In my post Get Rid of Clutter, I promised to share the inspirational story of my mother who got rid of all of her material possessions.
In honour of her 70th birthday…. Here’s some inspiration to have less things and more freedom.
About 27 years ago my mother sold her big house in Minnesota, all of her furniture and her car and relocated across the country to California. (Sleeping on my sofa until she found a place of her own!)
As a single lady whose kids had flown the coop, she was ready for a new adventure.
She bought a pickup truck and meagrely furnished a small one-bedroom apartment, including mismatched dishes and silverware from charity shops.
She became a true minimalist and loved the freedom it gave her.[more]
Are there pockets of clutter in your home that are dragging you down?
Do you struggle to downsize your collection of books, DVDs or Tupperware? Just in case those missing lids ever turn up…
Find it hard to let go of clothes in case they come back into fashion or you lose or gain weight? Feel guilty getting rid of things that were given as gifts?
As I prepare for my upcoming move back to London, I’m in major ‘get rid of clutter’ mode. When we packed up and moved to Madrid six years ago I donated dozens of bags filled to the brim to our local charity shops. I gave away piles of books, clothes, baby and household items as I had no time to organise a sale or figure out eBay.
It was amazing to start fresh in a new house. After unpacking I was delighted to find empty shelves and plenty of drawers to spare.
So how is it that just six years later we’ve amassed so much stuff again?
I’m finally reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo after previously writing it off as being a book about precision folding and talking to your socks. Well, there is some of that, but the deeper underlying message is actually a good one.
Only keep things in your home that spark joy.
This is of course easier said than done, but in the spirit of another fresh start, I’m giving her KonMari Method a go.[more]
I’m thrilled that Project Me has made a great list of 25 Must-Read Personal Development Blogs, especially given that I share the bill with one of my personal faves, Gretchen Rubin.
Gretchen first came onto my radar several years ago with her book The Happiness Project. She’s as fascinated with happiness, human behaviour and habits as I am!
I once spent five consecutive days sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, surreptitiously observing and writing down where people chose to sit and which magazines they shuffled through. The following week I did a similar same thing in a cafe.
Before you assume I’m some kind of weirdo, It was for my sociology class at university.
Gretchen’s latest book, Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits of Our Everyday Lives, explores how habits affect your life in both good and bad ways. She uses herself, her friends and her family as guinea pigs to test out various theories, which makes it more fun to read than the other books on habits I’ve delved into – and never quite finished…
I especially love her Four Tendencies framework to help people understand how they tend to respond to expectations, both inner and external.
As a productivity and goals coach for mothers, it’s useful for me to understand if the person I’m working with needs my accountability (ie: a kick up her backside to make sure she follows through!), or if she’ll rebel against that and needs to do things her own way. Others respond better to lots of useful information. Once they have the facts, they make decisions they trust.
Since we’re all different, self-understanding is the key to reaching our goals and mastering our habits.
You can take Gretchen’s online quiz to find out [more]
I recently had the pleasure of attending an inspirational talk in Madrid by Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and author of the wonderful book ‘Thrive’.
The subject of her talk was one very close to my heart: Balance & Mindfulness.
When she asked if anyone had any questions, my hand shot up. Before I knew what was happening, a microphone was thrust into my hand and I was told to stand up and introduce myself.
I’m a huge admirer of Arianna, so my face burned and heart raced, but I believe it went something like:
Hi Arianna, I’m Kelly Pietrangeli of Project Me for Busy Mothers and I help women find a happier balance between the kids – and everything else. (Whew! All of those months of memorising my ‘cocktail line’ paid off!)
My busy mother readers and clients all say the same thing:
‘My to-do list is never ending! There are never enough hours in the day to get it all done.’
They go to bed feeling exhausted and guilty for everything they haven’t managed to get done.
Arianna, what would you say to the mother with the never-ending to-do list?
There’s always going to be your to-do list. But you also need a gratitude list. Every single day, write at least three things you’re feeling grateful for.
The more gratitude you have for all of the people and things you have in your life, the more grace you’ll extend yourself for not ‘getting it all done’. Focus on what you achieved each night before bed, not on what you didn’t manage to do.
Of course, this made my heart sing, and if you’ve been following Project Me for any length of time you’ll know that I’m always banging on about gratitude as a daily practice.
When’s the last time you had a date with yourself? Just you and nobody else but you?
This isn’t necessarily about booking in for a well-deserved massage or pedicure or treating yourself to a trashy magazine with your feet up. (Although I’m a big fan of this kind of self-care!)
It’s easy to get so caught up in the day to day whirlwind of life that you fall into bed at night without any chance for planning or reflection.
Then the next morning you start the whole crazy routine all over again!
Making a date with yourself is an essential part of your productivity and your personal growth.
I’ve got a friend who heads to a cozy local cafe with low lighting and comfy sofas every Sunday evening while her lovely husband stays behind with their two young children. (Don’t you just want to hug him?)
He knows how important it is for her to get out of the house and have some time for herself. She uses this weekly date with herself to recharge and reconnect.
She spends the time getting clear about her goals, journal writing and doodling.
She’s set herself five non-negotiable rules:[more]
Do you dive into each day without a game plan? Are you easily sidetracked? Do you procrastinate on the important (but boring) stuff, then kick yourself when the day’s over and you still didn’t manage to get it done?
Wouldn’t it be great to arrive calm, prepared and on time to everywhere you needed to be? To feel happy and connected. Grateful for another amazing day – and looking forward to another one tomorrow.
The secret to this involves a little light planning at the start of each day. Instead of just doing whatever’s in front of your face, it’s time to Design Your Day.
I created this printable day planner to help busy mothers stay focused, stop wasting time and be more mindful as you move about your day.
The feedback I get on this Design My Day Action Sheet. is phenomenal! There’s a colour version or you can grab one in black & white so it won’t suck up your printer ink. I’m working on a lovely spiral bound version as well. I’ll talk you through each section here:
Do you ever get bogged down with little daily decisions?
Deliberating back and forth about two options takes up a lot of valuable head space that you can’t always spare.
Forget about pondering over things in your already bogged-down mind.
For easy(‘ish) decisions, nothing quite beats a good old Pros and Cons list. Don’t write it off as being too simple to work. You may be pleasantly surprised!
The next time you recognise that you’re playing a decision back and forth in your mind, whip out a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle and put the pros and cons into two columns. When one column easily outweighs the other, voila! There’s the answer.
Of course the sheer number of reasons in one column doesn’t always outweigh one major reason in another.
This is when it’s good to get clear about your values and what’s truly important to you. Decisions made from the heart usually feel better than ones made only with your head.[more]
This article is also featured in the Huffington Post.
Dreaming about all of the extra hours you’ll have with the kids back in school? Determined to get on top of your to-do list and have space in your day to do more of what you really want to be doing?
Here’s the truth. Those ‘extra hours’ will disappear into the ether if you don’t watch it.
That’s exactly what happened to me back when my youngest began nursery school.
I was thrilled to have three bonus hours a day to get stuff done. I imagined my amazing life with an additional 12 hours a week!
But it wasn’t long before I felt just as busy as ever.
Two years later when he started ‘big school’, I conjured up more images of what my life would look like with all of the ‘extra’ time I’d have.
I’d create filing systems, put photos in albums, finish the baby books, learn Spanish, train to be a yoga teacher, do volunteer work….
But that time evaporated too.
Here’s what I’ve finally learned (and I hope this fast tracks you through the process):[more]
I used to begin each summer with a fresh sense of optimism. But it wouldn’t take long for the novelty to wear off. I got so sick of feeling like the chief entertainer / housekeeper / cook and negotiator. My kids began to tune out my nagging voice, especially my half-hearted attempts to get them off electronics. Or to read, do summer homework or help out around the house.
I finally figured out that I needed a summer strategy. A game plan going in so I could navigate the school break without losing my marbles. And you know what? It works! My summers keep getting better and better. And I’m pretty sure my kids feel the same way. I mean who wouldn’t prefer to hang with a happy mama?!
Whether you’ve got a full summer schedule of plans, travels or activities to organise OR you work and need to figure out how to balance it all OR you want to free-style your summer days and play it all by ear, it’s worth getting clear about what you want out of summer for yourself and your kids.
That’s why I’ve created the Summer Strategy Kit – 24 gorgeous printables to help you cruise through the summer months without losing your cool too often.
Here’s a little glimpse of some of the printables for YOU…[more]
Feeling peeved that your hubby’s not pulling his weight on the domestic front?
Are you left to do the lion’s share while he’s got his feet up watching TV?
Constantly nagging and feeling resentful that he doesn’t just see what needs doing and pitch in without being asked?
Last week I wrote about how to get your kids to help you more. This time it’s about getting the help you need from your partner.
It’s frustrating to live under the same roof as a fully capable adult, but feel like you’ve got another person to pick up after, cajole and cater to.
Resentment builds up until it drives a serious wedge between you.
Studies show that couples fight more over who does the most cooking and cleaning than anything else – except money.
So, how to get your husband to help more around the house?[more]
Are you tired of feeling like the family slave? Do you feel like if you don’t do it yourself, it’ll never get done?
Wish your kids would pitch in and help, but feel like they’re too young or it’s not worth the battle trying to get them to do it?[more]
Looking at your massive to-do list and feeling like everything has to be done now? How do you prioritise? Where do you even begin?
I’ve got a magic wand to make it better – my Magic Matrix Action Sheet!
This is a new spin on an old favourite (by productivity guru Stephen Covey) and it works every time. You’ll get a clearer picture of what’s really important – and what can wait.
Have a stack of these handy so you can whip one out whenever your head’s in a whirl.
‘But it all feels important and urgent!’
It won’t feel that way once you’ve done this:[more]