The Great Balancing Act: Achieving Balance

Jenn Marie Maxwell

The Ultimate Organizational Project: Getting Ready for Baby

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Upon seeing the “two pink lines” and celebrating with my husband (after a brief hyperventilation moment of … this is REALLY happening) my mind was immediately swarmed with how to even begin planning for our new arrival. Looking at the calendar, I didn’t even know when to actually begin getting organized and prepared.

Being that this is my first baby, I had no clue where to begin. I had never thought about buying bottles, baby blankets, or waterproof pads for cribs. So that’s when I jumped on what I call, The Google. Gotta love Google! The first thing I found was astonishing and kind of scary. It was an article that told me that baby’s go through 10-12 diapers a day – Wait…What?!?! I then found a diaper buying guide for pregnancy in order to build up my diaper stock a little bit at a time throughout the months. Here’s the site that I used for this called, Stocking up on Diapers: How much to Buy & At What Price. It has a great guide to learning what to expect from common stores. Note, now’s the time to really look through all the coupon books that you get in the mail and even the ones you get from some doctor’s offices during your prenatal care. I kept these in my glove box so I would always have them when I was out and about.

Next thing to think about is baby essentials and what to register for. My husband and I downloaded a couple lists such as, this one.. We went through the list and our budget to decide what we would plan to buy and what we wanted to register for. It gave me a great perspective as to what to register for and was helpful to take with us while registering because it was broken down into categories. I will also say that Babies “R” Us gave us an awesome registering guide if you want something concrete from a store that you will be using. You can find lists of items about anything from what to pack in the hospital bag for yourself, dad, and baby to what to put in the diaper bag. I had my bag packed by my 8 month mark and I also now have a fully stocked diaper bag that includes hand sanitizer and even a cute little trash bag dispenser…I feel more prepared everyday!

Now…Where to put everything? Here’s a great blog post about this called, How to Organize for Baby. If it weren’t for this blog post, I probably would have neatly stored my bottles in the nursery. Silly, I know, but I seriously had no clue what to do! There are tons of great online resources to help you figure out not only what you need but where to put it all.

After my baby shower, I took note of everything that I received and crossed it off of my list so that I could see what else I still needed and since the shower I have been purchasing a couple items a week in order to alleviate spending too much money at one given time. We were so completely blessed that our list of remaining items was very short!

The way I see it, the more you can get organized during your pregnancy the more time you will have to connect with your beautiful bundle of joy when they arrive. The last thing you want to be thinking about is acquiring essential items at the moment you need them. There are so many available resources between the internet and the bookstore, stock up and get going because as I’ve learned, 9 months goes by VERY quickly!

If you know of any good tips or baby organizing ideas please comment below. Happy Organizing!

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Smart Mommy uses her Smart Phone

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My grandma used calendars and notebooks to keep track of her family, as did my mom. But me…I use my smartphone for everything, especially keeping track of my busy life and my family. It’s pretty common for most of us that our smartphones are typically within an arms reach at any moment – even on our nightstands while we sleep. I don’t know if you are like me but without my phone I feel as though I would be completely lost. It’s not just a great organizational tool but also a great balancing tool with what seems like limitless capabilities at my fingertips all.the.time. If you need something, there’s most likely an app for it.

Here’s what I have been using mine for a lot lately:

Cooking – When coming up with the current week’s meals I frequent apps like Pinterest, Better Homes and Gardens, and Allrecipes. Now, more than ever, you see people shopping at the store with their phones or tablets sitting in the front of their cart (I love seeing the kids in the seat looking at the phone and checking things off the grocery list – so cute!!!) I have even been at the store with cooking block – what the heck am I going to make tonight – and have found a recipe while standing in an aisle. I have also used my phone to bring up the recipe in the kitchen and refer to that instead of printing it. Do they make stands for these in the kitchen yet?

Banking & Budget – There are great apps for banking and paying bills. I frequently access our bank accounts using the apps, pay my bills, and keep my check register on an app. Keeping updated on how much money is coming in and going out is essential to balance. It’s fast and easy, who can complain about that?

Card Star – The app that forever changed my key chain. I hated…really hated having so many of those darn cards taking over my key chain. I even tried to keep a separate ring in my purse just for these things. But now I don’t have too! Card Star keeps all of your loyalty cards in one awesome place that ISN’T intrusive to the key ring. With the touch of a finger, you can access all of your loyalty cards. It also offers discounts and coupons to your favorite places. Awwww….Loyalty card relief!

Yelp – Looking for a new restaurant for date night? Or a family-friendly establishment? I use this app more and more everyday to find what I’m looking for. I have found car washes, stores, and have even perused the app to see what’s around me. It’s great to read reviews and see the menu before even stepping foot into a place.

These are just the apps that I am currently frequenting but if you search online there are lists upon lists of useful apps.
Here’s two great lists – Best Paid and Free iPhone Apps for Moms & 25 Best Apps for Working Moms .

Now that I’m about to have a baby I’m sure there will be even more apps that I will find and use. Know any good ones?

Leave me a comment and tell me how your smartphone has become integrated into your life as a mom?

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Mommy Management Skills

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As a Management student at the University of Nevada, Reno I was thinking today about what management and leadership skills that I might use at home. Then I realized, tons! Running a household is no easy task. There’s a lot to get done and not a lot of time to do it.

Here are some skills that moms use on a daily basis:

1. Time Management – I know there are many days where I am the first to rise and the last to go to sleep. I know when/where each member of my family has to be for the day and everything that needs to get done. Somehow and someway moms manage to fit all of the crazy schedules and tasks into each day. Moms prioritize their time, set schedules, and adhere to deadlines.

2. Project Management – School functions and family functions don’t just happen. They are intricate projects that require extensive planning and management. Moms have this amazing ability to look at the whole picture and break all of the aspects down into tasks. This week my family planned a last minute trip to beautiful Lake Tahoe for the 4th of July. I had to think about just as much for our trip as I do for a project at work! Making lists, planning shopping trips, mileage, packing efficiently, activities to do throughout the day…This was a project!

3. Communication Skills – Moms can go from talking to a 2 year-old and without skipping a beat jump into a complex conversation with an adult. They know the value of clear instructions and utilize various forms of communication every single day – writing an email about an event you are planning, texting with the husband about dinner, jumping on Skype with the grandparents, and calling around town to schedule an appointment…And all of this in one day!

4. Training – I’m very familiar with this right now as my older children are learning more skills within the home regarding cleaning and home maintenance. I have trained them, provided check-lists of items that need to be done, and do a little quality assurance inspection at the end of the day. Everyday moms provide instructions, guidance, and teaching to their families. I can’t wait to teach my daughter how to swim, only because I remember my mom with me in the pool for what seemed like hours to teach me. Her patience, clear instructions, and guidance are something that I use when training employees and even my family.

5. Problem Solving – Let’s face it, things happen and almost always unexpected. The washer quit working, a child sprains an ankle, new brakes are needed on the car, or the kids are fighting. Moms are always there to solve whatever problems or issues that arise. They don’t skip a beat and just jump right on in!

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So pat yourself on the back moms! You have some amazing skills that you use every single day and may not even notice it. You maintain households, plan events, keep the peace in the home, and maintain all types of relationships! Here’s even more skills that you use everyday as a “Mompreneur.”

What other skills do you use as a mom that could be used professionally?

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PHOTO CREDIT AWESOME MOMS

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Tick-Tock – Running Late Again?

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Everyone has a different perception of time and we become known for it accordingly. We all have friends, family, and co-workers who are either chronically late or early and then a few stragglers who are in the middle of that. It can be frustrating either way. You go to meet a friend for lunch and they show up 30 minutes early asking where you are or you show up on time and your friend is 30 minutes late; usually without even sending a courtesy text or calling.

If you are someone who, or someone you know is chronically late the first step to recovery is admitting that it is a problem. Not only does it cause other’s stress but I can almost guarantee that it causes you even more stress. Being late for personal events is one thing, being late for work consistently is a whole other ballpark. You might think that people don’t notice…They do. Someone always notices when you’re slipping in through the office doors, probably because they have walked by your cubicle or office a couple times that morning already – depending on how late you actually are. In an article titled, 5 Reasons Why You’re Always Late … And Why You Won’t Be Anymore it reports that being excessively tardy is the most irritating of work habits to have. This is a great article because it covers why people tend to run late. Their reasons are:
1. Being too wrapped up in the present & spacing out other commitments.
2. Miscalculating how much time is actually needed for tasks or getting somewhere.
3. Failing to plan. Waking up late and/or not giving yourself enough time to get ready.
4. Overbooking. Saying yes to every meeting or every event and then struggling to maintain all your commitments.
5. Being addicted to the rush. You adrenaline junkie, you.

Understanding why you are consistently late is key to recovery. It could be one of the previously stated items or it could be all of them. Regardless of how many, it is important to address and overcome them. Most people who are consistently tardy are not very proud of it. It’s embarrassing and stressful. Have you ever told yourself, “I’m not going to let this happen again…Tomorrow will be different” and then the next day you’re late for work?…Again? It can happen to the best of us. But hey, don’t get down on yourself – get better! Lucky for you there are some great resources out there to help with your recovery.

In an article titled, How to stop being late and start being on time some great tips to be on time are given.
Two great ones are:
1. Take actual measurements of how long things take you.
In my case, I know that it takes me 40 minutes to get ready for work, 20 minutes to eat breakfast and watch a little news, and 40 minutes to drive to work (on a good day). I also know that I am a snooze button pusher so I give myself another 20 minute buffer to roll outta bed.
2. Set an alarm. Not just to get up in the morning but for other tasks.
Some people just need constant reminders of what’s coming up in their day. Smart phones can be a great help with this as you can have as many as alarms and reminders that you want. The iPhone can even set reminders for locations. Many times I have set a reminder for when I leave work to remind me to get items for dinner or to pay a bill.

Tardiness is something that anyone can overcome with admittance, understanding, and effort to recover.

So I ask, Has anyone overcome the tardiness bug? If so, how did you do it?

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Multitasking. Is it Worth it?

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I have always prided myself in being an effective “multi-tasker.” I even have it on my résumé to impress anyone out there with my mad multitasking skills. Here’s the definition of multi-tasking. Basically, the performance of many tasks at one time. I have seen on job boards their desire for multitaskers and I have tried so very hard to make this a prime skill of mine.
At work, I can handle many tasks – I can answer the phone while doing a budget report and I can talk to co-workers about a topic or question while emailing a client.

But personally – being a mother, wife, and student I believe I have taken it too far and it has ended up hurting me more than helping me. I can’t do homework AND spend time with my step-kids, nor can I cook dinner while figuring out the next week’s schedule. Sometimes we just have to buckle down and do one task at a time (at work and in our personal lives).

New research actually shows that multitaskers might be doing more tasks at one time but also getting less done at the same time. A great article on Forbes called, How Multitasking Hurts Your Brain (and Your Effectiveness at Work) talks about how it has been scientifically proven that our brains cannot efficiently switch between tasks.

What?!? But I thought I was so darn good at this…In light of this I have attempted to do some “light” multitasking. Answering emails and phones at work while working on tasks that don’t require a lot of effort but not trying to do my homework and spend time with my family. I have vowed to myself that I will work harder on eliminating my multitasking ways, especially in the home. I’m going to prioritize and get my personal things done before I try to do other thing. How nice it will be to watch a movie with my husband without having to do homework at the same time! I’m seeing better quality time ahead, as well as more productive time. If I just buckle down to get things done I’m sure they will be completed faster and at higher quality. I read a blog titled, 6 Reasons Why Mom Shouldn’t Multi-task. It just further proves my complete inability to multitask in the home…
The ultimate conclusion to it all is that it is purely unhealthy and creates additional stress which I believe. Maybe that’s why I’m stressed all the time. I’m putting too much on my plate at one time – and for what? To prove what an amazing and incredibly stressed out multitasker I am?

Now, more than ever I believe that achieving balance is done by focussing on what’s important; prioritizing our time and not trying to be these amazing and frizzy-haired multitaskers. There’s a reason we can’t put eyeliner and mascara on at the same time – it’s dangerous!

So I ask you, what do you really think of multitasking? Do you think it hurts you more than it helps you?

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