Taking Baby Steps Toward Sanity

As you can tell from the lack of posts lately, my time to write has been limited. Or perhaps it's just my energy since I feel like 99.9% of my daily tasks involve taking care of everyone else. Most days I feel lucky to squeeze a shower in edgewise. So, this Well Planned Woman In Progress needs an intervention. And I know the perfect person for the job. FlyLady!

FlyLady's program for creating routines and combating CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome) has been proven to change many people's lives. I've been a fan of FlyLady for nearly 7 years...as well as a FlyBaby on and off for years, implementing some of her strategies for organizing and maintaining a well-run home here and there. But with the craziness that the upcoming holidays brings, I can just tell it's time for more serious action.

She has a baby step program (for...FlyBabies) that has you doing one baby step at a time over the course of 31 days. It has you building upon the previous days task to create routines in your life (that are proven to help your sanity!) I recently saw the movie Julie & Julia at the theater and thought how perfect that someone would give themselves a challenge and write about it on their blog daily. Now, my challenge is only 31 days, not 365, but nonetheless by committing to it here on my blog to my readers, I am now accountable. It's funny how sometimes we just need someone else to know we're doing something to feel an bigger sense of commitment. And seeing that tomorrow is the first day of November, I figured it's the perfect time to start day one of her baby step program.

So who wants to join me on this journey for the month of November? Check out her baby step program here and if you feel up for the challenge, post a comment and we'll motivate each other as we become more organized and less overwhelmed.


Grab & Go Snacks

I don't know many people with too much time on their hands, which means most of us are busy women. I regularly find myself frantically putting together a snack for the kids before running out the door. I'd open my pantry door and wonder what to grab - many times I'd grab something way too messy for a car ride, or something not as nutritious as I'd like, but it's quick and easy. Or I'd just grab the whole bag of Pirates Booty because I didn't have time to find the lid for the snack trap and I was already running late (a condition of having children I've learned). I don't know about you, but giving a big bag of booty to my three year old son won't have a happy ending (ooh, that didn't sound too good). Seriously, he'd stuff his face with as many as he could before I reached the next light to grab it away and when I did, he's fuss that he wasn't done. On top of it, he'd probably accidentally tip the bag (or I would as I snatched it away) and litter the car floor with delectable cheese puffs.

I've figured out a solution for my madness. By creating a bunch of pre-packaged snacks, they're ready to go when we are. And, my son can go grab his own snack (with permission) because they're accessible.
They're also portion-controlled and are a snack of choice rather than some cookies that were the closest to the pantry door.

Here's what I did...
I bought a pack of the snack sized zip lock bags and made a list of healthy (or mostly healthy) snacks for my kids. Pretzels, Pirates Booty, graham cracker sticks, trail mix, dried fruit, veggie chips, etc. Then I grabbed a 1/4 cup measuring cup and began measuring one portion of each for each bag. I sealed them up and put them in a wire bin just inside my pantry so my kids could access them (a drawer would have been ideal, but they are limited in my kitchen). You could also pre-package bags of grapes, little carrots or cut up veggies and keep them in your crisper ready to go. It's nice because it give the kids choice, and you know how they love to feel in charge!

Now when I'm running out of the house I grab a couple of pre-made snacks and I'm out the door. The snack sized bags are great because they appear full (vs. filling a sandwich baggie 1/4 full) and if they do get dumped, it's not the whole bag on my car floor. I also keep a few extras in my car console for when I'm running later than expected and the kids are complaining of being hungry (or my tummy tells me that I am). I try to keep a couple small water bottles or juice boxes in there too. When push comes to shove, they don't care if they're chilled or not. And now that the cold weather is coming...that won't be an issue.

Just one more baby step to becoming a well planned woman...


So there are people out there reading...

As a novice blogger, you sometimes wonder if there's anyone out there in the abyss reading your posts. It's so much easier and motivating to keep writing if you know there are people out there that enjoy reading your posts and that your thoughts somehow have a positive impact in their life (or at least put a smile on their face). I received the message below from a reader that I knew from my college days. Not only did I not realize she was reading my blog - it was just boost I needed to keep posting.
Hello Janelle! I am so happy to have you as a friend on Facebook, not only because I am nosy about what everyone is doing in life.. but because I LOVE reading your well planned women posts. But the journalist in me wants to know, do you do this just for kicks or for a job? You're so good at it I'm sure you can find a website/magazine that will pay for your editorials.. Anyways, it may sound crazy but I look forward to seeing your new notes. I may be an "older" woman with just one kid that's older your than your 2, but I always feel like I learn something new and at least it helps preserve my sanity! It's good to know that I'm not the only one who has a coupon for the Children's Place but left it at home and stand at the register wondering if I should buy those pj's or wait when I go back to the mall, then my thoughts shift to.. can i really drag my whining 6 year old back to the mall again in the next week? Anyways, I thought you'd like the feedback. Thanks for the advice.  - Kelly from Florida

Kelly, thanks for brightening my day. And no, I don't get paid for what I do (for now) - although someday it would be nice to add to my shoe fund by writing about things that interest me. For now, I'm on to concept my next post.


Making Time for Things that Matter Most

I've been struggling lately with the overwhelming guilt that comes along with being a good stay-at-home mom and the pressure (self-induced, of course) of keeping a perfect home. While one might assume the guilt is usually with working moms, let me assure you we have it too. I'm constantly finding myself telling my son that I'll play transformers or monster trucks with him after I get the dishes done, or after mommy gets dinner prepped. But the reality is, I've ALWAYS got something to do around the house.

Embarrassingly enough, I remember asking my best friend what she did all day when she was a new stay-at-home mom and I was still childless and in the workforce.(gasp! Sorry Kim!) First, I can't believe I was actually ignorant enough at one point to say that, and second, now I know how stay-at-home moms are pulled in so many directions. But occassionally I need to remind myself that my "job" is my children. To love them and challenge them and teach them the oh so many things that they need to know in order to be respectful, well-rounded and loving adults. It's quite easy to get caught up in the day to day "chores" of life that need tending to and push off just a few moments longer that request to play with them, while the pile of clean, yet unfolded laundry stares you in the face.

So, in my attempt to battle this guilt and take one more step in becoming a well planned woman, I've made mommy play dates on my calendar. Not with other kids, not with other mommies. Just me and my kids. I'm setting aside time every day to do things I know my kids love to do with me. I asked my three (almost four) year old son (my daughter can't yet talk now, but she'll have her turn too) what his favorite things to do with mommy were. We came up with a list of something to do every day that will put a smile on both of our faces. His because he's got my 100% attention and we're doing something he loves and mine because I feel good about focusing on him and making him happy while doing it. This picture is my son having a blast painting about a month ago. Now I'll get to see this big painty-face grin every week.  The iPhone (and addicting instant access to email) is away. The computer is away. The To Do list is away. Magazines or anything else that distracts me is away. Game on.

Here's what we came up with...
  • Monday: Playdough Playdate
  • Tuesday: Pretend Play Playdate (usually Transformers)
  • Wednesday: Painting Playdate
  • Thursday: Glue crafts & Cutting Playdate
  • Friday: Puzzles Playdate
Each day our schedule forces us to do these at different times, but typically it's in the afternoon while my daughter naps. Soon enough, she'll be joining us; but for now she'd just eat the playdough, paints, paper, puzzle pieces, etc. While she can't do what her big brother does, I have also been trying to consciously spend more one-on-one time with her to teach her all those things I had unlimited time to teach my son at her age as an only child.

I'm sure many of you working women can relate to this too - you have your own struggles, some of which are very similar to many of us SAHM's. I'd love to hear from some of you working moms to let us know what you struggle with and any tips you've discovered that help you along. We can all learn from each other. If you can relate to any of this, give these mommy play dates a try or post a message so we know we're not alone on this journey.



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