimately tune me out and don’t listen to my requests. If I want them to listen and act on what I’m requesting, it just makes more sense to provide clearer direction and communicate what I would rather them do, than not do.

Change is Hard

Toddler G, my 2 year old is a climber.  At times, he seems to think he’s in a circus as he climbs on top of stools, chairs, tables, and furniture using them as a tight rope or entertaining act. Given that we’ve already gone to the hospital several times for bumps, bruises, and stitches, I’m not a fan of these daredevil stunts. I AM CONSTANTLY SAYING DON’T DO THAT, don’t stand on that, etc. When I first heard the concept of using positive language for redirection, a light bulb went off. A child-care provider shared an example with my husband and me about how they get kids to not climb on chairs. She said they say “feet on the floor.” It was an “a-ha” moment for us. She gave us new words to use with Toddler G.

As parents, we get worn down and tired of fighting the same battle every single day. It’s easy to get in a rut and end up responding out of frustration and not in the positive way we likely envisioned we would before having kids.   Although change can be hard, it is possible, especially with a little planning!  And, getting your kids to listen will be totally worth it!

Retrain Yourself

The reality is, kids are creatures of habit. Most likely 80% of the things parents say no, don’t or stop to are the same every day. That means we can plan in advance how to address 80% of the shenanigans in a positive way. If you have a planned response and keywords to use when responding to the latest situation, you are well on your way to making permanent change. Download my free printable at the end of the post and follow these steps to help you up your parenting game, make “no” a thing of the past, and get your kids to listen!

  1. First, make a list of the top 10 things you are constantly correcting.
  2. Identify the positive words to use to redirect e.g. instead of don’t lean back in your chair, you could say “feet on the floor”
  3. Make a list of only the 10 positive statements.
  4. Write it on my free printable, on a chalkboard, or type it up and put it where you can easily refer to it. E.g. on the refrigerator

While it’s not required, it’s a good idea to use “please and thank you” in your requests to help model good manners and polite behavior.

text Grab These Free Printables in the Free Bee Libary Filled with my printable and downloadable files free subscription at the end of post

It’s natural to tell your kids no, stop, or don’t and at times it’s vitally necessary e.g. Don’t cross the street, but it’s not the only tool for parents to use to correct and redirect their kids. Instead of saying no, use positive words that share the desired behavior. Take steps to retrain yourself, so that when the moment strikes you are prepared to respond appropriately. By infusing your parenting skills with this positive parenting approach you will encourage your kids to listen more, provide clearer direction, and create a more upbeat tone in your home.

Download my template with 20 positive redirection phrases and a step by step process to help you identify 80% of the behaviors you correct on the daily!

Easy Ways to Make Your House Guest Feel at Home

Guest room with text Easy ways to make your house guest feel at home

Waking up with your head on a fluffy pillow, the feel of crisp clean sheets and the smell of coffee brewing is such a delight. If you’ve ever stayed at a posh hotel or a bed and breakfast, you know this type of experience. You are excited to start the day and refreshed from your comfortable accommodations. Even if you forgot your toothbrush or hairdryer — they’ve got you covered! Isn’t this the experience we want for our house guests? Check out these easy ways to make your house guest feel at home

Whether you have a dedicated guest room or you’ve made space in one of your kid’s rooms, there are really simple things you can do to make sure your guest is comfortable. We want to make sure our friends feel like they are in their own home, that they have access to the things they need and don’t feel uneasy.

Sleep Accommodations

Obviously, when it comes to overnight house guests one of the most important things is their sleep accommodations. You need to have a dedicated space for your guest. Here are a few options:

  • Guest Room – this is an obvious choice, but not everyone has a dedicated room
  • Air Mattress – if you don’t have a room, consider a couch or an air mattress. It’s best to choose a part of the home that has the least traffic and a bathroom nearby.
  • Kids Room – another option is moving the kids out to your room on an air mattress and giving your guests their room
  • Pillows – fluffy, flat, soft, firm, there are so many varieties of pillows it’s nice to have a selection for your overnight guest.
  • Bedding/Linens – you’ll also want to make sure you have some fresh bed linens and extra blankets. This is especially important during the winter or if your guest is staying in the basement.

Room For Their Stuff

Next, on the list, make sure your guest has a place to store their things. This is particularly important if your friend is staying for several nights. Here are a few more easy ways to make your house guest feel at home.

  • Suitcase rack – You can purchase one of these from Amazon or Bed Bath & Beyond. When guests travel with a suitcase, the rack provides a place for their open suitcase without the need to unpack everything!
  • Clothes hanging rack – If you don’t have a closet for the guest, an empty clothes hanging rack is an easy solution. You can purchase an inexpensive hanging rack from Target, Amazon, or Bed Bath & Beyond.
  • Extra hangers – Most likely your overnight guest will need to hang up a few items. Be prepared by already having a few in the closet or on the empty hanging rack.
  • Empty Drawers – Empty drawers are always a nice touch if your guest is staying in a spare bedroom. If you provide the Suitcase rack, then the empty drawers are not necessary.

Consider the Climate

Now people, I live in Canada and I am from Texas, so you can bet when my parents visit and stay in our basement that they are a bit cold. We leave two heaters that they can use in the bedroom and bathroom along with extra bedding! Of course, when we go to visit them, it’s the opposite, we turn on the fan and crank up the A/C. Consider your climate, the location of the room, and the needs of the guest. A few ideas you may want to include:

  • Heater
  • House Robe / House Shoes
  • Umbrella

Easy Access

Also, think about little conveniences your overnight house guest may need. At times, people forget a thing or two…especially if mom is packing for the entire family. It’s also nice to just tell your guest, “hey don’t worry about things like a hairdryer or toothpaste, we’ll have some here for you!” Some people collect any extra travel size toiletries when they stay at hotels and then put them in a decorative jar in the bathroom their guest will use.

  • Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste)
  • First Aid / Tampons
  • Nightlights
  • Hair dryer

House How-Tos

Close Up of a Frame with the Home's wi-fi Details on it for guests.
Wi-Fi Sign included in the free printable at the end of the post.

Easy ways to make your house guests feel at home include leaving important details about how your house runs. We have a house sitter that stays at our house when we travel. Between the overnight guests and our house sitter, we decided to make a guide to our home with all of the important details. You can grab your copy Home Visitors Guide including your Overnight House Guest Checklist at the bottom of this post. A few important items to share with your guests:

  • Wi-Fi Sign & Password
  • Emergency Numbers
  • Alarm code
  • Thermostat– notes about how to adjust

Food

It’s always nice to put together a welcome basket with bottles of water, snacks or fresh fruit. If you want to go luxury, you could have a coffee maker just for your guests. You may want to ask about any dietary restrictions before they arrive. Also, it’s always good to discuss breakfast plans before everyone parts ways for the evening. It’s good to share if there’s a particular time for breakfast, if it’s self-serve, or if you’ll be going out to eat.

  • Welcome Basket – bottles of water, snacks, fresh fruit
  • Coffee
  • Breakfast

Location! Location! Location:

If you want to put the cherry on top, consider pulling together a location guide. We did this for our out-of-town guests for our wedding and it was a huge hit. Things to include are local restaurants, shopping areas, local attractions etc.

It can be a lot of fun to have house guests. Entertaining and being hospitable creates special memories for your friends and your family especially over the holidays or during the summer. Ideally, you’ll have a dedicated space for your guest and their things. Extra toiletries for their convenience and notes about your home so they feel comfortable are also welcoming to your family and friends. Lastly, going the extra mile with things like coffee or a location guide is an extra special touch. These steps are easy ways to make your house guests feel at home!

 

 

 

 

3 Easy Dollar Store Christmas Crafts Every Kid Will Love

Cork snowman, popsiclestick snowflakes with text 3 easy dollar store christmas crafts your kids will love

 

Snow is on the ground and the season is changing. It’s time to begin some holiday fun.   Kids of all ages love to do crafts and the holidays are a perfect time to make fun memories together as a family. Easy Dollar Store Christmas Crafts checks all of the right boxes. If your child loves to be creative, use paint, glue, or glitter they will love these fun seasonal DIY art!  Check out these easy kids Christmas crafts that are great for your preschooler or elementary age child.



Popsicle Stick Snowflakes

popsicle sticks, paint, adhesive rhinestones, supplies for snowflake craft

Supplies:

  • Popsicle Sticks Large and/or Small
  • Glue – White glue or hot glue
  • Paint
  • Jewels
  • Glitter
  • Yarn

This is a great craft to encourage a child’s creativity. Depending on the age of your kids, you may want to prepare a few of the snowflakes in advance.  My daughter is four so I opted for the advanced prep.  She was ready to go when it was craft time and with this easy prep, so was I!  With a hot-glue gun I glued the sticks one on top of the other, rotating with each new layer. Elmer’s Glue would work as well, but it will take longer to dry. Once the glue had cooled, my daughter began decorating. This is where their creativity comes alive. My preschooler had a blast painting, adding glitter (lots of glitter) and jewels. At the dollar store, we found these great rhinestones that had adhesive on the back, so we didn’t have to apply any additional glue to them…super easy…so easy even a 4 year old can use them!

child decorating popsicle stick snowflake

After we used the supplies I bought for the snowflakes, we looked around for other items to enhance them. This craft is so flexible, you can add any number of items including feathers, sequins, buttons, you name it!  She was pretty proud of her creations…especially the gold painted one with red and white rhinestones.  She made time to show her dad and the babysitter and was sure to guard it from her toddler brother!

a variety of brightly colored diy popsicle stick snowflakes

 

Cork Snowmen

corks, pipecleaners, paint, and google eyes - supplies for snowmen

Supplies:

  • Old Wine Corks
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Scissors
  • Paint: White, Black, Orange*
  • Googly eyes*
  • Orange sticker*

*option materials. You may choose to paint eyes instead of using googly eyes or use the orange sticker instead of painting an orange nose

Painted corks with pipecleaners to look like snowmen with scarfs

This Dollar Store Christmas Craft is super easy to do and takes little time. Paint the cork white and let it dry. We initially painted all parts except for the bottom of the cork. After letting dry, then paint the bottom of the cork. Next either add the googly eyes or paint black eyes with a fine point paintbrush. Using the same paintbrush, paint the coal for the smile and the buttons on the body. Next, paint the carrot nose or apply a sticker for the nose. I found some foam stars we had in our craft supplies and cut them into triangles. To finish off the snowman, take a pipe cleaner and twist it around the neck leaving 1.5 inches for the scarf. If you want to hang the snowman on a tree, loop a ribbon and tack it to the top of the cork.

Note: Parts of this craft are more appropriate for an elementary age child than a preschooler. Of course, with some help from mom, younger kids will be fine.

Pom-pom Ball Christmas Tree

Supplies for Pom Pom Christmas Tree

Supplies:

  • Multi-colored pom-poms
  • Star or Jewel topper for the tree
  • Triangle drawn on a piece of paper or cardstock
  • White glue
  • Popsicle sticks

Kid creating a pom pom christmas tree

Pom-poms are so in this season that we had to do a pom-pom craft. In this simple Dollar Store Christmas Craft, work from the bottom up. Make a line of glue across the bottom of the tree. Next, place pom-poms side by side across the bottom row. Repeat the process until you get to the top. If your pom-poms vary in size, start with the largest on the bottom and the smallest at the top. Once you get to the top, place a star or a jewel as the crown of the tree. Cut and glue a few popsicle sticks at the base to form the trunk. This simple craft is so pretty you could put it in a frame and display it for the holidays!

Pom-Pom Christmas Tree

Holiday traditions like doing crafts with your kids are great for creating special family memories.  Snowflakes, Snowmen, and Pom-Pom Christmas Trees are simple yet fun!  Kids of all ages enjoy doing crafts and being creative and this is a great way to bond with your littles.  My tips above are general guidelines, but the sky’s the limit with many of these crafts.  They are so flexible that your child could add their own special touch.  Instead of using pom-poms for the tree, they could glue buttons or rhinestones.  Truly, the possibilities are endless!  These Dollar Store Christmas Crafts are easy and expensive for moms and provide variety for kids.  If you have a Saturday afternoon, or weekday morning you need to fill, consider heading to your local Dollar Store and collecting the few necessary inexpensive supplies and creating special holiday memories as a family!

 

How to Get Motivated To Clean Your House When You’re Overwhelmed

Woman horrified by mess in her home. Overwhelmed by the thought of cleaning. With text: What to do when the thought of cleaning ovwerwhelms you

Recently, a reader wrote to me and shared that she’s paralyzed each time she tries to clean her house. She has anxiety when it comes to decluttering and organization. I know she’s not alone. I’ve felt that way before, especially when a little one comes behind me and in less than 5 minutes undoes what I just did. Dinnertime is another time I can get easily overwhelmed. My previously cleaned kitchen can quickly become a disaster from cooking. Then there are the dirty dishes from eating. This, of course, runs into the kid’s bath and bedtime. Ultimately, a huge mess is left staring us in the face after we put the kids to bed. Are you with me? Have you struggled with being motivated to clean your house? Read on to explore ideas about how to get motivated to clean your house that will help you get past the overwhelm along with a few tips to make tackling the mess easier.



How to deal with Overwhelm

So, let’s talk about both the mental and the practical because there are two sides to this coin. When we think about the mental element, consider your expectations as well as your motivation.

Burden or Blessing

One thing that is proven to help change attitudes is gratitude. Recognizing and increasing your thankfulness can actually change your perspective. One recent study shows that gratitude:

  • unshackles us from toxic emotions
  • has lasting effects on the brain

In general, an attitude of gratitude can help you not feel overwhelmed…be it due to the cleanliness of your house of the million and one things you have to do. You can also look at your situation through the eyes of thankfulness. A picture I’ve seen several times on Facebook comes to mind. It’s a journal entry and it says something like this.

  • I’m thankful for the dishes in the sink because it means we have food to eat.
  • I’m thankful for the piles of laundry because it means there are family members that are wearing them.
  • I’m thankful for electricity bill to pay because it means we are warm in the winter.

You get the picture. We can look at our situation as a burden or a blessing. If you’re more prone to see the burden, take out a journal and start to practice writing it out as a blessing.

Expectations

Another approach is to recalibrate our expectations. I am the first to admit that I don’t love cleaning, but I do want my house to look nice. When we have people over, I intentionally clean up and pull things together. The reality is though, as a mom with 3-4 people in our house 95% of the time, our house is not always in order.

The more I get to know someone, the more I let them in to see when the house isn’t up to the standard I’d like to maintain. In our Insta-story, Pinterest perfect, Magnolia home-inspired world, we often have high standards for ourselves. We don’t just compare ourselves to the proverbial Jones’, but we compare ourselves to the world. At times, we need to step back and recalibrate our expectations.  The moral of the story: don’t let perfection be the enemy of good. Look at your priorities and commitments and determine what is realistic for you right now and be ok with good in some areas of your home!

Motivation

The third thing you should consider on the mental side of this equation is motivation. If you can tap into what personally motivates you, you’ll be less overwhelmed and more likely to be able to tackle the task at hand. Stick with me for a minute. I know myself well enough to know that I am motivated by being around people. When I exercise, I do much better going to a class, working out at a gym, or going walking with a friend than I do trying to do my own thing at home. The people element actually gives me energy. It’s totally different for my husband. He could care less about exercising with someone. My point, if you can understand what energizes you, it will actually increase your motivation to get the job done.

When it comes to cleaning, what makes you happy? For me, I love a clean kitchen island. The rest of the kitchen can be disorganized, but if the counter is clear, I feel like a serious dent has been made in the workload. For my husband, it’s the floors. If the floors are clean, he almost feels like the house is in order. So, what is it for you?

Consider other ways you’re motivated in life. Does tracking your progress or achieving accomplishments energize you? Could you have a checklist where you can cross things off or a dry/erase board where you track your weekly list? Maybe like me, you need some social support. You could share your accomplishment with a friend or even on social media. Figure out what it is for you and then apply it to cleaning.

How to tackle the mess

Now that we’ve talked about the mental time, let’s talk tactics that will help with how to get motivated to clean your house. Here are some doable steps to help break up what feels like a huge task into something more manageable.

Woman wearing white apron and rubber protective yellow gloves, holding rag and spray bottle detergent.

Put on a timer

I am often amazed at how much I can get done in 10 minutes. Just today, I came out of my office to find that the kitchen was a disaster. The dishwasher was full, a cutting board with food scraps was out, the sink was full of dirty dishes and to my surprise, I was able to deal with about 80% of it in 10 minutes plus get my counter clean (which you already know motivates me ;-).

One x One

Focus on one room or one section of a room at a time. Instead of tackling a bedroom, just get the clothes hung or put in the drawers. Some people find it helpful to start with the easiest (least messy) room first and work their way to the most difficult (dirty) room. With this approach, you get a sense of accomplishment under your belt before moving to the dreaded tasks. Other people prefer to address the most difficult room first to get it behind them. Whatever your desired approach, the key is to take it step by step, one space at a time and not let your perspective spiral into a place of overwhelm.

It’s all Routine

If you’ve read this blog for long, you’ll know I’m a BIG FAN of routines for the family. Start to establish routines like having the kids put up their toys after they play with them or taking their dishes to the counter after meals. I’ve found for us, that it’s important to start the day with an empty dishwasher. As I mentioned, there are 3-4 people in our house almost all of the time. If we start the day with a full dishwasher, then we’ll definitely have dishes piled up in the sink and on the counter by the middle of the day. We have gotten into the routine of starting the dishwasher before we go to bed and then cleaning it out in the morning. It helps us start the day on the right foot. The more you can systematize, the fewer things will pile up.

Enlist the help of others

In the same vein as family routines, make sure you are enlisting the help of others. If you’re overwhelmed, talk with your partner and see if there’s anything (more) they could take on. Make sure you’re involving your kids. We can get so used to doing everything for our kids that we can forget as they grow to delegate more. Also, you may consider hiring some additional help so that you can get on top of things. You may not have in your budget the freedom to get weekly help, but there are options where you could even pay a teenager to help you for a few hours or get someone to watch the kids so that you can make more headway.

Let’s face it, our homes are lived in and will not always look perfect. If you have little kids in your home, it’s a reality that what you just cleaned will quickly be dismantled. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good. Enjoy your home…enjoy your kids, focus on your blessings and don’t look at them as burdens. Identify what motivates you and leverage it in your cleaning strategy. Employ simple but effective tactics to help you clean up your home room by room. Establish routines and engage your family…don’t go it alone! At the end of the day, more than likely, you won’t remember if you always had a clean counter (sigh) or if your kid’s crafts were always covering it. You’ll remember the memories that were made there as a family. You got this mama, say no to overwhelm and let’s do this thing!

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