Book Love: Destination Simple

Destination Simple.png

I recently stumbled across Destination Simple by Brooke McAlary on Freading (an app where you can download E-Books for free through your local library). I am in love with this little book <3. We all need some reminders to slow down. We are burdened by stress and anxiety from our daily lives. We try to do more than is humanly possible in a single day, then beat ourselves up for not completing our impossible to do lists. I definitely fall into this category, but I am working on slowing down and enjoying this life of mine more. I ask myself daily if my to do list tasks are really necessary. A few less tasks each day means more quality time with my family or more time to relax with a book.

I started putting some of Brooke’s rituals to work recently and here is what I’m learning:

  • Single-Tasking: I am a multi-tasker and I used to wear this like a badge of honor, until I realized it is really not a good thing. When we multi-task, we do not give our full attention to anything. We waste time switching our brain back and forth between tasks. We make more mistakes and stress ourselves out. In the book Brooke recommends choosing 1 task that takes 1-5 minutes and start there. I chose to wash dishes with no distractions and it felt good to just focus on my task at hand. The key is to focus on the details of the moment, so for me it was feeling the warm water on my hands and the mist of the sprayer as I rinsed the dishes.

  • Unplugging: I struggle with unplugging from technology. My favorite place to go on vacation is at a beautiful old resort called Naniboujou in northern Minnesota. There is no Wifi, cell reception, television, or phones in the rooms. They have a landline phone in the lobby for guests to use if needed. It feels so good to go there and escape. Each time I return home, I have grand intentions of unplugging from technology, but then life happens and I’m thrown into my daily routine with my phone, iPad, computer, and television. The exercise in this book recommends unplugging just 15-30 minutes a day with an extra challenge to unplug again before bed. I feel like this is doable for me, especially first thing in the morning. My favorite morning routine includes yoga and meditation when I first wake up. I could definitely benefit at different intervals throughout my day by unplugging and resetting.

  • Emptying your Mind + 3 Things: I loved this concept! Each day either in the morning or evening, sit down with a piece of paper and do a brain dump. Write down all of the details that are floating around in your head. This includes your to-dos, worries, upcoming events - anything that is on your mind. Once your head is empty and on the paper, determine your top 3 priorities to complete next and circle them on your page. I did this exercise this morning and it was awesome! I have dedicated a journal for this daily exercise and plan to do it each night before I go to bed. This way when I wake up the next morning, my mind is clear and I know my top 3 priorities for the day.

  • Morning and Evening Rhythms: I have an on and off again morning ritual. It includes waking up early to read a daily devotion and practicing yoga. When I do this, I feel so GOOD! I start my day clear and I feel like I can take on anything. I can usually keep this going for a month or two, then something will happen and I fall out of the habit. I start sleeping in, which feels good in the moment, but does not feel as good going into my day. Brooke has a great exercise in the book for creating a morning and evening rhythm that works for you and makes you feel good. I did the exercises and was happy with the rhythm I came up with for myself. I plan to try it out tomorrow morning.

I highly recommend this little book. It’s a fast read and the exercises are fun and insightful. Let’s work on slowing down and enjoying these precious lives we have been given.

How are you working on slowing down in your life?

5 Ways to Teach Children Organization Skills

organized toys

Do you struggle with reminding your kids daily to pick up their toys, backpack and jacket as you are routinely tripping over all of these items? It’s frustrating! It can also add a lot of stress to a family. Starting from a young age it is possible to teach kids how to be organized and clean up after themselves. Here are 5 ways you can teach your kids how to be organized.

Model the Behavior

One of the best ways to teach our kids how to do something is by doing it ourselves. When your kids watch you put items back where they belong after you have finished using them, they begin to understand that this is how they should put their things away too. By working on our own organizing habits, we are able to be good role models for the rest of our family.

Here are a few habits to start with:

  • Put your dirty clothes in the hamper instead of dropping them on the floor.

  • Make your bed each morning.

  • Put dishes in the dishwasher right away instead of letting them pile up on the counter.

  • Keep your bedroom tidy.

  • Be diligent to return an item to its home when you are finished with it.

Set Your Expectations

When we tell kids to clean their room, they may not know what that means. Take the time to be clear with your expectations and show them how you would like their room to look when the job is complete. This will start with you cleaning along side them, teaching them how their bed should be made, where they should put their toys and books, and what to do with the dirty clothes. When their room is clean, take a picture so they can look at it when they clean their room the next time. You can also make a simple checklist of the tasks involved in cleaning up their room or a picture list for kids that can’t read yet.

Create a Home for Their Things

One of the biggest organizing stumbling blocks for kids and adults is not knowing where something belongs. Objects easily become clutter when they don’t have a place to call home. My favorite way to set up organization systems for kids is to use small to medium sized bins. It’s usually easier for kids if the bin is clear and doesn’t have a cover. Group like toys in each bin and label the bin with words or a picture (ie: Legos). Have the bins located on a shelf that the kids can reach. Here are two systems that can be really useful for organizing kid’s toys. If you go with a cube style storage shelf and use the cloth cube bins, add a label to each bin to help make the organizing process easier for your kids. Without a label kids won’t easily be able to tell what goes inside.

ECR4Kids Birch 12 Cubbie Tray Cabinet with Scoop Front Bins, Clear

ClosetMaid 6109 Decorative 6-Cube Storage Organizer, Dark Chestnut

Install Storage that Kids Can Reach

Organizing systems installed out of the reach of our kids are useless to them. They can’t put their clothes away if they can’t reach the rod (which is true in most traditional closets). I like to create simple organizing systems where the storage solutions are at a lower height for kids. If your kids always dump their backpack and coat on the floor when they come into the house, create an area with decorative hooks close to the door so they will hang these items up. Hooks are an amazing solution for kids (and adults). For kid’s closets, a double closet rod can put kids clothes at their height and is a very economical solution.

Whitmor Double Closet Rod - Heavy Duty Closet Organizer- Chrome

Oceanstar 2-Tier Portable Adjustable Closet Hanger Rod, Chrome

Establish a Daily Routine

The only way to build a habit is to practice it A LOT. This is where we as parents have to do some real work. Creating and sticking to a daily routine of cleaning up and putting things away is really important. Make it a household rule that before a new toy comes out to play, the previous toy needs to be put away. Make clean up fun and play music when it is clean up time. Give kids time to put their toys away before they need to begin the next activity, so they are not rushed and stressed.

Routines are also important to make the morning and bedtime run smoothly. Have kids lay out their clothes for the next day. Make sure their backpack is ready for school and lunch is made the night before. Utilize checklists so kids know what they need to do next in their routine. Make the lists fun and colorful - sticker charts can work well to keep kids engaged.

By teaching our kids organizing skills now, we are setting them up for future success. No one is perfect and you are bound to get push back at times, but the goal is to create habits where our kids don’t have to think about the task at hand, they just do it similar to fastening a seat belt or brushing their teeth.

15 Best Experience Birthday Gifts

I celebrated my 32nd birthday in February and it has me thinking of ways to celebrate birthdays without adding extra stuff to my home. Don’t get me wrong I love the excitement of presents, but with each passing year I’m becoming more aware that the happiness in my life is not connected to things. Happiness for me is quality time spent with my family and friends. I love when people acknowledge my special day, but I don’t need gifts to make my day better. I do understand this concept is different for kids, but there are some ways to reign in the crazy amount of gifts they tend to get for their birthday and save your home from bursting at the seams with toys.

15 Ways to Celebrate a Birthday with Experiences

  1. Concert or Theater Tickets: Concert and theater events are a fun and memorable way to celebrate a birthday. Even if the concert is months away you will have an event to look forward to.

  2. Take a Trip: My husband’s birthday is in January and mine is in February. This year we decided that in place of gifts we would go on a family ski trip. Our family will have memories of our trip for years to come.

  3. Sporting Event: This is one of my go to gifts for my husband. There are not many physical gifts that he wants, but he loves sports so this is a fun way that we like to celebrate his birthday.

  4. Museum Season Passes: A great gift for families with love to visit the local Children’s Museum or Science Museum. They give you something to do on the weekends and last the whole year.

  5. State Park Gift Certificate: My sister loves hiking and camping and last year we learned that the Minnesota State Parks sell gift certificates. It was the perfect gift for her to spend doing what she loves.

  6. Monthly Pass to a Yoga Studio: Yoga studios have been popping up all over our town. I usually buy drop in passes instead of spending the monthly fee, but I would appreciate the gift of an unlimited yoga pass for a month.

  7. Restaurant Gift Certificate: I love getting gift certificates to my favorite restaurants. It gives me a reason to go out on a date with my husband or take a friend out to dinner for a great meal.

  8. Movie Theater Passes: Movies can get expensive, so this is a great gift to give to people who love movies or have kids.

  9. Golfing Certificates: My husband enjoys getting certificates for 9 or 18 holes of golf at the courses around town. I buy them in pairs so I can go with or he can take a friend.

  10. Donate to Your Favorite Charity: Request that your friends or family donate to your favorite charity instead of giving you a gift this year. My favorite charity is the local humane society. I’m an animal lover, so giving to the animals that need extra help makes me happy.

  11. Cooking Class: This would be a fun date night and a way to learn some new cooking skills.

  12. Massage Gift Certificate: The gift of relaxation. This is one of my favorite gifts to receive.

  13. Trampoline Park Passes: My daughter got this gift for Christmas and was so excited. She looks forwards to going to the trampoline park with friends.

  14. Professional Photo Shoot: This is something I always put off for my family, but I would use it in a heartbeat to capture my family pictures.

  15. Water Park or Skiing Season Pass: For the family that enjoys the water park in the summer or ski in the winter, this is an awesome gift.

What are your favorite experience gifts? I know there’s lots more to add to this list. Let’s hear your ideas!

15 Minutes a Day

Some days I feel that maintaining my home is just another thing on my never ending to do list. Every day there are more dirty dishes, they just don’t stop.

For 2019 I am changing my mindset around household maintenance. I want to think about these tasks as a form of self care. As Gretchen Rubin says, “Outer order contributes to inner calm.” I have a hard time relaxing when my home is in a state of chaos. When my home is clean and orderly, I feel so much better. I’m happier, calmer and a much nicer person to be around.

I am going to set a personal goal to spend 15 minutes each evening doing a clean sweep of the main living areas in my home. This specifically applies to my kitchen, living room, entry, and bathrooms. I will set a timer on my phone, return stray items to their respective homes, wipe down the table and kitchen counter, go through the mail and distribute or recycle as needed. Clutter acts like a magnet on flat surfaces and will attract more clutter. By taking 15 minutes to complete these tasks each day, I hope to stay ahead of the clutter and take care of my sanity in the process. Bonus points if I can convince my family to also join me for 15 minutes each day!

What are your tricks for managing your home each day?