Entertaining Littles During Social Distancing

For the past few days, I’ve been having a lot of fun exploring activity ideas for my days with the boys.

Once you start looking around for ideas to teach or entertain your toddler and preschooler, it is an endless rabbit hole. There are so many amazing parent bloggers out there, with great ideas for activities. It’s incredibly helpful. I am a fun and silly parent, but ideas for crafts or sensory activities don’t come to me automatically. And I definitely benefit from the pro tips these bloggers provide. Many of them are current or former teachers, and have pro tips about how to set up these activities so that your kids are engaged and your house doesn’t get destroyed – both good things.

These are some of the activities we’ve tried out so far:

My favorite website so far has been Busy Toddler – such a great resource with so many fun ideas, and really easy to read and follow.

It’s been challenging, not being able to go out and about with the kids. They are pretty easy-going and have been fairly content, but I can tell there are times when they’re bored or feeling uninspired by the same old toys and activities. For them and for me, it’s been fun to break out a new and unexpected activity; they try out new things, they experiment, they figure out new and creative ways to play. It’s been really fun to find creative ideas for experiments and sensory play. Hoping to add to this list throughout the spring and summer.

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adulting · cleaning for beginners · habits · Uncategorized

Cleaning For Beginners

There is one new habit that we’ve been able to form since moving to our new home, and I have been amazed at how much happiness is brought me.

Let me start by explaining – we didn’t really clean at our old house. That probably sounds ridiculous to people who keep a clean and tidy household, but we really did the bare minimum. We’d wash our dishes – by hand, no dishwasher – eventually. When the floor started to drive Tamara crazy, she’d sweep it. When we knew we were having visitors, we’d deep clean the bathroom. But there was no regular cleaning schedule.

You’d think I’d be too embarrassed to admit this publicly, but I’m not. I have never been a neat and tidy person, and I have a pretty high tolerance for dirt, mud, and general disarray. Plus, at our last house, we were living on a farm, in an extremely old farmhouse that never gleamed no matter how much you cleaned. Keeping the house clean felt impossible. There was new mud and dirt coming in every day, and we had little time to do all the things we wanted and needed to do. I often sacrificed cleaning time for writing time, and I felt good about that.

Now that we’re in a new house and changing up our lifestyle, I feel a little differently about keeping things clean. First and foremost, I want to teach my kids good cleaning habits, and the best way is to teach them is to show them the different tasks that have to be done to keep a household clean and tidy. Secondly, I think I’ve been experiencing a level of low-grade stress due to having a cluttered and disorganized house. I really want to live a Marie Kondo-esque kind of life; I want to know exactly where everything is, because everything has a specific home in the house, and I don’t want to have or store a whole bunch of crap I don’t need. And I think it’s way easier to clean when the clutter is under control.

That said – it’s been hard, and we don’t have a system for cleaning yet. We’re still pretty busy, so I’ve just been quickly spot cleaning things like the bathroom sink or the toilet when I think of it. Things will slow down next month, and we’ll be able to get into a better routine then.

But for the moment, the habit that we have been maintaining successfully is cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. And it had made me SO happy.

It’s so simple. One of us cooks dinner – usually Tamara – and the other parent plays with the boys while that’s happening. We eat together as a family. Then, after dinner, one of us plays with the boys and the other parent cleans the kitchen. Sometimes we get the boys to ‘help’; Edgar does a decent job of wiping down the table and bringing dishes to the sink. Jonas likes to pretend he’s mopping. And when we’re done, there are dishes in the dishwasher, a clean kitchen table, clean floors, and leftovers put away.

I love it. The situation never gets so overwhelming that we’re going to have to spend an hour getting things clean, and I can enjoy my evenings and my mornings without staring at things in the kitchen thinking, I should really go clean that up.

ARE ALL OF THE HOUSEHOLD CHORES GOING TO BE AS SIMPLE AS THIS? I really, really hope so. I want to continue to prioritize writing, reading, and self-care, and I know cleaning and household maintenance take time. I’m okay with that.

JUST NOT TOO MUCH TIME. I’ve got stuff to do.

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Life In Boxes

We’re in! Our life is in boxes, and we still have a ton to get done at the old house. But we are living in our new home and loving it.

My blogging routine is still going to be a little off this week. I’m currently typing this on my phone, because we don’t have internet set up yet. And it still seems difficult to write about the topics that are most relevant to me at the moment: habits, routines, rituals, and my work toward living a minimalist lifestyle. We are slowly unpacking, and we need to buy a ton of things: towel racks, shower curtains, baby gates, furniture. Our family to do list is long, and the time we have available to tackle different tasks is limited.

So, I’m going to do my best to stick to my regular blogging schedule – posts on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Hopefully the posts will get more substantial as my internet access and mental energy improve.

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How To Slow Down & Be Intentional When Life Is Crazy Times Five

When I sat down to write this post and glanced at the title I’d written – how to slow down and be intentional when life is crazy times five – I literally laughed out loud.

There are times when I write blog posts that I think might be helpful to others. And then there are posts that are just about me throwing my hands up in the air and admitting that I have no expertise or insight to offer.

Life is crazy right now because a) we’re buying a house and moving to a new town, b) we’re closing up shop for a small business, c) my job is hectic and stressful lately, d) ugh packing ugh, and e) we’re just a regular ol’ family with two young kids.

We start the moving process on Friday – three days from today. And I’m experiencing anxiety in various forms. I’ve got did we buy the right house anxiety, I’ve got so much to do anxiety, and I have my entire life is in boxes anxiety. Yesterday Tamara asked me what would help me to destress this week.and I couldn’t come up with anything.

This morning, I have three ideas for getting through the next three days. Exercise; everyday self-care; and aggressive mindfulness.


You know how you can go off your exercise routine for a few days, and sort of still feel okay? But then a few more days go by, and then suddenly you feel lethargic, heavy, and like you’re busting out of your jeans? That’s where I am today. I don’t know how to squeeze it in this week, but I know that I always feel less stressed and more capable when my body feels strong and agile.


Eat well. Don’t overdo the caffeine. Take your time. I think that the little things are important during times of stress. I mean, they’re always important – but the impact that healthy choices can have on my mood is significant. Things like staying hydrated and maintaining a calm state of mind are going to help me this week.


When I am stressed – and sometimes when I’m not – I fall into the habit of listening to Netflix constantly in the background of my life. Recently, I’ve been listening to and watching old episodes of The Good Place – while I’m washing dishes, while I’m getting ready in the morning, while I’m making breakfast.

It’s not good.

I started listening to books about mindfulness last week, and I checked out a few books from the library. Then yesterday, it hit me – I know how to be mindful. I can totally do it. In fact, I do it all day long at work most days. I don’t need a book, and I don’t need to learn a new technique.

I just need to DECIDE to do it. I need to CHOOSE that I am going to be mindful.

We close on the house in three days. THREE DAYS – that’s not that long. I am going to attempt Aggressive Mindfulness – no background noise – for the next three days. I know it will help me, and three days is a short enough time that I think I can attempt it without feeling overwhelmed. Three days of doing one thing at a time fully.

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Life is crazy times five right now. And for me, one of the side effects of life craziness is a struggle to focus and figure out what to write about.

Usually, blog post topics just come to me. But right now, all I think about is packing. Once I’m home and the kids are in bed, I look around at things in the house and I think, Can I pack that yet?

Because we’re MOVING. To a new house. I still haven’t completely wrapped my head around that yet! And I’ve moved many times before – at least 10 times in the last 15 years, if not more. But – and this is important – I have never packed up my entire life and moved it to a new home while parenting two kids. I know everything’s going to get done, but the HOW of it all is not clear to me.

I’m sure I’ll write more about the new house and our homemaking goals eventually. But right now, as we sign paperwork and pack nervously, I don’t think I’ll want to write too much about the new house until everything is signed and sealed.

So then – what do I write about? I had lots of posts on deck related to habits, routines, and rhythms, but those are going to change when we move. And this move is going to be such a great opportunity to form new household and family routines. It seems silly to write about new school year habits when they’re all going to change in less than a month. (LESS THAN A MONTH.)

I expect to write a few posts checking in on how my self-care and stress level have been as the school year has started. (Spoiler Alert: they both could be better.) And I expect to have a few filler posts, mini check-ins or brief gratitude lists. The length and depth of my posts may vary until we’re more settled, but my goal is still to post twice weekly. Stay tuned!

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All The Things (June 2019)

This summer is off to an amazing start.

I’ve been getting lots of exercise, and I’ve been really happy with our plans and adventures for the first five days of summer.

When I looked back at my June goals, I noticed that I had not made much progress with my plans to have early morning grounding activities and an evening adulting hour. And, as always, that is okay. My goals are there to guide me, not to make me feel bad.

Here are all the things for June:

Things I’ve Been Reading: Currently I am on page 5 or 10 of about 6 different books! I think the number one contender for my attention is City Of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I just scooped up from the library yesterday. I just finished Recursion by Blake Crouch, which was good.

Things I’m Nervous About: Writing! I got some good work done on the novel last week, but bringing the novel back into focus just reminds me of how much work I still have to do. It’s not just the writing – it’s thinking through the entire plot and deciding about what’s going to happen and when it will happen. I want to work on it a little every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. But that can be really difficult!

Things I’ve Been Watching: Rewatching Seasons 1 and 2 of Veep. Also the Women’s World Cup!

Things I’m Grateful For: Seven years of sobriety, a beautiful start to my summer, a healthy family, a great new book to read, and a good night’s sleep in my future tonight.

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As Planned As It Gets

My summer is as planned out as it’s going to be, and I feel fine.

I originally thought I’d plan out our summer in pretty intricate detail. It would be a loose plan, and very flexible – but a plan with a detailed agenda and lots of fun things to check off the list. In fact, one of my June goals was: Make a big, awesome plan for my summer schedule, including a daily schedule for each day of the week (loose, but daily), and an overall calendar for the entire summer.

Yeah – that’s too much.

I am a planner, and yet not a planner at all. When I took the Myers Briggs personality test over a decade ago, I scored as a big-time P in the Judging vs. Perceiving category, which is all about how you deal with the world. The Js prefer a more structured and decided lifestyle while the Ps prefer a more flexible and adaptable lifestyle.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I think I’m still a P – but maybe not as big of a P as I used to be. Life has shown me that I’ve needed more structure, for my mental health, for my kids, and for just adulting in general. (Like, we can’t just roll out of bed and then grab coffee with a friend from college – not when we live in different states, work for a living, and have families and a bunch of other responsibilities!)

I’ve always thought that I should be a subcategory – Ps don’t make to-do lists and Js make them constantly, but what about people like me who a) love to make lists but b) either lose them or fail to check off the items on the list completely? That’s ME.

I am also someone who engages in Aggressive Summer Planning for a few weeks but then hits a wall and decides that the rest of my summer planning will be left to chance, spontaneity, and fate. We’ll see how it goes. Summer starts NOW!

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