I am that person that always has a list of things that I would like. I grew up in a family where you wrote wish lists for Christmas and your birthday, and I’ve carried on that tradition. The other reason that I still make wish lists is because I am a terrible gift giver, and whenever it comes time to get someone something, I always wish that they had a list. Some people say that it’s lazy, and maybe that’s a small part of it, but a bigger (in my opinion, the more selfless) part of it is that I want to make sure that I get the person something that they really want. Add to this equation my inability to do subtlety, so unless someone explicitly says to me “This is what I want”, I won’t pick upon it. Thus, I love when people have wish lists and I always have one to help out those who are generous enough to give me gifts.
With the advent of technology, I no longer write my lists and mail them – like I used to do when I was a kid. I have created a board on Pinterest called “Wish For It”, which is my digital wish list. Almost all of the people who give me gifts follow me on Pinterest, so they can look at it anytime. I can also add things to it at anytime. My favorite feature, however, is that by putting the items on my Pinterest board, a person can click on the pin, and get directed to the link where they can order the item. I like to think that I’m helping them save time and maximizing their days too!
I still get all kinds of gifts that aren’t on my “Wish For It” board, which is awesome. But I have also had a number of times that people have said “I found this on your Pinterest board”. Mission Accomplished.
I live in an ongoing tension between my desire to be prepared for anything that may arise and my aversion to excess. This was played out in deciding not only what type (and size) of diaper bag to purchase, but also with which items should go in the diaper bag. For the diaper bag, I had a couple musts:
1. Plenty of room for the obvious, but also little extras
2. Compartment for my stuff. I didn’t want to carry this bag AND a purse, so I needed part of the diaper bag to serve as my purse
3. Because it was going to serve double duty as mine and my daughter’s bag, I didn’t want it to look too diaper bag-y. In appearance, I wanted to be farther on the purse end of the scale rather than on the typical diaper bag end.
4. Seemingly contradictory, I didn’t want it to be too feminine. My husband needed to be able to take it with him and not feel like he was carrying a woman’s purse.
Thanks goodness for Amazon. It took a long time to find one that fit all of the criteria. We decided on the Skip Hop Grand Central bag. It was a lot more than I wanted to spend on a diaper bag, but more than one person warned me that the cheap bags were not worth it because they fell apart so quickly. I quieted that cheapskate voice in my head and purchased this bag.
I have not regretted it once. It does exactly what I wanted it to do. The middle compartment is sizable and fit all of her diaper stuff, a set of extra clothes, ointments, and a pouch with medicine and other toiletries. One of the outside pockets has a designated spot for my phone and worked perfectly to hold my stuff. We use the other outside pocket for toys or stuff for feeding.
One of the reviews I read said that they didn’t like it because it got bulky. It can get bulky, but that’s usually because we’re stuffing it full. One feature that I didn’t think would be a big deal, but that I have come to LOVE are the straps that allow it to easily hang on the handle bar of the stroller. They are sturdy and easily hold a very full bag, which allows us to use the entire under compartment of the stroller for other stuff without having to carry the bag on our shoulder. I do wish that it came with a long strap so that you could carry it across your body, but I’m not sure that a bag that size would be able to be comfortably worn on your hip.
Once we had the bag, we had to decide what to put in it. I handled this much the same way I handled all of these issues that came up with a firstborn – I went to Pinterst. I found a number of lists that were helpful, but almost all of them had a bunch of things on them that I didn’t intend on even using, let alone carry around in our diaper bag. Truth be told, in my tension between wanting to be prepared and my desire to not have a lot of stuff, more often than not, the minimalist tendencies win out. And if something happens, I make due with what I have. It is almost always sufficient.
I made a list of diaper bag contents before the baby was born, and, of course, it changed within weeks of bringing her home from the hospital. But not by much.
10. Single-serve formula packet – We received these as free samples. I breastfed exclusively, but decided to keep them in her bag in case we were ever in a pinch and didn’t have a way to get her breast milk
11. Nipple Shield – This was an unfortunate reality for me, but using this was the only way I could nurse. I heard horror stories of how annoying it was, but I didn’t think it was that bad. I had two and kept one in the diaper bag, so wherever we went, I had what I needed to nurse her.
13. Pajamas – Hint: Instead of carrying an entire extra outfit, I always had a one-piece pajama. It accomplished the same purpose as an outfit, but was less to carry. That, and I didn’t want one of her outfits to not get used because it just sat in her diaper bag.
16. Clutch purse – I downsized my purse to a clutch so that I had everything I needed in one spot. The clutch fit nicely in the diaper bag, but when I didn’t have the diaper bag with me, I could grab the clutch and go.
As she got a little older, the only two changes were that I didn’t keep a change of clothes in there for her because she didn’t have blowouts anymore and there wasn’t the need for the swaddling blanket anymore either. The only addition I made once she started eating solid food was a container of cheerios. If we were going to need to feed her, I packed the diaper bag for that with food, a spoon and bib.
For the most part, I feel like I found the balance I was looking for. We always had what we needed, but haven’t had to lug around a bag that weighs as much as she does in order to be prepared for whatever her little life brings.
I can’t take credit for this one. This is 100% my Grandpa. When I got my very first car (my mom’s 1986 Toyota Camry), my Grandpa equipped it with a number of “necessary” driving tools, including, (but not limited to):
De-icer for the door locks
Maps (the paper kind – Remember those?….)
An emergency roadside kit, including flares
Flashlight that doubled as a tool box (tools were included)
Gas Mileage tracker
It’s the last item that is the focus of this week’s Tuesday Tip. The Gas Mileage tracker wasn’t something that Grandpa found and thought ‘Oh, Kristin will need this.’. Nope. He made it. My Grandpa firmly believed that you should ALWAYS track your gas mileage on your car, so he created a system to make it as easy as possible. (Can you tell that my tendencies are genetic?) He bought a mini-notepad that had the little elastic loop connected to it to hold a pen. He then glued a calculator on the front flap of the notepad. Each time you filled up with gas, you wrote the following information on a line:
Number of miles on that tank of gas
Total number of miles on the car
Number of gallons purchased
Gas mileage for that tank (which was figured – using the very handy, attached calculator – by dividing the number of miles driven on the previous tank of gas by the number of gallons purchased)
My grandfather passed away almost seven years ago now, but I still faithfully track the gas mileage for each tank of gas. When my husband and I were first dating, I pulled the notepad (I’ve had to buy/make a couple since the original he gave me) out of the glove compartment to figure my mileage. Josh looked at me with an expression that clearly said ‘What on earth are you doing?’. I explained that tracking your gas mileage is one of the best ways to keep tabs on the general well-being of your car. If something starts to go wrong on your car, more often than not, your gas mileage is one of the first things to be affected. I didn’t actually know if this was true, but Grandpa gave me the same reason fifteen years before when I had given him the same expression that I just received, so I made the same case. Honestly, Josh wasn’t as easy to convince as I was. But he knew that it was important to me, and so we track the gas mileage on both of our cars each time we get gas.
If nothing else, I feel good when I drive away from the gas station knowing that my car got good gas mileage this week. And don’t we all need another reason to find some joy in our day?
If you don’t want to create your own gas mileage tracking notepad, use this printable and stick it in your glove compartment.
As structured as I am, until the last couple months, I’ve never been one of those people who did certain chores on certain days. When something looked dirty, I cleaned it – and by look dirty, I mean pink ring in the toilet bowl, ability to write a note in the dust on the shelf or visible dirt in the carpet. Probably not the best plan, but it worked. After my daughter was born the time gap between seeing the pink ring in the toilet and cleaning it grew dramatically longer than it had been before she was born. I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated at my inability to keep up with housework. I’m sure you’ve never been there. (sarcasm…)
Once I quit my job to stay home with my daughter, I decided that that this was something that I needed to do better. I looked at all kinds of cleaning schedules on Pinterest, but it was hard because no one person’s cleaning tasks are the same as another’s. The more I looked at other people’s routines, the more I became convinced that the best cleaning plan is the individualized one. We all have different homes, schedules, number of people in our homes and hobbies, so it’s very unlikely that one person’s schedule would work for the next. Other people’s lists are a great resource, however. Instead of using them as my list, I used them as the inspiration to create my own.
Here are the steps to think through to come up with the routine that will be the most successful for you:
STEP ONE: Identify all of the tasks by writing them down
Start at one end of your house and think through everything that needs to be done in that room/area to make it spotless. Do this for each room/area. Do not get overwhelmed. Writing them on the list does NOT mean that you have to go do all of them right now – or even anytime soon. It simply acknowledges the task. I was pleasantly surprised by how short (translation: manageable) my list was.
STEP TWO: Assign the frequency for each task (Daily, Bi-Weekly, Weekly, Bi-Monthly, Monthly, Seasonally, Annually).
There are two ways to look at this. If you’re the type of person that likes to stay on top of things and doesn’t easily get overwhelmed, schedule them more than they actually need to get done (for example, I have vacuum floors as a daily task, when in reality, it should be done 4-5 times a week) and just skip it when it’s not absolutely necessary. However, if you’re the type of person who gets overwhelmed by long lists of to-do’s, schedule your tasks less than they need to get done and you’re more likely to do the things on your list.
STEP THREE: Identify the blocks of time you have (or need to make) for cleaning
Make this work for you. If you’re the type of person who likes to do a little bit at a time, then think through your day and set aside one block of time each day for cleaning. If you would rather get it all done in one fell swoop, then figure out when that time is. When I was working full time, I had my lunch hour, a half hour in the evening (while my husband did the bedtime routine with our daughter) and Saturday mornings. Now that I’m home most days, I break it up between Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. As our family schedule changes, so will my cleaning routine.
STEP FOUR: Match up the chores with your cleaning times
I mentioned earlier that I was pleasantly surprised by how short and manageable my cleaning list was. I was even more pleasantly surprised after I assigned the tasks to days. When I realized that in order to have my house clean all the time (which it never is, but, if I stuck to this routine, realistically could be), I had to spend an average of an hour a day cleaning, I couldn’t believe it. I thought, for sure, that it would take a LOT longer than that. And I certainly didn’t think that I’d be able to stay on top of things by having days when I didn’t do anything but my daily chores.
I’m not sure if this would be true for everyone, but after a couple months of this new routine, the best part, for me, has been the freedom from feeling bad about not doing things. Because my old “system” – or lack thereof – was reactionary, if I saw something that needed to be done and procrastinated it, I just saw it get worse and felt bad. Now, if it’s mopping day and it doesn’t get done, I don’t feel bad because I know that I just did it last week and I will do it next week.
Try this out and let me know what works well for you. Do you have other hurdles when trying to stay on top of this?
And, because I said that other people’s routines can be a good resource, here is my list: