#320: How to Be Kind to Your Future Self and Overcome Procrastination Today

#320: How to Be Kind to Your Future Self and Overcome Procrastination Today

Have you ever had a big project that you just kept putting off? Or something in your life that just felt too big to tackle right now so you put it off and put it off for another time? Kathi sits down with friend and coauthor of “You Don’t Have to Try So Hard,” Cheri Gregory, to talk about emotional clutter and procrastination.

In this Episode You Will Know:

  • Why procrastination is actually considered a form of perfectionism.
  • How to know if you’re a procrastinator.
  • Why celebrating those small things is such a big deal.
  • The 3 most important things to know if you’re a procrastinator.

Join us for the You Don’t Have to Try so Hard Book Club!

If you’re committed to really ditching those crazy expectations you’ve put on your life, this book club is for you. We’ll be diving into the concepts of identifying and destroying those bullies that keep us in try-harder living rather than living our best life.

We’ll be holding the club on Facebook in our Private Clutter Free Academy group. It is the kindest corner of the internet, where there is no shame to our game. We’ll be exploring You Don’t Have to Try So Hard as a group from September 10 through October 22 and would love to have you join us. Click here to join today!

WIN A COPY OF YOU DON’T HAVE TO TRY SO HARD!

Comment below and be entered to win the You Don’t Have to Try So Hard gift pack from Harvest House which includes:

Gracelaced Planner
Simple Organizing
Holy Hustle
Unblinded Faith
You Don’t Have to Try So Hard

What is the one thing you are procrastinating on this week and the step you are going to take to get past it?

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Thank you to Cheri for joining me in today’s podcast! Join us next week as we talk about perfectionism.

 

Transcript

Kathi Lipp:
Welcome to Clutter Free Academy where our heart is to help you take small do-able steps to live every day with less Clutter and more life. These four weeks are all about the emotional clutter. But I’ll just say, of all the cluttering topics that we’re talking about, this is the one that’s going to lead you to the most physical clutter. Today we’re talking about the “p word”—procrastination—the hardest one of all. Here with me today is Cheri Gregory, co-author of “You Don’t Have to Try so Hard”. Welcome back to Clutter Free Academy, Cheri.

So Cheri, how has procrastination shown up in your life?

Cheri Gregory:
Thanks for having me. Of course I’m more of the classic perfectionist where I will kill myself to get things done, but the procrastination shows up when I feel like something is so overwhelming. The performance the part of me is all or nothing. I either have to do it amazingly or not at all, and so this procrastination is, “Well, right now I don’t have time to do it all and do it perfectly, thus I won’t do anything at all,” so I won’t even start unless I can keep it going. I know some of your people in Clutter Free Academy feel like they can’t start doing the physical decluttering if they can’t do it all at once, and so I know that that’s where some of your guidance with the blue tape and the fifteen minute time-boxing makes such a big difference for them.

Kathi:
I think that’s because they’ve started before and they haven’t finished. Then it’s been more of a mess than when they started, so that’s why we say in twenty minutes–fifteen minutes of de-cluttering and five minutes of putting away–it’s only going to look better. There’s another de-cluttering system out there that just makes me crazy because you’re supposed to de-clutter by putting everything in the middle of a room. Oh my goodness, that’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life! I hope it works for people but it does not work for me. I need to do short, small, doable bits, and the funny thing is, well the not so funny thing, is that you and I have both talked about this type of procrastination being the most socially acceptable. Perfectionistic people don’t see this as perfectionism. So it’s mental.

Cheri:
Right! I’ve actually spoken on this, and had women walk by later and say, “I’ve never thought of procrastination before as perfectionism!” But I think it’s the mindset of, “If I can’t do it right, I’m not going to do it at all. I’m not even going to get started!” So people are constantly putting off tasks until there’s a better time, or a better time they can do it right or they can do it perfectly. The problem with that is that the fear builds up. At least for me, if I put it off for three days, there must be a good reason. If I put it off for three weeks, it must be the biggest baddest monster that I can possibly imagine! Whereas, when we just get started, we shrink can it down to size.
You’ve probably told a few of those stories! You know, when a person tells a grand procrastination story and then says they pulled it off at the last possible moment—and the crowd goes wild! We love these stories! We think they’re just marvelous! The stories are funny and crowd-pleasing. But nobody ever says, “That’s so irresponsible! Why would you tell that story at a party?”

Kathi:
I grew up with a mom whose motto was, “I work better under pressure.” It took me a long time to figure out that no, she didn’t work better under pressure, she just worked. My mom was always busy, but when there was a deadline, and we’re all better with a deadline, she worked harder. That’s not a bad thing you know. I’m noticing as I’m doing more de-cluttering around my house, when I’m doing it with the mission of having people spend the night or something like that, of course I’m going to work harder. It’s more about understanding those little rewards those little goals that help us so much.

So, how do you know if you’re a procrastinator? Perhaps you are if you put off listening to this podcast for three weeks because you didn’t have time! But we all know if this is something we do.

But there are pain points. The number one for me for a long time was that I was always apologizing but nobody cared. People would think, “Yep, we know Kathi, we know you said you were going to do it and you didn’t do it on time.” My mom loves to tell the tale of the library fines I had, because it was always easier to find the library books later on. I was the worst! She says, “I can’t believe they didn’t have a ‘Most Wanted’ poster up there for you.”

I have many people who work for me. I’ve got some who are always on time, and I have some who are sometimes on time and not sometimes on time because things have come up, and then I have people who are always late. The people in the always-late category don’t stick around for very long because we can’t we can’t roll like that.

Cheri:
The second pain point is that you work on things that aren’t important to avoid the pain of difficult tasks. For example, when those of us who work at home on a book deadline find ourselves scrubbing the grout! It is amazing the things that suddenly look so appealing when we want to avoid the one thing that is terrifying us—the thing that we’re afraid of. I think it’s hard sometimes because I don’t recognize it as fear. Instead I’m telling myself that I don’t want to do that, I’m not in the mood today. Or I believe it’s icky. No, it’s fear. I’m afraid of some aspect of the work I’m avoiding, and it is easier for me to go do some other disgusting horrible task that I really don’t like and don’t want to do. That ought to be a sign, when we’re willing to do something we hate doing in order to avoid the other thing.

Kathi:
I see that all the time in myself sadly.
The third pain point is that either people think you’re unreliable, or you kill yourself on a regular basis at the last minute. I’d say I went from being unreliable to thinking, “I’m going to do this whether it kills me,” and let’s be clear, and it kills my husband, it kills my kids, it kills the people I care about because I have a high sense of responsibility now.

Cheri:
The problem is that when you’ve killed yourself and you’ve pulled it off, now you’re behind on the next things that need to be done, and it ends up being this endless cycle of being behind, which looks like procrastination. I think we are all willing to listen to people who have a crisis or an emergency, and at that point that’s a reason to be late or miss a deadline. People can be understanding of that. But when it becomes a pattern then it becomes just excuses.

Kathi:
Yes, and there have been times when all of us have gone through a really tough times in our lives, so please don’t think that we’re short on mercy. It’s the people who keep finding those tough times and using them for the reasons or excuses, and it’s gone on for months or years, that’s when we know.

Cheri:
I have created crises. I have almost knowingly gone without sleep eating too much sugar to get sick so that I could then suddenly cancel out of things or extend deadlines. I’m not above doing such things. I didn’t really intentionally do it in the moment, but in looking back I now see that I pulled a fast one on myself and thus everybody else there.

Kathi:
It’s a way of self-protection really.

What are the three most important things you need to know if you are a procrastinator?

Cheri:
Number one: You’ve got to learn to take care of your future self.

I love how you talk about this future self as being somebody that we need to be loyal to, rather than the immediate gratification. Because avoiding what feels scary in the moment feels fabulous now.

Kathi:
I will say this, my ankle has been hurting quite a bit recently and I’ve been talking about taking care of my future self. I’ve been going to the gym, I’ve been doing long walks, and my ankle has been in pain. At first I thought it was a spider bite because there were two little pinpricks in there. Then I thought it was gout and that I just needed to hustle. I need to do more. It turns out that I have a fractured ankle. So be smart about your future self. Your future self also doesn’t want to be crippled. It’s always a balance of what we need to do today to prepare for the future, but also I need to take care of myself today. So live in that balance and constantly ask yourselves if you’re doing the right thing for today’s self, and for future self. Sometimes you get to just have a break, and it’s okay. You can eat a granola bar and watch an episode of “Gilmore Girls.” That’s OK because that’s restorative and soul filling. But most of the time what we need to be doing is taking care of the things that would be so much easier to put off because they’re hard or scary we don’t want to do them.

Cheri:
Number two: Take the next micro step.

One of the things we’ve been learning over the last few years together is that we would put things on our list and they would just be too big and that was part of what made it so scary. I’m doing better with procrastination these days because all I have to do is look at it and read it and think about it. I don’t have to do it, I don’t have to fix that, I don’t have to do research. I just need to start wrapping my brain around it, and start giving myself permission to just take that first little micro step. What’s astonishing is that when I’d pushed something off until the very last minute, usually I ended up doing a very poor job. I’m not one of those who pulls it off at the last minute very well because generally the projects are more complicated than I thought, they need more research, or there are people I need to talk to who aren’t accessible at two thirty in the morning. But now, if I can at least get started. If I can at least begin by attempting to understand what the project is about, or who I might need to involve, and what questions I might have it helps. Another really good thing about taking those first micro steps is just knowing what questions I might have, and even jotting those down. That’s not a particularly scary thing to do. I don’t have to have a perfect end result. But oh my goodness, it gets the ball rolling and gets some momentum happening. For so many of us who deal with procrastination, once that obstacle of starting is out of the way, then we can keep it going. It’s the big bad beginning that can just be so overwhelming. Micro steps are the answer to that.

Kathi:
And if you are working on a team, procrastination is about the worst thing that you can do. What you’re doing is that you’re asking everybody to constantly be a hero for you, and people are tired of rescuing over and over and over. There are some people who get off on it, but then you end up owing them all the time and nobody wants to live like that. So the earlier I can do something, the less scary it can be, and the more imaginary obstacles I can remove. When we’re looking at a project we either are the total optimists, thinking this is just going to be so easy, and that we think that way. We’re almost scared to start it because we don’t know what the obstacles are going to be. Then we start imagining all the crazy stuff that could happen, so whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist the reward is procrastination. But it’s only a temporary reward. Don’t you feel terrible while you’re procrastinating? Thinking all the while you know you should be doing this.

Cheri:
My conscience goes crazy!
One of the things I have learned over the last years is to start asking myself what my procrastination is trying to protect me from. In my case, it’s often trying to protect me from devoting too much time. My old perfectionistic self would say,” I’m just going to work. I’m going to work and work and work as hard as I can for long as it takes.” I’ve started to recognize when procrastination is actually kind of being friendly towards me, it’s trying to help me cut things down to size. The problem with using procrastination to do that is that I just waste time. I fritter my time away and then there’s only three hours left, so now the task takes three hours. What I’m trying to learn to do is when I feel like procrastinating, which means I was probably about to devote ten hours to a two hour task, is to give myself permission to only take two or maybe three hours maximum, and I’m going to call that good enough. Then I can do whatever I want with that time. I can relax. I can rest. I can go take a walk and spend time with my family. I can watch “Gilmore Girls.” That’s actually been a really interesting little experiment for me to sometimes look at the procrastination as a potentially friendly force that I need to listen to. What is it trying to do for me? In my case it’s trying to curate.

Kathi:
So you can view procrastination as protection.

Cheri:
Yes. Protection from my crazed performance-istic and perfectionist self.

Kathi:
I love that.

Finally, number three: Accountability.

You and I do this big time. It’s good to be able to say when I can feel myself procrastinating and to be able to say what I want to do and when I need to get it done. Michele Cushatt and I text each other every single morning. We tell each other what we’re writing that day because it would be so easy without that accountability to just think that since nobody is going to know I’m not writing, then the only person I’m hurting is myself. That is the worst sentence in the world by the way—that the only person I’m hurting is myself. Why would that be OK?
How do you use accountability in your life Cheri?

Cheri:
You know from working with me all these years that I am a social learner, so collaboration and cooperation are so important to me. Knowing that I’m stewarding not just my time, which should be important to me, but knowing that I’m responsible for these collaborative projects where what I do or don’t do affects somebody else’s ability to be who God created them to be gives me an extra sense of responsibility. It’s not an oppressive sense of responsibility, it’s exciting. It’s OK. Part of what I’ve realized is that I do need constant feedback, and then I’m less likely to procrastinate. For example, for my writing I have writing coach. The moment I have a draft, no matter how bad it is, I send it off to her. Knowing I’m going to hear back from her in a few days—not months or weeks—keeps me writing. I need the instant gratification of accountability.
It keeps me from feeling like nobody cares or it doesn’t matter to anybody in the world whether or not I meet my deadline. It does matter.

Kathi:
It really does. One of the things that has helped me with accountability are the opportunities that I want. I have to be good about going after them and it’s scary and to say, “ Hey, I’m doing a brave thing and I need you to pray for me, I need you to encourage me, I need you to be ridiculously cheering for me, because this is hard for me.” That helps me to not put things off. I’ve got one of those opportunities right now. I need to apply to be a speaker at something and I’m scared. I’m scared of rejection and so to be able to put my best foot forward and be okay with this I need somebody to cheer me on, and it’s been huge for me to ask for this kind of help and accountability.
Now I want to know, what is the thing that you are procrastinating on this week? We all do it. And what’s the step you’re going to take? Is it micro steps? Is it needing to understand that you’re taking care of your future self? Do you need to ask a friend for some help? Tell us the thing you’re scared of and the step you’re going to take so you won’t procrastinate, and we will enter you in to win the “You Don’t Have to Try So Hard” gift basket. There are amazing books that will help you get on the path to doing what you want to do. Go comment over on the podcast page. Cheri, thanks so much for being with me again today!

Cheri:
Thanks for having me!

Kathi:
Next time we’re talking about the mother of all perfectionistic traits. We’re talking about perfectionism itself. I know it’s so scary, but that’s OK, we’ll hold each other’s hands and we’ll be accountable. Thank you for joining us. You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now go create the Clutter Free life you were always intended to live.

Meet Our Guest

Cheri Gregory

Cheri Gregory

Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.” Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and Overwhelmed.
Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (23), also opposite personalities.
Cheri blogs about perfectionism, people-pleasing, highly sensitive people, and hope at www.cherigregory.com.

Episode #311: Plan Ahead for Your Next Instant Party – How to be Ready to Celebrate at a Moment’s Notice

Episode #311: Plan Ahead for Your Next Instant Party – How to be Ready to Celebrate at a Moment’s Notice

Who doesn’t love a good get-together with friends or family? How do you make an instant party when you don’t have time to run to the store and you haven’t done a deep clean in awhile?

Kathi and her clutter free expert, Tonya Kubo, join in on this fun episode full of tips that make your next party stress free. They share their favorite party recipes, cleaning ideas and ways to let your guests help out so they feel like they are part of the fun. No one wants a stressed out hostess and with these tips you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your guests instead of worrying about tiny details (you know, the ones that probably don’t really matter!).

Recipes mentioned in the show:

Kathi’s Macaroni Salad recipe for Instant Pot
Tammy’s Maltby Cake Recipe
Kathi’s recipe for “really quick chili”
Tonya’s Icebox Cakes (2 recipes):
https://averiecooks.com/boston-cream-icebox-cake/
https://thekitchn.com/how-to-make-a-no-bake-icebox-cake-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-202104

Tonya’ Cowboy Caviar

Ingredients:
2 15-oz. cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 16-oz bag frozen sweet corn, thawed
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red onion, minced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, minced (taste first to check heat)
1 cucumber, peeled and diced (optional)
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped

Dressing:
1 Tbsp olive oil
Juice from 2 fresh limes, about 4 tablespoons (lemon works too)
Dash of red-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix together dressing ingredients and set aside. Mix salad ingredients in a bowl stir in dressing to blend. You can serve immediately but it’s even better after 2 hours in the fridge.
Notes: This can be made the night before. You can sub the black beans for any type of firm canned bean. Black-eyed peas and pinto beans are great substitutions.

Share your favorite tips! Win Kathi’s What’s for Dinner Solution!

To win:
Leave a note in the comment section below. Tell us what your favorite cleaning tip or recipe is for your parties. Winner will be chosen on July 10, 2018.

*Giveaway is for US residents only.

 

 


Thanks to Our Sponsor: Duck Pack and Track


 

Thanks for Listening!

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  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
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Meet Our Guest

Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo is the illustrious, fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter-Free Academy Facebook group. She and her husband, Brian, are raising two spirited girls in the agricultural heart of California. She writes about fighting the demons of comparison, clutter and compulsion on www.tonyakubo.com.

How to Build Your Daily Routine: The Morning Edition

How to Build Your Daily Routine: The Morning Edition

I have one job in this post – to convince you that creating your daily routine is possible.

Even if habits are not your thing.

Even if you are not a morning person.

Trust me. This is possible.

We’ve all tried to create habits that would make us be more efficient, keep our homes clean and clutter free, and would get us out the door in the morning and into bed at a reasonable time.

Here is the first thing I want you to know: I am the least “routine” person you’ve ever met. My approach to each day was fresh and new (read random and chaotic). So, if I can do this, your daily routine is totally within reach.

The second thing I need you to know:  I have never been a morning person. My mom, when signing me up for kindergarten, told the teacher if I didn’t get into the “Late Birds” group, we would have to change schools. There would be no “Early Bird” class for little Kathi. She didn’t want to physically drag me out of bed every morning.

But as an adult, I realized that if I want to get stuff done in life, I need to get up before the rest of the world. (Or at least my kids.)

I really believe having a morning routine is one of the most powerful ways to not just change your day, but change your life, because we give ourselves more permission to go deeper in the morning than we do at any other time.

Having a morning routine means deciding in advance what you’re going to do, so you can spend your mental energy focusing on what’s really important for the day.

 

How to Create a Daily Routine for Mornings

Here are six steps to creating your morning daily routine.

 

Make a list of everything you do in the mornings.

Go into detail, and leave nothing out, no matter how small. Here’s an idea of some things you’ll want to include:

• Brushing teeth
• Showering
• Making breakfast
• Finding car keys
• Getting kids ready
• Quiet time
• Making coffee
• Putting on makeup
• Laundry
• Getting dressed
• Eating breakfast
• Packing your computer bag
• Making lunches

 

Evaluate your list. 

The next morning, if you remember things that aren’t on the list, write them down. I want you to get an accurate reflection of what you can accomplish and see where the stress is in the morning.

Are you a morning person? Awesome! Load up your mornings, but load it up with the most important stuff.

Are you a night owl? Do everything you can to prep the night before so you can get the rest you need. I will do a whole other blog post on having an evening routine, but the bottom line is…PREP, PREP, PREP.

If it’s not working, brainstorm ways to make it work. Maybe you need a longer prep list the night before, or you might even need to plan earlier in the week. Making a big pot of oats to heat up in the microwave or putting together your outfits for the week can make your mornings go more smoothly. I’m a big fan of a prep and plan day to set you up for success for the rest of the week.

 

Set Up a Staging Area

This is everything when you are trying to get out the door each morning. Staging is the act of having everything ready to go when you are. Putting everything by the door will save you tons of time and stress. You could even place a chair or table there for that purpose.

Items to place in your staging area:

  • Lunch boxes
  • Jackets
  • Keys
  • Computer Bag
  • Backpacks
  • Homework
  • School or work projects
  • Travel mug or water bottle
  • Cell phone
  • Dog Leash

You can even have a list of the things you need to take in that area so you are sure not to forget a thing.

 

Complete Tasks By Location 

This is one of those tiny tricks that will absolutely save your mornings.

As much as I need to get in the steps on my Fitbit, I was all over my house as I was getting ready in the morning. Going up and down the stairs a dozen times was taking up a huge chunk of my morning.

So now, I break up my morning by location.

When creating your daily routine, I want you to think about what rooms you use in the morning (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, upstairs, downstairs, etc.) and figure out all the things that need to be done in that room.

Kitchen:

  • Make breakfast
  • Make coffee
  • Pack lunches
  • Unload dishwasher
  • Eat breakfast
  • Have quiet time
  • Load dishwasher

Bedroom/Bathroom:

  • Shower
  • Dressed
  • Makeup
  • Sort laundry

Front Door:

  • Keys
  • Computer bag
  • Travel mug
  • Handbag
  • Cell phone

I’m a “go downstairs first thing” kinda girl, so I get all my kitchen stuff done, move to my bedroom, and then, if I’m leaving the house, move to the front door and prep to leave.

 

Time yourself to see how long things actually take.

We are time optimists.

We think it takes five minutes to put on makeup, but it really takes ten. Time yourself so you know where you can save time, and where to schedule more. You’ll have a realistic idea about how long your morning routine takes and reduce your stress level getting out the door.

 

Print out your list so it’s easy to follow.

Put it up in the kitchen, your bathroom, the bedroom, or wherever you’ll see it. Practice, practice, practice.

When I did this, I learned more efficient ways to get my list done faster. Since I normally eat oatmeal for breakfast, I got to where I could unload the dishwasher in the 3 minutes and 33 seconds it takes to cook in the microwave.

The first couple of weeks are discovery. After that, it’s execution.

 

Adjust as you go.

By sheer accident, I discovered that my oatmeal turns out just as good if I only cook it for 3 minutes, so I had to think of new strategies to unload the dishwasher 33 seconds faster.

Sometimes you’ll have to change your routine as circumstances change, like for a new job or school schedule. Keep adjusting your routine so that it continues to work for you.

One of the best things that will come out of this is you’ll continually be thinking about how to save time and make your daily routines more efficient. Here are some of my favorite tricks:

  • For the dishwasher, I learned that loading things in groups (plates, drinking glasses, knives, etc.) saves me time in unloading.
  • Set up your coffee the night before. I want to hug myself when I come downstairs and smell coffee.
  • I leave my walking shoes by the front door so when it’s time to exercise, I don’t need to go upstairs to get them.
  • I leave my computer charging downstairs so it’s ready to go in the morning (and fully charged.)
  • I make lunches the night before, and have bought these great salad containers so we can prep the night before (or even two nights before. They are that good.)
  • I have a hook in my bedroom where I hang the next day’s outfit.
  • I sleep in a cute pair of leggings, a tank top, and a sports bra, so I’m ready for exercise the next morning.

 

One More Tip

By the way, there’s one other thing that can keep us from a happy morning: Clutter! (You knew I had to go there on a Clutter Free Academy blog post.)

If you haven’t already joined our growing community on Facebook, click below to find an encouraging, shame-free place where you’ll get the support you need to get the clutter out of your house.

 

CLICK HERE TO JOIN NOW!

 

Peace is possible in the morning, I promise!

 

Clutter Free Habits for Kids

Clutter Free Habits for Kids

Picture this. You’ve just spent the last few hours tidying up the house while the kids are at school and you finally sit down to have a drink of water. You take a sip, let out a huge sigh of relief, and marvel at the wondrous sight of your squeaky-clean kitchen. “Nice work!” you say to yourself. Now, you just need to figure out a way to keep it like this even after your kids get home. Here are 5 tips to help you instill clutter free habits in your kids.

1. Bags up and lunchboxes open. I started this clutter free habit at the beginning of the school year and it’s been one of the easiest and best ways to save myself from tripping over my kids’ school stuff. I told my school-aged children that if they put their shoes away, hung their backpacks up, and opened their lunchboxes and placed them on the counter every day after school without me asking, they would each get fifty cents. It has worked like a charm. My kids had saved up enough money from doing this one thing every day that they were able to cash in their coins for dollar bills when we took a trip to the beach over spring break. Not only were they excited about being able to buy what they wanted but the daily “kerplunk” of the coins in their piggy banks was an auditory reminder of their hard work.

2. Placemats or bust. We do A LOT of crafts in my house. I’m not afraid of glitter and we use it often. We also have washable markers but get this, we have permanent Sharpie markers, too! I know. I’m a daring mom. But, I don’t worry about my counters anymore because my kids know – no placemat – no craft. I learned with my first child, mistakes happen and it’s a heck of a lot easier to clean off a placemat (or throw it away) than it is to cry over something that won’t come out of granite. My kids have made placemats somewhat of their calling card by picking out a new one each year that suits their individual personality.

3. Craft kit corner. My mom ordered the most adorable craft bags for my kids. They put all of the stuff they’re currently using in these bags and tote them around from place to place when they want to. It’s a cinch to clean up. When they’re done with whatever they’re using, they put everything back in their totes and hang them on their hooks. Each tote has their name on it so they know whose is who.

4. Operation pantry. Once upon a time, my pantry was unorganized; not with food but with my kids’ arts and crafts. I’d had enough one day and so I organized everything into bins with labels. My husband hung a couple of wire shelves and with a pep talk and a few incentives, I showed my kids exactly how I expected the pantry to look from that point on. It’s not perfect but it’s a lot better than how it used to be. My son has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) so we have a lot of rice bins, bean bins, and sensory-type toys. Things like this can easily spill or become cumbersome because of the touch-and-feel type items they are. I knew I wanted to keep these things because they were helpful to my son but having them strewn about and finding beans in nooks in crannies in our house was stressing me out. I now have a system. My son knows that when he gets his sand bin out, he has to do it at a specific table on top of a placemat. He also knows he has to get the broom out and sweep (as best he can) up anything that has fallen on the floor. I’m not looking for perfection out of the cleanup process but rather, responsibility from him on what it means to be able to play with those types of things.

5. Stairway catch-all. The stairwell seems to be the catch-all for anything and everything that has been worn, played with, used, or doesn’t have a home. My kids know, that if there is something left out (not on the stairs) it gets donated or thrown away. Their responsibility is to put everything they find of theirs in a basket that I have put on one of the steps for them. This basket is big and flexible and one they can easily carry up to their rooms to help them put their things away. This basket serves so many purposes; it collects everything and my kids don’t have to make multiple trips up and down the stairs because they’re able to carry it all in one basket. They know to return the basket to the steps once it’s been emptied.

Creating clutter-free habits in our kids doesn’t have to be scary. Think of the things that you’re already doing every day and find a way to make them work for you and your family. Sometimes it just takes a minute or two of thinking, “How can I make this easier while allowing them to take responsibility?” I bet you’ll find that your kids actually like the way they feel when they claim ownership over their belongings. It’s a win-win for everyone.

 

Parenting journalist and author, Meagan Ruffing, encourages and equips other moms who may be feeling overwhelmed and lonely in the midst of parenting in her debut book, “I See You: Helping Moms Go from Overwhelmed to In Control.” Meagan talks about the challenges of living with a child who has behavioral disorders and talks candidly about her struggles with mom guilt. To read more about Meagan’s story and real-life parenting tips, visit her at www.meaganruffing.com.

Love Lives Here: Creating a Home that Combats Chaos and Practices Peace Everyday

Love Lives Here: Creating a Home that Combats Chaos and Practices Peace Everyday

For years, home was not my happy place. There were tense words, loud conversations, lots of noise, and a whole bunch of chaos. I remember thinking, “When these kids grow up…,” “When my husband is nicer…,” “When we have more money…,” things will calm down.”

But peace isn’t determined by our circumstances; it’s determined by the way we respond with God’s help, to those circumstances. God sent His son so we could experience peace, not just in the quiet of life, but also when chaos hits.

If you are approaching your home with dread at the end of the day, perhaps your place needs a peace makeover, like mine did. Here are a few things you can be intentional about when it comes to creating a peace-filled home:

How to Enjoy Your Mother’s Day and Love On a Single Mom

How to Enjoy Your Mother’s Day and Love On a Single Mom

“Isn’t this day supposed to be about ME?” I remember saying those words one frustrated Mother’s Day years ago to a husband who just woke from a nap and kids who were fighting. Sometimes Mother’s Day doesn’t feel like a celebration of mom to MOM. Yes, you could look at it as a holiday created to sell greeting cards. But there’s something about this day that makes you want to feel honored or at the very least, recognized and given a much-needed break.

Maybe you’ve uttered those words to your family in frustration. Or perhaps you relish the fact that on this one day, they are going to knock your socks off with pampering and you are not going to have to think about anything heavy.

And then you see her. The single mom in your church. Huh. Who is making sure she has a great mother’s day? And the guilt starts to whisper that you really should do something but, I mean, really, it’s your ONE day. Squirm.

Clutter Free is about clearing clutter from a lot of areas of your life including your heart and mind. And seeing a mom who needs some help shouldn’t come with a side of guilt. Yes, you still get to enjoy your day. But if you truly want to bless her too, I’ve got two amazingly simple ways:

Remind her kids they need to do something.

Or, simply tell her you see the amazing job she’s doing as a mom on her own.

Told you they were simple.

Remind Her Kids

The first Mother’s Day after my husband died, I expected to wake up to just another day of doing everything for my kids. They were a little older but let’s face it, kids often need to be reminded. So imagine my surprise when my girls, ages 12 and almost-6 surprised me with scrambled eggs, toast, and tea on a pretty platter in bed. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect.

I didn’t need a huge gift. I couldn’t afford to take the kids out to lunch. But the fact that they remembered me was enough to make my Mother’s Day special.

Maybe her kids just need to be reminded to do something for mom on this day. Or perhaps they need some suggestions. If you have the means, giving them a gift certificate to take the family out for dinner is great too. Or, help the kids buy her flowers or something simple. These material things are super nice however I think most moms want to feel appreciated and remembered on this day more than anything. So do what you can.

Be Her Cheerleader

Maybe you don’t know her kids well enough to be the bossy grown-up who asks what they are planning. If not, simply telling her you see all she does and you think she’s rockin’ it is another great blessing.

Being a single parent is incredibly tough. It takes lots of creativity and energy to be all things that your kids need on top of provider and caretaker of the home. Telling a single mom you think she’s doing an amazing job at it is another way to bless her on this day to celebrate moms. Simple and free, this encouragement might come at a time when she’s had a rough day or just be a delightful surprise.

So when God places that single mom in your path as Mother’s Day approaches, don’t feel guilty that you want to enjoy your holiday. That’s self-care and you, fellow mom, have earned a day, too. Instead, ask God how you can best help this single mom.

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Jenn Buell is a writer, speaker, radio DJ and widowed mom of four kids who lives in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. She loves using her superpower of encouragement to cheer on other Christian single moms through her blog and podcast, “Right There With You.” You can connect with Jenn at JennBuell.com.

 

Join the You Don't Have to Try So Hard Book Club

We'll be conducting the book club through Kathi's Private Facebook Group, Clutter Free Academy. Join the book club to get access to the private facebook group. You'll receive an email with instructions once you submit this form. 

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