All posts by Merdrick

Feeling Uprooted? Start Planting New Seeds.

Feeling uprooted? Plant new seeds.

Are you feeling uprooted? Like this pandemic has turned everything in your life upside down? Me too. I’ve lost track of how many weeks we’ve been home. And although our city and state have lessened restrictions, we’re still staying home as much as we can.

I can sense that people are aching to get back to normal. But I don’t think things are ever going back to the way they were before this pandemic hit. And I’m ok with that. Why? Because now is the time to rethink everything. It’s a blank slate. A time to start fresh.

A time to plant new seeds.

Where do we start?

We have some work to do first. We need to grieve the life that once was. So many people have lost loved ones, jobs, livelihoods, innocence, a sense of security. Maybe you’ll come out of this mostly unscathed, but I bet it’s touched you somewhere in your life. Spend some time grieving.

I’m grieving my youngest having her preschool graduation without her friends. Surrounded by her teachers, her sister, and her parents, it was only her, wearing her cap and gown. During a timed ceremony so we wouldn’t interact with too many others. I can only imagine how parents and kids who didn’t get their high school or college graduation ceremony feel. These rituals bring such closure.

I’m grieving the last few months of spending every Tuesday with my daughter before she heads off to kindergarten. I’ve spent every Tuesday of the last 7 years with one or both of my girls. Although I was tired of figuring out how to entertain a small child every week, Mommy and Ellie days were special.

What do you need to grieve? Spend some time sitting with it and working through it. Mourn the memories that never were.

Once we’ve grieved, we can begin planting new seeds.

Next comes the part I’m most excited about. There is such an opportunity here. It’s time for a shift in thinking. Instead of longing to go back to the way things were, let’s reinvent. Let’s look at our schedules and priorities and figure out what really matters. How do we want to be spending our time?

I want to see our society have some big, deep discussions about so many things. Work, education, the division of housework and parenting. Generally, the way our society functions.

I’m not looking to have a big political discussion here. But we need to start with learning how to have deeper discussions. Instead of constantly complaining about how things aren’t working or dismissing someone who thinks differently, we need to listen and work to understand each other. Maybe once people start feeling heard, we can come together to fix things. People won’t dig in their heels and refuse to hear someone else because they won’t feel attacked. One place I’ve started is by reading Crucial Conversations and taking this quick mini-course.

Let’s start with work.

I do understand that not every job is flexible. You have to show up for a shift at the grocery store, hospital, just about every job in the service industry. Maybe there are ways to put more flexibility into these jobs. I’m talking about knowledge workers here. There are plenty of jobs focused solely on how much time you spend at your desk in the office. It doesn’t matter how much you do while you’re there. But you better be in your seat.

My husband was let go from a job many years ago because he wasn’t in the office by 8:30am every day. He was working close to 70 hours a week, but some of that was at home. He had young kids and wanted to be around to see them. This company couldn’t see that the amount of work or the quality of work is what mattered. It didn’t take the time to notice anything but when he was at his desk.

The shift in thinking here comes from defining success for these positions. Then, setting expectations and a deadline, and letting employees make it happen. I bet there will be a lot more creativity that comes from that freedom. Plant some new seeds.

Also, take a look at how many meetings are necessary and how people are communicating. I’m guessing some things can change there too. Does every meeting end with defined next steps? Or are they just a waste of time? Watch this quick 1-minute video about one thing you can do for more productive meetings.

The workload for women.

And what about the workload, both at work and at home, for women? Why is it that women are asked how they balance working and parenting but we never ask the dads? Why is it women are expected to do it all but we don’t expect it from the dads? Don’t tell me it’s because women are better at multitasking (I’ll get into that some other time). Think about what we’re teaching our kids – that it’s ok for the men not to help and the women need to do it all because no one else is capable.

There needs to be a shift in thinking here. A shift that we’re all in this together. That we all succeed or fail together. We need to stop with this thinking that we need to do it all by ourselves. Plant some new seeds.

Let’s rethink how we spend our time.

Have you created new routines during this pandemic? Maybe you’re walking the dog every morning or taking family walks before dinner. My husband and I are taking one night a week to play cards after the kids are in bed. I’ve wanted to cancel my gym membership and have more flexibility in when I work out but never made it happen. I’m exercising more now that I’ve made space for it in my living room.

Are you finding yourself enjoying more leisurely family dinners? Taking the time to watch your kids play in the backyard? Is it nice to not be rushing from one activity to another? Or maybe you’ve been so overwhelmed by work and remote learning and having the kids home that you’re exhausted.

I hope there’s been more quality family time. I hope that as activities begin to resume that you don’t go rushing out signing up for everything. I hope you find some peace in not rushing from one place to the next. In having family dinners (or breakfasts!) on a regular basis. Before you start filling up your schedule, figure out how you truly want to be spending your time. Commit your time carefully. Plant these new seeds meaningfully.

What about our stuff?

You’ve likely spent the last few months surrounded by your stuff. Is it driving you crazy? Are you finding it useful? Have you spent time sorting through and organizing it? We’ve rearranged toys to make them easier for our kids to use. We have a table just for arts and crafts now. We have a charging station for tablets and computers. We have learned more about how we use our space. That we really don’t need a big house and that when every toy is on the floor, it feels like a lot.

When we have less stuff, it’s easier to maintain an organized home. And it’s easier to use things because it’s not so overwhelming and we can find what we’re looking for. If our house is too cluttered, we can’t find what we need.

So take a look around your space, figure out what you love and need, and let the rest go. How do you want to feel when you are in your space? Comfortable? Content? Happy? Work towards getting your space to create that. Plant some new seeds with your space.

And related to our stuff, what about our spending?

Since you’ve been home, have you saved money because you’re not wandering through stores buying things you don’t need? Or are you just overbuying on Amazon? I’ve loved not spending money buying things we don’t need. It’s been nice to think about repurposing something we have in our house to fulfill a need. Or knowing that we don’t need more stuff in our lives. Plant some new seeds around spending. It relates to clutter as well. Retail therapy leads to short term relief. The stuff you buy takes up space in your house. It needs to be maintained or it just creates clutter. Take some time to figure out what’s behind that and find new ways to fill your cup. Plant some new seeds.

Time to plant some new seeds.

We need a shift in thinking. Let’s do things differently. Let’s move forward into something better. Let’s plant some new seeds.

If you’re ready to plant some new seeds in your life, let’s talk! And, if you’re an overwhelmed working mom, ready to take back control of your time, join Chaos Contained, an online community providing support in productivity.

Stop Surviving. Start Thriving.

When my kids were younger, I remember a friend asking me how I was doing. My usual answer was hanging in there. Suddenly, I was tired of that being my answer. When does just surviving stop? When do I start thriving? My kids aren’t going to get easier. I think they get more fun as they get older, but there will always be something we’re working on (arguing about?!). So enough with this hanging in there

Don't be busy, be productive. Start thriving.

Part of this hanging in there was how busy I felt. I don’t think busy is always a good thing, yet we cram every minute of our days with activities. We need to be crossing items off our to-do list. We have so much work to do that we don’t know where to start (or when to stop). Our kids are signed up for every activity under the sun because we feel they need to be enriched and entertained all the time (pre-pandemic). 

Stop Overcommitting

I get it. I’ve looked at my schedule and wondered how I committed to so many things. What happened? When did I get so busy? I’ve looked at how much I crossed off my to-do list and wondered if those were really the tasks I should’ve focused on today. Or did I just do what was the easiest to cross off? Let’s call me a recovering over-committer

I’m on a mission to help end the mom guilt. To help moms shift from putting out fires every day to feeling more proactive and in charge of their time and to-dos. Because I’ve been there! So let’s stop with the guilt. Let’s focus on our big rocks. On the choices we make with our time, where it goes, and how we spend it. Let’s start thriving. And let’s see the amazing things we do accomplish every day. Let’s tame the chaos. 

Join Chaos Contained today! A virtual community for overwhelmed working moms to help you tame the chaos. Your future self will thank you! 

Just Slogging Through

Feeling like you’re just slogging through each day? I get it, I have started giving myself pep talks to get out of bed! If my phone didn’t tell me the date, I likely would have no idea. Every day is starting to blend into the next! Weekends don’t feel any different (we really should do something fun to change that, huh?)

I don’t want to add one more story about how we should be productive right now since we have all this time. Working from home, helping your kids remote learn, and keeping everyone fed is enough! You might feel even busier! I do want to help you feel like you’re moving forward in your life, even while stuck at home. Read on for a few ideas!

  • Define what your work hours look like. Tag team with your partner. Someone is with the kids while the other one works. Trade every few hours as necessary. It’s also ok to put the kids in front of a movie and get some work done. Or send them out to the backyard to play.
  • Identify 3-5 priorities for each day. Yes, you might do more. You feel more accomplished if you know what needs to be done to move yourself or a project forward. Think about how it would feel to cross 5 tasks off your list of 5 tasks versus 5 tasks off a list of 15 (that you were never going to have time to do all anyway. Listen to what Laura Vanderkam has to say about limiting your to-do list.
  • Create a ritual between work and home life (even if work life is at your kitchen table). Find an activity to do before you switch between work and home. This helps your brain realize it’s now doing something different. Try a quick 5-minute meditation, a dance party, or a quick walk around the block.
  • Create visual boundaries if you’re working from the kitchen table. Put on headphones, signaling that you’re working and are not to be disturbed. Or you can put up some form of barrier, like a 3-sided poster display board. This could also be a place to put tasks and reminders! It’s like your own cubicle space in an open-concept office.
  • Break your projects into small, clear steps. If my to-do list says ‘Create workshop,’ it’s not easy for me to do what’s next. If it says create an outline for workshop, create marketing for workshop, or some other next step, then I know what to do next. Otherwise, I stare at it for a week and nothing gets done.

Still feeling stuck on how to get through the day? Schedule a 15-minute call with me to talk about your situation. Or take this quick 10-minute video on productivity.

Slogging through

We Do It To Ourselves

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now. I’ve long had this theory that women get mad at our partners for not helping when in reality, we’ve taught them not to. Then came a worldwide pandemic and I wasn’t sure if it was relevant. However, I do think it’s still relevant. Because we’ve all been thrown into this crazy time of trying to work, take care of our families, and homeschool our kids. And we can’t do it all at the same time and do it well. We need to give ourselves a break. So read on and let me know what you think!

We do it to ourselves

I had a roommate in college who would reclean the bathroom after I cleaned it. So I stopped cleaning it. Now, depending on who you are in this story, you may think I was lazy because now I never cleaned the bathroom. Or you thought, sure, what was the point of cleaning the bathroom if someone else was going to redo it? That would be a waste of your time!

We, as women, create this scenario all the time. No one else can clean the kitchen or do the laundry or clean up like we do. Because, of course, it’s not done right if it’s done differently. So we do everything ourselves. We reload the dishwasher or don’t let our partners do the laundry. Because heaven forbid, it’s not done to our exacting standards.

Then, we complain because our partners aren’t participating in the housework. When in reality, we’ve driven them to this point. We treat them like they’re unable to do anything, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They give up and we continue treating them like they are unable to do anything right.

We need to stop doing it all ourselves.

We can’t have it all. At least not all at the same time. And what does that even mean? We can’t magically do everything we want/need to and do it all well. It’s not possible, yet we beat ourselves up for not doing it every day. We overdo it and we constantly feel like we’re failing. Yet, we’re not. We have crazy high expectations that we’re never going to meet.

And this is what we model for our kids – that we must do it all instead of working with our partners. Whether you’re raising boys or girls, they’re watching you and seeing how you work with your partner. So the little girl watching her mother struggle to do it all instead of asking for help or letting something go is going to grow up to be the same crazed, stressed-out woman trying to do it all, feeling bad about not succeeding (even though it’s impossible). And the little boy is going to grow up believing that they don’t need to do much of anything. Because those were the examples they had growing up.

What if we changed that story?

What if we came into the kitchen that was mostly clean and thought great, someone loaded the dishwasher, now all I need to do is wipe down the counters? Or, said thanks for doing the laundry, can I help put it away? Or had the conversation of having too much on your plate and you need things to change? It’s not just helping each other – you’re in this together, you’re partners.

So let’s stop trying to do it all.

Let’s realize that life is like a symphony. Sometimes the violins are loud, sometimes it’s the drums. Sometimes there’s rest. But it all comes out a beautiful song in the end. Sometimes we’re going to work all day, sometimes we’re going to spend all day running errands, or playing with our kids or out on some adventure. And at the end of the week, we’ve covered most of it. And if it didn’t get done, it wasn’t important, and it can wait until the next song.

If you’re tired of feeling like there’s too much on your plate, I’d love to help you feel less overwhelmed! Let’s work together to create a task list and schedule that works for you! Let’s do this together instead of all on our own. If you’d like to chat more about this with me or want to learn more about how you’re spending your time, contact me or schedule a call.

Stop trying to do it all yourself!
Stop trying to do it all yourself!

Stuck at Home? Now What?

Life feels crazy right now.

We’re not sure what the next few weeks or even months are going to look like. You may be staring down 3 weeks at home with your kids, wondering how you’re going to get any work done. Or you may be alone or with a partner, wondering how you’re going to keep yourselves entertained.

There are so many articles out there on what to do while stuck at home. And maybe this one is just adding to it. I wanted to share what we’re doing here and give you a few more ideas.

I’m looking at 2-3 weeks at home with my husband and kids. Our goal is to not leave the house unless we have to. We’re rationing milk and cheddar bunnies. There will be tears (mine and the kids), there will be too much screen time, but there will also be laughter, lots of family time, and hopefully plenty of time outside. We’ll watch Frozen 2 way too many times. We just bought the DVD and our girls are obsessed. My youngest keeps walking around the house in her Frozen dress singing all the songs. Thankfully, I like the 2nd movie!

Anyway, we’re not going to be one of the households that keeps a strict schedule every day. My goal for each day is (in order of priority): Family time, physical movement/outside time, work/household list of tasks, relaxing/reading/tv. Our days will be flexible and fluid. We’ll take it day by day.

What does this make possible?

One of the best things I’ve read lately is from Jason Kotecki of Escape Adulthood. He asks the question: Now that this has happened, what does this make possible? (you can read his post here.) I don’t want to look back at these next few weeks and feel like I wasted all of our time being shut up in the house. I’ve made a list of all the things I can do for my business and around the house. It ranges from updating my website and planning my marketing for the year to working on my photo books and cleaning out paperwork. I also plan on learning a few new games to play with my kids. Family time is the most important of all of this to me.

I know other articles out there have talked about all the organizing tasks you can tackle while you’re stuck at home. And they’re right! Now is a great time to tackle that closet, basement, or garage. If you want any guidance on a project, send me a message https://homemostsimple.com/contact-me/ or schedule a call.

I’ll be posting on my Facebook ideas on how to make this time productive. And if you need to chat, even just to connect with someone, I’m here!

Stuck at home?
Let’s all take a deep breath. We got this.