Monday, 25 July 2011

Quality or Quantity Time? A balance of course!

Hello friends!  I hope you are enjoying a wonderful summer...I am having a busy one, which is why my blogging is a little less frequent!

So, lately I've been thinking about when I first went back to work after my first maternity leave.  I was a little obsessed with the number of hours I spent with my little one to the point of counting how many waking hours I spent with her in comparison to the sitter!  This really didn't do anything for the quality of the time I did spend with her I'm sure!

As a mom, of course I want to spend as much time with my children as I can.  More important however, is how I spend that time with them.  If I am so stressed out about all the things not getting done or about work or about all the other things in life there is to get stressed about...I won't be a very nice person to be around and the kids would perhaps prefer not to be around me so much!  Maybe an extra hour or two in child care or with Dad to get a few needed 'mommy' things taken care of wouldn't be such a bad idea. 

Most of the time, I am a bit too focused on all the things that I have to do and wanting to accomplish something and not 'waste time'.  I have to constantly remind myself that taking time to do an activity with any or all of the kids, chosen by them, is not a waste of time.  (Even if it is watching a movie that we've all watched several times before!)  This is quality time...the kind of thing that tells them that they are important enough to me to put aside all the things I 'need' to do long enough to spend time with them.

On the other hand, I have come across people that spend very little time with their kids and when they do it is always a big production... something big and probably expensive every time they spend time together.  This is not necessary... and it is a symptom of the guilt on feels for how little time they are spending with the kids... hopefully, this is not a problem you have and if it is, I pray you will work on only have so much time with the kids until they're gone.

Now that our older two are getting old enough to really chip in around the house, they are also old enough to understand that the more they help out, the more time we'll have to all do fun things together.  We also can take advantage of the time spent together on chores to get caught up on the events of the day or week and to discuss many other things.  This too can be quality time together.

Well, these are my thoughts on the subject...and no, I don't count the hours anymore... but of course things are always different with the third child anyway ;)

Enjoy those little people and may they grow up to be your friends that always know that you have time for them!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Struggle to Keep the Weight Off - Ju Jubes and Jelly Beans!

Those that know me really well may have questioned my expertise on a couple of my posts.  I wouldn't necessarily be known as an expert in keeping the house tidy etc... But, when it comes to candy... that is my area of expertise!

I have never been a skinny person, and I don't really aspire to be, just healthy.  When I speak of a struggle with weight, I speak of the struggle with questions like "Why can't I pass up the after Easter 50% off specials on chocolate?" and "Why are JuJubes on sale every time I go to the bulk food store to by something else?"  I am my own worst enemy when it comes to stocking my cupboards (I have a stash at work and at home) with things that I shouldn't be eating.  And of course, as a working mom, I don't have hours each day to get a workout in.  If I have an hour a few times a week, I'm doing good. 

So, what to do?  I am currently trying to keep of the weight that I lost over 6 months ago... a little after having my third child.  I am trying to stay motivated by telling myself that I don't want to have to lose it again.  At some point I'd love to lose a little more...but one step at a time.  So I've developed a few techniques:
  • first, I almost never completely eliminate the treats I love...that drives me to those terrible binges
  • second, I use the treats as a reward for doing some exercise....(I know, if I did the exercise without the reward, the benefits would be even greater...but it's a start!)  If I don't have time to do any workout today...then I simply delay my treat to tomorrow.  Somehow I manage to talk myself out of it that way.
  • third, yesterday is gone...don't dwell on a bad day... it can start a cycle that turns into a bad week etc.
  • finally, set reasonable goals...we don't all have time to workout as much as we'd like.  Some days, the goal is simply to get a 15 minute walk in at my lunchtime.
So, what works for you...I'd love to hear it!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Quick Bathroom Clean-up Tips

Okay, so on the last post we decided to lower our standards...but in the area of the bathroom, you don't want to lower your standards too much!  This has always been an area that I can't stand being dirty...I mean it's the room where you're trying to get can you do that if it's dirty?

Anyway, I have come up with a way to both keep it from getting out of control and clean it up are my tips:
  • Stop using soap!  How can we get clean without soap?  Okay, so what I really mean is stop using bars of soap.  At our house we use shower gel in the shower and liquid hand soap at the sink.  The difference is amazing!  There is no soap scum to clean up, meaning that cleaning the sink & tub are much easier.
  • The 'change towel clean up' - every time you change the hand towel in the bathroom, take the dirty towel and wipe down the sink & counter.  If it's a full bathroom, do the shower every so often this way too, and even the floor.  The idea here is not to aim for perfection, but maintenance.
  • Antibacterial wipes - so the above method won't clean away many of the I like to keep antibacterial wipes handy for an added clean up from time to time.  Be sure to get the taps, door handles, toilet handles etc.  I do this a little more often these days since I never know when the kids are going to leave the door open and the littlest is going to make a visit!
  • Gel pucks for the toilet - without promoting a specific brand...there are some stiff gel toilet cleaners that you apply to the main bowl area to keep cleaning it every time you flush...they don't turn the water blue, but I find them way more effective than the tank pucks I've used in the past.  They also keep the bathroom smelling a little fresher.
  • The 'change toothbrush clean up' - this one is less frequent...but when I get a little more ambitious and it's time for a toothbrush change...I clean those little hard to get corners with the toothbrush before throwning it away.  (Make sure you have a replacement before doing this!)
I find these tips keep the major bathroom cleaning to a minimum, which is important when we don't have a lot of time... or when we just don't enjoy this type of job!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Company's Coming! Uh-oh...

Are there certain friends that you would dread dropping by?  Not because you don't enjoy their company, but because the standards to which they keep their house are so much higher than you are able to acheive at your own frankly feel embarassed.

There are a few memories of my childhood that really stick with me...and one of them is every now and then my mother would get off the phone and shout out "Marilyn's coming over!"  We all knew what this meant... That statement would immediately trigger a flurry of activity.  Things were picked up off the floor, all the flat surfaces that had collected miscellaneous items would be cleared off, a quick sweep and perhaps some dusting.  Marilyn didn't live very far away, so there was only so much we could do...  And then her visits were always followed by a few days of not being able to find things because they had been so hurriedly stashed...

Why are we so affected by other people's standards?  Why do we put ourselves through so much agony?  I admit that I have inherited, if you will, a certain degree of this same attribute.  I want my house to be more tidy... and I'm not able to always keep it that way and usually for good reason... yet, I'm thrown into a slight panic each time I hear that we may have guests arriving.

What are the solutions?  I think they're relatively simple:
  • First, less stuff...easier said than done for some?!  I like to give the children each a box before gift giving seasons and have them fill it with things they don't use anymore to give/throw away... that way, each time they get new things it doesn't just add to the pile.  Dad is a little more challenging...
  • Second, a place for things.  The older children in my house are to keep their things in their rooms (The one year old is exempt for the time being...)  This way, the main living area is not cluttered with things.  There are hooks near the front door for the school backpacks and not being able to reach the closet hangers in no excuse... and there is a boot box to store the off season items.  I rotate the baby's toys and store the extras in the Ottomon that has storage inside.  We also put up some extra cupboards in the laundry room which helps provide a place for other miscellaneous items like phone chargers, lunch bags when not in use, empty paper towel rolls being saved for crafts etc.  Having all of these things out of the way makes it so much easier to keep the house tidy enough to not be mortified ;) 
  • Third, get the family to help.  This goes without saying...Mom, working or otherwise, shouldn't be doing everything.  You don't do any favours to your children to allow them to contribute to a mess and not help clean it up.  I have explained to my children on several occasions... the more we work together, the more time mom with have to do things with them.
  • Finally, lower your standards!  I recently had to come to the conclusion that if I was waiting for my house to be perfect to invite guest over, I was going to wait a long time... I can't be perfect and my friends will just have to understand that I value other things like spending time with my kids over keeping the house perfect
So, drop in anytime...and take my house as it is;)  We'll enjoy a cup of tea together and each others company!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Family vs. career - stop feeling guilty!

I regularly fluctuate between wishing I didn't have to work at all, and really enjoying the work I do and feeling a bit guilty about it.  After all, shouldn't I want to stay home with my children at all costs?

Well, I've come to the conclusion that I need to stop feeling guilty. The guilt will affect my performance and mood in all areas of my life and then I won't enjoy anything and no one will enjoy being around me!

If I really had the option to not work, I would definitely take a good long break from my career to see my children to a certain age where they are a little more independent.  After that, I would most definitely go back to work to a job that I love and to an environment that is flexible enough to adapt to my family life.

At the moment, I don't have the option, the family budget just won't allow it, so I count my blessings that I am working in an environment that is flexible and where work life balance is valued.

My 11 year old wants to work in a job like mine... so she must see something good about it ;)

Happy balancing!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Going back to work - how to get organized?

Well, after almost a year off work, that dreadful date was approaching and I was going to have to return to work, ready or not.   I don't know about everyone else, but for me it was a time of mixed feelings, but mostly I felt that I wished there were some way I could stay home a little longer.  My little "sunshine" was just getting to be so much fun and someone else was going to get to enjoy him! 

But like it or not, we were not in a situation that allowed for me to not go back to work, so I had to face reality.  I have been able to manage only going back into the office 3 days a week to start and working from home for a bit, and using some of my banked vacation time... but it is nonetheless quite a change in routines.  Oh, I didn't mention yet that I have two other children that are in school...

I do posess the ability to be quite organized actually, but I do have to work at it, and I tend towards being just as organized as I need to be...and perhaps I hadn't needed to be for a while ;)

So, I blew the dust of that part of my brain and thought about some of the things that I used to do to make running a household a little simpler when we don't have all day to plan dinner and do laundry (of course we never have all day for these things...I'm joking!).  Here's what I remember:
  • Plan meals in advance - this saves time, money and defaulting to unhealthy eating, my husband and I used to decide at the beginning of the week what would be for dinner each night and who would make it.  It can even be based on the weekly specials to save even more!  Doing the shopping in advance will follow from this.
  • Use a family calendar - this prevents mom and dad from both scheduling something on the same night without a sitter!  (And whoever forgets to write something down gets to rescedule if there is a conflict)
  • Have a routine - say, for example, you always do two loads of laundry on Tuesdays and Thursdays and catch up on the weekend, everyone in the house will know when to have their laundry in the right place to be washed (or at least they'll learn quickly!) 
  • Get the kids involved - the older children can certainly chip in and do their share.  They can likely help fold laundy and certainly put their own away, they can pack their lunch, empty dishwasher etc.  not having to worry about all these little things will add up to a lot less stress!
  • Have things ready the night before - the kids showered, lunches made and clothes laid out. 
  • Try to keep a tidy area - okay, maybe this is a personal thing... but if when I walk into the house I always see a mess... it immediately puts to mind all the things that need doing.  If we can keep the entrance and maybe the kitchen tidy, I'm so much happier!
Okay, so that's a start...and it helped me even to write them down... some I have always had in place, and some I had let slide for a while.  Let me know your ideas too!

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