Monday, August 30, 2010

my morning routine

This morning I am starting a new routine.

I have tried different versions of a morning routine and I believe that what I have come up with is what I need right now. My goal is to stick to this routine for the whole month of September (I know, I am starting it a couple of days early!) and to see if this is what is going to help my family function better and to help me have a sense of purpose and ritual to my day.

I sat down and wrote out this routine because I was finding some mornings I am so tired, I find myself standing still....staring....staring at nothing....trying to remember what I am supposed to be doing.

So here is my morning routine:
School Lunches
Tidy My Bedroom
Load of Washing
Breakfast clean up
Lounge room Tidy Up
Sweep the floor
Wipe Kitchen table
Kids Bedrooms
Prepare dinner

I find I have a much more peaceful and happier day if I take the time to pray and have a quiet moment to myself. Sometimes I do this before I have a shower or after a shower because some mornings I need the shower to wake myself up!

I love to exercise before I start the day because if I don't do it early my day becomes so full of other activities that I never get back to it. I sometimes can do it at night time but often I am so tired I can't find the motivation or energy.

I love to keep my bedroom tidy and clean. With a house full of lots of kids I need to have one room to go to that has a sense of order. Especially if I need to calm down and have a zen moment to myself - I retreat to my bedroom to feel calm.

With my emails I try to do a few things around the house before I check them. I often find that the emails I get really influences the way my day pans out. So the longer I can leave it the better. It is a real challenge for me.

I find it a great blessing to me to prepare dinner earlier in the morning. My house can sure get crazy around the time of 3-6pm and often preparing a meal is hard to fit in around all the homework and other activities we participate in.

Last of all I remind myself to smile. Often before 9am I have worked hard getting things done and I remind myself to smile to celebrate all of the achievements I have accomplished. It also reminds me to be happy and that I am living a wonderful life.

Do you have a morning routine that works for you???

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

blogging depression

Recently I was reading a blog post over at 71 Toes about blogging depression.

Shawni shared how she had recently attended a 'mothers retreat' and a question was posed about what makes mothers spiral into depression or negativity. I was surprised to read that the most overwhelming answer was that blogs are the problem. Yes, blogs.

That made her worry and it makes me worry too!

1. Because I have a blog.
2. Because I am trying to uplift others with my blog and
3. I am trying to promote happiness with motherhood on my blog.

The last thing I want to do is depress mothers even more.

It started my thinking about the topics I write about on my blog and the image I am portraying. I know we have lots of kids and in some of my posts it may come across that I have totally obedient, totally organised and talented children but they are still kids and they fight, they argue and have messy rooms just like other kids do. I do try to keep things positive here and every so often I throw in a post about how life is not easy too. I really believe in trying to 'keep it real' and I hope others are not depressed after reading what we get up to in our home.

I know a lot of mothers already struggle with feeling like they are doing an inadequate job in the mothering department and being a mother sure is hard work. When I read other blogs about mothering I know that there is no use comparing myself - we simply are not the same. We do not have the same family, the same ideas, values, beliefs and challenges. I like to look for ideas and for inspiration to keep me going when I feel I am stuck in the trenches but I don't let it make me feel depressed.

I know I like to write about being happy as a mother and I truly believe it is a choice. That happiness comes from inside of you and can be there no matter what storms are raging around you. So with my blog I am just going to keep plodding along and try not to worry that others may be feeling depressed by what I share and know that people are going to judge my blog the way they want and I can't change that.

One last thought: Felicity over at Gifts of Serendipity has written a beautiful post on this very topic. The poem she shares is a must read.

The end.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

saving money - giving haircuts

One of the ways I save money around home is by cutting the kids hair.
I started out cutting Matt's hair and have progressed to now doing the kids.

We purchased a set of clippers from K-mart and I began experimenting on Matt's hair. At first I was really, really nervous about cutting hair and I am so thankful that Matt let me make a few mistakes when I was starting out.

Good thing he knew I was still going to love him no matter how bad his hair looked and good thing I knew he was still going to love me if I wrecked his hair! Matt has been cutting his own hair for years so it was great to know that he could help me fix up some of the mistakes I made as well.

Another great blessing was that our first child Chelsea has curly hair. Gorgeous wringlets that bounce up whenever her hair is cut. I was able to do a lot of training on her hair as it was hard to see mistakes as the curls would blend in together.

One of the important tips for cutting hair I would recommend is simply - pay attention when you are at the hairdressers. Instead of reading lots of magazines I watch how the hairdressers cut my hair. I observe how they layer my hair, brush it, hold it and angle their scissors. This has made a huge difference to my own personal hairdressing skills.

Now Matt and I have a good system happening in our home.
He cuts the boys hair and his own hair and I cut the girls hair.
That way we take care of 4 people each.

As for me - with the money we save cutting our own hair - it means I get to go to the hairdresser!

Cutting Liberty's hair - I hated to do it but it was constantly in her face.

My technique involves - a bowl of lollies to help sitting still and extreme patience!

The end result - too cute - Miss Liberty

Monday, August 23, 2010

a time and a season

Lately I have been pondering all the things I want to do.
All the goals I want to achieve.

I have also been thinking about the time and season of my life right now.
I am still young, have energy (most days), and have enough self belief to think I can put my mind to achieving something I really want.

But, it is also my time and season where I have young children at home.
Currently I have 4 children at school and 3 children at home.

It is a busy time of my life.
There are certain goals that I can work on but there are also other goals that I know are best left to a later time. A time when I do not have as many children at home and I will hopefully have a little more free time to focus on them. I know I have enough determination to achieve them now but I feel that working on them will be too much of a distraction from the great work I am doing inside the walls of my own home.

Do you ever think about what is your time and season...????

We know we cannot do everything well all at the same time.
Even though most of us kill ourselves trying.

I love this quote by James E. Faust:

"she need not try to sing all the verses of her song 
at the same time"

I love the word need in this sentence.
A lot of the time I feel the need to do it all.

I am slowly learning to focus on one thing I want to do and to just enjoy being happy with one goal. I am finding I am appreciating the process more and becoming better at developing one skill instead of five at once. I have plenty of time to discover other talents and to learn new skills.

Most importantly I don't want to miss out on spending time with my cherubs - they are too precious.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

mother guilt

Last week I went to the school to wave off Harmony on a school excursion. She was going on a bus trip to the zoo. As I was waiting for the bus to leave I had a great chat with another mother about the excursion.

I had mentioned that I really wanted to go with my daughter on this trip but that because I was flying to Sydney that morning to spend time with my husband I was going to miss it. She then shared with me the drama she had gone through in getting time off work so she could attend the excursion with her son. She went on to describe how she was exhausting herself keeping up with work and all the school activities that her children had.

As she was chatting with me about her challenges she started reflecting on when she was growing up. She shared that when she was younger her mum was a stay at home mum and did not attend anything she had on a school and that she managed to get through school and she turned out alright!

It started me thinking about the pressure we put on ourselves to attend everything our children have on. Which of course led me to thinking about the 'mother guilt' a lot of mothers feel today.

Finding a balance as a mother is difficult.
There are a lot of demands on us and we need to chose wisely the activities we attend.

So many mothers have had to take on the role of provider as well as nurturer in their homes.
Many women would love to stay at home but because of their family situation need to work and are sacrificing their time with their children. The guilt and pressure these mothers sometimes feel is challenging and heart wrenching.

In my life I try hard to attend the achievements and school activities that my children are involved in.
But, I cannot attend them all.
With many children, they have different needs and experiences.
I try to choose what will be best for each individual child in what I participate in and what will they appreciate the most.
As I listened to my friend share her challenges I was reminded that often the pressure to do it all, be it all and have it all sometimes does not come from outside of ourselves - it comes from within ourselves. We are the ones who put pressure on ourselves. We are the ones who makes ourselves feel guilty.

We need to give ourselves a break!
Often we are doing a great work and do not stop to look at how far we have come or achieved!
Give yourself a pat on the back - YOU ARE AWESOME!!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

blogging tips - 50 steps to launch your blog

Every so often I look around for blogging tips. For ideas on how to make my blog better.
Most of the time I blog about things that I just want to share, remember and write about.

But, there is this little, tiny part of me that cares about what others think of my blog.

So I like to keep myself updated on what other mummy bloggers are doing and how I can be better.
One of my favourite places to go is to Annabel's blog Get in the Hot Spot
She has 51 steps to launch your 'hot blog'. They are great and well worth a read!

Check them out below:

50 Steps to Launch (or Relaunch) Your Hot Blog

  1. Pick a topic. Decide what you want to blog about.
  2. Make sure your topic isn’t too narrow or you’ll get bored with it.
  3. Don’t let the focus get too wide or people will get confused.
  4. Come up with a great idea to showcase your skills and knowledge.
  5. Work out your unique selling point, even if you’re not actually selling anything.
  6. Decide how to explain to other people what you do.
  7. Define your goals clearly.
  8. Write them down in a maximum of two sentences.
  9. Come up with a slogan that sums up in as few words as possible what people will find on your blog.
  10. Brainstorm for sub-categories on your blog.
  11. Divide the information you’ll be sharing via blog posts into chunks of information to make it easier for readers to find what they’re looking for.
  12. Work out what static information you need on your blog ~ for example about, contact and legal.
  13. Sort out what your values are and how you can share those with your readers ~ for example adventurous, caring and down to earth.
  14. Brainstorm possible names for your blog.
  15. Find a suitable domain name – not too long and easy to spell.
  16. Buy the domain name.
  17. Embrace branding. Branding has a bad reputation but it’s unavoidable and strong branding is vital for online success. First impressions count. People will be judging you and  your blog from the second they set eyes on your photo or website.
  18. Decide how you want people to describe you ~ for example knowledgeable, off beat, stylish, witty.
  19. Work out how you can convey that in your branding.
  20. Choose a photo of you that you can use on your blog and all social media.
  21. Be consistent with your image and chose a photo that suits your branding image ~ for example friendly, trustworthy, professional and interesting.
  22. Remain consistent in everything you do and say online. Inconsistency is confusing and will scare people away.
  23. Check out some websites and work out what you like and dislike about them.
  24. If you’re creating an online business invest in it and outsource jobs you can’t do. Unless you’re an experienced project manager, Internet technician, writer, graphic designer, business planner, marketer and branding expert you’ll need help in some of those areas if you want to get good results fast.
  25. You may need a separate graphic designer who specialises in logos and branding as well as one to design the web interface.
  26. Write a detailed brief for your graphic and web designers outlining your goals, target audience, site design guidelines, topic, categories, sub-categories and static pages in as much detail as possible.
  27. Consider the page layout too. People read from top to bottom and left to right. Make sure the most important parts of your blog are immediately visible to people. For example, on my blog my main goal is to let new readers know what the blog’s about and get them to subscribe. The first place people’s eyes will fall is on the logo and slogan top left. The second place they’ll look is top right where I have a big red banner encouraging people to subscribe now.
  28. Choose your web designer wisely. It’s an unregulated industry. Try to pick someone who’s qualified and experienced. Look at some of the sites they’ve designed and spend time exploring them. Do they look good? Are they easy to navigate? Do they have clear calls to action like contact us now, subscribe or buy now links?
  29. Outsource jobs you can’t do well. The best recommendation for choosing people to help you is often word of mouth. If you can’t find a good recommendation ask for clients you can call to speak to for a reference.
  30. Relationships are important too. Choose someone you like and trust. You should be working with them closely so it might as well be fun and rewarding.
  31. Trust your gut. If you’re not 100% sure find someone else. It may take time but that’s better than spending money on something sub-standard that doesn’t get you results.
  32. Be prepared to spend time on all of this. If could take months but it’s worth planning it properly and avoiding costly mistakes and wasted time.
  33. Hand over the job to your chosen experts and give them some creative freedom. You chose them carefully. Now you need to trust them.
  34. Refine the initial design until you’re 100% happy with it. Keep testing and tweaking. No matter how carefully you plan there are always some elements that have been overlooked or need refining.
  35. Develop the blog in a test area so you can play around with it before it goes live. Actually clicking on links and imagining you’re a reader looking for certain information will help. For example, test how fast can people find your email address? Your best selling product? Your Twitter page?
  36. Watch your language and check the wording. Does the language you use reflect your branding and company values? Does it speak to your target audience? For example if my target audience was students I’d use different words than if I was trying to appeal to baby boomers.
  37. Have a soft launch. There might be problems to begin with. Put the new site up and try it out. Ask some friends to test it for you on different computers and browsers. A good web designer should do this for you.
  38. Make sure your blog isn’t marked as private and submit it to the major search engines.
  39. Get your technical expert to sort out the widgets and install the essential plug-ins like aksimet which will catch your spam comments and the tweetmeme so people can easily tweet your post.
  40. Put up your first blog post. You can use your target goals, target audience and company values to get you started.
  41. Work out a posting schedule of a minimum of once a week and stick to it. This will get you in the habit and make you commit to your blog.
  42. Brainstorm for post topics and come up with some eye-catching headlines that will make people want to read them.
  43. Start networking and find a blogging buddy who will keep you going when times get tough
  44. Committ to a time frame and set goals. I set myself the goal of 1000 subscribers after one year of blogging and got there even though I changed my domain name and topic three times which really set me back.
  45. Interact with your readers – reply to their comments, read their feedback  and show them you care.
  46. Sign up for Twitter and Facebook. Make sure you keep your branding consistent across all platforms.
  47. Network with other bloggers who are starting out, people who’ve been at it for a while and the top bloggers in your niche. Retweet their links, comment on their posts. Just let them know you’re around and interested.
  48. Be authentic. It shouldn’t take practice but it does. Your confidence will grow as you learn to share confidences with your readers, trust each other and feel safe being yourself. That’s the person people will love best.
  49. Have fun with it.
  50. Don’t worry about not knowing everything about blogging. You’ve set up a strong foundation, the rest will happen naturally over time.
Hmmmm ... so much to think about and do ... anyone want to lend me some more hours to add to my day!

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    family planning

    Yesterday, I spent the day pondering over the past, the present and the future in relation to my mothering and my children. I took the time to let my thoughts wander, to reflect upon the experiences that have happened to get me to where I am today and to use them to help me plan what I need to do in the future.

    We have so many exciting opportunities coming our way in the future in relation to our children. They are growing up fast and progressing at an alarming rate. I can barely keep up some days.

    Matt sat down and wrote out a time line of what each child will be doing for each year. We are in for some crazy years in the future with big celebration birthdays, school achievements and general lifestyle milestones.

    On the first Sunday of the month, Matt and I normally sit down and plan what we are going to do to help each child. With many children we have found that it takes lots of planning to stay on top of everything and to be the best parents we can be. We discuss each child, where they are at and what we need to do as parents to help them get where they want to go.

    We look at how we can help them: mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally and socially (which I stole from Linda and Richard Eyre). We then get out our large family planner and plan in what needs to happen for that month to help our children. Some months are jam packed with activities and we feel that we are stretched to the limit. Other months run a little smoother when we can combine goals together with several children at the same time giving us more free time for other things.

    It takes a lot of effort and time to help our children be well rounded and to experience life. It is impossible for us to meet all of their needs but for us the important thing is that we are trying out best and giving of ourselves to be the kind of parents our children need us to be.

    My life has been richly blessed as a I have developed and stretched myself in many ways as I have tried to be the kind of mother my children need me to me. I started out with some simple plans and ideas on how to be a good mother and my children have taught me that to help them with their gifts and talents, I need to do things differently and to develop different skills and attributes. This has been a challenge but so worth the effort.

    I am thankful for my cherubs and who they are helping me to become.