Posts — Page 11 of 12 — Stella Nadene | Health + Wellness for Busy Moms
How to Create an Amazing Fall Bucket List Adventure

How to Create an Amazing Fall Bucket List Adventure

When I was younger, I really had no feelings about Fall and Autumn except…’Blah, school’s in again’. I hated the end of summer and the (sort of ) freedom it held. But mostly I wanted it to stay hot all the time. Now that I’m older, I actually relish the thought of fall. Partly because it’s so blazing hot (and humid) here around Houston. But also because there are so many fun things to do in the fall with the kids! And my most favorite tradition we started a couple years ago is making a Fall Bucket List!


How to create an epic Fall Bucket List Adventure for your family with this template!


Making a Fall Bucket List is one of those things that I personally have crazy expectations of (well, any bucket list really) because of the endless boards on Pinterest with all the amazing eye-candy of activities to do in the beautiful fall weather! But in reality, when we sit down to make our lists, it’s like the kids go all ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ with it. “Uhhhhh……..maybe……um……swim in some leaves….?” Notsomuch.

My solution to that has been to assign each kid a number of things they can request, and then leave them to scour Pinterest themselves. Then we go through and eliminate any repeats and make one MASTER list.

I try to make the final presentation really fun, and we’ll post it on the wall so we see it all the time.

The husband and I add things on as well that kids may initially not be too super excited about, but they eventually get over it. (I mean, we do pay the bills around here, don’t we get some say-so in this??)

What’s so great about bucket lists is that they can be really big things, like a trip somewhere, or really small things, like having dinner outside on the patio. Last year I bought a little fire-pit off Amazon and we’ve roasted marshmallows through the fall and winter + just lit the fire to sit around it at night. Sometimes the hubby and I sit out there with a drink after the kids go to bed (and sometimes while they just watch a movie.)


But bucket lists can also be based on certain criteria (think the Christmas gift rule: 1 thing they want, 1 thing they need, 1 thing to wear, and 1 thing to read.)(Did I say that right??)

This year our bucket list will include these categories:


  • 1 big trip somewhere (which may be to see family…)
  • Local adventures (think-visiting pumpkin patches or corn-maze)
  • Culinary adventures (try new restaurants and maybe even more cooking lessons)
  • Camping (backyard and maybe in a camper somewhere)
  • Outdoor Living (like watching football on back patio, dinners outside, etc)
  • Outdoor adventures (like maybe riding the 4-wheeler in the National Forest–which is just down the road for us)


What you’ll notice, though, is that each year the kids will find absolute favorites. Then they’ll request those the next year. But–they’ll also start getting a feel of the whole point of the adventure.

Once they understand the concept of a bucket list, they’ll have it in mind when it rolls around next season or year (however often you make these for your family.) Kids start getting excited about just the aspect of going on more family adventures together. They don’t know you’re making awesome family memories yet. 😉


Wanna create your own Fall Bucket List? Click the image below!


Create an epic Fall bucket list adventure with your family with this FREE template!

Hey, guess what? I also have a Fall Bucket List Journal for sale where you can document each adventure (as opposed to just having photos) for those fantastic Fall Bucket List memories! (Just hop on over to the Journals page to find it + many others!)



Or are you more of a photobook family? Click here to check out Mixbook (they almost always have a ton of discounts going on!) + Find out why Mixbook is our family’s absolute go-to for photo-books!



So how has your list-creation gone? Do you feel overwhelmed? Or are you super pumped to do all these crazy fun things with your kids? Let me know in the comments below!!


Know someone who could use help creating an epic fall bucket list adventure, too? SHARE this post!


How to create an epic Fall Bucket List Adventure for your family!

5 Amazingly Easy Steps to Conquer the Paper Monster

5 Amazingly Easy Steps to Conquer the Paper Monster

One of my most disturbing #adulting memories of my older sister involves learning a valuable lesson about the paper monster.

The memory is going into her house one day before I was married. I saw this giant pile of paperwork and mail that I swear had to weigh like 50 pounds. And I just sort of marveled at how large it was. And then later in the same day I remember her freaking out because the phone got cut off. Because it didn’t get paid.

Now mind you, it wasn’t not paid because they didn’t have the money, quite the contrary–they had plenty of money! She simply forgot to pay the bill. Why? Because there was so much dog-gone paperwork that she couldn’t find the bill!

When I realized that was the real reason she hadn’t paid it, my brain started working and trying to figure out what in the heck went wrong for them to constantly have such a large paper monster that she couldn’t find something as simple as the phone bill.

Now contrary to what you may be thinking right now, I was an actual adult at this point in time. However, I did not understand where all this paperwork came from. Nor how she could have let it get to that point. How could she not see that she was in desperate need of conquering her paper monster??


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Now that I’m a parent I fully understand that jobs and kids and trips and life in general get so much in the way of everything you’re trying to accomplish and keep going, and all of the plates are trying to spin in the air all at one time that sometimes it feels like an avalanche of paperwork that you simply do not have time to go through.

My house used to regularly get in this sort of state. Until I found a pretty cool organization website that talked about how you must get a handle on your paperwork. I had heard of this before but always thought it was the silliest thing ever. I mean, how could you possibly get eaten by the paper monster… But now, I understand that this is a total legit possibility.

Because paperwork is one of those things that seems to grow with as if it’s its own entity in our house from the mail to the kids paperwork that comes home from school every single day. And if your household is the anything like ours it sort of takes a life on its own and takes over every nook and cranny, every surface, every basket, every backpack, and every cubby! So let’s talk about how to put a muzzle and a choke collar on that thing, eh?


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1. Mail


The first thing that we want to start with in paperwork organization is to reduce the amount of paperwork that’s coming in in the first place. This can easily be done for the mail by going to THIS SITE. There are several steps to take your name off mailing lists. This will dramatically reduce the amount of junk mail you’re getting. (It can take up to 90 days to take full effect, so be patient.)

Once your junk mail load is reduced, look at things like magazines that are coming in. If you have magazines that you don’t even read it’s really simple to go online into the subscription area, enter your information, and cancel the subscription. If you don’t want to cancel it you can maybe have a designated place to set magazine aside where you either donate them to doctors’ offices or other places where people just basically have to sit and wait. Or donate them to somebody else who could use them. Like a family member or friend.

Unfortunately that’s about the only thing that you can reduce at this point. Besides things like receipts and shopping lists. Or any kind of paperwork that sort of accumulates in your purse or bag that you carry around with you.


2. School Papers


Paperwork from the school during the school year, unfortunately, can normally not be reduced. Unless you have a classroom that has decided to go paperless (and–God bless you if you are in that category.) Because many schools seem to have a problem with going paperless. 

Kids have a tendency to just unload their entire folder on the counter top. Or just basically plop their folder right on the countertop. So either way I’ve got to go through all these papers from what they call their Tuesday folder. Then I  sort through everything that’s in there. So everything either gets tossed, recycled, put in a pile for to-do, or I can post things up to refer back to (upcoming events, etc.) I have little clippies on our command central station that has each kid’s name on it.  Those papers that deal with things like field trips, parties, or school events, etc get stuck up in those clips so that we always know where that information is. It’s always in that clip.

Anything that needs to be signed and sent back immediately gets signed and put back into the folder to go straight back to the teacher.

Any appointment request, reminder, etc with a set date immediately goes in my calendar.


3. Paper Basket


The Paper Basket is a basket that’s used to accumulate things that don’t immediately have a place. Sort of a catch-all. But you can even organize it so that it’s not nearly as bad as you’re probably imagining. Mine is set up with files in it for things like ‘tax documents and receipts’, ‘pet info’, ‘kids’ school papers’ (that we save digitally for their school year books), ‘to-do’, ‘bills’, ‘to go over with hubby’, ‘recipes’, and ‘into household binder’.

If anything goes into the Paper Basket, it should be immediately filed. But one day a week you should go through everything. File it and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. I even throw things in ours like extra Kindle fires that need to be sold or donated—but need to have all data erased first, etc. (we have a big basket).

Now whenever we have all of these papers that come in and just kind of accumulate on top of the counter top, normally what I end up doing is sort of putting it all in one big stack so it’s at least not covering the entire counter top and then sorting through that as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of a kitchen desk area in our house. But my office actually happens to be fairly close to the kitchen. Our Paper Basket is actually sitting right in the doorway of my office. So it’s simple to just toss everything inside that basket. I actually tell everybody, when they bring receipts in or any kind of paperwork that I need to deal with as long as it’s not urgent, that it goes in that Paper Basket.


4. Family Binder


A really option that you might want to consider is creating a household binder. The Household Binder keeps important things together. Like takeout menus, business cards for anything that needs to be done around the house, the cards for doctors offices, emergency information, just sort of a general guideline page for babysitters. Any of that information needed in an emergency. Or that you would need just to kind of keep things running around the household in case you’re not around to ask questions about all of that.

I also actually put in this binder any information from the beginning of the school year. Because my kids’ teachers will send home forms that talk about rules of the classroom, how to get in touch with them, and some of them even give information about themselves so that if I need ideas for teachers’ gifts throughout the year, I have that information right there. No searching for it online somewhere– Which I greatly appreciate! There are a lot of good options for household binder printable pages.  I’ll list several of my favorites here so if you want to go check those out. Basically whatever you choose is going to be dependent upon how you run your household. But also the way your brain works and what works best for you. Some great free options for printables for your binder can be found at:

Blooming Homestead

Organizing Homelife

Organizing Moms


5. Work to Keep the Clutter Cleared


And the most important part of this is going to be keeping all that clutter cleared. The monster can totally take on a second-or third or twelfth–life if you let it. At any given time. Just stay on top of it. If you see anything lying around, use the 60 second rule. If it takes 60 seconds or less to take care of it, JUST DO IT.


Want a checklist to slay your paper monster? Click the image below!


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Let me know how your steps went to get organized in the comments below! I love hearing from ya!

Have Smoother School Mornings: A 5-Day CHALLENGE!

Have Smoother School Mornings: A 5-Day CHALLENGE!

So sorry–this challenge has ended! 🙁



Dear Fellow Mama,


 Is this is your current school morning situation?:


(ie: NOT smoother school mornings and zero school morning routine):

slow moving kids +


unreasonable meal requests +


socks have disappeared +


clothes don’t match +


only one shoe in sight +


school papers have mysteriously vanished +


nerve wracking whining and crying +


Mama losing it =



Your basic complete chaos of a normal school morning.




stress free school mornings, smoother school mornings free 5 day challenge school morning routine




The Easy Way to Meal Plan Tech Free That Saves You Time

The Easy Way to Meal Plan Tech Free That Saves You Time

So, in another post I talked about DIY meal planning the digital way, where I use the Mealboard app to plan and shop for our weekly meals. This post, though, is for those of us that like a physical, tangible paper that you can write on see without relying on a phone, computer, or tablet. To meal plan tech free.

In all honesty, I use both methods depending on what mood I’m in that week (I can’t help it, I’m a Gemini.) I really want to be all tech-savvy, but half the time I actually need something easily accessible right up in my face that I can touch and write on.


meal plan tech free without a service or app + FREE templates for meal plans + shopping lists


The meal plan tech free way


So in order to meal plan tech free, what I created was basically my counterpoint to the Mealboard app. It’s pretty simple actually. It’s a paper that’s folded in half. I stick it to the side of the fridge with a magnet (crazy high-tech, huh?)

Then throughout the week I use it to start our shopping list (things we’re out of, things we’ll need soon, staples, etc.) The list is already categorized for sections of the grocery store, and since I can be a bit OCD I have it ordered by the sections that I visit in my routine order.

This makes it a lot more time efficient, because I’m not criss-crossing back and forth in the store for things I didn’t see on the list while I was standing in that section.

{My third option, if you’d like to read about it, involves not having to think about or find recipes at all. That option I use is the RealPlans site.}


Meal planning day


So when it gets to shopping day or the day before, I’ll go ahead and flip that paper over to the other halved side where the days of the week are listed.

Then I can plan what meals we want for the week and what we want/need for lunches, breakfasts, snacks, too.

Then I open up the page and add all the things I need for the meals I just listed onto the shopping list.


Shopping day


I take the list with me to the store, and the rest is common sense. Anyway, I keep the meal planning side, so that when I get back home I can list all the things on the chalkboard we have on our kitchen wall. (This isn’t necessary, but I find that it eliminates the husband and kids asking me for an hour a day what’s for dinner because then they can just look at the wall for the corresponding day and see.)

So I know this meal plan tech free method isn’t all glamorous and tech-ie, but for me it works if I’m not in the mood to deal with phone screens, tablets, or my computer.

If you don’t like going the tech way, and would like to try this method out, I’ve got a .doc template that you can download and personalize any way you want. I put the basics in, but it’s totally editable, and you can change fonts, colors, and sections of the grocery store and order it any way you want (cut/paste.)

Click the image below to get your Meal Plan Tech Free templates!


Need paper templates that are printable for your meal planning? Here's how I do my monthly and weekly meal planning menu, even with snacks, that includes a free download for your recipes to make grocery lists, and is totally editable! #mealplanning #clean eating #mealprep #healthyliving #healthylifestyle


So how do you normally meal plan? Is it a challenge right now? Do you want to try the digital way? Let me know in the comments!


And if you think this meal planning tech free post will help another Mama out, please SHARE!


Need paper templates that are printable for your meal planning? Here's how I do meal plan tech free for my monthly and weekly meal planning menu, even with snacks, that includes a free download for your recipes to make grocery lists, and is totally editable! #mealplanning #clean eating #mealprep #healthyliving #healthylifestyle



Crazy Easy Meal Planning With One Powerful App

Crazy Easy Meal Planning With One Powerful App

The crazy easy meal planning app that can solve your dinnertime question every night.


So…quick question: When 5:00pm rolls around at your joint every day, do you know what’s happening for dinner?

If you answered ‘NO’, or even ‘maybe’, you should probably look into meal planning, especially with a meal planning app.

We used to let the 5 pm-deadpan-stare-showdown happen at our house every. single. day.

“What do you want to eat?”

“I don’t know, what do you want?”

“I don’t know what do you want?”


See, the husband doesn’t want to have to think about it. He’s happy to cook–as long as he has a recipe and time we want to eat. (Which is another story because I literally tell him every single day-during the school year- that it needs to be ready by 6 pm, but he still feels the need to ask me every day of our lives, “What time do you want to eat?”) I digress.

So the solution, obviously, was to just bite the bullet and do meal planning. What I learned is that you don’t have to rely on the meal planning services and sites, either, if you already have a lot of good recipes you know your family will eat. Which is why I do DIY meal planning with a meal planning app.


Mealboard is my favorite meal planning app, find out how to use it


Mealboard Benefits


I am going to do a whole separate post on meal planning sites, because I believe each has its own merits for what’s best based on your family’s needs (dietary) and your personality type (how it’s organized and what its features are.) But for now, I want to talk about DIY Meal Planning the digital way with a meal planning app. (Check out this other post on DIY Meal Planning the Paper (non-tech) Way.)

I used to have piles (I’m not kidding here–my husband actually was super angry at me for wasting tons of $ on paper and ink to print all these out) of recipes lying around. Like, so many that I thought I’d never get out alive. So what I decided to do (even though I’m really bad at doing everything digital), is to go paperless on this one.

Going paperless if you’re used to tangible paper anything is realllly hard. But I promise you–for this it’s SO MUCH BETTER. (Let me add in here that I do still keep a family recipe book that I started for my kids–and it has paper recipes in it. We put only the recipes in here that I want to make sure the kids know how to make for their kids–when that time comes–and these recipes are things that we absolutely love to all eat.)

Anyway, I started using the Mealboard App. This app actually has a ton more features than I actually use, but for now I just want to talk about the meal planning and shopping benefits.

Basically on Mealboard, you can enter all your recipes, put them in categories, and create meal plans for a specified number of days. Once you have your meals put in, you go into the shopping feature and sync the days you want a shopping list for. When you have your list, you can take off any duplicates or anything you already have. Also, you can add in anything extra you need (like TP, for example.) Then you can email yourself the list. Or just pull up the list on your app and use it in the store while you’re shopping. You’re also able to have lists for different stores, so if you shop more than one place, you’re covered.


Why I love MealBoard


What I love is this: I’m not relying on recipes from meal planning sites that I have no clue if my kids will eat. (Or husband. He can act like a picky toddler sometimes.)

I can input our own recipes that I know and trust into the meal planning app, thereby eliminating the possibility of the Dinner-Time-Whine.


Other tips


I also picked up a trick from a meal planning site I used to subscribe to. The trick is to go ahead and do ‘prep’ either on your shopping day or before the week starts. It literally takes less than an hour. (Usually only took me like 30 minutes.) And makes the week ahead at dinner time sooooo much easier!

To prep, you just look through each recipe at what veggies need to be chopped/measured out/mixed ahead of time, and do those things, then just put them in a baggie and label them. Keep them in the fridge until the day of, and you’re ready to go!

Having meals ready to go like that makes my life immensely easier during the school year!! We have lots of after-school activities happening all the time, as well as allergy shots one day a week, and the husband traveling through the week for work. So for me, after a long day, this is what saves my sanity (except for wine. Don’t forget the wine.)


So what’s your current sitch on meals at night? Do you meal plan? Wanna try it the digital way? If you’d like a tutorial on the Mealboard Meal Planning App (which is totally FREE, btw), click the image below!


Download the free mealboard meal planning app tutorial


Let me know what works for you! And if you try the Meal board app, let me know how you like it! It’s saved my sanity more than a few times!!


Know someone who can use help with the Mealboard meal planning app? Please SHARE this post! 


If you dread meal planning, this is the best app I've used! Mealboard lets you load your own recipes or any that you've found online by import. Meaning it allows any type of recipe- clean eating, weight loss, low carb, crock pot, instant pot, etc. Dinners for families don't have to be stressful! Find out why I love this app so much! #mealprep #cleaneating #healthyeating #healthyliving #healthylifestyle



How Creating Systems Can Automate Your Life for Mega Stress Relief

How Creating Systems Can Automate Your Life for Mega Stress Relief

I don’t have to explain the chaos that comes with having kids. But what many Moms don’t understand is that there actually is a way to calm the chaos. Not totally calm.  But cutting the stress of the chaos and taming it. That alone is one of your first steps in TRUE Self Care. And it’s in creating systems. But first I need to explain what I mean by systems. Because they can actually be pretty fluid when it comes to running your household to automate your life.


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A system is a plan, so to speak, where there is a set flow of things that happen. A system eliminates chaos + increase efficiency. (If in your life, the word ‘chaos’ is synonymous with dirt tracked through the house every time any human besides you walks in the door, and ‘efficiency’ means getting out the door in the morning without tiny humans having mammoth meltdowns because they can’t find a single left shoe that belongs to them, then so be it.)

Basically you’re pinpointing the problem, and making a routine so your nerves stay in tact and there is some damn form of timeliness to your daily routine. And maybe you can save a smidgen of money on wine for the week.

Let’s start with the process.


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The first part of creating your system will be to find your ‘glitch’.


Think really hard about your day from start to finish, and really hone in on the times that you feel the most stressed.

What’s happening during those times? Who’s involved in it? What physical area are you standing in when it happens? Pinpoint the problem and list out all the details to get a really clear picture of those stressful and inefficiencies in your day.


Next, you want to figure out the problem and HOW to get rid of the stress and chaos.


Is the problem area that you’re in a rut? Is someone constantly losing something? Are kids fighting about something? WHAT is the problem, and WHY is it there? This step is important, because if you can’t find the WHY, you probably won’t find a practical solution.


And lastly, you need to figure out the actual solution.


This step is tricky, because you have to use the WHY aspect to determine habits and patterns used by yourself and family members to find a solution. Here’s an example: My husband constantly loses his keys. Seriously, I can’t figure this one out, because he never leaves them in the same place twice. It could be the pocket of whatever pants he’s wearing, the dresser, his desk upstairs, or even the grocery bag that he was bringing in at the time. So I thought that by buying a key-hook and mounting it by the garage door that he would just hang his keys when he walked in the door (because that’s what makes sense, since it’s eye level and literally in his face when he walks in the door–I dunno, maybe women are crazy to have this much common sense…)

Anyway, this didn’t happen. Because he’s always ALWAYS on the phone when he walks in the door and could give a rat’s butt what’s in his face on the wall when he walks in. We had this argument over and over again. Nothing could make him remember to put his keys on the ring when he walked in.

Why it was causing chaos wasn’t just because he couldn’t find his keys, but because when he couldn’t find them, inevitably he was walking out the door to get to a meeting for work–and since his job pays the bills around here, I was constantly trying frantically to find the keys with him–which also disrupted any kind of efficiency flow I had going every single time. He was then rattled as he finally walked out the door. And I had lost literally like half an hour of productivity. All over finding the stupid car keys. And this was going on multiple times a week.

My problem here is that I was working against his habit. He never remembers to hang his keys because he’s always so engulfed in the phone conversation. Since that’s probably not gonna change, I needed to work with or around this habit.

My solution (for the time being) was to buy those tile gadgets and attack one to his key-rings. Then we programmed them with his phone, downloaded the app, yada yada–so that when he loses his keys, he can pull up the app really quick and listen for the beeping until he finds them. No frantic key searches, no asking Mama to help and bursting my productivity bubble.

I’m not gonna lie–sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to work with the habits to find a solution, but if you get stuck, you can always ask someone else, or heck–even Google it!


Systems aren’t just for chaos in the morning, either.


Think about things like the fact that you spend 20 minutes a week on sorting recycling, 10 minutes emptying the trash in the bathrooms, or 15 minutes emptying the dishwasher every day. Ask yourself what tasks can be delegated with an automated system? This type of system can come in the many forms. Like chores: possibly a chore chart for the kids, or one of the new chore apps.

I’ve used the Choremonster app for my kids. It was pretty effective. Until they were constantly having their ipads taken away because of behavior or bad grades. (Both which I blame on their dad, by the way.) Then I found cute little clipboards that hang on our chalkboard. (Because they’re all about feeling like they need cute office supplies.) And this helped them keep track of their chores. They checked off the list, showed it to me, and I wrote down their points.

Bottom line here is that your solution needs to work for everyone involved. So, to recap.

1. FIND the chaos and stress-points.

2. Define WHO is involved and WHY the problem is happening.

3. Then CREATE a solution–or system–to generate efficiency and eliminate the choas and stress.

We call these new ‘rules’ when they pop up now. (ie: RULE: no acting like hooligans with screaming, running around, and wrestling with the dog in Mama and Daddy’s bedroom–because this happens every friggin day while I’m doing hair for 4 females anytime we leave the house, and the noise makes me want to just rip my own hair out–I seriously am working on my stress levels, I promise. Have you read my post about yoga? It’s saving me these days…lol, but dead serious.)

If you find it helpful, I really encourage you to try the entire ROPE method (again- FREE-for-now) to gain some clarity and direction in your life.

And don’t forget to grab your free workbook to help you automate your life! Click the image below to get it!


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So what areas have you discovered need some tweaking or major automation overhauls? How did the changes affect your productivity and sanity? Let me know in the comments!

How to Get Your Kids Back on a Sleep Schedule

How to Get Your Kids Back on a Sleep Schedule

Tips and Tricks to Get Your Kids Sleep Schedule Back on Track.


My kids sleep schedule isn’t just on a to-do list.

It’s a necessity.

Sleep is soooo crazy important for us busy Mamas, of course, but did you know how important it is to those little precious monsters you birthed? Aw, Girl–So. Important.

When kids sleep, it helps them grow, it lets their brains rest and reset, and it promotes the development that’s in overdrive for those little monkeys. That’s why a kids sleep schedule is just that much more important.


How to get your kids sleep schedule back on track + free printable kids sleep log


So what’s the best way to just bite the bullet and get your kids sleep schedule back on track? Well, since every kid is different, we’ve tried a few different tactics. But here are the basics:


A Few Minutes at a Time


My very first recommendation is to move bedtimes a few minutes at a time every night until you get to the right place. Kids can usually handle those little time changes no problem. And in case they’re not moving with you at that rate, move it a few minutes back or forward, keep that time for a couple days, then move again until you get to the correct bed time.


A Little Supplemental Help


We’ve had luck using the kid-doses of melatonin when needed (and don’t do this just because I’m suggesting it–talk to your doc before giving your kid any supplements or meds.) It gives just a teeny amount of sleepy to get kids ready for bed if their internal clocks still aren’t adjusting. The smallest dose I’ve found is 3mg, and you can actually find it in the quick-dissolve tablets.


Make Sure Your Kids Bed Time Routine is Solid


A good kids sleep schedule usually is preceded by a bedtime routine. You probably started this when your kids were babies, and many people just continue these even when kids are older. It’s a really good idea to keep doing it, though. Because even as adults we need a wind-down routine to get more calmed and settled before bed. Keep at the routine, but add in a few extra things if it feels like the change in time is still messing with them.


Get Rid of the Blue Lights


This is really recommended whether or not you’re trying to readjust your kids sleep schedule. Blue lights in screens has been shown to interfere with the natural circadian rhythm, thereby altering sleep. For the worse, that is. The blue lights are in tablets, phones, computer monitors, and even tv screens. So make sure you’re cutting off electronics at dinnertime to help with that. If you have a kid that’s got to do homework after dinner regularly, maybe think about investing in glasses that block blue lights.


Plan for Sleep Cycles


Something I hadn’t considered regarding bedtimes came about when I started studying my own sleep habits.

About two years ago I noticed that I was waking up at crazy hours and couldn’t go back to sleep. I also had trouble falling asleep (which has NEVER in my life happened. Ask my husband, it makes him super annoyed that I can fall asleep in five minutes flat.) One tool I used  was my Fitbit and the app to track my sleep. I also did some digging on sleep cycles, because there are a few apps that claim they can wake you at optimal times before your alarm goes off so you don’t feel groggy.

What I found is that each full sleep cycle is about an hour and a half. And that the average person needs 5-6 sleep cycles a night to be fully rested and at their best. I’m still not certain why teens seem to need like 12 sleep cycles a day. But I suspect it has something to do with the secret screen times that happen from their hidden (unbeknownst-to-parents) devices till all hours of the night. (And don’t think your kid’s not doing it!! Our seemingly innocent and well-behaved teen was caught doing this with an old iphone that she found–those things still can use wi-fi even if they’re not active with phone service!) Anyhoo– 5-6 sleep cycles a night.

The older a child gets, the less sleep cycles they may need. My kids were always good sleepers as babies and would actually do 12-hour nights. The older they got, the shorter the time in bed. Our 9 year old (who always slept longer than the younger two) can still go 12 hours. But the 8 and 4 year old do maybe 9-10 max. The point is that all kids are different, just like all of us adults are different.

What I have found helpful is this site that has a sleep calculator. It factors in time it takes to go to sleep plus times for sleep cycles to find the best bedtime for your kid. Go HERE to check it out. What we do, and I recommend, is to also keep a log of bedtimes and how your kid feels in the morning with that amount of sleep.

You can get the printable log page to print out as many copies as you need for FREE. Just click the image below to get it!


Quit wondering how many hours of sleep for kids you need, or how to get them back on a sleep schedule. This sleep schedule log has tips and ideas will walk you through bedtime and night routines for you awesome Moms! #sleep #kids #bed



What strategies have you used to get back into the sleep schedule for school? Do you have any tips or tricks to share? Let me know in the comments!


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If summer, or the holidays, or the time change, or even being sick have left your kids' sleep schedule completely out of sync, these tips will help them get back to their night time bed time! + get your FREE kids sleep log and find out how many hours sleep they REALLY need! #kids #sleep #backtoschool #school #schooltime



6 Insanely Helpful Sites for Tips to Travel With Kids on a Budget

6 Insanely Helpful Sites for Tips to Travel With Kids on a Budget

6 Insanely Helpful Sites to Help You Travel With Kids Any Time of the Year on a Budget.


Whether you’re traveling for summer, fall, winter, or spring holidays, one thing is certain–travel with kids is no easy feat! An even harder feat? To travel with kids on a budget. I personally am still working on mastering this skill (nothing says ‘money spewing’ like screaming kids and zero patience left.) But these fantastic sites have made it easy, which is why I steal all their tips and try to use them whenever possible!

And don’t forget to read all the way to the bottom to snag your free printable list of the most kid-friendly hotels in the US!


6 insanely helpful sites for tips to travel with kids on a budget


1.Travel With Kids


I realize that if you’re in the US this site may seem a bit overwhelming. After all, this family travels the world. However, they do have a section just for US travel if you’re staying in the States, and this page has general tips for traveling on a budget with kids.


2.Nomadic Matt


This link to this site is a guest post on traveling with kids on a budget. I love how he says that everyone told them to travel before kids because then you wouldn’t be able to. Two problems with that: 1-many ‘just married’ couples don’t have the funds for crazy travel like that, and 2-those people were totally wrong!! Yes, we’ve had our challenges traveling with kids, but it’s nothing that isn’t resolved pretty darn easily. Your patience will be tested, but just remember these little people are in a new environment they aren’t used to. They’re super adaptable, they just need a little extra attention sometimes. 🙂


3.Rough Guides


This site’s page gives some really practical advice on several travel points. Which is what most parents new to traveling with kids need. They also have a page for traveling with kids in the airport, which is good advice as well–HOWEVER, I wanted to add something to their guide: They talk about giving up the stroller (buggy) at the ticket counter to go with the baggage, but I don’t totally agree with that.

Take it from someone who’s traveled many times on a plane with infants (that would be me.) Strollers (for the most part) will fold and can either go through the x-ray machine, or TSA will figure it out! I would’ve been up a creek if I had been without a stroller all those times. The stroller keeps me from having to contain a toddler, carry a toddler, and/or carry a heavy and squirmy baby. Plus it kept the diaper bag underneath so I didn’t have to lug it around, too (you know those things weigh like 800 lbs after you fill them for a trip, right??!)

If you’re still not crazy about carrying the big stroller with you, consider a small umbrella stroller. What the airline will do is have you fold it and place it by the door literally right beside the plane’s door when you board. They stow it under the plane and then take those suckers out first then when the plane lands. My word of advice is to get REALLY GOOD at folding and unfolding it one-handed. (If you have more than one kid you’re already proficient in this, I’m sure.)


4.Live Family Travel


Although the link above goes to their article on, the Live Family Travel site is where the post originated. But the article itself (besides the larger budget than we normally spend on vacation) has great advice. If you look at the actual breakdown of expenses, they explain how they spent way less money on each thing and how you can do the same.


5.Reader’s Digest


So honestly, I had no idea that the Reader’s Digest site had all these great articles! This one (apart from the nerve-grinding slide show that requires 8000 pictures to load before you can click to the next slide) has some different bits of advice than I’ve heard before, but are really great! I’ve never even considered some of them but they sure made me think a bit differently about the next time I travel with kids!


6.Have Baby, Will Travel


I saved this one for last, because it’s awesome! This Mama has every bit for travel with kids covered! I didn’t see a lot about budgeting, but she has soooo many tips for things to pack and the best gear to take. She even has check-lists for packing!


I have to say, for all these tips, the ones that have saved us the most money are probably regarding eating out. If our whole crew goes, it’s basically 4 adult meals and 2 kid meals at every meal. (We have a 17-year old and a 9-year old that eats like an adult.) Not to mention all the snacks and drinks throughout the day. I REALLY appreciate the ‘bottle-fill’ water fountains that are popping up everywhere!


As far as accommodations, we’ve always had really good luck with AirBNB and if we want to stay in a house/apartment/condo with a kitchen, which is usually a must for us for extended stays because we have a kid with food allergies. If I know specific locations and ‘code phrases’ that are used to search for specific hotels on Groupon and Hotwire I’ll book through them as well for discounted rates.


How about your travels? What budget-friendly tips do you have to travel with kids? Let me know in the comments, and if you know someone who would find this guide useful, please SHARE!


However you want to travel with kids, whether in a car on a road trip, or in a plane for international vacation, here are some of the best sites for tips and hacks for activities, snacks, and more when traveling with kids on a budget! #travel #kids #budget #hacks


5 Simple Strategies to Calm Anxiety

5 Simple Strategies to Calm Anxiety

5 tips for how to calm anxiety before it can turn into a full blown anxiety attack.


My first extended time away from home—after being married—came when I was hired by an insurance company to be a claims adjuster. The company sends new hires to one of 3 training centers for 2 weeks, you go home for a week and do more training, then you go back for another 2 weeks.

It’s tough. Really tough. Mentally and emotionally—and that was before I’d even had kids! During this time without anyone that I knew for 2 weeks straight, was the first time I had ever experienced a true panic attack or anxiety attack. And for anyone who’s blessedly never had one—you don’t want to ever have one!!! 

I had no clue what was happening, and I definitely didn’t know how to calm down from a panic attack.

I ended up going on medication, and have discovered that my body is actually low in serotonin, which makes it tough to survive without medication—as well as post medication (weaning from that stuff is a whole other post.) Some docs refer to this as an anxiety disorder because it makes you have crazy anxiety when you shouldn’t.

However, I’ve currently weaned myself off the stuff completely (thank God!)—which means that even though I don’t normally have full-blown panic attacks now, I still have the combination of mega stress and anxiety when I get too much on my plate.

I wanted to talk about this because some people don’t even realize they’re having panic attacks. My sister regularly texts me with symptoms of feeling like she could be having a heart attack while the world is closing in on her: Panic attack. (Granted, she’s an attorney in an uber-high-stress job.) But even mild constant general anxiety seems to be becoming the norm for Mamas nowadays, and I want you to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

It is extremely hard to know how to calm down anxiety, but it’s even harder to know how to calm a panic attack or how to calm an anxiety attack when you don’t know you’re having one!

First of all, let me say that I understand that no two people are alike. So this is a general guideline of things that have helped me personally, but also sprinkled in are tidbits of advice from others that also experience panic attacks or chronic anxiety. They’re ways I’ve found for how to relax with anxiety.


how to calm down anxiety


1. Yoga and meditation


I have to put these first because if I miss a class, I’m very well aware of it. I end up having to catch myself before I snap at the kids for being generally aggravating, so that I can keep my shiznit together. Seriously, it’s that noticeable.

Yoga is one of the only times I have TOTALLY dedicated to myself with no interruptions. The great part about yoga is that if you don’t know if it’s right for you, or just want to try it out, there are a million and one videos on Youtube for free that you can watch and give it a whirl.

Even if you don’t think you can get into the relaxation mindset of it, the stretching alone is totally worth it!


2. Find YOUR relaxation


Everybody has that thing (or things) that just allow them to let go and recharge with a better disposition than before. What’s cool about this strategy is that there is no judgement. You and maybe your partner can know about this, but you don’t have to advertise it to a single soul–it’s totally what’s wired in you to help you unwind and relax.


3. Talk to your doc


I went to my doc eleven-plus years ago because I didn’t know what else to do. Back then there wasn’t a lot of information (from bloggers or otherwise) on the benefits vs downsides of taking SSRIs. All I ever heard was how great Prozac was, and my doc put me on something similar that helped. So I thought, Great—I’m doing better, feeling better—life’s good!

But the side-effects for me weren’t worth it. Especially since we started trying to get pregnant and some of those can cause birth defects. Your doc may suggest something else, though (probably/maybe after blood work), like 5-HTP, which is the precursor to serotonin (the feel-good neurotransmitter.) So if you’re low in serotonin, this may really help without having to take any meds.

My goal was to get completely off the SSRI and try this as an alternative. (And BTW–I totally am NOT advocating starting these meds if you can help it!! I’ve read articles about using medications in conjunction with cognitive therapy, and they make it sound like it’s so easy to just ‘go off’ the meds when you’re better. It’s NOT that easy!!!)


4. Exercise


I never really realized how much my body needed exercise, because I grew up on a farm where I had to do outside work all the time anyway. But once I moved away and wasn’t forced to move my body all the time by Sergeant Dad, some negative reactions kicked in.

(In hindsight this was probably a contributor to my initial panic attacks.) I always seem to resort to this for getting the kids’ energy out so they can behave like normal human beings in public settings (as opposed to lunatic neanderthals), as well as sleep soundly, but it never occurred to me that I need to get that gnarled angry energy out, too. Once I started regularly exercising, things changed a LOT.


5. Good ole’ communication:


It’s no secret that my husband and I are very opposite. I’ve felt over the years like even when I’m very specific about something that he’ll still tell me a week later that he didn’t understand my point about what made me upset in the first place.

Now, I don’t promote airing your dirty laundry to anyone who will listen, but there’s definitely something to be said for a person or two that your trust with your life secrets to be a sounding board, and that won’t judge your or your partner when you vent. Just being able to talk sometimes lets you get it out and relieve some of the anxiety you’re having about things.

Communication with others can be a very powerful thing if it’s used in a purposeful way. Even if you choose to only speak to a therapist about it.


6. Change your diet


Lots of research is showing that sugar can wreak havoc on our bodies, and especially our guts. When we have gut imbalances, our minds pay the price. Much of the serotonin you produce happens right there in the gut. So when it’s out of whack, guess what. You get brain fog, memory problems, irritability, and yeah–even anxiety problems!

Food intolerances can be to blame as well, though! If you suspect this, do an elimination diet and see how you feel. It’s pretty alarming to hear the number of people who’ve uncovered problems they’ve had for years that were resolved by eliminated specific foods from their diets.


Click the image below to snag your free Absolute Anxiety Alleviation Workbook + Journal!



How do you relive anxiety? Do you have panic attacks? Let me know in the comments below!

And remember that you can and will get through these anxiety-ridden times in your life. Life in this day and age can be very overwhelming, but it’s not impossible!

Please share this with anybody you feel could benefit as well, or PIN IT for later!


Anyone who's ever had a panic or anxiety attack knows how hard it can be. Especially if you don't know how to calm down from a panic attack. Here are 6 strategies and tips for you to try-- number 6 was a biggie for me! #anxiety #panicattack #stress #stressmanagement #stressrelief #moms

How to Be More Relaxed By Finding Your Authentic Skeleton Key

How to Be More Relaxed By Finding Your Authentic Skeleton Key

The guide every mama needs for how to be relaxed by finding authentic + personal relaxation techniques individual to your needs.


A few months back, I was getting really tired of always being tired. I tend to be the type of person that will stay up super late (unknowingly) trying to stay focused and get work done in the uninterrupted quiet. But what that always—always—leads to is me being super exhausted, super cranky, and unable to actually focus on the things that really matter. Basically the opposite of how to be more relaxed on any given level.


relaxation techniques how to be more relaxed


Finding Yoga For Relaxation


In finally accepting that I needed something to help me learn how to be more relaxed and so I could focus on those things that are most important, I decided to find a yoga class. Several of my friends had been swearing by the hot yoga thing, but since there’s no childcare at the yoga studio I had to settle for yoga at the YMCA.


My first classes proved a challenge, but only because of being worried about my little one being in a new childcare setting that was unfamiliar, and mostly because of something I hadn’t acknowledged before: I didn’t really know HOW to relax.

Yes that sounds ridiculous. I know this. But seriously—after having kids, I think so, so many moms get into the caretaker/do everything all the time role that we fall away from even knowing HOW to relax and recharge and, ultimately, take care of ourselves.

I never understood how to consciously breathe to settle my thoughts. I stretched before, but not to the extent that I was truly listening to and feeling my body as I did it. Needless to say, my first 2 weeks of yoga was really a wake-up call for me. I only do it 2x a week, but honestly, if I didn’t have obligations that 3rd day/week, I’d do it that day, too!


Finding Meditation for Relaxation


Another beautiful thing this led to was meditation. So for anybody ready to tune me out with my granola-talk—give me a minute! Seriously—I grew up in the polar opposite of granola-woo-woo-mindset. With people that constantly scoffed at anything that turned your attention inward to grow your spirituality, unless that included good ole Southern Baptist prayer.

Anyway—after wearing myself down over and over again, I decided to try meditation. Guided meditation by way of an app that talks you through it. I’ll be frank here, though—I tend to spiral downward around 2pm in the arena of consciousness, so I usually end up falling asleep before the 30 minutes is over. But the minutes that I’m awake for are glorious!

And the meditation doesn’t have to happen at home. It can happen in your car, a safe quiet place at work, or even in a forest! Forest bathing is an awesome way to meditate and soak in the health benefits of the plants at the same time!

Clearing your mind, and focusing on your body and mind and how you’re operating are such an integral part of your own ‘maintenance’. Many of us Mamas tend to put that part very last on our list of to-dos. And it should really be closer to first. Think about it—how far would your car get, and how reliable would it be, if you didn’t do maintenance? It would break down frequently, possibly causing permanent damage to the car. The difference between the car and your body is that the car can have replacement parts purchased. We don’t have that luxury. If that beautifully crafted ship of yours is to stay afloat and keep your precious cargo well -tended and safe, you must keep it well maintained.


Finding YOUR Personal Relaxation Techniques


I’ve heard tons of suggestions for relaxation techniques through the years, all pertaining to what I’ve just spouted—yoga and meditation mostly. But there’s another kind of relaxation that many don’t even think about—the relaxation you get from doing things you ENJOY.

My husband likes to tell about how when I’ve had a particularly taxing day/week that I like to meet him at the door on his way in from work, flying past with a, “Be back later, going to see a movie.”

He likes getting a good laugh, but this has transpired in this manner only twice, probably, in real life. Most of the time I ask if he minds if I go see a movie alone. Then I go to the Cinema Grill (for anybody who doesn’t know what this is, it’s the best friggin idea in a long time when it comes to watching movies—you eat an actual meal AND can get grown-up drinks while you watch your flick!) and melt into the reclining seats and enjoy my grownup drink and cheat day appetizer (or 3) without having to share with anybody. Or let somebody recline on top of me, explain 37 times during the movie what’s going on, or stumble through the dark sticky floors to take a kid to the bathroom during the best part of the movie.

See, I’ve always LOVED going to the movies. It’s an escape for me, and I really just get to totally unwind when I can enter someone else’s fictitious world and just watch things unfold with no danger to myself. I love a good laugh, I adore a good love story, and I thrive on adventure and wit. Movies recharge me.

Not what you were expecting for ‘relaxation’ methods, huh? Well, I admit it would take a lot for me to give up my yoga and meditation, but when I need a serious detachment to fuel my creativity and motivation, I see a movie. Alone.

See, everybody is wired differently, and even though our bond through being Mamas exists, it doesn’t change how we’re wired. Every single person will find a different thing they enjoy to be their relaxation, or un-winding ‘key’. Think of it as your ‘skeleton key’. It can lock away your fears and anxieties that have been creeping in. Or it can open the door to more creativity, energy, or a different outlook you haven’t considered yet.



If you haven’t found your skeleton key yet, think really hard about the things you enjoy doing. If you have several, how about trying each one methodically, and journal how you feel about each one. List pros and cons of each. Take your time and see which one or ones really let you unwind and recharge. It’s ok to find more than one and rotate them!

But then–and this is important!–find what things were causing you strife in the first place.

Work out how it all started, how it makes you feel, how you want to feel, and what some first steps are you can take to make things better. I’ve always found journaling to be one of the most helpful relaxation techniques.


Your one rule is to focus on yourself. Do this alone. Get a sitter or leave the kids with your partner.

Whether or not your kids—or your partner—enjoys these activities is of ZERO concern.

It’s not about them. It’s about YOU.


Need help brainstorming your skeleton key to relaxation?

Download the Roadmap to Relaxation journal by clicking the image below!


Have you found your ‘skeleton key’ to relaxation and unwinding already? Let me hear about it in the comments!

And if you know someone who could use some help finding theirs, SHARE this post!


Many moms find it hard to do any kind of downtime. Sometimes because of lack of extra time, but mostly because they either don't know how to relax, don't know relaxation techniques, or don't remember what they were passionate about or enjoyed before kids! Find out how to embrace your perfect and authentic skeleton key to relaxation for self care + self love + stress relief! #selfcare #selflove #relax #relaxation #moms

How to Find Gratitude Even When You Constantly Give

How to Find Gratitude Even When You Constantly Give

A few weeks ago my family and I took a trip to South Florida to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. We traveled through the Keys, then up to the Sanibel/Ft. Myers area, which is a special place for us as we spent a weekend there shortly before getting engaged. I used to live in Ft. Myers, and have always been in love with Sanibel Island.

mom and kids beach black and white

While we were on vacation, I messaged my brother-in-law because his Mom is a super-serious sheller. (I’m not sure what the proper term is for this, but it’s been described to me as the people that get up at un-Godly hours to scour the beaches before anyone else gets there to find the best and most rare shells.) Sanibel Island is famous for its shells, but I knew there were spots that the ‘serious shellers’ count as gold-mines.

So we went to Bowman’s Beach (one of the recommendations), and were immediately enamored with the sheer volume of shells just lying in beautiful sun-bleached piles all over the sand. It sort of felt like when Aladdin entered the Cave of Wonders and was breathless from the stacks of treasures everywhere. As we walked and collected, I commented to my Mom that surely we wouldn’t find anything of value, but still even the ‘non-valuable’ shells were pretty. She said that the best time to search for the good stuff was after a big storm because that’s when the good shells were churned up and pushed to shore.

As I walked and contemplated this, I felt like the ocean must get exhausted from the pressures to constantly perform, not unlike us Mamas. The sea operates on cycles, and is sometimes exposed to turbulent storms that generate peak products. And then it rests while others reap the rewards, sometimes without so much as a ‘thank you’.

gratitude as a mom, finding gratitude, daily gratitude, gratitude when frustrated

Since the ocean has always been a dear part of my core and memories, the counterpoint to that thought that brought a contented balance is that the sea is a very healing and soothing place for me. Almost like we’re kindred spirits that co-exist and instinctively understand each other. And even though we may get little to no appreciation at times, we still give, because our very nature is to nurture, and to nurture, and to nurture some more. Cycle after cycle. But the result is something beautiful that we can all be so crazy proud of, that it makes it all worth it in the end.

gratitude, joy in giving

And maybe the answer is to have gratitude for all the little monkeys you’re doing this for in the first place… When I get really overwhelmed, I sit back and think of how miserable I felt dealing with infertility issues for four years. All I wanted was to be a Mama, and now I’ve given birth to three healthy, beautiful daughters. Yes, they can act like hooligans and stretch my patience to my end-point, and yes, I feel totally unappreciated a lot of the time. But when just one tells me, “Thank you, Mommy!” and squeezes my waist with a smile, all that annoyance just dissipates.

When I’m feeling the un-gratitude monster rearing it’s ugly head, I like to journal to get some things off my chest. I have a great gratitude journal that includes 12 months that are un-dated over on the Journals page.

Gratitude journal, 12 month journal

If you’d like a free sample download of 3 pages as a PDF to give it a whirl,

click the image below!

 gratitude as a mom, finding gratitude, daily gratitude, gratitude when frustrated, feeling unappreciated

Do you feel like you’re a little unappreciated? How are you feeling under the pressures of work and being a Mama? Share in the comments below!

And if you know someone that could benefit from reading this post, please share!

How and Why Healthy Moms do a Mid-Year Fitness Goal Review

How and Why Healthy Moms do a Mid-Year Fitness Goal Review

Why doing a mid-year fitness goal review (or wellness goal review!) is SO important + how to do it RIGHT!


Hanging out on the patio while the grill is tending our turkey burgers on warm June evenings is one of my most favorite things in the world. Getting a bit of relief from the sweltering sun while the light puffs from grilled meat wafts around and I nurse my chilled cocktail is near perfection.

But that near perfection also means it’s swimsuit season! And you know what that means: A frantic push to get our healthy eating and fitness goals (or weight loss goals?) back on track that we slowly let run awry oh…back in April? And February before that?

No worries, though, Mama! Even when we aren’t keeping our goals going full throttle for consecutive months, it’s super helpful to be able to sit back and re-evaluate. Sometimes my re-evaluations are centered around whether wine in the evenings is a better choice than a vodka cocktail. But I’m always re-evaluating nonetheless! 😬🍹

I’d first like to introduce you to my friend, though, called SMART goal setting. If you don’t currently use this method for your goals–whether health goals, wellness goals, fitness goals, weight loss goals, or ANY other area of your life– I highly recommend you do! It’s a surefire way to map out a workable plan to reach those good goals you dream of for yourself. Those goals that YOU DESERVE!

Now you can get on with reviewing your fitness goals and wellness goals, and figure out your obstacles for when and why you got derailed. And then figure out some real solutions to get back on track!

So something I’d like to point out first though: The most successful people know that EVEN when you think you’re totally on track for your goals, you STILL need to do a periodic goal review! It’s always in your best interest to make sure your targets are still the same, your means are still the same, and your efforts and resources are still the same.

Think it’s no big deal money-wise because you changed jobs and make the same amount (or more?) Not necessarily–you may have more wellness benefits that can help you get to your goal more efficiently if you re-evaluate.

Think you’re doing great with your eating because you’ve been sticking to it like crazy-glue for 6 months straight? What if you’re not getting the right nutrients and your hormones are starting to do weird things?

My point is that even if you think you’re a golden arrow headed to the target with no interruptions, it’s always worth it to do a review!

So here’s your step-by-step plan for doing a mid-year fitness goal review whether you think you’ve fallen off the rails or not!

mid-year fitness goal review fitness goals wellness goals

1.Get Your Stuff Ready


Find all your reviews from the past 6 months, all your Life Wheels from the past 6 months, and your goal lists from the past 6 months. You want to have all this out and ready so you don’t have to stop in the middle to go searching for anything. Put everything in order, by month.

Then, make sure you have a good hour or two to really dive into this uninterrupted. Turn off your phone, close out all windows on your computer (especially email!) if your goals and reviews are on your computer, and make sure your family understands this is YOUR time to work. (Setting a timer to stay focused can be helpful as well.)


2. Take a Hard Look Back


Go back through all your reviews, etc from the last six months to really understand where you started, and how far you’ve come. Start a list, or use the FREE workbook for your Mid-Year Fitness Goal Review {which you can download by clicking the image below} to jot down all this stuff.

Include how it’s made you feel to get organized, or get your goals really defined, or just simply to complete a task list. So much of goal setting is emotion-based–especially for us working moms! We do this stuff for our family, but also for our own sanity! And many of us need to really see the progress in black and white.

{Click the image to get your FREE mid-year fitness goal review workbook!}

Is your body feeling the slack from your loss of motivation in keeping your fitness or wellness goals? To get a realistic and attainable plan in place, you need to REASSESS! And a mid-year goal review for women, whether for weightloss or just simply getting healthy, is the way to do it! Check out this list of steps to get back on track! #fitness #fitnessgoals #fitnessmotivation #fitnessinspiration #healthgoals #healthylifestyle


3. Re-evaluate


Determine by your notes and lists if you’re heading in the direction you intended. Did you expect to be this far? Or did you expect to be farther? Maybe something huge came up that’s thrown some things completely off-course. What things did you do that worked? What didn’t work? What do you need to do more of? Less of?

Think about the obstacles you encountered. Were they expected? Did you have a plan in place for them–and if so, did it work? Or do you need to figure out a new plan for those obstacles?

And lastly–what lessons have you learned? Re-evaluate those goal lists and see if you need to keep on your current charted course, or chart a new or different one.


4. Set Your New Intentions


Now you’re ready to set your new goals and intentions for the second half of the year. Use the SMART Goal Setting Method if you’d like to completely redefine your goals. Otherwise, update your task lists, and your benchmark lists. Get things put in your calendar for the next month. Set up your rewards for those more difficult tasks. Determine any obstacles that may come up. How will you handle them? If you need more help dealing with obstacles, check out this post.


5. Execute


You’ll undoubtedly hear me say frequently that there’s no point setting the goals and doing the planning part if you’re not gonna execute. DOing the work is the most important part of goal-setting. Your review should’ve addressed whether or not you’re really getting your tasks done or not. So this part should stand out more boldly in your mind. If you’ve been on a good track, continue! If not, get going, Mama!! These tasks aren’t gonna do themselves!

So how has your mid-year review gone? Are you happy with yourself? Disappointed? Let me know, I love hearing from you!

And don’t forget to download your FREE Mid-Year Goal Review Workbook by clicking the image below!

Is your body feeling the slack from your loss of motivation in keeping your fitness or wellness goals? To get a realistic and attainable plan in place, you need to REASSESS! And a mid-year goal review for women, whether for weightloss or just simply getting healthy, is the way to do it! Check out this list of steps to get back on track! #fitness #fitnessgoals #fitnessmotivation #fitnessinspiration #healthgoals #healthylifestyle


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Is your body feeling the slack from your loss of motivation in keeping your fitness or wellness goals? To get a realistic and attainable plan in place, you need to REASSESS! And a mid-year goal review for women, whether for weightloss or just simply getting healthy, is the way to do it! Check out this list of steps to get back on track! #fitness #fitnessgoals #fitnessmotivation #fitnessinspiration #healthgoals #healthylifestyle


How the ‘ER’ in SMARTER Goals Can Keep You Focused in the Long Run

How the ‘ER’ in SMARTER Goals Can Keep You Focused in the Long Run

I don’t know about you, but I’m always so incredibly happy for summer to get here–specifically for school to get out. The past few years I’ve had all these grand plans for how our family is gonna go do these super fun things, and in between I’ll get the kids to sit down and practice math and reading skills they left off on at school (you know, so they don’t have the summer downfall, or whatever nonsense it is they call it at school.) And then after 2 weeks, reality kicks in. There’s no real structure to summer. Ever.

My struggle was to let it go, and say that’s ok. Because even though I personally need super structure to stay focused on work stuff, the kids need that time off.

At first, it really annoyed me. I didn’t want them to struggle when school started back. But also, it didn’t really give me any time to really put in the hours I needed to work. But then I realized…it was actually a blessing. This literally forces me to cut out the fat, and have specified pockets of time where I do ‘deep work’.  And then the rest of the time I can just hang out with the kids and find fun stuff to do.

In designating these pockets I’ve also scheduled in my Half-Year Review, and I start thinking about it before school is even out (because of the initial chaos of the kids being at home in June). I do this by calendar year because my brain works that way, but if yours works differently, by all means–do yours when your fiscal half-year is.


get more done using smarter goals


The combination of the Half-Year Review and explaining the E R in SMARTER Goals is really a beautiful intertwining.


Because even though I’ve set my SMART Goals and constantly revisit them, it takes a real purposeful time to sit down and figure out what worked and what didn’t. Seeing where you’ve been and reminding yourself where you’re going helps keep that focus on the things you’ve decided really matter. And that’s what the E and R are for: Evaluate and Readjust. And these two points guide my reviews every time.

If you haven’t read about or started your SMART Goals, check out this post series–it’s a 5 post series that guides you through each letter/step of SMART Goal setting .


My goal reviews typically start with my system where my goals are listed.


Honestly, this changes sometimes, because–although I really appreciate technology–I need something tangible in front of my face. I don’t need to have to search for my phone to pull up the app to sign in to see my goals listed one tiny section at a time. I need the whole shebang right in front of my face where I can see it all and touch it.

So I sometimes use a bunch of papers filled with post-it notes, and sometimes I use my whiteboard. Sometimes I just use a big empty wall space with post-its. (I’d really love a super cool window area like they use at Olivia Pope & Associates on Scandal, but our home sadly doesn’t have giant industrial atrium windows in it…) The point is, you need to figure out what will work best for you. Even though it looks messy sometimes, my husband and the kids know NOT TO TOUCH THE POST-ITS, lest they want the Mommy Monster to come out of her shell. (Like, the bad version, not the fun version that tickles.)



Once you have your system up in front of you, you should go through each goal and evaluate how you’ve been doing the last six months. Is your system working? Are you stuck anywhere?  Also determine what you’ve learned: what things should you do more of, and what things should you do less of (or eliminate altogether)? If you’ve got everything set, simply go through -one at a time- your systems and tasks and determine if things are working or not. If they are, great! Keep on keepin’ on! (Please say it in your best Dazed and Confused Matthew McConaughey voice.) If they aren’t, move on to the next step: Readjust.



Ok, I’m not gonna lie–I usually HATE change. But if it’s for a good reason, I’m all for it. In this case, if things are not working out like they should be in your goals, in your systems, or in your efforts at moving forward in any area of your life–by all means, change and READJUST. You can’t grow if you can’t move forward with things. What systems have you not tried yet? What programs? What apps? Do you need to get a fresh perspective? Figure out some way to get through the roadblock and make a new plan. I know this is becoming the new cliche, but if you’re at a loss, Google it. I promise you, you are not alone–others have had the same problems as you!

The best way to do a review is to get it all on paper. See, you’ll be doing more reviews, and it’s so, soooo helpful to have your previous review documented. This helps you see the amount of progress you’ve made. It also helps you see the roadblocks you had before, and how you overcame them. It shows your growth! You can see all the amazing things you’ve done, and how far you’ve come since then! I personally want to save all of mine to show my kids (who are all girls and will hopefully be moms one day, too) how much you can accomplish as a working mom. And isn’t that the point? To be a Wonder Woman and guide your kids to be as great?


Join the Stella Nadene Wellness + Lifestyle Newsletter and get grab your FREE Mid-Year Goal Review Planner! Just click the image below! 👇


printable mid year goal review


How did your review go? Please let me know, I love hearing from other working Moms (whether WAH or out of the home!) We all inspire each other! And if you know someone who could use this guide, PLEASE SHARE! 🙂


Wanna make your SMART goals even MORE effective? Add an E + R to the end to make them SMARTER! Find out how this method can make you crazy productive and grab a free printable Mid Year Goal Review! #smartgoals #goalsetting #goalsetter #goals #momgoals #lifegoals

How to Eliminate Obstacles in Your Path So That You Can Move Forward With Your Goals

How to Eliminate Obstacles in Your Path So That You Can Move Forward With Your Goals

How to eliminate obstacles that are habit based to move forward with your goals.


A while back, a friend of mine desperately needed to get her life in order. She wanted to finally bite the proverbial bullet and start goal setting. She had mounting debt from some seriously bad decisions in college, she’d been floundering trying to climb the ladder at her job, and she’d been ‘meaning’ to start working out but couldn’t find the time in all the chaos going on with the rest of her life.

So she decided to start a morning routine. She’d read a post about it and how it was the greatest thing to be able to start your day in peace, and get some clarity first thing in the morning. Plus she’d be able to work out before work and thereby  had no excuse for not trying to lose those extra twenty pounds that had snuck on the last few years. She was sick of being strangled by her pants.

Her first order of business was getting up earlier. She tried that for a few days, but quickly realized that it was HARD getting up earlier when your body isn’t used to it. Using logic, she decided to go to bed earlier to compensate for the lost hours so she wasn’t in full-on zombie-mode all day–feeling this way gave her even more anxiety anyway since she’d been working so hard to get a promotion.

The thing was, there was always something after work going on with her co-workers. Monday Margaritas. Taco Tuesday. Hump-day Happy Hour. Friday Fajitas. Which meant eating a million calories, drinking way too much, and staying out late enough to give your Mama a heart-attack. And you can guess where this was leading, right? Packing on more pounds AND not being able to get up in the morning.


eliminating habit based obstacles so you can more forward with your goals


The thing was, she’d begun a habit. And habits–especially when they have some kind of reward–are HARD to break or change. She desperately wanted to be able to do this morning routine thing. She felt a ton better when she worked out, she was less scatterbrained at work, and she felt like she had clarity again in her goals. Except for the after-work co-worker invites every night. (Obviously she wasn’t married with kids yet. Ha!)

But this habit had become her obstacle in getting her first goal accomplished: a morning routine.

When we have habits like this that are reinforced, it’s a million times harder to change them.

She was being rewarded with eating out, fun with friends, and drinks. That was a super hard thing to say “No” to. But she was committed. And she knew she HAD to find a way to get through this obstacle to move forward with her goals and get her life on track.


Obstacle interventions


One of the best ways to get through a habit-based obstacle like this is to figure out the point at which you’re about to fall into your habit pattern–and instead have an obstacle intervention set up.

If you’ve heard of the WOOP method of goal setting, you may already know where I’m going with this. The WOOP method wasn’t terribly effective for me, simply because it focuses on more emotional and flowy concepts. Don’t get me wrong–I can be super emotional with the best of ’em! But I need something hard and certain in black and white right in front of my face.

The one part of the method from the book that stood out to me, though, was the part on obstacles. One of the techniques for getting around an obstacle is called a WOOP Intervention. This is detailed out in the bookRethinking Positive Thinking, by Gabriele Oettingen.



WOOP Intervention is basically where you print out this little card to carry around with you when you can predict an obstacle for one of your goals. You list the goal, and include what the obstacle is that you can already see coming. Then at the bottom you fill in the blanks so that it reads something like, “When it’s time to _________, and I feel like __________ instead, I will __________.”

You’re making a plan to save yourself from the obstacle. I love this, because I’m so busy and scatterbrained all the time, that if I have an obstacle come up, I go with the easiest solution (which usually ends up costing me money or calories.)


Obstacle Intervention Tips + Tricks


My only hang-up with this is that I would probably forget the card is even on me. However–if I’ve made a plan and written it down, the chances that I’ll remember it are like a million times better. My alternative to that would be to set a reminder. You can actually set location-based reminders now, too. So, for example, if you know you’ll be tempted when you walk into the coffee shop to get a giant sugar-laden bear claw when you really just want sugar-free coffee, your reminder will pop up when you get to the coffee shop location reminding you of a healthy snack instead of that guilt-packed bear claw.

Remember that some obstacles are fears, other obstacles are lack of planning, and others are habit-based. And some obstacles just can’t be avoided. These are usually urgent or emergency situations that come up.

What are some of the obstacles you foresee in your tasks and goals getting done? How have you worked around or through them? Let me know, I love hearing solutions! And if you just need another perspective, shoot me an email!


Join the Stella Nadene Wellness + Lifestyle Newsletter and grab your free printable Obstacle Intervention Carrying Cards! Just click the image below!


obstacle intervention, carrying cards for eliminating obstacles, keep goals on track, goal strategies


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Getting hung up on obstacles when you're on a goal-achieving role is so frustrating! Here's what to do when those obstacles are habit-based, so you can move forward with your goalsetting! #goals #goalsetting #goalsetter #moneygoals #momgoals #habits #lifegoals


6 Essential Goals for Couples to Communicate About NOW.

6 Essential Goals for Couples to Communicate About NOW.

6 essential goals for couples when married or co-habitating, to communicate life goals and set clear expectations.


As much as I’d like to be the hopeless romantic here, weddings and marriage are really and truly the beginning of a (hopefully) lifelong partnership. Don’t get me wrong, there’s love and affection and romance and all that jazz. But there also have to be clear expectations set on both sides. This refers to money, household chores, and career choices. But also the number of kids you want to (or don’t want to) have.

That being said, there are some essential goals for couples that should absolutely be defined to prevent a billion and one miscommunications.


Some goals are individual, like career-wise, but also possibly financial. Not all couples share a joint bank account. Many couples make the decision to keep their finances separate. This can be due to pre-existing loans, or debts. Or just the notion that his or her hard-earned money is just that.

This post definitely won’t get into the ins and outs of that (I’m not a marriage counselor!) But it will discuss the different things that couples need to discuss regarding their future, and the plan they need to make to get there as a cohesive couple.


essential goals for couples


Want a FREE workbook to follow along in and map out your couple-dom goals? Click the image below!

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1.Financial essential goals for couples


I put finances first because, according to lots of research and data, money seems to be the number 1 reason for marital fights (and possibly divorce.)

Money can be such a powerful thing–especially (and unfortunately) in marriage. There is almost always an imbalance in incomes, and some peeps go into marriage with the attitude that the person with the larger income is more important, can make most decisions, etc. But the thing is, you are both people, putting in the work for your job/career, and (hopefully) putting in the effort to make this relationship work.

Again–I’m not a marriage counselor. But I advise anybody about to get married, married, or co-habitating to have a deep heart to heart about finances. (I’ve been married sixteen years, so that has to count for something.) Seriously– you really, really need to be on the same page about finances as a couple.

*Here’s a list of topics to discuss regarding financial essential goals for couples:


1. Major financial goals: Since most people have some sort of debt, the topic of debt will fall here first and foremost. Nobody likes to suddenly be responsible for another person’s irresponsible shopping trips or seemingly unlimited eating out and party nights that said person technically couldn’t afford. If you’re not yet married, you need to talk about this, and be absolutely transparent with all your debts–credit card and otherwise. You will save yourself many an argument by being truthful about the debt you have so that you can both create a workable–and agreeable–plan to get rid of it.

Once the debt situation has a paved path, you need to discuss savings. Savings have many different allocations, so you need to be clear about what kind of saving is important to you.

Like always, I recommend using Dave Ramsey’s suggestions for savings: $1k for emergencies, and 2-3 months in savings in case one of you loses a job/is having a career overhaul/becomes sick or injured and can’t work for a bit, etc. And then what else will you save for? 401K? Vacation? Building or buying a home? Renovations? Again–be clear and up front about what you want.

This is where your lovey-dovey feelings for each other will come in handy, because both parties will inevitably think his or her ideas about what you should be saving for should take priority. Make lists with pros and cons, prioritize the best you can, and compromise.

2. Budget: With a clear picture of income, what debts need to be paid monthly, and savings goals, you’ll be able to work out what your budget is every month. I have a budgeting notebook, and have used to help with this, and it was great! I know there are other software programs that do this as well, but I liked Mint because it gave options for setting savings goals, paying things off, and also gave a clear snapshot of our financial worth. It also sends you notifications if you’re nearing your limit for any given budgeted amount in the month. Work out a clear budget so that you each know what money has to go where each month–no surprises!

3. Spending money: Even though you will have bills to pay, and other obligations, you really need to leave room for spending money each month for each of you. Especially if things are really tight, it gets super old, super fast, being so tight that you can’t have any fun. You have to have downtime, and you have to have some ‘me time‘. Figure out what can work for both of you, pull that amount of cash out every month, and stick to it!

4. Vacations: Hopefully the two of you will always be on the same page as to where you ‘d like to visit for vacations. (That’s not always the case, but even in opposing relationships–like my own–we always compromise, whether it’s taking turn who decides, or making the decision based on whose family we’ve seen 100 times the last year versus only 1 for the other party. Ahem.)

Make some rules on how this will work ahead of time and stick to it. Also figure out an average price for travel and lodging, and factor in meals, things to do, souvenirs, etc. Then add like 20%. Make your goal and figure it into your budget for part of your savings.


2.Household Goals


I’m not going to place ‘roles’ on either party as to who is in charge of household ‘happenings’. But what I will tell you is that one of the biggest running jokes (whether actual jokes or jabs at each other) has to do with household habits.

I know sooooo many couples that are constantly annoyed with each other. Because one person isn’t contributing to household chores, and the other is constantly picking up the slack. And if one person ends up being a SAHM or SAHD, it’s a whole other animal!

Inevitably, one person will be the tidier organizer, and the other will be the hapless slob. Truthfully I’m more ‘germ’ clean and can actually organize things way better than the husband, but am also the proverbial slob. Clothes all over the floor, papers and magazines scattered all over the place, etc.

The husband gets super cranky when there are messes everywhere, but God help us all if he ever cleans a floor or toilet or uses disinfectant on anything. His version of cleaning is putting things away. So that nobody can find them later when they need them because they’re not organized or even remotely where it would make sense for them to be. They’re simply out of sight.

I say all this to illustrate that there are many different styles of cleanliness and habits, and unless you want some major fights and resentment down the road, you need to discuss even this unglamorous topic up front.

Think about it–you’re intent is to be roommates for life. Why wouldn’t you discuss this? The husband and I have an unspoken rule that if one of us cooks, the other does dishes. And since he’s out of town a lot, when he is here, he takes out trash and empties the dishwasher.

Lay out what kind of things you want done and accomplished in your home. Then be clear on who has what responsibility. Hold up your part!

3.Health Goals


It’s probably thinking in a fantasy world to expect that both halves of a relationship will have the same, or even similar, health goals. But can you agree on either mutually aligned goals, or that you will have separate goals?

I will warn that it can get difficult to plan and cook different meals. Especially if one of you is die-hard Paleo and the other can’t live without bread. Essential goals for couples dealing with dietary preference can, in fact, be a wicky thicket.

Health goals are pretty fluid throughout one’s lifetime. But it’s always easier if you’re on the same page for those goals. Whether it’s that you both want to lose weight, both want to train for a 5K, or both want to simply eat clean.

It’s in your best interest to define that ahead of time and be each other’s accountability partners if you can.

(Ps-I know you’d love your bestie to be your accountability partner, but can he/she really slap that 8-count stack of Oreos out of your hand from across town when you’ve had a horrible day? No–your partner who is sitting next to you with his own stack of Oreos can. And then you can return the favor.)


4.Career Goals


Career goals can be listed as separate, but sometimes are a joint effort. (Like Chip and Joanna on HGTV’s Fixer Upper–their business is working together.) For most of the rest of us, this isn’t the case. But as a couple you need to be clear on where you want your career paths to go.

When it comes to essential goals for couples dealing with your careers, you also need to state expectations about whether or not one partner will stay home if you plan to have babies.

Career goals are usually in people’s heads and on their radars anyway. But sharing this with your life partner is going to map an intended and clear path ahead.

Does one of you want to go back to school for another degree to further that career? Will one of you have to take an unpaid internship? Does one of you intent to take a position where travel is required all the time?

Identify what path you both want to follow as a couple. Together.

5.Relaxation goals


Ahh…my second favorite of essential goals for couples. I’d say favorite, but I really enjoy my time with friends and family very much. Relaxation together (your downtime) may come in many forms. Like seasonal bucket lists, special vacations, or just local festivals. Clearly define what you each and kids like to do in your downtime.

When my husband and I got married, we had a lot of head-butting over this. He rode dirt bikes. I had no interest in sitting around in a hot dusty desert waiting on him to circle a track eight hundred times. I liked going to the beach whenever we had a chance. He had no interest in sitting on a sandy towel watching ocean waves for hours at a time and praying his skin didn’t melt off.

We didn’t really seek out relaxation and downtime activities that we would both enjoy for a long time. (Have I mentioned before how opposite we are??)

Bottom line is that you may never be on the same page for downtime. But you need to find a middle ground. Take advantage of down time in a way that both of you get your relaxation on-whether together or separately!


6.Family + Friend Goals


These essential goals for couples entails defining how you’ll spend your time with family and friends.

A great example I have of this is how different my family is from my husband’s family. I couldn’t get over the fact that early in our marriage, he spoke to his parents like every day on the phone. My parents were lucky to hear from me once a month. It started feeling sort of claustrophobic to me. That in itself caused a bit of a rift that I couldn’t put my finger on for a long time.

Every family is very different. But you guys found each other for a reason. And now that you have, you’re forming your own family. A family with your own rules, your own traditions. And your own definitions of what’s normal, good, and acceptable.

Talk about this, and about boundaries. Discuss who’s family you’ll spend holidays with, or how you’ll rotate. Don’t let it get down to the wire. Cutting it that close causes giant fights when one person’s feelings are hurt over a miscommunication. It’s a horrible way to spend time with family and/or friends.

You should probably have the talk about boundaries with friends as well. I know tons of people whose friends couldn’t cut the cord after marriage happened. When your spouse spends more time with his or her bestie than you on a regular basis, something’s not right.

Maybe also talk about ‘guys nights out’, and ‘girls nights out’. Some people still really enjoy these after marriage, some don’t think it’s appropriate.

Find your mutual middle ground. Set limitations, and don’t push the rules–have respect for your partner and expect the same from him or her.

Many families also like to discuss goals or ‘bucket lists’ for things to do with the kids. This is a great area for the kids to be involved. And having them sit through you two making compromises and communicating your feelings is awesome modeling for their social development!


So there you have it! I don’t normally like to be that lengthy in posts. But I really feel like these 6 essential goals for couples are pretty darn important. We had zero counseling before marriage. (I had counseling with my pastor before husband #1. But it was spiritual, not practical topics like the ones listed here.) I wish so bad that someone had gone over all this stuff with me. Seriously, it would have saved so many years of fighting and hurt feelings!! If you know someone else that would benefit from this post, please pass it on!


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Setting goals in your marriage, or as a couple, can be a recipe for disaster. There are a million and one things to argue about. Check these 6 essential goals every couple should discuss and set together to be on the same page and eliminate as many disagreements as possible! #marriage #marriagegoals #lifegoals #marriageadvice

What kinds of  ‘couple discussions and goals’ do you have? Let me know in the comments below!

8 Types of Goals EVERYONE Should Have in Life

8 Types of Goals EVERYONE Should Have in Life

The 8 goal types everyone should have set to map out their life dreams.


The day I began my quarter-life crisis was way beyond just ugly-crying sobbing alone in our guest bath on the cold tile floor. Devastation had set in based on the realization that not only did I not want to wipe snotty noses of kids that weren’t mine or have heated arguments with their actual parents as an elementary school teacher anymore. But that I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Or how to get there.


8 goal types everyone


My marriage was in just as dire straits. You know that irritated but sympathetic nagging when you witness your friend with her boyfriend and they constantly bicker and you’re silently counting down the days till they’ll just break it off already (like, for everybody’s sanity. And blood pressure. And less awkward parties)? It felt like I was looking in on that on my own marriage.

We had so much debt we were living paycheck to paycheck immediately after ‘I do’. And we had a serious imbalance in time spent with family. His began to feel oddly smothering just a few hours away while I ached for mine halfway across the country.

There had been no life manual on setting yourself up for good financial success, or how to communicate clear expectations in marriage. (Don’t scoff—I’m sure you didn’t know such boring non-fiction existed right inside that elusive Barnes and Noble in your 20’s either.) Plus, Google wasn’t what it is now, my friend.

But I stuck it out. Because I loved him fiercely and truly believed we could figure it all out.

And then TEN short (ha!) years later I learned about creating ‘life goals’ and the need to compartmentalize your life in order to do that.


 Compartmentalizing Your life



A Life Wheel is a tool used to break down your areas of life into compartments.

Go here to read: How to Use a Life Wheel to Gain Perfect Clarity in Your Life’s Direction

The thing is, everybody’s life wheel template can look different. The one I have lays out 8 compartments all neatly separated, and each colored its own beautiful shade—kinda like that perfect box of macarons. But you may look at it and think I’m either missing a compartment or can combine some. This is all very personal—so whatever number of compartments you come up with for your life is correct.



But the bottom line is that when we think of our lives in different ‘sectors’, or ‘compartments’, we can start thinking about how to approach each one individually to make our kick-buttowsky master plan to improve them!

So, you may be thinking, ‘How in the world can I separate these? They all interrelate!’

The A to that is, Yes—they do all interrelate. But only to a degree. So I challenge you to go ahead and compartmentalize away! Because that interrelation will create a sort of snowball effect in other areas so that each time you make things easier in one area, the others it interrelates with won’t be as difficult to improve as when you started.



This of it this way: That gorgeous, mouth-watering box of macarons each is filled with gooey syrupy goodness, but they’re leaking out into the other compartments. So if you clean up the syrup from the pistachio and also dab the pistachio syrup off the raspberry one next to it, by the time you get to the raspberry one to actually clean it, it has less syrup already and is, therefore, a little easier to clean.

So here are the 7 8 compartments—or life goals—I feel everyone and their mother should have.


1.Health Goals:


I start with this one because you can’t take care of others if you’re not taken care of first, right? Ask any mother who’s sick with the husband or partner nowhere in sight. This is actually the BASIS of the Stella Nadene site. Your health should be a priority so that you’re in optimal mental, emotional, and physical condition to live the life you deserve, and that your family deserves! So whether this is losing weight, getting your cholesterol to a certain number, or getting in exercise every week, I promise you that you will feel a thousand times better once you implement a plan based on goals for your health.

I definitely recommend seeing the doc for some blood work to make sure everything’s where it should be. This will help pinpoint any issues that need to be addressed that you may not have known about. For example, finding out that you have metabolic syndrome makes any goal of losing weight have a whole new motivational factor.

Basic recommendations for every day:

1-Get good and enough sleep,

2-Eat clean and cut the sugar,

3-Get in some movement every single day

4-Manage your stress levels like your life depends on it. (It does.)


2. Career Goals:


According to Forbes, 87% of workers are either not engaged or actively disengaged in their jobs. The list of reasons is far and many. But bottom line is that you’re very likely to be in that 87%. Even if you happen to be in the 13% of happy employees, are you really satisfied to do what you’re doing for the rest of your career?

Are you interested in a different field? Do you need more training or a higher education? Or even just a different degree of study? Maybe you want to climb the ladder where you’re at. Or own your own business doing what you’re already doing. Whatever you would rather be doing is where you need to start with setting these types of life goals.

You’re the only person that can answer these questions to get to the root of where you want to head.

So ask yourself: If I had so much money I could never spend it all, what would I want to do every day? Your answer should give you an inkling of what kind of career will make it a pleasure to go to work every day.


3. Romance or Relationship Goals:


Your relationship with your significant other can grow warily stale over the years, especially after having kids. It’s always in your best interest (as long as there’s no abuse or infidelity going on) to nurture the relationship. This person has vowed to spend the rest of their life with you, and you with them. Why wouldn’t you want it to be epic??!

Not only that—but this person should be your rock, your support. If you expect them to be your rock and nurture like you need, you also have to nurture as well. It’s a two-way street, marriage.


{Check out this post to read about 6 Essential Goals For Couples: (Pssst!! This is also a great post even for those engaged or NEWLY married!}


4. Family + Friends Goals:


Now I realize that you normally don’t control who you meet and where, but you can decide who you actually keep in your life as a friend or acquaintance. This plays into the goal factor in that, you will find a time when you become so incredibly busy that you don’t have the capacity to deal with one-sided friendships and/or constant drama from that one extended family member that always seems to have a crisis going on.

It’s emotionally draining if you’re the go-to support for cousin Tammy. I realize that sounds a little selfish, but sometimes you have to pare people out of your life for your own sanity. But also so that you have the capacity to spend time with your kids and husband. Those people, and yourself, will always be your first priority.

Whether this includes time spent with your kids, or time spent with your parents/grandparents that are getting up there in age, or even more time spent with your sister who used to be your very best friend, your family deserves attention and time spent with them, too.

The relationships that you’ve valued over the years should be evident by your actions toward that person/those people, including your friends. Female friendships have been shown to lower stress levels crazy amounts because of the support women lend to each other.

Let them know how much you care about them. Do this by writing them into your goals to commit to time spent with them! Everyone should have equal time with families and friends.


5. Financial Types of Goals Everyone Should Have:


Seriously, you need to have a financial plan in place, and you need to clean up your messes before you’re in a Code Black (Red?) situation. Find any one of the financial gurus online that you can, create a plan, and work through it.

By using tools and road maps from one of these financial gurus, we’ve gotten out of a mountain of credit card debt, pared down our student loans, own both of our vehicles, have our savings accounts in place, our IRA is on track, and we’re on the road to paying off our home. Which means that we have the funds to do home projects we’ve been waiting on, go on really cool vacations, and send our kids to whatever after school lessons or camps they want.

Financial goals can absolutely be some of the toughest types of goals in life to accomplish. But the lessons learned along the way are for life (and should be instilled in your kids early on!)

Having finances in order can open the door to a clarity of your mind that is truly liberating! Even if you’re on a tight budget to accomplish those goals, having boundaries can help give you something to control when the rest of your life may feel totally out of control.

Go here to read: How to Create a Working Household Budget and get a free printable Home Budgeting Planner.


6. Physical Environment Goals:


Physical environment goals deal with the place you spend most of your time, whether that includes your lovely abode, your office/desk space at work, or even the gym.

Studies show that our physical environment can affect productivity + quality of life tremendously.

Few people are actually in their ‘dream home’. There’s always something that people want improved upon on their home to make things more ‘livable’, or ‘pretty’, or ‘functional’. Any of these 3 things can reduce your stress levels.

If you don’t have a lot of control over your office environment at work, do the little things that you can. Maybe you’re in a cubicle and can only change stuff there. Start small and see how it makes you feel. Then go from there. (For example, bringing in a plant, or covering the standard cubicle tacky grey with a fun fabric print and then loading it with pics from your family or inspirational quotes.)

On the home front, figure out what would make you and your family happy. Write these home goals into your big master plan. Even if it’s something as simple as organizing the pantries.


7. Spiritual Goals:


I grew up in the South—meaning: Southern Baptist church. Lots of things being frowned upon that are fun. Like cussing, or dancing, or having a drink. All things I very much like to do. Once I started studying religion, and had a very enlightening conversation with a friend that studied this at the college level, I realized that one set religion does not a spiritual being make.

My husband grew up in a non-denominational church, so he didn’t understand the whole ‘singing hymns out of a hymn book with only a piano playing’ type of music. I wasn’t used to it being like a rock concert. But I really freaking liked it. So now we’re raising our kids in a non-denominational church and loving it.

I also feel like you can believe in God but have a different name for him. And you can worship in ways other than sitting in a church pew every Sunday. And—gasp!—you can also be close to God by learning about energies in the universe.

My point is that you grow, and learn about yourself, and the universe, and the whole world around you when you set goals for your spirituality. Maybe it’s a retreat, maybe it’s committing to serving meals with the church once a month, and maybe it’s just writing in a Gratitude Journal every night.

Everyone’s spiritual journey will be different. But your innermost soul is nourished when you take the time for it.


 8. Leisure Goals:


What do you like to do in your free time? You know…assuming you have tiny amounts as a busy mom. (Yes, I realize that sounds like a giant oxymoron. But go with me here…) Do you like taking family vacations? Girls-only trips? Or is it learning a new skill like painting or doing a fun outing to learn rock climbing?

Gather your and your family goals to help each other. Time off is a HUGE stress management tool. But it also helps build relationships with those people you share these experiences with.


This list can sound like a huge undertaking, no doubt. But working with your life in segments, and seeking improvement by first creating goals will set you up for some serious success and fulfillment.

Ready to set your life goals? Try out the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting method! The workbook is totally FREE when you sign up for the Newsletter–click the image below!


How to create smart goals everyone should have for your life, weight loss, finances, debt, career. Plus get a free printable workbook


And let me know how your goals are going in the comments below!


Know someone who could use help figuring out the 7 goals everyone should have? Please SHARE this post!


Goal setting for adults isn't just a suggestion--it's something you should def do and def track! Here are tips for 7 types of life goals to set plus a simple free printable to walk you through developing your wishes into goals. #goals #goalgetters #adulting


How to Use Your Phone Wallpaper as Your Daily To Do List

How to Use Your Phone Wallpaper as Your Daily To Do List

It’s no secret that I constantly look for ways to be more efficient. Especially since I can’t focus a lot of the time. This means a lot of lists surround (and threaten to smother) me, and post it notes freaking everywhere. But for a while now I’ve been using a daily and weekly planner (which will be available soon on the Resources page.) That giant paper does me no good, though, if I’m out running errands, picking up kids, etc. I don’t haul it around with me everywhere I go. What I have discovered, though, is that I check my phone’s home screen constantly because I have reminders and notifications buzzing all day long.

Now, I am a big supporter of changing bad habits to good ones, but every once in a while, you have to sort of…structure things around habits that are already there that aren’t necessarily bad. For example, the husband used to nag till blue in the face to the kids about leaving their shoes by the back door. He also loses it if they have to keep going upstairs to get shoes before school. So instead of trying to change the habit (them leaving shoes by the back door–and him making them take them upstairs to their room every day), I bought a shelf and baskets. Each kid gets a basket by the garage door (where we come in the house every day), and by the back door. Problem solved.

phone wallpaper as to do list, productivity with phone, daily goal list, daily to do list

So my newest brilliant idea is filling out the ‘Day Planner’ sheet I’ve created, and snapping a pic of it, then setting it as my ‘lock screen’. That way any time I push the home button, it comes up and I can see everything I need to do today. So it looks like this:

free download using lock screen on phone as to do list and reminders free download using lock screen on phone as to do list and reminders

The first pic is the option where you print the sheet every day, fill it out, and snap a pic of it before setting as your lock screen. The second option is where you just fill in the info on your computer (it’s an editable Word doc), and then zoom out and snap a pic of your computer screen, then set the pic as your lock screen.

Pretty awesome, right??! It’s working great so far, and helps me remember things even when I’m out of the house and on the run! And yes, my appointments are all in my calendar, but every once in a while when I set the appointment, the reminder for it doesn’t get set correctly. (Boooooo!!!)

So here’s what ya do:

1. Get whichever file you’d rather use by clicking the appropriate image below:



2. Either edit in Word (possibly can do this in Google docs, too), or

3. Print it out for each day

4. Fill in info

5. Snap a pic

6. Set as ‘lock screen’


Anybody else tried this? Let me know how it goes for ya in the comments below!!

5 Compelling Reasons to List Your Goals

5 Compelling Reasons to List Your Goals

5 Compelling reasons why you should list your goals.


Making lists is one of my favorite things–if you could take a look around my work space(s)–yeah, I tend to spread out through my office and the dining room–you’d see probably like twenty different lists. Now, admittedly, I have ADD and can’t remember everything I should. But having written things down actually puts those things in front of my face multiple times a day, reminding me that I don’t actually have time to sit and watch another episode of whatever I have on my DVR.


reasons to list your goals or write them down


So what’s the benefit of writing down goals if I CAN remember them? Well, according to Mark Murphy, author of HARD GOALS, writing down your goals is beneficial in two different ways: external storage, and encoding.


1. External storage


This is explained by Murphy as, “storing the information contained in your goal in a location…that is very easy to access and review at any time.” Like printing a beautiful page or poster with it and displaying it where you see it all the time to remind you, “THESE ARE YOUR GOALS–EYES ON THE PRIZE!!”


2. Encoding


Murphy describes this as, “the biological process by which the things we perceive travel to our brain’s hippocampus, where they’re analyzed.” From that point, the brain decides what to toss and what to keep. So, he states, “when you write something down it has a much greater chance of being remembered.” Anybody else remember being able to retain things better when taking notes in college? Yeah, me too.


Joking aside, writing down your goals does help keep your eye on the prize–life happens, things go awry. Your list will keep you focused on what you want instead of what distracting things may be happening in your life right now.


3. Helps you prioritize


Once you see those goals listed, you’ll be able to objectively think about which ones need to go in a specific order (because you can’t get #3 done until you get #5 done, for example); and also which ones take priority for other reasons.

Some of my goals listed this spring included getting parts and repairing the playset, rebuilding our garden that got destroyed by a tornado last year, and rebuilding the herb bed. We HAD to get the playset taken care of first because we host an annual Easter egg hunt/brunch and couldn’t take the chance that the kids there would get cut on a rusted ladder rung on the playset.

Figure out how and why you need to order your goals, and then start your planning process.


4. Combats avoidance


There will always be that little voice in the back of your head that says, “Oh, one more day won’t hurt.” Except that one day turns into three, and three turns into a week, and so on.

If you procrastinate even once, that just sets the stage to allow yourself to continue putting it off. You’re training yourself to put stuff off. Don’t do that!!


5. Helps figure out steps needed


Just seeing those words on paper will make you start putting together a plan of HOW to get there. Put those steps down on paper, too, and before you know it you’ll have a list of things you need to do to get that one thing done.

The next step from there would be to actually put those ‘to do’s’ in your calendar and actually DO IT.


(Bonus reason!) Forces you to clarify what you want


This one can be a bit tricky, because it’s more psychologically deep than the others. This one is more about knowing yourself and what your true endgame goals are. Once you write things down and they’re staring you in the face, you can really reflect on them to determine if you really do want/need that one thing.

My example of this is that I really do want a garden, and every year we commit to planting one. My husband is included in this process, and is verbally all for it. But what happens every single year is that I do all the planning, planting, weeding, watering, fertilizing, etc, etc, etc, until I get burned out doing it all by myself, and then I just quit.

The plants get a fungus, or bugs or whatever the hell circulates in this Godforsaken humidity around here, and I just don’t care that much anymore. And then I get really annoyed with myself because I spent all that time working on something I was too burned out to finish when I could’ve been doing something more productive work-wise, or spending time with the kids on their summer break. It wasn’t a well-thought-out plan, and I should’ve learned my lesson the first year. (Sigh.)


So have you written down your goals yet? How do you set yours up? 5-Year goals? 1-year goals? Monthly? If you need help, this is the perfect time to start using the SMART Goals model to define your steps!

Join the Newsletter and get your free SMART Goal Setting workbook! Click the image below!


How to create smart goals for your life, weight loss, finances, debt, career. Plus get a free printable workbook


Know someone who could use some help with goal setting? SHARE this post, or PIN IT for later!


Need a kickstart in goal setting? You need to list your ideas and write down your goals. Read these tips for why should always write your your goals--whether for life, fitness, adults, kids, teens, students, or couples--should always be listed! This is especially helpful if you move on to using the SMART goals method. #goals #goalsetting #goalsetter #lifegoals #moms #momlife #lifeasmom

4 BASIC GOALS Every MOM Should Have for Herself

4 BASIC GOALS Every MOM Should Have for Herself

Basic goals for moms to get your life in order and start practicing True Self Care.


If you’ve read my ‘About‘ page, you’ll know that I spent some pretty miserable months wondering why in the world being a mom was so dang hard. Even with only my first being a baby, I had a wake-up call when I was faced with post-partum depression.

Once my second was here, things got even worse. And what made this even more challenging was that I had little support since my husband was traveling so much for work, and we couldn’t afford daycare.

I wish that I’d had some kind of mentoring, or even that Google was what it is today! Because ten years ago, moms standing up for themselves wasn’t really being advertised. And moms demanding time for themselves and help…well, those were things nobody talked about unless you were venting to your best friend.

The truth is that we NEED these things to thrive and have a happy and healthy family.

Here are 4 of the most basic goals that we, as moms, should have for ourselves to get started with that kind of desperately needed self-care.


basic goals for moms

1.Set Some ‘Me-Time’ Goals


Moms typically think of themselves last since they’re normally the primary caretaker of the kids. And house. And…well, everything in between.

Running yourself ragged is doing nobody any favors! Being rundown mentally and physically makes you grumpy, which translates to being super unpleasant to the kids and significant other. Then they take on the same energy, and then everybody’s miserable.

You do so incredibly much for your family–take some time to keep yourself in tip-top shape, too! (Weekly pedi, monthly massage, a day out of the house with no kids, a movie by yourself, antique shopping, hey–even perusing the aisles of Target alone!, etc.)


2. Get Organized


Whether it’s meal planning, purging your closet, spring cleaning, or organizing that clutter-filled pantry, Moms have so much going on at all times that it’s easy to get overrun and overwhelmed.

Then you can’t find that permission slip, or forget your kids’ dentist appointments, or can’t find the stupid checkbook when it’s time to pay bills. (Ahem, guilty of all of those at one point.)


Ask yourself these questions:


1. What things are out of control?

2. What would be the optimal solution to get them back under control?

3. What systems or tools can I use to get it under control and maintain that control?

Then DO IT. You actually have to implement the system to make it work! Execute, Mama!!


3. Get Serious About Quality Family Time


Whether you realize it or not, it’s so important to just spend some downtime with your family. Kids need to have fun interactions with their parents just as much as they need boundaries and discipline. You can’t go nonstop without having some downtime, and not have consequences. And you need to be the one to say, ‘STOP IT. We all deserve this.’ And make it happen.

A great idea that a lot of families I know like to do is make a bucket list for whatever season it is. Everyone in the family contributes to making one master bucket list. Then you post it, and try to do everything on the list!


4. Rock the Romance with Your SO


One thing many of us forget about is the fact that our significant other should be the cornerstone of our support system.

I realize that’s difficult when it feels like he’s not on board. But we need to still contribute our half to the equation.

Nurturing that relationship will only do good things for you, your relationship, and your family as a whole. (Remember that your kids are learning how relationships and marriage work by watching you model it every day!)

So how can you ramp things up? Have you been slacking on regular date nights? How about learning something new together? When was the last time you had lunch alone? How could you spice things up?

Really think about where the two of you would like to be and work on getting there with regular time alone.


I challenge you to find the best goal planner for busy moms, detail out your goals, make it happen, and report back at this difference in attitude from everyone!!


Challenge Accepted? Awesome! Tell me how it’s going in the comments below!!

Join the Newsletter and get your FREE Mom Goals worksheet! Click the image below!


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Know another mother that could use some help getting started with self-care? SHARE this post!

Feeling like your life never actually has anything to do with you? Or that you don't ever take time to nourish yourself? Full of chaos? Full of self doubt and resentment? Check these basic 4 goals every mom should have for herself. We should be modeling this for our daughters and especially teens, so they can see that families are built on moms taking care of themselves! #selfcare #moms #momlife #momgoals



So I have basically taken two entire months away from blogging to regroup and get some serious shiznit done around my house. (And shiznit I mean the mounting piles of projects we’ve been dragging our butts on for the last six months…) Anyway, it’s such a big deal to make resolutions at the first of the year, but to be honest, I’m not very inspired by the New Year. I don’t know about you, but I get inspired at the start of spring, a few months LATER. Because that’s when the cold breaks, and everything in nature starts anew, right? So…since here in good ole non-cold Houston, the weather has decided to be warm through winter, and my spring has started a little early. Which, in terms of blog planning, is a good thing because I like my posts to be planned out and written ahead of time. So, like any sort-of goal-oriented person with ADD, I decided to make lots of lists of things that needed to get done.

One of those lists was to reorganize the blog and website. I realized there’s not much focus on it except my ramblings and book reviews. I really love to help when I can, and am sort of obsessed with other people’s ideas in solving problems. Which brought me to the realization that I need to hone in on those types of tools as well.  And working on my laptop ONLY doesn’t help me use my time spent waiting around in the doctor’s office for allergy shots every week, or the hour sitting around in the gymnastics parents’ section where I generally can’t even see my kid. It’s time pockets wasted that I could be editing, or capturing new ideas, or revising goal lists….you get the idea. But by keeping my novel chapters in OneNote, they’re accessible anywhere that has internet access or a phone signal. Also, OneNote (which is similar to Evernote) is awesome for making lists!

In the midst of trying to make list after list, which often got lost on piles of paperwork on my desk, I realized I had to absolutely REFOCUS. There were so many things working against me, and if I wanted to free my tirelessly tangled mind and actually get anything done, I had to do things way differently. Hence the list of things to REFOCUS your RESOLUTIONS. And yes, they were initially intended to refer to my writing goals, but since we also have a business dealing with something totally different that is always in a state of disarray, I realized I could totally apply every point to that as well. So use this list as you will, and please share it with anyone that could use a serious kick in the ass on their resolutions that they’ve likely already given up on!


Click the image below to access the workbook to follow along!


1.Make a list of goals and mini goals:


This sounds super condescending, but believe it or not–people don’t try to work out HOW to reach their goals (which are the same thing as resolutions.) So the idea here is to make your list of goals, but for each one, break down steps needed (mini-goals) to achieve that goal. Just making the lists and keeping them in your mind won’t make it happen automatically (obvs)–you’re gonna need some tools to help you with this. You’ll also need to revisit every so often (once a week…once a month, etc) to see how you’re doing and if you need to refocus. Seriously, the goal workbook I offer for free is super helpful in detailing out all the nitty gritty to get it done!


2. Make sure it’s realistic:


The number one reason people don’t stick to their resolutions? Yep–they’re UNREALISTIC. This is the part where you really need to sit down and think like a MENSA member on why your resolutions haven’t been going so well so far. List out the reasons you’ve failed or lagged at this point in the year (you’ve had two whole months, yo!) Figure out what’s holding you back, and realistically realign your goals with a timeline. That list of goals and mini-goals you just did? Yeah, that thing will be pretty helpful here.


3. Eliminate distractions:


Dude. This part is soooooooooo hard for me. I’ve got three kids, a dog, and a husband that interrupt me every fifteen seconds. It’s already taken me like an hour and a half to write this much of the post. My mistake? I got inspired first thing Saturday morning before I got out of bed. Which means that the TIME I’m trying to write will be riddled with kids screaming (either playing or trying to kill each other), the husband asking incessant questions about food, plans for the day, and if the stupid internet is working ok today, and the dog needing to do her ritual ferret-like weirdness and slither in and out of my legs to get attention. Or be fed. Plus the always annoying sound of either Disney channel or Nick being on. ALWAYS. (You’d think I’d hide the remote at some point, huh?) The point of all that is to demonstrate that these distractions could be avoided by proper TIME MANAGEMENT.

Sure, inspiration will always hit you at the most inopportune time ever. Always. But the best way to deal with it is to have a system to collect those mind-melting thoughts, and then revisit them at a time when you’re not distracted. For me, that’s when the big kids are at school, and the little one is properly entertained. And also, the husband is working and the dog is fed and preferably in her kennel. Can you already see where my summer plans for blogging will inevitably go awry?

Moving along…figure out what your distractions are, and if they can be either eliminated or worked around. And then schedule that in. On your calendar. Your actual calendar.


4. Try a new way:


Not getting results from your current method? Try a new way. Maybe your goals being broken down in mini-goals could use some new or different tools to get results. Maybe you need to start listening to someone different. Maybe you need to totally reorganize your day to be more efficient. Make a list of things that have not been working for you, and do some research on what you can do differently. I promise you that almost any problem you have either has an expert that can help you resolve it (that can easily be found with a Google search), or an app to assist your specific needs (which can also usually be found with a Google search–or a search on your app store.)


 5. Make yourself accountable to someone:


I don’t know about you, but if I think I’m in trouble (or disappointing someone), I get super anxious. I also immediately start inventing an excuse for myself. The idea of making yourself accountable is that you don’t get to make an excuse. You either pass or fail. (Well, unless something serious happens like an injury or a death in the family…I’m not a monster, people.) Or make it a competition–I don’t know about you, but I like to WIN. I know a lot of people aren’t competitive, but even if you’re not, pairing up with someone else can give you extra motivation from the other person–whether praise for your goal wins, encouragement for your shortcomings and frustrations, or advice for changing things up. I have learned NUMEROUS times that sometimes somebody looking in from the outside can see waaay more clearly than you can when you’re IN the situation. I’ve honestly always thought the ideas of a life coach and a home organizer were the dumbest thing ever. Until I became a real-life grown-up with a mortgage, husband, and kids (and don’t forget the dog), and couldn’t figure out why my life was such chaos ALL. THE. TIME. Now I can totally see the appeal of it! Somebody on the outside can CLEARLY see why you’re a trainwreck and has the organizational tools to fix it. Take advantage of the outside vantage point from a friend, family member, or colleague. And ALWAYS reciprocate!! Nobody likes working for free.

If you’re reading this article, you definitely need some help to refocus! Click the image below to get your FREE workbook!