Tuesday’s Tip: Quit Facebook

**i wrote this four years ago, but it’s a good reminder! Maybe I’ll get around to editing it sometime… :)**

So, we are a month into 2016.  I’m sure you already read your fill of New Year Resolution posts – posts and articles about how we are going to lose weight, save money/pay off debt, and be better people.

This isn’t one of those posts.  Instead, I want to share my journey on scaling back my online/facebook use.

Time

I will admit I am online too much. Often, I am looking up recipes, activities for the kids, and news (yes, I am still a news junkie), but it was still too much time spent.While I often tried to keep my browsing time for during long nursing sessions with the baby, it usually lasted for longer than I wanted. Isn’t that how FB or the internet works? “Oh, i’ll check in for 5 min” but it somehow sucks you in for at least 30?

It is a new year and I want to live intentionally. With a purpose each morning. So, like reasonable person in the 21st century trying to break a habit, I went to google.  “Why I should delete facebook” brought forward a myriad of ___.  This article was probably the most convincing for me. Additionally, I just finished the book

http://berinkinsman.com/2015/04/06/quitting-facebook-makes-you-happier/

A funny thing happened  when I stopped mindlessly browning the web on Dec 31. I had a lot of time on my hands. Sure, it wasn’t in big chunks of time (ie, 3 min here, 5 min there). A few minutes after breakfast, or waiting for the toast to finish, or the time when the kids are actually playing together for long than 10 seconds (and not fighting!). Without the phone to zone out on, I became active again. Instead of checking my phone, I emptied the dishwasher, readied the coffee for the morning, chopped veggies, did laundry, and read two books!  In 6 days! Yes, this is real life!

-The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say 'no' to almost everything.-- Warren Buffett.

Tranquility

I found peace that I had been lacking in my heart for a long time. a peaceful tranquility settled upon the house and, more importantly, in my mind and heart. Without the constant “what is everyone up to” and “what is happening in the world” pressure, I felt at home in my life again. What mattered wasn’t whether Obama/Trump/Kim Kardasian (take your pick) said something absurd, or the latest TASTY food video.* What mattered was that my 3 yr old is learning to take really good photos on our point-and-click camera and my 1 yr old can now connect the Duplo blocks without my help.

* (let’s be honest. We’ll never actually make one of those, and it just makes you feel lousy for not trying more projects, right? yes.)

Creativity

As a stay at home, there isn’t a lot of time for pursuing hobbies, especially when the children basically cannot do anything for themselves. It’s messy, tiring, monotonous. So, in the margins of the day when I do actually have some time (albiet in just a few minute chunks), i want to be creating, not consuming.

“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”– Warren BuffettI had allowed myself to be sucked into the distractions, into the thinking that if I didn’t have a nice 1-3 hour chuck of alone time, then I couldn’t read (or write, or code). It seemed easier to zone out on the phone instead of immerse yourself into a book, but I have happily discovered that this isn’t true.

so, I challenge you to take the plunge with me this year. Maybe try it for a day, or a week, and see how it changes your day to day.  (NB: I do check in to FB every so often, as it is a good tool for messaging and keeping in touch with people. Moderation is the key for me!)

 

Tuesday’s Tip: Make Your Own Social Media Graphics

If I you are like me, you’ve browsed through Facebook or Pinterest and wondered how all those fancy and creative images are created?

Most web designers and graphic designers are most likely using Adobe Photoshop (Ps), which is an incredible tool. Ps and other Creative Suite software are among the standards in the industry, but there is an easier way {hence today’s tip}

Introducing – Canva. With nearly thousands of templates, text graphics, and other features that you can select and drag-and-drop into a new project, it really is among the easiest ways to design a great graphic quickly and (cheaply). While some of their templates and designs are offered for a low-cost, many great options are free.

check it out! TT canva.com

Brushing Teeth: there is an App for that?

 

teeth
Photocredit:imagebase.net

Ok, I will be honest. Until recently, brushing my toddler’s teeth hasn’t been the easiest task. She greatly disliked it, even though she helped pick our the Tigger and Pooh brushes. It was such a battle of wills, and although I usually won, it still was a generally unpleasant task. Thankfully, it has become easier as she grows older, but I can empathize with parents who do struggle with the routine each day.

Enter: Apps.  Oral-B and many other companies have produced timed apps that will entertain children for the recommended 2 minutes it takes to brush their teeth. These apps also have alerts to brush each day, fun characters that children can remember and look forward to seeing.

The techy side of me likes to see the positive use of apps, and teaching dental health to children is important, and if an app will acheive that goal, I’m all for it.

But on the other hand, I hesitate to have my babies and toddlers watching the screen for something as routine as brushing their teeth. My worry is that we have become (or can quickly become) too reliant on a screen to make regular life bearable. We have not used an app yet, and instead try to sing silly songs or jingles to encourage the activities.

What are your thoughts on the use of such apps? Have they worked for you?

 

 

Thoughts on how to Stay Productive at Home

I always start the day off with the best of intentions, but then dishes pile up, the kid(s) wants to go to the park and it takes a long time to get out the door, clothes have to be washed and put away, etc, etc, etc (you get the idea.)  It can be really had to balance taking care of a family and finding time for your own hobbies.  As mothers, we are geared to give everything first to the family – which is good! – but I think our families will also benefit when we DO put time into our own creative endeavors.

My top 5 productivity tips for mom’s who are also trying to study/work while at home with little children.

Improve Discipline

Here I mean your own discipline (not children’s discipline.) We are all familiar with the quote “Do what must be done even if you don’t want to” or something to that effect.  Have a daily routine, stick to it, and be disciplined about it. When it’s time to cook, cook. Time to clean, clean. Time to hop online or sit and write, do that, even if the “creative juices” are not flowing. Write anyway. Multitasking is not a great habit, so do each work or chore diligently and with discipline, and you’d  be surprised how much you can get accomplished.

Avoid Distractions

Each day, I have a to-do list before me; I love the thrill of checking off items on paper as I complete my tasks. But just as important as to-do list is a not-to-do list. With advent of social media sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, the 24/7 new cycle, and WhatsApp, it is so easy to become distracted from the task at hand. For the stay at home mom, however, it’s really easy to be pulled away from work by the unwashed dishes that seem to multiple throughout the day or the desire to reorganize the closet or bedrooms. While each of these things are good habits, don’t focus or do them during the time you have allotted for working! There will be time enough to wash up and tidy later in the day.

Start Early

If you have young children who wake up when do you, this isn’t an option, but otherwise the still quiet time in the morning is often the only time I will get the chance to sit and write without interruptions. Yes, it’s terrible hard to wake up early when I can just keep sleeping in my cozy bed, but I find the days go much more smoothly when I have had a cup of coffee, some time to meditate, make breakfast and work on m hobbies before the household wakes up and the busy race of the day begins. I have found that having an accountability partner, such as a fellow mom or friend with the same goals, can be extremely beneficial for developing the early AM rising habit.

Menu Plan

I cannot say enough good things about developing this habit. Each Saturday, I will peruse my current pantry and freezer, and then cookbooks or my homemade list of my family’s favorite meals and choose 5 for the week. With this list, I head to the market to buy the the essential ingredients and prep anything I can ahead of time (marinade meat, chop and freeze veggies, etc.) Cooking homemade healthy food is so important for our family’s, and it must be a priority, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Avoiding the 4 o’clock “what are we having!” will greatly cut down on stress, and if I know exactly what is for dinner each night, I feel a lot more at peace and free to do my other work throughout the day. Another pro mom tip: 1) Slow cooker and 2) pressure cooker. While at opposite ends of the spectrum, they both are immense times savers. I love that I can drop in some marinated meat and 5-8 hours later, it will be delicious. On the other hand, with the pressure cooker, I can make potatoes or beans in a pinch.

Have Community Support

Man is not an island- we need others’ support, fellowship, and assistance. Join Facebook groups or blogging communities with mom’s who are on a similar journey. It can be incredibly motivating and a great source of accountability. If you can’t find such a group, start one! Additionally, maintain friendships and groups “in real life” as the Internet folks say. If possible, find help to watch or play with the children a few hours each week if you need interrupted work time. Staying motivated and encouraged in our work, both in the home and for our own interests, is invaluable!