Being organised (or at least trying to be) and having routine and plans is something I love to have in my life. It is both crucial when raising a family, and also something that is a huge part of my character for my personal sanity. I love to write “To do” lists, keep on top of things, have things written down, and have goals and some kind of structure in our day to day lives. I am a spontaneous person in many ways, but mostly I find comfort in having some kind of plan and structure. I feel there is a lot of stress and unnecessary chaos in family life where there are no real plans or routines!

Being a stay at home mum raising 3 kids, as well as being a blogger, a student at night school and the president of the girls youth organisation at school is a challenge, but is also very much my reality. Throw in trying to have date night with Nath, a social life, keeping track of extracurricular stuff and general life – it is no easy feat. And so I feel it is hugely important to be organised and keep some kind of balance for all of the demands of life, and to ensure self care.

For me, in order to do this I have in place things to keep organised and to keep some balance to my days. These include recording appointments and schedules in various places, and “My 3 job rule” to keep on top of the home without it becoming a complete drag or dominating pull!

How I Keep organised day to day 

I have had a lot of people observe to me that they find it interesting that I still write the majority of things we need to do with a good old pen and paper. It fascinates them that for someone that spends so much time online why I don’t use a digital calendar like google? The truth is that whilst I do record reminders on there, my brain seems to much prefer the act of writing things by hand, and seeing it all there to monitor and tick off. I don’t know why but I much prefer to write it all down, as oppose to type it!

I record things in 2 places – A family Calendar and a Diary!

A family calendar – For several years now we have had hung in our kitchen a family calendar where we have to hand all of the families appointments, classes, schedules and social events. It is useful fo Nathan and I when planning weekends and school holidays, and it is also good for us all to just be aware of what the coming week looks like for one another!

I love the flexibility of being able to look up and see at a glance what is planned that day and in the coming weeks!

A Diary – I love a Diary for my own personal goals, “to do” lists, notes and family stuff. I have tried numerous types of diaries, but my favourite has to be the one I have now that Nathan bought me from TKMaxx this Christmas. I love that each month is in sections, and each section has inspirational quotes and such an array of spaces to write lists, appointments, goals and birthdays (to name a few). I find my brain likes the layout of it, and how I keep things in order within it’s pages!

In my diary I pretty much copy everything off the family calendar (only this one is able to move around with me) and then add in all of the little things I do day to day; like food shopping, seeing friends. playgroups, cleaning, assignments, blogs etc. I used to love to bullet journal things like my goals, bucket lists, blog ideas, gratitude and blessings, and last year I did try a bullet journal for everything, but I found the creative style too much work, and it all hurt my brain not having it prewritten, so now I love the balance of my new diary with all of its little sections – most of which I would have previously written into bullet journal format, but it is already there!

A new addition to my life, and something I really love for an organised life and journaling, are the new filofax notebooks – again they have the option to be divided into sections, some with pockets to keep letters/bills/leaflets in, and the mix of lined/squared/plain paper, as well as the option to add extra sheets in to, make it the perfect option for bullet journaling or as a general family organiser. It is a good space to brainstorm ideas, make plans, set goals (with more plans), and keep lists of all sorts from all areas of life!

The leather look cover and bright colour options feel lovely, and it is a really useful and versatile piece of stationary for anyone looking for a more free way to keep track of (and organise) various areas of life!

My 3 Job Rule (for Balance and Sanity)

I love the saying “all work and no play makes ______ a dull boy/girl”! And so whilst I am one who enjoys routines and structure, there is an element to me that loves and craves some adventure and spontaneity. I suppose keeping a diary and track of everything, creating routine etc gives balance to my life and helps me to enjoy and be on top of the day to day demands, whilst still making space in my weeks to have fun and live life!

When Ethan was a baby however, things became very out of sync and I developed a very unhealthy cleaning obsession which included unrealistic expectations on myself to have a very orderly home all of the time. I don’t know how it got to that point, I suppose I saw it as being a sign to the outside world that I was coping well if my home was tidy when I had a new baby. But, reality was that after several months it was one of the tell tale signs that I had PND, and I soon realised (at breaking point and since) that motherhood wasn’t about having a clean and tidy home all of the time, but living life with my kids. Yes part of motherhood is creating a clean and safe environment, but it is also the responsibility of parents – not just me, and that it was unrealistic to expect it to be so. In time I began to enjoy being a mother more and have since been able to get more of a balance by living my 3 job rule mantra!

As our family has grown, so has the food bill, laundry pile, and the lack of order – I quickly realised in all of this that my days could quite easily be spent going round in circles and being dominated by the demands of a family home. Hours could be spent cleaning, Ironing, doing laundry, loading and unloading the dishwasher, cooking and hoovering. I knew that whilst I was a stay at home mum, this isn’t what I wanted all my days looking like. Yes I wanted to care for my family and keep our home in order, but this wasn’t just my sole responsibility – I am a mother, not a cleaner! And so early on, when Ethan and Megan were young and both at home full time, I realised I couldn’t do it all everyday, and nor did I want to. So, to help my mind and mental well being, and to be a more present mum, I Introduced for myself “the 3 job rule”!

The idea is that each day (except for Mondays which has become my cleaning the house day after the weekend and is more intense) I do just 3 jobs in the house – only 3, and then I go and do other things I need to do or want to do. The jobs are things that can be done quite quickly whilst the kids get dressed or for 20 – 30 mins after the school run, but they help me keep on top of the home! I do my 3 jobs, and then we might go out with friends, or on adventures somewhere. We might go to local groups, or swimming, or to the park…for a walk out, or simply snuggle and watch a movie. I do all of these things without the mum guilt or worry that there is loads to be done at home, because I know I already did the 3 most pressing jobs that morning and that is enough!

For me I always want to make sure they are done in the morning so that the day can be ours. I don’t particularly enjoy coming back to a messy house when we have dinner to make/eat, and other things to do, and so daily (often before or right after the school run) I always  1. Clean the Kitchen  2. Put on a load of laundry and then 3. (which is more flexible) usually clean the lounge. But Sometimes it might be to put the dinner on if it can be in the slow cooker, or it will be a quick hoover round, or maybe some ironing, or folding laundry.

Having the 3 job rule ensures the house stays in order and is clean, without dominating my day. It means I have a sense of achievement each day because my home is in a decent state, and I have done several things before leaving the house. But ultimately it means that I am more than a cleaner of our home! I keep my home clean yes, but within half an hour, meaning I have time with my kids and a social life with other mums and family. I means I have time to do things for me as well as my family, and I love it.

Organization and routine are very important to me, and I love the feeling of being in control of my day’s and making good use of time each day. Now that there is just Alice and I during the day, we tend to stay fairly local for school runs, and so that when she naps I can then blog or do college assignments. On an evening Nathan and the kids usually help tidy up from dinner, and Nathan always takes care of the bins!!! I love this balance as each day I can shut the door and go out with the kids to school and not stress, knowing I have accomplished something in my home and keeping on top of what needs doing without being dragged down by it all! I like that when we come home the downstairs is almost always clean and tidy, and for me it is a real sense of accomplishment to be able to balance everything I am and do.

It is so good for my mental well being and soul to have some structure, time out of the home most days, and just time with my kids to be mummy and go places and do things! I find that keeping a diary/notebook to track my goals, plans and schedules, as well as setting little daily goals in the home, all help me to accomplish this huge goal to raise a family (with all that that entails) and have some personal development and goals too. Whilst some days are a complete write off, most days are good and I flop into bed knowing I have used my time well and done my best!

*I received the Filofax notebook recently as a gift from them, and so wanted to share with you how lovely it was!

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Hello and welcome back to another week of “MyHeartyLife” – an opportunity for us to share in the goodness and positive points of the previous week!

I feel like this week has just flown by, which is great because we are so close to our holiday now (12 days) that I am starting to get just an incy bit excited! I have been buying loads of English treats for my friends and our family in the states, and sorting out the kids wardrobes to see what they will need extra!

I can’t believe though the difference in weather to last week! It’s so crazy how we have gone from a frozen, Winter Wonderland, to a beautiful mild and sunny Springtime feel in a matter of days. I have loved the milder feel, and when I know that it’s here to stay I will be looking forward to packing away big jumpers , feather coats and scarves, and getting out more colourful T-shirts, tops and pumps! I can’t wait to seeing nature come alive again and enjoy the colours of flowers and green fields!

Grateful for…

This week I feel grateful for Nathan again. I guess I am always grateful he’s mine, and we have what we do/each other, but when I am having a hard time I am especially grateful for his understanding and general desire to make me smile! This week, with the build up to Mother’s Day (and other things) I have been feeling rather anxious, and so I have been grateful to be able to talk to him – someone who get’s it, and was there – and to have his hugs and reassurance.

I am also grateful for Easter eggs in the shops – I had a sneaky one at the weekend and it was delish!

Success…

My biggest success this week was that I have been super organised, and been able to get the kids sorted for our holiday! I have done all of the laundry and taken out what they will need, as well as hitting up Primark, Next clearance and H&M! I have managed to get them a few extra weather appropriate bits for them to add to what still fits, and whilst I didn’t want to have to venture back into the city, it has been nice to get them a few new things (on budget)! I have it all in outfits in a Lidl bag, ready to iron and pack in their cases sometime next week.

Does anyone else find that their kids grow like beanstalks? Taller and Taller each season.

Found beauty in…

On Wednesday Alice and I had a lovely little adventure up to Sewerby Park near Bridlington (East Yorkshire) with my longest of friends and her little girl who is 2 months older than Alice. We have been so many times but never fail to have a lovely time! It was sunny, mild, the flowers were blooming and it was a beautiful spot to have a walk and some fresh air. It was so lovely to see the little ones running around together, and for us to catch up and chat. When I see them toddling around together, my hope is that they will find such a great and lasting friendship like that which their mummy’s have with one another!

It was beautiful to see snowdrops in abundance and stroll through the quaint little walled gardens. I always find grand houses and their grounds so beautiful – especially when shared with such great people!

#MyHeartyLife Rules

You can link up one post a week that fits into either or all of the “Prompts”, and I ask that you at least comment on mine and one or 2 others too. Kindness costs nothing and a comment on your blog feels amaze!

Please use the #MyHeartyLife on Social media whenever to share the goodness and cheerful moments in your life that day! It might also help when summing up the week into a blog post to link up!

 

The Hearty Life


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This last week has been mostly uneventful. I have barely done the school run, seen anyone or stepped outdoors, due to most days being spent resting, snuggling and watching back to back episodes of Gilmore girls thanks to a stinking virus that caused me to revert back to my bed. Sickness…dizzy…painful muscles and lack of energy – its been both frustrating and rather miserable over here in my life!

I have these moments occasionally and my only saving grace in all of this was that I lost 4lbs, got to spend my time snuggling my baby and receiving many gummy grins, and ticking off a good chunk of the 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls I set myself to watch last year!

I fell in love with watching Gilmore Girls the first time around that it was aired over here, and have vivid memories of watching it daily during the latter weeks of my first pregnancy with Ethan. You either love it or hate it I think, and I am certainly a lover of that mother daughter pair!

Watching TV and movies are one of my favourite things to do, it just brings me joy (even when they are sad) and satisfaction. They are usually one of my go to’s to unwind and chill and a main factor in our date nights. I take a while to get in to box sets as they are so time consuming and I know I can get hooked and waste many an evening doing nothing but staying up late to watch “just one more episode”. But, in the past I have loved One Tree Hill, Suits (still working our way through season 5) and of course Gilmore Girls… Its no wonder then that I was rather excited to see it return to my life again via Netflix last summer and quickly bookmarked it for a time when I felt ready to watch back to back re runs, followed by the new season. I wanted to see the ones I’d missed way back when, see how it ends and how they have gone back to it – I actually couldn’t wait!

December was the perfect opportunity with wrapping gifts, packing bags and being so tired on an evening with all of my running around to tick off the first few seasons, and much to Mr Smiths dismay I again became hooked! I since have looked forward to the cold days indoors that come with January where I could curl up with my baby and a hot chocolate and catch up on more episodes. I decided over Christmas that I need to slow down a little more and at least once a week make the most of not having to be anywhere and just relax for maybe an afternoon – it would be good for my sanity and it would be something nice to take care of me before I am launched into the crawling and into everything baby stage.

I never anticipated that I would fall ill though and have that opportunity so soon. And whilst it was a burden to me and meant a rather boring week of doing not very much, I have had some lovely moments just laying in my PJs under the duvet (or wrapped in a blanket) with my snuggly little pal and watching hours of a much loved/fave TV series. I have been grateful for Mr Smith running the kids to school most of the week, grateful for little Alice being a snuggly baby (though breastfeeding when ill is rough), and especially grateful for having Netflix to give me something to do…hoping to resume normal life this week!

The Ordinary Moments
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As happens with most of my birthdays these days, I tend to go through a period of self evaluation leading up to the big day. I ponder on things such as “am I where I wanted to be at this age?” and “if not am I happy with the alternative?”, “Have I done what I hoped to since last year?” etc. I don’t really freak out too much anymore about getting older as I am learning that age really is just a number, and my 30’s have become a phase of life where I seem to be most comfortable in myself. I would say though that I panic more over how fast time is going generally and how there is so much I want to do with/in my life that I wonder if I will have enough time to get it all done. Does that make sense?

Since becoming a mum I have felt pretty accomplished in life and over time become content that this is life right now – raising kids! The growth of our family makes me feel I am doing great things by raising (hopefully) good humans and I see it as the best use of my time now. There are still many lists of countries I want to visit, life things I want to do, charities I want to work with and things I want to become educated in, but I know in time and year by year with my little goals and plans I will get there!

But being a mother also means that now there are moments before birthdays where I think my birthday potentially will be boring, or rather like any other day. I don’t live too near my family and my friends are either my sisters/sister in laws or all random people now who I share one to one relationships with as oppose to a tight knit group, so I almost feel like life has naturally shifted away from girly nights out and partying together. That to me is a bit of a shame and if i’m honest makes me a little sad as I do love a night with good friends, and at times I do wish more than anything for that again, but life shifted around a lot after loosing Poppy and with age too, it isn’t what it once was and that’s okay…I am happy for those in my life right now who make the effort and want to help me feel special, who love me and get together when we have the time, but mostly I am just grateful that (even if it was a reminder from facebook) people everywhere from my life took time this year to wish me a good day. I just love that about social media and it certainly made me feel blessed and loved, and I can honestly say that 32 was a joyful day!

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This birthday was joyful because that is exactly what I wanted it to be. I had a cake (surprise) with Nath’s family Sunday when we met for dinner, and I know something with my family will pan out soon. Friends hadn’t asked to do anything prior, so I didn’t bring it up and Nathan took the day off work. I didn’t want it to be like any other day and so I decided I would spend it with him – my bestie (and of course little Alice too), and it was an extraordinary day of lovliness! Being a new mum combined with motherhood generally could equate to a mad day like every other, but with some planning it was far from that, and so here’s what we did to help you see how to have an amazing birthday filled with fun even if you are “just a mum”!

1. Snuggles, songs, breakfast and dancing – This basically summed up the chunk of time between waking up and heading to school. The kids all came into our bed early and sang to me, kissed and cuddled me before giving me some chocolates, flowers and a mummy pig card! They were far more excited than me at that point and I just loved seeing how desperate they were to celebrate that day and that it was “mummy’s birthday” – It was perfect!

We had a lovely pancake breakfast which I made whilst we danced to birthday rap songs and “I’m feeling 22” by Taylor Swift (which I feel far from).

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2. Cinema – It has been way too long since we went to the cinema and I found out recently that almost every cinema has baby sessions where you can go with baby and its appropriate sound lighting and atmosphere for parents. And so off we went…only it wasn’t the baby showing at all, but Alice was AMAZING and we laughed our way through the whole film whilst I snuggled her and she slept…the film was brilliant and the whole experience was so much fun.

 3. We ate out…for lunch (or you could do dinner, though lunch is easier as most of the kids are in school). We went to Nandos and Alice chilled in her car seat whilst we enjoyed a lovely lunch with out crowd control in the mix.

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4. Bake a cake – When you’re the mum there isn’t usually anyone to do this for you, but it doesn’t mean you need to pay loads for shop bought either. I made mine the day before whilst Alice was napping and the kids watched a film after dinner. It was everything I had been dreaming of – Chocolate and peppermint frosting!

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5. Kid free shopping (kind of)…The plan was to go kid free shopping with just Mr Smith and Alice but sadly we had to go to the hospital to see a very sick family friend, and so that was put on hold. The idea was nice and maybe you can be more successful at it than I?

6. No house work! The house is a dump today but that’s okay. Nathan insisted I went out and had fun with him yesterday…doing things out of the ordinary to ensure it isn’t a mundane boring day like any other…and it was just that. No laundry to hang, no dishes to wash, no sweeping, bed making or any thing. The house was left and we drove in peace chatting and singing along to the radio!

So Mum’s, embrace the kids you have as the blessing they are and have a little dance party with them, make a special breakfast, cake and treats, and do something with your day you have been dreaming of! It doesn’t matter that you’re a mum now or whether family and friends are close. Fun and joy are created by us and by making some effort it honestly makes for a very happy birthday indeed! I have a gorgeous little family, a wonderful husband, brilliant family all over the place, my new little baby and pockets of friends I see here and there when we have the time who each bring great things to life – I am happy and I am excited for what I will accomplish at 32…

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