Aug 29, 2014

Four ways to delegate when you don't have any minions...

Most of us are just normal moms, without servants or minions, just trying to get through the day in one piece and keep the children alive and mostly together by bed time.

So how do you delegate when you are home with the kids most of the day,
have no money for a maid,
and still need to keep the house somewhat together, 
AND the kids educated, 
and feed everyone multiple times of the day?

D.E.L.E.G.A.T.E.

Since we are just normal moms, however, we have to delegate more creatively than the ultra rich or those with employees.

I've figured out three ways for me to delegate:

Delegate to paper
Delegate to people
Delegate to machines
Delegate for your future self


Delegate to paper

This starts with doing a brain dump.  Take some sheets of notebook paper and write out EVERY. SINGLE. LAST THING you are carrying around in your head.  For example:  the dentist appointments you still haven't made, the annoying car maintenance issue you still haven't dealt with, your son's attitude, regular Bible study, to do items for school, organizing the desk...

Write out all the "I should"  "I want" and "I need" items.  Clear your brain of every single thing that is just in there taking up space.  

Now let that sit for a day or two and come back to it.  Now you delegate.  Write Important To Do lists (the things that need to be done this week), soon to do lists (things that can wait a month or so) and eventually or not important lists (I wish and someday maybe kind of things).

Next organize that most important list in order of importance.  Rewrite on a fresh piece of paper.  If anything can be done in 2 min or less, do it NOW.  Get it off there.  Do the same for the Soon To Do List and file away the eventually list for now.  

Also, pick up a copy of the book Getting Things Done and think about implementing a system like he describes.  (By the way, it works wonderfully well with the bullet journal system!)

And remember, you CANNOT do it all.  Some of those things that you want on your important list are really going to have to go to your someday list and be filed away for this season of life.  And you can let that happen.  It's written down, you won't forget, and when your life changes to allow that in, it'll still be there. 
It's okay to let it go for a while.


Delegate to people

Now you may be thinking "Wait! I have no PEOPLE."  But if you have kids, you DO have people!  Delegate age appropriate chores!  And the age that they are ready for the chore is usually a couple years earlier than you think they are.
My boys have been doing their own laundry since they were in kindergarten and 1st grade.  We had a stool next to the washer, they would dump the clothes in, add a scoop of detergent and turn it on to where I had and arrow drawn on a post it note.  Then they would switch to the dryer, clean the filter, and turn that on.  They would bring me the clothes in the laundry basket (scooted across the floor) and together we'd fold the clothes and they would put away (post it notes on the drawers with a drawing of the item that was in it).  

I gave up on bright whites a long time ago, and sometimes we even had stains set in, but now, when they are teens, they think nothing of doing their own laundry, and even remember to get some of their own stains sprayed with remover.  They "fold" their own clothes and I never have to touch the crusty socks!

When they were younger they would:

pick up their own room

pick up toys around the house

set and wipe down the dinner table

put away dishes from the dishwasher 
(we moved the dishes all down to a lower cabinet, all the plates, bowls, cups were all below the countertop just so they could help with this.  It worked wonderfully!)

do their laundry

take out the garbage
(one time our middle son, who was about kindergarten age, took out the garbage, with the bag slung over his shoulder, and tripped on the step going outside.  I was in the kitchen and heard "OOOMPH!" then as I walked over to him he called out, "Dis garbage guy fell down... but he's okay!"

help dad with yard work

"sweep" the floors

vacuum

feed the pets 

You'd be amazed what these little people can do with a little teaching and help.

Now that they are older, pre- and teen, my boys do a lot more:

laundry

plan, shop, cook, and clean up one dinner meal

take care of their own messes

do daily chores 
(cat boxes, vacuum, rooms, dishes, wipe the toilets and floor--gag)

mow the lawn

trim the bushes

assist in minor house repairs

clean out the cars

scrub stains from the carpet

you get the idea.  Delegate to your people!

Rethink how you currently do stuff, and change it so your tiny army can help out.



Delegate to machines

This pretty much involves my crockpot, my bread maker, and my dishwasher.

My crockpot is amazing and can prepare an entire meal while I do other things.  Look up tried and true recipes,
adapt some of your own recipes, 
do some breakfast recipes.

The only issue I've had with the crockpot is if we're out of the house most of the day it will overcook some meals.  
So I either make a soup or something that won't be ruined by hours of slow cooking or I use my outlet timer.

My breadmaker is used a lot but I only use it to make dough.  I do dough for Friday Night Pizza night, for cinnamon rolls, for french bread, etc.  My boys know how to use it and often make pizza dough.  It is old and has been used for years and well loved.

Dishwasher is obvious, but my boys know to load their own dishes, rinsed, and know how to fill it, add the soap, program and start it.  They also each empty one shelf of the dishwasher as part of their morning chores, so I don't have to use my time messing with dishes.


Delegate for your future self

This is probably the biggest part of delegation for me.  After I've delegated a lot of the stuff above, that leaves me time to do nice, sweet things for Future Kari.  

Future Kari is often seen by Present Kari as one who will have more energy, be better organized, and will care more.  But I've found that Future Kari is exactly as big a flake as Present and Past Kari.  Future Kari doesn't like to clean the bathtub just as much as Present Kari hates it.

So I've started being nicer to Future Kari.  

For example, after a long day of everything, I rarely want to make my husband's sandwiches for lunch the next day... and I'm tempted to think that it'll be better in the morning to do it because I'll be refreshed from a night of rest, and wanting to be cheery and "June Cleaver-ish".  But Morning Kari never wants to dig into wet lunchmeat and mayo first thing before coffee (urp).  So I try to make them in the evening (or when I make dinner, if I remember) not because I HAVE TO, but I've started thinking of it as leaving a gift to myself for the morning.  It changes everything.

I've also started picking up my desk in the evenings, so Future Kari can have a cozy, clean place to sit and do Bible study.  I've programmed the coffee pot so Future Kari can have a fresh piping hot cup first thing out of bed.
I also start a load of laundry right after I get my coffee and switch and dry it all in the morning, before the boys are even up, so future Kari and Mr. Measure can have nice clean clothes to choose from.

Think of these little things as a way of caring for and loving your future self.  A bouquet of flowers for Future You to see in the morning (I love them in the bathroom!), an organized desk so Future You can pay the bills quickly.  A meal in the crockpot so Future You can enjoy a meal already cooked.  

I do FLYlady's weekly home blessing on Saturday, so Future Kari can enjoy a clean house on Sunday and have time to rest and read a book. 

I plan my meals for a week or two (or month if I'm really nice to me) so Future Kari can have it all ready to go.  

I pre-prep what I can on Saturday so Future Kari can have meals ready to bake or cook in a flash.

I plan our school year up to the next holiday so Future Kari can enjoy the homeschool days and not feel rushed or like we're missing something.

Think of little things you can do now so Future You can be just a touch spoiled.
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I really encourage you to grab a piece of paper and start your brain dump and think through what you can delegate.

There are things that ONLY YOU can do in this life.
But if you're so busy doing the things other people can do, how will you get to the truly important things?



(this post contains affiliate links)

Aug 22, 2014

Six questions to completely change the school year

Want to completely change your school year this year?

Do you want to make this the best year ever where you can work on relationship and character and integrity?

Work through each of the following questions thoughtfully...
but you have only 30 seconds on each.
(just kidding... kinda)

The main thing is, don't just read through these, think "Oh, those are great, I need to do them!" then click away and forget.

These six questions will change your school year and your relationship.

Take 2 minutes out of your day for each child and work through these.
They will change everything.

Ready?
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What, specifically, does your first born child need from you right now, at this stage in his/her life?
(go with your gut answer.  Think for a second or two, then go with your gut.  Write it down.)

What external pressures is your child currently dealing with?

What areas does your child need encouragement?

What issues will he/she deal with soon?

What positive behavior can I praise him/her for?

How can I get more involved in his/her world?
(ideas: put down your phone, get off the computer, talk and ask [hint: questions that require more than a yes or no are pretty much the best way to get inside your child's head] about their interests--what do you like about that video game?  What is the goal of the game?  What is your favorite singer's best song? Why?)
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There is an AMAZING blog post about more questions for your kids here at the Bravewriter blog.

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Now, do this same thing for each of your children.

If you're brave, do it for your husband too.
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Be sure to write down your answers.  Write them multiple times.  Keep them where you will see them in the morning, during the afternoon, at night.

Pray through them.

Live them.

Act on them.

It will completely change your school year.


Aug 18, 2014

Overwhelmed, discouraged and a plan to attack it.

We recently got back from 8 days of camping at the Oregon Coast and the week after returning I kinda hit rock bottom for some reason.

It probably had a lot to do with:

smelly laundry

filthy floors

lack of room in the garage

no organization in the garage

HOT weather

no goals

news of Robin Williams' death

news of a mother in Cannon Beach killing one daughter and trying to kill her other one because they thought it was the best answer to their problems
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But whatever the reason, I succumbed to discouragement and just overwhelming OVERWHELM.  I slept a lot.  Read a lot of fiction.  Had no plan for dinners and a messy, unorganized, wreck of a house.  

So one morning about 5 days into this yuck, I took some time to write in my journal exactly what I was feeling, specifically.  WHY I thought I was feeling that way....



And what I could actively do, today, to help alleviate some of this dark cloud.



That act, right there, made a huge difference.  

Instead of walking around just feeling bleh, I was able to specifically name a few areas that I was feeling overwhelmed and discouraged in, why it was that way, and what, if anything, I could do about it.

That act, right there, helped me SO much.  

I was able to pinpoint some items that were hanging in the corners of my brain, taunting me, and figure out why they were there and what I could do about it.  And I started making a list.



And part of the problem, was that my schedule, for most of the summer, lacked any sort of GOALS.  I had TO DO items listed, but no goals to move me forward as a wife, mom, and person.  No real specific spiritual goals, no specific financial goals, no specific anything.

So I dug out an old journal that had FLYlady stuff in it from 2 years ago and re-adjusted everything in that to work into my life today.  Now, I have a plan, a schedule/routine, and a way to make the important things happen.

IF I GUARD MY TIME
IF I'M INTENTIONAL
and IF I WORK AT IT.

That is the key.

Intentionality.

If you feel like you've hit a wall.  If you're discouraged.  Overwhelmed.  Exhausted.  I challenge you to think through WHY.  Write SPECIFICALLY what is eating at you.  Spend time. Really think it through and WRITE IT DOWN.

Then ask yourself what you can do to change it.  If there is NOTHING you can do, then write PRAY.  Ask God to be HUGE and reveal Himself to you through the struggle.

If there IS something you can do.  DO IT.  

Make a specific NEXT ACTION list.  What is the next thing you can do to change this?  I guarantee you, if you spend some real time in thought here, everything that is overwhelming you has a next action of something you can do.  And doing something changes you from being a victim of circumstances and overwhelming overwhelm, to being proactive and able to do your best in the situation you are in.

Today I woke up excited to get going on my new week and it went well.  In fact, I was able to pretty much follow my morning routine without a hitch, though I know not every day will be like that.  And that's okay.  I have a plan, a routine, and I'll do the best I can with the season of life I'm in now.



If you decide to try this, leave me a comment or send me a message about what you are dealing with and what you are going to do about it.  Let's pray for each other in the comments and share our struggles and triumphs.

Life is always good.
Sometimes you just have to look harder for it.

Aug 11, 2014

Book Review--The Sticky Faith Guide for your Familiy

Last year (at exactly this same time of year, because I read it over our camping trip) I read Sticky Faith.  It was a book I picked up from Amazon because I'm raising teens that I hope will walk with Jesus after they leave high school and move on with their lives.  It was a great book and I highly recommend it.



So when I saw The Sticky Faith Guide for your Family available for review from Zondervan, I jumped on it and took it along on our camping trip.  I am SO glad I did!  It seriously transformed our trip.

First off, the author makes it a point at the beginning to tell you to not walk away discouraged because you aren't doing some of the ideas in this book, but rather encouraged that every day you are here on earth is another day to try.  That made me think of this important fact:


There is NEVER a day that I'm hopeless because there's NEVER a day I'm without the Giver of Hope.

The next thing that the book made me think of (though I couldn't find on review if she mentioned this or if I thought of it because of something she said) was this question:  What do your children need from you in this stage of life, right now?  So I went through each child individually and asked myself that question.  Then I asked my husband.  Then I asked my friends we were camping with.  What does ____ need from you right now?



For my oldest:  He needs my respect.  I'm least likely to give it to him because he hasn't really earned it.  He's my quickest to fire off in anger... and I find it funny that he is the one who needs respect the most.  I can tell how it eats at him when I respond to his attitude with a lack of respect.  So we had a talk at camp about how I will work on respect, and he needs to work on responding to me in love. (I want him to practice for how he will need to respond to his wife one day.)

For my middle son, he needs my encouragement and pushing. He needs me to push him to go beyond his introverted world and encouragement to try new things and make new friends.

My youngest son needs my positive interaction and touch and love. He is the one who will come in for one last good night hug six times a night, and call good night from his bed about twenty times.  He needs more daily positive interactions. 


Then, upon reading further, I came across this paragraph which totally changed our camping trip this year.



I thought after reading it, that it was probably true, but wanted to test it out.  Since we were camping with other families from our church, I asked them if it was true for them that their children had never heard their stories.  Most of the children never had.  For some families, the oldest had heard bits and pieces, but most hadn't.  So, we made it a point to tell our stories to our children around the campfire after dinner.  

You guys, it was AMAZING!

I cannot even say how cool it was.  We heard all kinds of faith conversions.  From huge change in an instant to some that gradually understood and accepted Christ.  It was truly the most amazing evenings we've ever had camping.  Not only did we get deep with fellow church members, but we all had a chance to verbalize, remember, and grow closer through telling our stories.  Our children were there to hear and were able to see and understand that God works through all kinds of experiences, circumstances, and people to bring us to Him.  There were stories of forgiveness, falling back into sin, growth, pain, happiness.  It. Was. Awesome!  And it is a tradition that I hope we can continue each year that we camp.


I wrote a lot of notes, underlined miles of passages, and will return to this book over and over.  The author encourages you to choose just 5 things to work on so you don't get overwhelmed.  I found my five and with Christ's grace I will work on them.

Some ideas I hope to work on:  

Inviting families over from our church to hear their stories and continue that awesome time of getting to truly know our friends.

Figure out ahead of time what my response to bickering will be (still working on that one!).

Have a date with each son on the date of his birthday each month.  My oldest was born on the 6th, so on the 6th of each month, we'll do something one on one, even if it's going for a walk around the block, or grabbing a soda at the drive through.

Make a scripture memory wall or board near the dining room table so we can all work on verses together at meal times.

Institute a Sabbath Saturday.  No screens, no electronics.  Just time together to play board games, go on hikes, or just hang out and read.  (We've done this before, but like all good things if you aren't intentional, it just kinda fell under the radar and was forgotten.)

This was an amazing book, packed with tons of real life applications that you can do right now.  All information came from real parents, doing real things, struggling in real ways just like you and I, but letting you in on the secrets that worked well for them.  I'm so glad this book is out there for us who continue to keep trying!


Go get it!



This post contains affiliate links.

Jul 13, 2014

Week review and Bullet Journal lists


It would be so much better to do these reviews on Friday, or even Saturday..
But here is how my week worked out.  I think I got my main priorities done, though I'm always hoping for at least 50% done in each category, and it didn't quite work out like that.

Thinking through why I still procrastinate on doing the Proverbs project.  I think it's just plain procrastination and unorganized thinking in the morning.  Each morning next week I'm going to make it a point to review my Bullet Journal every morning for just 5 min while I sip my coffee.  Hoping that helps.  There are still days where I forget to even look at it.

So in order to do that, it means I have to rework my morning routine--which, honestly, isn't working that great right now anyway.  I need a lot more margin built in because I am still moving too slow in the mornings, and I still really struggle with switching tasks.

I did have a great light bulb moment earlier this week for my sales goal though, and will be working on that this week.  Totally different than what I had been trying before.  Instead of focusing on total sales, I'm going to focus on product. I can't really control sales... but I can control that I am consistently putting out fun and new items and using my email list and social media effectively.  So that's my new focus this week.
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I also thought I'd share some random lists I have in my bullet journal. It was great going over these lists to get pics for you.  I also need to include a Bullet Journal review once a week and re-read through these quotes and lists.
(earlier this week, T1 came in on my bed with me and I happened to have my bullet journal out, working on it, and I flipped to the page where I have been writing great things about each son and read the list outloud to him... he didn't say much, but had an embarrassed smile the whole time. I highly recommend it!)
"Amazing things about" list for each son.
Great ideas for doing on the weekend... that I very rarely do.  But wouldn't it be cool if I did?!

Great quotes I want to remember.  Especially that middle one!
I have lots of lists like these to try to combat falling into the same old routine of wasting time.
Still have not done much here... yet.
Kind of similar list to the one above, but this was a year review after my 41st birthday.
So good to re-read and ask why I'm not doing these.




These lists are pretty much the only things that keep me focused on the big picture.  I SO easily fall into the easy and familiar and start putting out fires and wasting time online, sitting at the computer, and doing the urgent.  I definitely need to build daily review/reflection into my morning routine so I can remember what I want to be doing.  If it is not in my face, I get lazy, I forget, I get overwhelmed and return to what I call "scribble brain", where I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing, and get overwhelmed with kids in my face, literally breathing my same air because I'm not paying them any attention.  So, here's to a new week and new goals, and lots more margin and review!