Dreams of a 10K

In 2015 I set a goal to run a 10K.  Towards the end of January that year I tore something in the bottom of my foot (MRI was not clear what but guessing a tendon or ligament tear).  It took a full six months to heal.  Then, on Feb 26 (I only remember the date because it was my son’s birthday) I broke my ankle while coming down from my kids’ bunkbed.  It was supposed to be a quick and easy break to heal but I spent the rest of 2016 going from doctor to doctor trying to figure out why my ankle still hurt.  Five months of PT and no relief still.  A natural health practitioner believes it is nerve damage and I have to agree but out of the  3 doctors and one PA I saw, not one of them thinks that is possible.  I tend toward natural approaches though so I will go with my gut on this one.  That practitioner was able to teach me some foam rolling techniques to keep the nerve as happy as possible and some supplements to help strengthen it.  I still live in pain daily but I’ve learned just how far I can push it before the pain increases.

Every person I saw about my ankle said it was safe to start exercising again and I wouldn’t cause further damage so around March of 2016 I started running again.  It was way more walking at first but I did the C25K plan to get my strength back.  I spent all of 2016 just trying to figure out how to exercise and keep my ankle happy at the same time.  I love the C25K plan but started noticing after the longer runs that I was hurting a lot.  I went back to intervals and after lots of trial and error discovered the best interval of running and walking for my ankle.  It involves more walking than I would like but if it gives me the chance to run I will take it.

The entire time I was rehabbing my ankle and trying to figure out how to keep it happy, the dreams of a 10k never left my mind.  I’m not a distance runner at all so I have no desire of a larger race such as a marathon.  However, I would love to push myself a little further than my comfort zone and a 10k is a perfect distance for that.  A normal every day run is normally 2-3 miles.  Before my ankle injury I was doing 4 miles for my “long” run.  I’m just now back up to comfortably running 3 miles but once I figured out the correct run/walk interval for me I’ve been able to increase distance a little quicker.

I’m an extremely slow runner so I’m not doing this to win any races, just to push me a little past my comfort zone.  I really want to run this race in the spring as I’m in the mindset to start training now.  However, I haven’t found a 10k that fits my schedule. There are very few offered this spring.  The one that fits best says it is hilly and that doesn’t sound fun at all.  I haven’t decided if I will do that or will train for faster 5k and then go for the 10k in the fall.  I really want to hit that 10k distance in 2017 as this goal is now two years old.  I don’t want to let another year pass me by.

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Conquering the World 15 Minutes at a Time

15 minsIf you are like me, you feel like there is never enough time to get it all done. I usually keep a running to do list in my head or scare myself by actually writing it all out.  It is scary because there is more to do than humanly possibly.  Some of you will remember the sticky note method I talked about. I’m way more productive when I actually follow that method.

However, last month I went to a conference for my business and the keynote speaker said something that stuck with me.  He said there are 96 fifteen minute segments in each day.  Break down your day into smaller segments and conquer that to do list.  I was worried I would feel micro-managed but instead it is freeing.

I start with writing down the knowns for the day – appointments, after school activities, etc.  Then I fill in the routine – making lunches, car line, etc.  That leaves me with the blank spaces to fill in with household tasks, work tasks, fitness, Bible time, family time and anything else that needs to be done. I try to leave some margin in there in case things do not go as planned (because do they ever go as planned with kids?!).

It is amazing how much I have been able to accomplish this way.  My to do list is still way too long but I’m starting to see some items get checked off.  In my office I keep a white board above my desk and write projects that need done.  Having them visually in front of me helps me see where I can work in 15 minutes at a time of chipping away at those projects.

I’m still figuring out what document works the best for me for tracking this.  Doing a simple Google search brings up plenty of great options such a full week on one page, one day per page, etc.  Find what works for you and get started on feeling less frazzled and instead reaching those goals.

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From Survive to Thrive

Thrive

I asked last week on my personal Facebook page about how moms go from living in survival mode to thriving in life.  I received a ton of great input.  I started outlining a series to cover all of the comments, plus some of my own thoughts, but after writing the first post I realized it was a bit overwhelming.  In reality, most of the ideas fell into four main points.  I will briefly discuss them today and then over the next few weeks I will probably add some more detailed articles about how I make this reality.

Too many of us are living daily in survival mode when God didn’t create us this way.  He created us to thrive.  If you are living in survival mode daily (guilty here so I’m going to practice what I preach) it is time to sit back, re-evaluate and figure out how to get out of survival mode.  It is an evil necessary every now and then but not how daily life should be.

Daily time in the Word. I know that if I don’t spend time in my Bible, my day seems more off and I try to do way too much on my own.  Being in a super busy phase of life, I do not put pressure on myself to spend a lot of time on a deep Bible study.  Some days it may be as little as opening the Bible app on my phone and focusing on the verse of the day.

Many people will say their best time to spend in the Word is early of a morning before their kids get up.  I’ve tried that before and my kids are usually up sometime in the 5 am hour.  My body doesn’t function well with me getting up any earlier so the first thing in the morning plan does not work for me.  When I had little kids and was nursing through the night, I kept a devotional book or my phone nearby and did my quiet time in the middle of the night while nursing.  I now have a toddler who only takes a tiny part of his nap on how own and needs someone to hold him or snuggle with him for the rest of the time.  That is when I usually do my Bible time now.  Find what time works for you and stick with it.  Do not feel it needs to be something in depth or lengthy but do spend some time with God each day and many times your priorities will then fall in line.

Take time for yourself. As moms, we many times find it hard to take time for ourselves.  The to do list will never be done so please stop trying for a few minutes each week and focus on yourself.  Your body and your family will thank you for it.  This will look different for everyone.  Some people need to be alone so time in a good book or a hot bath are all they need.  I tend to want out of my house where the to do list is staring me down so “me” time looks more like meeting a friend for coffee, shopping for a few minutes alone, or using the free WiFi and surfing Facebook while drinking coffee at a the Y or a coffee shop guilt free.  Schedule at least a few minutes into each week, even when it seems impossible to find that time.  You will probably find you are more productive and much happier after a few minutes of down time.

Limit activities.  It is so easy to say yes to every activity available.   Piano lessons, swim team, soccer, baseball, art classes, etc are all good things but too much isn’t a good thing.  We value family time and thrive on being home a few nights a week.  In our family we have allowed our kids to be in one activity at a time.  We do have therapy after school three days a week which is just as busy or busier than one activity but it is a non-negotiable at this point in time.  For a few years that is all we did but as our kids get older we want them to have some time to just be a kid and not have their one and only activity be therapy.  We allow them to pick their activity and that is currently Cub Scouts for our two oldest.  If your schedule is overwhelming, write down all of your commitments and see what can be cut.  Make sure all of the activities are in line with your family goals and needs.  Yes, they may all be good but are they worth the added stress?

Plan ahead. I cannot thrive when I’m flying by the seat of my pants.  The best thing ever for me has been to take a few minutes each week and plan for the week ahead.  I used to do this on Sunday afternoons but then felt I was never really getting a break from everything so I moved it to Fridays and that has really helped.  I menu plan, discuss the schedule with my husband so we are both on the same page, and figure out what has to be accomplished for the week.

This week, find one thing you can do to change from simply surviving to actually thriving. Feel free to comment here or on the Facebook page with the one thing you are going to change this week.

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Back to School, Back to Chaos

Where has this Supermom been?  While I would love to say it has been quiet around here because I’m off on fun adventures with the kids, the reality is much much different.  It has been quiet because this mom has been dealing with a child with high anxiety.  Back to school is a rough time for Samuel because he loves routine but has no idea what the routine in his class is going to be.  Last year was a super rough year with a class bully, no friends in his class, and a teacher he didn’t mesh with.  All of that put together made for some crazy days that left me wanting to run away for awhile.

During one anxiety meltdown, he dumped three jars of spices.  The house smelled great but it was a mess to clean up.

During one anxiety meltdown, he dumped three jars of spices. The house smelled great but it was a mess to clean up.

While we still have a few of those anxiety issues, I’m happy to say it calmed down a bit when the class list was posted Friday evening.  His two best friends are in his class and he got the teacher he wanted.  The bully is still in his class this year but he feels more confident since his friends are there too.  This overwhelmed momma breathed a huge sigh of relief when she saw who was in his class.

I went to the bathroom one morning and came out to find him hanging from this light.

I went to the bathroom one morning and came out to find him hanging from this light.

I am very much looking forward to getting back into routine, but I’m not at all excited about the chaos it brings.  We had meet the teacher last night and came home with a stack of papers to go through.  Just reading the expectations sent my stress level high.  Typical kids can be difficult getting them to do homework but special needs kids take it to a whole new level.  We also have a lot of therapy between two kids that we need to fit in.  And all the therapists and our social worker ask us often what we are doing to keep him in activities so we can work on social skills.  I’m worn out trying to fit it all in and I know it is exhausting to the kids too.

I always start out the year feeling ready for the fresh start.  I’ve planned well, the house is picked up, areas for papers are cleaned out, etc.  This year I just feel defeated.  While the summer flew by, it wore me out. My house is a semi-wreck, I just cleaned out the paper cubbies from last school year last week, and my planning charts haven’t been updated at all.  I’m hoping that once we get into a routine I can get back on schedule and not feel so overwhelmed.  My youngest is starting preschool two days a week next week which means I get a bit more of break too.

Dishcloth

I realize some of my overwhelmed feeling is because I have very little in the way of stress relief these days.  Running or some form of exercise used to be my main way to overcome stress.  However, I’m still injured and no one knows why.  Two doctors, one physical therapist and starting a new PT next week and still no answers.  I haven’t run in six months and was only allowed a tiny bit of exercise a few months ago but had to stop due to the foot not healing.  I reached my limit a few weeks ago and as I was walking past my bedroom I spotted my container of yarn sitting in the corner.  I used to knit and crochet but haven’t touched it in almost two years.  It was always a huge stress reliever as I could get lost in a project for awhile.  I picked up the yarn and crocheted a dishcloth.  It was super simple, helped me get back on track after not doing it for awhile, and didn’t require a lot of brain cells to complete.  Now I’m itching to make a few more things.  I’ve been taking my projects to therapy on days I don’t have all the kids with me and working on projects in the waiting room. Not quite as therapeutic as running but it does help.

So, tomorrow starts a new school year with a 4th grader, 1st grader, and preschooler.  I started a lot of posts over the summer and never was able to finish them so hopefully you will see some great content around in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’m going to try to get back on track and get our schedule figured out so I’m not so overwhelmed.  Tonight we have our annual back to school dinner out where I usually inform the family of the schedule and expectations for the year.  I’m turning it around this year and asking for input so that they have some ownership in the plan too.

What is your favorite part of back to school and what do you dread?  I know I’m not the only one who has a love/hate relationship with back to school.

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Simple Organizing Tips from a Messy Mom

Blanket basket

I’m probably the last person who should be giving organizing tips because I am a chronic messy.  I try hard but there are just so many hours in a day and I don’t want to spend all my time cleaning my house.  We’ve been working for years to get more organized and just can’t seem to get there.  About a year ago, I was searching online for something and came across the blog A Slob Comes Clean. I found someone like me!  Nony is a mom who desperately wants to be organized and is making great strides towards it.  Like me, she got frustrated with all the blogs and books making organizing seem so simple yet not practical for those of us who do not come by this naturally. I’ve learned a few tips over the year from Nony and I want to share them here, along with how I implemented them.

The container concept. Many times it isn’t that we need to go buy more organizing tubs, it is rather the fact that we need to simply get rid of a lot of what we have so that it fits in the organizing area we have.  Most of the pics today will show new items I bought but that is because I didn’t have a container to start with.  In the days ahead I will show how I repurposed items I already had.

The picture above is an excellent portrayal of the container concept.  My kids love to snuggle under blankets while watching TV or playing on their Kindle. They would always complain they couldn’t find a blanket when half the time it was on the floor beneath their feet.  I felt like I was picking up and folding blankets all day long and my living room always looked cluttered.  I finally decided to buy a basket to hold them all.  My kids now know where the blankets are and that when done with a blanket it goes back in the basket.  However, when I folded all my blankets that basket was overflowing.  Not wanting to buy a bigger basket, I got rid of the blankets I didn’t really like.  We haven’t missed them a bit.

Closet Org 2

Bathroom closet that used to house layers of items. Now stored neatly in containers. I still need to label the drawers but now I can find everything instead of buy when I can’t find what I need.

Work 15 minutes a time. Have you ever started a huge organizing project only to fizzle an hour into it? I’m very guilty of this.  It is so much easier to work in little increments and defeat burnout this way.  Every day on my to do list is one 15 minute project.  It might be just part of a drawer but at least I have made progress that day.  Sometimes I really get in to it and keep going but I know I can quit guilt free after 15 minutes if need be.

Closet Org

More of the bathroom closet. These drawers were used for something else but I repurposed it for this closet. The labels help so I don’t have to go digging when I need something.

Start with the easy stuff. Organizing can be so overwhelming so start with the easy parts and work from there.  I find that by taking away a layer at a time my vision for the area becomes so much more clear.  I usually start with the trash and things I know belong somewhere else.  Sometimes that is all I have time for but it is a step in the right direction. With the bathroom pictures above, I started with all the small travel size samples that were cluttering my closet.  Once I had a place for those items it already seemed so much more organized and it gave me a vision for the rest of the items.

Towels

Keep it simple. Sometimes we make organizing so much harder than it needs to be.  For example, my boys have recently decided to take showers in our bathroom.  We only had room for 2 towels but there are five of us.  I was tired of wet towels everywhere.  We thought for ages where to hang more towels as wall space is very limited in this bathroom.  We were walking through At Home last week and I fell in love with the rack pictured above.  We were actually looking at the time for a new piece to hang jackets on as our current one only has three hooks and we need five.  At first I was disappointed that this only had four hooks and then it hit me.  We are redecorating our bedroom and the attached bathroom in a beach theme.  This fit perfectly with that theme and had enough hooks for the towels (we have a towel bar attached to the shower for the fifth towel).  We kind of thought we knew where to put it but once I walked in to the room it suddenly dawned on me to remove the existing towel bar and this fit perfectly in its place.  Here we were trying to come up with some layering system or putting hooks in random places and this simple fix was just waiting to be found.

Have you organized any area lately?  Feel free to share your projects or simple organizing tips.

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Keeping the To Do List Manageable With Sticky Notes

Post It To Do List

About a year ago I learned a little trick that has helped me keep my sanity.  I was in over my head in things that needed to be done (what mom isn’t?!) and was frustrated each day that little was marked off my huge to do list.  Then I read on Life as Mom about her new Post-It Note system.  It was one of those “why didn’t I think of that moments”.

The goal is to keep your daily to do list to one standard sized sticky note.  If it takes up more space than that then you have too much on your to do list.  The goal is not to fill up every nook and cranny of the sticky note either!  I could easily add twice as much to my to do list daily by cheating the system but that defeats the purpose.

I have found that when I write my list, I get a ton more accomplished than if I keep it in my head.  Since it is summer, I have slacked a ton on writing my list so I’m committing to getting back into the habit.  My first goal is to write my list every day for the next 5 days.

The link above also leads you to a print out that can be used to map out weekly and monthly to dos too.  I have used this in the past but my current system is a laminated piece of paper I keep on the side of our fridge where I can write my long term to do list.  I plan to share more of that system in the future.

Since it is summer and I’m spending most of my time fighting off bad guys, setting up the sprinkler, or listening to the endless Minecraft talk between my boys, the to do list is a bit different than during a school year.  I tend to do a bit more organizing in the summer as we are home more but I try to do it in small bits instead of starting large projects.  Also, I work from home but find it hard to fit in quality work with the kids around so I’ve set a summer goal of one hour of work per day.  I have a master to do list for all my various work duties and I check them off as I go.  With staying very focused during that short period of time I find I can get a lot done and usually my work to do list is done by the end of the week.

A few things you will see every single day on my list is Bible time, laundry, and exercise.  I don’t fit in quality exercise daily but I do spend at least a few minutes daily on PT exercises for my foot injuries and try to get to the gym twice a week.

Finally, have fun with your notes.  Sometimes I buy them in my favorite color, other times I buy a shape that speaks to me.  As you can see, I’m currently using flip flop notes.  If you know me in person, you know I have a love for flip flops and sandals (of which I can’t currently wear thanks to foot injuries).

Feel free to join me in the 5 day challenge to write down your to do list.  Comment here or on the Facebook page if you are joining in.  Pictures of your sticky note list are wonderful too!

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How I Get It All Done Part 2

Juggling Mom

In part 1 I talked about some of the things I don’t do.  Today I want to share some of the things I have implemented to survive this crazy life.

1. Routine. My kids thrive on routine and I can accomplish more when I have a routine and a plan for my day.  My kids can tell you that at 8 am we shut down electronics and TV and put on socks/shoes and brush our teeth.  While that will take seconds in an average house, it can take up to 30 minutes in ours.  We get in the van at 8:30 to head to school.  At night, they know what time meds happen, when the bedtime routine starts, etc.  It saves some of the fight and it helps us exhausted parents remember to get everything done.

2. Plan, plan, plan.  When I fail to do this, my week is less than efficient.  Sunday afternoons are planning time for me.  I create a meal plan, coordinate appointments and childcare with my husband, and create a master to do list for the week.  Each day, I write down my must do items for the day and then other items I hope to accomplish.  I will soon share more details on my planning habits so stay tuned.

3. Laundry daily. This kind of goes along with the routine point but since most moms struggle in this area I felt it needed more explanation.  Every morning, I start one load of laundry.  After I get home from our morning activities I move the load over to the dryer.  If I’m on my game that load actually gets folded at some point in the day.  If I’m not on my game, whatever needs to be hung up is taken care of sometime that day and the rest goes in the laundry basket.  When the basket is to the point of overflowing then we have a folding party and everyone pitches in to get it done.  By doing at least one load a day my laundry never gets too out of hand.  We have a tiny laundry room so sometimes I have the kids gather laundry and throw it in the doorway to the laundry room.  This forces me to get it done that day as we have to walk through that pile to get to the garage.

4. Take care of me.  As moms, we tend to go go go all day long and never take a few minutes for ourselves.  When we are worn down, we are not as effective as we could be.  One way I take care of me is through sending my youngest to a Parent’s Day Out program one day a week.  It is five hours where I can run errands, finish a project, work, or spend time with friends.  I’m also a member of our local YMCA.  Working out keeps me sane.  While I am not able to work out much right now due to my foot, I still take my child there because he loves the playtime and I work.  We both are happier afterwards.

5. Learn to say no. Ok, this is a tough one for me.  I want to do it ALL.  Every time I take those personality tests, I land smack dab in the middle of every personality.  I love to learn and be busy.  However, being too busy isn’t healthy.  Having special needs kids who require a lot of therapy and doctor’s appointments has taught me how to say no.  There were two years in there that were so jam packed that I dropped pretty much any other commitment I had and just focused on my kids and surviving.  It was so worth it and as we’ve dropped a few therapies, we have intentionally not filled up that space.

6. Lower expectations. I touched on this in part 1, but I do not keep a perfect house and probably never will.  I really want a house a bit more organized and we are working on that, but I’ve had to learn to let some of my expectations go.  Instead, we are focusing on improving one habit at a time.  That can be anything from keeping the kitchen table cleaned off all the time, teaching children to put away toys before getting more out, or everything having a home and keeping that home from gathering too much that doesn’t belong.  Once a habit seems to be sticking for all of us, we move on to something else.  Remember, this is just a season of life and eventually you will be able to keep your house clean for more than 2.5 seconds.

Feel free to comment with tips that have helped you survive the craziness of motherhood.  We can all learn from the great tips that others share.

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2015 Goals

I’m not a huge fan of the New Year’s Resolution but I love setting goals.  I don’t necessarily set them at the beginning of the year though.  However, the beginning of the year is a great time to re-evaluated what I’ve already got going, see what needs tweaked and what needs added or subtracted.  Having said that, he are my major goals for this year.  I personally have them all broken down into smaller subgoals but I’m sharing the big picture with all of you.  Why?  Because accountability is huge when it comes to sticking with goals.

Household

My major goal in this area is to clean out the entire house to the best of our ability.  I’m sure some areas will be missed but something is better than nothing.  We are planning a spring garage sale so that we have an incentive to keep working towards. So far I’ve been spending 15-30 minutes a day cleaning out something.

 

Weight

I’ve struggled with my weight all my life.  After my first child it took about a year to get the weight off.  With the second I never lost the last 20 pounds despite sort of trying.  With the third I still have 15 to go and he turns 2 next week.  Yep, that adds up to 35 pounds I would love to lose.  I tried really hard that first year with my last but barely lost anything.  I’m back in the game and ready to give it another whirl.  I would be content with 20 pounds gone at this point in time.  I received an activity tracker for Christmas and it has been a huge help at getting me up off my feet.

 

Business

Running a business at home while raising kids is not for the faint of heart.  I always feel behind on either the house or the business.  However, my husband has worked two jobs for five years and we are ready to have him home more.  Our goal is for my business to be making enough by the end of the year so that my husband can quit his second job.  He loves this business too and is learning how to help so once he is home we can continue to grow it even more.

 

Now that I’ve put myself out there, anyone else care to share their goals?

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