I Need A FLYing Tune-Up

Sometimes, after working hard and doing well on your routines, you begin to lose a little steam and a little focus, especially when changes in your schedule hit.  This week was the start of school for my kids, and it was a little chaotic.  I had a new schedule for work, I had to get the kids dropped off and picked up again, and I had to reset my schedule for cleaning and working out.  I know that it takes time to adjust to any new schedule, but as I went through the week, I realized that I had gotten a little lax on a few of my basic routines.  And that lack of routine in a few areas was just making my schedule transition even more difficult.   There are 3 routines that I need to give more attention to for the next couple of months:  (1) Decluttering daily, (2) Shining my sink, and (3) my Swish ‘N Swipe of the bathrooms.  I’m ready to freshen up my routines, and get back to FLYing high!  How about you?

Decluttering Makes The Difference

I’ve been doing a lot of work on my routines this year, and its been really great, but I’ve often wondered why my house still dissolves so easily (within a day) into chaos!  Is it really just because I have kids?? Is there a problem with the FLYing method??  Nope!  The problem is you can only get so far with the basic routines.  Those are meant for daily maintenance.  To really get chaos out of your home, you have to move on to real decluttering!  The Flylady always says, “You can’t clean clutter”, and she is definitely right!

I need to start taking at least 15 minutes a day to move systematically through my home, getting rid of the things we no longer use or love.  That is going to be my big goal for September.  My house needs an overhaul!!  I am setting an appointment on my calendar for  a daily 15 min. declutter session; I can easily fit 15 min. in my afternoon routine.  Here’s a link to the Flylady’s How-To on decluttering: http://www.flylady.net/d/getting-started/flying-lessons/decluttering-15-minutes/.  Decluttering really does make all the difference.  How can I keep the house clean, when there is stuff lying around with no home?  I CAN clear one shelf or drawer a day!  Even areas I previously decluttered a few months ago need to be retouched, because when my schedule gets crazy I start stashing stuff in my cabinets in an effort to clean-up quick.  Decluttering is a task that should be ongoing in your home because you still go shopping and the needs of your family change over time.  Wanna join me in my 1 shelf/drawer challenge? We can rid our homes of chaos, one bag of clutter at a time.  I think I will also set a set date for taking donations to Goodwill!

This Little Sink of Mine, I’ve Got To Let it Shine!

I have not given up on cleaning my dishes, but I haven’t been as focused on keeping my sink empty as part of my routines.  Sometimes I leave the house with the dishes undone, or I go to bed without my kitchen tidied.   I really need to get back to keeping my sink empty and shining.  I had a really good system going earlier this year — Every time I made a meal or snack, I would fill up the sink with hot soapy water, so that I could get my dishes, pots and utensils soaking right after I used them.  Then, after I cooked the dishes were ready to either rinse off or move to the dishwasher.  This is a trick I will be refocusing on, starting today.  And I need to make a new commitment to neither leave the house, or go to bed with my dishes undone.  The day is just so much smoother when you start with a clean sink and tidy kitchen!

Nothing Says “I Love You” Like a Clean Toilet

The Swish ‘N Swipe is so easy, I don’t know why I don’t do it.  Maybe that is why; it’s too easy!  Sometimes when things look generally picked up, I would rather move on to other areas that aren’t so tidy.  This is often the case with my bathrooms.  I do a pretty good job of keep things off the floor in there and clearing my counterspaces, but I often will skip over swishing the toilet and swiping my countertops until they look visually dirty.  But it is sooo much faster and easier to clean something that is nearly clean, than to wait until its filthy (and smelly)!  I just need to take a “no excuses” approach and do this 30 second task right after I jump out of the shower.  That way my bathroom is always ready and smelling great for anyone who needs it.

So, those are my 3 habits to refocus on for the coming months.  Going back to my tried-and-true methods will definitely ease my transition into a new schedule.  What habits do you need to give a tune-up?  I challenge you to think about that, and create a plan for yourself.  Happy FLYing!

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Healthy Home Habits: Bye Bye Dr. Pepper

 Let me tell you a little bit about my previous health habits….they weren’t exactly healthy.  Since college, I have been a frequent visitor of fast food chains and my drink of choice has been Dr. Pepper.  Until recently, most friends would find me out and about with a giant cup full of Dr. Pepper glued to my hand.  And I was a daily visitor to fast-food restaurants of all kinds.  I am addicted to convenience.  Fast food and soda were easy to get and tasty.  But I knew it wasn’t good for me or my waistline.

Time to Cut Back!

I knew that the 1st task on my Get Healthy list was going to have to be drinking more water…ugh!  I was not a lover of water.  To me it was a bland beverage.  But I knew that it was good for me, so I created a plan.  I started by simply cutting back on the soda.  I purchased little 8 oz cans of Dr. Pepper at Target and limited myself to one can a day with lunch.  If I didn’t need to run to the drive-thru for a soda, I was more likely to eat at home.  This worked for a short time, but when I was out and about for work, I quickly found my way back to the drive-thru and to my beloved soda.  I was going to need a different plan.

Earlier this year, I began a baby step approach to health eating with fabulous help from my health coach and FLYbuddy Katrina Sequenzia (check her out at http://katrinasequenzia.com/), and my first step was starting to drink more water.  This time, I filled up my Brita fridge pitcher, and picked out a tall glass (holds 16 oz.).  I numbered 1-10 on a 3×5 card, each number representing 1 8-oz. glass of water, and tried to cross off as many as I could in one day.  To make it easier, I drank my 1st 16 oz. of water before I even made my breakfast.  That got me on track for the rest of the day.  With my little checklist, I started to see real results in my water intake.  And I naturally started consuming less soda and other beverages because I was focusing on getting as much water in as possible. Turns out replacing, rather than reducing my soda, was the way to go!  After a day or 2, I actually started to enjoy the water.  It wasn’t as bland as before.  My body started to crave it!  But I was still getting too much soda in……

So Long My Sweet Friend.

About 6 weeks ago, a friend and I decided to take on a more restricted eating plan in an effort to get our bodies healthier, and hopefully lose a few pounds in the process.  We would be cutting out hydrogenated oils, refined sugars and flours, and then gluten and dairy for 6 weeks.  At 1st I was a little freaked out at the idea of cutting out so much from my diet, especially since I had trained my body to feast regularly at the drive-thru, and I told my friend that maybe I needed to approach this in baby steps.  But she reminded me that when an alcoholic goes to rehab, they are not weaned off the drinks in baby steps, they go cold turkey.  Good point!  And with that, we began our new eating plan.  The preparation for the diet called for a week-long “Drug Holiday”: no hydrogenated oil, no refined sugars, no caffeine.  What?!!  No caffeine!  That’s right, I had to give it up for at least a week.  You know what—it wasn’t that hard.  I had already been working on my healthy eating and cooking, so I had other options besides the drive-thru, and water was now easier to stomach.  I continued with my water checklist and started consuming only water, iced tea (unsweetened) or coconut water.  If you’ve never had coconut water, you have to check it out!  Its more hydrating that Gatorade and its delicious.  I regularly substitute one of my glasses of water with coconut water when I want a little treat.  My favorite brand is called ONE and can be found at the supermarket or health food store.

GO ME!!

I have now been soda-free for over a month, and I’ve lost over 10 pounds!  I don’t even miss my daily soda and coffee.  Its unbelievable!!  I know a good portion of my weight-loss is due to just cutting out the soda and fast food.  One of the things I have learned during my healthy eating journey is that if you are trying to lose weight, you should avoid drinking your calories.  When you drink your calories, you don’t eat less, so you are just adding more calories that need to be burned.  That is what I was doing every time I got my 32 oz drink at the drive-thru!  Good grief!  I am now continuing with my water, and my hope is that eventually, I will look at my soda as a social drink to have occasionally at parties and get-togethers or on trips to the lake.  I want my bottle of water to be the drink people see daily in my hand.  Its time I started taking good care of myself, and water is a great place to start!

Goodbye Lazy Summer, Hello Routines: Part 2

I think I am as excited for school to start are as my kids are!  I love new beginnings; I can’t wait to see their new classrooms and teachers.  Both my kids will be in school this year!  But new beginnings always mean schedule changes and a change of the routines.  I can’t depend on last year’s schedule.  The week before school is the perfect time for Mom to get her schedule organized, and revamp her routines!  Here are a couple of tools to make preparing for school a little easier on yourself:

1. Set Up A New Weekly Schedule

I sat down yesterday for about 20 min. to figure out my new weekly schedule for when school starts, and boy, am I glad I did!!  For some reason, I thought I would have more time once the kids both got into school.  Wrong!  My schedule looks fuller than ever!  If I hadn’t taken the time to think through how I want my days to go, next week would have been a nightmare.  Not only will my work schedule change a little bit, but I recently added workouts and training for a 5K into my schedule.  All of these needed to be shifted to new times of the day, and then I needed to figure out when to do all my other home activities and responsibilities.

First, I printed out 2 copies of the Time Schedule sheet from the free printable section of my favorite blog “IHeart Organizing” (http://www.iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/p/free-printables.html).  Working in pencil first, I plugged in school drop-offs and pickups, work schedule, workout times, and my cleaning tasks for the week, along with any other weekly activities.  I had to shift things around a few times to get it all to flow right.  Once I had things where they made sense for me, I made a copy in pen (I love to color-code).  Now I’ve got a map for the coming weeks.  Do what works best for you—just be sure to do this important step!  To see a step by step on how to set up your schedule, go to https://happyhomehabits.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/flying-basics-day-13/.

2. Refocus On The Before Bed Routine

I have to admit that the summer days took their toll, and on more than one occasion I went to bed without cleaning my kitchen and doing my BBR.  But now that summer is ending, I desperately need to make my Before Bed Routine a high priority.  My BBR really is the key to making my mornings smooth.  A good day starts the night before.  It is so much harder to get the kids ready to go in the morning, when the kitchen is a disaster and you can’t figure out what to wear.  Your BBR always includes 3 things: kitchen cleanup (dealing with the dishes specifically), checking your schedule for the next day, and setting out your clothes for the next day.  Make a simple list of the things you should do each night before bed and then start making it a nightly routine.  30 min. before bedtime the kids start on their own BBR list, and I get started cleaning up the kitchen.  With practice, I can now finish up my BBR before storytime!  Time for me to get back to my routine.  No Excuses!

3. Make Use of A Launch Pad

A launch pad makes it easy to grab and go in the mornings.  Find a spot near your door where you can put both the kid’s school supplies and the things you need for the next day. The backdoor that opens into the driveway is in my laundry room, so I mounted coat hooks there for jackets, purse, backpacks.  I made a spot above the dryer to set out other things we need to take along with us.  During my BBR, I check tomorrow’s schedule, and I set out what I need accordingly.

I also pack our lunches the night before.  If I accidentally wake up late, I don’t want to worry about packing school lunches in the morning.  So I just plan a time in the morning routine.  I pack the dry snacks in their lunch boxes, and have the sandwiches ready to grab in the fridge.  You could also do the same thing for breakfasts by making pancakes, waffles or french toast batches ahead, and storing them in the freezer for easy retrieval.

Ready, Set, Go!

Follow these steps, and you’ll be all set for a great first week of school.  And continuing these good habits will lead to smooth mornings and evenings for you and your family.  You’ll feel at the top of your game!  Happy FLYing!

Goodbye Lazy Summer, Hello Routines: Part 1

School BusIt’s That Time Again…..

Around my house, summer ends in one week and the new school year begins.  We’ve gotten a little lax with the routines and bedtime during the summer, so now its time to get back to routines!  I like to use the week before school begins to redevelop our routines, and prepare the kids for a great school year.  Here are some tips to start getting your kids ready for back-to-school:

1.  Set Up Your Kid Routines

For your sanity, and smooth mornings and evenings, you need to build some routines for your kids.  I found bedtime and morning routine lists for my kids at http://www.iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/p/free-printables.html.  I put them in sheet protectors and hand them to my kids to tackle.  No more Mean Monster Mommy yelling to do the next thing on their routine!  The kids can see just what to do next, and they love it.  Now, I am free to finish cleaning up the kitchen while they prepare themselves for bed.  The morning list makes getting ready for school in a timely manner a breeze.  Just like mom, my kids need routines too.

2. Prepare Your Kids for Bedtime

My kids usually have a set bedtime of 8pm, but during the summer sometimes they get to stay up a little later with all the summer activities.  So, to prepare for the first week of school, I start getting them to bed a little early.  At 7, I help them get started on their evening routine and then get them into a warm bath to relax them before bed.  I aim for a 7:30 bedtime, and by school week we are ready for our regular bedtime with the nightly routine in regular full-swing.  Its good practice for me and them!

our “tomorrow basket”

3. Teach Your Kids to Start The Night Before

Just as you prepare for tomorrow with your Before Bed Routine, the kids should follow suit.  Both my kids use a “tomorrow basket”.  They each select their clothes for school, and place them in the basket along with their underwear, socks and shoes.  They do this as part of their nightly routine.  In the morning, there is no search through the dirty clothes pile or dryer for the clothes they want to wear.  They dress themselves in the clothes they have chosen with no fighting!  Each of my kids have their own basket that sits on top of their dresser, but you can use an empty drawer, or a portion of a clothes rod….just pick a place where they can set them out each night.  This trick alone will save you big headaches in the morning.  And its a skill that will aid your kids their entire lives.

4. “Launch” Your Family Into A Great New School-Year!

Create a spot in your home that can serve as a Launch pad for your kid’s school supplies.  Right by our back door, we mounted hooks, where the kids can hang their backpacks and jackets in preparation for the next day.  The night before we just make sure everything we need is in the backpacks, and they are ready to grab on our way out the door in the morning.  All we have to remember is to grab our lunch bags out of the fridge!

You’ve already experienced how Morning and Before Bed Routines can make your day start off smoother.  Just model your kids routines along the same lines.  Getting them into routines get them off to a great start, and you’ll have plenty of time to get them out the door and to school on time.  And when that happens, a mom’s whole day is started on a happy path!