This post was sponsored by Diapers.com as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
I've always admired my friend Ralphie because while I feel like she lives a full life, it also always seems non-frantic and harried to me. She has four little girls (she was the very first person I told besides Bart when we first found out that this baby was probably a girl) and over the years we've been friends, I've been so impressed with the warm, welcoming, and relaxed home life she's cultivated for their family.
Whenever I go to their house, which is way too infrequently now that we live in different states, I just feel completely at home and like the world slows down a little bit.
I hate the feeling of go-go-go, and being too busy to really enjoy my life and my family, and, especially as we gear up to add another little munchkin to our home, I'm trying to reduce how busy and stressed I feel (and subsequently how busy our whole family feels) by making more time and space for being together and not rushing around, without letting my life collapse around me.
Over the past few months, I've been focusing on these five little things that have disproportionately affected how calm and focused I feel on a daily basis. None of these are ground-breaking, but they're making big differences in my life:
1. Keeping my inbox clear. Between blogging, friends and family, my church responsibilities, and ten gazillion promotional emails, my inbox can fill up in about ten seconds. I'm not aiming for Inbox Zero, but I do try to keep things as manageable as possible, and a big part of this is unsubscribing or setting Gmail filters for as much as possible, so I don't even see a lot of them or let them make it hard to recognize the important emails. That number popping up on my phone is thrilling, but then a total let-down when it's just another sale email or some totally unrelated PR pitch (do I want to feature a back-massaging worm in both black and pink as the perfect holiday stocking stuffer? No. But thank you). Ruthlessly filtering and deleting quickly has made it so much easier to concentrate on the emails that really do require my attention. Gmail filters forever, basically.
2. Ordering as much as possible online. Back when I had one solitary child and almost no work and we only had one car, days stretched out forever and a day when I dropped Bart off at work and could go run an errand or two were the best. days. ever. Now? I basically dread errands so much. Dragging all three children with me is really exhausting (this is probably the single biggest downside of homeschooling for me - I loved last year being able to go do a few quick errands with only two children last year after we dropped Ella off at school) and every errand seems to take forever. I have fully embraced online shopping and the more things that can just show up at my door, the happier I am. I'd never really used Diapers.com but I was completely converted after one order - I bought a huge new box of diapers, but also was able to grab new razor blades for Bart. I'd been telling him I'd go to Sam's Club to pick some up for more than two weeks and. . .just hadn't gotten around to it. And I also had been meaning to order Halloween outfits for Ella and Star (Ani already had one), plus some Band-Aids after I discovered Ani had been using them as tape for craft projects during quiet time. Plus, they have big-ticket items like car seats, strollers, and nursery furniture that are handpicked by experts so they're all the best brands at great prices. Any order over $49 ships free, and all orders ship in 1-2 days (I ordered mine on Monday afternoon and they arrived less than 24 hours later. Magic!). If I never have to make a last second store run for diapers, it'll be too soon for me. Also, if you've never tried it out, you can get 20% off your order plus extra $5 off with a case of diapers with the code TRYUSLOVEUS (excludes diapers, wipes and formula, with a max discount of $35). It's so much less stressful to me to spend my non-scheduled time hanging out with the girls than schlepping everyone to the store to grab a few things we need.
3. Taking advantage of my golden hours. I am definitely a morning person (which I don't really like to say, because I actually don't like getting up early - I just have more energy and drive in the first half of the day), and so I'm trying to be more proactive about getting things done then. By afternoon, once quiet time is over, I'm accepting that I basically don't want to do anything more strenuous than read books on the couch or walk to the park. I'm doing more crockpot meals or prepping dinner ahead of time, doing basic housekeeping, and checking things off my to-do list (it's easier this week while Ella's on fall break and we don't have homeschooling taking up most of my morning time and attention) so that those things actually get done. Because for all my good intentions, I get very little accomplished once the girls are in bed.
4. Not listening to audiobooks when I'm working. I am the world's biggest advocate for audiobooks (and also a fan of several excellent podcasts), but I've stopped listening to them almost entirely while I work. I've found that turning them on and off as I switch between tasks is just too much distraction and then my mind is constantly going too many directions at once. Now I save them for the truly mindless tasks like ironing, putting on my makeup, and folding laundry, and I'm amazed at how much more mental quiet I have. I may get through a few less books, but I also feel less harried, distracted, and flustered.
5. Reading fewer books at once. I don't think I'll ever be someone who reads one book at a time, but I'm trying to do a better job at starting a book and then working consistently through that one until I'm finished instead of flitting from book to book and struggling to finish any of them. I've always felt like having more books out from the library or on my Kindle or on my bedside table helped me get more reading done, but at this stage in my life, I seem to do better if I only have one or two going, so I don't have to make as much of a decision when I have some time to read (currently the only book I'm reading is The Thorn Birds, plus Five Children and It with Ella and When Friendship Followed Me Home on audio) and it's just felt so freeing right now. I'm in a period of my life with a lot of demands on my attention, and it's a relief to have less demands from that sector.
What things are you doing more or less of to keep your life a little easier? I'd love to hear!
Photos by Grace & Vine Studios