Personal Update

I wanted to provide a quick note that getting my house ready to be listed for sale resulted in my time being sacrificed elsewhere: my business, my blog, my personal life…the list goes on. I had to take a leave of absence from everything so I could take the pressure off and more easily focus both my time and energy on the top family priority.

If you are coming here from the up and coming, fabulous podcast: Flushing it Out with Samantha Spittle, and are curious about what I do, send me a note in the Get ahold of Gretchen page.

Official blog posts resume in two weeks and will be consistent moving forward.

Thank you for taking an interest in what I do! Talk soon! 😘

Gretchen

Will A Clothing Subscription Service Make My Life Easier?

Let’s take a break.

We have established roles and responsibilities, we have cleared the clutter (but have not necessarily dealt with the clutter), and we have approached room organization with awareness. We have done a heck of a lot! Let’s use this week to practice implementation.

In the meantime, I’d like to welcome you to my blog series called, Will it Make My Life Easier? In this series, I will try out the ideas, concepts, and products that were created in hopes of making one’s life easier.

If you are a woman, more specifically a mother, and you are on Facebook or Instagram—you have likely seen an ad for a monthly clothing and styling subscription service. Did you consider it and catch yourself thinking; will it actually make my life easier? I did…and that one thought inspired this series.

I signed up for Stitch Fix, Daily Look, and Nadine West.

Drooling over this awesome packaging and product experience!

Instead of breaking it down by service provider, I am going to break it down by what emotion came out when I finally pulled the trigger and signed up: excitement. I was not prepared for how excited I felt. The action of subscribing to Stitch Fix, Daily Look, and Nadine West. triggered the notion that I do deserve nice things.

Now, I don’t want you to think I am Cinderella over here, because my husband is an amazing help and I definitely treat myself when the occasion calls; but, being a mother of both an infant and a toddler makes shopping for myself really hard.

If I do it, I have to do it on my time, or the time a mother has away from her children, where she is expected to accomplish all of the housework, run all the errands, and literally do all the things. (Being vague on purpose, because my time is unique to each Mama, but we all know what it is). Anyway, using my time for shopping just isn’t fun or relaxing, so I have neglected my wardrobe.

There were 8 items in this box. I loved the boyfriend jeans! I liked several of the looks, but again, my wallet would not budge; not even for looking super cute.

Back to the excitement: I was a giddy school girl. I did all my laundry, carefully put all my clothes away, and readied my space for my new arrivals. The mystery and the waiting were half the fun! Both added to the buildup, granting permission for me to continue doing nice things for myself as I waited for my clothes to arrive.

Now, here comes reality: when my clothes finally arrived, I experienced a new kind of emotion…😲…sticker shock! I don’t know what your clothing spending budget is, but mine is certainly not $50+ per item. I should have done my research before signing up, because I had excitedly hoped that selecting the “cheaper the better” option would result in my self-defined reasonably priced items, but it did not.

There were 5 pieces in the box. I really liked the purse and blue pencil skirt, but couldn’t justify spending that much at this point in my life.

So, I did some googling, because I know I am not the only one. And I found Nadine West: a subscription clothing service where all the items are between $10-$30. Now we’re talking! I actually bought an item from this shipment because it made me feel special AND the price was within my budget.

Jackpot! I wasn’t in love with the styles given. The leggings and dress were definitely not me, but I bought the floral shirt. It was less than $30 and the cost of shipping was applied to the price. Every time I wear it, I feel special. I hope to get items more tailored to my taste as I work with my stylist.

Did this service make my life easier? Right now, I am going to say it is a hesitant yes.

Returning all the clothing items within the allotted window of time was a bit of a pain, but comes with the territory of online shopping. Being disappointed by the item cost, and having that disappointment deflate my initial excitement is arguably a negative.

But! This whole process led me to Nadine West—a clothing subscription service I plan to stay subscribed to long term, because it will allow me to update my wardrobe without spending my precious time (or money) to do so. My next shipment arrives very soon, and I am finding that giddy excitement starting to creep back into my daily actions.

Which clothing subscription service have you tried? Was it right for you? Comment below, I want to know. Whichever one, I say it’s worth it if it brings you some level of peace. ☮️

Permission to Change What’s Not Working

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

Okay, so last week, we shoved the clutter in all the places and cleared all the spaces. The week before, we determined roles and responsibilities of all the housemates. At this point, we have a clean slate and no questions about who is keeping what clean and how.

Now it’s time to dive deep, room per room, cupboard per cupboard, drawer per drawer, and make life easier. It’s time to give yourself permission to change what’s not working. If we don’t like what we are doing; if it is not easy or fun to accomplish, then we won’t keep it up. It would be insane to continue this way, and still hold the expectation that it will eventually result in a happy, orderly, kept up home.

Let’s get the picture with a story…(swipe left)

On a dark and stormy night, with wind howling and branches rustling, I unsuspectingly opened my kitchen cupboard and was trampled!! (By containers!) I barely survived the chaos and mayhem taking over...I let out a scream in fright!! 

Okay, drama aside, my container cupboard was a nightmare.

I hated putting my containers away because they were in constant disarray, falling out of the cupboard, and in a backbreaking bottom corner cupboard in my kitchen. The container situation was so out of control that whenever I had a clean dishwasher full of containers, I swear to you, I did everything and anything else but put that load of dishes away. Why? Because it both physically and mentally hurt me to put those dang containers away. I felt actual pain bending down to put them in the cupboard and frustration tossing them all back in as they fell over each other. This situation disrupted my peace and caused me action paralysis; it was not sustainable.

Then one day, I saw a Rubbermaid Container Set on sale, and something clicked in me. My current process wasn’t working and I needed to do something different! So, I bought 3 of those Rubbermaid Container Sets.

Shortly after, I donated all of my old containers, rearranged my kitchen cupboards, and put my shiny, new containers in an easy to reach upper cupboard. I made a mental boundary that day, telling myself I would never accept random containers into my collection, opting to donate them instead. And here we are, over 5 years later, and my collection has remained! And, yes, my dishwasher gets emptied without physical or emotional delay. The only change is that my containers now live on the top shelf of my Lazy Susan, conveniently located to the right of my dishwasher.

Easy to sort, easy to get to, easy to put away and organize. Keep it fun and easy, not perfect.

As I write this, I caught myself wondering, why did it take so long for me to give myself that permission to change what wasn’t working.

And after staring off into introspective space a few minutes, I realized that in order to give myself permission to change what wasn’t working, I needed to first be aware of the fact that it was, indeed, not working for me.

Change is good. Awareness is hard. But your life will transform when you become aware of what you need to change to make it better, easier, more fun, and sustainable.

But who am I kidding, containers are easy!! What about organizing the innards of an entire room? I spent my weekend doing just that (after weeks of mental meditation, taking note of what I like to do, what I actually do, and how I can make it easy to ask my toddler for help).

Here are some photos of the evolution of the internal organization of my childrens’ playroom:

The left side shows my before: I thought having the toys in the drawers would be easier for my daughter to access and put back, but she ended up paying no attention and would get frustrated when the drawer didn’t close easily. The right shows my after: I decided the drawers would hold baby blankets. I purposely DID NOT fold the blankets because I use them so often and decided that clothes deserved my folding time & effort, but baby blankets do not.
I have rearranged my childrens’ playroom several times. I had toys in bins, then blankets in bins, and now toys are back in bins. I was experimenting to discover what worked best. My daughter, who is 2, will help me pick up when I pull out a bin and sing the cleanup song, so that is how I will keep the toys. I also have an extra storage unit for toys that I will spend some time organizing by category, but only when I am motivated to. Bottom line: I am not going to stress about what goes in what bins or drawers. I have designated the “hard to reach” bin for dirty clothes/blankets, and the rest for just “toys,” so I can worry less and inspire my children to help me keep up more.
Above, I used to have some toys in my couch storage compartment, but they were never used, so I opted to store blankets in there now that it’s summer. Item use should always dictate item location The lower left image shows my playroom a year ago, and the bottom right shows it now. The space will continue to change as my children change & grow. We have added a reading tent, an easel, a small table (not shown), and all the awkward-sized toys are out on display. It’s not perfect, but it stays picked up. And that is key. We are going for what flow naturally results in effortless order.

These pictures show you that constant change is necessary to finding what works best. You must experiment, change up your environment, and not only work with yourself, but with those you live with. And when you embrace that, you will find your peace.

Emotions and Commotion

Last week, we discovered that in order to see the results we want in our homes, we need to clearly communicate our expectations.

This week, let’s look at business operations, in the general sense.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

My husband and I were super excited to implement our roles and responsibilities last week, but realized that we both were falling short of doing so. This is because we were too overwhelmed with our very messy house. It was like our home (business) was still in the set-up stage, not in the running smoothly stage, and because of that, we felt no motivation to take on our roles and responsibilities as assigned.

That’s when I realized that we needed to start with a presentable home (store front), and then maintain.

So, on Friday, I cleaned the entire house—I shoved papers in drawers, piles in closets, and toys in baskets—my goal was to clear all of the spaces to create the illusion of a clean home. I did this with the inspiration that successful businesses do this all the time. I bet you are thinking: what the heck does she mean?

Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

Let’s imagine you are walking into your favorite brick and mortar shop. You watch your feet as you step over the threshold so you don’t trip. You breathe in the familiar and nurturing smell of the place, and after a moment of contentment, you take a look around. Your eyes fall upon the newest merchandise brought into the store, and because this is your favorite shop, your subconscious already has a sense of where everything is. Your body already knows what to expect and you feel immediately relaxed at this expectation of completeness, readiness, and freshness. You grab a new item, check out, and are on your way.

Here’s what you didn’t notice: the store owner arriving to the shop early to set up the new merchandise, which involves taking inventory, categorizing, pricing, ensuring everything has been logged into the system correctly. You probably didn’t notice that the store owner has a huge storage space behind the shop that is piled sky high with boxes. And at the register, there are disorganized papers and receipts hiding in the drawers in order to keep the counter clean.

Basically, to every store front, there is a lot going on behind the scenes.

That said, it’s time to allow yourself to have a nice store front (home) with a lot going on behind the scenes too. But, how to we do that? How do we give you a nice store front?

We follow the idea of the store owner—having it look nice on the outside, with some chaos on the inside. Take the clutter that your brain just can’t compute at this time, the clutter that is stopping you from moving forward, and shove it in a drawer; stick those piles of crap to sort in your closet; hide it all away.

Now, some of you may read this and think that my solution is superficial, but hear me out.

Sometimes, we need to keep the store (home) looking professional (picked up) before we can tackle the numerous piles and projects that we have going on internally. We need to feel that our space is nice in order to commit to keeping our space nice.

Photo by Milly Eaton on Pexels.com

So, now that you have assigned your house roles, take a day this weekend to blast your favorite music, and get your entire house “in order” so that it feels nice. We will get to the stuff hidden away in those drawers and closets soon enough, just like a business will always sort out all the papers and receipts before tax time. It is just hard to do it all at once, so let’s not put that pressure on ourselves.

Until next time, my peaceful mama!  

Roles & Responsibilities

When starting any business, the first step (other than having the business idea and business plan) is to establish clear roles and responsibilities. Hiring someone on without establishing clear roles and responsibilities for their position is going to cause confusion, conflict, and waste valuable time and money.

The same applies to assigning household chores. For example, telling a member of your household to “go clean the living room” without established roles and responsibilities, can result in unmet expectations.  To you, cleaning the living room may mean: pick up and put away all toys, pick up and fold all blankets, fluff couch pillows, vacuum couch and floor, and wipe down/dust all surfaces. To the member of your household, cleaning the living room means: clearing the floor of stuff by setting things in random, neat piles, but not necessarily putting things back where they belong.

It’s no wonder that moms (and dads) end up just giving up on assigning tasks and decide to do everything themselves.

The following motto comes to mind: If you want something done right, then do it yourself.

Let’s make a new motto: If you want something done right, then clearly communication your expectations by assigning clear roles and responsibilities.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

This weekend, my husband and I did just that. We have had a lot going on in our lives lately, and everything on the home front is falling by the wayside. With our two munchkins so young, and our lives so hectic, we need to count on each other more than ever to keep our home environment how we want.

And here’s the result:

I am a visual person and a forgetful person, so I made a handy roles and responsibilities checklist. I printed it, placed it in a glass picture frame, and marked it up with dry erase marker. Please click here to receive a blank version of this checklist. As we filled this in, we verbally discussed expectations of what it means to have each item on this list. For example: “Surfaces” means to spot clean countertops, spot clean all floors downstairs, and spot clean half bath sink. Again, the idea is to tidy up daily, so spot cleaning is key vs vacuuming or sweeping an entire area. We don’t want to burn out, we just want to keep up.

And just like you don’t leave work until the job is done, our plan is to stay up until the job is done. At first, this will be an adjustment, but as we get used to it, I can only imagine it will take 10-20 minutes in the evening.

What would happen if I ran my home like one runs a business?

Running a household is a full-time job. It really is, and it sucks that so many of us try to juggle parenting, working, caring for our families, caring for ourselves, and then caring for our homes.  It’s too much! But we all do it. So how can we make it easier?

I recently made the decision to trade in full-time employment for part-time employment. And that means that I am home a lot more, which has actually been so helpful as I am a mother to a feisty toddler and an adorable infant. But, it has also been hard; like really, really hard. Can we get a shout out for SAHMs (and SAHDs) who don’t lose their minds? I commend you—you all are gold.

Anyway, these past few weeks, I have been looking around at the way I run my home my home is running me…and I keep thinking, I need to take charge! But how? Then BOOM! It hits me.

What would happen if I ran my home like one runs a business?

What would happen, indeed. Being a homemaker is just not natural for me, but managing a business is. So, let’s marry the two together, just for fun!

Follow my blog find out what does happen as I document my journey into the home business world; applying my professional organizational skills to changing the way my household is run.