Posts — Page 11 of 12 — Stella Nadene | Health + Wellness for Working Moms
Creating Effective Annual Goals That Will Stick

Creating Effective Annual Goals That Will Stick

As any good New Year rolls in, so do the Resolutions. But once you figure out that you need more than just a statement of resolution to make good and ambitious things start crack-a-lacking in your life, you’ll also realize that setting effective annual goals will be your best friend for a long time comin!

As a SAHM, making goals for yourself may sound or feel silly, but trust me–they’re not!! Even if your ambition doesn’t lie in career-type goals for the moment, really think about the other things that have been nagging at you the last year. Money? Getting organized? Taking an epic vacay? Learning how to cook Thai?

It’s time to really get serious about yourself, Mama!

 

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But first, let me say this:

 

Annual Goals don’t HAVE to be set at the beginning of the year! If you’ve ever worked for a corporation, you know that many businesses have what’s known as a ‘fiscal year’. It means they just go from some arbitrary date in the year back to that same date the next year for their ‘full year’. And if you need to do this as well, more power to you! I’ve said before that I feel waaaay more motivated in the spring-time rather than the New Year. So do whatever works best FOR YOU!

I’ve done a post already on a Mid-Year Goal Review, and honestly, this one is going to be similar, except more in-depth. Think about it–an entire year is sort of a standard mark for setting some pretty significant goals. And it’s also a pretty significant amount of time to look back on to review your habits, what you’ve accomplished, and what you’ve slacked on.

 

If you’ve already set annual goals at the beginning of this year, you should start with a Goal Review FIRST, which is where this post is going.

 

Join the Stella Nadene Wellness + Lifestyle Newsletter and snag a free printable Annual Goal Review! Just click the image below! 👇

 

printable annual goal review

 

If you’ve never set goals before, I recommend going through the ROPE Method mini-course (which is FREE!) This course will help you get some REAL clarity on your situation, how you got there, and how to move forward in a purposeful way. And it will walk you through the goal-setting process towards the end. {Scroll down and click on The Rope Method image for access.} This post is doing that towards the end, too, just starting in a different way.

 

1. GATHER MATERIALS

 

To start with any annual goal review, you need to begin gathering all your materials and tools. By this, I mean your regular day planner or calendar, your goal planner, and any other things you need. {I’ll be doing a ‘Planner Review’ post soon, as I’ve gone through many, many planners to find the perfect one for myself.}

 

I particularly love using colored pens like THESE, highlighters, post-its, and the Lara Casey Power Sheets. I’ve begun using Trello, and absolutely LOVE it! {I’ll be doing a post on using that little gem soon.}

 

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And the most important thing you can do is schedule in a quiet time to sit and do your Annual Goal Setting and Review sesh. Which will probably mean getting a commitment from the other grown-up in the house to keep kids occupied and outta your hair!

 

Once you’ve got all that, I (obviously) recommend printing out my free Annual Goal Review Workbook. {Click the image below to join the Newsletter and get yours free!}

 

printable annual goal review

 

 

2. REFLECTION

 

When you look back at your goals from the past year, what do you see? Answer the following questions to get a bit more clarity on how your year went.

Are your goals relevant any more?

Did you stay on track?

Did you find that you want or need to add new goals?

What kinds of things worked out for you? Were there things held you back?

Could you do better on anything?

What do you need to avoid from now on?

What do you need help with?

 

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Taking a hard look back should help you reassess how your year went, and how committed you were to accomplishing those goals. It should also help you determine if you’ve been too hard on yourself, OR if you totally underestimated yourself!

 

Would you say that you could have done more? Or should have planned less?

 

3. RE-EVALUATE

 

Ok, so this is the part where you get to go through your past goals one by one and see what you may need to change or update. Do you need nix any of them? Change dates? Think any through to see if they’re in alignment with your overall life goal?

 

Next think about any obstacles that came up. What did you do to get around or through them? {Here’s a great post on working through fear and other obstacles getting in your way!}

Make some lists of things that worked and didn’t work, and things you need to do more of, and less of. This may be the time to set Resolutions (meaning you work toward this intention every day rather than setting a time-bound specific goal). Use the Annual Goal Review Workbook to map all these things out so you can get a better idea of things you need to change OR keep doing.

This tends to be the time people find they need to work on some habit changes as well!

 

4. NEW INTENTIONS

 

Now’s the fun part! We get to write down what our intentions are for the upcoming year, and actually create our MAPS for getting us there!

 

Write down every new intention you have for the upcoming year.

 

This is the time to dream about things, but also reign it in with some cricital thinking on feasibility. You may even need to discuss some of these things with your significant other before making them concrete goals. (Ex. Wanting to take on rental properties SHOULD include a conversation with your partner about all the financials and responsibilities that go with this, and ideally would end with a consensual agreement on the matter.)

 

Now create a goal for those intentions. Be specific and time-bound, most importantly. {If you need a refresher on SMART Goals, check out this 5-post series!}

5. ACTION PLAN

 

This whole part will entail listing your major goals, setting a loose time-table for them, and creating mini-goals, and micro-goals. Mini and micro-goals are basically benchmarks and tasks to get you to your main goal. Use the Workbook to work all these out.

{insert pic of goals written on worksheet + opt-in again}

Once you have your goals aaaallllllll worked out, take those dates for the first month and put them in your planner or calendar. NOW. Do this NOW.

And basically all that’s left is to actually EXECUTE all those shiny new tasks!

I do recommend reviewing your progress every month. This will tell you if you’ve been a leeetle too ambitious, or if you need to push anything back due to unforeseen issues. It will also tell you if you can do more to achieve your goal faster!

Now go through your checklist and make sure you’ve done everything for your Annual Goal Review…

Good?

Woo-hoo!! On to the next year!!!

Know somebody who could use help setting annual goals? SHARE this post!

 

Ready to get your life on track by setting goals you can actually make happen? Follow these steps to create your effective annual goals! Plus grab your free workbook and guide! #goals #goalsetting #goalsetter #smartgoals #momgoals #lifegoals

 

 

The Easy Way to Determine if You Need Resolutions or Goals

The Easy Way to Determine if You Need Resolutions or Goals

As the New Year approaches, and we’re caught up thinking about where we’ll spend New Year’s Eve, or that party that we may or may not want to attend, one thing will ALWAYS be brought to the forefront of our brains (usually thanks to the media): New Year’s Resolutions. Some of us love them, some of us hate them. But the bigger question becomes: Which should I be using? Resolutions or goals?

 

the easy way to determine if you need goals or resolutions + free smart goal setting workbook

 

I have a love/hate relationship with resolutions. I love them because it feels like everybody is in on the motivation; It’s contagious. But I hate them because I always feel like so much was going on in November and December that I didn’t have time to fully prepare myself for these theoretical standards up on that pedestal. And once I’m halfway into January floundering around, I already feel like a failure. It’s very discouraging. So much pressure!!

For that reason, the last few years I’ve really begun to focus on true Goal Setting instead. I mean, you can only try a certain thing and fail so many times before you HAVE to try something new, right? Which is why I’ve turned to goal setting as my fallback for it all lately.

But the thing is, I don’t totally dislike resolutions, and here’s why:

 

Resolutions, by definition of dictionary.com, are:

2. the act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc.

3. a resolvea decision or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something.

Her resolution to clear her parents’ name allowed her no other focus in life.

4. the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolutefirmness of purpose:

She showed her resolution by not attending the meeting.
 
There’s no real roadmap or well-defined plan. It’s a statement of intent. But for it to be a real resolution I suppose you have to follow through on it.
 
Goals, on the other hand, do (or should) have the roadmap and defined step-by-step plan.
Join the Stella Nadene Wellness + Lifestyle Newsletter to snag your free SMART Goal setting workbook! Just click the image below! 👇

So what’s the big diff and which should I use? Resolutions or Goals??

Honestly, I think that every goal must start out as a resolution. The difference here is that you have to determine if your resolution then needs that road-map to achieve it.
For example, if my resolution is to eat healthier this year, it’s an ongoing challenge every day. Sure I need to figure out a few ways to get around the challenges of it. But it’s the same frame of mind and action that I’m committing to every day.
A goal has an end-point to which you’ve accomplished a specific thing. And that end-point must have an entire set of broken down tasks to get to that end-point.
For example, if my resolution starts out as ‘I’m gonna lose those last 10 pounds by March 1’, I’ve got to have some benchmarks and strategies to know that I’m making progress to that end goal. Just saying every day that I need to eat better and workout won’t show me any progress. It may get you there, but how will you know until you hit that specific date? You really need those specified benchmarks and dates set for each. At that point, you can reassess if what you’re doing is working or if you need to change it up.

{Check out this 5-part series about SMART Goal Setting to get started and get your FREE SMART Goals Workbook to map out your personal goals!}

To figure out which you need–goals or resolutions– just determine if your resolution needs that broken down road-map to achieve it:
If it does, at that point you’ll move into creating your goal-setting actions. If not, maybe set a reminder on your phone every morning to have your resolution greet you when you wake. Resolutions don’t really ever end. They’re an everyday thing you intend to do to make your life better. Think: general health, being kind, donating this year to a local charity.

The second part to the question: “Resolutions or Goals?” is usually regarding the areas of life in which they’re being applied.

Finances and health are usually the most common. Don’t make it harder on yourself than it has to be.
If you’re starting with a resolution like, ‘I’m going to donate to the local kids’ charity this year,’ determine if this is a monthly thing you want to do, or just a one-time thing. What amount do you want to donate? A flat amount or percent of your paycheck? If it’s a flat amount, and you have the amount, just figure out a date you want to do it.
If the amount you want to donate won’t be in your account until a certain date and you have to save for it, you’re writing down a specific amount of money that you’re putting aside every month to lead up to an end-goal.
(See where this is going? It’s moving from the Resolution definition to the Goal definition, because you have little steps you’re having to take.)
If you think you need to set a goal to ‘Be more kind every day’, is this something you’re going to keep track of? Do you journal about it? Or do you keep hard notes?
It becomes a goal when you want to set a certain amount of times and/or a deadline. If you just want to reframe your state of mind in general and be more kind on a daily basis–even if it means a mental ‘check’ when you’ve done it every day–that stays more of a resolution. You’re resolving to do this thing every day…no real end date in sight.
All it takes is a little thought to figure out how detailed you need to be in your resolutions or goals to figure out which category your intentions belong in.

Easy enough? Heck, yeah! Now go forth and brainstorm those goals or resolutions!

Know someone that could use help with Goals and Resolutions? Please SHARE this post!
Are your resolutions really goals? Or are your goals really resolutions? Here's how to know the difference and the trick to know which you actually need to be using for goal setting--whether using SMART goals or any other method! #goals #goalsetting #goalsetter #smartgoals #momgoals #lifegoals #resolutions
Review of the ‘Letters to Santa’ Plus Why I Adore It

Review of the ‘Letters to Santa’ Plus Why I Adore It

I’ll readily admit that I pretty much regret getting a damn elf after figuring out how much work it is to come up with a new place to put the darn thing every night. But mostly having to remember it is what’s killing me. So with all the new ‘costumes’ that have come out (not to mention the elf’s new friend reindeer), it’s easy to start getting annoyed at the cumulative hoopla about it all. Especially since the newest add-on, Letters to Santa, has come out.

However.

My kids saw the Letters to Santa kit a few days ago and were really excited about it. I assumed it was just another chore to involve with the elf. Which it is. BUT. Once you read what happens with these letters, you may agree that they’re worth it.

 

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Our elf, Ellie, showed up on December 1st with the kit in hand for the kids–they were over the moon about the kit!!

But here’s why these things are cool and I caved on buying them: It ends up being a keepsake.

Some of the best keepsakes my mom has stowed away for all these years are the ones that show how creative/silly/smart we were at certain ages.

And I’d really like to have these to pass down to the kids when they have families of their own. Even my kids now LOVE seeing all the little ornaments that me or my husband made as kids!

Ok, so here’s how it works:

 

1.You read the book that came with the kit (Did I mention that the price includes a BOOK, too?!) It’s super cute.

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2. The kids get to write a letter to santa on the ‘regular’ sized special paper.

 

This can be their wish list, an explanation of behavior, whatever… I sometimes prompt the kids with questions so they can get their own ideas of funny letters to write. And believe me–my kids feel the need write letters to lots of people at Christmas (all related with the North Pole.) So usually I just store them in a box I have hidden in the top of my closet. I so love this idea of having keepsakes built into the real letter they wrote. {I highly recommend adding the date to the bottom of this thing BEFORE it’s baked. That way the ink shrinks with the letter AND it’s cooked into the sheet, so no fading.}

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3. Then you bake it, so it’s sort of like a paper shrinky dink.

 

The letter has to go in between 2 sheets of parchment paper that’s provided, then you lay this silicone sheet, called Mrs. Claus’ special press on top and bake from 3-5 minutes.

 

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4. When you take it out, let it cool a few minutes.

 

Then you attach the ribbon, and hang it for the elf to take to Santa.

 

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5. Then the elf will bring it back the next day and they can be used as ornaments.

 

I think these are adorable on our big tree, but the kids each have a tiny tree in their bedrooms, and sometimes they like to put their own letters on their trees, too.

 

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So if you’re on the fence about this Elf on the Shelf extra (Letters to Santa), I do highly recommend this one! 😉

 

You can snag it on Amazon by clicking HERE!

 

Know someone else who’s on the fence about buying the Letters to Santa? Then please SHARE this post! 🙂

 

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Want more helpful ideas for Christmas? Check out these posts:

 

The Ultimate Teachers Gift Guide

The Ultimate Teachers Gift Guide

Whether you’re scouring the interweb for a teacher’s gift for Christmas, your kid’s teacher’s birthday, or teacher appreciation, one’s things for certain–he or she probably doesn’t want a damn apple!! (Which is why any teachers gift guide was created in the first place, right?)

And even though I thought it was a little presumptuous the first time I saw it, our teachers send out a ‘Getting to Know Me’ newsletter at the beginning of the year, and will list things they like. And once it was time to buy a gift for said teachers, I thanked my lucky stars they made those lists!!!

 

37+ gifts teachers really want, teacher gift guide

 

Luckily I’ve been able to ask around to several teachers (I actually used to be a teacher as well) to see what their most favorite things are to receive for gifts. And here’s my ultimate guide of findings for teacher gift ideas:

 

1.Anything to Pamper

(ie: gift certificates for massages or mani-pedi’s). Can’t swing the whole gift certificate yourself? Ask another parent, or group of parents, to chip in!

Don’t know her (or his) fave place to decompress? Try a gift certificate from  SpaFinder!

This site is great because it’s a network that any place that provides spa services wants to be a part of. It makes looking up services super easy, based on zip code. Click {SpaFinder} to make sure your zip code has close!

Spa Gift Baskets from Amazon

 

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Bath Bombs

These things are so great for relaxing! And I especially love this set–I’ve received one as a gift and purchased several since then, and it remains on my Amazon Wish List! {See THIS POST to learn how to use Amazon Wish Lists for everyone on your list–it will change your life!!}

 

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2. Good Smells

 

Teachers spend so much time in their dungeon of a classroom, that since they won’t see sunlight sometimes all day, they at least want to smell something pleasant (you know–anything other than the dirty mop smell or dingy carpet smell.) Some divine options are:

Candles:

Always be sure you know what scent your teacher likes first though!! And this apples to the next two options as well!

I especially like the soy wax candles, because they burn cleaner, which is what I prefer for a classroom my kid is spending 8 hours a day in!

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Wax Melts:

Several teachers felt like this was a better option because some buildings forbid candles or anything else being lit indoors. I thought this one was a good option because it’s named ‘Happy’. 🙂

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Candle Warmer:

You may also need this if your teacher doesn’t have one and you’re buying him/her some wax melts. I especially like this Mason jar option with all the Farmhouse decor lately! And check out lots more options {HERE}!

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Teachers looove to be able to buy things for themselves! Remember that skimpy salary most complain about? Yeah, those things are still there unfortunately. Tell your kid’s teacher how much you appreciate them by letting them choose their own goodies!

Favorites are ALWAYS:

Amazon Gift Cards

 

 

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Target Gift Cards

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Starbucks Gift Card

 

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4. Book Bags

 

Teachers notoriously have lots of stuff to haul around. How about giving yours a stylish or clever bag to match her/his personality?

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1.I am a Teacher Tote  2. Teachers Rock Tote  3. Live Love Teach Personalized Tote 4.Teaching Makes a Difference Tote 5. Big Heart Tote 

5. Clever T-shirts

 

More and more school districts are embracing the comfort policy for teachers. Our teachers pretty much wear t-shirts the whole week! Give yours a really clever one about teaching, or find one that displays a favorite color or style you’ve noticed in the classroom!

Inspirational Teacher Tees 

 

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1.Teach With all Your Heart Tee  2. Teacher of Tiny Humans Tee  3.Teach Love Inspire Tee

4.Wonder/#ChooseKind Tee 5. Wonder/#ChooseKind Tee

Funny Teacher Tees

 

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1.Ya’ll Gon’ Make Me Lose My Mind Tee  2.If You Can Read This Tee  3. Punctuation Tee 

4.Punctuation Tee    5. Punctuation Tee 

 

6. Beverage Vessel

 

Ok, that sounds super douchy to phrase it like that, but I just meant there are a couple types. Either the traditional mug, or an insulated cup/mug.

Teacher Mugs 

 

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1.Nutritional Facts Mug   2.Grammar Mug   3. Money and Fame Mug   4.I’m Kind of a Big Deal Mug   5.Grammar Mug

 

Insulated Teacher Mugs

 

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1.Never Trust an Atom Mug  2. You Are a Teacher Mug   3. Best Teacher Ever Mug   4. Rockstar Mug  5. Best Teacher Ever Mug

 

7. Teacher Emergency Stash

 

Even teachers need to binge from stress (actually probably more than most people–they do harbor 18-25 kids all day long…). Help a teacher out by giving her/him an emergency stash ‘bin’ filled with candies they love, like this adorable one from the blog Eighteen25.

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You can make your own by adding in your teacher’s fave candies to a divided compartment like this one

 

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8. Gift Certificates/Cards to Their Fave Restaurant

 

Remember that salary we were talking about earlier? Yeah, so teachers like to eat out sometimes, too! Give yours a night out at their favorite eatery! (This can totally be a joint effort with other parents, too!)

An even better idea is to purchase one from a ‘restaurant company‘ that owns several chains so your teacher has a choice!

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9. Classroom Supplies

 

Many people don’t realize this, but funding and budgets are limited in classrooms, and a ton of teachers actually buy stuff for their classes from their own salaries! Give your kid’s teacher a break by letting them choose their own supplies!

 

 

AAAAnnnddd–if your gift just won’t make it there in time and you still want them to have something with a nice shiny bow to open–OR–it’s too big to wrap, download this absolutely FREE PDF Binder for 6 printable options for Gift Vouchers! {Click the image below to download!}

 

Have a last-minute gift that won't get there in time? Or an intangible gift or subscription? Print out a gift voucher! #gift #giftideas #teachergifts

 

Know somebody who could use help finding the perfect teacher gift? SHARE this post!  🙂

 

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4 Steps to the (Nearly) Perfect Christmas Morning

4 Steps to the (Nearly) Perfect Christmas Morning

You know how when you merge 2 households, you have lots of ‘discussions’ about the proper way to do things? I mean literally anything here: washing dishes, paying bills, peeling potatoes, changing a diaper… Well, we had this issue every year when Christmas came around. When my husband and I got married, he had a 2 year old, and I had a previous failed marriage. So we both had some baggage (not referring to the kid here, simmer down.) That sorta catapulted us into being set in our ways…which overflowed into many aspects of our marriage–even family traditions.

I can’t stress enough how opposite our families are, so this has actually been a challenge since day 1 of our marriage. But through every year of butting heads and compromises, I’ve come up with a (nearly) fail-proof way of keeping all that out of our Christmas morning. Hence: 4 Steps to the (Nearly) Perfect Christmas Morning. Why only ‘nearly’ perfect? Uh…coz I can’t control things like child-temperament after a crappy night’s sleep, or pouting over siblings getting ‘better’ toys, that’s why.

 

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What I cannot stress enough here is the simple fact that MOST of this holiday perfection will fall into the ‘prep’ category. Which means things happening weeks–even months–ahead of time here. Think about it, though: Who puts up their Christmas decorations the minute Thanksgiving dinner is over?

 

Yeah.

So here’s how to have that Perfect Christmas Morning:

 

 

Step 1: Weeks (or months) Ahead Prep

 

Oh my goodness, there is sooooo much to do in December for Christmas!! I could easily get overwhelmed with this, but through the years we’ve found certain things that we know should only be done if in dire straits (like visit the mall), and things that are totally worth the hassle (like Santa’s Wonderland.) Some of us actually create a ‘Holiday Bucket List’ or ‘Winter Bucket List’, or even a ‘Christmas Bucket List’.

If you’re looking for things to do in your area, a good place to start is just Googling ‘things to do in ________ for Christmas’. Usually the Chamber of Commerce will have a list of things to do, plus any business with any sense should have a website with some sort of SEO so you can actually find it. Otherwise, there are normally community magazines or newspapers that come out regularly that should list things in the area to do.

Our town has a Christmas parade, and then several really fun fund-raisers that are all Christmas themed. We also make the trip to Santa’s Wonderland, and this year will be on the search for a GOOD Polar Express train.

Besides those large things to do, we make Christmas cookie baskets for the neighbors every year, decorate like crazy, and welcome Ellie (our Elf on the Shelf) into our home right after Thanksgiving.

The point of all this is to emphasize that there are a ton of different ways for your family to have (or start) traditions that are fun and worth it every year. THESE are the memories your kids will have and keep!

 

So–in the weeks before, my checklist includes:

DVR’ing our fave Christmas movies (or buying if we REALLY love it!)

Pulling out all our fave Christmas recipes, or even finding new fun ones

A list of prayers we’d like to say

A running Pinterest board of Elf-on-the-Shelf ideas (because I can’t be relied on every night to entertain with this thing.)

Amazon Wish Lists (read this post to find out how to get EXACTLY  what you want for Christmas!): items all purchased, updated, gifts hidden

Decide on what we want for breakfast/brunch on Christmas morning (something super easy but yummy and special!)

Purchasing Christmas Eve gift to be Ellie’s goodbye gift (usually a DVD and pj’s for everybody to wear)

Get the Christmas bed-sheets and pillowcases out and on beds

 

 

Step 2: Days Ahead Prep

 

In the days ahead of Christmas, you’ll definitely need to make sure you didn’t miss any gifts, and didn’t miss anybody on your lists! (Like your kid’s teacher…) But you’ll also want to go ahead and get a few things ready that you shouldn’t run out of at the last minute on Christmas Eve. Things like snacks, booze, cookies/milk for Santa, and wrapping supplies.

But we also have to go over and agree on things like ‘order of events’ for Christmas morning. I know this sounds super controlling, but my husband is one of those anal-retentive people that freaks out during chaos, so he basically turns into the Fun Police on Christmas morning if things get messy or loud.

Yeah….

Anyway, we have to have a ‘pep-talk’ before-hand to agree on how things go down so he’s not freaking out and yelling at kids (on Christmas morning), and I’m not super annoyed at him for yelling at kids and being a general ass (on Christmas morning.) So we chat and decide on a ‘flow’ of events so everybody’s happy.

 

Here’s my checklist for ‘Pre-Prep’ items:

wrapping supplies

‘Goodbye’ letter from the Elf

food for breakfast on Christmas morning

snacks for Christmas Eve (for hubby and I)

booze for Christmas Eve (again, for hubby and I)

music selections (playlist assembled–or Pandora station all buttoned up)

DECIDE ON and AGREE on your Christmas morning ‘flow’

 

Step 3: Night Before Prep

 

I know this sounds crazy, but I actually like the part where the husband and I hole up in our bedroom to assemble toys and wrap last-minute stuff in secret. With 4 kids, we don’t get a lot of alone-time, so this part is actually fun to me! This is a cool time to make into a tradition, too. Pull out the music playlist, fix yourselves some snacks and drinks, and enjoy this time together!

One other key thing I’ve seen that I like to do is wrap a giant box only on the outside so that it looks like a big gift (instead of a ‘trash box’ or trash bag for all the gift wrap and toy boxes) so that it looks nice in the background of your pics.

And make sure you’re rested up beforehand–Christmas Eve can be a late night!

 

Here’s my checklist for Christmas Eve:

Music on

Snacks and drinks made

Assemble toys

Disappear elf

Check for notes from kids (to Santa.) (or reindeer.)

Breakfast prepped

Wrap giant box on outside (for trash cleanup)

Eat cookies and milk for Santa

Everything arranged under the tree

 

Step 4: Christmas Morning

 

As soon as my kids wake us, they can basically already tell us everything Santa has brought for everybody. Which is fine. Sorta. I’d rather be able to get pictures of their little angel faces upon first surprise, but that’s probably not happening ever. So I have to settle for pics once we’re settled in to start the unwrapping.

But FIRST–we make the kids wait for us to make coffee and I go ahead and get breakfast started (put in the oven.)  Also, I go ahead and start a fire in the fireplace AND get that big box that was wrapped on the outside and make it readily available for trash.

So here’s our Christmas morning checklist:

Coffee and breakfast going

Fireplace lit

Presents

Cleanup

Prayers and Breakfast

PLAY & relax!

 

What Christmas traditions does your family have?

 

Countdown to Christmas a frazzled chaotic mess? Ready to get it in order? Check out these 4 steps for keeping your cool, and getting everything done--on time! Peaceful, joyful Christmas morning checklist--plus a printable version! #christmas #christmaschecklist #christmasmorning

 

 

How to Create the Ultimate Winter or Holiday Bucket List Adventure

How to Create the Ultimate Winter or Holiday Bucket List Adventure

Ok, so you may have read a similar post about creating a Fall Bucket List adventure–and this one is along the same lines! BUT–I’m giving a list of epic ideas PLUS a winter-themed printable for you and the kiddos to create a whole new bucket list! Woo-hoo!

 

 

So…let’s answer the biggest question here–especially if you’ve never heard of a ‘bucket list’.

 

Q: What the heck is a ____ Bucket List?

 

A: It’s a list of things you’d love to do or accomplish during a specified time period. It’s also a super creative way to gather the family and have some crazy memorable fun that your kids won’t soon forget!

 

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How to Make an Epic Bucket List That’ll Make Everyone Happy:

 

1. Start with categories like ‘places to go’, ‘things to see’, ‘ways to give or serve’, ‘festivals’, ‘trips to take’…you get the idea.

2.Then we let each kid make their own wish list (sometimes with the help of Pinterest).

3.Then we eliminate duplicates, and make one Master List.

4.And then–we POST IT!

(Don’t worry–the kids will nag you to death to schedule each and every one of the things you have listed!)

 

Fave Winter/Holiday Bucket List Adventure Items:

 

Look at Christmas lights

Make a snowman

Have a snowball fight

Snow ski

Make a snow angel

Make a snowman

Volunteer

Make a gingerbread house

Go camping

Make smores

Do the Polar Express train ride

Visit Santa’s Wonderland

DVR fave Christmas movies on ABC

Do an Advent Calendar

Made a diorama of the Christmas Story

Go carolling

Donate cold-weather clothing

Make the house smell like Christmas

Go sledding

Try a new soup recipe

Go ice skating

Host a winter or holiday party

Read stories by the fire

Clean out old holiday decorations

Help an elderly neighbor

Make plans for the best New Year’s Eve ever!

Make a blanket fort

Find the perfect hot cocoa recipe

Have a movie marathon in PJ’s and warm socks

Play board games

Send letters to Santa

Create a new tradition

Read Christmas books

String popcorn

Donate old toys

Make cookies for the neighbors

Make a Christmas playlist

Take Christmas pictures

Make a gorgeous wreath for the front door

Donate to the Angel Tree in your community

 

 

Inspired yet??! Here’s the download to get started with your OWN Winter/Holiday Bucket List Adventure!

{Just click the image below to grab it!}

 

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And–if you’d like to document your adventures in a paperback journal–you’re in luck! We offer 3 different versions for the winter holidays!

 

               

 

More of the photobook type? Try Mixbook out here, or check out this post on why it’s our absolute go-to for photobooks!

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What’s on your Winter/Holiday Bucket List?

Help a friend or family member create their own epic Winter/Holiday/Christmas Bucket List Adventure–SHARE this post!

 

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Gift Ideas From Innovative Startups For Anyone on Your List

Gift Ideas From Innovative Startups For Anyone on Your List

If you’ve been on Amazon at all lately, you’ll notice they’ve developed a really awesome way for startups to get noticed and get out there. It’s called Amazon Launchpad, and in that section of Amazon, you can find the newest and most innovative gifts for ANYONE on your shopping list!

 

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What’s so great about the Launchpad Gift Guide is that it’s categorized for you, so there’s just a few clicks to find something based on interest!

So far the categories available are:

Adventurers

Entertainers

Foodies

Gadget Lovers

Health & Fitness Gurus

Kids & Young at Heart

Makers & Doers

Pet Parents

 

From there you can narrow your search even further if you have a budget for that person.

I’ve already ordered a gift from this section for my husband because his birthday is at the end of November.

I have to say I’m really impressed with the startups chosen to participate in the Launchpad program–plus it’s a great way for people to learn about the awesomeness they’ve taken so much hard work to develop!

Still can’t find anything *quite right* out of that list? How about an Amazon Gift Card?

 

These things are so great because:

1.You can choose your images on the card

2.You can have them mailed for free.

3.If you’re super short on time, they can be emailed and PRINTED to put into an envelope straight away!

 

Click the image below to get an Amazon Gift Card for your lovey:

 

Hey, don’t forget to click through for your Amazon Prime FREE trial if you’re new to Amazon!

Just click the image below:

 

Still stumped? How about Amazon’s ‘MOST WISHED FOR’ List?

This is a list constantly being updated for the gifts and items MOST added to Amazon Wish Lists!

Check it out HERE!

HEY! Did you just find out your gift won’t make it there on time??! (I HAAAATE when that happens!!!)

I gotcha covered!

Join the Stella Nadene Wellness + Lifestyle Newsletter and get your FREE download for a *Gift Certificate* for any item that won’t make it there on time

OR

that’s too big to wrap!!

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Know someone who could use help choosing a unique gift? SHARE this post!!

 

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How to Get Exactly What You Want For Any Holiday Gift!

How to Get Exactly What You Want For Any Holiday Gift!

How to get exactly the gift you want for Christmas, your birthday, Mother’s Day…or any holiday!

 

Look, Ladies, I’m gonna get right to the point here. My husband may be one of the nicest people on the planet, and he may be an awesome dad. But for the life of him, he cannot read my mind, and he especially can’t take a hint. I suspect it’s a general ‘male’ thing. So after years of disappointing, and–quite frankly–confusing gifts, I decided to take matters into my own hands. What I’m about to share is how to take matters into your own hands as well, to get the gift you want.

 

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Ok, so lemme back it up a bit to the beginning so this doesn’t sound like it’s coming out of left field…

This all started many years ago when I would get things like a digital camera, or a blender, or even one year: a desk chair. Yes, a flipping desk chair. At some point in some random conversation, my husband would decide that he ‘knew’ something that I needed. I never said I wanted, I never gave any indication I wanted it. But he would simply decide for me. And from that point, he would ignore any ‘hints’ I dropped around my birthday, or Mother’s Day, or Christmas.

For whatever reason, jewelry never crossed his mind. A massage never washed through his consciousness. And an entire day to myself with no kids was never fathomed. Instead, I’ve received electronics, a desk chair, and multiple other random questionable items that have usually made my life more difficult in the long run. And honestly, I didn’t–and still don’t–have time to fret over how to feign excitement over some super weird gift when I’m probably already busy making sure our holiday party is on track.

Please don’t think I’m ungrateful. I’m really not. I appreciate that he made some sort of effort. But at some point, the blatant lack of actually ‘listening’ to me started to really hurt my feelings. It felt like he was just buying something just to have something to wrap and put under the tree. Especially when I paid super close attention to what he would say in passing about different cool things he’d like to have, and then make it happen.

So one day I read an article that talked about–which I wholeheartedly agree with–the fact that men and women are so drastically different in their communication styles. And I’ve had this happen a milliondy-billion-and-one times in the last fifteen years of marriage. He says one thing, and I hear something totally different. And vice versa.

 

The article recommended being very blunt.

 

VERY. BLUNT.

 

Ok, I could do that. So the next go of gift-giving time I was very blunt. Except the hubby somehow got HIS feelings hurt because he wanted it to be a surprise. (Do you see how I just can’t win here…?)

So my solution finally came in the form of an Amazon Wish List. Which really started because the in-laws were always asking for super specific details about gifts for the kids. Again–I have limited time to do the text back and forth 25 times over one gift. So I started out by creating Wish Lists for each kid.

But what hit me is that I could make a list for myself, too!

See, with a Wish List that’s public, my husband can look it up at any time (as well as any other family members) to see gift ideas. It’s so great, because, A) They know I love and want this gift. B) They don’t have to think about it. And C) they can choose whatever’s in their budget.

 

 

So now I’m going to explain how to get the exact gift you want by making this little gem work for you, too!

 

(AND don’t forget to read the whole guide to get the MOST important part of this process!!)

How to Create an Amazon Wish List:

If you have an Amazon account, you can create lists, add to them, delete stuff from them, and even SHARE them via text or email!

So I know the question you’re about to ask:

“What if what I want isn’t on Amazon??”

Answer: Doesn’t matter. You can still add items from any other website to your list!

Step 1:

From your Amazon account, find the area (circled in magenta below) that shows your Account & Lists–if you hover over it, a drop-down box will show up.

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Step 2:

From the drop-down box, you can see the options for your lists. Really if you click any of them, it’ll take you into the Wish List section for your account.

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Step 3:

So you can see, on the left side are tabs for your lists, and also one for your friends (which is where my kids’ lists show up that I also create). And on the right side are options for: Create a List, List Settings, and List Help. If you get stuck, always go to List Help!

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Step 4:

Click ‘Create a List’. Once you do that, it will create a generic list, usually called ‘Shopping List’. To rename it, click on ‘List Settings’.

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You’ll need to name your list, and you can add any of this other information that’s circled as well.

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*Another cool feature is the ‘Don’t spoil my surprises’ option:

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(It doesn’t specify if everyone else can still see the item or not, or if they give others that view the list a warning, however…)

Last you’ll want to save your changes with the yellow button at the bottom, and you’re ready to start making a list!

Step 5:

Add stuff from Amazon!

From any item from your COMPUTER, scroll down and look on the right side of the screen. There will be an option to ‘Add to List’. Choose that, and a drop down box will appear to let you add to whichever list you choose.

(#sorrynotsorry for the shameless plug on my Holiday Bucket List Journal,

which you can find along with many others, on my Journals Page.)

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Then you just select which list you want the item added to.

Amazon wish list, how to create, how to get what you want, make a wish list

So–from your phone, in the Amazon shopping app, it’s basically the same thing–the option to ‘add to list’ is under the yellow ‘add to cart’ button on the left side of the screen if you scroll down a bit.

Step 6:

Add stuff from other sources!

This can be done a couple of different ways: Either from your computer, or from your phone/tablet.

From your computer: The FIRST thing you’ll have to do is install the Amazon Assistant extension to your browser. (I know, I know, it’s just ‘one more thing’, BUT–this extension does way more than just add items to your list–which I’ll probably cover in another post.)

Find the ‘List Help’ link again in your ‘Lists’ section, and click it, then in the ‘Manage Your Lists’ section, find the ‘Add Items to Your Lists or Registries from Other Sites’ link. It’ll take you to the page where you can download the extension to your browser:

Amazon wish list, how to create, how to get what you want, make a wish list

Amazon wish list, how to create, how to get what you want, make a wish list

Once it’s installed, you will have to go through the sign-in process the first time you use it.

To add items from a different site, you simply go to the site and item you want to add, and then find the extension in the browser bar at the top of your page. Click it, and the drop-down box will appear. You’ll notice there are two tabs: ‘Home’ and ‘Add to List’. You choose ‘Add to List’.

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And then choose which list you want it added to. (You can also select the blue ‘Edit Details’ option to add a note, size, etc.

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And DONE!

From your phone or tablet:

Again, go to the site and item you’d like to add to your list. (You will have to have the Amazon shopping app installed, and I believe you have to enable it on the ‘shares’ feature as well.)

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You’ll do the little ‘swipe up’ to see the ‘share’ button, then when your options pop up, you scroll to the left until Amazon shows up:

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Choose that button (it even says Wish List under it!), and then you can edit the details for it, and choose which list to add it to. Then choose ‘Post’ at the top right.

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And THE MOST IMPORTANT PART!!

Step 7:

Share!

Obviously you can share your list/s with others by the ways detailed below–BUT–I found that taking a ‘gentle’ approach to the husband made it not quite so traumatic in terms of ‘not being surprised by a gift he got me.’ I’d recommend casually bringing up this ‘cool new thing you found’, and how it’s gonna make things so much easier to buy for Christmas, birthdays, etc, for this kids. And THEN add in that the two of you should do it as well. That way he KNOWS it’s there and available. And maybe mention–hey, you can even search my name and it’ll pull my list right up! (I’ve gotten better at being ‘meaningfully subtle.’

So here’s how to ACTUALLY share your lists:

From your computer, pull up your lists in your Amazon account, then in the upper right corner look for the email envelope icon with ‘Share’ next to it. Click on that.

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Then you can enter any email address you want to share it with. Unfortunately, the only way to share from your computer is via email. You must use the app on your phone or tablet to share via text, but on phone or tablet you CAN also share via email if you need to.

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From your phone or tablet:

Pull up your list from the Amazon Shopping app, then look for the ‘List Actions’ option in the top right corner.

Click on it, it’s a drop-down link.

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Then your options for sharing will pop up: Text, Email, etc.

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So there ya go! A no-fail way to get exactly what you want for Christmas!

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Here are a few extra tips:

*Although this works like a ‘registry’ for the Amazon items, for items listed from other sources, they don’t automatically delete if someone purchases from your linked Wish List. If you and your partner/husband share accounts, he/she may need to delete that item from the list. Otherwise, you may want to delete it when/if you receive the item.

*There is an option to add a note–this is super helpful for items where you want a specific color and/or size.

*Every once in a while an item isn’t available after you’ve added it to the list. BUT–if you have notes on color/sizes, your gift-giver can do a new search for the same exact item that comes from a different seller.

Ready to streamline your gift-giving process?

How have Amazon Wish Lists changed your gift-giving (or receiving) season?

Oh, and hey! Know someone who could use a little help getting exactly what they want for Christmas? Please share!

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How and When to Use Affirmations for the Ultimate Effect

How and When to Use Affirmations for the Ultimate Effect

The 2 Basic Rules of How and When to Use Affirmations in Daily Life for the Ultimate Effect.

 

I’m sure you’ve had a day like I do every once in a while. You know—the ones where you can’t take one step forward without taking two steps back in every. single. thing. you try to get done for the day. And then once that snowball effect starts to take over, bad things start to happen. Your mood plummets, you start snapping at everybody and everything. And then everybody around you starts to take on the same attitude.

Ugh—I HATE those days!! But what I hate worse is that I let myself get into that mindset. Don’t get me wrong–I totally understand that the whole hormonal shift through the month puts some of the best of us (ahem—me…) into a downward spiral sometimes that takes a lot—A LOT—to get control of.

But what I’ve found is a little secret weapon to help with that. And it’s actually not some big secret.

Lots of people use it, and LOTS of people have crazy success with it.

 

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The ‘not-secret’ is a little thing called ‘affirmations’.

Now—if you’ve heard a little something or other about affirmations and are giving me the slow blink while pushing your chair back, just HOLD UP a minute! It’s not a weird new-agey thing.

 

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It’s basically plugging those juicy, powerful, and positive energies right into your brain FIRST THING. Before anything even has time to go wrong!

And when you constantly repeat those things, whether in your head, out loud, or visually around you every day, your mind will shift into that exact mindset!

 

But—the real secret is in these 2 little rules in how to use affirmations:

 

1. Make sure your affirmations are applicable.

 

How are they applicable? Well, are you going to tell yourself that you’re full of love and in the perfect relationship when you’re actually single or in a super crappy situation? Hell no. You’re probably doing yourself way more harm than good in that situation.

Example 2 is having affirmations that play on your strengths that you already have, while ignoring your weaknesses. Why would you constantly tell yourself that you’re a highly organized person every morning when you clearly already are? If you’re super organized, but lack the confidence to talk to new people, then maybe your affirmations need to be geared toward awakening a confidence that you didn’t even know you had!

 

Figure out where you need the power boosts, and find appropriate affirmations to follow!

 

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2. Plug in your affirmations while you have a blank slate for the day.

 

I will go ahead and tell you that if I start journaling affirmations about being a positive person after I’ve spilled coffee all down my shirt when I didn’t have time to go back home and change, then my kid pukes in the car on the way to school when I have a ‘woman doctor’ appointment in 30 minutes and the husband is out of town, then come back out to my car to find I have a flat tire, reading ANY affirmation about how I’m in charge of my destiny and my positivity that will come to me by way of just ‘thinking it’ is going to make me want to punch somebody in the throat. And at that point I may just come straight home and start day-drinking. Heavily.

But if I start out my day with appropriate affirmations, I will undoubtedly have a totally different mindset on anything that may go wrong for the day. It helps get me in the mindset of how things are happening for me, not to me.

Earlier this year I started a morning routine. Part of it is getting up an hour earlier than everyone else and having me time first thing.

It’s called my Motivated Mama Mornings routine,

(or M3 Routine) and my life has totally been changed by it!

 

Besides being able to get up and have alone time in the peace and quiet, I’m able to kick my brain into gear, rehydrate, get my body going, plus get those first-thing morning affirmations out into the universe. And sometimes when I say ‘out into the universe’, to me it really means all up in my headspace. Because isn’t the whole point to get that headspace claimed as yours? And to move forward with positivity before it can get high-jacked by anything else??

 

{Go here to take the

4 week Motivated Mama Mornings (M3) Challenge!}

 

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Part of that routine is journaling in the morning, and I have an affirmations journal that I write in. If you’d like to try it, I have several #BOSSMOM Productivity Affirmations Journals OR #GIRLBOSS Productivity Affirmations Journals available right now on Amazon—with a choice of 6 different covers. Each journal has 100 days of different affirmations designed to boost your productivity and inspiration.

**Check out the interior features by going

HERE for #BOSSMOM Journals or

HERE for #GIRLBOSS Journals.

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This entire shift in mornings has made my life so much different—totally for the better! I actually have a clarity and a path that I never imagined before. Which is saying something since I’m so ADD!!

 

Go HERE to take the M3 Challenge! It’s 4 weeks to transform your life!

 

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Also I’m working on Health Affirmations journals AND Law of Attraction Affirmations journals AND Love Affirmations Journals!

Are you ready to accept

the Motivated Mama Mornings Challenge??!

 

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How to Create a Holiday Budget That Will Keep You Out of the Red

How to Create a Holiday Budget That Will Keep You Out of the Red

Not to be like the stores I hate that bust out all next season stuff at the start of the previous season….but it’s nearing the time when I start shopping for Christmas. (Yes–I know it’s only October.) Reason being that I’m pretty darn busy all the time, and the husband is pretty darn busy all the time. And somehow for fifteen years he’s managed to skirt around not only buying for a single person for Christmas, but also around creating the holiday budgeting. (Yes, this is certainly something that needs to come up in our ‘meetings’ at some point.)

 

The premise of holiday budgeting

 

Anyway, I’ve found it easier to start shopping WAY ahead of time so I’m not scrambling around right at December 23rd to finish. I’d like to enjoy my holiday, too…I don’t know why that’s so hard for other people around here to understand, Gahhh.

But since I’m the one to do all this shopping, I’ve had to come up with a system for keeping track of WHO we buy for, and HOW MUCH we spend on them.

Why the super strict budget? Well, we learned long ago that we didn’t want to rack everything up on credit cards for the holidays, so I actually budget in an amount to set aside monthly to cover our holiday expenses. {Check out THIS post to see more about how to make a working household budget.}

The money that’s put aside goes into what I call our ‘escrow’ fund, where an amount is deposited every month, then certain expenses are taken from it monthly. These include all the non-standard bills that are paid like quarterly, etc, but also includes gifts for birthdays and other occasions plus Christmas.

 

how to create a holiday budget without going into the red + free holiday budgeting and gift list printable download

 

Here’s how I do holiday budgeting:

 

1.What I usually do is total everything up from the previous year. Then use that as my estimator for holiday budgeting for the next year. Remember that you’re depositing money from January to December for this!

2. So, basically you start out with a list of people you have to buy gifts for. I start with immediate family. Then I move on to any extended family. Then I add friends/neighbors and their kids. And last I’ll add people like teachers, the bus driver, etc. (I’m not sure how I feel about giving our mail person a Christmas gift…I mean, they’re getting paid to do their job, and half the time it’s not even done very well…so I guess that’s another story for another post.)

3. Next we assign a budgeted amount for each ‘category’ of people. Like each kid gets the same allotment, then each of our parents/grandparents get the same budgeted amount, etc.

4. Once the money is settled for each person, I start listing the things I’m going to buy for them, and add the cost so I can keep a running total. If it’s been purchased, I add a check mark in the ‘purchased’ column.

5. Also, I know many people love to use highlighters for stuff like this, and I do too–when it’s some of the last part of the list or something that’s urgent. But what I’ve found insanely useful is using a ‘grey-out’ marker for things I’ve finished.  I’m very visual, so if something is greyed out, I know I’ve finished it and my brain just basically ignores it. It’s somehow more effective than ‘checking’ things off the list for me. The more white I see on the paper, the more I need to get my butt in gear.

 

Here’s what my holiday budgeting list looks like in progress:

 

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6. And the last part is to keep this spreadsheet. You’ll need to total it all after the holidays are over. And you’ll use it when you’re starting your New Year household budgeting. Divide this total by 12. Then put that amount aside every month to keep you from going in the red next year!

 

Ready to start your holiday budgeting? Join the Stella Nadene Wellness + Lifestyle Newsletter to get your FREE Holiday Budgeting Template–just click the image below 👇:

 

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Know somebody that needs help with holiday budgeting? SHARE this post!

 

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How to Throw the Ultimate Holiday Party or Get-Together

How to Throw the Ultimate Holiday Party or Get-Together

Having get-togethers for some isn’t just a past-time–it’s an art form. I mean, have you SEEN the stuff people like Martha Stewart put together? The decor, the food, the drink stations, the general ambiance. Unreal. Well, maybe not for the by-standers and those that simply attend and have never attempted to pull one of these off. For the rest of us that heart all things party and get-togethers, and nearly kill ourselves in the process–this post is for YOU.

 

host the ultimate holiday party

 

So what’s the secret? A good checklist? A caterer? A million dollars? Hmm. I guess yes and no. All those things are supremely helpful, but the best place to start is definitely a good checklist. The rest we’ll cover step by step.

See, for some it doesn’t matter what everything looks like. But the holidays…they’re almost magical. (Or should be.)

I get it–sometimes you’re forced to be squished into homes of in-laws and other family members that you’re glad you only have to see once a year. But when it gets to that point of irritated hammering mindset, I have a glass (or three) of wine and remember that we do this mainly for our kids.

Honestly I really love a good get-together with either my friends and neighbors at home, or my family and friends back home. Which really is the inspiration of this post. I’m sorta shocked at how many moms don’t know the first thing about hosting a get-together or party, let alone cooking anything for it. But rest assured–after you’re done with this one, you will know all!

 

1. PLANNING

 

So that checklist we were talking about? Yeah, that’s the first thing you need to get started. And not just a single list. You need several. You’ll need a list of guests to invite and keep up with who’s coming, a list of food and drinks, a list for decor, a list of vendors, if using any, and a list of other household to-do’s for before the party commences. Overwhelmed yet? You must be a rookie then. (Lol)

 

free holiday party planner

 

Guests:

 

First thing you need to figure out is how many people are coming to your soiree. This will halfway determine the amount of work you’ll have to put into this. Think about everyone you want to invite and make a list. (Make sure you send invites approximately 2 weeks ahead of time.)

Use a spreadsheet to keep track of RSVP’s and number of people coming if it’ll be a larger gathering. And especially keep track if you’re having this catered. The number of people needs to guide you in things like: layout of furniture, and whether or not you need more seating. Think about what the point of the party is, and where people are most likely to congregate OR where you WANT them to congregate. (*Hint: it’s usually where food and drinks are closest. So if you want to make sure people are flooding to the fantastic outside area you’ve decorated, put lots of food and drinks out there as well! Or hell, maybe all of it.)

 

Theme:

 

Second, decide if you’ll  have an actual ‘theme’. If so, you’ll  need to go ahead and get busy shopping or asking around for decor. Use Pinterest (obviously) for ideas to get ya going! And keep track of any decor needs you have + things you already own or can borrow. (This will also include things like bowls and platters to serve food on –I keep several in different sizes and neutral colors so I can use them for any occasion!)

 

Food:

 

Once you know the size of the get-together and the elaborateness, you can figure out what kinds of food you want. Do you need to plan an entire menu, or just apps + drinks?

*Another thing to keep in mind here is whether anyone has food allergies. Sometimes people that do will bring their own food they can eat. But if someone has a life-threatening allergy, it’s always polite, anyway, to make sure that specific food does NOT show up in anything you have at the party (especially if it’s someone you’re really close to and already are acutely aware of the allergy.)

 

Ambiance and Mood:

 

You can usually determine the type of music you want by what kind of theme you’ll have. Again, Pinterest or Google can assist in what you should play, but make no mistake–good music helps ANY get-together have better ambiance.

Pandora has ‘stations’ already generated for holidays, and if you don’t mind the occasional commercial can use it for free.

Also good for ambiance? Lighting! If you can dim the lights, definitely do that and add in lighting from smaller areas like lamps, candles, or twinkle lights. THESE little fairy lights are perfect for coiling inside a hurricane vase, bird cage, or even a beautiful glass bowl  to go on tabletops.

 

2. Holiday Party Food

 

In most cases, the food is the star of the show. Honestly, what’s the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the word ‘Thanksgiving’? Yeah: food.

Now depending on the type of get-together you’re having, the food can be the MEGA star, or just the understated star.

If you’re doing an all-out holiday feast–you have lots of planning to do and should definitely get help. Just doing a get-together or ‘in between meals’ party? You can get by with awesome drinks and delicious appetizers.

 

Check out my Pinterest board for some amazing drink and appetizer recipes just for that (and follow me while you’re in there!):

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But know that the bare minimum of what you should have is:

bottled water, a veggie platter, cheese platter, and a fruit platter.

Think of these things as your staple party foods. They should be at everything.

Maybe even add in some crackers and dips. But the appetizers and any ‘special’ drinks you choose will set the tone for the party. Just make sure you label everything–THESE mini chalkboards are great for that, and can be used over and over! (And don’t forget the chalk pens!)

If you’re planning on cocktails, only go with a single signature one, or maybe two. I’d say three, max, if you have a lot of people coming.  If you’re doing that many, make sure they’re either pre-mixed, you have an unofficial bartender, or you have a fun display with instructions and the proper measuring/mixing equipment on the table.

On the non-alcohol front, it’s always fun to have a hot chocolate bar for the kids, a coffee station, and maybe another drink for kids (like punch or fruit drink packs.) Since we’re Southern, we always have sweet and unsweet tea as well, with a cooler of ice and cups right beside it.

 

3. Party PREP

 

The prep stage involves not just food prep, but also things like cleaning the house, arranging furniture, adding tables, making sure you have flatware and serve-ware, etc.

 

CLEANING:

 

Having a clean home is a good thing when you’re having guests over, but don’t kill yourself. (If you have a housekeeper that will come before and after–great! If you want to cut that expense by half, only have them come AFTER the party for your own sanity–and follow these tips:)

1-Clear all clutter off all surfaces first–you can put everything where it actually goes later. Wipe down all those surfaces.

2-Wipe down the bathroom/s that people will be using.

3-A light sweeping and maybe spot clean on the hard flooring will make your space appear pretty clean as well.

4-Run a quick vacuum to pick up any obvious pet hair, crumbs, dirt off the rugs and carpet. And if it’s really dusty, have the kids run the swiffer around the joint. Seriously, your biggest energy on cleaning will be after this party’s over, so don’t wear yourself out ahead of time!

 

SEATING:

 

Decide where you want people to have extra seating and make arrangements for that. Need to borrow some chairs from your neighbor? Rent them from a party supply place? Need extra tables? Figure all this out ahead of time and get commitments. Also schedule in on your calendar if you need to go pick these up or be home when they’re delivered.

 

OTHER COMFORT CONSIDERATIONS:

 

If your party is outdoors, keep things in mind like time of day and where the sun is when deciding where to arrange seating. Nobody wants a sunburn in the fall or winter. Do you have an outdoor space that’s stuffy? Arrange for a fan to circulate the air better. Really think about things like comfort (temperature) when planning this out.

 

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DISHES AND FLATWARE:

 

As far as flatware, if you have enough-great. I recommend buying the plastic stuff so you don’t have 8 loads of dishes to wash afterward.

There are some really fun patterns in paper plates nowadays (even Lenox has some that are waaay affordable!!), as well as plastic that have gorgeous designs on them like THESE. And if you want flatware that looks a little fancier, you can always opt for the silver or gold ‘look’ flatware.

 

4. Being the Hostess With the Mostest

 

Being a good host doesn’t just stop with taking someone’s coat at the door. For people that have never been to your home, you need to give them a quick tour so they can find things like the bathroom and coat closet, and also show them where the food is. Guide them to where the kids are playing if they have kids with them. And for heaven’s sake–if they don’t know anyone there, introduce them and help start some conversations so they feel comfortable!

 

Other things you can do to be a good host include making sure basic needs are taken care of or are on autopilot:

  • Leave a stack of clean hand towels on the bathroom counter. (Or opt for disposable ones like these pretty ones that simulate linen!)
  • Leave rolls of TP on the back of the toilet in case it runs out.
  • Have water bottles readily available and in clear view.
  • Have boxes of tissues out (it is cold season.)
  • Have basic meds like pain killers and a first-aid kit in an easy to find place (if your fam is like mine, you will absolutely need both of these things.)
  • And for heaven’s sake, make sure all the booze is readily available and on ice!!

And really the rest of being a good hostess is making sure food and beverages are refilled when needed, or cleaned up, and MINGLING! You want your guests to feel welcome! Have a good time and everybody else will follow suit!

 

Let me hear about your party!

Know someone else that needs help planning their perfect holiday party? Please SHARE this post!

 

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How To Create a Working Household Budget For Your Family

How To Create a Working Household Budget For Your Family

I’ll be honest here, when my husband and I first got married, money, and creating a household budget, was the least of our worries. Not because we had a lot of money. It was because we fought all the time. So when some of the fighting did manage to settle down, the money finally came into play. And guess what–neither of our parents taught us jack about money or creating a household budget. In fact, when I first opened my husband’s checkbook, there was a woman’s writing in the register. His MOTHER had been balancing it for him when she was visiting! (Smh) He also thought it was ok to just overdraw whenever because there was a credit card attached to the account that it just flooded onto. ?

 

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And at that time, there wasn’t a crap-load of information online about creating a household budget or how to manage money. And dare I say it, but, Pinterest wasn’t even invented!!! (Gasp!!) Yeah. So we knew nothing. And eventually began living paycheck to paycheck, both with student loans, both with credit card debt, and no idea what to do.

I learned very quickly that we had to do something, STAT. But what we ended up doing really didn’t get us very far for many, many years, and we still ended up living paycheck to paycheck most of the time.

 

How to create a working household budget plus free printable template worksheet

 

Acknowledging you need a plan

 

So why should you dig into all this if you’re not living paycheck to paycheck? Well, to quote my mother after she and my dad split after 25 years of marriage, “Don’t ever get in a position where you have to rely on a man.” I hate to spout advice that’s as bleak as a prenup, but you seriously NEVER KNOW. I am a firm believer in Christ, but I also know that you have to help yourself for Him to be able to help you as well–and sometimes your best laid plan ISN’T His plan for you. (Case in point: my first marriage.) Be prepared, Mama.

And if you don’t want to listen to that advice, listen to this: You can’t get in a financially good place unless you’re working TOGETHER. It takes both people that are both spending money in a relationship to figure it out and put in the work.

 

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The start of a household budget

 

Back a few years ago I read a book about the most frugal family in America. One thing that struck me in that book was the statement that in creating a working household budget, you need to know where every penny goes that you spend. I totally get that concept, and agree–except that when you have to pay attention to every penny (especially with kids muddling your every thought), money management tends to take up your entire day. I don’t know about you, but I ain’t got time for that.

But I still knew that to really follow and track where all the money was being spent, and to be able to give a true analysis of where expenses could be cut, I needed to track EVERYTHING–even if for a few months only just to get a game plan together for a true working household budget.

 

Here are the things I found out:

 

-I didn’t realize I was combining ‘groceries’ with things like ‘household goods’ and ‘baby items’ (diapers, etc)

-My husband has a horrible habit of signing up for useless stuff and then forgetting that it’s on auto pay

-We could cut a lot of expense by just cutting groceries

-The only channels we watched were in the BASIC satellite package, but were paying for premium + movie channels

-We didn’t really need a ‘house phone’

-Hubby and I each needed an actual allowance for ‘me time’ type stuff

-I didn’t do one ounce of self-care stuff at the time (which probably contributed to my uber anxiety and depression)

-The husband also was using any ‘extra’ money from his expense account from work to do whatever TF he wanted to with it. (which was never discussed with me.)

-We had JACK in savings–and needed some very badly for multiple reasons

-Every time we paid credit cards we ended up racking them up again

-We ate out A LOT

Ok, so I learned probably an endless list of things–but you get the idea.

Keeping track of it all

 

Once I started researching how to actually keep track of all this without losing my ever-loving mind, I found the software Mint.com (I am not an affiliate for them–I use this and love it!) This software is free, and totally changed how we viewed our expenses. Another really great one is YouNeedaBudget.

I would do a tutorial on Mint but there are so many crazy helpful ones already out there. Plus–I didn’t need a tutorial at all–the software is really user friendly and pretty darn self-explanatory.

Other than that software, I knew I needed some kind of calendar to keep track of expenses paid every month, when they were due, how much they were, method of payment, etc. But I got a good idea of steps I should take to get this money monster under control first.

 

Here are the steps you should tackle in creating your Working Household Budget:

 

1. INCOME:

 

Add up your monthly income from all sources that are guaranteed best you can (What I mean by this is that my husband is in sales, and gets paid a salary plus commission. We never know until the week before what’s getting paid on commission, but always know the salary rate. If you’re in a similar situation, I advise getting monthly expenses below the salary amount per month to keep you ‘safe’.)

 

2. STANDARD MONTHLY BILLS:

 

Make a list of every bill due every month, and the approximate amount due, plus due date–order them by due date.

 

3. NON-Standard EXPENSES:

 

Make a list of any bills due annually, quarterly, etc, get an annual total, then divide by twelve. This is your monthly amount that you should be putting back to make sure you can make that non-regular payment when it’s due. (I’ll cover more of this later.) Add up all the other expenses you have throughout the year (ie: car maintenance, approximate doctor co-pays, Rx expenses, birthday expenses, holiday expenses, POA fees, self-care expenses–haircuts/maint/ massages, etc) These are all NON-standard expenses.

 

4. DEBT:

 

Get a real-time current amount due on EVERY single debt you owe. Make a list, and put in order of smallest to largest amount owed.

 

5. TITHING AND CHARITIES:

Add up what you donate to charities and/or what you give to your church.

6. IRA/ 401K/SAVINGS:

If this amount isn’t already deducted from your check, figure out either how much you pay or how much you need to pay into your long-term financial security.

7. Other SAVINGS:

Any amount for other savings that you need to put back. (Ie-if you need to build your emergency savings, or have a general fund for vacations, etc.)

 

Next steps:

 

Now, you’re going to work out the difference of how much you have coming in, and how much you have going out every month. This is so you can determine what you can spend on debt payoff. Then how much can go toward building your wealth. Once you have this working household budget where everything is accounted for, you’ll be able to get to the debt-free point, then really start building your personal wealth.

So….what if my total is in the negative? Yeah…that’s when you need to start weeding out expenses. (What you’ve been currently doing is called ‘living outside of your means’ if your total is in the negative. You spend more than you make. No bueno, my friend.)

 

Here are some places you can cut down:

 

TV/satellite services

Eating out

Groceries

Alchohol

Toys and general crapola for kids

Car insurance

Car payments

Gas

More inexpensive utility options

Eliminating debt

Entertainment

Cell Phone plan

*Make a list, do the research, find better options to cut your spending. And every time you do–update your bills list.

 

Debt Paydown:

 

Once you have a small amount leftover every month, you will diligently pay it towards the smallest amount debt that you have due, using the snowball method (per Dave Ramsey) to pay off your debts. Once the momentum gets going, you’re going to be shocked how good it feels to get rid of it!!

Then, enter all info into the software you choose. What I love about Mint is that you can set your budgets individually to alert you when you’ve hit a certain amount or percentage of the budget. Seriously, there is no easier way to get a real grip on your spending than having every dollar spent being flashed at you daily!

Another option for budgeting is to use the envelope system. Again, Dave Ramsey recommends this because it’s in cash, and once it’s gone–it’s gone! There’s some evidence that having the physical money in your hands as apposed to just seeing a balance online can help you want to hang on to it longer, and thereby be more intentional about that spending.

Ready to get started?? Print out your household budget templates by clicking the image below. Then follow the steps outlined to get a true picture of your financial situation, and most importantly–get in control of your finances!!

 

Tired of living paycheck to paycheck? Don't know how to even start budgeting? Add this free household budget printables binder to your tools! Use the worksheet template for monthly money management to track those expenses! #money #budget #finance

 

Good luck! And let me know if I missed anything or if you have recommendations for additions to the binder!

 

Know someone else that could use help creating a working household budget? Please SHARE this post!

 

Tired of living paycheck to paycheck? Don't know how to even start budgeting? Add this free household budget printables binder to your tools! Use the worksheet template for monthly money management to track those expenses! #money #budget #finance

 

 

How You Can Get Involved for National Bully Prevention Month

How You Can Get Involved for National Bully Prevention Month

 

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I have so, so much that I can say on bullying… I mean, once you’ve been at the receiving end of it, and then also see your child in the same place, it almost becomes too much. But I’m keeping it condensed for the sake of not losing my shiznit (and raising my blood pressure) for this post.

 

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I am so incredibly sad at the rising number of child/teen suicides because of bullying. And that’s the worst case scenario. Every day some crazy number of kids are bullied at school. And what blows my mind is that even if the parents find out about it, and even if they give a damn that their kid is doing this to another kid, they usually have no idea that their child had it in them to be this way to another human. Again–Blows. My. Mind.

And the thing is, way back when I was in school, there was no categorization of bullying. If you were being mean and making ‘power plays’, whether physically or socially, it was bullying. Now there are at least 6 different categories, including cyber-bullying. It’s just become so rampant–especially since kids think it’s ok to bully behind the safety of a computer screen or phone screen–that for some kids it’s too much to take.

 

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(I digress.) Recognizing the need for some type of intervention, the Pacer Organization now sponsors National Bullying Prevention month in October every year. And even though the entire month is dedicated to education on awareness and prevention, the Pacer Organization (along with a few other orgs) dedicate a specific day (this year is October 25th) for Unity Day. On Unity Day, everyone wears orange to send a unified message to kids that they aren’t alone in their struggles.

National Bullying Prevention month has now been featured on TLC, Disney Channel’s #choosekindness campaign, and ABC Family. Not to mention the vast number of celebrities (as well as a few major league sports teams) teaming up to shout out about bully prevention and awareness.

 

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Be sure to take part in this heartfelt and unifying month by talking to your kids.

Teach them about kindness–not just in passing, but also if there’s another kid in need.

Teach them to not be a bystander. Too many kids are scared of ‘losing face’ if they stand up to help somebody out.

And please–teach them that treating another person horribly can literally affect that person the rest of their lives. I realize it’s not all our responsibilities to make sure every human can handle life, but there’s a difference between being a little rude, and harassing or tormenting someone to the point that they don’t want to go to school, or events, or even live.

Develop a relationship with your kid so you know they can tell you anything, and they’re being heard. But also that you’re being heard as well.

Take part by wearing orange on Unity Day.

And visit Pacer.org to find out all kinds of stuff about getting involved!

You can ‘Like’ their Facebook page to get all the info on events coming up!

 

How else are you getting involved? Any cool events in your area?

Click HERE to check out my Bullying Pinterest board, where you can find tons of information all around the web on bullying, ways to prevent it, and how to deal with it if it’s already happened. (Oh–and follow me while you’re there, how bout it?) 😉

  

The Effects of Forest Bathing That Will Blow Your Mind as a Mom

The Effects of Forest Bathing That Will Blow Your Mind as a Mom

How Moms Can Use Forest Bathing to Solve a Whole Host of Self Care Issues + Help ADHD Kids Get More Focused

 

Ok, I usually don’t subscribe to the latest ‘trend’ when it comes to health, UNLESS it’s super science-backed + super cool. When I first heard the term ‘forest bathing’, I immediately thought you sought out a lake in a forest to actually bathe. (Ew.) I already have nightmares about the amoeba thing that will eat your brain (for real) if you get water up your nose that has it in there in open water sources.

 

This, however….THIS–is so much better than a weird bath in a questionable lake with God-knows-what nipping at your body. Forest Bathing is actually a practice where you immerse yourself in a forest (specifically trees) and just….be. You basically empty your mind and use your senses to be very mindful about the things around you and what you’re experiencing right then. It’s sort of like meditation, but where your eyes are open and you’re focusing on the nature that surrounds you. “Ok-so why the heck would I bother seeking out a forest to do this, then?”, you may be asking….

 

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The things that Forest Bathing do to your body, mind, and soul are absolutely incredible. It invokes calm and peace, sure–but it actually does all these physiological things to your body that are crazy therapeutic! Like INCREASED: parasympathetic nervous activity, positive feelings and feelings of well being, and even a boost in the immune system from the essential oils in the trees and plants that are emitted to protect themselves from germs and bugs! And don’t forget the DECREASED stuff, like: lowered cortisol levels, lowered pulse, lessened feelings of depression and negative feelings,   and even stress and hostility!

Honestly, the benefits are overwhelming–and totally worth it. And–this is the best part–it’s not just for adults. Kids are totally benefited just as much–especially kids with ADHD! This study (which is peer reviewed [the gold standard for medical articles’ validity, which I learned while working on my Master’s in Nutrition]) determined that as little as a 20 minute visit to a nature setting could increase attention performance in kids with attention deficits. In fact, they compared the results to being as effective as recent formulations of ADHD drugs that fall under the brand names Concerta, Daytrana, Methylin, Ritalin, and Aptensio. That’s pretty incredible!!

What an awesome benefit to be able to reduce attention deficits in kids + give them these great experiences in nature + spend quality time with your kiddos–all at the same time! (I love it when multi-tasking is totally beneficial!) So have I convinced you now?? Awesome! Here’s how to do it:

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Step 1: Find a Forest

 

At the expense of being Captain Obvious, first thing is to actually find a forest. If you already know of one near you, great! You’re on to step 2A or 2B. If not, there are a few resources online to help you locate one. The first is Discover the Forest. This site will locate a forest within a given radius in miles, based on your zip code. It also has a few other pretty cool pages, like the Discover the Urban Forest button. It’ll take you to some cool activities you can do in the forest with kids….which we’ll get to in a minute.

The second resource is the National Forest Locator Map. This option lets you see which national forests are around you, and then has the link to visit each forest’s web page.

The third resource is to just Google: ‘National Forest Near Me’. Just doing this alone pulled up 3 separate hiking trails near my home within 7 miles.

And the fourth option is to find the outdoorsiest person you know and ask them! Seriously–friends/family/coworkers that camp, hike, or trail ride will absolutely know the best and/or closest forests to you.

 

Step 2A: How to do Forest Bathing Alone

 

Just FYI, I’m not about to suggest leaving your phone at home for this one. Way too many people have gotten lost in the woods for me to think that’s a good idea. However, I am ordering you to turn the ringer off, and the vibration off. And any notifications, period. Also, I know you want to log these steps on your fitness tracker. But it’s best to actually leave that thing at home. Besides, most have apps that sync with your fitness tracker will track you via GPS anyhow. Just set that to start when you get to the forest and it should sync. Bottom line: NO ELECTRONICS.

What you SHOULD do, however, is get into a purposeful mindset about getting out into nature, in the quiet, away from everything. A cool practice I read about is finding a rock at the edge of the forest, telling it all your worries, then tossing it onto the ground. Your worries should stay with the rock. And when you come back out, pick the worries back up if you want. (Undoubtedly nobody does.)

Your only goal in the forest should be to take note of the things around you. Use your senses. What do you see? Hear? Smell? What do the leaves feel like? (Please look up what poison ivy looks like, like a responsible human being with common sense does, before you go. Coz looking it up on your phone is NOT allowed, Cheater!!)

 

Step 2B: How to do forest bathing WITH Kids

 

Obviously it’s going to be a completely different experience to forest bathe with your kids. First you should probably lay down some ground rules. Kids also need explanations for things–otherwise how do they learn?? Explain what this is for–getting in touch with nature, separating from electronics for a healthy mind break, a nice relaxation period to recharge.

Then tell them the rules: no electronics, no running, no screaming, no fighting, hands to yourself. Calm. You can touch things. But think about the things you’re seeing, the things you smell, the way those things feel in your hands. Take it all in and stop to breathe deeply with eyes closed every few minutes just to smell and hear.

Remember that there’s always the chance that the kiddos will go nuts about being in nature instead of cooped up inside in the first place. Some kids need to get all that giddiness out of their systems before they can really get into the mode of just being present.

If you feel your kiddos fall into that category, try the activity sheets from the Discover the Forest site. Print them out and let them do the activities the first few times you take them out into the forest. Then try actual forest bathing after that.

If you go out and they’re calm, but say they’re bored, even after trying a time or two, maybe let them take a book out and read, or even journal or draw. Just being in nature will give many of the benefits of forest bathing while keeping their mind going without the stimulation of electronics. Here are some journals available for books he or she has read, as well as several journals for adventures, bucket lists, and even bird watching!

 

                         

Ready to try forest bathing for yourself? Here’s a downloadable PDF that includes all the rules listed above + Journaling pages for you to fill out about your forest bathing experience! Just click the image below to get it!

 

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And let me know how your experience was in the comments below!

How to Get Your Home Delightfully Clean for Fall

How to Get Your Home Delightfully Clean for Fall

If you’re like me when it comes to spring cleaning…then basically you never completely get it finished. It has something to do with spring break, Easter, then the end of school nonstop nonsense going on that usually gets me way too busy. Then summer starts and it’s forgotten about. Until fall comes, and I can start fall cleaning. Which I have to admit sounds like a complete boredom fest. But 1–cleaning gives me a sense of peace in some weird control-freak kinda way. (Probably because life with kids can feel like you’re in a tailspin most of the time.) And, 2–I can actually open windows and air out the place, and I’m a SUCKER for that outside fall breeze, especially during fall cleaning!

This is pretty crazy that I’m all for fall, because I grew up in Florida where I LIVED for summer! But in my older age (and being married to total mountains fanatic), I’ve come to really appreciate the milder weather where you can actually get out of the house without your whole face melting off in 10 seconds.

 

Your ultimate guide for how to get your home delightfully clean for fall and free printable fall cleaning checklist

 

So what should be involved in fall cleaning? Hmm, probably the same-ish things as spring cleaning. But some of them in reverse. I really used to be obsessed with these things you *should* be doing according to Martha Stewart, because I wanted to learn to be like, super domesticated.  That obsession quickly went by the wayside once I started actual #adulting, but I still put in a strong effort. And now that we have 4 kids, the more in-depth I get with this fall cleaning (or spring), the better my mental state is. Purging during fall cleaning is SO INCREDIBLY LIBERATING!!

So I’ve put together a guide for your fall cleaning (inside and outside) to get ready for this beautiful weather ahead!

 

{Click the image below to get your printable checklist!}

 

My fall cleaning wouldn't be complete without a printable checklist to satisfy the OCD in me! Tips, products, and diy hacks for fall cleaning and organizing like a champ--plus free checklist download! #fall #cleaning #cleaningtips #organized

 

INSIDE Fall Cleaning:

Kitchen

 

  • First things first–do a deep cleaning. You know, pull all items away from back edge of the counter top and wipe underneath everything, scrub out the sink, etc. (Unless you think you’ll make a big mess while doing everything else–then save this for last.)
  • Next (in no particular order) it’s time to clean out the fridge and pantries. While doing this part, it’s a good idea to think about creating a lunch and snack prep area for kids to make school lunches/snacks. I’ve found that just one of these bins in the fridge and a few others in the pantry corral lunch and snack stuff + cheese sticks, etc beautifully!
  • Next you’ll want to go through cabinets and purge items you don’t ever use and definitely that you don’t need (this is especially true for the tupperware cabinet, and the cabinet where you have kid cups/dinnerware, as well as things like popsicle molds, etc.)
  • Then it’s time to clean the microwave inside and out, run cleaner through dishwasher, then wipe down all cabinets. (Microwave and cabinets can easily be cleaned with a vinegar + water solution!)
  • The last thing I suggest is cleaning the oven–because normally you either have to use oven cleaner or do the self-cleaning option, which is best done when you can open some windows and leave the house for a few hours. (I really love this option for oven cleaners because it’s made with citrus oils to clean + creates a non-stick barrier to make future cleanup really easy!) Personally, I’ve grown tired of cleaning the oven (we cook pizzas right on the rack and it makes a huge mess!) So I’ve invested in these oven liners. Place it in the bottom under the coils, and when they’re dirty, just take em out and clean em! BAM! No oven cleaner or killing birds with the oven fumes!

 

Living Areas

 

  • Pretty much every room is best cleaned from top to bottom (remember Annie?) So I like to start with ceiling fans, then move to lamp shades and blinds. Lamp shades are easily vacuumed with the brush attachment on your vacuum. But for dusting– Swiffer does a decent job of this, but if you really want to get serious cleaning done (especially if you have allergy sufferers [hand raised]) you’ll want to wet-dust. I’ve found that this handy invention makes it easy to do that–just spray your dusting solution onto the cloth part before you wipe the fan blades.
  • And while you’re up there, you’ll want to go ahead and dust/wipe down light fixtures and replace any bulbs that are out. **DON’T wet-wipe warm bulbs–they will shatter!
  • For blinds, I’ve tried these little things before using a dusting solution as well, but my hands cramp after a while. If you have that problem, too, these dusting gloves are pretty ingenious!
  • Moving to the middle-ish of the room, next would be cabinets for TV/games/movies, etc. You wouldn’t believe how dust accumulates inside here. What’s so bad is that the electronics will start to suck the dust into the cooling vents and cause a lot of wear on your electronics, so keep these areas clean!! Here’s a great organic option to clean your electronics that’s also safe for the screens. Also pay attention to toy areas (purge and clean out/clean any toys necessary.) Toys accumulate a lot of dust as well. If there are small plastic toys, these can actually be washed in the dishwasher, or even throw a bunch of toys into the washer in one of these bags.
  • While you’ve got your cleaning cloths out, disinfect and wipe down light switches, remotes, and door frames. Remotes and light switches are some of the germiest places in the house (I’ve read. On the internet. So it must be true.) Ok, so even if it isn’t, think of all the food grime and oil from everybody’s hands that are always on these things. Ew.
  • Next is the upholstery–sofas, pillows, and chairs (ottomans, too?) Any upholstery needs to be vacuumed, and while you’re at it, remove the cushions and vacuum under them all. And if you notice any stains, either spot-clean or schedule a steam cleaning. (From experience, sofas–basically anywhere kids congregate–are disgusting!! The first time I steamed our sofa I was SHOCKED at how dirty it was. I’m talking brown water, folks. Dead serious.) This is the steamer we use. However, if you need a smaller option just for upholstery, this steamer is pretty darn highly rated!
  • Last will be the floor–the understory of the living room jungle. Pull out furniture and vacuum/mop underneath. Vacuum all rugs and carpets, and mop all hard floors. Schedule a carpet steaming if it’s needed.

 

Bedrooms

 

  • Starting at the top again, dust ceiling fans, clean light fixtures, and replace bulbs. Go ahead and take down any drapery/curtains/valances that can be washed. If they can’t be washed, use the vacuum brush attachment to vacuum.
  • Clean blinds, and clean windows.
  • Wash or replace pillows (these things should be washed every 3-6 months to keep dust mites out!) Wash bedding/blankets and either store and switch out for fall bedding, or replace once bedroom is all clean.
  • While all the bedding is off, use baking soda + vacuum mattresses/spray with vinegar solution. This will disinfect and pull out any smells. If your mattress has a cover on it, strip it off as well and wash in hot water.
  • Purge clutter and toys–toss any broken ones and donate what you can.
  • Purge magazines and paper (this might be a good time to take note of magazines you never have time to read. Are they just sitting around unread? Unsubscribe!)
  • Purge arts/crafts (usually for kids’ bedrooms)
  • Purge/clean pet areas. Wash pet beds as well.
  • Clean out clothes and closets. Purge items not used and donate. (Including clothes. Use this crazy useful guide!)

 

Bathrooms

 

  • Again starting at the top, clean all light fixtures and replace any bulbs necessary.
  • Remove shower curtains and wash or replace. Ready for an easy alternative to the stinky (and dangerously fumy) PVC liners? Try this one! It’s antibacterial, waterproof, and fabric!
  • Once the curtains are down, go ahead and purge and clear out all shampoos/soaps/body washes, etc. Once those are cleared out, clean the shower surround. (You know you never clean this thing!) This stuff is great for keeping up with this tedious job! And don’t forget to clean out all the mildew!
  • Go ahead and fill a sandwich baggie with either vinegar or a mineral scale cleaner, wrap it around your shower head, and use a rubber band to secure it into place. This will clean out all the holes in the shower head.
  • If you have a jetted tub, you absolutely need to clean that system out!
  • While your cleaning rags are out, wipe down the light switches, doors, door knobs, and door frames. These areas accumulate grime like nobody’s business!
  • Inventory  towels/washcloths/hand towels and make a list of things you need to replenish.
  • Purge/clean/organize under sink areas and medicine cabinets. Also the cabinet over the toilet if you have one. We try to make sure things like TP, washcloths, and towels are in easy reach for the kids. Make sure any place that has cleaners has childproof latches! These latches can be installed without even drilling!
  • Do your regular deep cleaning (bathtub, toilet–including disinfecting the outside of the bowl, counters, sinks.)
  • Throw rugs in the wash (or replace if needed.)
  • Sweep (including behind the toilet–it gets dusty back there!) and mop.

 

Linen closets

 

  • Take inventory and organize if necessary. I’ve begun labeling shelves to make things easier on everyone. I can’t remember everything always forever. I use this label maker. It makes it a thousand times easier to put all of each size sheet set on different shelves/areas so they don’t get mixed up. Nobody likes having to refold sheets because they were the wrong size.
  • If your shelves tend to put off an old-lady stench like ours do, add in a deodorizer (even just a box of baking soda) or some herb sachets like these. This probably needs to be repeated every fall cleaning and spring cleaning because natural herbs and oils lose their scents way before the artificial stuff.

 

Mudroom

 

  • If you’re lucky enough to have a full-on mudroom, I hate you. Just kidding. We don’t have one–our house (like so many, many others) has the garage door lead straight through the laundry room, which we friggin’ hate. My solution was to use the little closet that’s by the door (that HAS to open the wrong way, of course) as the mudroom ‘area’. I removed the bi-fold doors, painted some fun stripes on the back wall, and installed shelves. So even though it’s not it’s own room, it’s still definitely included in fall cleaning. Sorry about the tangent.
  • Firstly, purge the area. Take all shoes, coats, backpacks, bags, etc out and figure out what needs to be washed/cleaned before putting back into closets. Throw away everything you can.
  • Clean light fixtures and replace any bulbs necessary.
  • Reorganize landing stations. I found this awesome wooden tray  that’s divided AND expandable to place sunglasses lens-side up + put any extra keys or mail that needs to be dealt with on the way in or out the door.
  • Once everything is off shelves, dust everything, reorganize, and replace all keepers.
  • Wipe down light switches, doors, door knobs, and door frames.
  • Sweep and mop.
  • Wash rugs.

 

Office areas

 

  • From the top, clean light fixtures, replace necessary bulbs. Dust ceiling fans.
  • Take down and wash curtains.
  • Clean blinds and windows.
  • Get paperwork under control–here’s a great post on Conquering the Paper Monster if you need mega help with creating a system for staying on top of paperwork.
  • File everything needed/toss/purge. If you don’t already have a time of year set to go through your paperwork and file what needs to be kept for 7 years, this is a great time to do it. Maybe do it twice a year to stay on top: spring and fall?
  • Purge office supplies. Organize them all. I use this great system to organize my supplies and keep them in reach. It’s versatile, durable, + requires zero drilling! Score!!

 

Laundry Room

 

  • Top: Clean light fixtures, replace necessary bulbs. Clean windows and blinds.
  • Empty cabinets and purge unneeded items. (Toss or donate.) Wipe out cabinets and replace items, organized. (Label-maker is helpful here.)
  • Clean off top of washer and dryer. Wipe these down completely to get rid of dust and lint. (Including the cords and vents in the back.)
  • Dust down/wipe the walls (you’d be shocked at how much dust + lint accumulates in this room!)
  • Deep clean lint screen and slot (ours is so thin the only thing I can get into it is a wire clothes hanger that I bent to ‘hook’ blobs of lint.
  • Schedule dryer vent cleaning. (Seriously–if it’s never been done or it’s been a while, this could be a fire hazard.)
  • Run cleaner through the washer. Clean the gasket around the door–if you have a front-loader. These things get super gross and harbor mildew and smell.
  • Deep clean the sink area.
  • Wash rugs.
  • Sweep/mop.
  • Wipe all doors, door knobs, light switches, and door frames.

 

Hallways

 

  • First of all clean all light fixtures, replace necessary bulbs.
  • Dust all pictures.
  • Then dust all shelves and knickknacks.
  • Wipe doors, door frames, door knobs, light switches.
  • Vacuum or sweep and mop.
  • Spot clean rugs/carpet or schedule carpet steaming.

 

Home Maintenance

 

  • Firstly, A/C filters--check and change them
  • Next, check all fridges and freezers for air seals. Try to pull a dollar bill through the seal when the door is closed. It’s time to get a new seal if it slides through the opening.
  • Defrost freezers and clean if needed
  • Wet clean all baseboards and corners of rooms on floor (vacuum edge of baseboards + behind doors; wet clean edge of baseboards on tile/wood floors and corners/behind doors.)

 

OUTSIDE Fall Cleaning:

Garage

 

  • First of all, clean it out. Purge using bucket system: Keep, Donate, or Toss.
  • Next: Organize. This is soooo hard, I know!! But do your best–using things like these peg boards, and awesome ideas like these on Pinterest will get you in the right direction!
  • Once everything’s in its place, sweep the entire garage–it’s easier using a giant push broom like this one.
  • Then either wash the floor out with a water hose and large squeegie, or even mop.

 

Gardening Supplies

 

  • First thing: Purge.
  • Clean tools that are keepers with this stuff, or even just some linseed oil.
  • Take stock and list what else needed
  • Reorganize area

 

Patios

 

  • Firstly deal with furniture (clean, purge.) Store furniture that is not needed for fall/winter.
  • Toys–purge and toss or store or put up.
  • Clean or wash outdoor cushions. Toss cushions that are damaged beyond repair. Or have repairs made. Store or put back out for wonderful fall weather!
  • If covered, clean fans and light fixtures. Replace necessary bulbs.
  • Clean grill with a non-toxic cleaner (is nobody else concerned about putting your food on heated toxic cleaner??)
  • Clean grilling tools and organize storage. Tools usually have a hole at the end to hang–we just keep ours outside on hooks similar to these so they’re ready for use after they get washed. If you don’t have anywhere to mount a bar like that, these magnetic hooks are perfect for mounting on the side of the grill.
  • Shake out and replace any rugs necessary.
  • Sweep off entire patio, or use the blower to get dirt and leaves off.
  • Finally, Spray off patio or power wash. Or schedule a power washing if needed.

 

Pool

 

  • Firstly, Purge toys that are damaged and toss them, or repair inflatables that can be repaired with patching.
  • Clean out storage area.
  • Organize/store all pool toys. We use a giant storage bin like this one, and it’s awesome!!
  • Make sure chemicals needed are in stock and out of reach of kids.
  • Also make a list of chemicals needed.
  • Clean skimmers.
  • Finally, Schedule any pre-winter servicing.

 

Driveways

 

  • Always first: Weed.
  • Second, Power wash.
  • Also anything else POA requires.
  • Finally, Schedule any other repairs necessary.

 

Gutters

 

  • Firstly, Clean out or schedule cleaning.
  • Inspect for damage (gutter and board behind for rot.)
  • Finally, schedule any repairs needed.

 

Windows

 

  • First of all, Remove screens.
  • Next, Scrub and spray off screens.
  • Wash outside and inside (if not done already) of windows.
  • Finally, Replace screens once dry.

 

Lawn Care

 

  • First of all, Fertilizer.
  • Next, Inspect lawn equipment.
  • Repair or clean lawn equipment, or schedule repair.
  • Finally, Schedule any fall services and pre-winter services.

How is your fall cleaning going? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Know someone that could use an awesome checklist for fall cleaning? SHARE this post!!

 

My fall cleaning wouldn't be complete without a printable checklist to satisfy the OCD in me! Tips, products, and diy hacks for fall cleaning and organizing like a champ--plus free checklist download! #fall #cleaning #cleaningtips #organized

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?

 

paper organization important, paper organization tips, paper organization ideas, paper organization household, paper organization binder, paper organization storage, paper organization kids, paper organization system, paper organization diy, paper organization home, paper organization diy, paper organization office, paper organization file, paperwork organized, paperwork organizing, paperwork storage, paperwork declutter, paperwork office, paperwork ideas, paperwork filing, paperwork drowning in, paperwork too much, paperwork overload, paperwork school, paperwork storing

 

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.

 

#cutitout

 

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?”

….infinity.

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