You guys, I’m SO ready for summer. Not just the warmer weather, but also the change in pace. My daughter’s kindergarten teacher referred to summer as “A time to BE and a time to explore.” Yes and yes. This is like the perfect description of how summer should be, in my opinion. I love using the warmer months as the ultimate excuse to get outside every day and be a little bit more unstructured with my routines that I keep all year long.
But being unstructured doesn’t mean that I just let everything slide. I have worked hard to get to where I am both in my exercise routines, my daily organization and my nutrition, so I don’t want to backtrack on all that hard work. What it does mean is I give myself more grace and I allow myself to be more flexible in HOW I accomplish the goals I set out.
During the fall and winter months I’m much more rigid in my routines and accomplishing my goals is more of a science rather than a fluid journey. I have particular times I work and scheduled times that I have for personal care and play. Being rigid and very schedule oriented works in the winter, but in the summer, life takes on a whole new look.
I love allowing time to explore and time to do different things with my family.It’s a season of life where every day looks different -- and for a season, I love that so much! But when every day is vastly different from the day before in terms of your schedule, it can be really difficult to know JUST how to work through goals and be as productive as those winter months.
As someone who has a fairly sporadic schedule with work and home life, I can tell you that sometimes a change in the scheduled parts of life can actually make you MORE productive, you just have to know how to work with what the circumstances are each day.
If you’re at home with your kids, or your work schedule is highly inconsistent like mine, these tactics will help you not only accomplish more throughout your day, but work towards your goals and accomplish them efficiently and quickly.
HAVE A RUNNING MICRO-GOAL LIST
The best thing about organizing your goals and projects this way is that you don’t forget what you’re doing and leave a project half done. If you have all the steps laid out with as much detail as possible in each one, you can do them at any point in time when your schedule is open.
I use Tello as a project and goal planner for big tasks that have multiple steps in them. I don’t use Trello as an every day to do list because it can feel super overwhelming to look at a long laundry list of each thing I need to get done in order to accomplish a goal.
It’s like just taking one step at a time, whenever possible to get to the end goal.
During the summer when you might find yourself with odd free time here or there, you can then take those opportunities to look at your goal and project list and work on just one thing at a time.
An amazing book that isn’t just for moms, but is for ANYONE who has goals and wants to be productive is Do Less by Kate Northrup. She breaks down how you really can do just as much in less time and how to stop being “busy”. It’s a really great read and has really practical information that you can put to work in your own life.
PLAN WEEKLY, NOT DAILY
This is a big one for me in the summer. Not every day is the same, and some days we choose to be out of the house all day, and other days the kids might go play with neighbors for an hour or so. With every day looking vastly different than the one before, I found that having a weekly to do list, rather than a daily to do list worked really well.
Few things feel worse when you look at your to do list at the end of a day and you realize you’ve gotten none of it done. Once you start moving tasks to the next day, it becomes easier to just keep moving it and never REALLY get it done.
You can get all the ways I plan weekly in this blog post. But taking your week and looking at it with a big-picture mindset, means you can plug your tasks into any day, at any time you want depending on what the schedule is for that day. It also means it’s totally fine to have a day where you don’t get a whole lot accomplished, because you’ll make up for it another day when you’ve got more time to spare.
This also helps cut the overwhelm of looking at your to do list and realizing NOTHING that you planned on getting done is done. When you’re looking at a whole week, you know that you’re moving forward, even if it isn’t a huge leap every day.
This could apply even to your exercise routine. If you have a goal of running three times a week, you wouldn't try to run three times in one day. Instead, you plan out which days will work best for you when it comes to your schedule.
My Weekly Goal Planner is perfect for this type of system and can really help you look at the week as an opportunity to get closer towards your goals.
PRIORITIZE EVERY MORNING
ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B
Another thing I learned from my daughter’s kindergarten class: Always have a plan B. (Maybe I learned more than she did that year!?). Having a backup plan ahead of time makes it easier to roll with what’s going on. If you have no idea what your backup plan is, it can get pretty stressful trying to manage your task and to do list.
If you’ve set aside time to get something done and your plans change, make sure you have a back up plan to take care of that project. This might look like getting up earlier one day, letting your kids have screen time for a short period of time one day, or creating time in your schedule for a make up day.
It could also mean trading the more important task out for another. For example, if it’s a day I know the kids and I will go for a bike ride, or we plan to hike, I’ll get up at my normal time, and instead of working out, I’ll get something else done off of my task list. I’ll work on a project that I know I won’t have time for during the day otherwise.
Another way I work a secondary plan into my schedule is by having a set work time that is strictly “catch up time”. Usually I allow whatever my work time is on a Saturday to be catch up day. That means anything that I didn’t get done during the week, I finish up on this day.
It should also be said, this solution only works if you’re not expecting too much out of yourself or over scheduling yourself with tasks.
GRACE, GRACE AND MORE GRACE
Let’s face it: Sometimes, it just doesn’t all get done. And you know what? That’s okay. You’re still moving forward and your still making a dent in the to-do list of tasks and micro-goals. More often than not what we plan out will take longer than we thought…..way longer. I’ve heard some say you should often double the time you expect to work on something, that way you’ll be on the safe side of expectations.
No matter how your moving forward, that’s all that matters, you’re moving…..and in the right direction. Give yourself grace when it doesn’t happen on your timetable. Give yourself grace when you took a moment for yourself rather than “get it all done.” Give yourself grace when you hit roadblocks but kept on going.
Those around you see you moving forward and they see you pushing through obstacles. We live in a world of instant gratification, and that just doesn’t work with a lot of long term goals. You have to be willing to go slow and take one step at a time. Those around you will see that hard work, even if bit by bit.
You should be proud of yourself for moving forward and plugging away at all the steps that will lead you to your goals and dreams.
Just over two years ago, I bought a few essential oils to help my daughter with an ear infection that kept returning. We were at the end of our rope with antibiotics for my then four year old and I knew we had to do something to try and prevent infection. It seemed that at the end of every single cold an ear infection followed.
A blogger I had followed for quite some time had started using essential oils at home with her family and I had kind of written it off. I didn't’ really get the whole idea behind them, and I didn’t really believe that they could work. But with my sanity on the line, I bought a few and started using them for her ears.
They did end up helping with the symptoms, which I was really excited about. You know when your kids are in pain, you’ll do just about anything, and in a way, this is what pushed me into essential oils in the first place.
I didn’t move fast with adding new oils to my self care or daily routines. I need to add things gradually instead of just jump right in. Eventually, I realized that I really needed to amp up our immune system to truly stop these dreaded seasonal colds, flues and ear infections. Again, I had heard about Thieves, but didn’t really buy into it. I decided though, to give it a try and just SEE if it really lived up to all it’s been touted to be.
This was my game changer. Thieves Essential Oil literally changed my entire life. I started just using it when there were colds going around (let’s be real -- this is pretty much EVERY. SINGLE. DAY in a preschool room). It seemed to help. My girls started to have reduced symptoms when they would get sick. And they seemed to miss out on a few of the bugs going around.
A few months later when kindergarten started for my oldest daughter, I had read about how important consistency is with these oils, and I started using them daily as part of our morning routine on my kids. Again, I saw life change in a positive way. This drastically reduced the amount of times my girls were sick and drastically reduced the cold and flu symptoms in my kids. This also meant that my husband and I were much healthier this season too. We all know the domino effect of one child bringing home a virus…...eventually the whole family gets it.
This was my first experience with essential oils, and it literally changed SO much with my family’s routines and life. Over the past two years I’ve gradually added on to my routines and found other ways I love to use my oils. I know most people will have really strong opinions either for or against these little bottles of goodness, but I wanted to share with you some of the ways that I use my oils every day to support emotional and physical health.
To support our immune system, I made a roller with 10 drops of Thieves Essential Oil, 10 drops Frankincense Essential Oil and 10 drops Copaiba Essential Oil. In the really intense winter months I might add 1 to 3 drops of Oregano Oil too. I then pump in fractionated coconut oil to the roller and fill it up to the top. I put the cap on and shake it up to mix the oils together.
Every morning we roll this on our feet and spine before we head out the door. And like I said, we’ve had ZERO sick days this year. I give credit to a combination of things, but I really feel like essential oils is the game changer here.
Sometimes I will also diffuse Thieves if I’m feeling like we need some extra support.
My skin has benefited SO much from using a few key essential oils. I don’t go super overboard or make it really complex, but I have added just a few little gems to my skin care routine and seen a lot of the fine lines that had been starting (thanks kids!) to disappear.
I’ve also had luck minimizing those blemishes that pop up every once in a while with the help of essential oils. Skin care is such a personal thing and many of us have VERY different types of skin -- me included! That being said, not every oil or carrier oil (the base you mix the essential oils with) are going to work for every different skin type.
My skin tends to be more sensitive and on the drier side. And because of this I use jojoba oil as a base for my serum. You could also use rosehip oil as a base or even aloe as a base if you wanted.
I think the real trick with using essential oils for skin care is consistency. When I started using them every day, I started to notice a pretty big change in the texture of my skin and the reduction of fine lines.
The other great thing about using essential oils as part of your skin care routine is that you’re cutting out a lot of the toxins, preservatives and chemicals that are in the health and beauty products. It’s the main reason I even started using essential oils for my skin, and the benefits of this skin care routine have been just a huge plus.
Sometimes emotions run super high. This is true of any family, but sometimes even more so with families who have littles. I even need some support sometimes to calm my feelings, stay grounded or give me a boost. There a lot of ways I support my emotions and my stress levels, but essential oils have really helped in positively supporting my other tactics.
I have a few key oils that I use in both diffusers and rollers that help with creating a calming, peaceful feeling. I especially use this before we head of to school for the day to chase away those butterflies.
Valor is like a little bit like the magic unicorn of emotional support oils. We use it in a roller and in the diffuser whenever feelings of insecurity sneak in.
Stress Away is another oil that we use SO often. It smells like vanilla and truly does bring the stress levels down. I love it so much for the end of the night after dinner and you can even use it in a shower or bath to help calm your brain and body.
And of course there’s lavender. Lavender is probably our most used oil around the house. We use it ad bedtime and with laundry...and in a lot of our diffuser blends. My girls absolutely love it and the relaxing effect it has. If you’re not into the flower smell, I love pairing it with Cedarwood to give it a more grounded, earthy smell. It’s like my magic sleep potion.
So often during either journaling, devotions or meditation I love to have a few essential oils going in the diffuser. This really helps my mind stay focused and centered while I delve deep into whatever self-care practice I’m in. I didn’t initially think it would make that much of a difference to my time meditating or doing self-reflection. But I still tried using a grounding blend of essential oils in the diffuser. Now, I just don’t feel like any of these internal reflections are as powerful without using my diffuser.
These blends are my absolute favorite when it comes to creating an environment positive for journaling, meditation or self-reflection:
REDUCING CHEMICAL EXPOSURE
I mentioned it earlier, but reducing the risk of chemical exposure is so important to me and my family. I started learning all about the toxins that are in cleaning products and in products I used in my home after my girls were born.
I was appalled to learn all of the products that I thought were healthy and green actually were not. What was even more disappointing to learn was that these products ended up in the air on surfaces I really never intended it to be on. The thought of my kids getting chemicals from cleaning products in their mouths was enough to make me look into alternatives.
I started using the Think Dirty app religiously when I was buy any product for cleaning, skin or general home product. It’s helped me understand what to look for, what to avoid and what is safe to buy.
The chemicals that are in many of the products we introduce to our homes are toxic to our bodies and our internal systems. Our hormone production is especially affected by the preservatives added to our home products. (You can learn even more about how to keep your home healthy at my page Healthy House on the Block).
The great thing about essential oils is that many of them have disinfecting properties and can be used in cleaners and instead of cleaners. For example, the Thieves Household Concentrated Cleaner has replaced literally every single one of my cleaners. It’s one of the biggest, most positive changes we’ve made in our house. Learn more here.
Using essential oils to get me going in the morning and during the afternoon slump has been another way I never expected to use them. I love diffusing an energizing blend to get my body moving and to refresh my mind. It’s been such a great tool for me instead of using coffee or a snack in the afternoon.
I used to grab a snack or make another cup of coffee in the afternoon while i was working to keep me on task, but ever since I started using a diffuser in my office, the need for these other vices is gone. I feel a lot better about using a diffuser because I was eating or having something to drink when I really didn’t need it.
There are so many energizing blends that promote productivity for when your working or cleaning. I like to experiment with different blends to see what works the best. These diffuser blends are winners in my book
Do you use essential oils? What ways do you use them?
Want to learn more?
With summer around the corner and the end of the school year nearly here, I’ve been thinking a lot about how our schedule and life will change a bit with my kids being home. I love summer vacation and *mostly* love having my girls around during the day. We love planning things to do without having to rush off places. Life just goes a bit slower over the summer and I’m hoping this year is no different.
Taking time to just “be”, explore and experience new things has been what summer is all about for us. If you’re in the same boat as me and your kids will be joining you for summer fun, it can also take a little bit of adjusting.
I know a lot of times my work time and “me time” end up not having any real structure to them and I just squeeze them in whenever I can. This works fine for the most part, but in more recent years I’ve also found that I stay up much later with summer hours and it’s not as easy to get up and get a work out in before the kids get up.
It’s for this reason that I’ve changed the way I get my exercise and workouts in with my kids home. Each age they’ve been has also meant I’ve needed to change it up a bit too. When they both napped or had a rest time during the afternoon, that’s when I would work out if it didn’t happen before they woke up for the day. Now I’m in a season of working out WITH them because they can mostly keep up with what I’d like to do in some way or another.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to keep a summer exercise routine in place and even including your kids in the fun.
KIDS BIKE & MOM RUNS
This is one of our favorites lately. My older daughter loves biking and so this makes it fun for her and peaceful for me. Sometimes they’ll scooter while I run, but the bike has worked really, really well.
If you can find a trail where cars aren’t present this can be a great option because so often the kids are way ahead of me and end up turning around to join me again.
I also love this because it usually makes them feel pretty good that they’re faster than mom while we’re working out together. The more fun the kids have, the more fun a workout is for me. If they’re miserable and complaining, it can be a really draining workout. Try to do this one in the morning so nobody gets too overheated.
JOGGING STROLLER OR BIKE TRAILER
While this option just doesn’t work for me that much anymore, last summer this was THE thing we did at least a few times a week. We biked to a lot of our favorite places instead of drove. If you’ve ever pulled a bike trailer with two kids, you know it’s a GOOD workout. We went places like the library, beach and farmer’s market when we could.
You can also go for a quick run with a jogging stroller or bike trailer that has the option to use it as a stroller. The nice thing is you can usually give your kids a book or even a healthy snack while you run and for the most part, you’ll be uninterrupted while exercising.
Just remember sunscreen and cool clothing if it’s a hot day.
KIDS VIDEOS THAT INCORPORATE MOVEMENT FOR RAINY DAYS
If you hop over to Youtube, you can find SO many videos that incorporate movement for kids. One of our favorite resources for this is called GoNoodle. It’s got some fun songs for kiddos and it also adds in some exercise moves for them.
Sometimes I’ll join in with them and just do the moves with either more intensity or I’ll add some weights to the motions.
You can even find workout videos for kids if you wanted to. Sometimes my girls want to do something “just like mom,” and a workout video geared towards them is just the thing. I’ll just make the workout more intense for me while they do the “kid” version.
If you’re still in that phase of life where you need space away from your kids to get a workout in, here are some ways to carve out that time while they’re still at home:
You may have figured out by now that I am a planner. Generally I function best with a plan that has been written out. For me the reason it works best is that I feel like planning frees up my brain to work on other things within my home and business. Often times if I haven’t written things down, I start to feel my thoughts swirl around the things that have to get done.
The other reason I like to have a plan in place is because I feel like it makes me more efficient with my time. My time is so precious to me, as I’m sure it is to you as well, and I don’t want to spend the little time I have trying to figure out what I should get done first. If I have a plan, even a loose plan, in place, the work usually gets done right away and I can move on to my next task.
I use this philosophy with my home life, business and personal to-dos. And I can assure you while I use this philosophy constantly, I’ve changed the WAY I plan out my days and weeks multiple times even over the last few years. I believe it truly depends on what type of season I’m in and what is feeling best to me at that moment.
I think sometimes just the change of how I’m planning out my week is enough to keep me energized and excited to do it. Even if you’re not a planner, there are ways you can use a little bit of weekly planning to make your week run a bit more smoothly.
I also change how I plan based on what type of season I’m in. Some seasons I’m busier with work or the kids school and so my planning routine changes. I have learned that the best thing to be is flexible and to be gracious with myself. Sometimes I’ve had to take a step back and learn that leaving things on the to do list for another week is okay. It also helps me with future planning and knowing what I can handle and what I can’t handle.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The first thing to do is realize just how you plan best. You might be the type of person that needs structure and scheduling in everything from day to day tasks to huge projects is beneficial. Or, you might be a person who needs some flexibility with their schedule and the time frame that you have to get things done may change from day to day. And still there are others of you who might really need structure, but have a hard time implementing it.
It’s important to realize HOW you work best. Think about the feeling you get when things are written out or scheduled. Does it overwhelm you, or does it make you feel mentally freed up? That should be a really good indicator of how you can work with your personality and your needs when you plan for the week.
If scheduling everything makes you feel great - do it! If it leaves you with an overwhelmed feeling, then maybe just plan out the “MUSTS”, which I’ll get to later.
LAY IT ALL OUT
Usually on a Sunday night I mentally go through a list of things I want to accomplish during the week. I have it broken down into tasks for work, tasks for my house and home, personal tasks, etc. Notice, I don’t have any actual schedules or appointments on the list. This is strictly tasks I want to accomplish during the week.
Once I have a list of everything I want to do I plug it into my calendar and decide which day things will get done. Some things end up getting done on the same day every week, like chores and cleaning, so there isn’t a whole lot of thought there.
This is a really effective way to get things accomplished when you have a less than regular schedule. You can leave one day completely empty of tasks if it’s a really busy day for you, or you can double up on things you want to get done if it’s a day where you’ll have extra time.
Every week I plan out 7 days worth of meals. I did a whole post on how this can actually save you money and help you eat a more nutritious diet here. I usually don’t plan breakfasts as we have a pretty regular rotation. For the most part it’s planning out dinners for the family.
The one exception to this is planning out school lunches for my first grader. She usually does a mix of school lunch and home lunch and we go through the week of meals every Sunday and she lets me know which days she wants school lunch and home lunch. For the home lunch days I add a task to my calendar for the day before to pack up her lunch for school.
I do the same thing with my meals as I do for my to-dos. I look at my calendar and make sure that I’m not planning a really intensive meal on a day we’ll be gone all night at gymnastics, or a night that we have commitments until dinnertime. If it’s a night we will be home after school, I might plan a meal that takes a little bit more time or effort.
I also look at the weather to see what nights are good grilling weather and what nights we want to do a picnic outside.
Then I plug the meals into my weekly calendar and add any to-dos like meal prepping to that
I had heard about people planning their week of clothing on a Sunday night and I originally thought they were insane. I could not imagine WHY on earth someone would need to do that. But then, I started doing it for my kids just to make school mornings easier. And did it ever!
On Sunday nights we pick outfits for the entire week based on weather, school activities, etc. and lay them all out. Now my kids can get up and get dressed and know what they want to wear before hand so we don’t waste time in the morning. It’s taken the guesswork out of deciding on an outfit and then changing their minds.
Once I started doing it for them, I realized how nice it would be to know what I wanted to wear for the whole week too. I look at my schedule and where I’ll have to be on each day of the week and then plan out my clothes accordingly.
I also find we rotate through our clothes a lot better. There isn’t one shirt that gets worn out because it’s getting worn week after week. Plus it helps me wear some of the clothes in new ways when I’m planning for the entire week.
I find that if I plan out a rounded routine of exercise for the week, it takes the guesswork out of each morning when I get up to exercise. If I already know what I’ll be doing for the week, I can just get up and go instead of try to decide what I should do.
I usually look at the weather and what my schedule is for this too, just like with clothing and meals. It helps me decide if I’m going to run, skip a morning workout and exercise with the kids or do some body weight work inside.
Whatever I end up planning, I just go with it and try to stay pretty much on track. If I have to change things around, I try not to worry or feel stuck to what I’ve planned.
YOUR TOP THREE
Choosing just three things each day means you’re not overwhelming yourself with too many little tasks. It feels horrible to look at your to-do list a mile long at the end of the day and only have a few things checked off. It’s actually counterproductive to have too many things on the list for each day or for the week.
Being realistic and just doing what you know you can do is much more productive in terms of momentum and continuing on.
CATCH UP DAYS
Every week I build in a time period or day where it’s simply a catch up day for the items I didn’t get done throughout the week. Some people will have a catch-up time every day at the end of the day, but for me, I keep it to one day, usually on the weekend.
The important thing about a catch up day is to actually schedule the that time out. Make sure there is a time slot on your calendar that you have scheduled to use for this. Then, make sure you fill in what tasks your catching up on. I find that if I have a blank space on the calendar without a specific task filled in I’m not very productive during that time.
Brendon Burchard has a system where he allows about 40 minutes at the end of each workday for catch up tasks. You could do this too, but since we’re talking about weekly planning, I thought I would share this method of giving yourself one day per week or a portion of one day per week.
TOOLS TO USE
Weekly Goal Planner: My weekly goal planner is a great tool I like to use each week as well. It helps me stay super focused on what I want to accomplish in each area of the week. You can download yours here if you haven’t checked it out already.
To-Doist: This is one of my favorite tools to use for a to-do list. I love that I can add things to each day by voice. For example, I can say (or type) into the app, “Pack Adrienne’s lunch on Tuesday Night” and it will add it to my task list on Tuesday night just because I’ve specified a time.
In To-Doist you can also make different categories to keep yourself really focused and organized. I have one for work, one category for chores and one for personal items. This helps me see exactly what type of task I’m working on.
Daily Print Out: This is my daily printout that I use for each day of the week. You can put it in a three ring binder if you want to keep it more organized, or for me, I just keep it on my desk. You could also print it and put it on your fridge for the day. I have two days per page and then a master planning page.
It makes it easy to put the weekly tasks into a specific day of the week. It also keeps your meals and exercise in one spot too.
GRACE & FLEXIBILITY
We’re all busy and we’re all trying our best to try and make our lives as smooth as possible. If you don’t get everything done one day or one week, give yourself some grace and move on. Let’s remember that these are self-imposed tasks and goals. We can change them at any time. However, if you’re striving towards getting a particular task done, it’s also important to stay on point and move forward as often as you can.
Not being able to get everything done is also a good learning tool to adjust and tweak your future to do lists. If you’re not getting everything done, then you need to ease up on your expectations for yourself.
If you’re finding a lot of time where you don’t know what to do next, then it’s time to get more intentional with your planning and put more on your to do list.
Either way, give yourself a break when it’s not perfect and make a better plan for the next week, not excuses.
Seeking a balanced life through healthy living and a healthy environment
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