Sunday, October 19, 2014

day 19: pause and give thanks...

This post is part of my 31 days to more order series.  To find all topics and posts, go here.

So far in this series we've looked at your space and your schedule.  I'd like you to take some time today, on the Sabbath, to pause and reflect.  The practice of giving thanks is one that I am trying to cultivate in our children.  We want them to have an attitude of gratitude.  Usually, when I'm talking about this with the kids it changes my attitude and brings me to a place of thankfulness too.

Most of us that have the privilege to live in America have so much more than we need.  Take some time today to think about what you are thankful for.  I'm guessing that on top of your list is going to be people not things.  It's okay to be thankful for things.  In the winter months I'm really thankful for central heating and warm clothes.  But at my core, the reason I do what I do is not for the things in my life but the people in my life.

It's important to pause from your typical routine and be still.  I've found that thinking about what I'm grateful for in my life, causes me to be more balanced.  When we focus on what we have, we tend to be less stressed about what we don't have.

On the top of my list of what I'm most thankful is that I get to be mom to these three cuties.

What are you most thankful for today?

I hope you have a blessed day.  


Saturday, October 18, 2014

day 18: protect your time...

There are a lot of marketing slogans out there these days.  One that is popular with sports teams is the saying 'protect this house'.  It's meaning is obvious, the team is playing to win and protect their home turf.  Today, I'd like to encourage you to do the same with your time and schedule.

videos co gender protect this house women protect this house

Hopefully, you've taken some time to review your schedule and think about each and every activity you are committed to.  Now that you've looked at things, were  you able to take anything off your schedule?  Or maybe, do you just have a better handle on what you're committed to?  Both of these are good.  And realistically, now may not be the time to take anything off your schedule.  Your goal should be to intentionally evaluate everything and then be able to say that right now you are involved in what you feel you should be.

The next step with your schedule is to protect your time.  Just as we want to limit what we bring back into our homes after we have purged and removed clutter, we want to make sure that we don't fill the space we've just cleared in our schedules with just anything. 

As I mentioned in this post, my husband works every other weekend and I am very protective of the time on his non-working weekends.  Those are for family time.  Since we only have 4 days a month that no one works or goes to school, we try and be very intentional about what we do with those days.  My husband's schedule is a set one, so we know the weekends he will be free months in advance and can plan our  time accordingly.

As our kids have gotten older (they are 10, 8 and 7), we have become even more mindful of our time.  It means that sometimes, we say no to an invitation so that we can say yes to family time.  Sometimes we say no to helping on a project because it would reduce our limited weekend time even more.  Our kids know that just because you have been invited or asked to do something doesn't mean they will get to go.  Yes, they have missed parties.  Yes, my husband and I have missed events or parties.  But our objective of spending quality time together has been met.

This isn't to say that we never do things with other people on the weekends.  We love to hang out with friends and have people over.  It simply means that we are very selective about how we spend our time and we actively consider what we say yes or no to doing.

That's what I want to encourage to you to do as well.  Protect your calendar.  Start being more mindful about what you say yes to doing.  It may mean that if your child has a game and two birthday parties on a Saturday, that he can't do it all.  But in the end, you will probably feel less stressed and isn't that what we are looking for anyway.  It may mean that I say no to making a meal for someone on a weekend when Mark works, but say yes when I know he is going to be home.

How can you protect your time?  How can you instill more order into you schedule? 


Friday, October 17, 2014

day 17: knowing your personality type...

Welcome to my ongoing series of 31 days to more order.  To view the complete list of posts, click here.

Today's topic is about knowing your personality type.  Does that seem like a weird topic to put right in the middle of a series on order?  And more specifically, when I'm talking about managing your schedule?  Stay with me, because I think it fits.

I think that it's important to know what we enjoy doing and what our strengths are as we are evaluating whether or not to commit to something.  So how does knowing your personality type help you with this?  I think it helps us by allowing us to focus on what we are naturally inclined to do versus comparing ourselves to what others are doing.

I am an introvert.  Which is something that I didn't really come to fully understand about myself until I was in my 30s.  Just because I am an introvert does not mean that I am shy.  They are completely different things.  Although, I will admit to sometimes not being completely comfortable in social setting and having a fear of sitting next to people I don't know because I would have to talk to complete strangers.  It is one of the reasons I do not want to go on a cruise.  I can't imagine anything worse that being on a boat full of people I don't know and having to talk to them.  My husband thought I was crazy when I shared that with him.  He's an extrovert.

What is does mean is that while I enjoy being around people, I need to be alone in order to recharge.  I may enjoy being with people but if I got to choose whether I wanted to sit at home with a book in front of the fire or go to a party, the book would probably win every time.  I also process things internally, which is why I like to blog.  It allows me to be thoughtful and say what I need to say without talking to people.

I took the personality test found here.  I'm an INFJ, which according to the results is very rare.  It means I am an introvert (I), have diplomatic tendencies (NF) and a judging trait (J) (oops!).  So knowing these things to be true about myself, I don't take on roles that aren't suited to my personality.

For example, I love to teach but I do not like to do improv.  So one way I serve in our church is by teaching children.  I was asked to think about another role that would have me interacting with volunteers, doing skits and then providing feedback to adults on their portion of the program.  To be honest, nothing about that role seemed interesting to me.  But had I not understood myself and my personality type, I may have been tempted to take on a role like this to help out.  I get teased a lot by my friends who think it's crazy that I can present in front of hundreds of people but can't get up on stage and act out a skit.

It's important to know yourself and your limits, even if they seem weird to others.  Plus, it's totally fun to take a quiz like this!

So, I encourage you to take this personality test.  Once you have, call me.  No really, look at what you are involved in or with and make sure it's a good fit for  you.  Remember you are in charge of what you commit your time to, so be protective.  It's okay to say no.

I hope you have an awesome weekend!  Here in the mid-atlantic it's going to be sunny and mid-70's.  I can't wait to be outside with my kids.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

day 16: reviewing your schedule ...

Welcome to my ongoing series of 31 days to more order.  To view the complete list of posts, click here.

In yesterday's post I recommended you write down all of the activities and / or commitments you and your family has.  Today I want to encourage you to evaluate everything on that list and for you to make sure it is still something you want to do.

Which may seem silly to you.  But really, are you committed to things you no longer want to be involved with?  Is everything on your schedule something that adds to your life?  Are there things you are doing that no longer give you joy?  Who's to say that just because you can do something and have done something in the past that you have to keep doing it?

Two years ago, all three of my children started going to school for a full day.  So I was going to be alone during the day.  I was super excited!  When people realized this one of two things typically happened.  Some people would ask me if I was going to go back to work.  The answer to that is a big NO.  Other people would call and ask if I could serve on this committee or work on this school / church project or even lead a project for them.  For a minute, the 14 year old girl living in side of me was excited they were calling because it meant that they like me.  Right?  Wrong.  Well, maybe they did like me.  But in all honesty, they needed someone to help them and they knew that my schedule had just become a whole lot clearer during the day.

Thankfully I knew, since I wrote it all down on one piece of paper, what my family was involved in and how they would need me.  This allowed me to evaluate each request against the question of whether or not I wanted to spend my time doing it.  I know and understand that there are somethings that we do that we don't enjoy but fall into the have to category (school fundraisers and book fairs come to mind).  I also know that some of our commitments are due to the other people in our lives and so we may have to do something we wouldn't choose because it is for a child or spouse (like sitting by the side of a sports field with two other kids).  But the rest of the time, we should be filling our schedules with activities that we enjoy.  I have gotten very picky about how and when I commit myself to do things.

For example, I love to cook meals for people.  Really I do.  I love gifting friends and members of my church with a home cooked meal when they are struggling or in need of a helping hand.  But just because I love to do that and find it energizing, doesn't mean I need to sign up for every meal request that comes to me.  I need to evaluate what is going on in my schedule and with my family that week.  If it doesn't work for me, I know that someone else will provide that meal.

Spend some time with your schedule and your list of commitments and ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is this really something I want to continue doing?  OR Is this something I want to add to my schedule?

2. Do I still enjoy being involved in this?  OR Will I enjoy doing this?

3. Can I continue to commit to this activity?  OR Will I be able to commit to adding this to my schedule?

It's okay to say no.  It's even okay to take a break from all committees and activities for a season to get your home situated.  I have a friend who is doing this right now.  She loves to serve but has stepped back from most commitments because her family needs some extra attention right now.  It's necessary to give ourselves a break from things, even things we love so that when we do say yes we are doing it the right reasons.

So for today, sit with your schedule and review the commitments you have.  Even something that is a 'good' commitment, like serving at your church or in your kid's school, should be evaluated.  Make sure you can answer the questions above positively.  If not, make a plan to get out of your commitment.  And going forward, only add things to your schedule that you will enjoy doing.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

day 15: managing your schedule...

Welcome to my ongoing series of 31 days to more order.  To view the complete list of posts, click here.

Do you manage your schedule or does your schedule manage you?

Over the next several days, I'm going to be covering ways for you to take control of and manage your schedule.   Ways to evaluate what you (or your children or spouse) are involved in, whether to stay involved or add new activities and how to protect your time.

My husband works every other weekend for his job.  Since that means we only have two weekends a month for family time, I am very protective of our calendar.  One way that I do this is by annually reviewing all the activities that our family is involved in.  Once a year, my husband and I sit down and review what our family is involved in or committed our time to.

I do a total review of everything at the start of the school year.  It seems like a natural time for us because many things we are involved in restart in September.  I take a piece of paper and write every family members name on it and under their name I write what they are involved in or what commitments they have and the day or week.  I do not write down school because my kids go every day.  But I do write down my husband's work schedule because in addition to weekends, he works shift work and has to work nights.  Mark being gone two or three nights a week impacts our family and what we can be involved in activity wise.

Everything that we are involved in and or committed to goes on the list.  Here's a peak at some of things on our list right now:

bible study
classroom aide
teaching sunday school
leadership team meetings
elder team meetings
small group

It is amazing once you've written everything down with the days and times, how much we are truly committed too these days.  I'm a visual person, so I love to see it all written down.

So, that is step one to managing your schedule.  I encourage you, take some time and write out everything that you and your family have on the schedule right now.  If you are single, that's okay.  It's a great exercise to do no matter how many people you are managing.  Write everything down on paper with the days and times.

Tomorrow we are going to look at evaluating these commitments.  But for right now, just get everything down on paper so you can visualize what it is your family is committed to doing.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

day 14: keeping it real...

Today, is not going as planned.  So, I'm not writing the post I had originally scheduled for today on managing your schedule.  Instead, I'm going to regroup.  I'm going to pick up the stuff that somehow accumulated in 3 days on every surface in my house.  Below is a picture of the counter in my kitchen closest to the door we use from our garage.  Since we use this door to enter and leave the house, this counter becomes a catch all for everything.  And it seems to have quite a few things on it that don't even belong in the kitchen.  Can you see the blue bowl I mentioned in this post?

The kids had a three day weekend in honor of Columbus Day.  Side note: I taught my son John the old saying that I was taught 'Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492', as a way to remember for his history test.  He told me I was silly.  Anyway, somehow the order that I had achieved also had a 3 day weekend and my house needs some attention.  So, I thought I'd show you just how easy it is to fall behind if we don't have a place for everything and limit the stuff that comes into our house.

My kitchen table is also covered in pumpkins and paint from Saturday when we painted pumpkins in our pjs at 3:00PM.  Since we were not home for dinner on both Saturday and Sunday, I didn't need the table so I just left everything where it was.  Plus, I can't figure out where to put the painted pumpkins so it just seemed easier to leave everything on the table.  We ended up with 10 painted pumpkins so there's a lot of figuring out to do.

So, I'm keeping it real today and showing you my messes.  Does this ever happen to your house?  I'm off to restore order and balance, I'll be back tomorrow with a post on managing your schedule.

Hope you have an awesome Tuesday, which I thought was Monday when I woke up because my kids were home yesterday instead of being in school...


Monday, October 13, 2014

day 13: sleep...

This post is part of my series on 31 days to more order.  For a complete listing of posts and topics, go here.

Since I'm talking about taking care of ourselves as a way to more order and balance, I thought I'd talk about sleep today.  Sleep is something that we require but in all likelihood we aren't sleeping enough or have restful sleep the whole night. 

I love sleep.  I always have.  I was one of those children who came home from kindergarten and took a nap.  My mom tells me that I cried when I realized first grade was full day and I wasn't allowed to nap.  I've always been a good sleeper and can sleep anywhere.  I remember falling asleep in the stands of a nascar race.  In my defense it was a long race without any cautions and the drone of the cars going around and around lulled me to sleep. 

Although, as I've gotten older my ability to fall asleep and my sleep patterns have changed.  It is primarily due to becoming a mother and marrying a night owl.  My husband thinks nothing of staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning, while I love nothing more than going to bed at 10 or 10:30.

When my kids were little, I committed to giving them the gift of being good sleepers.  To me that meant following the published guidelines for the amount of sleep needed at their age, here's a link to one such article.  I also trained my children to be able to fall asleep pretty much anywhere not just in their rooms or beds or controlled environment.

As my sleep patterns changed, I recently realized that I needed to commit to changing some things so that I could get a better sleep.  I always feel much more prepared to face the day, week or life in general when I'm completely rested.  Don't you?  So I took a look at what experts where saying on how to get more sleep and here's a few suggestions:

1. Commit to a regular bed time.  This seems like a no brainer for my kids, but for some reason I don't always follow it for myself.  So, I'm trying to get to bed between 10 and 10:30 every night.  One thing this change means is that I won't see my husband before bed on the nights he works and doesn't get home until 11:00.

2. Don't watch the news or read anything disturbing before going to bed.  I used to work with a cardiac surgeon who recommended that his patients not watch the news the night before their surgery.  His reasoning, and medical studies have proven, that the last thing you put in your mind was what your brain processed all night.  Why go to bed with depressing news on your mind? 

3. Intentionally create a sleep mood in your room.  My husband and I don't do anything in our bed but sleep and well, you know, do married people stuff.  We also don't have any external light or lights on in our room to distract our bodies from sleep.  These two things create an environment of sleep for us.  

4. Adjust your thermostat.  I also set the room temperature to 68 degrees, which experts recommend as the most optimal temperature for sleep.  We do add extra blankets on the all  beds in case someone needs extra snuggle. 

5. Limit caffeine and alcohol.  This is pretty self explanatory.  Limit the things that will cause you to stay awake or cause you to have restless sleep.

6. Make a list.  One thing that disturbs my sleep is having my to do list running in a constant loop around in my brain.  So either write it down before you go to bed or keep a pad of paper by the bed.  Once you write it down, it should be off your mind and make it easier to sleep.

7. Gratitude.  Sometimes our problems can't be taken off our minds just by writing a to do list.  Life isn't easy and sometimes it's hard to see the good in our daily life.  So one habit that can make us more thankful is to write a down what we are thankful for.  It doesn't have to be a formal gratitude journal, you can simply write down 3 things that you are thankful for that day.  End your day by writing down three things that you are thankful for and it will give you more peaceful and pleasant things to focus on as you fall asleep.

8. Pray.  I typically end my day in pray.  I find comfort in thanking God for my blessings and everything He's doing in my life.  Even if I have unanswered prayers (which let's face it, we all do because God doesn't give us everything we want.  But He does give us what we need), I focus on what I'm thankful for and pray that back to Him.  It is a great way to go to sleep!

Hopefully by following some of these suggestions, you can get the sleep you need.  I'm already seeing a difference in my sleep in just the past few weeks of committing to an earlier bed time.  Of course, it means I miss seeing Ink Master on Tuesday nights but thankfully we have on demand so I can watch it any time...

Are you getting enough sleep?  If not, why not commit to changing one or two things can help towards getting you the much needed rest your body craves?  Getting more sleep is something that can only help us.