How Do I Know When it’s Time to Hire a Housekeeper?

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This is the single most asked question that I get when I’m out and about talking to others about my concierge (personal assistant) services.

Women like to think we can “handle it all” and then secretly wish we have help to do our unwanted tasks. How do I know? Because I’m a woman. But I’m also a woman business owner, and I’m realizing the value of “staying in your lane” and doing things that either bring you joy, or allow you to build your business or memories.

Let that sink in a moment.

Is spending 3 hours per week scrubbing baseboards and toilets “your lane”? Is it what brings you joy? If it is, that’s great! You’ve found your sweet spot! But if “your lane” is elsewhere and you’d rather spend those 3 hours per week doing something else – like building your business (think all your accounting duties, blogging and social media responsibilities, follow up with potential clients, etc.); or building memories (because think what the 12 extra hours per month will do for your family’s downtime!); or what if you simply hate cleaning? It’s ok! I’m here to tell you it’s a skill you should know, but don’t have to do 😉

Recently, my 12-year old expressed how she doesn’t like working in groups at school. I respect that and can understand where she’s coming from. And what I told her was: that’s one of the skills you need to learn while you’re in middle school. You don’t have to do it for your entire life, and you probably won’t end up in a career that you have to work in groups. But this is the time of your life to learn that skill. Hone that skill. Because then when you’re an adult you can honestly say “I’ve done that and I truly know it’s not for me.”

So what about the price? This isn’t intended to be a sales pitch to get a housekeeper. I promise. But it’s the same principle as hiring a concierge/personal assistant. Let’s say you can get your house cleaned for $100/month. And it saves you 10-12 hours per month. See where I’m going with this? That may (or may not) be what you’re making at your hourly-rate job, but with those extra 10-12 hours per month you will likely be able to make more than $100. I find the balance because you’re a rockstar at your job/business for a reason. And those housekeepers? They’re rockstars at cleaning!

If you were to hire a concierge for 12 hours per month, what tasks would you outsource? What would you do with that extra time?

Here’s an example of what Your Personal Lifestyle Concierge can help you with in about 12 hours:

  • Arrange, coordinate, and hire a housekeeper once/month
  • Coordinate and plan happy hour for your besties
  • Grocery shop and put away your groceries
  • Let your dog out mid-day while you have an extended day at the office
  • Recommend a few books and/or blogs for goals you’d like to crush
  • Work with you to purge and organize your home office or laundry room or play room
  • Connect you with trusted professionals

 

Ready to chat more? Call me. Or text me. Or email me. Just be social 😉

Organizing Basics: Garage Sale Protocol

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Oh, garage sale season. You’ll always hold a special place in my heart. Before I was a SC resident, I had an amazing community in the Rochester NY area. I organized our Neighborhood Sale and our little town would come to spend the better part of a Saturday (or Friday!) with us, buy our unwanted items, hang out with us in our garages, and eat hot dogs. I may have a somewhat warped memory of this, but hear me out. I organized the sales for 11 years, provided tips along the way, knew where things would sell in my garage, honed the skill of how to talk to people, and made $600-800 in a day and a half doing this.

This is not to convince you to hold a sale. Some have a strong aversion to sales and that’s ok! But, if you’re ready to hold a sale, brace yourself for an eye-opening experience.

Here’s some insider tips!

Know what will work in your community/neighborhood. Shoppers always would prefer to come to a sale where there are multiple sales happening. We consistently had 15 participating households, and some years was around 25. Know what day(s) and time(s) work.

Advertise well, and use word-of-mouth. At the beginning I advertised in several papers. Over the years I narrowed it down to just one or two, but then upped the amount of online exposure. I promoted on craigslist (and gave the participating households some tips on wording to use so it all stayed consistent). I created a blog in which people can look up items by household. (For example, one year we were selling a few Leapsters and games. One woman ran up my driveway, with her printed list in hand, asking if we still had them. She bought them, then told me she’d be back because there were a few other items she had to get her hands on, and quick). The whole process really worked for our neighborhood. I also used Facebook, and encouraged others to do the same. Our neighborhood sale then reached thousands of people (I know, not all were in our town, but that’s ok).

Price your items well. That vase you bought new for $22? It. Is. Not. Going. To. Get. You. $20 at your garage sale. Come to terms with the fact that it’s a garage sale. People are looking to pay for items dirt cheap. You’ll always be able to command a higher price online (FB groups or craigslist), so if that’s your end-game, go for it. I tend to price things cheap. Those cute sunglasses that have a little scratch that you were about to toss out? Toss it in your garage sale bin, throw on a 50 cent sticker, and watch a 9 year old little girl get GIDDY at her find. Those 50 cent stickers add up, I promise.

Price your items consistent. You don’t have to make everything one price but think about how the prices are. If everything is over-priced it will be a turn-off to some. Some will “make an offer” or “talk you down” but others will just walk out. With nothing.

Speaking of negotiating, keep in mind some people will always try to talk you down. If it’s 5 bucks, they’ll offer you 2. If it’s $1, they will offer you a quarter. If you’re not ok with their offer, counter offer. (be nice). If you genuinely don’t care, then accept the offer. In the end, it may mean less stuff for you to clean up.

To make things easier, I made clothing one price (50 cents or a dollar). If there were a few items that I wanted more for, I would hang them on a clothing rack so they were set apart. You certainly don’t have to price your items all the same, but it makes it a little easier when you have a bunch of people “checking out” at once.

Get help. Sure, this can be done solo, but why? Grab a friend and have fun with it! It’s fun to have someone to talk to throughout the day, and when things get busy it’s great to have some help; One person can count items and total, while the other helps bag items. Or chat with someone in your garage. Be friendly.

Early Birds. The early birds are those who show up 30-60 minutes before your sale starts. Some people get frustrated by the early birds, but I like to take a different approach. (surprise, surprise, right?) Keep your goal in mind: to get rid of your stuff while putting the most money in your pocket (or fanny pack, as it may be 😉 Early Birds go to the ATM before the neighborhood sale, withdrawal a pocket load of cash, and then drive to your neighborhood. Their goal is to find treasures, and they are willing to give you their cash. So why turn them away? I get very frustrated by people who call them out in their ads by saying “early birds pay double” or other such insults. You’ll likely not catch me going to a garage sale at 7 am, but if I’m hosting a sale you better believe I will be set up by 7 or 7:30 to catch the people with the pocket full of cash. If they can spend their cash at MY house before heading elsewhere, they are likely to buy stuff for actual money. (remember your goal? This fulfills it). So, I will always say “friendly early birds welcome”.

What to do with your kids and dogs? Just a little something to give a little thought to. Will your toddlers need a nap? Will you have to drive carpool? You can certainly make plans to send your kiddos elsewhere; I’ve always included my girls in our garage sale adventures. They now have an entrepreneur spirit, and will be brainstorming year-round ways they can make extra cash during garage sale weekend. They’ve had lemonade stands, designed and sold greeting cards, sewed and sold pillows, and just played in the general area.

Know how your dogs will react to people coming into their space, and make plans accordingly. Even the nicest dog can be intimidating if he is constantly barking at patrons.

What to eat. The basic principle is that you will be outdoors for the day. Don’t count on extended time to hang out in your kitchen preparing food (or cleaning up!) for your family or guests. Have easy to grab snacks and lunches. Early on in our garage sale years, I started a tradition of making a breakfast casserole. My family looks forward to it!

Signage. If you’ve done your homework, your sale is advertised and your inventory is sorted, cleaned, and priced. So you definitely don’t want to confuse customers by not having signs. I like to keep my signage consistent. If I call it a “Community Sale” in my ads, then every sign should have those words on it. There’s no need to include EVERYTHING on a sign, but be sure it’s large enough print that moving cars can read it. You should have your address (or landmark), arrow, and date. Consider hanging signs the night before (the morning of a garage sale is hectic and you don’t need added tasks and stress). Also consider varying routes people may be coming from, and hang signs accordingly. My husband loves to use zip ties to secure the signs. It’s a good idea to have the supplies in your car and see what you need. And, please, please, please: at the end of the day, take your signs down! If you created a more permanent-style sign, keep it! You may make this an annual event and there’s no reason to recreate the wheel next year!

The clean-up. This is not the most exciting part of the process, but it is nearly the most important. Before you even begin the sale, have a plan of what you’re going to do with the left overs. I think we all have the dream that someone will swoop in during the last hour and offer you a bunch of cash for everything. I don’t want to be a dream-killer, but I promise you that will not happen. Plan to drop off all items at Goodwill (or another charity). Put things out at the curb and announce on social media of your curb-alert. (just keep it neat). If your sale ends at 2 pm, start cleaning up at 2. You’ll likely have some stragglers, and they generally do this to get a good deal. Appeal to their frugal-ways, and offer them a discount if they ask. Tell them to fill a bag for $5. Or two bags for $8. The point is, those are items you don’t have to deal with any more. The purging, the sorting, the garage sale’ing, it’s all come to a close. And if you can hock your last goods for another 5 bucks, go for it.

So. Whatever is left, box it up. Load it up. Get rid of it. Then, sit back and enjoy the view. It was a ton of work, but you did it. You created extra space in your home. Your living space. A place to enjoy your downtime. With less stuff. With less clutter. Reward yourself!

Tell me your experience! Do you love sales? Hate ’em? Tips & tricks?

A Place to Call Your Own

We’re at the half-way-point in the year. (what?!) Remember the resolutions to stay organized and get a fresh start? Consider this your voice of accountability calling. If THIS is the year you vowed to create and organize your office or desk space, let this be your inspiration to achieve your goals!

The ability to call space my own has been pivotal – I’m now able to glam it up, mess it up, or clean it up at my own pace. I have a desk area in my (larger-than-average) laundry room. The room is at the top of my stairs, so while convenient, it’s not in the main traffic area. (which is great for taking phone calls or writing). In the past I’ve shared a desk with the rest of my family. We each had spaces to store our things. It served its purpose for the time, but for various reasons we made a change in my household.

My girls have not had the desire to do their homework at a designated desk, so their lives are a bit more portable. They usually opt for the kitchen table (which then gets cleaned up at least once an evening).

Needing some tips on how to create something to call your own?

  1. Define and Choose your space. What will your space be used for? A functional desk to pay bills and manage the household? A homework station for the kiddos? Rock it at your home-based business? It’s okay to multi-task, just be sure to have a clear goal in mind as you consider the rest of these tips.

    Your space can be part of a bedroom or guest room, laundry or mud room, or even a designated office in your home. Thinking portable? There was a time I had desk and writing things in a basket. I even used a portable bag for files! It was small but effective!

  1. De-clutter. Clutter and extra things are a distraction and gets in the way of a focused mind. It’s hard, but once you let go of the distractions, it’s easier to concentrate which leads to results. There’s the ‘why’.

    Now, how? Find a place for your belongings. Don’t allow your desk space to become a dumping ground (why does my 9 year old’s lip gloss continue to live on the corner of my desk?) Worry about storage and cuteness during your next step. For now, decide what belongs there and what needs to live elsewhere.

  1. Organize. Now that you have all the belongings where they need to be, decide how to organize your stuff. Pinterest is amazing for inspiration! I use baskets, jars, bags, and more to keep my desk under control. Cute boxes for pictures and papers. Label, label, label! Once you’ve done an excellent job of de-cluttering and organizing, be sure to label so you can easily put your fingers on a document, a photo, or the user manual for your printer.
  2. Decorate and Glam it Up! Personalize your space – I mean you actually will spend time here, so why not have it a reflection of who you are? Streamlined and simple? Colorful and whimsical? Earthy and crunchy? Whatever your style, embrace it, love it, and incorporate it into your space. Let it be a reflection of who you are which will allow you to get things accomplished!

I’m excited for the fresh start, friends! Show me your space! What has been the most challenging task for you to get here?

Excited for the best!

Porch Life

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Patio vs. deck. What-says-you?

At our old place we created a patio EXPERIENCE and I loved it. We designed the shape and the landscaping around it. We hosted friends and neighbors and family parties and it was a fabulous patio life. We arrived to SC about a year and a half ago, and the porch remodel has been on the list as soon as we closed on the house. The ‘patio’ is now a screened in porch, which now that I live in the South, I understand the appeal. 😉

Last month, we removed everything from the room, and begun the transformation:

Paint the floor (old: baby blue; new: dark grey)

Rescreen the ‘walls’

Paint the support beams (old: yellow beige; new: crisp white)

Furnish (old: large dining patio table; new: conversation set)

I also added a few décor pieces to make it my own: a couple ferns, a sign I recently picked up from Margaritaville, some throw pillows, and the bird house my late father-in-law made us yearrrrs ago.

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My new spaces gives me room to breathe … I’ve created my own space for enjoying downtime! (and I may even end up doing a little work there too!). So, are you a patio girl? Or a deck girl?

Morning Hacks to Get Out of the House Quicker

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Ahh, mornings. A source of stress – Every. Single. Day. This used to be worse, but like everyone else it’s a process that’s ever-changing. I likely don’t have to paint the picture of a chaotic morning. Three kids, one dog, and two adults who all need to wake up, beautify, eat, and prepare for the day.

How about some hacks to get a grip on that and get it under control?

  1. Expectation. First, what do you expect? What if the constant nagging to clean up just became habit! A routine that everyone knew was expected. It’s up to you to paint that picture and really sell it to your family. Things like peace, joy, enjoyment, quality time, and the alike will all help your case. Think about how you feel afterwards. That’s the motivation – the why feeling your family has to cling to and work for. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I used to think that if everyone just left the house by 8 am I wouldn’t have to wash the counters multiple times per day. But in reality, it’s all about my mind-set and expectation of my family and responsibilities.
  2. Plan Ahead. Probably a no-brainer for most, but when our days are planned before they start, life just goes a little smoother.
    1. Pack bags – kids’ backpacks (all the homework and books!) and your work bag (remember the gym clothes, sunglasses, umbrella, and chargers!)
    2. Pick out clothes. This goes for adults and kids. What will you wear tomorrow? Check the weather. Check the clean clothes baskets. Consider (and find) everyone’s shoes. Make that decision now and it’ll save time and frustration in the morning. If you’re like my daughter, you’ll want to pick out three different options and make your final decision when you wake up. Because who doesn’t like options? 😉 {on a side note, she’s been doing this since she was 2; it won’t likely change, and because I know that about her, I don’t expect anything different.}
    3. Make lunches / gather water bottles. While seemingly obvious, this is an often overlooked task in my household. We throw things together at the last minute causing a big pain point. Let’s get real. We know we will be hungry at lunchtime tomorrow. Make a sandwich or salad. Toss in an apple and some chips. It’s doesn’t have to be elaborate or glamourous … just enough to get the job done and stop the hangry feelings. Better yet, pack it all up while you’re cleaning up from dinner the night before (1 mess instead of 2? Yes, please). Fill up the water bottle(s) beforehand so you’re not tempted to buy a bottle of water at the convenience store or continue to buy them from Costco. Be creative. There’s a lot of ideas on Pinterest!
  3. 3-5 minute clean up. I promise I’m not trying to add work to your morning. But before you leave the house, take a minute in each room to scan the room to see what may be forgotten (oh! That take-home-folder!); Wipe down the kitchen counters; load the dishwasher. These few minutes likely won’t make or break your day but will help you feel clean and put together when you get home from work later.
  4. Car-ready. Gas up, clean out trash, stock up with change if needed for tolls or the parking garage. When your car is clean, you feel more successful. It’s a weird correlation but actually true! Take a few minutes before you go into your house this evening and clean out all the trash. (Like, all of it – garbage, items that belong elsewhere, empty water bottles … all. Of. It.) Be sure you have enough gas and change for tolls or the parking garage. (I may be speaking from experience on this one – just put an extra $5 in your glove box; it’ll save you in a pinch!)

 

What do YOU do to ease your morning routine? If your morning goes smooth does it make you brave enough to tackle the rest of your to-do list? To make the extra phone calls? To make it to the gym? Share your hacks – we can all take notes! {I should have mentioned coffee … add that to your list when appropriate}

Obligation vs. Tradition

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Just another obligation? I read that Americans purchase 1.6 billion Christmas cards each year. And that the tradition dates back to the 1800s. But how do I make this part of MY holiday traditions to have meaning and not just obligation? Who says you have to decorate on Thanksgiving weekend? Find the peace in what makes you happy, and do it.

  1. Create your own tradition and memories.

As with everything, begin with your why. Are you sending out 125 cards each December because that’s what your mother did? Do you send out cards just to those who send you one? Are you creating memories with your family and then sharing them with friends and family who you may not otherwise see? Or have time to talk to at other times in the year? One year I tried to make and decorate cut-out cookies. It was one of the most miserable experiences, I choose to never do that again. But sometime in my early-twenties I began making pizzelles, an Italian cookie that I remember my grandparents loving. I remember bringing some to Papa when he was in the hospital one year. He took a bite, looked at me, and said “you made these?” With that one look he realized that I grew up and was now doing something my Nana Jean –his true love- did. And so now I make pizzelles. That’s the yummy story behind my tradition. I perfected the recipe and now make them gluten-free. So what if I’m the only American who doesn’t make cut-out cookies?

Whatever your motivation, know why you’re doing what you’re doing. I’m not here to say any of those reasons are wrong or right … but darling, do what’s right for your own family.

  1. Let Go of the Nonsense.

When the timing is right (or wrong), change your mind. Change your routine. Just change. I didn’t send cards for two years. I know that’s not a long time for some, but I was in some serious transition and couldn’t add one more thing to my task list. For my life during that time, that was the right thing to do. This year is different. Our family is in a different place and feeling a little more stable in our new state (geographically, not mental).

Trust me, fabulous truth seeker, it is ok. It’s ok to not send a card. It’s ok to send a card. It’s ok to mix up tradition and do something different than you have always done in the past. Do the something that brings you joy.

  1. Have fun.

    “If you’re not having fun you’re doing it wrong.”

This is my favorite thing I read today. And it sums up my personality. Even if I’m cleaning bathrooms, I am either creating or thinking about creating fun in my world. So why, why, why wouldn’t I do the same for the “tasks” I do at Christmastime? Whether it’s creating and sending cards, wrapping gifts, or making and packaging pizzelles – these are MY traditions and memories and I am going to have fun while I own them. I encourage you to do the same!

What can you do this year that will allow you to be YOU and honor your OWN traditions?

Be Done With Christmas Shopping by December 1!

xmasgiftsI know, I know. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet. You’re still raking leaves. If you’re in the South the boot season has barely begun. Do you really have to start thinking about Christmas shopping? Actually, no. You don’t have to. But studies have shown the amount of stress Americans put on themselves throughout the holiday season is enough to make anyone spend more money and gain more weight. Enough of that, ok?

Here’s a few tips to make THIS the year you’re done with Christmas shopping by December 1:

  1. Skip crowds. The entire city is doing retail for the four weeks leading up to Christmas. What if you were done by that time and spent your hours relaxing by the fire, planning a get together with friends, sipping on eggnog, playing board games with the kiddos, decorating your tree and listening to Christmas tunes?
  2. Know your list. Who do you really (really) want to buy gifts for? Not the ones you are obligated to buy for, but those people in your life who you mean everything to you and want another way to express that in a gift-giving season. Make your list of everyone – then pare down later if needed.
  3. Know your spending. There are countless articles and blog posts about this topic, but in summary: know how much you can spend on Christmas. This will save a lot of regret in January. Got that number? Now be realistic … how much of that will be spent on extra dining, décor, family activities, postage for cards, etc. Got that number? Now how much are you really working with for gift-giving? You may choose to spend more on immediate family members and your best friend. I had a friend in her first year of marriage who allotted themselves to spend only $3-4 on each cousin. She ended up scoring huge on the scholastic book club books. The kids loved their books, and she was a Christmas-budget-rock-star. Be sure to write it down so you’re more likely to stick to your spending plan.
  4. Know How to Gift. I mean truly gift. Pay attention to your recipient throughout the year and know what your aunt would love to receive. Be thoughtful. Be creative. If you’re crafty (and it’s not a source of stress), craft something for someone you know would love, admire, and appreciate it. Take your time. If a “My Little Pony” is on your niece’s wish list wouldn’t it be nice to know which one she loves? And then score a corresponding book to complete the gift?
  5. Know Your Deals. Know the best times for your purchases. Retailers have fantastic deals on kids’ clothes in December and August. January is typically known to have great white sales. I came across this great graphic resource on bradsdeals.com. Other sites like blackfridayads.net, dealnews.com, bensbargains.com, and offers.com are packed full of information on current deals.

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  1. Know Your Retailers. Shop somewhere a lot throughout the year? Know the sale patterns? Love the brands they carry? Of course it’s always okay to brand shop but if something works for you, then why mess with a good thing? Pay attention to sales – both online and in-store and know your shipping costs (and always look for a coupon code for free shipping! Retailmenot.com and pricegrabber.com are great resources!).
  2. Know Your Timing. Plan ahead for parties and events you have to attend. Be sure to have extra surprise gifts on-hand. There’s always a secret santa, unexpected guest that shows up, or a last minute event you have to bring a gift to. Holiday themed candles, a bottle of wine/glasses, picture frames, soaps and lotions – all good examples of things to keep in your gift-closet!

Cheers to you, my time-saving reader! I can’t wait to hear all about your rockstar quality time savers in a few weeks! You’ve got this! Happy Holiday Season!

Meal Hacks from a Non-Foodie

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Whether you have a family of 5 or are a newlywed, chances are you have to think about food at last three times per day.

I’m not a chef. I don’t proclaim to be a good cook. I hate touching raw meat, and will hold my breath as I’m cooking chicken. I don’t like condiments, and despise the smell of tuna, pickles, vinegar, and ketchup. (Really, honestly and truly despise.) But. I have three kiddos who I’d like to see eat more than five things on a children’s menu at a restaurant.

I make the sacrifice (and hold my breath a lot) to prepare and offer a well-balanced meal … at least a few times per week. Did I mention I also deal with several allergies in the house? Between us all we avoid: gluten, dairy, corn, tapioca, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, and all other tree nuts except coconut.

Here’s my kitchen hacks … of how I’ve been a married chick for 18 years, a mom for 15 of them, and somehow – probably by the grace of God – no one goes hungry.

1. MEAL PLAN

It shocks me at how much time this saves in the long run. While this is not rocket science if I get out of the routine of meal planning, it’s shocking how quickly we will fall back into bad habits. I go through spurts of time where I’m great at meal planning, and then the free-spirit kicks in and I want to just “wing it” for a while. I’m currently in a forcing my free-spirit-self-to-meal-plan phase. The girls know what to expect for dinner and realize even if tonight isn’t their favorite meal, tacos are coming soon! 😉

I plan for about 5 – dinners per week, allowing for at least one “used food” (leftovers) night. I like to plan for leftovers when I’m cooking, and sometimes will double the recipe to accommodate. When the mood strikes, I’ll even try a new recipe!

Usually on Sunday afternoons I’ll spend a few minutes writing a dinner plan on the cute chalk board that lives on my counter. Depending on our schedule, sometimes I’ll plan for my husband to grill on the weekends, plan for a meal out, or a simple night like burgers and fries on youth group nights.

In the past I experimented with a themed dinner each night, and when the girls were younger they loved this! It looked something like this:

Monday: Momma Mia Monday (Italian food, usually involving pasta)
Tuesday: Tastes like Chicken Tuesday (a chicken dish)
Wednesday: One dish Wednesday (casserole or something that is made in one dish)
Thursday: Tacos for Thursday
Friday: Finger Food Friday

Breakfasts are kept pretty simple in my household, and consist of scrambled eggs, toast, a bowl of cereal, and sometimes a granola bar on the go. We have a breakfast sandwich maker, but honestly with all the allergies we have to contend with, the clean-up is a bit of a hassle.

Lunches are often made more difficult than needed. Sometimes the girls will take coveted dinner left overs; but more often than not the girls will roll up slices of ham or turkey. (what I thought was a mini-sandwich-boycott a couple years ago turned into everyone hating them). They also take something crunchy (chips and/or crackers), something sweet, and 1-2 servings of fruit (fruit cup, apple, pear, grapes, strawberries, etc.)

2. PREP AND BULK COOKING 

It’s not that I don’t want to spend a couple hours a day in the kitchen, but I’ve found that if I cook ahead of time it truly saves time, energy, and money. It’s a given that you’ll have to eat again later and tomorrow, and for the rest of the week. Why not prepare for that now?

One of my goals for the new year is to attempt the freezer cooking concept. You’ll be the first to know if I can rock that! Until then, I will plan ahead for the week. If I know rice will go with a few different meals this week, I’ll make an extra serving in the rice maker and then warm it up for the second meal and/or lunches. I often buy a giant bag of (fresh, cut) broccoli and cook it with garlic. My girls can’t get enough of it when prepared with enough salt and garlic! Cooking it once in the large skillet will provide the veggies for a few meals.

Prepping veggies over the weekend to use all week in your salad or sides for your lunch is another great tip.

I use my crockpot most often to cook chicken – and then shred it; We use it for making buffalo chicken and BBQ chicken sandwiches, topping for salad (often what I eat for lunch), in tacos, casseroles, etc. It’s been the most versatile meal and method for us to cook ahead of time!

3. ROUTINE

As much as I would like to say we will just eat when we’re hungry, I’m finding it easier on everyone if we plan to eat at a certain time. We have our after school routine, and usually about 5 pm I’ll clean up from after school messes and begin making dinner. We usually eat about 6 pm, and in an ideal world things are cleaned up and put away by 7 pm. I’ve found that if this is what I determine our “normal” to be, we can get away with changing that routine a couple times per week – a free pass of sorts.

I’m also encouraging everyone to help pitch in for all the kitchen duties. More on that parenting hurdle another day 😉

 

 

How do you save time in the kitchen? Do you trade recipes? Do you use recipes you find on social media? Share your tips and hacks – we’re dying to know!

Hold. The. Phone.

phoneIt seems timely to talk about waiting at this time of year. A new season is approaching and we’re all waiting for the next thing to happen: school, pumpkins, turkey, trees …well, the whole holiday season …, cool weather, thicker sweaters, and for some, snow.

On the first day of school, it took me 2 hours and 10 minutes to pick up my girls from their three respective schools. Let that sink in, folks. That’s almost 11 hours per week. That totals 396 hours for the entire school year. 396 hours of my life would have been spent in the car – driving in a giant circle around my town and waiting in traffic at each of the schools to collect my children after their school day.

Needless to say, I came up with a few different options to get them safely home and now, after day 7, we are in a bit of a routine. Whew. I’ll take those 396 hours back, thankyouverymuch. But, it poses a great question: what do you do while you’re waiting?

In stop-n-go traffic and car lines

I cleaned up my car. I collected trash, I collected items that need to be brought into the house; I gathered up all pens, pencils, and highlighters to put in the cubby where they belong. I wiped down the dash (yay extra napkins!). I also realized I habitually drink only a half of a water bottle.

At a doctor’s appointment

When I’m waiting with one of my girls, I try to maximize that one-on-one time and chat with them about what’s going on in their lives. We don’t often get that one-on-one time, so I use every second I can find. Sometimes we end up playing scategories or words with friends on my phone, but that’s fine too! If I’m alone, I will review my planner, check and respond to emails or social media, or sometimes -gasp- read a magazine!

Yes, even at home I wait

Often I find myself waiting during other times. Like, waiting for water to boil. (I’ll play on Pandora). Or waiting for all family members to get to the kitchen when dinner is ready (If Pandora is already running I’ll wipe down counters or de-germ something 😉 Or waiting for one child to finish in the shower while the other finishes homework. (I’ll catch a glimpse of a magazine or article on my phone, engage in chatter with one of my girlies, or sometimes just sit on their bed waiting for them. Other times I’ll go through their books to see if anything is outdated or ready to give away).

What’s your life like? Please comment and let me know – we all like to know we’re “normal”!

All things new, all things clean

negativespace-14Today marks the end of an era. It was a short era, but today is the last day I own a 30-year-old washer and dryer.

Before I moved to SC, I had a fabulously wonderful front load washer and dryer I was completely in love with. After a mere 2 1/2 years, the washer had some bearing issues that Samsung stopped making the parts for. It happened about a month before we were selling the NY house to relocate, and honestly we were too consumed with our upcoming adventure to really be bothered with it. We ended up moving it with us, storing for 4 months, and selling the set dirt cheap. Dirt. Cheap.

So for the past 10 months I’ve been using a rented machine in our apartment, and more recently, the 30 year old set that the previous home owners left us. Don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful it was one less thing we had to purchase when buying this house. But I’m so ready to take on laundry like the grown-up laundry snob I’ve become. Ya know, like washing 72 towels in one load and whatnot.

Over the past several years I’ve read a lot of blog posts on how others do laundry. It’s not a difficult task, but it’s time consuming and never ends. So here are my two cents on the topic:

Timing is everything. Not necessarily the night before your 8 year old has a talent show at school and needs her new outfit is it the best time to begin the task. But, actually think through the days of the week you have time to devote to loading the machines, switching it over, folding, and putting it all away. I happen to like the two-day-per week cycle. I will often do a little throughout the week, but it seems as though Saturday nights is a big laundry time for us. We’re a wild bunch, I know.

Get help. In my house we all pitch in. My 14 year old is responsible for her own laundry. As for the 11 and 8 year olds, they are responsible for keeping their dirty clothes in a basket in their room, and taking it to the laundry room when it’s nearly full. After washed, the girls are responsible for putting their own stuff away. I usually fold the clothes, but often they will help.

If it’s a dreaded chore for you, consider hiring it done … this is a perfect chore your concierge would love to help with! I remember learning a long time ago – if you outsource one chore that you hate you’ll be saving the time it takes to get it done, the head space it takes up, and frustration. If laundry truly makes you crazy in this season of life, call me!

Make it fun! Decorate your space so you enjoy being there. Play music or watch TV while folding. Day dream. Whatever your style, own that chore!

Know your stuff. Will you sort by color? By family member? How about where you keep extra baskets and stain treatment? Speaking of, how will you treat stains? Often when I’m thinking of these things I’m explaining it to one of my kiddos … so it forces me to think through every step.

So it’s your turn. Between sorting clothes and switching loads, drop me a line. Tell me about your time saving tips, what you love and what you dread; Also, would you consider hiring a concierge to take care of laundry once a week?