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4 Time-Saving Hacks for Busy Moms

March 29, 2016


4 Time-Saving Hacks for Busy Moms

Regardless if you’re a working mom or a stay-at-home mom… I’m going to say that staying on top of all the things you need to do is one of the biggest balancing acts of our lives! I went to college and law school and that was way easier than being a mom!

Sometimes I think there should be a parade for us moms because we are pretty amazing human beings. Oh well. I digress. Today I want to discuss what it takes to stay active and stay organized. These are pretty unconventional ideas, but they work!

Put Your Kids in Their Clothes Before Bed

Put clothes on babyThis is an idea from my sister-in-law.  This may sound weird but it can save you so much time. After you take your kid out of their evening bath, put on their clothes that they’re going to be wearing tomorrow. This way, when they wake up, all you need to do is brush their hair a little bit or brush their teeth and you’re off! Talk about hassle free. The idea is to train your kids and yourself to be ready and active right when the day starts!

She says you can do the same for you! Don’t wear your work clothes in bed, but you can wear your workout clothes. This way when you wake up you can quickly go for a run or just workout before you get the day started.

I said this is my sister-in-law’s idea.  This doesn’t work for me because like my husband my youngest is not a morning person.  (It not applicable to my two other kids because the oldest is in college and the next one graduated from high school and is pursuing acting and music.)  If my 7-year old were more like my niece and nephew this would be great.  She never pops out of bed ready to go though.  In the morning she drags herself to the bath and sits semi-comatose for about 20 minutes before she starts to wake up, soaps herself up and gets dressed.  By the time she’s dressed 30-40 minutes later she’s awake and ready to be off.

What we do is gather her clothes and have what she’s going to wear laid out the night before.  This saves time in the morning from having to pick clothes and helps us save time in the morning.  I also like to gather my workout clothes and lay them out before bed.  Whilst we do sleep in pajamas, having those clothes ready to go in the morning definitely is a time- and stress-saver.

Create a Hassle Free Lunch!


Photo by Kathleen Franklin on Flickr.  CC 2.0

Once or twice a week it is best to bring a child or two in the kitchen and help you prep your family’s weekly lunch meals. All you need to do is cook some food and store it in Tupperware containers (one for each family member). This allows your hands to be free for the rest of the week! It also gives you more time to workout or get to other pesky errands you had planned in your day.

We also prep lunches the night before.  That way, in the morning you need only grab and go.

Write a Nightly To-Do List

You never ever want to go to bed blind. This means that right before you go to bed you should take an index card, a small piece of paper, or your smart phone and note down a few things that you want / need to accomplish for the next day. This way you know exactly what needs to be done when you wake up. It helps lessen confusion and puts you on track.

Photo by David D on Flickr. CC 2.0

Assign Weekly Chores

It’s really cool to assign your family weekly / daily chore assignments. For example, in my house, my husband is assigned to put all the laundry in the washer every Tuesday night. And, I’ve assigned myself to put it into the dryer every Wednesday morning. And, we have it assigned that ever Wednesday night we fold the clothes together.

We’re now doing this with cooking, cleaning, and even gardening. The kids have their chores too.  This way everyone is accountable to making sure that the family life is going well for anyone: a family who works together stays together.

I understand that these tips could be a little unconventional. But we live in the 21st century and it’s time that every single person in the family should hold some sort of responsibility to make sure that Moms are given the proper support to stay active and organized! The family unit is even stronger when the mother is happy and rested. 😀

What are your tips for finding time and staying balanced?  Please share in the comments below

 Monick HalmMonick Paul Halm is the Chief Creative Officer at the Checklist Mom.  She has made it her mission to empower women and moms to thrive in their lives, families, and career choices.  She’s a busy mom of 3, certified life and career coach, author, speaker, and real estate investor.  She’s a wearer of many hats, and juggler of many duties and loves connecting with our moms.  You can connect with her on the Checklist Mom Facebook Page and on twitter as @thereikicoach.

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Top 5 Tips to Help You Balance Your Life As a Mom

March 15, 2016


5 Life Hacks to Help You Balance Your Life as a MomFinding life balance is one of the hardest tricks to accomplish as a mom – especially when you’re also juggling a career.  I know as a working mom of 3, finding balance is a definite challenge.  Here are our top 5 hacks to help you balance your life as a mom.

1. Keep a Realistic Schedule

The main word is “realistic.” When I first became a mom I thought I could do 1000 things at once. Though to be honest, I tried to do that even before motherhood.
Then, I realized that it wasn’t about doing 1000 things at once, it was about accomplishing specific tasks throughout the day. It’s not doing things it’s about making things happen.  And making the RIGHT things happen.

The more you’re trying to juggle, the more important it is to make a good schedule and keep to it. Block out times where you need to sleep, exercise, and not be bothered. Set specific times where you assign yourself to work, housework, cooking, errands, and even “treating yourself outside of work commitments.”

If you don’t plan a realistic schedule that makes sense then you won’t go anywhere. Remember! Don’t forget to schedule your breaks! Moms definitely need stay healthy and to treat themselves once in a while (;

2. Learn to say “No.”

NO is a very powerful word that I don’t like to say often! If you’re like me, you don’t like to refuse favors because you’re too nice and you don’t want to miss out on something. Do your best to really consider saying the word “no” to plans that can hurt your realistic schedule. You need rest. You have a ton of things to do!

When there is a ton of things on your plate – it’s okay…actually, it’s necessary to say no!  You’re saying YES to balance and peace of mind.

3. Group Your Work Together!

This is a fun one! All you need to do is group tasks that are similar and do them together. You’ll get things done faster because your mind will be only on one thing, which will be easy to forget once done! For example, it’s good to group all your bills together and just focus on it for a block of time on one day (nothing else). Another example, is to wait till all the dishes are together (and no one is eating) before you clean the kitchen.

This also goes for working moms as well (like me!). For example, block time for e-mails (e.g., 10:00 – 11:00), rather than responding to them as they come in.  And then turn off notifications, ringers, and other distractions to help you stick to your time blocks and schedules – it’s very easy for ringing phones, e-mail or Facebook notifications, kids who want to play, etc. to throw you off.

4. Keep it Organized

This goes without saying that keeping it organized is pretty crucial. Besides using the Checklist Mom app. Here are some cool tips:

  • woman-hand-smartphone-deskHave as little out as possible: Keep your surfaces as clean as possible – meaning knick knacks, decorating items. A cluttered surface can lead to a cluttered mind.  My desk has nothing except my computer, a pad to write on, and a phone. This maybe boring, but I get things done. The other bonus is that when there is little out, there is less cleaning and less dusting. When you’ve got kids and they’ve got SO MUCH STUFF (why do the littlest ones have the most stuff??), it can be challenging, but try to keep things put away as much as possible.

  • Give away what you don’t use “regularly” or doesn’t “spark joy”: As I’ve been writing about, I’ve been doing the KonMari De-cluttering method, and I’ve been loving giving away things that don’t spark joy in my life.  I feel lighter when I give things away, and giving it to someone with a bigger need makes me feel less guilty for getting rid of good items.

  • Going paperless:
    my office is almost entirely paperless. I scan and digitally file what is necessary and then toss the rest.  Need I say more? There’s no getting up looking for files, misfiling, paper waste, toner waste, buying folders, buying paper. Oh, and being able to fax and email documents in seconds saves so much time.

5. Keep Your Attitude Positive

Last but not least… your attitude is everything! No matter how organized you are, no matter how many times you say no, and no matter how many times you schedule your schedule… if you’re not keeping a positive attitude than everything will be lost. You got this! Just tell yourself you’re amazing and you deserve to have a balanced life because you are and you do!

Yes, You’re amazing!!! 😀

Do you have any other cool hacks and tips? Share in the comments and let me know!snappa-1458067147

Monick HalmMonick Paul Halm is the Chief Creative Officer at the Checklist Mom.  She has made it her mission to empower women and moms to thrive in their lives, families, and career choices.  She’s a busy mom of 3, certified life and career coach, author, speaker, and real estate investor.  She’s a wearer of many hats, and juggler of many duties and loves connecting with our moms.  You can connect with her on the Checklist Mom Facebook Page and on twitter as @thereikicoach.

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Top 5 Dad Must-Dos For More Time Without The Stress, Guilt or Drama

January 20, 2016


The Checklist Dad Corner

Since we launched Checklist Mom back in 2013, I’m often asked “Marc, why is the Checklist Mom website or app only for moms? Don’t you know that dads are also interested in organization and scheduling?” and my response is “yes, of course.” I tell them “Oh! Don’t let our name fool you, Checklist Mom is for all parents (mom and/or dad) who want more time for themselves and are committed to making their lives better by getting organized so that they will have more stress free, guilt free and drama free time  to thrive.”

At Checklist Mom we believe that any parent can achieve their goals, but we emphasize that these goals can be achieved much faster when the whole family is involved, that means Mom, Dad and the kids.

However, as a dad, I know that sometimes my perception of how our family should go about getting better organized often differs from my wife and kids’ perspectives. I have to admit that this has led to a few family disagreements that were at times quite uncomfortable. But since my wife and I are both committed to being better organized, we’ve made a series of adjustments that I believe greatly improved our relationship with ourselves and our family. Doing so has enabled us to achieve our goals much faster than we ever expected.

Note that we are constantly making adjustments to better ourselves. As described in the following article “Dividing childcare and housework duties with your partner,” I’ve listed my top 5 favorite must-do adjustments that has guaranteed  success in our home:

  1. Share the load by working together

    When my wife and I work together to maintain our home, everyone benefits. I’m much more involved with the care of our kids. This helps me develop a strong bond with them. The kids benefit because they see mom and dad as both being important to family life. For housework, I’m committed to cooperate, communicate and work together fairly, and as a result everybody benefits.

  1. Redefine your goals

    Marc helping Cleo with her homework

    Helping my daughter Cleo finish up her homework & enjoying every minute of it.

How do we maintain balance at home, get dinner ready, do laundry, feed and bathe the kids, and still have time for each other and ourselves? Well, instead of striving for a 50-50 division of labor, we first focus on what we both want and need. Then, we find a way to balance the load so that we can both feel good, productive and appreciated

  1. Track your to-dos

Here’s an exercise that we found extremely beneficial. For one week, both you and your partner keep a log of everything your do at home and for the family. Then compare your lists.

  • How do you each feel about the tasks on your list?
  • Do you want to change anything?
  • Is there any task you intensely dislike?
  • Can you switch it for another chore?

While reviewing your lists, try reassigning responsibilities and finding compromises. Maybe you can agree to take turns doing the especially difficult tasks. And stay flexible even after you’ve divided up the chores in a way that’s mutually agreeable. Be willing to help each other out when you can, or even swap chores once in a while to get a feel for what your partner does.

  1. Anticipate and communicate

Ok I admit it, my wife exshutterstock_244953904pects me to read her mind and I do the exact same thing, but for some reason or another we never got real good at mind reading. So we’ve learned that It’s crucial that you tell each other what you want and need. Do your best to express yourself clearly and specifically, and without blame.

For example, when you need help, tell your partner exactly what you want “Can you help with the kids’ homework so I can cook dinner?” rather than how you may feel at the moment. “I have to do everything around here or nothing gets done!” If you fight over household responsibilities, set-aside time when you’re both calm to figure out what the real problem is and how to find a solution.

  1. Accept each other’s style

My wife and I have different parenting styles, and these differences are important gifts for our kids. But as parents it’s sometimes very hard to respect and value those differences. Instead of criticizing my wife about what she feeds our kids, I simply accept and respect that she feeds, bathes, teaches or dresses them differently than I do. If you constantly criticize your partner’s efforts, they will have angst and be more reluctant to help you in the future.

BONUS – Reward yourself and your stress free, guilt free & drama free time

When you agree to work together, you will have time to play together later. For example you could say, “If you take the kids to the playground Saturday, I’ll spend that time grocery shopping. Then we’ll have the rest of the day to ourselves.”

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KonMari with Kids: Life Changing Magic?

January 6, 2016


Aliza feeling to see if item sparks joy

Aliza feeling to see if item sparks joy

I have to share a wonderful KonMari story about my 7-year old daughter.

If you’ve been following the blog you know that I’ve been working on tidying/organizing my house using the KonMari Method, based off of the worldwide bestselling book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

You can read more about it in my previous post here.  Basically though, you go through every item in your home category by category and discard anything that doesn’t spark joy.  The rest you arrange in particularly “joy enhancing” methods.

After she saw me going through my things, my daughter asked me to help with her room. We went through her clothes, paper, and most of her toys. We still have some stuff to do in her room, but both reached a fatigue point. We’ll get there.  At the time, I blogged about the experience of doing KonMari with a child.  You can read about it here.

The story I want to share today is that over the holidays we received a bag of hand-me-downs from my sister-in-law. My niece is the same age as my daughter, but she’s 3 dress sizes bigger and grows like a weed. We’re always getting her hand-me-downs. Usually I’d pick through the bag and keep what I like and give away the rest, but I let my daughter go through it and decide which ones sparked joy for her.

She said “Mom! I know how to tell what sparks joy. I close my eyes and feel the item. If it feels warm, it sparks joy. If it feels cold, it doesn’t.” I gave her a big hug and told her that this is perfect and that this “warm/cold” method that she’s discovered works with people, projects, decisions … everything in life. She got it.

I speak on intuition and teach people how to listen to and trust their intuitive guidance. It’s hard for many adults. Through this KonMari work my daughter is learning to tune into her intuitive wisdom and follow it at age 7. THAT’S life changing magic!

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Getting the Kids’ Things Organized – KonMari Method with Kids

October 28, 2015


This is her closet after being tidied KonMari style

This is her closet after being tidied KonMari style

1-01-01In my last post, I talked about the KonMari Method from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up from Marie Kondo.

It’s been about a week since I started using it and it has felt rather life changing for me.  My office and closet, drawers, are looking pristine and only filled with things that spark joy.

The neater my spaces got however, the messier my daughter’s room began to look.  I was itching to get rid of things in there too.

Previously when we wanted to de-clutter her room, my husband and I would wait until Aliza went to school and then start throwing things away that we thought she didn’t need anymore.

In the book, Kondo says that you should never throw away anyone else’s thing without them knowing about it.  Most of the time they’ll never notice, but when they do it erodes trust.  She says that you should instead begin with your own items (and if you’re noticing that others have stuff to get rid of, it’s almost certain that you’ve got your own items to de-clutter) and let the others in the house be inspired by your example.

That seems to have worked out in my case.  I showed my 7-year old daughter, Aliza, my closet and drawers and how I was tidying, and she said she wanted to do it too.  [My husband has also gotten the bug, and says that he will be starting with his things in the next day or too.  Yeah!]

Normally, I think Kondo would say that people should handle tidying their own spaces in private, but in my daughter’s case I  decided I would be there to guide her.  I did let her make the decisions on what sparked joy for her and what she’d keep or give away however.  Generally this worked out well, except for yesterday, which you will read about shortly.

So we began, as Kondo suggests, with her clothes.  We split it up into categories and started with tops, then went to bottoms. I had to explain to her what “does this spark joy?” mean and simplified it as “does this make you feel happy?”  She got it and had no trouble getting rid of clothing that was too small or she didn’t like.

At first, she was saying “get rid of this skirt.  It’s poopy and ugly.”  I told her, “You have to thank the items and show them kindness.”  She got really into thanking the items after that.  “Thank you for being such a wonderful skirt.  You are too small for me and it’s time for you to go to another little girl now.”

Dividing up her clothes in to the categories, and working on it for about 2 hours per day, we did the job over the course of 2 days.  I also taught her how to fold KonMari style, though she didn’t quite get it and I went behind her re-folding everything.  By the end, her closet was looking SO MUCH BETTER, and I can actually see what she has!  Even getting rid of tons of things, she still has ample amounts of everything – except a bathing suit.  Now, I can stop shopping for things she doesn’t need. AND mornings have been so much easier with her clothes so beautifully organized.

I should have taken a before picture (though it was mortifyingly messy and I’d be embarassed to post it).  I posted an “after” picture though.  You can just imagine that the before picture looked opposite to this (overflowing drawers in crazy states of disarray).

The next day we took care of her books.  I had been planning to buy a new bookshelf to handle all her books, but by the time we’d finished, she had room to spare on her current bookcase.  Yeah!  We’ve just saved time and money.

This is Aliza going through her books to determine which ones spark joy

This is Aliza going through her books to determine which ones spark joy

This is her bookcase after being tidied. Before it was overflowing with books, and now as you can see there is room to spare.

This is her bookcase after being tidied. Before it was overflowing with books, and now as you can see there is room to spare.

We took a couple days off of tidying and yesterday we started back into it with toys.

I made a huge mistake here and we both ended up very frustrated.  My mistake was not dividing her toys up into categories.  I just dumped a mass of toys onto her floor and after a little while, we both started getting overwhelmed and cranky.  What I should have done (and what we eventually started doing), is I should have divided her toys into categories – stuffed animals, Barbies and other dolls, puzzles & board games, musical instruments, little toys, etc.

Marie Kondo doesn’t discuss toys in her book.  She appears to be a single woman and I’m not sure how many of her clients have kids, but toys should be a whole chapter unto itself.

Anyway, at the end of the evening, Aliza asked if she could organize with daddy next time. 🙁 Unlike the previous times, toy tidying was not much fun.  I’ve agreed, but will stay in the background to help and divide up the remaining categories of items for faster and less stressful sorting.

Anyway, that’s the story with us using the KonMari method with a child.  If you’ve tried it with your kids, I’d love to know how it worked out for you and if you’ve got insights to share.

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How to Save Time, Get Organized, and Rid Yourself of Clutter Once and For All

October 23, 2015


save time get organized-01-01This blog is all about helping busy moms find much needed time in their lives.  One of the biggest time sucks for many moms is tidying the house and dealing with clutter.

It’s definitely a problem in our house!  Not only do we spend lots of time trying to clean up and tidy all the things we have in our house, but we also spend a lot of time trying to FIND things amongst all that clutter.

A friend of mine, another mother in my daughter’s school, told me about a book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.  This friend said it was a quick read and she’d been enjoying following the program.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying UpI went on a trip to Washington, DC last weekend to visit my stepdaughter in college.  As we were walking through the school book store, and I saw this book by the counter.  It was on sale for 30% off, and promised to help you get rid of the piles of clutter forever.  The KonMari Method detailed in the book promised a revolutionary category-by-category system that would lead to lasting results.  In other words, once you do this major decluttering, you’ll just have a tiny bit of easy maintenance to do and clutter will be a thing of the past.  I thought to myself “think of how much time and frustration I could save if I didn’t have to deal with tidying up and clutter!”  Without thinking one moment more about it, I bought the book.

The book was super simple and quick to read.  By the time I made it home to Los Angeles two days later, I’d already finished it.

The basics of her KonMari system are this:

  • Don’t declutter area-by-area (which is conventional wisdom).  Instead tackle your tidying/de-cluttering project category by category.  First begin with clothing, then books, then non-sentimental papers (e.g., credit card statements, bills, papers from kids’ school), then miscellaneous items, then finally sentimental items (like photos, gifts cards, heirlooms, etc.).  Within these major categories, she has subcategories.  For example, clothes can be divided into tops, bottoms, hanging clothes (outwear/dresses), pajamas, undergarments, accessories, shoes.  Per Kondo, the order in which you tidy matters, so it’s important to tidy in the order she prescribes.
    These are all my books - pulled from all over the house - on the floor of my living room (pre-sorting)

    These are all my books – pulled from all over the house – on the floor of my living room (pre-sorting)

  • Pull out ALL the items in that one category and place them in one pile on the floor.  You must do this even for books that are on shelves or clothes that are hanging in the closet.
  • Touch each item one by one and ask “does this spark joy?”  If it does, you may keep it.  If it doesn’t you let it go.  Marie Kondo has a very personal relationship with items, so she says that as you let things go you thank them for how they’ve served you.
  • When you have culled your items and all you have are things that spark joy, then you must store them properly.  Generally piles are a no-no, and things are stored vertically so that you can always see what you have.  This will help prevent you from buying more than you need, because you will always know exactly what you have.  Also, once you’ve gotten into the habit of asking “does this spark joy?” you won’t want to purchase things that don’t make you feel that way.
  • Start with your own (and only your own items).  In general do not tidy other people’s items.  Kondo says that as you clear your own space, the others in your household will automatically be inspired to do this too.
  • In the end you are left with a house filled only with items that spark joy and arranged beautifully in a way that honors every item and also sparks joy.

By the time I reached Los Angeles, I was chomping at the bit to get home and put the system to the test.  I actually declutter and get rid of things quite often.  I didn’t think there would be that much for me to get rid of.  Boy was I wrong!

These are the bags of items to donate, JUST from items in my drawers and closet

These were the bags of items to donate, JUST from my clothes, shoes, and accessories.

As Marie Kondo suggested, I started with my tops.  I was embarassed to say that my drawers were so full that I could hardly open them.  Partly it was that I had way too much stuff and partly because they were badly stored.

This was my drawer of pajamas, undergarments, socks and stockings before. I literally could barely open this drawer. It was a struggle.

This was my drawer of pajamas, undergarments, socks and stockings before. I literally could barely open this drawer. It was a struggle.

The piles were huge, but once you got going, it went fairly quickly.  My closet and drawers went from being overstuffed and impossible to find anything in, to being a beautiful model of organization.  It actually makes me happy to look into my drawers and closet now.  Ahhh.

This is what my drawer looks like now that it's properly organized and filled only with things that spark joy. :)

This is what my drawer looks like now that it’s properly organized and filled only with things that spark joy. 🙂

At this point, I’ve gone through all my clothes, my many books, and am now organizing my papers.  I’ve been at it for a 2-3 hours a day for the past 3 days.  Aliza, my 7-year old got excited and wants to organize too.  We’ve started tackling her clothes and toys.  In the next post, I’ll blog about how it was to use the KonMari Process with a child, and how it’s been to keep it up.

If you’ve tried this book, I’d love to know how it’s been for you.

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