Posted in Bandora

Battling Wills with Yourself

I have a very bad habit of overloading my plate. It’s good to keep busy but not at the detriment to health.

My entire life I have been in the endless cycle of overworking myself, getting burnt out, getting rid of a lot of the workload to try to recover only to find new things to take their place and start the cycle all over again. Most of the time this happens through volunteer projects, stuff that I don’t have to take on but do anyway on top of everything else that I have on my plate.

struggle is realI never do New Years resolutions but this year I made one to eliminate a lot of the volunteer work and avoid taking on new projects; so far in only 14 days of the year this is proving to be just as hard as the usual “eat healthier”, “go to the gym” and “quit smoking” resolutions. I didn’t realize that I had an addiction!

I like volunteering, however I find that I subconsciously feel like I have to “earn my keep” and spearhead fund raising and outreach projects to help the cause. This is not necessary, nobody is asking me to do this. I don’t know why my subconscious feels like it has to prove anything to anybody but I really need to find a way to stop. These projects, however helpful to the cause, are a lot of stress and take up a lot of time. In the end, my mental health is suffering.

As I try to step back from all of this my brain keeps coming up with new ideas for projects or I keep having to hold back from jumping in and taking over from whoever is now running those projects. It’s such a struggle! Is there a Volunteerholics Anonymous Group?

So since I can’t really have idle hands, I am trying to instead keep busy with paid projects. If I am going to be stressed and overworked I might as well be getting paid for it. In this process I have learned, that while bookkeeping doesn’t pay as well as web design, I enjoy it a heck of a lot more. I actually like doing the stuff that most people hate. I am very tempted to build a new website to get more than the occasional client.

willpowerI just hope that I find the strength and willpower to avoid falling off the wagon.  Meanwhile, if you see me volunteering or proposing new projects, you are authorized to slap me.

Posted in Bandora

Life Organization for SAHMs, WAHMs and everybody else

I like to have a variety of projects on going at any given time but I also have horrible memory. The only reason why I don’t leave my head behind when I leave the house is because it’s attached to the rest of my body! Add to that the fact that motherhood requires keeping track of a lot of information such as appointments, classes, bills, contacts and let’s not get even started on homeschooling!

So how do I keep track of it all? Evernote to the rescue!

Evernote is a fantastic FREE tech tool that can help you keep track of all the loose ends in your life. You simply install it on your computer, smartphone or tablet and it will quickly develop into your digital file cabinet. While they have a premium version, the free version has met all of my needs for years.

I first downloaded Evernote 4 years ago to use for writing drafts for my several blogs. Over time I realized it’s great potential and now use it to keep track of practically everything in my life.

If there were to be some catastrophe where I loose all of the data in my computer and all of the records in my home I can rest assured that the important information is saved.

These are some examples of ways I use Evernote in my everyday life:

To do and shopping List:
It’s so easy for me to forget what has been done/is still pending. With Evernote’s easy checkboxes I can easily keep track.

Medical Records and Important Documents:
I’ve heard too many times of a catastrophe such as a hurricane, fire or earthquake destroying important documents such as birth certificates, passports and more. Having an electronic backup will save stress and money if the unthinkable happens.

I am notorious for loosing health insurance cards. To solve this I took pictures of the front and back of the cards and they are always accessible. You can do the same with shot records/exemption forms and all other important documents. For an extra layer of protection, I use encryption on files with personal information such as social security numbers.

Password Log:
Update:  I use LastPass for most credentials but for some super important passwords I also save an encrypted note in Evernote.

Get out of the house list:
Tuesday nights/ Wednesday mornings used to be very stressful for me. With taking both kids with me to work I found myself running like a chicken without a head trying to gather everything I would need and every week, without fail, I would forget something important. Now with Evernote I have a “Work Packing List” that I start to check off on Tuesday night and by the time we leave on Wednesday morning I am confident that I have everything the kids and I need to get through a day at the office.

Vacation Planning:
Planning a vacation for a family is no simple task. Finding a place to stay, making travel plans and keeping track of the paperwork. Not to mention the work to get everyone out the door. I keep all my lists such as itineraries, budget, packing list and reservation confirmations in Evernote. It is so easy to share notes. I can send them over to my husband too.

I hate having too many papers, I loose papers and don’t like it when papers get smudged or crumpled. Evernote helps me do lesson planning, tracking and even keep track of the progress on what we’ve done. When my kids get older enough to require a homeschooling portfolio. I will be able to use Evernote to put it together and attach scans and pictures of their work.

Organize Food Recipes:
While I use Pinterest to find recipes, I don’t love it for organizing. I find that using the Evernote Web Clipper to save recipes that I find online works better for me. Plus I can never remember off the top of my head at what temperature and for how long I am supposed to bake things so an easy search in Evernote from my phone while in the kitchen gives me the information I need without having to navigate through Google results every time.

Babysitting File:
While it’s been a while since we’ve had a babysitter (that is the subject of a whole different blog post) I have a note with all of the instructions, emergency contacts, routines and house rules that I can I just email over the info to the babysitter or print out to give when she arrives. This is especially handy in the event of an emergency.

Gift Ideas:
It’s hard to remember all birthdays, anniversaries and milestones. And even when remembering it’s not always easy to know what type of gift to get. For that reason I have a list of all of the important dates and a gift idea list so with Father’s Day coming up I can remember what hubby hinted at, looked at with interest at the store or mentioned a need for.

Managing your home:
There is massive amounts of time to be saved by tracking all your home information through a paperless system. You can put warranty info, appliance info, leases, paperwork, pictures, and repair contacts all in Evernote. This allows you to easily and promptly deal with any home situation that occurs. I also keep details such as air conditioner filter size and window measurements for easy reference if I find myself at Lowe’s/Home Depot and they are having a sale on filter or curtains.

Kids’ Artwork:
I love all the awesome artwork and projects that my kids create, however, I can’t stand all the clutter of the paper. I save the absolute best of the best. The rest I snap a photo of, save in Evernote and throw it away guilt free. For extra cool points, you can append an audio recording of your kid telling you about his artwork!

Party Planning:
From venue research, to decoration shopping lists, food planning and guest lists. I keep track of it all with Evernote.

I keep track of my charitable donations, mileage and volunteer expenses for easy access at the end of the year. Additionally any receipts for tax purposes can be photographed or scanned.
I also save the PDF of our tax return.

Volunteer and Consulting Gigs:
I volunteer for several organizations and Evernote not only lets me keep track of what I need to do but also of what I’ve done. For example, I use a web form to log all of my breastfeeding help contacts for easy reporting to La Leche League but also for when a mother calls me to follow up I can easily search by date, number, name or keyword and remember what we had discussed previously.

I sometimes get consulting jobs doing web design or bookkeeping projects and I use Evernote from start to finish to create proposals, engagement agreements, project progress and time tracking for billing.

All of my templates are organized and accessible from any device so if I need to send a membership renewal notice or website proposal I can easily do it from anywhere I am.

I keep all ideas, images and quotes for future posts in Evernote so I can work on my posts whenever the muses visit me and when it’s time to publish it’s just a matter of copy and paste. I could get fancier and use a plugin to automatically publish a blog post from Evernote at the touch of a button but I like to tweak the layout on WordPress before it goes live.

This has saved me so much time and sometimes I may have a post in draft mode for months and this ensures that I don’t lose my old ideas.

The challenges of doing a self paced study program is that you have to be extra organized to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks, setting up my syllabus in Evernote and linking notes with the individual chapters and projects helps me accomplish that. I also have all my lecture notes, homework assignments and research papers linked and easily searchable by keyword.

Reference Data:
I receive several electronic Breastfeeding publications and E-magazines that I may need to reference in the future when helping a mother. Adding them to Evernote allows me to search by keyword later and easily find the issue that talked about that study on newborn jaundice without having to search issue by issue.

Dr. Jack Newman also posts interesting information about breastfeeding on his Facebook page. Unfortunately it’s not easy to find old posts on Facebook so by exporting them into Evernote using the Web Clipper I can easily access his thoughts on breastfeeding issues.

Other uses:
– Inventory of anything (house items for insurance purposes, books, DVDs/CDs, business inventory and more!)
– Send any e-mail to your Evernote e-mail address to keep forever

evernote-all-the-thingsSo, what other lists and notes do you store on Evernote? I’d love to hear how you use this tool to make your life easier.

Posted in Parenting

A day in the life

Sometimes when counseling a mother with a second child I am asked about my daily routine and how I manage to balance house, 2 kids, 1 part time job and 2 volunteer jobs so I decided to write down what a typical day looks like for me during the week. I have the advantage/disadvantage of not having a car so I don’t have to worry about errands such as grocery shopping. Weekends and Wednesdays (if I have a babysitter) look different but this gives you an idea.




All of these activities are done while having a 3 year old asking what something means, to spell something or to say something else.

  • 7:30- Shammy wakes up but he knows better than to try to wake me up so he cuddles me while I snooze.
  • 7:45- Zen wakes up and has his morning “milkie”
  • 8:00- we finally get out of bed and the boys beg to go to the computer room where they beg to watch their preschool videos. I do my best to wake up and catch up on e-mail/Facebook while they do their videos
  • 8:10- we all change out of jammies and head downstairs for breakfast.
  • 8:45 to 9:00- done with breakfast and tidy up a little.
  • 9:00- the boys watch PBS Kids while I shower
  • 9:15- I empty the dishwasher and/or start a load of laundry, the boys usually help with the laundry.
  • 9:45- Homeschooling, reading or playing together with blocks or puzzles. If the weather is nice or the boys have a playdate we walk to the park playground.
  • 10:30- small snack
  • 10:45- the boys have free play while I continue the laundry or do some minor cleaning like sweeping, vacuuming or scrubbing a toilet. I check Craigslist for new daycare/babysitter ads. Call daycares to be disappointed that they don’t have space or I can’t afford their rates. Have mini anxiety attack over not having a babysitter.
  • 11:30- start to cook lunch
  • 12:00- lunch time
  • 12:20- post lunch cleanup and diaper changes
  • 12:30- nurse Zen and attempt to put him down for a nap, lately it can take as much as 45 minutes for him to fall asleep
  • 1:15 I do at least 20 minutes of cardio exercises using the XBox Kinect, Shammy will either join me if it’s an exercise he likes or play with a homeschooling app on his Kindle
  • 1:35-15:00- Shammy will either color, read, practice writing or watch Sprout while his brother sleeps. I will attempt to do some work, return breastfeeding calls, answer La Leche League help forms or do homework, I am not always successful and end up reading a book instead.
  • 15:00- snack time
  • 15:15- play with the boys or they have free play while I try to finish some work or try to talk a breastfeeding mom off the weaning ledge
  • 16:00- the boys clean up whatever mess they made during the day while I do some assorted cleaning such as floors, bathroom, etc or may be talking to a breastfeeding mom that is freaking out about not having enough milk
  • 17:00- start to cook dinner
  • 17:40- hubby gets home, we eat dinner
  • 18:00- Tidy up after dinner, start to load the dishwasher, the boys usually hang out with their daddy.
  • 18:15-19:15- If I am lucky the boys are upstairs driving their daddy nuts and I catch some me time that I spend reading or watching Doctor Who. Sometimes we will take a family walk to the park and let the boys run around and throw a ball for a while.
  • 19:15-20:30- family time, usually in front of the TV :-/
  • 20:30- small snack
  • 20:45- finish loading the dishwasher, take out trash and recycling, bedtime prep
  • 21:00- bedtime for the boys
  • 21:10- mama computer time, usually spent looking for a babysitter online, checking out part time job listings, doing volunteer work such as bookkeeping for Best for Babes or web stuff for La Leche League. If I am specially awake I will read or watch something on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
  • 23:00- I am usually still awake but I drag my rear to bed and toss and turn for half an hour before I fall asleep.

And throughout all of this sprinkle a generous amount of kisses, hugs and cuddles.  My past self would be horrified at how much screen time my kids get but I am not perfect and sometimes it’s the best way to ensure that they stay out of trouble while I get something done. As it is my house is never perfectly clean but I do enough here and there to keep it livable and prevent it from getting out of hand.

Baby Blues - Dr. Seuse

What does your day look like?