Module 1: Systems That Streamline

1 // Remember This!

This is a piece of advice (a good perspective, really) that was shared with me back when I was expecting my first child. I hope it encourages you as well, and that it motivates you in your role as a mother!

2 // The Cycle of Care & Enjoyment

What I call the Cycle of Care + Enjoyment is a hugely important aspect of homemaking! In this video, I’m getting into what that cycle actually looks like – and where you should jump in if you’re struggling to like the place you live.

3 // We ALREADY Have Systems!

We ALL have systems!! It’s just some are good systems and some of our systems are…not good.

An example: If you and your family walk through the front door and drop your shoes and jackets on the floor right there, that IS a system. It is something you all do every time…but it may not be the best or most helpful system for your home. So, knowing that we all already have systems going on in our house helps us to open our eyes to them. Then we can start noticing what we are consistently doing, and thinking about how we can tweak those systems.

** Sometimes it helps to think of a household pet peeve you have because it points to a not-great system that’s going on. Don’t go down a negative path of thinking of everything you don’t like in your home right now…but think of maybe a corner of clutter that bugs you, or something you don’t like to always step AROUND. Is there a system that can be tweaked to eliminate that pet peeve or annoyance? Brainstorm solutions to turn a frustrating system into an effective one for your family!

4 // Give a “Teacher Speech” 🙂

We, as mamas, can pull from a little collection of our own speeches to give our children in different situations! This is an example of proactive parenting. Take the extra 1 minute in the car before going into the store or into a friend’s house to talk about what is appropriate behavior or other expectations you have. I do not do this every single time I take the kids somewhere, but I do it quite often, and it helps a lot!

**Here’s a link to Phillip Done’s book, “32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny!” (The “teacher speeches” chapter starts on page 102.)

5 // 4 Strategies for a Healthier Approach to Productivity

Are you a productivity nut like me? If so, you understand how people can totally thrive on being productive. We productivity nuts are motivated by it. Our structure comes from lovingly crafting our to-do lists, and perhaps our sense of peace even comes from crossing those items off. I really love my to-do lists. But this drive to check off item after item after item can feel overwhelming, consuming, and even purposeless. We often include things on our lists and check them off without much thought of the greater picture or purpose. I want to submit that there is a different, even better, way to approach productivity in our day-to-day lives! In this video, I’m sharing 4 strategies for a healthier approach to productivity.

6 // Practice the Art of Not Buying Anything

Practice (on purpose) the art of not buying anything.

This is something I like to teach my children and am happy to practice with them. We start this even at a really young age! I think it’s so important to get “good at” the art of not always buying what jumps out to us (which is something I’ve had to work on in my life, like many people!). And the sooner we teach our children not to give into impulse buying, the better.

We like outings, and those outings oftentimes involve stores. Our family will go into places, look at items (even toys for the kids), and practice just enjoying them – maybe giving a stuffed animal a hug – and then putting them back on the shelf. This can be put into practice at a thrift store or at Target. Another great place to practice this is the gift shop at the zoo, or something similar. As a parent, we soon become aware of all of the locations are in a store where they strategically place toys in an effort to get us to buy. 🙂 Part of the fun is just looking. In our family, we have the philosophy of: “Let’s teach ourselves that it’s fun to look but we don’t always need to get the treat/the new toy.”

The way we phrase it for the kids is: “We’re going to go in and do some shopping. We can look at toys, and enjoy them, but then we put them back on the shelf!” We speak this out loud before we go into a store, because that’s much more effective than having a debate or a lesson on instant gratification when the shiny new toy is staring right at us! (So much of parenting involves being proactive.) Sophie (our 4-year-old) is at the point where she can happily state that philosophy out loud before we leave the car and go into a store – and that helps her do well with not grabbing items and begging for them.

I’m not necessarily suggesting a trip to the toy aisle on purpose every time you’re at Target, just for the sake of denying that instant gratification bug, but there can definitely be some “practice sessions” you do as a family, or just some infrequent strolls through the zoo gift shop even when you know you don’t want anything. It’s good to practice these skills even when they’re young!

**A fun little side story about this: once, we were in the toy section of Target and Sophie saw a baby koala toy that she wanted. It had a pacifier and it moved and made noise, and it was very cute! Bjorn and I reminded her that we weren’t going to get any toys that day, but it was fun to look at the baby koala, and we could keep thinking about it for perhaps a future day. Sophie thought about the baby koala toy over the next 3 weeks. She didn’t whine or beg for it, but much later on, she calmly brought up the koala again to Bjorn: “I think I would really like that koala.” We did go back and purchase it, because she had shown great self-restraint, and we were truly okay with her having that toy. And guess what? That baby koala toy, months later, is still precious to her and is one of her favorite toys! Impulse buys don’t always result in a toy we love that much. We don’t do that kind of thing often, but the baby koala situation was a special illustration for us (and for Sophie) about not impulse buying, and waiting for something you really would like.

BONUS! Our Favorite Mat For Outings

Here’s a link if you’re interested in checking out Sonder Mats for yourself! (We have a 54″ size and an 80″ size – and we love and use them both!)

BONUS! How We Do Daily Quiet Time: When Your Children No Longer Nap, When They Share a Room, etc.

When I filmed this video, we had one child who napped and one child who didn’t usually nap…and the two of them share a room! Here’s how we approach daily quiet time in our family! (Our updated quiet time approach is described down below, after the embedded video!)

The visual timer that we use

The sound machine that we use

*Updated* Thoughts on Quiet Time for Older Kids (If You Have 2 Littles Who No Longer Nap):

Determine for yourself as a mom what you’d like the situation or setup to be: what does Quiet Time look like to you? I’ve fluctuated a bit on this over time as I’ve learned what works, what expectations are reasonable, etc.

If you have 2 children sharing a room: you can definitely still do Quiet Time with both kids in the same room. Maybe you can play an audiobook for them (like the Yoto Player – I have a blog post all about it at justbeeblog.com), and you can set a 45-60 minute timer for them, so they know when they’re allowed to come out of their room. This kind of setup will be more like “quiet playtime,” probably similar to some other parts of your day – just with the children in a designated spot away from Mama for a little bit. 🙂

You can also separate the children for Quiet Time. I’ve done this more recently.

Our children are now 5 and 3, and for the past 6 months or so, our 3-year-old has napped less and less – maybe 1 or 2 times per week, depending on growth spurts. Although sharing a room is something our kids still do at night, we’ve shifted to a Quiet Time routine that involves the children being in separate rooms.

For this setup, I have our 5-year-old daughter do Quiet Time in the master bedroom, while our 3-year-old son does Quiet Time in the kids’ shared room. We still set the timer for 60 minutes (we have two of those timers now!) – 60 minutes is the max amount on our visual timers, and it’s something we’ve worked up to over time. (The kids are also definitely allowed to take bathroom breaks whenever needed!)

Our older child often has a sticker/coloring book, her favorite stuffed animals, and now days, the Yoto Player to listen to. She stays in our bedroom, relaxing on the master bed, and has her own visual timer to watch. Then I make sure our 3-year-old is settled with simple toys and books (and the kids’ sound machine turned to a lullaby setting at a low volume), and he has clear expectations to only leave the room when his visual timer is done (outside of any emergencies, of course!).

Quiet Time, when lovingly handled with a predictable routine and clear expectations, can become a really nice part of the day – for everyone! It isn’t cruel to expect your children to practice playing or relaxing alone for a brief period of time like this. Even very young children can practice working up to a quiet time of 45-60 minutes. I’ve known of homeschool families who implement a daily family Quiet Time for everyone in the family, even the high schoolers! Why? With young children, it gives them a break – from stimulating activities, from running around, from screen time…and even from each other! It teaches our children to enjoy just plain being with themselves. It teaches independence and gives them the space to “think their own thoughts,” not always needing to cling to Mama or to play with a sibling. And Quiet Time can be a gift to Mama, too – it can be a great time to catch up on a household task that’s tricky to do with kids around, make a phone call, or just relax a bit.

I highly recommend working some sort of Quiet Time (in bedrooms, not watching a TV show) into your family’s daily routine and trying to stick to the same length and time of day each time! It will become a blessing to you!

BONUS! Do One Task That Can’t Easily Be Undone!

This is one of the best tips for climbing out of overwhelm! I love this strategy because it can be used in 2 main situations: if you’re feeling overwhelmed in the moment and just want to simplify your life a little, OR if you’re overwhelmed by the state of your entire house. In that case, you can commit to doing one task that can’t be easily undone in one room per day, or do a task in multiple rooms of your house every day for a week or so. Basically, this strategy gives you the feasible baby step you need to start climbing out of that chaotic feeling of overwhelm. Your future self will thank you!