Productivity

A Tip for Tackling Those Nagging Projects

polishing silver

I’ve got a pretty good system for keeping up with the daily paperwork and bills, but sometimes things still pile up. Bigger decisions, bigger challenges, significant changes, tedious tasks (like polishing silver) … usually those things we’d rather avoid. So my husband and I will schedule an “admin day” together. It sounds so, so nerdy, but it really does work for us. When we set aside the time in advance and know that is how we will spend the evening, somehow we are prepared to rally after the kids are in bed. Doing it together is also significantly more fun than one of us tackling it alone.

We also schedule “project weekends.” When we bought our house years ago (before children), we lovingly spent the entirety of many weekends working in the yard, painting or whatever we felt like doing. With two toddlers now running around, these projects tend to stack up more than we’d like. When that happens, we’ll hire a babysitter or the kids will spend the day at my mom’s house. We buy the supplies ahead of time and know exactly what we need to accomplish. Then we dive in head first and get as much done as we can.

How do you handle bigger projects? Do you let them pile up and tackle them all at once or find a way to manage them as they arise? I’d love to know!

4 Easy Tips for Feeling More Put Together While Home with Children

I recently helped a client clean out her wardrobe. She called me because she felt like a mess and didn’t have anything to wear while home with her two children all day. Not only is this woman adorable, but so are her clothes. So what’s the problem?

She wasn’t honoring herself or her season of life.

Just because we are with children all day—who are totally messy, I get it—doesn’t mean we should ignore our own appearance. Part of feeling good is looking good. We need to treat ourselves and our lives with enough respect to say “this day matters, too.” We would never dress like schleps for another job, so why this one?

If you find yourself in a similar place (and I think we all have at one time or another) and would like to make a change, here are some ideas:

1. Put on real clothes. Shockingly easy, but why is this so hard? Most of my clients live in Florida, and yes, it is very outdoorsy, health-oriented and hot here. We love our workout clothes—me included. But there is something about wearing “real” clothes that just feels better. Choose simple, washable pieces with crisp, clean lines. Nothing clingy or that needs to be ironed. Tunics and shorts or white jeans are my summer go-to. Yes, the clothes will get sweaty if you go on a stroll. Yes, they might stain if the baby spits up again. But who cares? What are we saving them for? Honor yourself and put on something you feel good in. It was a radical mental shift when I started doing this with my first baby. Did my client have “real clothes” to wear? Yes, plenty of them—all cute, comfortable and just the right thing. She just needed to give herself permission to wear them.

2. Consider new workout clothes. Exercising or just hanging around the house isn’t an excuse to wear stretched out or old clothes. Ultimately, we don’t feel good dressing like this, and perhaps our partners don’t love it either. So if you really are more of the yoga-pants-type (rather than real clothes), invest in some new pieces that fit and look great. A few black leggings and non-clingy gray tops will go a long way.

3. Take time to groom. I totally, totally understand feeling like you don’t have time to pee much less do your hair or anything else. So squeeze it in where you can. Let the baby cry a minute longer while you shave your legs. I file my nails while my children play in the bath. Dry shampoo is a lifesaver when you don’t have time to wash your hair. Develop a one minute makeup and hair routine (it is possible!). The tiniest bit of effort goes such a long way—in how we look and feel. And it shows our children that we matter, too. They can learn to wait a few minutes longer so we can take care of ourselves.

4. Update your underthings. I’ve seen a lot of undie drawers, and you guys, everyone needs some new underwear! It doesn’t have to be super sexy and amazing, but it does need to be its original color, not stretched out and hole free. Same with bras. A bra that feels good will completely change your day. If you are still breastfeeding and don’t want to invest, that’s totally understandable, so find something affordable for the meantime. I’ve worked with too many well-dressed, beautiful women who are wearing bras that are ten years old. We are better than this, friends!

If we don’t expect this time, our families certainly won’t provide it. No one is going to knock on our door and say “Hey beautiful lady underneath! Let me hold the baby while you go wash your hair.” We have to do this for ourselves. Children can learn to wait.

It won’t happen every day, but we can try, right? And we will feel so much better for it.

Making The Most of Nap Times

crib

So you’ve reach the precious spot of time in your day when your children are napping, and sacking out on the sofa is probably the most appealing option. But then as soon as they wake up, you are kicking yourself for not being more productive. I’m totally with you. So what to do? Here are some ideas for making the most of nap times:

Plan ahead. On Sundays, I try to map out my week. Client meetings, errands, appointments, play dates, meals and naps. Yes, I plan what I am going to accomplish each day during my daughter’s nap. That way I am not frantically (and haphazardly) trying to accomplish everything in a single nap (what, you haven’t tried that?!). I am focused and on task, knowing I’ll get to those other things at a later time. Sounds nuts, but it is very effective.

Don’t do the dishes or laundry first. No matter how messy your house is, these things can wait. I recommend doing the absolute hardest thing to accomplish while children are awake. Phone call, tedious paperwork, anything that is nearly impossible when they are running around. And choose just one—be realistic and pick the single most important or pressing task. If you have time leftover, fantastic.

If your child takes multiple naps, designate some naps for working and some for resting. This is the golden stage of naps. Half super productive, half super relaxing.

Do not, do not, do not pick up your phone. Do you really want to fall into a bottomless pit of social media when you could be doing something so much more valuable with your time (even if that means a long hot shower or nap)? I know—mindless scrolling can seem appealing when you are dog tired, but if it’s really that bad, do yourself a favor and crawl into bed.

A caveat to everything above: In the early weeks of parenting, run as fast as you can to the nearest pillow and rest. Forget cleaning, productivity or anything else. Just rest and restore your body whenever you can.