How I Gained Time & Energy Back as a Busy Mom

How I Gained Time & Energy Back as a Busy Mom

How I Gained Time & Energy Back as a Busy Mom

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Have you ever been at a place in life where you looked around and wondered how did I ever get to this point?  I had that realization while I was nursing my son a little over two years ago.  My life seemed like a blur, an endless parade of duties.  It was like I was juggling eighteen balls in the air and if I got sidetracked everything would come tumbling down.  I had as much energy as a battery-operated toy that starts to sound funny right before the batteries die. Days flew by and my time seemed to disappear with nothing to show for it.

I put so much pressure on myself to be an amazing mom, prepare healthy meals, keep a clean and tidy house, volunteer at church, and the list goes on.  But I knew I wasn’t measuring up.  Dirty dishes lived in my sink and loads of laundry were always needing to be folded and put away.  Walking across the living room floor was like walking through a mine field of toys, shoes, and who knows what.  

All my time seemed to be spent on cleaning and it seemed like a new mess would magically reappear right before my eyes. Was I wasting my time?  I longed to play with my kids and do more than just the mundane tasks.

I started to play a mental rewind of my life.  Why was I spending more time keeping my home clean than being present and interacting with my children?  Am I doing something wrong?  Does everyone struggle with this or am I alone?  What I owned was taking up all my time and energy.  I wanted my time and energy to be focused on my family and what I truly care about.  How did my priorities get so twisted? 

Looking Back:

When I looked back at my life, I started to pay attention to how much stuff I actually have and my ability to maintain it.  I realized that I’ve never been tidy.  I never made my bed, and I couldn’t even keep my house clean before having kids.  Rewinding even further back, my roommates in college put all of my water glasses that I left around the house in my bed once.  They were so tired of finding cups everywhere.  I was so oblivious to my mess that I had no idea that I was frustrating my friends.  Needless to say, I can’t put all the blame on my kids for our messy house, I’m a large part of the equation.  

Fast forward to married life, the first home my husband and I bought in 2010 was a giant undertaking. Inviting guests over was the only motivation for me to have a clean home.  Once our friends left, the house turned quickly back into a mess and the sink filled with dirty dishes in a blink of an eye.  The five bedrooms for the two of us seemed empty when we moved in, and so it became our job to fill them. The accumulation of more and more was happening at lightning speed without us even noticing. My home wouldn’t be featured on “Hoarders,” but what I owned was weighing me down. And when we found out I was pregnant, we had to ‘make room’ for our daughter. Instead of decluttering, we just rearranged our stuff from one room to the other. 

 

Through a big move into a smaller home in a new city, we were forced to let go of quite a bit of what we owned. Downsizing was AMAZING for us! I can’t recommend it enough. To read all about that transition and the benefits of downsizing, read “3 Benefits of Downsizing Your Home Even if You Have a Family.”  But even a smaller house didn’t keep me from keeping more than I should’ve.

I still struggled keeping my smaller home clean and tidy, but it was so much more manageable than our larger first home because it was almost half the size.  But after having my second child, I dealt with pretty bad postpartum depression. I never experienced it with my daughter, so I was completely taken aback.   

I was so frustrated with myself. My house was in utter chaos and I had absolutely no motivation to do anything about it.  I felt like I was absolutely failing as a mom and a wife. So many women out there have way more kids than me and a put together house, what was wrong with me? Maybe those fictitious super women are only on television, but I just didn’t understand how no one warned me about this.

Going from zero to one child was a smooth transition for us, but from one to two was harder for me than I ever imagined. To read the whole story, check out my article, “Motherhood’s Dirty Little Secret: Postpartum Depression.”

This was my breaking point.  You could call it my point of self discovery all while nursing my son.  This is when I asked the question how did I ever get to this point?  And that led to a transformation I would’ve never expected. 

The Transformation:

ONE

Desperate for Change

To be frank, I had had enough. I was sick of being miserable. I longed to fully enjoy those early months of my son’s life, but I was so exhausted that they became a blur. A drastic change was necessary. I needed to tackle what was driving me crazy, and one of my biggest stressors was the state of my house. I couldn’t be present with my kids, because I was working so hard picking up after them, doing laundry and the dishes. Looking back, I wish I would have slowed down and listened to my body and followed what I longed for: those sweet newborn snuggles.

After finally getting more sleep and a whole slew of other things, the postpartum depression started to lift. The depression was a mental battle of unmet expectations and unrealistic assumptions of what I should be doing. I wish I would have been brave and spoke up to my friends, family, and church that I so desperately needed help. Normally I’m the one who helps others, not the other way around. I was too proud to admit that I needed a village to help me out.

TWO

The Breakthrough

Thus my research adventure began. I had read Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Art of Decluttering” in 2014 when it came out. I knew about Minimalism and dabbled in it. Deep down, I knew that I need to do a serious purge of what I owned. My husband flew out of town for work, giving me more time in the evenings to tackle our stuff. So, this time I listened to the audio version of Marie Kondo’s book while I decluttered my home. If you want to read all about what “Marie Kondo Taught Me” click here. Then I listened to more books on decluttering through the free Hoopla App from my library while I purged.

 

The extra motivation I got from listening to the books was insane. I truly believe that decluttering is addicting. Seriously. You get a taste of freedom and you want more of it. Until I started to really assess what I owned, I never realized how much my possessions were impacting me. Once I did my first purge of my home, I felt lighter and freer. If I could rewind time, I would have decluttered like crazy ten years ago.

 

Even though the decluttering took some time, that time spent paid dividens.  I had so much more energy because I wasn’t spending all my time cleaning my stuff.  When you have less stuff to clean and maintain, you have more time.

 

THREE

Creating New Habits and Routines

I had less to clean and maintain, but I was missing a crucial element. I needed to create habits and routines to manage what I own. My bad habits were making me work more than I needed all while keeping me frustrated.

The little researcher in me turned to books, blogs, and podcasts for the secret remedy to my ailing home. At the time, I would have never in a million years thought I would ever write the articles: “5 Steps to a Tidy Kitchen” or “4 Tweaks to a Clutter-Free Home.” But ya know what, I did and I’m pretty proud of myself for taking some needed drastic changes. Just by adding simple new routines into my life like making my bed, I felt more accomplished and my home looked better. By adding some good routines in, I spend less time cleaning giving me more time to focus on what I want to do.

FOUR

The Big Aha Moment

One of the biggest takeaways from all my research was that clutter attracts clutter. I wish I could remember where I heard this from, but man, this phrase changed my life. Once I cleared the clutter from my bathroom sinks, they rarely get cluttered. But when I have an area with clutter, it breeds more clutter. This was my big aha moment. It gave me more motivation to not have clutter anywhere.

FIVE

The Result

My home isn’t perfect, but perfection isn’t what I’m going for. Amazingly, my house is more tidy and put together with less work, ah- that’s the power of Minimalism and some good routines.

I don’t believe any home is completely purged in one fell-swoop. Decluttering is a process. It goes in waves. My ability to let more go increases every time I purge my home. I’m currently in a challenge to declutter everyday for a month. And I can still find enough to declutter. I’m learning that less is more. Less stuff equals more time, less cleaning, and more money in my wallet. And I’m down for that!!

So if you’re struggling with keeping up your house, there’s hope. That’s the truth. If I can break my bad habits and live with less, so can you. If you’re thinking, oh you just don’t understand, I’m in a different boat than you. Let me tell you a quick story.  Someone came over to my house and told me that they were putting off having kids for a while because they saw what it did to my house, and they weren’t ready for that. If that’s not a kick in the pants, I don’t know what is. Ouch! But, that isn’t my story anymore. I hope my house isn’t so messy that it alters someone elses future plans!

I’d just want to encourage you that if you feel overwhelmed by your stuff, do something about it. Take drastic measures, so you can experience drastic results. Coral a support team to keep you accountable, learn what you need to, and don’t get caught up in perfectionism. You can do this!

Quit Overspending at Costco with this Grocery Guide

Quit Overspending at Costco with this Grocery Guide

Quit Overspending at Costco with this Grocery Guide

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Have you ever walked into Costco to buy a handful of items and end up with a cart full that cost hundreds of dollars?  Most of us can quickly fill our cart with unplanned items like no other.  And don’t get me started about those samples!  We all love ’em, but it takes some full-on self-control to roll your cart by and not throw in some sausage-stuffed ravioli or a bag of popcorn in that massive cart.  I mean really- they even give samples of Doritos, like we’ve never eaten those before. Costco is strategic, those samples are out there to increase their sales and make you come back for more.  In 2018, Costco made $138.4 billion in net sales according to recent statistics.  So, they’ve got their marketing down.

And you know what, Costco is a little tricky. It’s hard to tell if you’re getting a great grocery deal. You can’t compare the price of three giant bottles of ketchup at Costco to the grocery store down the road. Plus, many of the food items tell you the price per ounce, not per unit, making it even more confusing. Most people just expect that food at Costco is a good deal. After all, they paid for a membership, so shouldn’t it be?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the majority of grocery items at Costco are NOT a good deal.

I’m a comparison shopper and my grocery shopping catch-phrase is, “that’s not good enough.” What I mean by that is if I want to buy pears, but they’re not a good price, I walk away and don’t buy them.  The pear price was “not good enough.”  By having this kind of self-control, helps me to eat a sample, smile at the nice lady with a shower cap on her head and roll right on by.  (I know it’s not a shower cap, but gosh, they look like one!)

If you struggle with impulse buys at Costco, eat ahead of time and stick to a list and don’t buy extras.  Grocery shopping when you’re hungry is a recipe for disaster!  If you can’t resist buying what you’re sampling, shop when they aren’t giving out samples.  

I hope I haven’t completely scared you off from Costco.  There are some items I will never buy at Costco and some that I consistently buy.  I comparison shop and know the prices out there.

To make it easier on you, I’ve compiled a list of 5 items you shouldn’t buy at Costco and 5 that you should.

What You Shouldn’t Buy at Costco:

ONE

Frozen or Fresh Chicken Breasts:

The prices for chicken breast is insane at Costco averaging around $2.60 per lb. I never pay more than $1.80 per lb. at the nearby grocery stores. FYI: the majority of the meats are more expensive at Costco than regular grocery store prices.  

TWO

Chips and Snack Foods:

Have you walked down the snack aisle at Costco and looked at the prices? Most bags of chips are $7! Yeah, seven whole dollars is outrageous! If you go to any grocery store, you are going to find a better deal even when you compare it to the smaller size.  The one exception is Costco’s three pound bag of tortilla chips.  

Beyond that, unless you’re going to a party, those chips are going to be stale quick.  Buy the smaller bags at the regular grocery store.  You’ll save calories and cash.

THREE

Most Produce:

The prices of Costco produce is really high and it’s hard to go through some of the portion sizes they have before it goes bad.

A bag of potatoes at Costco is $8 (25 lb) compared to a $2.25 (10 lb.) at a grocery store. Grapes are $2.70 lb. at Costco compared to the consistent sales on grapes for $.99 lb. at regular grocery stores when in season.

Most of the fruit at Costco is overpriced except the occasional watermelon.  I’m pretty bummed that they just upped the price of bananas, so that isn’t even a great deal anymore.

FOUR

Condiments:

The prices for ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, relish and all that is really high, plus those bottles take up a lot of fridge space. Unless there’s a manufacturer markdown that’s insane, pass on it and buy the smaller cheaper versions at your local grocery store. 

I can buy a bottle of mustard for less than a dollar at multiple grocery stores.  So I pass on the ginormous Costco one.

FIVE

Canned items:

The majority of the canned corn, tomatoes, etc. is really expensive compared to grocery store prices. If you like buying cans in bulk, check out case lot sales at your local grocery stores or buy larger quantities of individual cans when they’re on sale.

Costco labels canned items by ounces and not by individual cans, making it harder to gauge what the actual price is per can.  So pull out your phone’s calculator and do the math.

I’ve bought the gallon size tomato paste cans a few times for canning, which is a good deal. But how often do you need a gallon of tomato paste?

Don’t get the wrong impression that Costco is a complete rip-off.  There are plenty of great deals at Costco on food.  Here are some of the grocery items that are seriously good deals.

What You Should Buy at Costco:

ONE

Rotisserie Chicken:

Costco’s rotisserie chicken is hands-down the best meat deal you will find in the store and the cheapest rotisserie chicken you can buy for its size. For $4.99, you get a 3+ lb. chicken that’s cooked for you, and tastes delicious!  

They all have to be over three pounds, but the really big ones can be up to five. Chat with the meat guy and they can weigh it for you if you’re curious.

 

TWO

Flour & Sugar:

If you’re a baker, Costco has some really good deals on flour and sugar.  The caveat is that they are in 25-50 lb. bags.  If you don’t go through these items fast and don’t have room to store a bag of sugar that weighs more than a small child, you might want to pass.

I used to buy flour and sugar at Costco, when I would bake bread and bake more.  But we are trying to eat a grain-free diet and less sugar, so it’s not in the cards right now.

THREE

Lettuce/Greens:

If you’re salad people, Costco has great deals on romaine lettuce, spring mix, iceberg lettuce, and spinach. We love getting the romaine hearts (it’s a six pack), cutting them in half and grilling them with a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper.  Divine!

Check the expiration dates to make sure you can go through it before the salad goes bad.  Many times they’re going to expire in a week of purchase, which is rough unless you’re a green-lovin’ family.

FOUR

Cheese:

We buy our feta cheese and occasionally our cheddar cheese (max price I’ll spend is $5 for 2 lb.) from Costco.

The cheddar cheese is typically around the $5.00 mark for two pounds.  If you don’t want to mess around, they do sell five pound cheese chunks that can sometimes be a better deal. 

The feta cheese is by far the best deal around when compared to other grocery stores.  Occasionally there’s a manufacturer’s rebate on the feta cheese. That’s when I stock up.  They carry the feta cheese in the plastic containers and in sealed two packs.  We purchase the two packs because they’re usually a better deal per pound.  We then break up the cheese and put it into a large glass mason jar.

FIVE

Frozen Blueberries:

The frozen blueberries are the only frozen fruit that’s a stellar deal.  It ends up being $1.99 lb or less. I can’t buy blueberries and freeze them for that price! The blueberries are really large and tasty.

We add them into pancakes and green smoothies.

 

So there you have it. I hope this list makes Costco shopping less confusing.

Start paying attention to the prices of the products you buy at Costco and compare them to the regular grocery stores. You may be surprised that you aren’t getting as good of a deal as you think.

What are some great grocery deals you buy at Costco? Please comment below…

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