Making the Most of Canceled Plans

With so many events being canceled and school/work closures, a lot of us are finding we have an abundance of time on our hands these days. This is a big change even for our homeschool family. I mean, the library is closed, people. That’s pretty much my social life. Actually, that’s a complete joke, but we can get to that in another post.

This post is from me, the introvert, to help you make the most of canceled plans. I’m really good at this, guys. So if you are freaking out about all this time at home, I got you, boo.

I also want to note that there is no pressure here. There are no expectations you have to live up to during this ridiculously weird season we are going through. This is simply meant as an encouragement to be intentional about how you use your time, to control the parts we can control and let go of those we can’t.

Get Some Rest

The biggest problem with our overstretched lives is the lack of sleep. It messes with you.

So make sure you get some rest and then work on getting yourself on a schedule that allows you to get the sleep you need every night. That might mean you have to make some decisions to drop things in your life once things start returning to normal. This is the perfect time to think through those things. Because catching up on the weekend doesn’t cut it.

Tackle Clutter

In our day-to-day busyness, things get pushed to the back burner. Tidying up or decluttering is one of the first things that goes for myself. I only have so much mental bandwidth and the things I’m not good at are the first to go. Unfortunately with clutter, this usually backfires because then the clutter makes me feel more anxious as I see all the things I need to be doing. Then I get overwhelmed and shut down and things get worse instead of better. It’s a vicious cycle I’ve been working on the last few years.

If that is something you relate to or you just need a good declutter session, prioritize that this week. It will help your home feel better. There is actual science that connects clutter with anxiety and depression. Give yourself the gift of good mental health.

Family Time

The statistics for just how much time families spend together at home these days is pretty abysmal. The latest statistic I saw was from 2018 and said that with everything we have going on, American families spend an average of 37 minutes of quality time together on weekdays. Use your cancelled plans to up your family’s average.

  • Eat meals together. Make it a point to have at least one meal each day where everyone puts their screens away and you all sit down at a table or just in the same room. Then talk. Talk about things you would like to do as a family when all of this chaos blows over. Brainstorm ideas for things you could do after the meal. This doesn’t have to be dinner, if mornings are better for you all to slow down together, then do breakfast or cook a brunch together.
  • Put a puzzle together. Don’t have one? Order one from Amazon (check out these options!).
  • Play a board or card game.

Exercise

Don’t let yourself get caught in a sedentary routine while social distancing. Be intentional about moving your body. If you find yourself sitting for long periods of time, get up and stretch. Get outside if you can. Fresh air and sunshine are great for your immune system and mental health.

If you can’t get outside, check out YouTube for exercise videos. There is a whole slew of people who have created various workouts, including dance routines to popular songs. If you need something more structured, sign up for a service like Beachbody on Demand and give one of their programs a try.

Goal Setting

I’m a fan of goal setting, it’s no secret. Now is a great time to think about where your life is heading and see if you are happy with that. Think about areas of frustration and see what you can do to walk towards change. Think about what brings you joy and see if you can make more of that happen in your life. If life has brought you a separation from things that you thought you couldn’t live without, think about how you want to move forward when you have access to that again.

Related Posts: Challenge Yourself…Intentionally, 5 Steps to Change Just About Anything, One Change You Must Make to Meet Any Goal

Making the most of your canceled plans is just a matter of priorities, take a look at what you really need to accomplish and then get to it. Now, if you happen to have kids at home suddenly and you don’t know what to do with them because they are all up in your face (trust me, I GET IT) or you are thinking of giving homeschooling a trial run since the schools are already closed, I can help you with that too. Just look for my next posts.

Blogging, Goals, and How the Things Change

When I first started blogging (back in the mid-2000’s…well over 10 years ago 😱), it was to share bits of my life and to rediscover writing after the baby years. Eventually I learned that there were some crazies actually making money doing this thing and so I figured that should include me. After all, I am a blogger and I just might be crazy. Along the way, I tried a variety of topics trying to find my passion because all the blogging experts were telling me that’s what I needed to do. Focus, Vicki, focus!

Here’s the thing. I’m not really good with focus. I’ve always been a daydreamer and as an adult, I’ve always been good at anxiety and worry. Those two things usually leave my mind constantly trying to figure out what I’ve done wrong in this moment and how I’m pretty sure I’m screwing things up overall. This leads to me chasing squirrels and overplanning just about everything. Because if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, amiright?

Then the panic attacks happened, relationships in my life went haywire, and I sort of mentally imploded and stopped everything. Except buying washi tape and books, let’s not get crazy here. I walked away from a position in my church, blogging, and anything else that was causing stress to our family. Let me say this, the problem I was having was me and how I was handling things, not necessarily the things I walked away from. Other people handle these good things just fine. I just wasn’t one of those people at that point. When I get overwhelmed, I shut down. This rarely helps things.

Time went on as it does and my life got busier in other ways. I taught several classes at our homeschool co-op (including a two hour kindergarten class last year 😬). Our kids joined activities and had the audacity to develop social lives outside of our home. I took on a cleaning job with my oldest daughter so the kids could have the chance to earn some money (and I would have a bit for books…). My husband jumped jobs a few times, took on an assistant pastorship, started leading worship in a church plant, and generally got busier in addition to his full time job.

I’d like to tell you that I handled it all much better than I previously handled the busy, but I’m not certain that is the truth. In some ways, I did handle it better and my family was able to do the things they wanted and needed to do without much added stress from me (at least I think so, ha). The bad thing is, I basically alternated between internalizing it all or ignoring how overwhelmed I was feeling. Which brings me to now.

Where am I now?

To be honest, I’m not even sure. I know this time of year usually brings me to a place of reflection and this year has been no different in that regard. But what I am finding different is the kinds of goals I am setting and how I am going about it. In times past, my goals have looked a lot like tasks to check off my never ending to do lists. There are a few of those, but this year, my goals for 2019 overall are a bit different.

A couple months ago, God really started opening my eyes to some things and the recurring theme has been habits. So when I sat down to write my goals for this year (well, the first time, it took me a couple weeks to actually get them settled), I knew I had my One Word for the year. I didn’t bother with it the last couple years, but this year it was an obvious choice.

2019: The Year of Habit

It’s really simple, the goal is to break some bad habits and make some better habits. But I can’t just leave it there because that isn’t really quantifiable and I need quantifiable to be able to track myself. So here is my master list of habit goals for 2019 (and beyond):

  • improve my bible reading habit
  • establish a planner habit that actually works for me
  • establish a workout habit
  • improve my reading habit
  • decrease my phone habit
  • increase my writing habit
  • improve my sleep habits
  • improve my housework habits
  • improve my money habits
  • improve my food habits

It feels like for the first time, I actually have goals that makes creating to do lists, prioritizing, and getting things done actually possible. From this list, I went to on to start a “Habits I Would Like to Build” list. This list is not conclusive. I hope to add to it as I start conquering things. My current list:

  • making my bed first thing – to tell my brain that we are done sleeping for the day
  • getting dressed first thing – to better define my days, build more structure, so a day of rest is earned and valued
  • a set laundry cycle/schedule
  • get back to consistently meal planning and cooking dinner at home – planning ahead and using my slow cooker for more of those busy days
  • one on one time with each kid at least 1-2x’s/week – help my older ones learn to set up goals, make plans, and to hold them accountable
  • a morning time routine 3-4x’s/week – build a family culture to give my kids a more intentional foundation
  • a regular exercise habit

I stopped myself there because I have SO many habits I know I should have, but I am really trying to not overwhelm myself…again.

Armed with my prioritized habits list, I set a few goals for specifically for January. There are couple “themed” goals that will make an appearance on my goal list each month this year. For example, I’d like to read through the New Testament in addition to our bible study readings this year. So I will pick a book or books to read for that each month. I’m wanting to write out more scripture, so that is there. I’m also trying to stick with the habit tracker in my goal planner, I want to work up to using that daily so I’m starting with a small step.

  1. Read New Testament – Matthew
  2. Write Scripture – James
  3. Good Habits – Hit 40% of the days for my habit tracker
  4. Finish 10 Books
  5. Finish 4 Projects
  6. Maintain use of my planners – specifically my small daily and my goal planner

I set a goal to read 52 books for 2019 over on Goodreads. However, I didn’t make last year’s goal (same) and I have several books already in progress. I want to finish those and read a couple new ones before the year gets really busy.

The four projects is from a master list of things that need to be done at our house. They range from small (reorganize the junk drawer) to big (repainting the wainscotting), but there is enough on the list that finding four that I can complete in January should be pretty easy.

So what does blogging have to do with all this? Well, I’m going back to my roots. I’m sharing my journey. Occasionally you will get some other resources, but mostly I look for this year to be a bunch of sharing my planners, my new routines, my broken bad habits, and lots of books. Oh how I’m hoping for lots of books!

If you have stuck with me this long, bless you. Seriously. BLESS YOU. If you want to here more about these things, you can sign up for the email list and I will try my best to let you know when there is new content to be read. Or you can use a feed reader, which may be the better option for staying on top of things, to be honest.

Next up, a list of the books I’m most looking forward to reading this year!

Photo by chill’in on Unsplash

Challenge Yourself…Intentionally

Challenge Yourself...Intentionally - How to use challenges to better your life this year and every year.

“New year, new me!”

Did you see this in your Facebook newsfeed a few weeks ago? How about the posts of varying levels of making fun of such posts? I had both in my feed. It’s kind of amazing to me how pessimistic so many people have become about things like resolutions and goals.

I’ll say it again, I’m a fan of goals and resolutions, or whatever you want to call them. I believe them to fall in the same vein as Proverbs 29:18a – “Where there is no vision, the people perish“. Goals give us a vision of what the future can look like.

Does that mean our future WILL look like our vision? Not always. Sometimes we start out with certain goals for specific reasons and along the way we realize that God had different reasons. And sometimes that reason is for us to fail.

Yes, I believe that God wants us to fail sometimes. Is that scandalous? It totally flies in the face of any prosperity or candy-coated gospel, for sure. Life as a Christian isn’t all sunshine and roses. If it was, why would we need faith in God? Why would we still need a savior?

Yep, I believe God wants us to fail sometimes because it reminds us of three things:

  1. We can’t do this alone.
  2. His grace is sufficient for our shortcomings.
  3. He is always working in us for a greater good.

Actually there are more reasons, but suffice it to say that we learn a great deal from our failings and God is more concerned with growing us in our faith than He is with our earthly circumstances.

This is why I don’t mind setting new goals, even if I didn’t meet a previous goal. I want to always be learning and growing.

Enough backstory, now I want to challenge you.

One of the best ways to jumpstart change in your life is by taking up a challenge. What kind of challenge? Well, that depends on what problem you want solved and your end-goal. Let’s break it down a bit by common areas people look to make change in their life.

Faith

Does your faith feel stagnant? Don’t be satisfied with that! Listen for that still small voice in your heart and see where God wants to grow you. Consider challenging yourself in these areas:

Prayer

Reading the Bible

  • Pick a topical study of the Bible and do it daily.
  • Read through the Bible or a portion of the Bible in a set timeframe.
  • Commit to reading the Bible daily for a week or month (baby-step it, whatever you need to do to create a better habit with this).
  • Choose a book of the Bible and read it every day for a week.

Service

Daily Life

If you want to see improvement in some area of your life, challenge yourself to start today. Are you miserable in your job? Map out a plan to change jobs or even career fields. Set a time frame and get going! A few other ideas:

  • Reduce your spending. Challenge yourself to not spend any money for a whole month (outside of necessities that you decide upon BEFORE starting).
  • Save more money. Do you have a daily purchase like coffee or lunch out? Or maybe a bigger weekly/monthly purchase like dinners out? Commit to skipping that for a month (or 2-3 if it is a bigger/more sporadic expense) and saving the money in a special account.
  • De-Clutter. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF in your life? Try out a de-cluttering challenge, there are a LOT of options out there. A few to consider – 10 Minutes a Day, 31 days to clutter free, or do a mini challenge.
  • Better food choices. Give up sugar for a month. Drop your daily coffee or soda. Try meatless Monday for a month. Add a green smoothie to your day for a week. Pick your weakest area and challenge yourself to make better choices (spell it out better than that though).
  • Move more. Sit at a desk job? Commit to standing while talking on the phone for two weeks. Or use your break time to take a quick walk outside all week. Work at home or are a stay at home parent in a rut? Set a timer each hour for 10 minutes and climb steps, stretch, bounce on a rebounder, or go outside and pull some weeds in the garden.
  • Keeping a clean home. Try leaving your sink empty each night for a week. Or challenge yourself to clean something everyday that you won’t have to touch again for at least 2 weeks.

Health

  • Weight loss. If you are struggling with weight loss, commit to no sugar for a time of at least 21 days. This will help reset your cravings and likely jumpstart your loss.
  • Drink more water. Try setting a goal of 6-8 glasses of water each day for a week or more and then see how you feel at the end.
  • Exercise. If exercise is a 4-letter word to you, but you want to lose weight, tone up, or boost your energy…you’re going to need to add exercise to your list. Challenge yourself to try a new form of exercise every day (or 3-5x’s per week) for a couple weeks. By trying new things, you may find a form of exercise that you just love to do!
  • Kick bad habits. Pick one and hyper-focus your efforts to kick it to the curb. Replace bad habits with good ones. It takes 21 days to create a new habit, so be patient with yourself.

Intentional Living

The whole point of these challenges is to try something new. Make different choices to see different results. It really isn’t about the goal, it is about the day-to-day decisions that lead you there. Be intentional to challenge yourself this year and see where God takes you!

Living the Intentional Life

Living the Intentional Life

Life goes by so fast. These kids keep just growing up. Birthdays just keep coming. And it is GOOD. It’s just so easy to get wrapped up in the details and miss the big picture. Or is it just me?

Every year I choose one word to set the tone for my year. I have varying levels of success with this, but I continue on because I find it helpful.

Previous Years:

The year 2015 is another big year for me in some ways. The most bittersweet happening is that my oldest child will enter her teen years. I have been hit in the face with the realization that she will be entering the adult phase of her life in 5 years! Five years seemed so far away when she was born, but now that I’ve been a parent for awhile, I realize just how short those years will feel.

The big milestones are just going to keep coming. I don’t want to miss them! So this year’s word is Intentional because I need practice with this. I’m not a very intentional person. I tend to float through daily life.

Don’t get me wrong, I love goal setting and working towards meeting those goals. I’m just really bad about thinking ahead or outside of the box of right now. It’s probably why I’m so drawn to the idea of goal setting. Or something.

Living the Intentional Life

Since choosing a word alone doesn’t change anything, I have chosen some areas I want to focus on being intentional with and will spend time this year working on these.

  • Building my foundation. Over the last year, I came to realize that I do have a routine…and it’s not exactly efficient. The very first thing I want to be intentional about is building my foundation, putting first things first. I’ve not been very good at this traditionally because the things I want to do are not necessarily what is actually best for me. As cliche as it is, this means focusing on my health – spiritually and physically.
  • Stepping up my game. I have some big goals for 2015. I want to travel more. I want to have a successful garden again. I want to grow my blogging towards my goal of a full-time income. This will require consistent efforts in some areas that I have been kind of spotty with up to this point.
  • Focus on relationships. I am an introvert that lives a lot in my head. This doesn’t exactly build relationships. Add in that I get overwhelmed with lots of people interactions and I end up resembling more of a hermit than a person. I want to stretch my box and be intentional about building the relationships that matter in my life, with particular emphasis on my husband and children.
  • Identifying and utilizing my strengths. I have them, I know I do. At least, I think I do. I’ve not really given much thought to my strengths. Now, my weaknesses, those I am intimately familiar with…

Documenting the Intentional Life

If you have been around long enough to remember that I once entertained the idea of being a photographer, this will make you laugh. I am terrible at taking pictures! I am even more terrible at printing those pictures I DO take. This year I decided, NO MORE EXCUSES!

I now have an iPhone, iPad, a point and shoot camera, AND a DSLR that all take good to great pictures. Seriously.

Since I want to be intentional about taking photos of daily life, I decided that Instagram is the perfect tool for this. When my friend Dollie announced that she was looking for bloggers to partner with her for an Instagram challenge in 2015, it seemed like God was lighting up a big neon sign for me.

Capturing Life, Laughter, and Love is a subscriber Instagram challenge that provides a daily prompt (via a monthly graphic) to inspire your Instagram photo taking. I would love to have you join us! You can read more about it on the Capturing Life, Laughter, and Love page.

Or you can sign up below.

Free Goal Setting Printable Worksheet

Free Goals Setting Printable Worksheet from Vicki-Arnold.com

Free Goal Setting Printable Worksheet

Today we are starting the new year off with a free goal setting printable!

This printable features:

  • a column for 8 goals
  • a column for 3 action steps for each goal
  • a column for both start and end dates
  • a column to track any rewards you may want to set
  • the King James Version of Proverbs 16:9 on the right to remind us to pray for the Lord’s guidance

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

You can download your free copy of the goal setting printable worksheet today!

3 Reasons Tell Your Time is Awesome

3 reasons Tell Your Time is awesome! Final post of the How Do I Teach Organization & Time Management Skills...When I Have Neither? series.

Previously: why I need to change, how I can change, when do I teach this, and some places to start.

To bring this series to a close, I could walk you through time management 101, tips, tricks, and some tools to get you there. In fact, that is originally what I was going to call this post. As I started writing though, the thought kept popping up that I never reviewed an ebook that I read and loved so much on the subject of time management.

So, instead of me sharing MY tips. I am going to share the resource that finally made a lot of things “click” for me in this area. And as an added bonus, I am going to gift a copy to one lovely reader. I am keeping this one super, super simple. More on that below.

Friendly disclaimer: I use affiliate links in this post.

The ebook is called Tell Your Time and it is written by Amy Lynn Andrews. Amy writes an awesome blog about blogging called Blogging with Amy. She is also a wife, homeschool mom, and a virtual assistant. In other words, she’s busy. She was kind enough to share her time management wisdom with all of us the ebook.

Three Reasons Tell Your Time is Awesome

1. It is a quick read.

Anyone who needs time management help doesn’t need a novel to wade through on the subject. Amen? The ebook is organized well and without a lot of fluff.

2. Two words, common sense.

She lays the concepts out in a very sensible way. She isn’t revealing or promising to reveal anything “revolutionary,” which is rather refreshing in a world that overflows with marketing buzz words like revolutionary and new!

I appreciate that she took me step by step and made me face some truths that I needed to face. Like the simple fact that you can’t do everything all at once.

3. Making a schedule has never been easier.

You know me, I love my lists and schedules. Well, making them anyways. After I read through the book and did the exercises, I sat down and put our stuff on paper in a schedule that actually reflected our REAL life. I can’t tell you how profoundly this impacted me.

I spend so much time thinking I’m spinning my wheels and getting no where. Seeing our schedule on paper helped me to realize two things:

  1. We have a LOT on our plate. Seeing it on paper actually helped me make some cuts in our activities and empowered me to say NO when I needed to. I could physically see that I simply did not have the time to commit to one more thing.
  2. I was wasting a lot of time. Ouch. That one still stings and is a constant battle for me. Facing the fact that I have enough time to get everything done if I will just put my mind to it was hard because it meant admitting that I was being lazy in some areas.

Now, I want to pass along the blessing that is this ebook to one of you.

To enter the drawing to win the ebook Tell Your Time, answer this question in the comments below:

What is one thing that you want to do, but never seem to have the time for?

Be sure to use a valid email address, I’m not adding you to any list or using the info for any deceitful reasons. I just need it to contact you if you win. The giveaway will end August 31, 2013. If you do not want to wait that long to win the ebook, you can buy it for $3 on Amazon. Seriously…$3.

5 Steps to Change Just About Anything

5 Steps to Change Just About Anything - Keeping it Simple

Alright, so we know we need to make some changes and we know why, right? The key is to break it down into manageable chunks. Just how do you do that? Here’s a plan of attack to try.

Step 1: Decide What Needs Changing

Grab a piece of paper and a pencil. Pick one area for now, time management or organization. You can do the other one after you complete the steps for this one. Make a list of what needs to change. I want you to be specific here. I will give you a some examples.

For organization you may have:

  • organize and end paper clutter in the house
  • organize the homeschool/craft/hobby/gardening supplies
  • organize our laundry system
  • organize the kitchen

For time management you may have:

  • consistent hours for reading/working/playing
  • stop being late everywhere
  • end procrastination

Step 2: Prioritize

Remember how I talked about priorities yesterday? Well, they really are important. You can NOT do it all at once. No one can. So, take your list and rank your goals (you do realize you just set some goals in step one, right?). Like this:

  1. Organize the kitchen
  2. Organize the homeschool supplies
  3. Organize our laundry system

Make sense? Good. Next step.

Step 3: Break it Down Now

Take your first priority and dissect it. What you need to do is break it into chunks. Identify the major contributing factors to the problem. I also want you to include negative consequences that you have right now because of this problem area. You want to change these.

Again, be specific. Write these down. Think hard about this and be honest with yourself. Let me show you a possible break down.

Goal: organize the kitchen

  • the sink is always full of dirty dishes
  • table is cluttered
  • fruit goes to waste because it gets buried by other stuff
  • we eat out most nights because the kitchen is a mess

Step 4: Again, I Say, Prioritize

Take those contributing factors and rank them in order of priority. Maybe take the most annoying or difficult of them to tackle first. Or a to rank them in order of size from smallest to largest.

The point is to set your plan of focus. If you have the time to tackle a big project first, go for it! The feeling of accomplishment will be great. If you are overwhelmed by the scope of your goal, start small and work your way up. As you check things off your list, your accomplishments will keep you motivated to keep going!

Now, put your negative consequences underneath your list of contributing factors. This is WHY you WANT to change. Alternatively, you could put the opposite down, if you are more motivated to work towards something. I tend to work better at something when I remember that I really don’t like what happens if I don’t.

Step 5: Just Do It!

Work through your list. Do first things first. Do not move on to the next task until you have the first one down or completely finished. I can tell you this, it really is easier to maintain all of your things each day than to continually run damage control on them individually.

Find solutions that work for your family, don’t give up if you try one way of doing it and it doesn’t work. You really can change this. It just takes one day, one hour, one minute at a time. Keep putting that best foot forward and getting up WHEN you fall.

Tomorrow I’m going to answer a question you might be having about the content of this series. See you then and don’t forget to check out the rest of the bloggers participating in the series!

How to Make a Summer Bucket List With Your Kids

Please note that this post contains affiliate links.

How to make a summer bucket list with your kids. Make the most out of your summer!

How to Make a Summer Bucket List With Your Kids

Bucket lists are popular. I know I personally LOVE a good checklist. I once made a 1,000 things to do in my life because I’m an overachiever like that. Then I realized it was weighing on me so I deleted it. Quite a freeing experience. My kids have inherited this love of checklist making (and checking it off!).

Here are some quick tips on how you can make a summer bucket list with your kids.

Ask Them

First step is easy, just ask them if there is something they have been wanting to do, but haven’t had the time for.

Talk About Money

I know, I know. Not fun, but neither is adding a cruise to your bucket list, only to discover later you only have enough funds to cover a canoe trip. Set a budget for your summer fun. This is an awesome time for you to model financial stewardship for your children.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Anyone know where that cliche came from?! Maybe add some of these to your list:

  • things to do, read, watch, and experience
  • places to go
  • crafts, recipes, and projects to make
  • think of rainy days, touristy things in your area
  • is a day trip or long weekend in your budget?

Put Others First

Add things to your list that include serving others. Summer is a great time for service projects. Use your summer to make a difference. Try a few of these:

  • sew pillowcases to donate to a children’s hospital
  • collect and decorate flip flops for children in Nicaragua
  • collect change to donate
  • collect baby items for your local pregnancy care center (host a baby shower!)
  • do yard work or small home repairs for an elderly homeowner
  • bring a meal to someone who is sick or just to bless them!
  • volunteer at a soup kitchen or other ministry
  • pack a care package for a soldier

If you are crafty, a great resource with lots of projects to make and places to donate them is the book Craft Hope: Handmade Crafts for a Cause. I read that and was rather inspired by the good people are doing with their God-given gifts. I like to pin ideas for service projects to my Make a Difference Pinterest board, be sure to check that out, too.

Pinterest!

Speaking of Pinterest, be pinspired by Pinterest and all the fabulous things you can find. It is my favorite place on the web (after this blog, OF COURSE!) and it has gobs and gobs of ideas just waiting for you. Gobs, I tell you! See what I mean?

Summer fun ideas Pinterest board!

Now, go talk to your kids and take advantage of whatever time you have this summer!