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Making A Plan and Checking It Twice

The holidays are here; my most favorite time of the year.  Peppermint mochas at Starbucks, my favorite pink wool coat, cars and trucks dressed up as reindeer and that Santa razor commercial (where is that commercial this year?)  My kids are in high spirits for the season’s festivities wanting to do all-things Christmas leaving no jingle-bell rock unturned: gingerbread men, Christmas village, reindeer food, visits with Santa; there’s no way I could possibly skimp on anything this year to save time.  So I’ve decided to look at ways to maximize my time while saving money along the way.

The holidays….enjoyed.

Make a plan.  Feeling overwhelmed with still a large “to do” list and not enough time?  If thoughts of things still undone are doing reindeer leaps through your brain and won’t give you a moment’s peace, take time to write down those thoughts.  The written word has a lot of power.  By getting those tasks out of your head and onto paper, your brain is free to relax and focus.  If you need help formatting those thoughts, use my “Making A Plan and Checking It Twice” template.

Renew your holiday spirit.  If your holiday spirit needs some uplifting, try something new.  Something like…. making a fireplace with your kids out of a Coscto apple juice box and some red construction paper (use a portable DVD player with a crackling fire DVD) and throw them a candy cane hot chocolate play date party.

Give yourself the gift of time.  Take away the stress of planning family dinner by letting The Organized Cook do it for you.   No need to worry about what your family is eating tonight and feel uplifted by the money you know you’re saving.  By using The Organized Cook weekly meal plan you can cook dinner for a family of four to five for about $100 a week in groceries; that’s less than you would spend on one dinner night out!  Plus, I’m sure you can find something to fill all that extra time you will have on your hands by using this system.  For a limited time, you can subscribe to The Organized Cook for only $4.99 a month at The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan.

I hope your holidays are off to a great start this year!

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My Christmas Eye Twitch

December 1st marks the day when “doing it all” takes on a whole new meaning for most of us.  It also marks the day that my Christmas eye twitch returns while I plot out the most efficient course to navigate my way through holiday shopping, school parties and entertaining.  It’s because today is the day I begin to really wonder if I am actually as prepared and organized enough to handle the next 24 days ahead as I thought.  On November 30th, I am confident that I am well prepared; but inevitably December 1st comes, as if the separation of 24 hours were more like months, and I flip the calendar page and think, all of this in only 25 days?

As I’m sitting here at my desk calendaring each event: Christmas photos, school parties, social parties, 2 charity events, Christmas cards, teacher gifts and entertaining; my four-year old daughter whom I love to call, “Princess Anne” enters.  I am engrossed in  planning and organizing in order to ensure my holly jolly Christmas while Princess Anne decides that I need a snack.  The first snack is two pieces of bread covered in sugar sprinkles with a heart-shaped lollipop that says, “HUG ME’ on it.  Here’s my holly jolly right here in front of me….and 24 days early.  My eye twitch disappears as she brings me next, tootsie-roll lollipops soaking in a bowl full of water, then a small plate of Kit-Kats topped with blue sugar sprinkles, followed by mixed nuts with cut-up American cheese and a cup of apple juice.

I thank her and give her a big hug.  As she turns to leave (after waiting to make sure that I take bites of each snack, of course), she says, “and don’t worry about the mess in the kitchen, Mommy.”  I wait for a moment to see if my eye twitch returns.  Nope.

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Stay open and ready for special moments

I know it sounds a bit contradictory to be organized and prepared for spontaneous moments. But I believe that by staying organized, you open your life up to allow more spontaneous moments. In the desert we get some amazing sunsets. I keep a picnic blanket on our back patio, folded in a chest where we keep outdoor toys. So if I’m in the middle of washing dishes, homework or whatever mundane task is taking precedence at that moment, and I see the sky lighting up in gold, tangerine, neon red and sometimes lavender, we can quickly grab the blanket, and sit on the grass to watch the sky change colors. It doesn’t take much time out of my evening, the sun has set in a matter of minutes, but those memories will last a lifetime.

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Pass-or-Fail Mornings

Mornings are the most hectic time of my day. I can’t help the way my mind works, but I have found myself actually grading how well I did that morning: did I “pass” or “fail?” I don’t grade myself based on whether or not we got there on time, or if I forgot an important item (that’s going to happen from time to time). Rather, if I kept my cool and my smile, I got the “pass.”

Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of “fails” and it leaves me feeling like I want a do-over for that morning. To help ensure I have more pass than fail days, I keep organization at the forefront of my routine. The more organized I am, the more smoothly my morning is, and the more time I have for last-minute tasks.

Here are some tips to ensure a smooth-running morning:

1.     Go through and organize backpacks the night before. Nothing will jam up your morning like a last minute unsigned permission slip or notice that it’s “pajama day.”

2.     Keep backpacks, coats and other school items in the same spot so kids aren’t off searching for them at the last minute.

3.     Pick out clothes the night before and be sure to check the weather.

4.     Establish clear routines for your children … the more they help, the easier it is for you.

5.     Give kids incentives to help you stay on task.

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