5 Tips For Balancing Work and Home Life

By | Be Productive | 23 Comments

( Note from Kat: Today’s post is from my friend, and monthly contributor, Liz Griffin )


Okay, lets be honest. EVERY mother works.

In the home, from the home, outside the home. I don’t care what preposition you use, all mamas put in their hours! Some of my friends homeschool their kids ( hello, thats a job), work in business offices, or work hard managing the everyday running of their homes. Any bloggers out there? That can feel like a job sometimes, right?

I have the fantastic option to work from home. I am a writer and also work with an anti-trafficking organization. My hours are flexible based on my kids schedule and what projects I have the capacity to take on.

5 Tips For Balancing Work and Home Life

Balance is not a concept that comes naturally to me. I have had to be very intentional about making room for both my work life and my home life. Here are a few of the things I have learned along the way.

1. Create a peaceful morning. Nothing throws my day and starts the family off on the wrong foot like a frantic morning. A little prep work the evening before always pays off for me. Laying out the outfits, thinking through lunches and packing backpacks. Plus, waking up on time usually helps.

2. Ask God the plan for the day. Each morning I talk to God about my day. What are my priorities today? Do my kids need anything specific? I find that He is faithful to prompt me if needed to add in a little extra time with one of my kids who may be having a hard time with a friend at school. Or He may tell me to scrap one of my to-do lists for something else. This is a must for my sanity and to be at peace knowing that I am doing what I am need to be doing.

3. Find your ” off ” switch. Err… I have by no means mastered this one. I am constantly looking for ways to turn my work brain off when it is time to play with my kids. Equally, I need to stop worrying if I moved the laundry when it is time for a business conference call.

One thing I have found helpful is not to have my phone on me when I am not “working”. The temptation to return emails, send one more text, and browse social media comments is just too much. I keep it far enough a way that I am not distracted by it, but close enough to grab when I need to take another pic of my kids doing something cute. Because, lets face it. The world needs more pics of my kids.

4. Set a consistant routine. I am not naturally a scheduled person. However, I have found it is really helpful for my kids. They do better knowing when they will play with me, when they need to be quiet in their rooms and when I have my “work” hours.

I have noticed my homeschooling friends are amazing at this. Their little kids get into a routine of playing by themselves while the older kids are in class. It is brilliant how you homeschooling moms juggle this one. Mad props to all of you.

5. Don’t feel guilty. Comparison and guilt is a temptation for every mom. None of us do it all. I am always having to remind myself that I am doing my best, and God has my back. My kids don’t need a perfect mom. They just need me to to my best and rely on Jesus big time.

God has each of us on different journeys and paths, and no matter what preposition comes before our “work” we are all created to thrive. He has a way to balance all the spinning plates we have going on in our lives.


Do you have any great tips or insight to share on balancing “work” life and “home” life? Click here to share and join the discussion!

20130218-193106.jpgElizabeth is a church planter, speaker, writer and naptime abolitionist. She lives in Texas with her husband and two little kids. Her other hobbies include wasting time on social media, trying to remember where she parked her car & browsing Pinterest for DIY projects she will never actually make. You can visit her over at Lark & Bloom or on twitter @larkandbloom.


The Chart That Has Added Years To My Life and Peace To My Home

By | Be Productive, Becoming A Patient Mother, Featured Posts | 25 Comments


Our Great Summer Chart

It’s about that time during the summer when the allure of long, lazy, free days has drowned beneath the sound of “I’m boooored!” And “she’s touching me!” “He’s looked at me funny!” Or “Mama! Make the girls stop dressing me up as a butler!”

Ok…maybe that’s just how it is at my house.

Somehow, after a few weeks of unscripted days, crazy things start to happen. Ever so slowly, chores they’ve done all year long are forgotten and I begin to to have to remind them. Often. Until one day I realize I’m practically nagging them to tidy their rooms, pick their stuff up or even brush their teeth in the morning.

Not wanting to be a nagging mom, I recently decided it was time to bring a bit more order to our days.

Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 7.10.53 AM

The Chart

The idea I came up with is one I’ve used before, but I kicked it up a notch this time, so that I pretty much removed myself from the circle of reminding – and my kids (so far) are taking on the responsibility of doing what needs to be done AND helping each other get things done. (Not always as perfectly as it may sound…)

I made a full page spreadsheet, color coded, organized by time of day and complete with bubbles for every child to fill in after they have completed each activity.

I like to keep things light hearted and simple. Obviously.

I’m not really a Type A organized person, I am actually a lazy Type B who tries to automate anything unpleasant.

Fortunately, the kids LOVE the new chart. They have even added their own things to it and enjoy checking off all the tasks at the end of the day.

Note: If you read the chart, you saw something called a house hunt. I am not training my children in the real estate trade. A house hunt is when they take about 5 minutes and run around the house finding all. the. things. they have randomly left throughout the day.

The Special Sauce

The secret sauce that makes it all work well, isn’t just my children’s OCD love of filling in the little bubble or their competetive nature. I gave them an added incentive called Friday Funday.

Each Friday Funday we do something fun and special and only those who have completed their chart get to participate.

Now, at this point, I’m just trusting they’ll all be diligent and get their work done. If one of them can’t participate in Friday Funday, that will be a very sad day, but I’m sure a good lesson in responsibility.

This last Friday we went swimming (we hadn’t gone all week, so it was a treat), got ice cream cones and watched a movie.

This Friday there’s talk of making icecream and roller skating. They have as much fun dreaming up fun things to do as they do actually doing them.

And all week long, they are inspired to get their work done so that they can join in on Friday Funday.

Download the Printable

Here is a copy of my printable for you to edit as you need to for your family. Let me know if you have any trouble with the link! It is an excel file. If you don’t have excel and would rather just copy the list and create your own, here is the same form on Google Drive (but I don’t know if it will be downloadable for you.)

I hope you enjoy it and that it helps your summer run smoothly!

Join the Discussion

Are you needing some structure to your summer? What tips and tricks can you share with us? Do you have any questions about the chart?
Click here to leave a comment!

A Mom’s Guide To A “Geek To Chic” Summer

By | Be Productive, Summer Planning | 20 Comments

pismo beach

The nerdy girl who loses her braces, gets contacts and comes back in the fall as the coolest girl on campus. The little freshman runt who grows a foot, works out and returns to school as the football hero.

Maybe it’s all the teeny bopper movies I watched when I was younger (ahem…or last week), but I always see summer as an amazing time for change and growth. It’s wonderful what can be accomplished in 3 small months.

Just because high school is a fading memory in our rear view mirror doesn’t mean we can’t use this season as a catalyst for change in our own lives. In the last ITA podcast I talked about purposeful motherhood and how setting small goals can lead to big change. If you’re inspired to make the most of this summer, grab a pen and paper and let’s start planning!

1. Set 3 Summer Goals

What would you like to improve over the summer? List 3 things. The main key here is to be intentional but keep it simple.

Summer is busy, crazy and never goes quite the way we planned. Set broad but purposeful goals that will adjust to vacations, late night bbqs with friends and spontaneous family slumber parties.

Planning to hit the gym at 5:30am every day for 90 days might be overly ambitious.

Never underestimate the power of low goals. Forward progress is forward progress.

2. Simple Start: Write it down

When I take my kids to the park, each of my girls responds differently to the playground full of kids. I have one daughter who will run straight in and strike up a friendship with the first moving object she sees. My other daughter prefers to stand by me for a few minutes, size up the situation, and then join the children to play and have fun.

Many of us have similar responses to personal change. Some just dive in head first, change everything all at once and it works for them. Others need to go more slowly. The key is to remember that neither method is wrong. It’s just a matter of finding what works for you.

The simplest way to change something in our lives is to just observe – like my daughter at the park.

You don’t need an elaborate plan before you start. There is massive power in paying attention to what we are doing or are not doing. Commit to journaling a few lines each and every day and soon enough you won’t be able to help but take action in that area. For example:

Want to get fit? Write down (or take a photo) of everything you eat. Nothing more. No need to track calories or develop a nutrition plan. Simply writing down everything you eat will inevitably lead to positive health decisions.

Want to have more fun with your kids? Write down every fun thing you do each day with the kids. No need to plan or scour pinterest. Just take a minute each evening to write down the fun things you did that day.

Want to study the Bible and pray more? Each evening, write down what you read that day and who you prayed for. If you didn’t read or pray, write that down.

The point: The key is to faithfully write down what you did each day, good or bad. There is transformational power in simply paying attention to what we do. Just like shoving a rock down a snowy mountain will trigger an avalanche, simply writing down (i.e. paying attention to) our actions in key areas will trigger better decisions and actions in the days to come.


3. Tell a friend

Tell a friend your goals and ask them what they hope to improve this summer. The richest friendships are the ones that sharpen one another. Maybe you could meet for coffee every other week. Or you could Skype every Friday. When you bring someone along on your journey, your chances of success skyrocket.

The Simplest Geek to Chic Summer Ever

1. Set 3 simple goals.
2. Write something down about each one daily.
3. Tell a friend.

Now that doesn’t sound intimidating, does it? The fact is that the most powerful change you can make is your perspective. It’s like starting an engine. Once you get it going the rest is easy.

So what 3 areas do you want to work on this summer? I’ve listed goals in the comments. Click here to share yours too!

Tips for Moms: How To Get Things Done

By | Be Productive | 46 Comments

Photo Credit: Theogeo

(If you liked the Meal Planning Boot Camp and the John Maxwell book, I think you’ll love this series on getting things done. I have two speaking engagements coming up in the next two weeks so, in order to focus on my preparation, I’m sharing some great posts from the past that I hope will encourage and motivate you. I’ll be checking in on the comments, so feel free to offer ideas and ask questions! You’re awesome…you know that, right?)

Have you tried to buy a toothbrush lately?


Compact? Full size? Soft? Medium? Gum and cheek cleaners? Red? Blue? Straight bristles? Staggered bristles? Powered? Manual?

I literally stared at the wall of toothbrushes for 10 minutes.

Finally, I slapped myself and yelled, “It’s a TOOTHBRUSH!!!!!” I grabbed the closest one and ran to the checkout line.

Or something like that.

But you know what? If the store had only 1 lonely, boring toothbrush, I would have been perfectly happy.

And I would have 10 minutes of my life back.

The Problem With Too Many Options

Photo Credit: Rutlo

Decision making isn’t just about choosing the option we want, but also eliminating the options we don’t want.

Therefore more options we have, the harder it is to make a decision.

As moms, we don’t have a boss telling us exactly what we need to do. (Technically) we can do anything we want, anyway we want to, at anytime.

And we not only have to make decision for ourselves, what we do and how we spend our time, but we also need to help our children make those decisions as well.

Constant decision making is draining.

It’s one thing to start the day feeling like anything is possible, but it’s quite another to feel like you’re staring at an endless array of options.

And once you pick and complete your first task, then you have to face that huge wall of options….again. Except now you’re more tired and less focused than you were before. Rinse. Repeat. All day long.

The Humble To Do List

Photo Credit: notahipster

That is why I am learning to truly make my to do list the hub of everything I do.

When I am full of energy and vision I fill and organize my to do list.

Then in the middle of the day when I am drained and I have email that needs replying, dinner that needs making, and a thousand other things calling my name, I can see my list and KNOW what is important.

A simple to do list keeps me focused, on course and less likely to give up (i.e. sit on the couch with a tub of ice cream and the Food Network. Or maybe that’s just me.).

To Be Continued…

In the part 2, I’ll get super practical and show you how to keep your to do list simple and do-able. I’ll also share my favorite programs and apps that help me get things done. I’ll even giveaway a few of those apps! Stay tuned.

Please share your thoughts: Do you ever feel overwhelmed by how much you should do, could do or just want to do? How do you respond?

Update: Read The Rest of the Series…

1. Tips for Moms: How To Get Things Done
2. Mom Tips: How To Get Things Done, Pt. 2
3. Mom Tips: How To Get Things Done, Pt. 3
4. Mom Tips: Routines vs Tasks – Why You Need To Know The Difference
5. How To Be Awesome

(originally posted 3-13-11)

If you still need a reason to jump into the early-morning craziness…

By | Be Productive, Create A Morning Routine, General, Get Inspired, HelloMornings Challenge | 12 Comments

Katie Orr

If you’ve been around Inspired to Action for any length of time, you’ve heard about HelloMornings and the benefits of the early-morning habit. You’ve read of the challenge to wake up for your kids, instead of to your kids. And you’ve listened to the calls to start the day putting first things first, through spending time with Jesus.

You may find yourself on the sidelines — still not convinced that an earlier morning is for you. If you have any inkling of “jumping into the game” will you take a moment to read through the comments of yesterday’s post over at the HelloMornings blog? We’ve been celebrating our 8th HelloMornings challenge, by declaring what the Lord has done in our lives through the HelloMornings challenge.

The comments are just breathtaking.

I discovered a need and a solution I had never considered…

…I would have wasted these opportunities sleeping.

…I give Him the firstfruits of my day and I am a much happier Mama…

God is doing a great work in the lives of these mamas. He is transforming their souls, their families, and even some physiques. These women are not more discipled, more athletic, or more spiritual than you and I. They are simply women who have taken Him at His Word — that He has come that we might have life, and that we would have it abundantly!

He bestows abundant blessings when we choose to follow Him in obedience.

So, friend, if you think He might just be whispering your name—calling you up to sit at His feet and listen to Him in the early morning hours—will you listen? Will you obey?

I hope you will.

HelloMornings Winter Session

Registration for the Winter HelloMornings challenge is open now through Wednesday, January 23rd!

  • Session runs January 28th – April 26th (13 weeks)
  • Anyone (female!) is welcome to join a group, though space is limited.
  • Participants will receive the latest Quench Bible study, Abounding Hope. (Releases Thursday, January 17th.)

How to Register

Here is a quick bird’s-eye-view of the what you need to do. Click the grey button below when you are ready to sign up!

  • Step 1: Get the HelloMornings blog email, to receive challenge announcements and tips for the journey.
  • Step 2: Get a group. If you are a part of an existing group, and pre-registered in December, you can skip step 2.
  • Step 3: Get ready. You don’t have to wait to get a jump start on your mornings!

Or, if you would like to learn more about the HelloMornings challenge, jump on over to our FAQ page.

About Katie
Grace-clinger. Truth-speaker. Pastor’s wife. Mommy of three. Auburn fan. Loves to equip others to walk with the Lord for a lifetime. Co-author of Savoring Living Water: How to have an effective quiet time and author of Focused15 Bible studies. Creator of Do Not Depart where you can receive encouragement and tools to abide in God’s Word.

My Meal Planning Secret Weapon (and the only reason we don’t eat burritos every single night)

By | Be Productive | 16 Comments

If we’ve ever chatted about meal planning you know two things about me:
1. I hate meal planning.
2. Also, I hate meal planning.

In fact, I think meal planning should be used by the CIA as a high level interrogation tactic. Hand the bad guys a calendar, various sporting schedules, food allergies, food “preferences”, seasonal items available on sale, a budget and BAM!! World peace, baby. They’d spill their secrets faster than a 4 year old “accidentally” spills his plate of peas.

My Solution

Everything changed this year. I no longer have that familiar twitch when Friday comes around and it is time to (shudder) meal plan for the next week. I almost…..look forward to it.

Ok, that might be stretching things a bit. But at least there are no more tears involved or hours of avoidance induced web surfing.

About a year ago, a friend told me about a website called PlanToEat.com. At first, I was a little iffy about spending money on a meal planning tool, but it has saved hours and hours of planning, list making, wandering around the grocery store and possibly millions of trips BACK to the grocery store for forgotten items.

I consistently meal plan now and we no longer have burritos or cereal for dinner 1,987 times a week.

The Secret Weapon

One feature I really like is their drag and drop calendar. I review our family calendar for the week and drag and drop recipes that will fit into our schedule for each day.

But my favorite feature is the option to save your meal plans. I’ve created several and I can simply drag and drop that meal plan onto the calendar and it auto-assigns the meals to each day AND creates a categorized shopping list for me that I can immediately take to the store (on my phone or printed) and knock my shopping out.

I can quite literally meal plan and have a ready-to-go shopping list in seconds.

Someone deserves a Nobel Peace Prize…

Why I’m Telling You All of This…

I’m telling you all of this because Plan To Eat is having a huge Thanksgiving sale. Their yearly service is HALF PRICE (This weekend only)! I just purchased another year and I couldn’t imagine you in tears at the kitchen table with recipes spread out before you and not reach a hand down to pull you higher.

So, dry your eyes dear friends and come with me to the happy place where meal planning is easy.

Click here to check out Plan To Eat and take advantage of their Thanksgiving Weekend sale.

Now, I’m just waiting for a solution for cleaning my bathrooms.

What is your least enjoyed homemaking task?

Note: This post contain an affiliate link, but I have no official association with Plan To Eat. I loved saving 50% and thought you might too. Enjoy!

How to Make Your Desires Reality

By | Be Productive, General | 6 Comments

I am so easily distracted! I know the things I want to do…

  • pray more diligently
  • play more with the kids
  • be more spontaneous and available for Chris
  • keep the house cleaner
  • exercise more regularly
  • …so much more

Yet, I waste time,and forget what it is I really want to do! Lord, help me stay on track!

I long for my moments to glorify you.

Above is a prayer journal entry of mine from a few weeks back. I’m sure you have your own “wish-I-could-be-better-at” list. I can easily become discouraged by all I am not doing well-enough, instead of focusing on where I am succeeding. Don’t you?

I so want this list to be realized in my life! I long for my family to always feel loved and cared for by me. I would love to be a size 6. I want to keep up with laundry, and have clean floors.

But these things are not consistently true in my life . . . so I need to ask myself, “Why?”.

My lack of results is not for lack of desire. The disparity between my desires and my reality is a lack of good habits and time to establish them.

Habits play a powerful role in our lives, as the formation of habits allow us to hit “auto pilot” when performing a task. But, there are a few practical things that will help us in our journey to realizing our goals.

Create Reminders

So we know it takes about a month of consistency to develop a new habit, right? Oftentimes, I set out to achieve a new goal and totally forget about it in a few days.


My current habits (good or bad) are my defaults—what I will do without thought or effort otherwise. I need to remember that each time I set out to improve an area of my life I will be fighting against the habits that are already created. Like the habit of getting on the computer after dinner, instead of vacuuming the floors, or the habit of checking my phone while the kids play, instead of choosing to engage with them.

If I am in a habit of staying up until midnight, I will automatically stay up that late without reminders. When I first started out getting up early before my family, I set an alarm on my phone to go off at 9:30 that said “Go To Bed!” This was my reminder to start heading toward my bedtime routine. This was extremely helpful for me when I was first setting the habit of getting up early.

Establish Partnerships

I have been (slowly) reading Laying Down Rails***, which is a treasure of helpful tips for how to establish habits in the life of your child. One of the key ideas that sticks out to me is the idea of partnering with your child, in order to remind them of the goal—the habit they are currently working on.

My role as a parent is to remind them of their goal, not nag them into a habit. We are helping establish the tracks for them to run on for the rest of their life. Over time, the habits we are trying to instill in them (brushing their teeth, having good manners, etc.) become something they just do—it is no longer something they have to think about.

There is much to be applied here for my own personal goals. Finding a person and/or community to partner with, as a source of encouragement and accountability toward the “rails” I am laying in my life, has been fruitful in my life. (The HelloMornings Challenge is a great example of this!)

So, what about you? What habits are you trying to establish in your life? Are you struggling with discouragement over your ever-growing “need-to-change-about-me” list? What reminders and partnerships have been helpful for you in your pursuits?

Let’s chat about it in the comments!

***I have really enjoyed reading Laying Down Rails. It is a great reference for the Christian parent, filled with practical tips, living examples, and Biblical wisdom to help you be intentional to build habits in the lives of your children. Though the book is written specifically to equip homeschooling mothers to train their children, there is much to be gained for your own personal habit development!

(I was given a review copy of Laying Down Rails. All opinions stated are my own.)

About Katie
Jesus-lover. Pastor’s wife. Mommy of three. Grace-clinger. Truth-speaker. Auburn fan. Longs to equip others to walk with the Lord for a lifetime. Co-author of Savoring Living Water: How to have an effective quiet time and author of Focused15 Bible studies. Creator of Do Not Depart where you can receive encouragement and tools to abide in God’s Word.

School Papers: My Simple, Successful Solution

By | Be Productive | 24 Comments

A Rescue Rope For Mothers Drowning In School Papers

Let’s get something straight before we start…I am not a naturally organized person. At all. One glance at my side of the bathroom counter will put to rest any notions that I was born with any organizational skills.

However, I do naturally thrive WHEN things are organized, so I’ve learned to develop systems that keep my home running as smoothly as possible.

One of the biggest organizational challenges for moms is school papers. School forms, school notes, school invitations, school homework, school art, school avalanche.

Last year I figured out a system that worked extremely well for me and I’m going to share it with you today. The thing I want you to remember, though, is that it won’t work for you perfectly until you tweak it. Whenever you try a new system, expect to tweak.

Here is what we’ll cover in this post:

  • The Command Center
  • The Beauty of the Inbox
  • Get a Birds Eye View with Bulletin Boards
  • What to do with ALL.THE. ARTWORK.
  • A Great Calendar Solution
  • Paper Purgatory
  • The Quick Decision Solution
  • The Resource List and FREE Printable

The Command Center Solution

I’m an “out of sight – out of mind” kind of person. I need to see what is on the calendar and what papers I need to process, so I created a Command Center in our kitchen. I moved the table over to one side and put an Ikea desk, wall files and bulletin boards up on the other side of the breakfast area.

The Inbox Solution

I use wall files that are labeled for each child (I share one with my son). When my kids get home from school, they put all their papers that I need to see into my box.

While they do their homework, I go through the papers, sign things, ask questions and add events to our calendar. When I’m done, I put the papers that need to go back to school in each child’s box so they can put them in the backpacks for the next day.

Weekly Cleanout
Sometimes papers pile up, so I also try to make sure that each weekend we clean any leftover out.

Solution for Small Spaces
If you don’t have room for wall files, they make magnetic files you can stick on your refrigerator. You could also just keep a file box on the counter or in a cabinet with a folder for each child.

The Board Solution

I love to see everything we have going on in one glance. So, I have one bulletin board where I pin all the great homework, artwork or certificates. I also pin event invitations and announcements so that I can reference it in case I write it down wrong in my calendar. Not that I’d ever do that…ahem.

The other board used to be used as a weekly calendar, but I found a new system that I’ll show you in a bit. I think I’ll use the board for chore lists and reminders. Not sure.

The Check List Solution

I don’t want to be a nagging mother. By our door, I have a little printable hanging up that reminds the kids of everything they need to do when they get home from school.

We don’t always follow it perfectly, but it is SO much easier for me to say, “Did you do your list?” instead of, “Did you wash your hands and hang up your backpack and turn in your papers and…”

The check list prevents me from being a nagging mom…as much.

The Artwork Solution

My favorite recent solution has been how I handle artwork and mementos that I want to keep.

I bought a stacking tray set, labeled a tray for each child and put it in our cabinet. When the kids bring home something we want to keep, I put it in their tray. If it’s too big for the tray, I take a picture of it (but most things we actually wanted to keep fit just fine). If they tray starts to get full, then we need to thin it out.

Each child only can keep as much stuff each year as fits in the tray.

Yearly Manila Files
At the end of the year, I glance through the papers, thin them out and put them in a large manila file. I label it with the child’s name, year and school grade and stick it in the top shelf of their closet.

It has been an incredibly simple way to tame my sentimental desire to keep stuff without overwhelming our home with papers.

The Rotating Calendar Solution

This is my favorite new find. As I mentioned before, I am a visual person. If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist and probably won’t get done.

Even though I keep my calendar on my computer. I needed a calendar I can see while I’m cooking or talking to my kids after school. A month calendar on the fridge wasn’t really helpful because I wanted to see several months at a time and by the time it was the middle of the month, I could only see two weeks ahead.

At Target, I found these magnetic, wipe off, weekly calendars and picked up 4 of them.

I’m in calendar heaven. I fill out a month at a time and as each week passes, I erase it and rewrite it with all the info from 4 weeks ahead.

I can always see 4 weeks at a time, but I only have to update one week at a time. I simply rotate this week to the bottom. It’s been SO helpful for me.


The Paper Purgatory Solution

Another solution I adore is that I created a Paper Purgatory. It’s for all those papers that my kids might ask for or might need for school. I “think” it’s okay to throw them away, but I’m not quite sure. So I placed a bin in our laundry room and I simply toss those questionable papers in there. If the kids need them or ask for them, I don’t have to be the mean Mommy who threw away their first picture of potato stamped Angry Bird even though it’s torn and stained.

The Paper Purgatory has saved me on several occassions while still keeping our actually paper pile quite manageable.

The Quick Decision Solution

It will change your life if you can learn to make quick decisions about things. I know that’s hard in life and with big choices, so starting with school papers might be a great training ground for us indecisive moms.

Practice making quick and clear decisions about every paper that you pick up. Keep it, throw it away or put it in purgatory, but never just put it back down without making a decision.

The Resource List

If you’re inspired to create your own paper solution, I’ve organized all the resources I use into a handy list so you can get a jump start on tackling those papers. I searched for the best solutions for you so some of these are affiliate links and some are not.

Weekly Magnetic Calendar I couldn’t find the one I bought at Target on their website, but you can get this similar one at Amazon. If you decide to see if your local Target still carries them, it’s the Mead OrganizHer Weekly Calendar.

Wall Files Pocket

Paper Trays

Manila File Folders

Bulletin Board and Marker Board – I actually made my own from some stuff I already had, but you can also purchase ready made ones like these.

Ikea Desk – since I always get questions about my desk, I thought I’d add that link here as well. It’s called the Vika Veine and it’s kind of awesome.

FREE Checklist Printable for you – You’ve taken the time to read this whole post. I think you deserve a prize. How about a copy of my simple after school check list. Enjoy!

Share Your Ideas and Tips!

Different solutions work for different families. Click here to share the school year solutions that have worked for you.

Happy New Year (?!), The Secret To Your Success And a Great Resource For Your Kids

By | Be Productive, Encouragement | 161 Comments

photo credit

The Mom’s New Year

To a child, there’s nothing like a pack of brand new, freshly sharpened, colored pencils, it’s like a masterpiece waiting to happen. A box of imagination and possibility.

The beginning of a school year can feel like that to a mom too. It’s a fresh New Year. A chance to be organized, to do more, do better and improve on last year.

But, for many of us, all of our good intentions lose their sharpness after a couple weeks and far too often, by the time December rolls around, many of us feel frazzled and frayed.

We’ve missed soccer practice…seven times. The after school snack is a bag of cheetos instead of homemade granola bars. And all our grand plans to finish Christmas prep by October 1 are 8 weeks overdue.

So today, before all our expectations and disappointments make their homes in our hearts, I want to tell you, remind you, assure you, that it’s okay to fail.

No one succeeds because they never fail, they succeed because they didn’t let their failure have the last word.

Those who accomplish goals, get organized and find themselves ahead of the game do so because they dust themselves off after each fall.

The secret to success isn’t the lack of failure, it’s the determination to start again each time we do.

So as we look to a new school year, whether you are homeschooling or traditional schooling, resolve to give yourself grace if your actions don’t meet your expectations.

A Simple Tip

One thing that helps me fight discouragement, is that I’ve determined to always view Mondays as a blank canvas, a fresh start, a new week, a masterpiece waiting to happen.

If you need to, write “blank canvas” or “happy new year” or “masterpiece” on each Monday of your calendar. And whatever you do, don’t let failure have the last word. You’re so much better than that.


(Update from last week’s giveaway – The Avodah “HelloMornings” Coffee winner from last week’s link up is Katie Haney. Yay!)

Today I’ll be giving away 3 copies of the The Dig for Kids! The Dig is a great kids Bible study created by Patrick Schwenk, husband of The Better Mom Blog founder – Ruth Schenk. It covers the book of Luke and really teaches children how to dig into scripture, ask questions and search for answers. My kids have really enjoyed it and I think it is a great resource for school year morning devotions. Click here to learn more about it.

How To Enter The Giveaway
Tell us, in the comments:
1. What kind of schooling you do, or plan to do, (homeschool/traditional school)
2. Share one simple back to school tip (organizing, snacks, lunches, planning, schedule, homework, etc.) you use now or remember from your childhood (if you don’t have school age children yet).

Click here to leave your comment and enter the givewaway.

We’ll announce 3 winners next week who will win a copy of The Dig for Kids. You can also click here to learn more about The Dig for Kids.

How To Use Your iPhone To Manage Your Social Media Habit

By | Be Productive | 26 Comments

Two Quick, Fun Announcements

Hi fantastic friends! Today, I have two fun announcements. First, the HelloMornings Challenge has partnered with Avodah coffee to bring you…HelloMornings Coffee! How fun is that?

My whole family participated in taste testing different blends. The kids were pretty excited that they got a have a couple sips of coffee. We hope you like the end result and that it’s a fun, daily inspiration for your HelloMornings.

You can read all about it and get your bag right here.

The second announcement is that the blog is getting a new look. Sometime this week, probably tomorrow, Erin from Design by Insight will be doing a little blog surgery, so if you find the site down, that’s why. I can’t wait to show you the gorgeous look she’s created.

Now…on with today’s post.

How To Use Your iPhone To Manage Your Social Media Habit

My Confession

I’ve been known to use my iPhone just a bit too much. Dr.’s offices, checkout lines and even at the park, I pull out my third arm iPhone and read the latest…whatever. Business articles, workout tips or what Facebook says my number 2 best friend from 4rd grade had for lunch last Tuesday.

But all that iPhone use hasn’t made me a millionaire, I’m not suddenly super fit, nor have I rekindled that deep 4rd grade friendship.

So, it’s time I own up to the fact that the iPhone isn’t gonna change my life. Only I can do that, so I need to stop wasting it…

But how to you break a habit? Being that I can’t (ok…don’t want to) just ditch my phone, I decided I needed a different plan and I came up with a pretty handy solution.

I made my iPhone….my accountability partner.

No really. Here’s how…

Use Folder Titles To Keep You Accountable

I put all my most used (and timewasting apps) into folders. Then I gave the folders titles that inspire me.

I want to build my life on a solid foundation and I want to create more than I consume. So I named my folders accordingly.

My folders are titled: Foundation, Create, Build and Consume. I’ll explain how I use them in a minute, but I want to share an important tip first.

Pick Titles That Inspire You

It’s crucial that you select titles that will work for you. Here are a few ideas:

Nap/Bedtime – place your Facebook and Pinterest apps here to remind you to not use these while the kids are awake.
6lbs in 6wks – Put your workout apps here to remind you of your goal.
Really…Again? – We can all use a little smacktalk.
Bad Idea – Honesty works.
You Can Do It! – Cheer yourself on when you open a workout app.

My Folders

Foundation – these are my most important things. This folder contains my Bible Reading, exercise, memory verse and daily routine apps.

Create – this is where I keep my writing app. I use AwesomeNote and sync it with Evernote.

Build – in this folders are apps I use to build relationships. Email, Facebook Groups and other such apps.

Consume – I have to remind myself that I am consuming. I don’t want to be a consumer, I want to be a creator, so it helps me to have the proper mindset when I open these apps. It encourages me not to simply read, but to share the good stuff with others.

The Result

It’s been about a week since I’ve implemented this idea and it has really impacted the way I use my phone. I am much more intentional. I create and connect more than I consume now, which is huge for me. We’ll see how it works long term, but so far – so good!

As technology plays a bigger and bigger role in our lives, we must learn to manage it. Do you struggle with it as well? What steps have you taken to keep it under control? Click here to join us in discussion!