7 Simple Swaps that Made Life Better

A lot of people I know went into 2020 with a keyword or a phrase that was going to embody their intention for the New Year. Mine hasn’t been a word per se, more of a feeling. I wanted this new year, new decade really, to be more intentional. To feel different. I wanted to stop celebrating the idea of being busy, and instead do every action with purpose. Not just the big ones, because the small ones add up to be big ones anyway. The changes we listed out below have made such a meaningful impact on our lives, and I think you’ll be surprised that some may take mere minutes to put into action:

  1. Eliminate the phrase “In 5 minutes”… As I get ready in the morning, Grey will be working on a new Magnatile creation, or waiting patiently with a stack of books nearby. And every morning without fail, he’ll ask for me to help put the finishing touches on the castle, or stop what I’m doing (mid-mascara) and read his new dinosaur book together. One day I did my usual “give me 5 minutes and I’m all yours”, and he slumped over and said, I know. You say that every day. What a gut punch. So that day I vowed not to say it again. Instead, I wash the concealer off my fingers, drop down and put a piece in place. Because the reality is, all he wants is five minutes. Then he’s on to the next, and I can finish getting ready. There’s enough time. I can’t tell you how much that little shift has mattered, to both of us.
  2. Buy a water bottle. This one I’m a little ashamed to write. I know I am late to the party on the whole eliminating single use plastic front, but I know how important it is, and I am committed to making it work. Jon kept coming home with the big pack of water bottles from Costco, and I kept up the habit by grabbing one every time I went out the door. I’d continue to fill it up for the next few days, but it still contributed to the problem. We bought these and haven’t used plastic since. My goal is to fill it twice per day, but I can feel a real change in my digestion and energy when I can down three.
  3. Do it now. This one has been a game changer for all of us. Jon was the first to put it into action, and once I saw the shifts for him, I made it a priority for me. If you have a load of laundry, do it first thing in the morning. Get it done now so it’s not on the list later on when you’re already beat from the day. Same with tiny chores. Have a basket of things that need to be brought upstairs and put away? Grab it on your way up and do it then. See that you’re running low on a cleaner or art supplies? Place the order on the spot. The three minutes it takes will free up the mental capacity to remember you have to do it later. Get the mail and see you have bills to pay? Open the app on your phone and pay it the second you get inside. Recycle the rest and you’re on to the next. It’s almost gotten to be “fun” seeing how fast I can knock off the little stuff.
  4. Inbox Zero Hero. I have no idea if I made that up or picked it up somewhere, but no matter, it is the goal I’m striving for each day. Even as I type this, I can see that there is a little (14) blinking in the tab above me signaling I have fourteen messages that need tending to. I’ve started setting times throughout the day where I check my email accounts, take action on the items needing attention, and flag the others to the folders they belong to. Then at all times, my main inbox should be at zero. It kind of goes back to the bullet above, do it now, and keeps me feeling (digital) clutter-free and free to get my creative juices flowing. While you’re at it, go into your spam folder and hit the handy button “unsubscribe” so you can start clearing that one out too.
  5. Tidy up. Managing the digital clutter helps, but studies show that physical clutter causes mental blocks too. Before we leave for the day, I make sure the kitchen is wiped down, and the robot has started vacuuming. When we get home, we immediately put shoes and coats in their cubbies, unpack purses and backpacks, and take care of any necessary permission slips or items that need to be put away. That’s part of the key – when everything has a proper place, you’ll find that you save yourself a whole lot of time…and stress. Make sure everyone in the family knows where things belong, not just you. That way, you can all work together to keep it running smoothly.
  6. Model Behavior. I’ve talked about this a few times here, where Jon and I make it a point to follow this lovely piece of parenting advice and put it into practice daily. But what about our behavior not necessarily directed toward Grey, but modeled in front of him. Like the time he had a few choice words for a driver who cut us off. Or when I got flustered with a work email and allowed it to change my mood. What if instead we posited that the driver must have made that choice because he needs to get home quickly for his family. Or I took a deep breath and made a conscious effort to let it go. I want to model good behavior not only for our little guy, but for myself, and everyone around us. We need more calm, and kindness. Not more snark and sass.
  7. Say Thank You. This one makes me teary just putting it on paper. I have always had a pretty strong gratitude practice. But things keep happening, little and big, to bring it to an even deeper place. This past weekend we ordered pizza and had a cozy night at home, and I remember excusing myself to go to the bathroom so I could have just a minute to say thank you. To God, to the Universe, just to acknowledge how lucky I was feeling for that moment, and that night together with our triangle. I don’t always escape to the bathroom to say thank you, by the way 😆. Going back to modeling the good stuff, we say it aloud often. But remembering to center myself; feel my beating heart, the strength of my knee coming back after surgery, really taking the time to appreciate the different colors in the sunrise. That little piece has completely changed the way we see each other, and everything around us.

Gah! It was a long one. If you’re still here, I’m so thankful you came by today. These little shifts have been B I G for our family. I love that they don’t cost a lot of money, don’t take up much time (rather save you some), and they’re something all of us can do to add more joy into our days. We’d love to hear what you would add to the list! Share with the Pack below, and have a spectacular week!

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