Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Organization, time management

How to Reduce the Sense of Overwhelm in Parenting and Feel Less Rushed for Time.

Today’s blog post is designed to help you become more in control of lifestyle design, and a major question that comes up in lifestyle design is: “How do I feel less overwhelmed?!”

The second you are armed with the knowledge below, you are much better able to:

-Design your lifestyle

-Maintain time boundaries and get better at yes versus no.

-Reduce anxiety and that rushed feeling

-Feel less like time is slipping pouring through your fingers

Time management is like a sail boat in the ocean navigating to a destination.

Time Management is truly about constantly noticing when the winds of life (and your own management of the sails) blow you off track.  You have to then decide to stop, reassess the situation, decide what worked and what didn’t, and then adjust the sails to get back on course to your goals.  Equally important is we HAVE to know the destination, we HAVE to know what kind of lifestyle we want, and you know what, it looks very different from person to person.  Some people like a busy booked up life.  Others hate that.  We’ll get into that today.

A key point with sailing across the ocean, is that it will take constantly watching and adjusting the sails.  Sometimes you’ll slack off with the sails, like overcommitting.  Other times a storm will blow in (big life events.)  You don’t just get to sit back and sail to your desired lifestyle.

Even the best practitioners of time management find themselves saying yes to things, getting anxious, feeling frantic and overscheduled, and having to course correct when they realize they are passing that same rushed energy onto the kids… I can speak to this myself.

So, before we go further, let’s just note that this post isn’t a silver bullet.  This post is going to give you better awareness so that you can catch yourself before you are too far gone and rushing like a panicked parent chicken with its babies. I know you have that visual in your mind if you’ve ever been to a farm.

When I give you this tool, you’ll still be adjusting, correcting and feeling satisfied, then falling off track, adjusting, and correcting again.  But much less so than before and your goals, your destination will arrive sooner.

The Spectrum of Life and Time Management

Think of time management as a spectrum.  We are all constantly moving back and forth between two different styles of time management along the spectrum. We are going about, living out our lives using different styles, but we DO have a gravitational pull, or a preference to operate within a particular zone of the spectrum.  It’s what we like, what we are familiar with, and what suits us. It’s easy, accessible and familiar.  

But remember, when there’s a spectrum, there is an opposite version of what you prefer to do.  And lots of people prefer that different approach.  Even in the work world, there is a clear preference for how we are supposed to operate on the spectrum and we try our best to fit into that, no matter what our preference is.  It may be easy, or it may totally drain us.   

Ready to learn the styles?

The Organizer

The organizer likes a life that is has a nice structure.  They like to operate on some kind of schedule, with order.  Their lives are planned, well thought out and intentional, and the words definite or deliberate come to mind.  Their conversations are functional and effective, often inspiring action or takaways, or improvements in some manner. They like to come to decisions and take action, preferring to move forward with that plan – they don’t ilke to adjust or throw out a plan and in conversation, prefer to have closure and make a decision for action, than keep things open-ended.  You won’t hear them say “hey, let’s go for coffee sometime!” – they’ll ask “Would you like to go for coffee next week?” They will have the date set, in their calendar and they’ll commit (and show up on time.)  They prefer to have the say in decisions and get going on taking action and moving forward, often offering their opinion and stance in a matter and asking others for theirs.  They inspire people to set goals, plan and bring structure into their lives.

What makes an organizer tired, stressed, anxious, frantic, frazzled, overwhelmed and feeling like their life is slipping by too fast? 

Constantly changing situations, emergencies and unexpected events, changes of plans,  not having an input in the planning stages, lack of structure, disorganization, lack of clarity, lack of decision being made. Too few activities and underbooking.

The Adapter

The adapter loves the variety of life and emergent twists and turns that life brings. Though they live in structure as well (everyone needs it to some extent) they are very open to, and enjoy adapting to new information, situations or opportunities. And they are definitely not as structured as their counterparts.  Their conversations are open and speak of possibilities.  Not every conversation has to result in an action or takeaway.  They like to explore whether in life or conversation.  They will make decisions but know those can change, they understand the “diaper blowout in the car,” or the “running late” situation, and it doesn’t bother them in the slightest, in fact, they’re usually running a bit behind but don’t think it’s a big deal either.  Life happens and there are too many variables that can throw deadlines and times off. 

They are less willing to commit to too many things because of their appreciation of life and change, and they may tend to take a diplomatic middle stance in conversations, preferring to be open ended rather than decisive.  They are happy to roll with decisions – whether it’s theirs or others’ – because they know both lead to great places.  They are less quick to offer their opinion or stance, mostly because of their easy-going nature and preference not to pick a position.  They inspire people to relax, embrace life and spontaneity.

What makes an adapter tired, stressed, anxious, frantic, frazzled, overwhelmed and feeling like their life is slipping by too fast? 

Being controlled, no variety, the same schedule and events day in and day out, the same routine, lack of flexibility, no alternative approaches to plans that are made, being pushed to make a decision or share their stance on a topic they are not passionate about, not having places in their life where they can just say “surprise me!”  Too many events and overbooking.

We must honour our natural strengths and preferences, and make sure that we allow space for them in some domain of our lives (ie, if you are an adapter and have to be an organizer at work, honour your adapter nature with your kids and go on fun adventures.) 

Life becomes much easier, less stressful and less draining when we are kind and recognize our inner nature.   Honour who you are, what your preference is and if you find yourself becoming grumpy, stressed, rebellious or drained, ask yourself

Where have I been operating that moves away from my natural preferences?   What other areas can I put time into that will let me operate in my natural preferences?

When I am over-booked, over-committed and too structured, it crushes my soul and doesn’t allow for spontaneity and adventures.  I can’t commit to things 2 months in advance.  Life changes.  Right now, as a kindergartener parent I’m already not loving the restrictions on our day and where we can go in the 3 hours before school starts. A few months ago with my return to work I found myself with NO alone time, no unscheduled time, and no spontaneous creative expression or relax time.  Over two months that compounded and made me incredibly unhappy and almost militant in my approach to the day “kids we have to go NOW, because we have to be THERE AND WE CAN’T BE LATE.” I was stressed out, frazzled with no openings in my calendar to just be. Operating with a tight schedule and back to back events or bookings, I felt my mindset shift.  Previously, a diaper blowout or hard time getting the toddlers in the car was not abig deal, it’s just life with kids.  In a tightly scheduled day?  HUGELY stressful and I was getting so aggravated and rushing the kids out the door. I was keeping up to strict timelines without the natural preference or desire to do the planning and organization approaches that are necessary in a strict schedule, and I began to lose my spontaneity in adventures with the kids.  I had let myself go too long, forcing myself to be in a state that drains me and I got stuck there.  I was forcing my kids to and from the car to all sorts of scheduled events. Your kids pick up when you are not your best self, trust me!

I’ve spoken to parents who sit on the opposite side of the spectrum from me, and what is a huge stressor for them?   They  do such a great job of working on planning and structuring the family’s schedule and they are dedicated to making sure their lives cover a spectrum of experiences.  Life with kids throws so many wrenches into a day (sickness) and those last minute changes are not fun for an organizer.  They can be frustrated with late arrivals, cancelled RSVPs to an event, or the seeming lack of commitment from people for a plan everyone said they were interested in, that they are now working hard on bringing to fruition.

Wherever you are on the spectrum (and you can be in between!) it’s important to 

1.) Honour your natural strengths and make sure you commit to things in a way that honours your preference (structured or spontaneous.)  This will keep you content and less anxious/stressed/frazzled/frustrated. 

2.) Work to overcome weaknesses, improve and grow by ‘testing out’ or at least understanding the opposite approach. Walk in their shoes to appreciate both sides and elasticize your mind.

With this knowledge you can now be more aware of when you are in an environment that pushes you to work in your less preferred areas, which may drain you and stress you out.  

When it comes to time management these distinctions above are important because time management is NOT a one size fits all “hack” or “timetable” or “approach.”  Time management looks VERY different depending on where you are on, on this spectrum. As yourself, given my preferences, what is a great month for me?  How many events? What are they? Is there flexibility or is it more planned? Do I have time to plan and organize somethng (organizer) or do I have time to maybe do a random roadtrip; or fun activity with the kids (adapter) 

3.) Give people who frustrated you the benefit of the doubt.  Endeavour to understand their mindset. Nobody is ever doing something to upset you, they are simply acting from their philosophy of life, and once you ask them about it, you’ll completely understand why they act the way they do.

You don’t have to join them, but you can understand them and communicate better 🙂  You can state your boundaries and your needs, and honour your true nature instead of fit yourself to society which is telling you to be, act, and do a certain way.   That my friends, is a less stressed, less anxious, more in control parent who is mindful and intentional about everything they do, and is not mourning the loss of time. 

Advertisements
Book Club, Essays, Life Hacks, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Organization, time management, Working Mom

How to Manage Your Time as a Working Mom – What My iCal Looks Like

Hello everyone!  At work this week I’ve been running a ton of presentations and doing a heck of a lot of coaching around time management, now that we are in the exciting month of September.

For many, this month marks a shift into a different pace and rhythm, especially those of you parents who have kiddos continuing (or starting!) school.  Doubly true for those of you who simultaneously work in industries that ramp up in the fall and winter!

As a higher education professional, that certainly applies to me!

First point, I want to say, is be gentle with yourself!  As you get into the rhythm of a new season, it’s going to take some adjustment over the month.  You’ll do too much, then you’ll go the other way and not enough and then you’ll find that “just right” rhythm. There’s a Scandinavian quote I love, “not too little, not too much, just enough.”  I believe you can’t find “just enough” until you try the other ends of the spectrum and your boundaries.   One person’s too much is another person’s just right.… right?

Personally, in my own time management life, I’m trying to figure out how to fit meal prep and a more effective morning routine into my life, but my ical and outlook schedules are pretty dialed in.  I’m also back at work after maternity leave and having to trust that my husband has the home front and home iCal under control while I am in sessions or workshops.  The hand off of child schedules during the daytime has been a wild (but awesome) adjustment for both of us, and we just keep the lines of communication open around our own personal strengths and weaknesses and where the other needs support.

Second point I want to make, is that we are all constantly working on time management, and then adjusting our schedules and rhythms as each new element comes in.  I am a time management expert and I have to work at it every day!

We NEVER discover a perfect system and then install it… we are ALWAYS adjusting and constantly responding to changes…  I’ll talk about this in the video.

On IGTV (Instagram TV) today I shared a behind the scenes video of how I manage my schedule as a working mother with a career, a few side hustles and 3 kids. I show you my iCal and my outlook, and the systems I use to stay on top of things.

I’ve also posted the video below, which is also saved to my channel on Youtube.  

 

FYI, I share lots of coaching, tips and insights on my Instagram account, so if you don’t already follow along, do check it out at https://www.instagram.com/great_maternity_leave_yyc/

I find it incredibly helpful to “see” what other peoples’ lives are like, and people’s work / home schedules are fascinating to me. I love studying them, but it’s often not something that people open up about and show (or even talk about in conversation.)  It’s kind of like finances in a way, so, that is exactly why I am sharing my own.

Let’s have these conversations!  They help us elevate our lives and manage the full days of parenthood.  Where do you excel? Where do you struggle? What has helped you?

If you are a working mother and are very curious about balancing multiple roles, I strongly recommend the book “I Know How She Does It” by Laura Vanderkam which has lots of ‘sample’ schedules of real working women she interviewed.  The paperback is $22 and the Kindle edition (I personally read this on Kindle so I can save and review the notes) is $16.

I Know How She Does it by Laura Vanderkam
One of my favourite books on maternity leave, it helped me with time management for working moms

Time management really is a passion of mine, I love how fluid it is and how it is an ever-shifting thing.  I have an entire category of the blog dedicated to it, so here are some additional articles that may be of interest.  I’ll also make a note to share my own notes on this book above!

EXTRA READING:  Other Time Management Articles on the GML

Why we should stop saying OMG I AM SO BUSY

Add This Approach to Your Time Management Practices

My Thoughts on the Whole “Too Busy / Too Overwhelmed” Dialogue In Society

 

Happiness, Organization, Personal Development, time management, Working Mom

The Passion Planner is one of the Greatest Time Management Products I’ve Seen for Busy Moms.

The other day, a student in my office introduced me to the Passion Planner.  She seemed surprised that I did not know what it was (luckily my students keep me up to date with the times!)   I AM SURPRISED I did not know about it!

The moment she pulled a beautifully inscribed journal out of her bag, I knew it would be right up my alley. I am a huge proponent of analog methods of time management (not to replace, but to complement digital methods.) However, I did not know how many great things were inside the pages until she showed me.

The passion planner is a fantastic combination of two important components of time management: It has a tactical component (day to day execution pages – with weekly and monthly calendars, personal & professional to do lists)

weekly.jpg

And a strategic component.  There are pages for passion roadmaps and concept charts for 1, 3 and 5-year plans incorporating SMART goal setting principles.  Tips abound and plenty of space for creative brainstorming.

concept

Smart time managers are also adept at another practice:  They reflect.  The passion planner also allows for that, with a monthly reflection at the end of each month with prompt questions.  The monthly reflection has you think about whether you stayed true to your priorities, how to improve, what successes you had and where you feel gratitude and a sense of accomplishment. It is a nice balance between celebrating success and identifying areas of improvement.

monthly-reflection

 

If you have a journalling or time management enthusiast in your life, this is perhaps the best Christmas gift you can get them, ever, along with a set of fantastic coloured pens 😉 Especially for those returning to work from mat leave, or setting a new year and new priorities for what they want to get out of their maternity leave – or out of their busy lives which include motherhood.  The sacred space to plan, reflect and assess is one that we are all too often missing in the busy days of motherhood, and is perhaps one of the most beneficial gifts we can give to a mother 🙂

http://www.passionplanner.com/

I have mine already on order & can’t wait to show you what I do with it!

 

 

Happiness, Organization, Productivity

Babies are the Best Thing To Happen To Your Time and Daily Schedule.

 

Most of us have been unwilling (and unconscious) participants in a popular dialogue.  “I’m a mom!  I don’t have time!”  We just buy into it and assume its the truth, right?   And then we get to the newborn stage and think my life will never be the same again.  It’s like deer in headlights stuff.  What just happened? 

Tell someone you have two babies:  “wow, you must be busy!”  or you tell them you are working and have two young kids – they shake their heads in disbelief and mutter under their breath “have fun with that.”  Then you wonder if you are making a massive mistake, if it’s truly possible.

Before I even had kids people would hush their voices, grab my hands and whisper, as if disclosing a deep dark secret.  “your life is over.” (Okay maybe not that dramatic but their tone conveyed this hidden message.)

I came into motherhood literally bracing for a vortex.  A giant black hole into which my time, my previous life, and my identity would get sucked into. Oh my, it was scary. I was bracing.

To be sure, the “fourth trimester” – the first three months of babykins’ life – are this endless loop of feedings, naps, diaper changes and cooing over a miracle, and googling like you’ve never googled before.  And crying.  Lots of crying  But… BUT…once you get your groove, slowly, ever so slowly you begin to do little things again.

Stand in the kitchen and sip a coffee.   Watch netflix.  Read a book.  Go out for a quick date with your husband.   Paint your toenails (oh yes, believe it!  Those 7 layers of crusty sparkly stuff from your pre-baby life will be removed – it happens!) Laundry.  You get to this stage where you sit down at the end of the day, feet aching, bracing yourself for the night shift, yet you think “shit, I am more productive than I HAVE EVER BEEN BEFORE.”  You, my lady, are a machine.

The argument I am going to make here, is that HAVING CHILDREN IS THE BEST THING THAT COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN TO YOUR TIME.

A pretty absurd statement isn’t it?  I am sitting here on my laptop, struggling to stay awake at 9:54 pm, but I am telling you that how you use your time will be transformed, and you will use it ore effectively than you ever have before.

Is this shocking? When you are hurriedly showering hoping your little humans don’t  destroy something (or themselves) in the living room upstairs?   Or while they are howling downstairs in the bathroom from their car seat / swing / whatever restraint device?  I hope it does feel a bit shocking.

But hear me out mama.  I speak from two mat leaves, and the future.  

I’ll tell you a quick story.

IMG_7440

I work with olympic athletes.  If you think you are busy, let’s talk about olympic athletes who are studying at University.  Swimmers.  Swimmers are some of the craziest of that lot. 5am swims.  Quick breakfasts.  a full day of university classes.  Back in the pool early afternoon.  Another session early evening, if not dryland training.  Somewhere in between there, eating and recovery activities such as massage (don’t think this is relaxing massage, it’s terrible, I’ve use an olympic team masseuse and it redefines torture) – and rehabilitation if they are injured.  I didn’t even mention part time jobs in here.

Yet, when I work with these people, they are the people who have the best attitude about time.  This group, who have almost NO downtime, can tell me without hesitation how they enjoyed their downtime, and are quite dialled in on their time management! It comes down to the age old phrase of “quality over quantity.”

Olympic athletes are not that much different from us new mamas.  Limited downtime.  A physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting job that goes from the crack of dawn to well past sundown.  They have maybe an hour of downtime in their days.  I know this, because I literally map out their schedules with them as part of my coaching profession. I also map out schedules with new mamas as a professional coach, and the short bursts of free time are not all that different.

What we can learn is when we have just one precious hour, one delicious break where we sit down with a sigh, feet aching, we are that much more mindful of the beautiful but short break we have. More so than we have ever been before.

Remember the days spent on a couch, 10 hours passing by with only our hunger telling us to get up and go to the kitchen?  There’s no time to waste time away anymore.  I don’t ever hear a mom say “just killin time.”  NOPE.  If there is an hour of free time, the mums I know are strategically planning out the best use of that.  Maybe it’s laundry.  Maybe it’s making a meal. Maybe it’s some kind of critical budgeting or administrative activity.  Maybe it’s (equally important) sitting down or having a nap.  No drop of time is wasted.  It is planned and used with intention.  And that occasional glorious break? A glass of wine? A magazine?  We remember those moments.

I challenge you to remember one moment drinking a glass of wine in your house ten years ago, versus one moment doing it now (probably chugged because you’re not sure when the baby will wake up, haha.)  We savour that which is sacred.  So much more.

And this, is why I think children are the best thing to happen to our free time.

We are so much more conscious and intentional with it.

I was chatting with a friend the other day about my instagram feed.  I do enjoy social media and it is part of my wake up in the morning routine.  I get my housecoat on, sneak into the lounge before anyone is awake, sip coffee and wake up.

I know I only have 30 minutes to do this.  I want to make sure I use those 30 minutes well, and a few months ago I thought “wait, why am I wasting this amazing break on useless shit on instagram that doesn’t help me?” so I’ve pared down my social media to 25% of the accounts that I followed previously.  Most of the accounts I follow now are connected to a greater meaning.

They either give me ideas or inspire me to work towards the vision I have for my life, the lifestyle I am working toward, the goals I aspire to, or remind me of the values I hold.

I’m sorry random online business hustler taking selfies with hot women – I’m not giving you a few minutes of my attention.  My time is too precious.

That which is limited, we value even more.

Think about anything in your life that you love.  If it becomes limited, you appreciate it even more.  It’s true.  Try drinking just one coffee a day and then come back and tell me how much you appreciate that one cup of coffee. 🙂

When the quantity decreases, the quality increases.

Your downtime may have literally decreased, but figuratively you have gained so much more.

Will you take advantage of that?  Or continue to pine for that which was in the past?

 

 

Organization, The Projects, Uncategorized

The Basic Gear You Will Need for Your Baby (A Somewhat Minimalist and Gender Neutral List)

This blog post came about as a side-project. After I read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I went to town on everything we own in our house including everything I had accumulated over a year with a baby.

When our 2nd baby came along, I had been able to pare down everything and keep the most important things, which are on this list.  It made a huge difference in the feeling of overwhelm and reduced our clutter.

I followed both Lucie’s List and Pregnant Chicken, which were awesome. I can’t recommend them enough.  Add yourself to their mailing list.   They were fantastic to learn from.

I pretty much bought everything they recommended because I had no idea what I was getting myself into with my first baby.

What motivates me to provide a gender neutral / minimalist list?  

I HATE accumulating too much stuff.  And it happens really  quickly with kids. Clutter and “stuff” stresses me out. My goal is always to own items that I use at least once a week.  

I found the process of acquiring baby gear SO OVERWHELMING. There’s an entirely new vocab.  I bawled my eyes out twice. Picking out a stroller and picking out a car seat.

It wasn’t fun for me, even when it was just pinning on Pinterest.

People loved telling me what I would need and every time, I would answer with “What the hell is that?”  – Clueless.

There is no possible way to guess what you’ll need until you’ve gone through it, so this list is written with the knowledge of hindsight and is really written in a “advice for dummies” way because I was a dummy myself and had no f*cking idea what a jumperoo or a swaddler was.

Most of these items are gender neutral (read: Can be used by multiple children!)

 

Blanket #1

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.48.28 PM

Aiden & Anais Cotton Muslin Lightweight Swaddle Blankets

Swaddling is a word, and a magical art all in one.  That I did not learn until discharge day at the hospital.  Then the Aiden & Anais Swaddlers alllllllll made sense.

The cotton muslin gets silky soft the more you wash it, and these patterns do not fade.  Gender neutral too.  These wraps are wonderful to wrap up those go-go-gadget arms and legs, as well as cover the car seat, cover the stroller, cover your boobs for a feed – all sorts of things. They are nice and large.  There’s a reason people always buy these. They are just so multifunctional!

They’ll fit your baby from newborn up to 9 months.  I also used these blankets to lie on the ground for diaper changes (no need for a diaper pad) cover the stroller, cover the car seat, on planes, as a feeding / pumping cover by tying around my neck, and as head support in the car seat.  I STILL use them here and there.  These come in a pack of four, which I’d recommend – it lets you keep one in the car, one in the bedroom, one in the stroller and an extra put away.

aden + anais Classic Swaddle 4-Pack Twinkle

Blanket #2:

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.31.32 PM

This is a very large light fleece blanket that has travelled the world with us.  It’s been brilliant as a blanket for my kids and myself on planes, for picnics and beach time, and also as a make-do-tent on planes, by clipping it in the fold up seat tray.  It’s my  go-to for the stroller in cooler weather or as a blanket on cold nights.  It hasn’t pilled or lost its softness despite a gazillion washes.

Babies can get way too hot in fleece blankets, which are generally too thick and warm, but they loove snuggly blankets.  So this one is perfect.

Bonus is the fact that it is $2.99 at Ikea.  Seriously, best $3 I’ve ever spent. I’ll keep using this for myself.  Great couch throw.  Gender neutral colours also.

Ikea Link:

Krakris Throw Blanket Ikea

THAT’S IT.  NO MORE BLANKETS. YOU ARE DONE.

But sorry friend, you’ll get like 100000x blankets.  And stuffed toys.

People loooove buying you stuffed toys.

 

CLOTHES

You may have seen on Pinterest the “capsule wardrobe” concept.  Essentially, you pare down your wardrobe to a few high quality neutral items, which are mixed and matched with accessories.

This is a technique that greatly reduces clutter and simplifies life. If you apply this technique to your baby’s clothes it is a game changer!

LONG OR SHORT SLEEVED ONESIES

Invest in long sleeved body suits in neutral colours.  White, tan, grey, black. Whatever your preference. Buying them in four-packs is economical, working out to $5 each.  I have been impressed with Carters’ as a brand.

“>Carter’s 4 Pack Long Sleeve Baby Onesies – White

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.53.30 PM

It’s a little boring, isn’t it? Just buying super plain clothes.  But here’s where it gets fun. My life was changed when I bought a few Hug Me Sew Bibs from Etsy.

DROOL BIBS / DROOL SCARVES

I tried out a few brands and these are the best quality.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.55.13 PM

These are cotton (fleece on the underside) bibs that you put on your little drooler.  They catch all of the drool, save you from doing an obscene amount of laundry, and all of a sudden you are accessorizing that simple onesie with a variety of adorable bibs that are way cheaper to buy than a bunch of clothing.

Hug Me Sew Drool Bibs

PANTS / LEGGINGS

Here’s a sample of a 2 pack you can buy in neutrals for a boy.  I tend to recommend Amazon for everything as I’ve found their prices cheaper.  You can get great deals in stores though, so if you love shopping (me) stop in when you are out and about – otherwise, Amazon will almost always be a better deal.  I also tend to recommend Carters or Baby Gap because they seem to hold together and resist fading better than other brands.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.56.05 PM Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.56.50 PM

Carters Baby Boys 2-Pack Pants Grey & Navy

WINTER BABIES

If you plan on going outside for walks in winter (I did a ton and am so glad, it kept me sane,)  just go for a “bunting bag.” I know, wtf, all this strange language right?  You learn a whole new vocab with a baby.

And again, go for one bigger so they last longer in it.  Make sure it has ears.  It is outrageously adorable and enjoyable looking at a baby bear in a stroller.’

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.59.05 PM

Carters Baby Bunting

ACCESSORIES

Babies  don’t need shoes until they walk, but they do need some kind of foot covering.  Especially if you are Canadian and will spend any time shuffling babies around in the cold weather.  The other thing I learnt is no matter what you put on those feet, the little mastermind creatures somehow get EVERYTHING off.

That is why I love Padraig knitted booties.  Yes, they are expensive.  I balked at the price and didn’t buy a pair till my 2nd born.  But here’s the thing. You buy a pair in the 6-12 month size and they are going to last your kid an ENTIRE year.

It doesn’t matter that they are too big when they are little…  it’s not like they are walking, and if they are in the car seat, or strorller, they are covered with a blanket anyways.

Hand crafted & stitched, you are supporting local business and you can throw them in the wash. Win, win and win.

Padraig Knitted Baby Booties

MISCELLANEOUS

I had no idea how tiny and blocked baby noses become.  If they get a cold, it’s actually quite stressful VERY STRESSFUL watching them struggle to breathe.  New parent trauma I’m telling you. lol.

I’m going to horrify you with this recommendation but a snot sucker is the best & fascinatingly disgusting thing you could possibly put in your medicine cabinet.  It’s absolutely disgusting yes, but it does the trick.

Especially if you “pre spray” your babies’ nasal cavities or drop some slightly saline water in there (which they’ll hate by the way.)

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 5.01.39 PM

After trying at least 5 different brands, I finally got the best one and man, does it work a thousand times better than any other.  Don’t go for the shitty $6.99 turkey baster style snot sucks in shoppers. GET THIS ONE:

Nose Frieda Snot Sucker.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 5.00.11 PM

Baby Bottles & Pump (So many brands.  Personal preference. They all do the same thing)

Other useful additions to the medicine cabinet:

Gripe Water

Camilia Homeopathic teething drops

Baby / infant ibuprofen and acetominophen

A baby bottle cleaning brush * I just gone one, 2 kids later and wonder on a daily basis WHY THE HELL I did not get this sooner.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 5.03.14 PM

Other miscellaneous items:

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.30.57 PM

A portable travel crib (lots of brands.  Personal preference = Phil & Teds travel crib)

A stroller (needs its own blog post. My favourite of 4 brands is still the Bob Stroller.)

A portable high chair – not necessary until 4 months.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.44.22 PM

A car seat

A baby carrier (so many brands.  Personal preference = baby bjorn carrier one)

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.43.06 PM

A baby swing / “baby bouncer” **This is key to being able to cook and drink coffee.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.37.05 PM

Toys

Each baby had different preferences with toys, so the requirement for this section was that both kids had to L-O-V-E both. These toys progress really nicely in age from 0-4 months, then 4-8 months, then 9 months plus.  These three items were a life saver for being able to prepare dinner and generally function as a human being!

Yes these start to take up a bit of room but these three toys provided endless entertainment when all other toys’ novelty wore off.

Also, if you are going for minimalist for the love of god don’t let people buy you stuffed animals.  They add up VERY quickly and babies never seem to want to play with them.

Activity Arch 0-4 months

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.36.25 PM

Exersaucer 4-8 months

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.33.49 PM

“Jumperoo” 8 Months+ *

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.37.31 PM

*my toddler still tries to climb in this.

Building a Business, Learning, Organization, Productivity

Building a Business on Maternity Leave: Know When to Stop Learning and Start Taking Action.

Why Read This:  If you struggle trying to find the balance between learning, reading, taking courses – and taking action – this post will help you focus & clarify.

This is part of my series on building a business while on Maternity Leave.

Reading Time:  3 min

The Internet in 2016 is VERY exciting.  It is possible to choose yourself, rather than wait for a company to “choose” you.  You can build a business based on being yourself, instead of  changing yourself to meet someone else’s expectations.

The Internet provides you with all of the information you need to build a business online. While working full time or on maternity leave, you can at the very least build the foundations.

Here I am on my second maternity leave, building the foundations for my business(es) (yes I have a few – go big or go home, right?)

Why There are a Shit-Ton of Coaches out There:

What you will begin to notice, as soon as you start “liking” coach pages, or communities, or groups, and start learning about building a business, is that there are TOO MANY TEACHERS AND NOT ENOUGH STUDENTS.

It is good money to get into the business of “teaching” others.  That is why everybody is some kind of “coach.”

The thing is, anybody can research and develop their own curriculum.  I have completely self-taught myself how to build a business using a combination of podcasts, bloggers, facebook groups, pinterest and instagram.

Knowledge is a big business.  People make big money off of collecting knowledge on the internet, reformatting it, and then selling it to you.    What I want to write about today though, is the caution you need to exercise.

Before you Pick a Coach or Take a “Course”

There are two elements you should receive from a good course:

1.) Knowledge and information.  Do they really know their stuff?

2.) Proper Coaching:  For example, do they provide you with the ability to address your own obstacles, how to tackle the demotivation, the head games you play, etc.

And Most Importantly:  Do Not Get Caught In The Knowledge Acquisition Trap

  1. Every.Single.Resource that you will come across as you build your business is not “free” – because they are trying to create an addiction in you – an addiction to acquiring more and more information.  It is so easy to keep buying books and courses, and not actually take action and do the hard work.  It’s why of 100 people in a course, 20 will actually launch successful businesses, and 80 will not.  But the other 80 will keep coming back and buying products.  That’s great for the “Coach” or “Teacher.”

I finished my professional coach training 1 year ago and I could have happily continued just “learning” and reading coaching material.  But the deepest learning, growth (and progress) happened when I finally started DOING IT.  Taking action. Forcing myself to jump in and work with clients and have my calls evaluated by an International Coaching Federation board.

Knowledge acquisition is a super hard habit to kick, especially when EVERYBODY is throwing knowledge at you.  Much of it is free (as long as you give them your email, which is a way to get you engaged and create a potential paying customer out of you.)

I Did Take One Online Course… Once….

The only money I have shelled out is a one-time “building an online business” course run by Penelope Trunk.  She sold me on it. I loved her blog.  I spent $100 along with at least 50 other people (!)  I did take information from the course but I also took this:  Holy shit: I can do a much better job than this.  I also realized that much of the knowledge is either common sense, or the same principles recycled over and over.  Also, much of it is intuitive.

Most business owners know the information taught in these classes.  Most business owners do not take step #2:  Put it into practice.  This is where the real reward is.

Kick the Learning Addiction with Analysis:

Needing to know everything before you start is what we call an enemy of growth.

So how do you kick the addiction to learning, the feeling that “I can’t do this until I learn to do that.”   “I need to know this before I can start that.” How do you separate and become the 20% of success stories?

You undertake an analysis to understand how much of your “to do list” is LEARNING and how much of your “to do list” is ACTION.

Here you can see an image of the current “To Do” list that is on my mind with my business:

TRAJECTORY COACHING TO-DOS

Lots to do, right?

Next, I need to analyze what is going on here.

WHICH are learning items?

WHICH are action items?  

**I highlighted the action items in orange.

TRAJECTORY COACHING TO-DOS (1)

Once you have done this, you can then address the balance.

LEARNING VERSUS ACTION:

What are action items I can take right now, that will get me closer to my goal?

Which learning items will have the most immediate impact on my business and how much time do I want to allocate to getting things done vs. learning.

Budget your Learning:

I make room for ONE new learning topic per day, to avoid information overwhelm and to avoid getting off track.  Today I learnt about using better hashtags on instagram.  That’s it.  That’s all.

Have an Information & Learning “Dumping Ground:”

If I come across other articles that pique my interest, I keep a “brain dump” board on Pinterest called COACHING where I save articles for later.    Learning is my candy – I LOVE IT and it is motivational.  But I’m addicted. So I need to partition it out as a reward.

I have future podcasts saved in my overcast app under “to listen.”  I have great infographics or web services I can used saved in my pinterest folder.  Great quotes or articles saved in Evernote.   I extract them from my memory and put them somewhere external, so I can dedicate my willpower and motivation to action items instead of learning.

Willpower is very finite (and quite variable) so every precious drop needs to be conserved for the more challenging aspect – getting shit done.

 

I am currently reading the NY Times Best Seller “The ONE Thing” by Garry Keller http://www.the1thing.com/  and there is an entire chapter dedicated to the taking action piece.  What stuck with me last night, as I read it, and designed this post was this quote, which I’d like to leave you with.

 

“The secret of getting ahead is getting STARTED.  

The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks

into small manageable tasks.

And starting on the first one.”

-Mark Twain

 

Book Club, Happiness, Organization, Productivity, The Projects

What I Learnt from Laura Vanderkam’s Book I Know How She Does It – And How I Became more Productive on Maternity Leave

What You’ll Learn:  Some of the best things I learnt from the book I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam – and how I applied it to maternity leave.

Reading time:  5 minutes

This is part of the Great Maternity Leave book club series, where I share some of the most influential books that have shaped 2 great maternity leaves so far. We all have 168 hours in a week and there is so much diversity in our daily schedules. It doesn’t matter what we do with our time, just that we are doing it with mindfulness. With this post I hope to contribute to a larger dialogue on maternity leave and living it with intention.  Using our time on this earth to do something.

Laura Vanderkam’s book was a fantastic opportunity to address my time use and shift the way I look at things.  Below I will outline some of the key points that I took away and how they translate to real life.

The Points That Shifted my Perspective:

I often mention that in coaching, that to take different actions you must experience a shift in perspective. That creates lasting change and lasting results.

I had several ah-hah moments with this book that shifted my perspective, for sure.

Did you know:

From Monday to lunchtime Thursday is only HALF of the week?!  

How does that land with you?   Think about that.

On maternity leave I lose a bit of my day / time awareness, but as a working Mum, this one point revolutionized my perspective.  It is so easy to write off Friday-Saturday-Sunday as “weekend” and be less intentional with our time and how we use it.  Knowing that an entire half of a week is left on Thursday has influenced me greatly.  I am much more of an active participant in deciding what to do with the second half of my week rather than just writing it off as weekend and haphazardly finding something “fun” to do with the kids.

A Constant Reminder That Flows Through My Life After Reading This Book:

Through a comprehensive analysis of mothers’ schedules Vanderkam nails home the point that you can either haphazardly gather up the scraps of time left over in your day, or start the day with clear intention and mindfully assigning chunks of time.  And in those chunks of time are tasks that get you closer to your goals.

She also draws a clear line between busy work and growth work.  These are my own unique terms for them – which I’m trying to come up with at 5 in the morning, lol – so bear with me. I’ll explain.

On maternity leave my little guy sleeps about 2-3 hours in a day.  Multiply by 7 days and that is 14-21 hours a week, where I can have some say in what I do.

For sure, there is housework that is routine and that will always be there.  But I also need to decide what I am going to do with that time that will align with my goals for the future.  I also resist the temptation to do housework which is not going to last (ie: cleaning the living room in the middle of the day when I know I’ll be doing it again at night when the toddler is in bed.)

Even if it’s just 1 hour of each day, am I taking that one hour and getting myself closer to where I want to be?  Or am I filling the time with something else?  

This perspective has helped me a TON. When I feel drawn to an activity in a spare moment of time, I ask:  Do I straight up need some downtime, or shall I use it to get me closer to the vision / goals I have for this mat leave?  I go through this quick decision making process each time I switch activities.  The goals are below.

Some of those days are just coping / napping / sleeping, because on materity leave the wind changes direction and we must adjust the sails.  Last week with teething and very little sleep for either of us, I had to reduce my blogging and just get through it and nap where I could.  It was a temporary pullback from growth activities.  That is okay too.

But the key is readjusting the sails after the windstorm to get back on track to the destination and travel toward the port of call you want to arrive at in 2016.

Here is my own Port-of-Call / Destination:

-Continue to dedicate 5 hrs / week to my online jewelery shop as a steady income source for trips.  My goal is to pay for one trip this year.

-Build the “bricks and mortar” foundation of my coaching business (online presence, brochures, contracts, worksheets, materials, etc.)

-Add a voice of “growth, confidence and self-identity” to the dialogue around maternity leave.

-Being present with my children outside in nature

-“Date” my husband again

-Cultivate my close friendships & be a supportive listening ear

-Reduce my body fat percentage through gluten free, paleo-style eating

-Fall in love with running again

A key component of getting to my destination is the “fuck yeah or no” approach which I learnt from Derek Sivers.  Open this in a new tab and save it for reading.

I Practice saying “fuck yeah” or “no” to every “ask” I get – if my reaction isn’t an excited “fuck yeah” I say no.

Laura mentions in her book that we all have 168 hours in a week.  If you can practice saying no to things that aren’t important, you would free up a ton of time and “feel like the millionaire at Safeway.” I’m not actually sure what she meant by this, but I assume it means feeling pretty good.

The result of this practice is you wind up with more free time and less “busy time” filled with auxilliary projects.  I like these “underbooked weeks” – I feel like I am not a slave to my calendar. As a P in the MBTI Types I naturally rebel against that anyways.   It’s a pretty cool feeling being able to embrace life as it comes and take up things that align with my goals and are simply part of the grand experience of being alive.

I carry that list with me, both in Evernote on my iPhone and in a journal in my handbag (I use iCal as well as an old-school journal.)  I have it memorized, and check in with it constantly – in each decision I make in my day.

Especially in the morning as I decide what I am going to do with this beautiful time on this earth.

Tell me, what are you going to do with your time on this earth?  What is your maternity leave port-of-call in 2016?

 

IMG_0841

Book Club, Happiness, Life Hacks, Nutrition, Organization, Productivity, The Projects

The Great Maternity Leave Projects:  Never Forget to Take Vitamins – Using Charles Duhigg’s Book The Power of Habit

Yes ,this one is straight from the original GML Project list in my lovely little journal, which I have kept to this day.  It was one of the first tasks I undertook and it really has a soft spot in my heart.

In order to accomplish this, I had to buckle down and study the science behind habit and really dig into psychology.  Little did I know that reading this book would change my morning routines forever.

IMG_8779

I was on a plane to London England, and picked up this book at the airport (I believe books choose YOU so I always buy them when I am travelling or randomly in a bookstore.)  I just happened to be thinking about creating a multivitamin “habit” and boom, come across this.  Sometimes the universe is not so subtle.

 

I highly recommend this book and if you do not have the time to read the whole thing, cover to cover, Charles Duhigg has a very comprehensive website.  You can also use the amazing app Blinkist to read all of the latest releases in 15 minutes or less (what I do!)

What really nails Duhigg’s points home, are the examples.  I started a book club section on the Great Maternity Leave Project, and will be following up with a more detailed big post on this book and what I took from it for maternity leave.

(Most of the books I read involve business examples – but they are easily translatable to maternity leave, so that’s what I do for you! )

 

So how did I manage to hack my own brain’s habit loops and make the multi-vitamin as automatic as having a coffee in the morning?

HABIT ANCHORING + HACKING THE HABIT LOOP.

Our brains are very intelligent and will make as many routines as possible a habit, so that can dedicate most of its energy to sorting through information and thinking through tasks like decision making and critical analysis.

So when you get up and do routine things, make a coffee or tea, habit.  When you check your phone.  Habit.

Habits get taken over by an older, deeper part of the brain. Did you know that? Me neither.

That is why bad habits are so hard to break. 

That’s why this book was so fascinating.  I liked the smart science and research in it.

 

But we are talking about forming good habits here.

Pick a habit you already have, a routine which is almost automatic for you – you wind up doing it subconsciously.

For me it’s coffee, for sure.  It’s literally the first thing I do after I put on my housecoat.   It’s automatic. I go to the kitchen, get the grinder going, assemble my aeropress and we’re off to the races (or blogging in my case.)

 

Duhigg Proposes the Habit Loop.

Cue + Routine/Habit + Reward

So, I decided to

1.) Hack the Loop

2.)  Anchor the habit to another good one I have.

 

Here’s how I did it.

Cue:  Getting out of bed & feeling tired

Routine/Habit:  Coffee cup on table. Making coffee before anything else

Reward:  Coffee + I love relaxing with my coffee and writing.  Both enjoyable  (I linked those two habits at an earlier stage.)

 

Remember, the habit I wanted to build was to add multivitamins to my day.

ANCHORING THE HABIT:

I anchored it by having my multis RIGHT BESIDE my aeropress / coffee maker.  The visual cue could just NOT be ignored.  And I know I will NEVER forget to have coffee.  So by anchoring multivitamins to coffee, I know they will never be forgotten.

HACKING THE HABIT LOOP:

I thought about how powerful the coffee habit loop is, that I have above.  So I decided to use the same loop principles.

BEFORE:

Cue:  Getting out of bed & feeling tired “I need coffee.”

Routine/Habit:  Coffee cup on table. Making coffee before anything else

Reward:  Coffee + I love relaxing with my coffee and writing.  Both enjoyable  (I linked those two habits at an earlier stage.)

 
AFTER:

Cue:  Getting out of bed & feeling tired “I need coffee.”  Addition:  I did research on how having healthy micro and phytonutrients helps with energy ,and began to reframe them as another form of “coffee” for my body.  I began to use feeling tired as a cue for good nutritional practices.  I also looked at nutrient depletion in post-partum women to strengthen my resolve to rebuild my body’s stores.  

Routine/Habit:  Coffee cup on table. Making coffee before anything else.  Addition:  I put my multi-vitamins in a cute little le creuset espresso cup, right beside my coffee cup! Taking them happens before anything else, AND I get a nice glass of water in before hitting the coffee.  

Reward:  Coffee + I love relaxing with my coffee and writing.  Both enjoyable  (I linked those two habits at an earlier stage.)   Addition:  Meh.  There’s no intrinsic reward to taking fish oil and glucosamine sulfate and multis…  so this one not so much.  But the other TWO stages were hacked.

 

And that my friends, is how I NEVER forgot to take a multi-vitamin again.

 

While you are on the topic, you might enjoy this read on hacking your morning “energy” and mindset – by by shifting your Instagram or Social Media habits.  

 

Happiness, Life Hacks, Organization, Productivity, The Projects

The Great Maternity Leave Projects: Hack your Wardrobe

Why Read this Article:    I take two staple clothing items and show you how to create a stylish look + capsule wardrobe from them that WORKS on maternity leave.  I also address the obstacles that sometimes prevent us from dressing up – and how to deal with those obstacles.

Reading Time:  Less than 5 minutes.

Today, as I sit in Ikea eating my $2.99 breakfast, I am very excited to bring you:  Hacking your wardrobe only with TWO items. 

I recently saw a post by Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook about having trouble deciding what to wear for his first day of work after paternity leave; his closet was full of the same grey shirt.  Obama does it too.  Blue suits. Every day.  What are they onto? Genius things!!

I feel like I am letting you in on a deep, dark secret today.  Lean in and I’ll tell you.

I wear black leggings and a black tank top EVERY DAY.

I have equal amounts of love for yoga pants and getting glammed up. I happily switch between 4 inch heels and my “cat hair pants” depending on where I am.  Such is life on maternity leave.  But, I try not to look too bedraggled when I go out.

(When I do, I run into at least 10 people I know.)

What nobody knows is I have the same 2 pieces on every single day.  It’s like my little fun secret. I smile to myself when I get a compliment on my outfit and think “if you only knew!”

Why did I make this a project?  Because at some point after childbirthing when my vagina stopped hurting in jeans, I decided it was time to get my groove back.  I am a strong believer that there is something magical that happens to your confidence when you put on lip gloss and mascara, a nice accessory and a decent outfit.

It’s not about the look.  It’s about that little spark that it produces inside your mind – that nobody else can see.  That little spark that says:

I started my day taking care of me.  

I started my day with good energy.  

I did something special for me.  

It’s not about portraying an image to the world.  It’s about the effect it has on the inside.

I don’t dress or do my makeup for anyone.  I do it for me.

My body has built, housed and birthed one 10lb and one 8lb baby in the space of two years.  It has lost and gained, and lost and gained again 40 pounds each time.

I deserve to honour it by adorning it in clothing.    

I deserve to put some tinted moisturizer on this face that has documented my emotions and collected memories for safekeeping in the lines upon its surface.   

After all that poetic prose, let’s get back to reality.

Do you Struggle with These Things when you Try to Dress Up?

Spending money on clothes (my financial priority is funding my lifestyle of fun adventures & travel, not being able to participate in a spontaneous activity because of my outfit, and struggling with decisions.

Honestly, getting out of the house is a bit more time consuming these days – getting shoes on a two year old took over what used to be my “casually peruse my wardrobe and pinterest for ideas” time.

The Capsule Wardrobe is a Great Solution

The idea behind a capsule wardrobe is that you have “base layers” – neutral coloured, simple pieces that all go with each other.  Then, you can really go to town on colourful accessories.

I loved this idea from the start and began researching style blogs and pinterest.

For example, this Capsule Wardrobe on a Budget.

It is a great idea, and one I immediately jumped upon.  In my post partum body I’m more likely to buy accesories anyways, so this seemed perfect!

What is it about maternity leave and clothing that is a challenge:

One of the things that is a struggle in maternity leave (I know this is a struggle for me) is that you have specific needs.  Your need for comfort is higher, because you’ve got that weird flappy area of your abdomen where a baby used to be, you may have to get your boobs out alot, you overheat at the snap of a finger, you have sutures, your vagina hurts, etc.

Have a good think about your clothing items you wear ALL the time.  Seriously, the outfit you could wear every single day.  What needs do they satisfy?  

Here are the Pieces that Became the MAGICAL Base of my Wardrobe:

1.) Lululemon cool racerback black tanktop OR a black generic maternity tank top:  long for my tall body & oversized abdomen, easy to access boobage, layers under everything, just the right flattering neckline for the post partum boobs, no cold wind on my tummy, fits me pregnant and not pregnant, lasts FOREVER.

2.)  Lululemon wunder under leggings with the HIGH waist:  They don’t fall down; I can wear them at home and the gym or for a walk, I can match any shoes with them, they last FOREVER, pregnant and not pregnant they fit, layers with so much, keeps the abdomen in, comfortable as f*ck.

So, I decided to make that combo my base layer and build my capsule wardrobe on top of that.  I’m kind of anal so I had multiple requirements of any outfit.  Because dammit, we have babies and life is busy, and clothes need to be as versatile as we are!

From the FIRST day I saw this meme I knew it was for me. I am all about efficiency, productivity and speed. This lady pops up in my mind the MOMENT I decide something is too time consuming.  She is like my spirit animal. She’s there errrrryday.

She would approve of this wardrobe hack using the idea of capsule wardrobes. 

maxresdefault

I needed to be able to: 

  • Wear pregnant, post partum or on a regular ‘ol day.  I can’t afford to spend a lot on clothes.  Vereee limited budget.
  • Make dressing a QUICK and EASY process each day.
  • Transition to summer, to winter and back again with accessories.
  • If I sell or consign they hold resale value (I consign and always buy on the sale rack.)
  • Take off just one quick layer to get into gym or activity clothes.
  • Hold body parts together when I bolt after my 2 year old.

I feel like I am asking to win the lottery, but after research and testing things out on myself, I found it IS possible to check off all of the above boxes with particular types of clothing.

I get all of my outfit inspirations from Pinterest and have a huge British Style Board – but I’ve put together a board so you can see exactly what pieces I am talking about.  I like ot think it’s on par with current trends, but if you wind up looking far too disenfranchised, maybe nudge me and say “hey…Carina…”

In this case, I think visual images are more powerful than words, so hop on over to the Great Maternity Leave Capsule Wardrobe Board for some inspiration.  Because the pictures are soooo much more exciting than this list below.

Pieces to add to your leggings + tank or leggings + long sleeve tshirt base layer:

-Open vests, cardigans, jackets or blazers (so they fit the bump; post partum you can close them with a belt)

-Oversize / blanket scarves

-High boots 

-Loose / oversize sweaters

-Any accessory you like!  I am a cliche and love my scarves + raybans combo.  

-Capes / Ponchos

See, on screen these look kind of … blah.

In fact, these items on their own in the wardrobe just look like a bunch of boring colours designed to hide your body.

NOT THE CASE AT ALL.  Look how powerful a basic oversized white blouse and leggings can become with the right accessories.    BAM.

And accessories always fit.