An Organized Life: Q&A
“What lessons have you learned in the past year that have impacted your actions this year?” - @hope_and_star
I think the main lesson I’ve learned is that my daily schedule can, and will, be constantly changing. Amelia went from initially having 5-6 30 minute naps a day, to 4 naps and now is at 2 naps but that will change at any moment! Keeping to a time block schedule allows me to move those blocks around as she continues to change her routine and grow. Being open and really positive about changes to my schedule has really allowed me to enjoy the moment more and remain more present.
“What has been the hardest thing for you to simplify/streamline? - Question comes from a frequent backslider in the laundry room” - @cincy_bibliotekar
The hardest thing for me to streamline would have to be our outdoor play area. There seems to be a lot of bringing large toys out and putting them back, I feel that there must be a better way to store them so it reduces that kind of hauling things back and forth. I'm thinking maybe an outdoor storage container? Or a bin on wheels. My problem is I haven't had the time to really focus on that issue.
RE: laundry backsliding, I think if you step away and really think about the space, what you utilize it for, how it should function at its highest level then start looking at storage and how you can make that space work efficiently it should help with the laundry issue =)
“When you are planning your daily/weekly/monthly to do’s, goals, etc. do you have a set vision on how your ideal week would flow on what needs to be done in order?” - @harlowandava
Absolutely! I have a pretty set daily schedule I like to stick to as much as possible. I use Google Docs to do a daily to-do list that I update at the beginning of each week, and then cross off and add items ongoing throughout my week.
In terms of weekly schedules I use Google Calendar to mark off any events that may be happening (playdates, time out of the house etc), and anything that is important that I don't want to miss. These events also get imputed into my daily to-do list. This is also where you will see my time blocking: blocking out 1-2 hours at a time for naps, cleaning schedules etc.
As long as I stick to my routines that I have in place, like my cleaning schedule and daily morning and evening routines, everything is guaranteed to run smoothly. If, however, I miss a day on my cleaning schedule I can absolutely find the time to add in that task on another day.
For my goals I have a seprate Google Document that I write my short term monthly goals, as long as my long term yearly goals. Right now its pretty much filled with social and blogging items, but as Amelia gets older we will add more goals for her as well.
“Have you always been a very organized, on task person? And what advice do you have for those that are generally organized, but often fall into ruts where they can’t seem to get back on track easily?” - @lauren-etc
I have pretty much always been an organized on task person. When I'm not organized or getting my list done it sends me into a bit of personal chaos. One of my best friends and I call it a "man down" situation. When that happens I usually block off an hour or two hour time slot for one or two days in my schedule and really attack whatever it is that's making me feel disorganized.
Ruts happen to everyone, and I am not an exception. Sometimes you're exhausted, you've had a horrible day at work or with the kids, things start piling up, you have too many tasks etc and all you want to do is lay on the couch and watch an entire season of "Murder She Wrote". When feelings like this hit me, I push through it. I remind myself that these things need to get done in order for me to feel organized and prepared for the next day. It almost comes down with feeling that rut VS. feeling prepared and organized later that day, the day after or even a week after. Feeling prepared and organized, for me, always wins over the feelings of a rut or a loss of my mojo. I force focus, push through and ensure that do my self care that I've woven into my schedule to keep me going. I remind myself that this is a season, and this season will eventually pass.
Maybe it's the fault of figure skating? When you fall down you immediately get back up, power through and nurse your wounds after. That's how I treat my ruts: fall down, get back up, work with it and get to the end of the day.
“Do you plan (with your husband of course) to have another children? If yes how many do you dream of?” - @joedreambig
I actually received a couple of the same questions about children! We are very happy with Amelia and don't plan on having any more of our own children.
“How have your organizational and cleaning priorities changed from before having a child, and what is the biggest difference or challenge? - @capablecas
Honestly, my organizational and cleaning priorities have not changed at all since Amelia was born. I've had to add some tasks into my cleaning and daily schedules but other then that everything has almost remained exactly the same. The biggest difference is now I can truly motor to get everything done while shes napping. Being pregnant slowed me down!
Cleaning and having an organized home may be even more of a priority in my life now. I can be assured that there is nothing that can hurt Amelia, that she can be free to roam around wherever she pleases. She can be in another room and I can be positive that there is nothing in there that can harm her. Her safety has become more of a primary reason to keep everything clean and orderly.
I know some challenges new parents face is the over flow of gifts from friends and family. I think everyone knows me well enough to know that as soon as Amelia outgrows or stops using something it immediately gets donated to a cause in need. I have only kept a small collection of clothing that she first had when she was born, other than that it's packaged and ready for my best friend for when she has children, or serving someone else.
“How did you decide on childcare? Will it be part or full time? Would love to hear all about that decision process” - @sarajanedesign
To be honest, childcare became more of a topic of conversation when I started this blog/community and another related venture I'm starting. I needed more time to write and keep on top of everything, and at the same time provide the amount of attention and care I wanted to my Husband, Amelia and our home. I was so incredibly fortunate to find a recreation center that I could drop Amelia off at for 2 hours in the morning and sit in their coffee shop and write. It's a wonderful opportunity to be around other kids, play with new toys and generally have fun without her mama while I get some writing done. It is incredibly cost effective and I moved some money around to fit it in our budget. Going forward, we will probably do 1 - 2 mornings a week at this facility until shes about 3. We are looking at Preschool to start at that age and ar just researching which schools were going to check out!
“How do you go about your meal plans (keeping your fridge organized, grocery shopping, prepping etc)” - @annie.is.bananie
Awesome question! I have a fairly strict schedule that I stick to when it comes to food:
- Thursday - Prepare meal plans. This involves looking through my cooking binder to see if any recipes jump out at me. I also scour Pinterest for recipes that I haven't tried or that I'm excited about. I check to see what our schedule is for the upcoming week to make sure there's no dinners out etc.
- Thursday - At the same time as looking for meals I prepare the grocery list as well. I take a piece of blank paper, fold it in half and on one side label Monday - Sunday and input what dinners we will have for the week. On the other side I write the grocery list. I do this at the same time as picking dinners so I don't miss any ingredients that may be new or I don't have. (Preparing and researching takes approximately 30-45 minutes.)
- Saturday - Fridge clean out. I do a complete fridge clean on Saturdays to ensure that its ready for the upcoming day. Any uneaten leftovers, food that's past its prime etc is composted. The fridge is then wiped down with Mr. Clean and hot water. (Fridge clean out takes approximately 15 minutes.)
- Sunday - Grocery shopping day. My Husband, Amelia and I hit the grocery store around 9:00AM to start our shopping. They take a cart (it's adorable) and I have a cart. I give them items to go and find and I pick up fruits and veggies. (Grocery shopping takes us approximately 30 minutes.)
- Sunday - Ingredient and Meal prep. As soon as we get home I start washing fruits and veggies and putting other items away in the fridge. After everything is clean, I refer to each recipe and highlight each ingredient I can prepare ahead of time. I then chop ingredients and place them in a quart size Ziploc bag, label the bag with the day of the week, the dinner that will be prepared and the ingredients in the bag. (This process takes usually an hour to an hour and a half.)
“Have you always been so organized? If not, what do you do to make organization such a consistent part of your routine? Any tips for someone to get to that point? And do you think some people are simply more organized than others, or that everyone can be super organized with the right tools?” - @sweethealthnut
I believe I have always been this organized as long as I can remember. I think that currently, all the work I have done with our home (consistently decluttering, developing workable systems, habits and routines) allows me to stay on top of everything and stay organized pretty much all the time.
My best advice for someone to get to this point (which I'm writing a series on!) is to:
- Identify the Primary Function: Identify the unique primary function or personality of each and every room in your home and life.
- Discover your vision of the space: Identify the emotion and feeling you want to get from each of those spaces.
- What doesn't belong: Identify what doesn't belong in that space that serves the feeling you're wanting to the space to emote and the function of the room itself and move it out into the space it belongs.
- Declutter and Donate: As you go through each room, identify items that no longer speak to you, spark joy or SERVE you and your family. Those items are automatically donated, thrown out or broken down and repurposed.
- Develop Routines and Systems: After your living spaces have been decluttered and organized, I believe you can then make easy, workable routines and systems for everything in your life. For example, a kitchen that has become free of excess that no longer serves you, that only holds items that you frequently use and love and that doesn't hold any items from other spaces, then becomes incredibly easy to maintain, clean and manage. A living room that no longer holds toys, books or items that belong in another space is then incredibly easy to maintain and live in etc.
I think that absolutely everyone can be super organized with the right tools, you just need to discover what works for you. Everyone is at a different stage in their lives and organizing journey. One person's beginning should not be compared to another person's end product. It's a process. Give yourself time to truly find what being organized looks like to you.
“I would actually really like to know which blogs you follow that you never miss and who inspires you?! You have a unique perspective on organization/homemaking - was it always this way or was it a work in progress?” - @mygreigehouse
To be honest I'm more of a book reader then blog reader (I know, weird since I have a blog). That being said I find a massive amount of inspiration from Pinterest and then follow the links I find for entries from a huge number of bloggers. Honestly I could spend all day on Pinterest, just exploring thoughts and ideas as they come to me.
Oddly enough I didn't know I had a different perspective on organization until I tried my hand at professional one-to-one organizing. After joining an organization I quickly realized that I don't actually believe in what they were promoting. I didn't want to tell people to go to the "Container Store' and buy stuff to store their stuff in. I wanted to help people see the beauty in what they already had, get rid of the stuff that no longer served them, and eliminate the need for storage all together! When I realized my ideals didn't align itself with that of some of my fellow organizers, I discovered that I had a different way of thinking about things and that one-to-one organization was not the way I wanted to get my message out to the world.
In terms of homemaking I really don't know where I got this inspiration from. I had a vision of what I wanted my life to be like with my Husband and I just totally committed and threw myself into the steps that it would take to achieve what I dreamed. I like to think that I found inspiration from my Mom and Grandmothers. In times of difficulty I like to think to myself, "What would Grandma do?" and I try to do that. I find inspiration from Instagram, Facebook and PInterest. I research anything and everything that sparks my interest and gives me more information on running and managing my home and family.
“How do you balance a desire for things to be aesthetically pretty vs the need to have functional systems in place?” - @usuallycontented
To be honest, I simply look for the beauty in objects that are purely functional, and then use or display them in beautiful ways. I believe that beauty is to be found everywhere, and once you start seeing your home with those glasses on literally everything becomes beautiful.
“I’d love to learn about how you picked the furniture for you home. Any tips and places you’d recommend?’ - @sarajanedesign
Some of the furniture was actually already purchased by my Husband, and other furniture we purchased together. We knew we had a look we were going for: simplicity and functionality. We love white and neutral furniture because I believe they can be interchangeable in literally any space. We also love natural wood, so we try and use that as much as possible as well to offset the starkness of the white.
Two of our favorite stores are:
- The Wooden Duck in Berkeley for all our natural wood pieces and outdoor furniture
- Crate and Barrel for our white furniture and den couch
The one tip I would recommend to anyone looking at purchasing furniture, is to write down your unique vision of what you want throughout your home and refer to it frequently.
You may love navy and blue, so maybe you weave those colors into pieces throughout your home. Maybe you love spanish influences so you would look for bright colors to use throughout your home.
Remember that decor can be easily and inexpensively changed out, however larger pieces of furniture are harder and more costly to replace. Sometimes its easier to stick to neutral pieces and then accent with your favorite colors.
“You mentioned recently that you used to be a figure skating coach. Want to tell us about your “past” life, pre-marriage and motherhood?” - @doneandleftundone
(Oh my, I could probably write one long book about my (mis) adventures from the age of 16-28. I won't get into that today however lol)
Yes, I used to be a full time figure skating coach in Toronto, Ontario. I had the privilege of working with some amazing coaches and athletes, flew to Germany for a pairs summit where I fell in love with Berlin (really want to go back there!) and had some amazing opportunities given to me by Skate Canada. By the end of my career I was managing about 30 skaters and working with 3 or 4 coaches. I organized each skaters training and competition schedule for the year, as well as all the coaches lesson schedules.
I can look back now and see that the organizing aspect of the sport was my strength, along with instilling a passion and love for the figure skating in young children. I can be honest when I say I ROCKED at teaching kids the basics of skating from Pre-Canskate to single axle. At one point I longed to be a Competitive Coach. I remember one of my mentors at the time sat me down and said, "If you want to be a competitive coach you gotta get thicker skin.". Guess what - I don't have thick skin, so competitive coaching was just never in the cards for me. (There was also a comment about a "snake in the grass" but I won't go into that either lol)
I met my husband at my best friends wedding and immediately fell in love with him. On a trip to Vancouver (about a month into him "courting" me) (yes, we use the term "courting") my plane landed, I met my husband at the airport and later that day announced that I wanted to retire from my coaching career, marry him, move to California and be a housewife and eventual stay at home mom. His response "Let's do it!" Shortly there after I announced to my students, friends and colleagues that I was retiring. I moved to California and the rest is history!
I am incredibly proud of the skaters that I got to work with. Some are now champions in their respective levels and disciplines, some have competed on the world stage, some are up and coming and some have gone on to achieve amazing things in their school and personal life. Each and every one of them was unique and taught me something different. I will always be thankful for that opportunity.