Plodding progress

pexels-photo-129264Earlier this year I wrote about how life and “progress” can feel very slow sometimes. I’ve been thinking about that and also reflecting on the book, Ordinary, I read in preparation for my first child. Yes, lot’s of reflecting, as usual. (Have I mentioned I’m pregnant with #2 and he’s coming any time in the next 2-ish weeks?)

Jack just turned 2 a couple weeks ago. Two! I’ve been a mom for two years! I haven’t learned this much about life and myself since University. My personal growth in the last five months alone is a bit shocking to me, and it’s all been slow plodding. So often I have felt like I’m not moving in any direction, but looking back at the last year, I certainly have grown.

Just like the thesis of Ordinary says, the normal patterns of the Christian life bring natural growth; you don’t have to strive and strain.

Somewhere along the line, I’ve learned to do my dishes regularly. My house is generally speaking tidier more often. Of course, soon baby will come and throw a wrench in everything again. The pattern will continue, I’ll get the hang of things again – this time with a bigger load, and then baby 3 will arrive etc.

I guess what I’m saying is: I’m learning to chill out and not try to rush everything all the time because it turns out that I’m still growing. Except with less stress.

Things I Love: My Life Simplifiers

Loving La

Lately, I’ve been pretty thankful for a few things in my life that make my life simpler and help me enjoy life more. They range from nail polishes to washing machines but every one of them has made my life go smoother and taken less time out of my day in the long run. Let me share these (semi) life-changing things with you. And no, no one is paying me to say any of this.

Porter & Charles Combi 9-6

This is one of my most prized possessions these days. Yes, it’s my washing machine. But it’s also my dryer. Most North Americans don’t know this type of product exists, but it’s somewhat common in Europe where space is much more limited. My mother-in-law was forced to buy one when she had to replace her old stackable set because she was too short to reach the buttons on the new stackables and that’s all she had room for. It took her a little getting used to, but she suggested I try it out in my new place because I only have a small closet for my laundry space.

Guys, it’s the greatest! Most people ask me how long a cycle takes and how much it can hold. I certainly do more loads than I used to because the barrel is smaller, but I’m also surprised at how much this little guy can fit. For us, it’s perfect. I’m in the stage of life where it’s easiest for me to do a load of laundry every day. I don’t have that many clothes anyway, so it works well. The longest a load has taken for me (very large, 90ºC water, full dry) has been 6 hours. Yes, that sounds long but when you put it in at the beginning of the day (or in the middle of the night) and when you return it’s all finished with no risk of forgetting to switch the load into the dryer, it’s really not that bad. The fastest wash setting is 12 minutes, meant to do one or two items that you’d need to wear again that day perhaps. There have been times when I have had a ton of laundry to do after coming home from trips or just procrastinating with my loads. It really wasn’t that hard to get through all our laundry in one day + night. It’s quite flexible.

I even do my cloth diapers in it and it’s fantastic. I do a cold rinse with the 12 minute wash setting (because it’s faster than the actual rinse setting), then flick it on to the saved setting that washes them in 90ºC water and rinses 3x. Done! Love.

For people with small living spaces, smaller families or the habit of doing laundry regularly, it’s an excellent option.

GelMoment DIY manicure set

Last year I was introduced to GelMoment by my mom. It’s a DIY gel nail polish system that is free of the top 5 toxins usually found in nail polishes and gel polishes. And get this: it lasts for at least 2 weeks! Women, rejoice!

I have been a nail biter all of my life. The only thing that gets me to actually stop is a nice layer of nail polish. But regular nail polishes that chip or wear off in a couple days is no real defense. No one really wants to do their nails every other day to keep it fresh, and few can afford regular manicures. Lately drug stores have been selling gel polishes for pretty cheap, but you’re still exposing yourselves to wicked chemicals. Have you smelled those polishes before?

But with Gel Moment, I can give myself a glorious manicure that will last me 2 weeks and have no concern for my pregnancy or kids in the room. The stuff doesn’t even smell! It’s magic. If you live in the Montreal area, I’m having a nail party in a few weeks so message me and I’ll send you the details.

Simplified Planner

I bought one of these right before I had Jack. This thing helped me stay sane during that first year. I loved the way the pages were laid out and BEAUTIFUL. It has a space to write out your meal plan, fill in your daily schedule etc. I always keep my daily schedule in my phone calendar, but I wrote out what was happening with my little guy in that section. It helped me keep track of his patterns in those early months. I also kept track of things I was thankful for each day. It was super helpful. Did I mention BEAUTIFUL?

Even though they’re pricey, it was worth it for me to buy another one to help me stay on top of all my tasks this next baby (did I mention I’m pregnant again? I should blog more). I was so pleased to find out that Chapters/Indigo carries Emily Ley products online, which ends up being much cheaper than buying directly from her website for us Canadians. Woo! I also love Chapters.

Nespresso machine + milk frother

Probably one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received, was last year for my birthday. Willy splurged (big time!) on this set for me. Our latte machine that we were gifted for our wedding had been broken for over a year by this point. As I finished opening it and, mouth still agape, he explained, “With this, I can see you chasing after a toddler and bouncing a baby on your hip and still being able to get a latte in your day.” I LOVE THAT GUY.

I’ve been pretty impressed with the calibre of espresso the machine produces. Much better quality than a Keurig or Tassimo, that’s for sure. It’s certainly not as precise and haut game as an espresso pulled by a $10, 000 latte machine from your local third wave coffee joint, but it’s quite good. Also, it works at the push of a button (or 2 if you want steamed milk as well).

Scentsy scents filling my home.

This one doesn’t make my life simpler, but it does make my life more enjoyable. In the dead of winter when there was no way we were leaving our house during the day, my mood was lifted high with the smell of Spring Symphony floating through my kitchen. When you spend so much time in your home, you have to do things to help make it enjoyable and lovely. For me, this is one of those things. I didn’t use it during my first trimester because I was so sensitive to smells, but now that I’ve got it back on and it’s a dream. I’ve been using it long enough that I have some standard scents I use: Ambrosia, Pink Haze, Spring Symphony, Summer Holiday, Very Peary Pumpkin in the Fall, and Eskimo Kiss in the Winter.

What are yours?

That’s it! I’d love to hear if you have things that make your life much simpler, whether it’s a kitchen gadget you use regularly or an app on your phone. Leave a comment!

How’s that working for you?

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Not my actual house.

I’m not a very tidy person. My room was always a mess, but I almost always knew where things were. My mom would beg me to clean it and I would refuse every time, making it into a huge argument. Most times after I tidied, I could never find my things again. I haven’t really outgrown this, but I have learned a few things about it (I always have more things than places to put them, which is why everything is a mess; I’m lazy to tidy until things get so bad and then I’m so overwhelmed and feel unable to fix it… These two things are probably worth a few blogposts in themselves).

Having an 18 month old has been teaching me about how much stuff I have and how much it is always out. Since he can now climb up on chairs and access the dining table (which is a notorious “hot spot” of cluttered items waiting to be put away), suddenly it seems there are no safe places for our junk.
I’m finally realizing that my “system” of “crap everywhere” is starting to cause me more grief than the small time it could take to put it away. For a solid 29 years, I got away with leaving my junk all over. As Dr. Phil always asked, “How’s that working for you?” It worked. But now my papers, books, wallets, purses are being put at risk of being torn, eaten, pulled apart, or coloured on.
To be sure, we haven’t mastered this; we still have quite a ways to go. And despite these #toddlerdays being really difficult and trying, things are a lot easier when there’s nothing for him to get into. And that’s on me!

Update on my morning routine with baby

A few weeks ago I posted about how I needed to re-establish new routines for my life with my five-month-old. Well,  I have resounding good news for you: IT WORKS. It’s been great! My morning now looks like this:

  • Wake up, make coffee, drink a glass of water
  • Hop in the shower
  • Feed Jack (Willy gets Jack when they wake up and they play together until I’m done in the shower)
  • Eat breakfast With Willy, put on make-up (it makes me feel like a real person)
  • Unload the dishwasher
  • Jack goes down for his first nap and while he naps I do my first round of cleaning for the day.

By the time Jack is sleeping at 8:30, I have already accomplished so much, that I’m able to sit down and enjoy the silence. I’ve even CLEANED stuff. I’ve realized that I need to get something done like this first thing in the morning before laziness/ tiredness sets in. It’s really easy in the afternoon to “justify” not doing any cleaning because I’m tired or whatever excuse that comes up.

You know, I was really sceptical about the difference having my shower first would make. One day I was having a bunch of moms over and I had to maximize my morning so I hopped in the shower first since Jack seemed to be fine waiting to eat. It revolutionized my morning! Instead of waiting till his nap and showering, now I can use that time to do other things.

I’m very pleased with myself. Now I need to make sure I don’t get lazy with the cleaning because that’s been the best part of all: I don’t feeling gross about this apartment I’m sitting in all day long.

Lie 3: “I don’t have the right tools.”

This is the final post addressing the three lies we believe that lead us into procrastination. See the introduction post here and you can find the first post here and the second here.

I clued into this one a few weeks ago. I had been putting off doing a task because I had no idea what I was going to use to do the task that needed doing. Then the task was “magically” done (thanks, Willy!). When I asked him what he used to do it, I was a little shocked and embarrassed. I was making this thing to be overly complicated and it really didn’t need to be. I really believed that I didn’t have the right tools to get the job done, when that was totally false.

I think there have been many cases of this in my life that meant something just didn’t get done. In my head these things require a super elite and specialized tool to get the job done.

This is the exact reason why a toddler’s forehead print is still on my TV from 11 months ago. Half the time I can’t see it because the light hides it, but when I do see it, I think “oh yeah, I should wipe that off.” Then I think “with what? What won’t streak, or mess up the TV screen etc.?” And then the moment is over and a year passes. Last week I went to clean it off in a surge of cleaning enthusiasm and I found that this forehead smudge was no longer just a smudge. It was hard thanks to 11 months of dust mixing with the toddler forehead oils.

“What should I use to clean that off?” I asked Willy.

“Windex.”

Life is so simple for that man. In my head I needed a microfibre cloth and a specialized cleaner. When I think about it, I can’t decide how much it’s me being a total idiot or it’s my brain exploding the situation to be 1000x more complicated than necessary so that I can sit on my couch a little longer. I think it’s probably 60% me being an idiot and 40% my brain being crafty.

What’s your excuse?

I’m sure you can think of various ways this works out in your life. You don’t start keeping an agenda because you haven’t found THE PERFECT ONE. You haven’t started taking pictures of pretty things because you don’t have your super expensive DSLR that you’ve been dreaming of. You’ve only worn your favourite outfit once because you’re afraid you’ll ruin it when you clean it because it’s some fancy material. You keep putting off starting your (mythical) home work out because you don’t have a yoga mat. You keep putting off starting to run because you don’t have good shoes or you don’t want to go out in public in the only workout clothes you have: your husband’s T-shirt and shorts that ride up with every stride (read: what I wear to the gym. I’m always the ugliest dressed person there but at least I’m going!).

So how do we combat this?

  1. Think about it. Do you really need it? If you still think you do. What are the ways around this specialized tool? How would you do it if you were poor (rather than just too lazy to buy it)
  2. Ask someone. If you’re too embarrassed to ask your mom, friend, brother, workout inspiration, do what everyone else since the history of the modern internet has done: google it.

Lie 2: “X is more rewarding right now”

This is the second post addressing the three lies we believe that lead us into procrastination. See the introduction post here and the first post in the series here.

 

lie2-bucket-list

When it comes to procrastinating, I think this is the most familiar problem. How many times have procrastinators chosen TV, movies, video games, Facebook, or Netflix instead of doing their essay for class? More insidious is when we do good things instead of the task we should be doing. At work I always have tasks I prefer over others, and sometimes the only thing motivating me to do the crummy jobs was the fact that I was being paid to do them. This doesn’t apply as well at home or in our personal lives. Even the idea that we’re paying for our courses isn’t motivation enough for us to do our work sometimes. This is all because of the lie we believe that this other more fun thing is more rewarding than doing the crummy task.

I was starting this lie in the face last week. Jack was down for a nap and I could watch TV or clean. The day before I felt AWESOME after doing some cleaning. As I was tempted to watch TV I remembered that this idea that I would feel better if I watched TV instead of cleaning was totally false. TV would be fun right now, but then I’d be left with the icky feeling that I avoided what I really needed to do AND left with the mess.

Until you’ve learned through experience that Doing The Thing is, in fact, more rewarding than Not Doing The Thing, it’s so much harder to believe that not doing It isn’t better. It’s also easy to quickly forget.

The way I deal with these lies is to remember the times I Did The Thing and felt GREAT. It’s an exercise that requires intentional thinking, but I find is fairly useful. The other thing that helps (I talk about this in my ebook) is building momentum.

How do you battle this lie? 

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