How to Cut Out Some of the Chaos

There’s no denying it. Life with an infant can be pretty chaotic.

The crying…the lack of sleep…the pooping…the doctors appointments…being halfway to your destination when you realize you left the diaper bag at home…forgetting the formula…spilling 15 ounces of breastmilk…spit up on your face…baby food splattered all over the floor…the list goes on and on. Oh yeah, and the countless Google searches because you’re convinced that the little spot on the back of your baby’s leg is the plague.

What if I told you you could cut out some of the chaos? (Whaaaaaaat??) 

Yep, it’s true!

Here are some tips for doing so:

Get help!

  • How much of your chaos comes from you trying to do it all?
  • You don’t have to be Supermom. (Please, don’t even strive for it. She’s really not that great).
  • No, things won’t always be done the way you want them to. You’re going to have to let go of control if you want anyone to help you.
  • If someone asks if you want help, take them up on their offer NOW.
  • Reach out to people! Even people you think don’t want to help. They might surprise you.

Say “no.”

  • Part of being Supermom is being a “yes” mom. Remember: don’t be Supermom. Don’t be a “yes” mom.
  • When you say yes to everyone else, you’re saying no to yourself.
  • Even when you say yes to good things for yourself, you’re usually saying “no” to better things for yourself. Say “yes” to the things that truly matter and that will fill your cup.

Strip things down to the bare necessities.

  • Write a list of what you do each day of the week in a typical week.
  • Which of these things do you LOVE doing?
  • Which of these things could you outsource? Could you find people to do those things for free? If not, could you put it in your budget to pay for those things? Just imagine – you could skip the Starbucks and hire someone to clean your house every week instead. Uhh…awesome, right?
  • Which of these things could you eliminate? COMPLETELY eliminate. Remember, don’t be a “yes” person.
  • Set the precedent when your kids are young that you refuse to live a life of constant chaos.

Create buffer time.

  • Do you feel like you’re constantly rushing from one thing to the next? Are you always late? Chances are, you’re living with an unrealistic idea of how time works when you have a baby. Just plan on everything taking twice as long as you think it should.
  • Set your departure time 15 minutes early (or even 30 minutes) whenever you’re going somewhere. If you leave right at your departure time, great! If not, you have that buffer time built in.

There is no magic wand to make your life less hectic. However, you do have more control than you think.

What can you do this week to cut out some of the chaos? Share in a comment below!

Stop Rushing! Do This Instead.

Do you ever find yourself barking at your kids, “Hurry up! Get moving! Let’s go!!”?

I think we’ve all been guilty of this at times. We live in a fast-paced world. Many of us are running back and forth between one activity or event to the next.

Say we’re late getting out the house and we’re running around like maniacs to hurry everyone out the door. Are we really saving time? How critical is it, exactly, that we save ourselves maybe a couple minutes by rushing?

What I’ve found is when I rush, I end up:

  • Running into things (often hurting myself)
  • Spilling things (slows me down)
  • Getting irritable with my husband (ugh)
  • Snapping at my daughter, although she has done and is doing nothing wrong (double ugh)

I hate when I rush because I feel anxious, my stomach gets upset, and my body pretty much goes into panic mode in my hurry to get out the door. I don’t want this to be how my daughter views her mother, nor do I want this to be what she believes to be the status quo. I don’t want her to end up constantly running around, rushed and anxious.

One of the best lessons I’ve learned as a parent is to plan in buffer time. Even before we had kids, I’d ask my husband to give me a departure time 15 minutes earlier than when we actually have to leave. This extra time prevents us from constantly hurrying from one destination to the next, too often running late to gatherings and appointments. We add a solid 15-30 minutes of cushion time to just about everything we plan as a family.

Having this time completely changes the flow of our day. We can relax and breathe. We can enjoy getting ready and heading out the door. We can talk or sing in the car without worrying how late we’ll be. We can fully focus on loving on each other.

If you haven’t already implemented something like this into your family’s routine, I encourage you to give it a shot this week. Then come back and comment below on how things went!

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Why We Ditched TV and Never Looked Back

I get some pretty funny reactions when I mention in conversation that my family doesn’t have any TV service. Several times I’ve gotten the response, “Did you just say you don’t have a TV???” I smile and clarify, “No, we still have a TV, we just don’t have TV service.” So why did my family decide to ditch TV?

photo courtesy of quinn.anya at flickr.com

photo courtesy of quinn.anya at flickr.com

Initially it was a financial move. My husband and I were trimming our budget and recognized that we were not utilizing our satellite service enough to justify keeping it. Plus, we were recording a majority of our shows to watch later, which we could easily watch using Netflix and Hulu.

A year or so later, we took another close look at our budget. While Netflix and Hulu were certainly much more affordable than satellite, we still felt we weren’t getting our money’s worth. In addition, we had a young child in the house now, and we didn’t want her staring at a screen all the time.

It was a tough decision. I think we went in phases. First we dropped one service, then the other a few months later. Looking back, I can’t help but be amused at my emotional dilemma. What was I going to do if I didn’t get to see how they handled the next season of Castle? I was really starting to enjoy Modern Family. Where would I get my laughs every week? I was going to miss out on the opportunity for Hawaii Five-0 to wow me again in the fall.

Well, here we are, over a year into our TV-free lives. Wouldn’t you know, I don’t miss it. Not a bit. Not even a teeny tiny eensy weensy bit. In fact, I kind of love it.

Here’s why I love having no TV service:

  • It saves us money. We are able to use those financial resources in other ways to bless our family and our community.
  • We have more time. Do you find yourself running out of hours in your day or week? Chances are, you’re losing more time to TV than you may realize.
    • Not only is there the time watching a show, but also the time deciding which show to watch, getting the kids settled, grabbing a snack, pausing to pee, pausing to help your kids pee, and cleaning up popcorn kernels afterwards.
    • There are some days when I still pause and think, “Wow, I still have 3 hours left before bedtime,” and realize that those hours are a such a gift that we wouldn’t have if we were still following TV shows.
  • My mind is clearer. I wasted so much mental energy replaying suspenseful scenes and funny moments from shows. Now my mind is clear from all those distractions that kept me from focusing on what truly matters: my family.
  • I have deeper conversations. Similar to the above bullet, my husband and I spent so much time commenting on a show we had watched and speculating what next week’s episode would hold. Now our conversations consist of planning a fun outing, sharing our dreams, and sharing our hopes for our children.
  • My daughter plays independently and is madly in love with books. I truly believe that Margaret would not have her love of reading or would play as well as she does if we watched TV regularly. I’ll peek in her room to find her sitting on her glider reciting Brown Bear as she excitedly turns the pages. She also plays incredibly well on her own. I love hearing her jibber jabber as she imitates Mom and Dad and discovers new and entertaining activities.
  • I once again find peace in silence. There have been periods of my life during which I’ve had to have TV on in the background or music on in order to go about my day. Silence used to make me anxious, as I didn’t like where my mind would wander. Now I can work, clean, and relax in silence,  enjoying conversation with God or simply enjoying the calm. I actually prefer it, and find myself getting agitated if I’m in an environment with too much background noise.
  • I’m setting goals and accomplishing them. One goal I have this year is to read 40 books. My husband set this goal for 2016 so I decided to do the same. We’re both well on our way to meeting our goal and loving every minute of it. Now I don’t leave the house without a book.

Now for the record, yes, we still own a TV. It does stay off for most of our week. Sometimes Jeremy and I will pop in a movie after Margaret has gone to bed on our day of rest. If Margaret is sick and wants to cuddle all day, I have no issue with snuggling up and watching Inside Out. The main difference is that TV is no longer a focal point of our lives.

Hesitant to take the plunge? I’m not suggesting you go all or nothing. I will challenge you with this: take some time this week to imagine what life would look like without TV (or even if you dropped just a few shows). What could you accomplish? What might you and the family enjoy together that you haven’t had the time to? How might your relationship with God grow?

For any readers who have ditched or cut back on TV viewing, what has your experience been? Please share in the comments section below!