Guest Blog: Get your house in order, y’all! Great tips on how to be ‘intentional’ in every room in your house! Like, now.
At Totally Buffalo, we TOTALLY LOVE to collaborate! It’s what Buffalonians do. We help others, we celebrate others, because we know that we are all a part of the same community. We’ve decided to focus on that – right here. Guest bloggers – the best Buffalo has to offer – will be writing a new post exclusively for Totally Buffalo. We will share it, along with some information about the blogger and links to their blogs and social media channels.
Today, we hear from Danielle Macaulay.
Two ways to be intentional in every room in your house – THIS WEEK!
Who of us doesn’t want a more organized, happy and peaceful home?
I have learned that many of the best things in life don’t just come out of thin air. They must be worked for. They require intentionality. A healthy body, rewarding and successful job, satisfying and healthy marriage, and fulfilling and lasting friendships don’t just get plopped into our lap while we’re in a coma in front of the TV with our iPhones in one hand and Cheetos in the other. It is the same with our homes. We must be intentional to achieve the outcome and the atmosphere we desire in our homes.
We can often get stuck in a rut, leave things for “one day”, and start feeling overwhelmed by the insurmountable tasks and “to do” lists that invade our lives. I have met people who truly feel like a prisoner living in their own home because of all the stressors staring them in the face. Our homes should be our havens (and our children’s haven). But, how do we eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Sometimes we just need ideas and the extra nudge to make improvements. So, here you go! Here is a list of some small things you can do THIS WEEK that, put together, will dramatically improve the well being of your home in a plethora of ways. These tips will get you well on your way to achieving that organized, happy and peaceful home you want. If you take on these tasks, at the end of this week, I promise that you’ll feel good about yourself, your home and your family!
If we are not intentional about improving the state of our home, our family and ourselves…no one else will do the job for us! So, start your engines, tell yourself “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can”, and go full steam ahead into creating an intentional home! I am gifting you with 2 easy ways you can improve the atmosphere of each room in your house. You can do these things – and you can do them now!
1. Meal prep – Set yourself up for success. For example, prep a veggie platter for kids to snack on all week while they are waiting for dinner. When they say “I’m hungry”, you’ll have a healthy option for them. My site From Milk to Meat has some great ideas for healthier options for your kiddo’s lunches and snacks too. Also, keep your eyes peeled on my site for a post called “Top Ten of my Fav Healthy Things I Toss Into my Kid’s Food Without Them Having a Sweet Clue”. Coming soon.
2. Pantry and cupboard blitz: – We all want to stay organized, but often shy away from cleaning out because it can seem too overwhelming and intimidating. Start small, but do it now! Take 10 minutes, and breeze through every cupboard – grab a few things that you do not need anymore and toss either in the garbage, or in a bag to send to Goodwill. Then, mark a time on your calendar for next week to tackle two of the worst offenders in your kitchen. Maybe it’s the out of control tupperware drawer. Or, it might be the raunchy fridge shelves. When you take on chores in small doses to start, they become much more attainable!
1- Clear out that Closet! – Go up and grab 5 items that you have not worn in the last year. Put in a bag to send to Goodwill, or give away to a friend or person in need. There. Done. Easy, right? Now, put a date on the calendar for 2 weeks from now to go through the rest of your closet (and the other members of your family’s closets). This will not be as easy, but it will feel so good afterwards – and trust me, you won’t miss a thing!
2-“Screw the dishes” – Isn’t this tip for the kitchen? No. It’s for the bedroom! By the time the household chores are done each day, and the kids are put to bed, we often can be too tired to have any interaction with our spouse, let alone any romantic action. Do yourself, and your marriage a huge favor, and “screw the dishes”. Skip the daily chore, and lock yourself in your bedroom with your spouse. Allow yourself time to chat and unwind with them, initiate a foot or back rub – whatever they like. Trust me – if you choose to “screw the dishes”, in order to ahem, “screw” your spouse… they will certainly be willing to help you pick up the slack later…
1. Eat together – This truly has become a lost art. Busy is the new norm. It is nothing out of the ordinary for families to shovel food into their mouths on the way out the door to Football practice, or drive through the local junk…ahem, I mean fast food restaurant on their way to gymnastics. I am all for saying “no” a bit more and leaving room in our weeks for each other. The benefits of a family being in their home around the table together are proven. Eating around the table together means better grades for older kids, a sense of security for younger kids, a place to reconnect after a long day, a chance for kids to learn communication skills, a higher chance that you’ll eat your veggies and more! The benefits far outweigh the loss of an extra curricular here and there. A family that eats together, sticks together. The dining table is where I have my kid’s attention (mostly), and am able to initiate meaningful and directive conversation. I am intentional to get them talking about their day and guide them in the right direction for the next.
2. – Be intentional with your children’s moral and spiritual health. -So often we can spend all of our parenting energy in reactionary mode more than with proactive instruction. A great baby and child rearing book series I’ve referred to over the years has reminded me that (in any stage of life), it is much easier to spend time and effort teaching and guiding, rather than correcting behaviors and attitudes. If you aren’t the one guiding them, you’re leaving it up to their friends, teachers, Taylor Swift and all of Hollywood. The table is one great place for intentional parenting, but it can happen anywhere – the van ride to school or while laying down before bedtime. The important thing is that you are intentional! My new book Table Talk is one tool you can use to teach life principles and faith based teaching done in a fun way that the kids will actually love. Even if this is not your cup of tea, do something THIS WEEK that will help shape their moral compass!
1. TAKE THE BATH you’ve been intending to take for 14 years now. -Rather than wait another decade until timing is right and the stars all align, take that frigging bath! Enjoy a half hour of peace and quiet – even while the kids are still up! I know two women who have seven kids – yup SEVEN. One of them was my Grandma June, and the other is one of my best friend’s mother. BOTH ladies had something in common (other than the seven kids) – they took a bath each night! I am willing to bet this one luxury they kept for themselves held insanity at bay. Maybe a bath isn’t your thing – maybe it’s just locking yourself in the bathroom and slowly sipping on a tea…or plucking your neglected eyebrows – go in and do it, and don’t feel guilty! Take care of yourself!
2. Minimize the meds. -Now that you’ve taken that rejuvenating bath, you’re ready for a 5 minute task that is a really important one, but gets put to the way side. Open up your medicine cabinet. Look at every date on every bottle – toss the ones that expired – especially the ones that expired in 1992. You’ll rest easy knowing that one of the most important cupboards in your house is organized.
1. Turn the TV off and open up the book. -Never have I ever regretted reading a good book. In fact, when I finish, I almost always say “I should read more often”. There are some life changing books out there, people. My thoughts, actions, attitudes, mothering, daily routines and choices… they’ve almost always come from a good book. And, guess what – you’re not ever gonna get any great wisdom from “The Housewives of Orange County”… Nope. Not even the wives in New York or Atlanta. None. of. them.
2. Play uplifting music. -Maybe it’s just because my husband is a professional musician, but I find that music sets the tone in any space. If you want to create a party atmosphere, of course you know that some hoppin’ music is key to a party’s success. But, if you want a calm home, a loving home, a positive and happy home, music is key. The right sound track has the power to uplift a mood, calm crazy children, make chores a bit fun, and turn stressed out spouses into relaxed housemates…and even get them in “the mood”! I’ve even read that simply playing classical music can actually increase our IQ! Don’t just save the tunes for the party or Christmas time – enjoy the benefits of music every day! Whether it’s thirties and forties jazz, Ed Sheeran, Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling”, Pharrell’s song “Happy” or some type of worshipful music, pick what’s right to set the tone in your home.
Your kiddo’s bedrooms
1 – LISTEN to them. -I can’t get two words out of my boys during the day time, but bed time is when they won’t shut up. I want bedtime to be done at 8pm sharp. But, I may lose out on precious moments. Maybe you have a hard time squeezing information out of those vault-lipped kids too. What I have found is that when I don’t press an issue, eventually it will come up – and usually at bedtime. Be intentional to allow lots of time for bedtime routine – it is precious time. This may mean cutting some things out of the schedule. Again – evaluate what is truly important and be intentional to nurture those things.
2. -Purge the papers. -Take 5 mins to go through the pile of school papers that is mounting. I don’t know about you, but my son is a paper hoarder (he gets it from his Grandmother). He loves to draw and write, and he tosses tons of school papers into the corner of his room behind his door. It’s easy to keep junk piled up behind doors, under beds and in closets… but it feels SO much better when we clear out! Put a date on the calendar to clear out any other leaning towers of paper.
1. Budget to bless – Pull up your monthly budget, and look for any wiggle room. Maybe you can make due with one less movie ticket, a few less Starbucks, or maybe…just maybe you don’t need to buy the organic stuff this month. Maybe forget the pedicure, the gossip magazine…or say no to that indoor trampoline place that costs a fortune. You get the idea. Instead, here are a few fun ways you can give to another family in need, or simply just put a smile on someone’s face. When you involve your kids, they will learn that it really actually is more fun to give than receive! Be intentional about giving to others who can’t give back to you. It will make them happy, but it will bring you joy.
Through her book “The Broken Way” Ann Voscamp began a movement called “Be the Gift”. I love it! I took a few of her ideas and made an afternoon of doing “random acts of kindness” with my sons one day. We planned it all out, and had a blast – leaving dollar bills hidden on shelves of dollar stores, bringing donuts into the business across the street from us and paying for the car’s order behind us in the drive through line. Just one small act can radically change another person’s day for the better. Here is a comprehensive Random Acts of Kindness list of more ideas to get you started! Our family is also intentional to care for others in need on a regular basis. We make room in our budget for people who don’t have the privilege to even set a budget. We recognize that although we aren’t rich by North American standards, we’re the rich minority here on the planet. World Vision is a credible and reliable way that works for us. You can sponsor a child, buy a family an animal, and gift a class their school supplies for an entire year! If we aren’t intentional to give, the gift won’t be given and the need will not be met. I promise that you will receive much more in return than you could ever give!
2. See #2 in “Your Kiddo’s Bedroom” section. 😉
The Toy Room
1. Grab a box and gather the toys! – Listen clear and listen well – YOUR KIDS DO NOT NEED ALL THOSE TOYS! Much of the chaos in young families homes are because of the over abundance of toys! The mess of toys makes parents crazy. Also, the more kids have, the less they play well with what they have. Before I cleared out and cut back on toys, my son used to just walk around in circles not knowing what to play with, or spend his time looking for pieces to go with a certain set. Now, he sits and plays nicely – for a lot longer, because his attention is focused on that toy and his imagination and it isn’t cluttered and distracted by stuff. And frankly, the more they are given, the more spoiled and entitled children become (well, at least my children!). Trust me when I say that they won’t miss – or even notice the toys you take away. Only keep the things they truly love and play with regularly. Be intentional to purge toys at least twice a year – and especially before Christmas and birthdays.
2. Sit down and play with those kids. – Something I am learning is to intentionally invest time in my children now while they still want me, so that when they are older they will still want relationship with me. As much as I want to run and hide or turn the TV on when I’m wiped out from the day, I do my best to choose to be a “yes” mom, and sit at the table and draw with my 5 year old, or play catch with my 9 yr old when they ask me to, because these are the moments that matter, and time is ticking.
1.- Get on that treadmill. – Yup. Just do it. I don’t care if it’s 5 minutes of walking – Nike has it right – just do it. You must make the choice to do something now in order to turn “one day” into “day one”. We all know that thinking about or talking about getting healthy doesn’t make us healthy. Ladies, our butts will never ever shrink while we plunk them down on the couch and watch “The Biggest Loser”. We must be intentional to carve out crevices of our own day to get that workout in. So, get up, and go dust off that work out equipment and decide to use it for 5 minutes. You’ll find that over time, 5 will turn into 10 and 10 will turn into 30!
2.-Call a friend – This is HUGE. We rely so much on social media these days to connect with people, and yet we feel less connected with one another and more alone than ever. That is because we, as humans have a need for true heart connection, and that just cannot happen via our smart phones. So, find a quiet spot – even if that’s your dingy basement, or hiding in your cold garage in the car, take 20 minutes to call an old friend. You will be so very glad you did.
So, there ya go! Just some random tips that I have learned along the way make all the difference in my home. When we clear out the junk, say “no” more often, turn off the tube and are intentional about nurturing what’s truly important in life, we will feel less crazy, more fulfilled and there will be room in our lives for the good things. Even if the things on this list doesn’t jive with you, I hope it is motivation for you to evaluate what is truly important to you, and then take intentional steps to realize those things! Cheers to a more organized, happy and peaceful home,
ABOUT THE BLOGGER:
Author, blogger and speaker Danielle Macaulay loves the spa (who doesn’t?), cooking up a storm in the kitchen, running (because of all the cooking) dating her cute and talented hubby, recording artist, Dan Macaulay (shameless plug – www.danmacaulay.com) and reading with her adorable boys, Keaton and Braden. She just released her first faith-based book – a fun family meal time devotional, “Table Talk”, and provides regular nutrition for both your body and soul at her popular blog spot www.frommilktomeat.com. Visit her site for yummy and healthy recipes, and a pot luck of “soul food” entries that will encourage and inspire you!
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