Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Saving Sanity, One iPhone at a Time

My husband must think I am crazy because my goal in life is to be perfectly organized all the time with every part of my life. Notice I said, "my goal." I am not perfectly anything, not even a little bit. But they say a goal is the first step, next comes the plan and then the execution. The problem is that I feel like I am forever living in the planning and execution phase of organization, but I never actually get to where I want to be. Why even go for it in the first place? But I find that when I am short on time, which is always, when things are organized and I know just where to find something, it takes less time to get out the door and I feel much less stressed. I think most of us can agree that that is the case. The big, huge question now is how to get from here to there. So I thought I would share with you a couple of my secrets for trying to stay organized with almost anything and how to from execution to done, even on a really small scale.

The most important thing to remember and realize is that you don't need to do everything all at once or find 7 hours to set aside to get something done. You can do almost anything for 15 minutes. I did not come to this realization on my own however, I am just not that enlightened. A couple years ago, I came across a website FLYing means Finally Loving Yourself and its a system to help you establish routines and build a basic weekly plan. While I don't FLY as much as I would like it, I definitely find the bedtime and morning rituals help me keep things in order and checked off my list. I have it set up for email reminders to keep me motivated. She says that you can do anything for 15 minutes and its so true. Set a timer and go, you will be surprised how much you can get done! My only issue was that I really wanted a Fly Lady App because I live and die by my iPhone but up until recently there wasn't one. Enter Cozi...

Now Cozi on it's own is fantastic. Cozi is a free online organizer that helps families manage crazy schedules, track shopping lists and to do lists, organize household chores, stay in communication and share memories—all in one place. You can find them at What I love about Cozi is that I can manage everything either online or from my iPhone app and so can my husband and kids (if they choose to). When you add something to your family calendar it is color coded by family member and you can choose to have a reminder texted or emailed to you (I  love this feature because let's face it, we don't always remember to check our calendar) Recently, I was reminded just in time that it was picture day at my son's daycare and we were able to quickly change before heading out for the day. You can easily download school and sports teams calendars quickly to your Cozi calendar without having to retype everything. As long as its an iCal, it will work. I love this feature because it used to take me literally hours to do this for 3 different schools and three different sports teams per season. And since Flylady loves Cozi just as much, they got together and now I can have my cleaning lists stored in my Cozi account. Every week Flylady offers up a new Zone in your house to clean. Evey day she offers little tasks to do in that Zone to keep away the Chaos. I can now add those daily chores to my Cozi account and they show up on my calendar. Honestly, I don't do them most days cause I just have no time but at least they are there just in case.

Most recently my parents both got iPhones and I took two seconds to download the Cozi App to their phones as well. Now, whenever they want to know when my son's next basketball game is (and where) or what I have planned for the week, all they have to do is open their Cozi App.

As we are smack in the middle of the crazy holiday season, with time being a precious commodity, Cozi will hopefully help you organize things a little better and keep the family all on the same page. Just wanted to share something that this busy mom has found to be a life savor.

P.S. - I have also stopped trying to put up a dry erase calendar each month which takes forever to get just right. Now I print this month and next month from my Cozi account and post them in our family message center. It looks so much neater, everything fits and if things change I just print a new copy and switch them out. Love it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ten Things I Wish My Children Could Understand (repost)

Parenting is hard stuff. Now if you are a parent, you just said AMEN SISTER! and if you are a child, you just rolled your eyes at me. As I sit here writing this, I really wish that our kids knew just how hard it was because maybe then they would cut us some slack. My husband and I were lucky enough to take a 5 day trip to warm tropical places without kids recently and it sure did put things in perspective. I am pretty sure that we didn't fight once, not a single negative thought entered my head during the entire week. Being among adults for that long was like being in heaven. No one talked back to us, no one was rude or condescending and no one expected me to pick up after them. Then we came home and reality hit me like a slap in the face. Life is hard. Being a parent is hard. And doing what you know is right is hard, especially when it makes your children unhappy. Let's face it, as parents we want nothing more than for our children to be happy all the time, but that just isn't possible and its hard to be the reason they are upset. So for all you kids out there, here are ten things that your parents wish you knew and understood cause it would make the next 10+ years so much easier for everyone...

10. Being a parent is hard work, really, really hard work. From the moment you are born, until the day you die we worry about you and feel responsible for you even when you are grown up. It is a job that takes every minute of every day and creeps into every thought. And there is very little thanks given until you are old enough to understand the sacrifices we have made for you. But we wouldn't trade it for anything.

9. We don't want to say no all the time. I know you find this one really hard to believe, but our lives would be much easier if we could say yes all the time. But unfortunately, we don't have the time, money or bad judgement to always say yes. If you think No is hard to hear, you should know it is a million times harder to say. We love you and we want you to be happy, but life just doesn't work that way and no is a big part of life. Sorry...

8. We actually do know what you are going through. While it may seem to you that we are ancient, we still remember what it was like to be your age and we definitely remember how hard it was. In fact, most of us wouldn't go back no matter how much you paid us. And even as adults, we hate homework just as much (if not more) than you do. Growing up is hard and other kids can be mean. If we could, we would shelter you from everything bad, but we can't. However, we are always here for a hug (and we won't tell anyone). And every now and then you might want to listen to our advice because we have already lived through it (and no, it wasn't totally different when we were growing up).

7.  We are on your side. That is the great thing about family, we are here for you no matter what and we are always on your side even if doesn't feel like it. We will always listen to you and try our best to help in anyway that we can. But we can't help if you don't tell us what is wrong, so trust us a little - we might surprise you.

6. The world is a cruel place and our job is to protect you. Unfortunately there are bad people out there that do bad things (even good people do bad things sometimes). Our job is to make sure they don't do bad things to you. You may think we are being over protective or just plain annoying, but in the end we are always worried about "what-ifs" and will make our decisions based on keeping you safe. We know you think it won't ever happen to you, but believe me it is going to happen to someone. We don't want that someone to be you. Please listen even half of the time, because it could honestly save your life some day.

5. Money does not grow on trees. I am sure you have heard this a million times, I know I did growing up. (And yes, when you are a parent you will totally say all those annoying things your parents said that you swore you would never say.) It's hard at your age to understand the value of money or just how hard you have to work to earn it. You will soon find out when you get your first job, but until then please take our word for it that money is hard to come by. Not only do we not make enough to begin with, but everything costs money like the house you live in, the food you eat, the car that takes you everywhere, even the water you shower in every day (yes, water is not free). Again, if we could buy you everything you wanted we just might (reference #9).

4. Sometimes it breaks our hearts to punish you. I know you think we love to do this, but honestly we don't. Taking away things you like is no fun for us, remember - we really want you to be happy. Many times after I punish my kids, I feel sad and guilty all day. And most times, without you being occupied by computers, video games and friends, it honestly makes life harder for your parents. But our job is to teach you right and wrong and that you need to be held accountable for your own actions. My advice - if you don't want to be punished for something, then you should think twice about doing something you know you shouldn't do (and you totally know you shouldn't be doing it so don't try to play dumb - we are on to you).

3. If you want me to be nice to you, be nice to me. This should go without saying, but for some reason this is lost on most people under the age of 22 (and even some adults). I don't like to yell, really I don't. I would like nothing more than than to float from day to day with a smile on my face happy as can be. However, I also don't like when people are rude or mean to me, just like you don't like it when I am rude or mean to you. So let's make a deal. I will smile and be nice (and say please and thank you) if you can promise to do the same for me. It may take some getting use to, but I think you might actually find it is nice to get along.

2. You get more bees with honey. Okay, so the saying really goes "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar", and means being sweet-tempered will get you what you want sooner than being sour-tempered. This is very similar to #3. What is boils down to is this - if you want something from me, ask me nicely. I am much more likely to say yes (even to something I should say no to) if you are nice and polite and give me good (real) reasons as to why this is important to you. Your presentation will actually set the tone for how the entire exchange between us goes, so tread wisely...

1. We love you no matter what. I am not sure there is anything you can do that would make me stop loving you. (That is not an invitation to try however.) I know that you will make mistakes and do stupid things as you grow up. That is what growing up is all about. But please know that I will love you anyway and in spite of all that. My job is to help you through the hard times and move past the mistakes and kiss away your tears. We are in this crazy ride together so we might as well hold hands as we fall.