20 tips from an organised person with two kids and a small biz

Some days you just have to 'ride the beast' that is a day with two small children...

Some days you just have to ‘ride the beast’ that is a day with two small children…

I often get asked, ‘How do you find the time?’

Honestly? I don’t know. But here are some tips I have used recently to get some things done.
I have two babies and a small business called Outie making knocker frocks, illustrations and more.  My children are small – one is nearly three and the other is one (and they are both still in nappies… )
1) Make more coffee than you need in the morning and keep it in a thermos for later in the day.
2) Use a reusable travel mug in case your kids dictate that you won’t get time to sit down at home. Coffee in the car can actually be more relaxing.
3) Keep a similar routine so that your kids know what to expect each day and you can ‘hopefully’ avoid tantrums by surprising them with an errand and having to force them into the car.
4) Do house chores while they are awake so that nap times can be all business.
5) Always take a picnic lunch/snack pack out with you (we just went to the beach this morning and I took a lunch box of goodies. We had some in the car, I used some as bribery to put seat belts on and then food was all ready to munch when we got home!)
6) Set up safe multitasking zones. 
Right now my daughter is in her high chair on my left (strapped in) and my son is in a small tub inside the bath with his whales on my right and I am sitting between them in the doorway of the bathroom with my pre-prepared coffee writing this. Winning! (Nb I wrote notes at bath time and filled it out later once they were both in bed). Using a decent phone also means that you are not tied to needing a computer to achieve things too…
7) Use help when you can and ask for it. I struggle to be adventurous safely with two babies so small on my own.  So a childless friend met us at the beach so that my toddler could run off safely and she could chase him. (Ever tried wearing a one year old in soft sand and chasing a toddler…?!) I put my hand up and said I wasn’t coping on my own but I love going to the beach – so now we have a help system and everyone wins.
8) Wear them while you can. Sometimes my day naps don’t go according to plan so I wear my baby to still tick off a few small jobs. I have a home made neon woven wrap that is my new best friend.
9) Run them like dogs/tucker them out to make them sleep. Most days we go bush walking and I do brain training with my toddler making him learn new words, play number games or remember picture books by heart. His brain gets tired and he sleeps better later. Today we watched the surfing Nationals at the beach and he sprinted around and climbed rocks and splashed in the stream. I don’t foresee a nap issue today…
10) Organise quiet play opportunities. Sometimes I just have a couple more things that need to be finished and if I can bust out a bag of blocks at my feet, some fabric scraps in a tissue box, some special word cards, or a bin of rice… I might just be winning. I also make my two year old play quietly in his room after lunch even if he doesn’t want to sleep because I need some quiet time too!
11) Write lists. It’s hard to keep everything in your head. Just write it down so you can leave your head clear for fun hunting with your kids and you know where to start on biz related stuff when you do get some time.
12) Read your babies. It’s ok to abandon ship some days if the little people just need a rest day. C’est la vie.
13) Don’t pretend you don’t have kids. I’m a work at home mum. I tell everyone that my business stuff happens in nap times. Most people are understanding if there is a delay and I give myself realistic lead times so that no one has to have a stressed out grumpy mummy or a longer than expected wait time for something I am making for them.
14) Plan errands in a circuit. This is a bit of an economy thing as well as a green thing that I like to do. Later on today I have to pick up fabric, drop off splat mats and go to the post office. I have it planned out to be a neat circle for less time in the car and less environmental impact of silly back and forth errands AND less stress on my kids being in and out of the car.
15) Get a car phone. One of the hardest things I find is trying to find time to call people when my kids are quiet. Strangely they are happy and often quiet in the car. My man bought me a Bluetooth stereo phone thing for Christmas. It’s been amazing and is a real time saver and is actually the best thing ever.
16) Let it go. Last night I found myself stressing because I hadn’t managed to sew four dresses and today I have to sew four more dresses and… Gah. It’s better for everyone if I take my time and do things nicely and prevent myself from rushing. Rushing makes mistakes. One more day won’t hurt but stressing about it will.
17) Make hay while the sun shines. My man is a fire fighter and he is often on long (seemingly endless) shifts. This means I also have long stints of solo parenting. When he is home, I can grab some more time to catch up on things and I have to remind myself that it will even out in the end. I am a mum first and a business owner second after all. I plan my weeks around his work to make things work for me too (and sometimes I take over the whole house when he is gone for a while and I spread out in ways he would hate provided the kids have gone to bed nicely).
18) Get a snow plough. Sometimes I can’t start work because my house is a tip and it stresses me out. So I use a shovel like a snow plough and do a mega scoop up of everything and dump toys back in the crates.  Two seconds down and time to get stuck into the studio.
19) Process your work in batches if possible. I find that I am much more efficient if I do all my cutting one day, all my overlocking and construction together, all my finishing together and then sit down to wrap a batch of parcels. It also saves time because I can do colours together rather than changing threads for each job etc.
20) Keep your work space inspiring. When I get a second during the day I like to nip into my studio to put things away so that it’s a nice space to start work in. I also get creative about where I do things to work in with my kids if I can’t get into my special room. I find a cutting board on our double bed is a great place to cut out a few dresses if I need to and I am still within sight of my one year old. I can sing her to sleep while I work. So do whatever works.
There you go! And this is live so that means the kids are napping and THAT means all my planning for the day has worked!
Maybe there’s something there that is helpful for you?
Leave a comment and let me know and don’t forget to click ‘follow’ before you go. X

5 Life-Saving Tips For Future You With A New Baby

kawakawa leaf

The title of this entry is ‘life-saving’ but really it is ‘time-saving’ as these tips are things that you can do right now to free up some time later for ‘future you’ who is going to be super-tired and all-consumed with new baby stuff. In the later stages of pregnancy, it is easy to feel stressed about the unknowns that are around the corner…

With my second baby due soon, I have decided that rather than worry about all of the things that are going to change/all of the unknowns – I can focus on some things I can actually do to help me (and my family) prepare.

These five tips are things that I am currently doing – and you might find them helpful too.

1. PRETEND YOU ARE NOT THERE

I am currently preparing my house as if it were a ‘beach bach’ so that visitors will easily be able to find their own tea/coffee/treats when I am busy with the new baby.

This will free me up when the new baby arrives to breastfeed and just relax.  I won’t even have to tell them where to find anything because I have just prepared a shelf in my pantry as if it were a motel/hotel room facility. Future me will be really grateful for this one.

(If you have a coffee machine – it could be a good idea now to quickly write a set of instructions so that someone else can do it themselves… I have even added a container of ‘DECAF’ so that breastfeeding mummy -me-  can have one made for her too…)

2. LABEL THINGS

This might seem a little over-the-top but I have recently managed to save myself from ‘stupid conversation’ time with my man just by organising and labeling clothes into ‘categories’ in my toddler’s room. I cut an old hanging shoe organiser into segments and slid the segments into crates. I then labelled the segments with removable stickers and a permanent marker (with a picture as well as the word so that my toddler will be able to find things too) and I have already saved myself unnecessary confusion around questions like, ‘where are the long-sleeved tees?’ or ‘where are his pyjamas?’ – because it is all conveniently sign-posted.

I have to admit that this is a hangover from teaching where I liked my classroom to be easily set up and packed down by students… it made my job back then much less stressful!

This luggage tag nursery labeling idea is from ourlittlebeehive.com

This luggage tag nursery labeling idea is from ourlittlebeehive.com

Just add labels and no more excuses for not putting laundry away!

Just add labels and no more excuses for not putting laundry away!

3. HOUSE TRAINING

With reference to number two above, by adding labels to your child’s room/the linen cupboard etc. the excuse of ‘I don’t know where things go’ to get out of putting the laundry away is no longer a viable one. Enough said.

Organising with crates and stickers

Organising with crates and stickers

4. UTILITY STATIONS

Most offices have streamlined systems for processing paper work and orders etc. In trays and out trays and super-organised stationery refill cupboards… For some reason households often survive without any clear system and this can make things hard when people want to try and help you later.

Think of all of the tasks that you will be doing daily and look at the area like it is a work area. You need to minimise potential complications.

Our nappy area: pre-stacked cloth nappies, stack of reusable wipes with arms reach (but out of toddler’s reach), squirty bottle of witch-hazel and rose-water home-made nappy wipe solution, paw-paw cream or nappy cream, Outie Splat Mat under changing table (can be kicked with foot and used as a ‘dumping ground’ for soiled clothes, wipes and nappies, disposable nappies for overnight use and ‘fluffy bums’ or pilchers for wearing over nappies…

The nappy change area has a strap for safety and a box of toys beneath it to keep wriggly toddler amused. Once change is complete – everything goes into clip-lid air-tight bucket in bathroom next to toilet where soap is easily accessible for a quick clean up.

(NB: There are only two door handles to navigate through on the way there too which is worth considering for one day when you are covered in poo…)

I also use a vinyl changing mat (another Splat Mat!) on top of the nylon table so that I can de-contaminate it outside with a hose if things take a turn for the industrial.

It is useful to think ahead to what you might need and make sure your nappy area and other utility areas are optimised for a stream-lined process.

DIY cloth wipes and nappy wipe solution - just add to a squirty bottle for dry wipes to be ready to go.

DIY cloth wipes and nappy wipe solution – just add to a squirty bottle for dry wipes to be ready to go.

5. ENTERTAINMENT

Another thing you can do now is prepare some entertainment for future you – and for the other children if you have them.

FOR TODDLER: My current project is coming up with ways that might work to keep my toddler entertained while I will be busy with the new baby. Some of his toys have already been ‘squirreled’ away so that he can discover them anew later and I am making him some sensory/discovery bottles with bright buttons hidden in rice for him to roll around/shake and explore. Some of his puzzles have been sealed in plastic zip-lock bags so that they can brought out one at a time and I am putting together a special photo album of his life so that he can have his own special board book to look at during quiet times when I will need to feed the new baby. I am also working on making him a set of personalised flash cards that he can play with to learn the alphabet. There are some other fun ideas at Project Mum you might like to check out.

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(Here is a little ‘treasure discovery bag’ I quickly made with random items from my studio and some rice in a zip-lock bag).

 

FOR YOU: Subscribe to a magazine you might like to read now so that it will be delivered as a nice surprise. Invest in a Kobo or Kindle so that you can read one-handed (I found turning pages while breastfeeding really tricky). Download a set of e-books so that you have some books to look forward to reading in ‘down times’ – or make sure you belong to a library so that you can pick up a stack of new books (also good for other littlies)…

Five things to do right now to prepare for a new baby. That’s one thing for every weekday this week.

Are these do-able tasks for you?

What have you been doing to prepare future you for your future baby?

Love Outie.

http://www.outie.co.nz

10 Ways to Get More Done in a Day (How I trick myself into being more productive)

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Every day your list of things to do gets longer and juggling all of the new ‘baby chores’ on top of your other lists can be overwhelming. Sound familiar?

Every day I have a different list but there are still a lot of things that get crossed off. I love hearing about other people’s organisational tips and here are ten that I use regularly that help me get more done.

(NB: I am not a super-mum – but I do get a lot of things done.)

1. Keep a pen handy and write things down.

Whether you use a diary, notebook, cell phone or other ‘write down system’, this is a vital tool for keeping your list of things to do manageable.

It may seem trivial, but writing things down stops things from floating around in your head. This also helps you to sleep better and not worry about forgetting things. When my head is full, I can’t relax – and we all know the importance of being able to relax when you are stretched thinly across all the needs of your family.

Currently I have a week planner with weekly priority lists, a small notebook for ideas that strike me when out and about and a desktop on my work computer covered in ‘post its’. I use the electronic ones because I am a bit green like that  – but it is so satisfying deleting them when they are done.

Of course, once you have your ‘write down’ strategy sorted, start crossing things off when they are completed. Reward yourself for doing so much. Small achievements count.

2. Number your lists in terms of priorities

A big list is not manageable and can be overwhelming. Take two minutes to number your list from ‘most important’ to ‘least important’. Try to tick off the most important items first.

Another way to prioritise is to break the list down into ‘quick and easy’ or ‘time-consuming’. The quick and easy list can be crossed off between the bigger jobs you need to tackle.

I love crossing off ‘two minute jobs’ when I need a break from the ‘big jobs’. I love a diary that looks like a scribbley mess by the end of the week because of everything that has been crossed out.

3. Involve your baby in chores/wear your baby

One of my biggest mistakes I made early on was trying to do all of my house chores (and start my business) during nap times.  This did not work because it didn’t allow me to have any ‘me’ time and I resented my new role as a housekeeper/homemaker.

Do your ‘jobs’ when your baby is awake – then you can both/all have down time when they are napping.

I wore my baby in a sling when he was little and he now helps with chores. We make everything a game or a learning activity. (I.e: laundry activities = sorting colours, making a pile of laundry to hide under, a tunnel under the clothes airer, adding pegs to string and sliding them, transferring pegs to different containers, pinning pegs to clothing that you are wearing and getting your toddler to get them off you and peg themselves. Changing bed sheets: making a tent for teddies, ‘whooshing’ the sheets, making a ‘sheet hill’ for your toddler to roll down, making a pillow castle, bouncing games, tickling games… be creative!

I have yet to try the ‘strap mops to your knees crawling race’ for mopping the floor – but I have it nicely stored…

I would love to hear your ‘fun while cleaning with a toddler or baby’ ideas!

4. Set measurable goals for the week

You might have an exercise goal or a house work goal, a personal goal or a business goal. Whatever it is, make it ‘SMART’ –  Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.

i.e: ‘exercise more’ is not a measurable goal but ‘walk at least 20km a week’ is. If you have a measurable goal – you can park 1km away from your destination and quickly get ‘another k’ in towards your goal of 20.

It’s also another good idea to share your goals. Write them on the fridge and encourage the whole family to set a personal goal.

Recently I have teamed up with some other like-minded mummies and we meet once a week to share goals, progress and future goal setting for the following week. I feel more productive because I tell them what I want to achieve and I feel accountable – but I also make sure my goals are measurable so that I don’t have to say ‘I haven’t done anything’. Even small goals, when achieved, can do wonders for your self-esteem and general well-being.

(NB: I used to be a secondary school teacher (can you tell) and setting learning goals was vital for tracking development with students and for building their self-esteem– why not apply it to life in general?)

5. Use a  ten-minute time-boxing technique

This is a technique where you give yourself ten minutes to do something you need to do/want to do. Turn off your phone. Close down the internet. Time yourself and just do it. Without distraction, you might be surprised at how much can be done.

Free-writing in a ten minute time box: This can be a mood booster. Give yourself ten minutes to write everything down that is bothering you/worrying you/stressing you out. Don’t worry about punctuation or grammar or sentences – just get it down and don’t stop for ten minutes. When you are done, throw it away. This can be so cathartic and help you have a better mind set for other things that need to be done.

6. Incorporate warm-ups for  work

Sometimes I ‘finally’ get my window of opportunity and I am not in the mood to do anything.

If I have illustration work to do, then doodling might be my warm up.

If I have writing work to do, then writing in a diary might be a suitable warm up. Or a crossword puzzle might help my brain switch into the right mode.

If I have business ‘stuff’ to do, then tackling the ‘easy’ job list first might help me get my mojo on.

If the warm-ups don’t work, at least you tried. Allow yourself some down-time and reshuffle your priority list and see if you can’t ‘just’ cross a couple more small things off instead while you boil the kettle and settle in for a nice cuppa.

7. Plan for ‘you time’ and quiet time

I go walking every day with my son. I try to go rain or shine. I don’t take my phone unless I am going somewhere slippery and might need to call for help (currently pregnant and lacking balance). It is good for me and my son likes it too.

What I want to better at is giving myself time to read (something which feels like a luxury these days). ‘Reading time’ needs to be added to my list to make sure I allow myself time to do it. If I write it down, it becomes a measurable task – if I don’t, it is just a dreamy maybe that might never make its way back into my life.

8. Plan twice, make once.

We don’t live near any shops so if I need to make something (food/craft/other) I need to make sure that I have everything on hand. Jumping back in the car to get extra groceries and supplies is not worth the time wasted travelling.

9. Break larger tasks into achievable smaller blocks

‘Clean house’ – as if. (Too much)

I used to have a much cleaner and tidier house. Now the house chores still get done – just not all at once. If you do a couple of small things each day from your list of house chores, then you are still doing pretty well in my books. I.e: Two windows a day would be manageable – but not all of the windows in the house!

i.e – ‘Clean kitchen’ gets broken down into easy jobs: wipe bench, rinse dishes, load dishwasher. Wipe cupboards, mop floor etc.

A friend squirts jiff onto the surfaces she wants cleaned in her house and lets ‘whoever discovers it’ wipe it off when they next shower, wash their hands, use the toilet etc. I like that concept…

Forceful delegating anyone?

10. Do something every day for future you

For me, the way I start each day is important. If I wake up to a house full of trip hazards, dinner dishes and piles of washing, then the grumpy monster settles in for the day and my day will be much less productive while I dedicate my time to ‘mind bitching’.

–          So I try and do ‘something’ to ensure that future me (tomorrow’s me) will wake up nicely.

Some ideas might be: do a quick toy sweep of the house to make sure there is nothing to trip over. Get the coffee cups out/breakfast table stuff out in advance so that it feels like someone is helping you make breakfast. Prepare the kids’ lunches/snack packs/nappy bag the night before. Hide the pile of washing behind a closed door (it’s still there but at least you can tackle it when you are ready!). Choose your baby’s clothes (and yours) the night before so that getting dressed isn’t a mad rush of ‘where are my socks?’…

Little things count. (Mummy learning 101).

Share your goals and tips! I would love to hear them!

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