{Covid-19} So many pandemic changes – part 2

We started talking about all the changes that we need to consider due to the pandemic last week. Read part 1 here.

And a huge disclaimer – I know that we are fortunate that our jobs have been secure thus far. If your income has been affected, I’m sorry – that completely sucks.

5. House/ external environment

I’ve told myself, since we’re not travelling, we might as well spend some of that money on our house so that we’re as comfortable and happy here as we can be.

To that end, I’ve had a handyman in to fix 6 little things, a plumber came to sort out some minor annoyances before they become big things, my garden is looking good for now (Jhb has no winter rainfall so the garden is decent) and my house is fairly deep-cleaned as my domestic worker is back for 40% of our pre-covid arrangement, which is actually why I can blog and am not cleaning!

We sealed some windows and had carpets replaced (two years later than I planned!) and now I just need a painter to come and paint my downstairs and I think we’ll be good for a while again.

More importantly than projects, we’ve moved things around in the house so that the entire space works better for this new C19 life. That couch on the left is no longer there – I needed it there for the workshops but since those are no longer happening, we’ve moved it upstairs to the pyjama lounge so the kids can relax near us while we’re working.

Zumba in my study

6. Exercising

In the beginning of the lockdown, exercise was a substitute as we waited for “things to return to normal”. Now that we realise this is how it’s going to be for a long time, and things are not going to return to normal for a long, long time, and we’re working from home so are far more sedentary, I have personally realised that I need to either get happy about my methods of exercise, or change them.

Zumba has been keeping me sane, I’ve found I really do not like ballet via Zoom though (I really do go for the whole sensory experience) and I love going for a walk to clear my head some evenings after work, especially now during autumn and winter. I’m under no illusion that when it gets too hot in Jhb, I’ll hate walking again and may have to do more Zumba classes, or maybe ballet will start looking exciting again šŸ˜‰

thank goodness for kindle books and scribd

7. Spending

Oh, this is a big one. I’ve had a couple of discussions on Instagram because I’m honestly fascinated by all these people who are saving money.

Yes, we’re not spending as much on petrol but our food has increased so, so much with all of us here all the time, snacking, eating, treating ourselves with food and the occasional takeaway.

We’ve had to upgrade our internet and with that comes an increased monthly expense – the speeds are not sufficient with two people working full-time, in meetings, and two children trying to also access the internet for their schooling.

I’m going to deal with clothes properly in a separate post but is there a need to buy clothes any more? I have to probably keep four work outfits for summer and four for winter, and even that is plenty. I have bought some clothes during the last four months – a sports bra, slippers and socks, so I clearly have enough clothes.

So what am I spending some money on? Scribd, Zumba, books and some toiletries.

Our repo rate (the rate that the banks loan money to people for houses) has dropped a number of times since lockdown to aid the economy. I’ve been sensible and increased our bond payments every time. I let the actual payment the bank requires go off on the 1st of the month, and then we pay in extra on the 14th. Let’s face it – things could change any day and it would be good to have a bit cushioned away for an emergency.

This photo was taken in February, and I’m so glad we made time to get together when we had the chance.

8. Socials

I would almost always rather meet up in person than spend time on a call, but calls and Teams/ Zoom meetings have been a delightful way to connect with my friends.

I do have some concern for some of my friendships because I’ll be honest – it does feel rather like I’m stoking an awful lot of fires these days.

Even our bookclub has taken a knock – the nice thing about not everyone pitching is that you can really connect better with the ones who are there (and this is what I tell myself). The bad thing is it is an anchor during the month to connect with many friends at one time and if those friends don’t pitch, I don’t always have the time or inclination (or, enneagram 1!) feel like it’s my job anymore to always be the gatherer. I’m not sure if anyone can relate?

Tell me, how has the pandemic affected these four areas of your life?

Project – declutter bookshelf

Let’s take a break from all the Covid-19 talk and focus on a fun, pretty project you could do during the workdays, if you’re not working, or on the weekend if you want a break from boring things like laundry.

I had a goal this year – to go through my bookshelf and declutter anything I no longer wanted to read. So this is it – these are all the books I own, other than the ones that live on my Kindle.

Here’s what I did and suggest you might like to do too:

  • If there are books a friend has loaned you and you know you’re not going to read them, return them. If you keep them, they start to guilt you everytime you look at them. None of us needs that guilt.
  • Return any books to their owners that you have read. See the brown wrapped book? Ready to go to a friend when I can next see her.
  • Pick up and go through each and every book on your shelf and make two piles: those you have read and those you have not read.
  • For the ones you have read, honestly answer these questions:
    • Do I love this book so much I want to keep it? Might I re-read it? Yes – keep. No – toss aside (I only keep books I LOVE and that rate an 8-10/10)
  • For the ones you have not read, answer these questions:
    • Am I likely to ever want to pick this book up to read? Yes – keep. No – toss aside
    • Was I gifted a book I don’t want to read, but am keeping because the person is a special friend or family member? Hold the book, think positive thoughts and toss aside.
    • The not-sure bunch. Ask yourself, is this a title I want to take with me into my future? Here’s where it’s easy to let go (most things I know full well I am never going to read).

Those tips helped me a bunch. I now have books on my shelf I know I want to read and a lovely pile of books waiting downstairs to donate to my local library.

If you choose to go through your books, please send me pictures or better still, post your pics to Instagram or Facebook and tag me to come see.

Weekend routines and rhythms

We are all different personalities and need different rhythms for our weekends to feel like they were good ones.

What is important and consistent across personality types is for all of us to decide for ourselves what the components are that will make a weekend feel successful, and then incorporate those elements into our days.

This will also differ according to different times and life stages, e.g. in winter I cook more because that feels more life-giving to me, but in summer I only want to be in the kitchen a very short time.

Let’s look at some components of a successful weekend, shall we?

church – anchor event

1. Anchor events and scheduled activities

In this section, extroverts will typically want to have more time spent with other people where introverts will be happier by themselves.

I have at least three anchor events on most weekends – a tea with a friend after work on Fridays, Saturday morning Zumba and Sunday morning church. Those things are scheduled and in my diary, and can move, but probably won’t.

2. Downtime

We all need downtime, but what downtime looks like for you may differ to the next person.

Some people relax by reading on the couch; others relax by going for a long run. You do you.

3. Chores

Let’s face it – we all look forward to getting some nagging things off the to-do list and I, as an enneagram 1, like nothing more than to potter and set things in order in my home. The week is often for keeping the house ticking over and weekends are when I (and you) can devote a longer period of time to a little deeper cleaning or organising, like swopping summer and winter clothes, decluttering your kitchen cupboards, etc.

4. Planning

This only has to take 20 – 30 minutes but is so useful if done consistently. I know some couples who take time on a Friday night to plan for the week ahead. I do my planning in two stages – quickly on a Friday night or Saturday morning I plan the menu for the week ahead and write out the shopping list, and then on a Sunday afternoon, I take 5 – 10 minutes to review and plan for the week ahead. On very busy weekends, I might push the planning to a Monday night but I like to still get it done.

I need to get out once a day at least or else I get cabin fever šŸ˜‰ but other than that, I like to both relax and get things done around the house every weekend. This goes out the window if I have a heat headache but if I’m well, that sounds like the perfect weekend for me.

I’m flexible around my loose plan (typical upholder!) but I do need those first three components to be present, and I feel like I’m winning for the next week too if I get my planning done.

What are the components for you to feel like you’ve had a successful weekend?

A 2020 list with a difference – a lot more fun

Before we start, I have two questions for you:

This year I’m doing two lists – a standard list with normal (to me) goals and a fun list too, because I realise that I’m very serious and if I don’t intentionally plan for fun, it won’t just happen. I was especially inspired by my friend, Julia, who had a 19 in 2019 list full of super fun things.

I know this sounds crazy to the non-upholders but remember, discipline is an upholder’s freedom.

Onto the list…

  1. Have a lime milkshake
  2. Go for Milky Lane waffles (I have not had either of these two for more than 10 years) with all the syrups!
  3. Have a tea party for my friends (I’m not having a birthday lunch this year)
  4. Take Connor out for a supper date
  5. Take Kendra out for a supper date
  6. Make 3-ingredient scones with Kendra
  7. Pay for someone else’s groceries
  8. Volunteer to take someone’s photos
  9. Take a holiday outside South Africa
  10. Take the red city bus tour
  11. Teach a workshop using photography as a coaching tool (that sounds very boring but it would be super fun!) and then host a photo walk
  12. Go watch a fun, girly movie completely by myself
  13. Go play with my big camera on a walk once a month
  14. Go see a concert with Dion
  15. Time away with D
  16. Run a Four Tendencies workshop, for children
  17. Buy a dishwasher
  18. Go to Simply Asia with Angie
  19. Organise Dion’s desk (let’s be honest; this is going to be the MOST fun of all)
  20. Get a carpenter to do a cupboard/ shelf for the tumble dryer

Are you inspired yet? I know people who have made lists of places to eat in their city, other people have made lists of books to read or movies to watch, still others have made lists of friend dates. All of these are excellent ideas, or you can go the old-fashioned way of normal goals. I’ve done the best of both with two lists šŸ™‚

What will you do? Care to share a couple of your goals with me?

PS I have done some fabulous start-of-year coaching sessions to help people strategise and set goals for the year. Contact me if you’d like to book a once-off 45-minute session for $50, or you can book a coaching package that suits your needs.

{planning} introducing my 2020 diary

2020 diary

Compared to 2018’s back and forth on the subject of my 2019 diary, I am so pleased that this year there was none of that nonsense.

You can read about my 2019 diary here. Interestingly, it’s the most popular post in November 2018 of the 6 months since May 2018! And here are pictures of my 2019 diary in action on Instagram.

I saw all the diaries in my local bookshop, noticed a few that I liked but one stood out – this one. I thought about it for a few days and then went back to get it.

2020 diary

Things I love in a diary are:

  • goals page at the front, and one for each month
  • monthly events calendar at a glance
  • weekly format
  • not too big to carry around

This diary had all of these features and the best is that I’ve already played around with the same format in 2018, so I know it works for me.

I also like how it zips up so I can carry a thin bullet journal with me and zip the whole lot up so that it stays contained in my handbag.

2020 diary

For those who are new to me, I love a weekly planner because my brain thinks in weeks and no matter how pretty the daily planners are, I’d never use them as well as I use a weekly planner.

I also like that this diary has a prayer list if you’re so inclined (you can use it for your weekly intentions, which is almost the same thing!), your priorities for the week and the notes for the week section which I use for some of my weekend to-dos.

Perhaps this will be the year I’ll be able to restrict all my weekend to-dos to that one little section? šŸ™‚

2020 diary

I prepared my diary by adding dates, school terms, public holidays, etc. and I started my to-dos yesterday too.

Do you use a diary? Which one are you using this year?

Here’s a useful post to help you make decisions if you haven’t decided yet.

{organising} My house to-do list: an update

This year, as part of my 19 in 2019 goals, I put a fair number of things on my house to-do list.

Sadly, they were all a bit boring but they were necessary to my peace of mind:

  1. Get rid of all excess furniture (still not completely done – I have a table and chairs in the pool room to sell but I have had no takers yet on Facebook!)

2. Replace carpets upstairs and on stairs (two large spaces)

3. Damp proof the roof

4. Get blinds for the poolroom

As is often the case with house things, other things popped up. One morning after a really terrible storm (Johannesburg had many of these during the rainy season this year), we noticed that many of our wooden windows were leaking, so this item had to replace the carpets which would be nice but was an item on my list purely for cosmetic reasons. With our recent rains, my windows are leaking again and of course, the contractor is not answering my messages and I am tired, so tired of fighting with people to do their jobs properly. Please let me know if you have a good wooden windows person!

However, I was pleasantly surprised that the roof, while an enormous job, was not at all a painful task to endure as it was done in about 3 days and the contractor we used was AMAZING!

The blinds are also done and look great… so we’re inching closer to my vision for the space.

Now I just have to sell the excess furniture. Anyone looking to buy a table and chairs in good, second hand condition? šŸ™‚

(on the bright side, I looked over last year’s post and eureka! I found my reading chair for the pyjama lounge during the Black Friday sales)

I think the lessons I learnt from these four items on my house to-do list are…

  • allow some money for the expected, but unexpected expenses, of which I should know better because there is always something
  • put fun things on the list too
  • finish one space first so that there’s a sense of completion (I intend to do this next year with the pool room) and you can enjoy the space

Do you allocate a certain number of things to do in your house every year? Do you wing it? Do you play it by ear? How do you approach house maintenance?

{time} 5 parts to a good evening routine

I have mentioned a time or two before that I’m no good in the morning because I’m a night owl.

This is exactly why I’ve set up my environment for success by doing everything I possibly can to prepare for my day the night before. Here are the building blocks of my evening routine:

lunch

Pack lunch

I typically pack mine and the kids’ lunches ( I don’t always pack theirs) while I’m preparing another meal. The kitchen is already untidy with various foods out so I might as well use the time so that there’s only one clean-up session instead of two.

Choose clothes

Years ago I realized that if I chose my clothes in the morning, I took much longer than if I simply chose and set them out at night.

If I do this, I can still change my mind if I really don’t feel like wearing whatever I set out, but at least I have some idea of where to start.

choose clothes

Set out all my bags and things that need to go to work with me.

Part of being prepared for the next day is to have all my things ready to go.

I have my handbag and laptop bag ready, together with any errand bags, in case I need to drop books off at the library, do a return at the shops, etc.

Family connection time

On the nights I have a 6pm exercise class, I try to spend time with the kids before I leave, otherwise I might only see them right at the end of their supper as they’re preparing for bed.

Other than those nights, we have supper together as a family every evening and then I clean the kitchen while Dion starts the bedtime routine (teeth, Bible, other reading).

I want to throw out a word of caution here – look at the time you spend with your kids throughout the week, not just that day, otherwise you’re likely to feel demotivated if you have a busy couple of evenings. I had someone in my workshops recently who said she couldn’t exercise after work because then she’d never see her kids. We explored it a bit and she realised that she spent plenty of time with them in the mornings and most evenings too. Bedtime is not the only connection time you have.

reading

Time for me

I have a mostly daily rhythm which I try to adhere to, because it serves me so well. I exercise two nights a week, do photos some nights, read for extended periods some nights, and do some side hustle work (coaching, workshop prep, blogging) some nights too.

There are also some nights when I update my budget or catch up with life admin, almost like a power hour. It evens out generally but it becomes very clear really quickly when I need some time to catch up with life because my wallet will be bulging with receipts, or my desk has too much stuff on it, etc. I try to pay close attention to the visible signs that I need some “house admin” time.

If you’re a night owl too, what forms part of your evening routines and rhythms?

PS here’s where you can catch up reading about my morning routine.

{organising} One in, one out

One in, one out is a famous organising concept. It makes sense too in that for every one thing you bring into your house, you let go of one thing.

That only works if your house was streamlined to start off with and you’re very diligent applying this concept throughout your home, even with kids!

As I wrote a few weeks ago, I really like the idea of one in, more than one out just to try and keep on top of the stuff.

But let’s talk about where we could practically apply this concept:

  1. Time

Every time you add one more thing to your plate, unless that plate was very empty to start off with, think about what you can eliminate.

E.g. if you sign up for a new committee and it meets once a week, will your exercise routine suffer?

Money

2. Money

If you get an increase or a bonus, think about where you can be generous. Can you increase your giving at church? Can you sponsor a child through World Vision or Compassion International? Can you pay more money into your retirement savings or unit trusts?

Something fun to try – even if you need all your increase just to keep up with inflation, just buy a bag of rice or pasta every shopping trip and give it to someone once you’re outside the store, or pop into the donation boxes I see in many stores. Recently Dischem (a pharmacy franchise in South Africa) had a big donation box for sanitary pads. The cashiers asked as I was paying for my toiletries if I’d like to pay for a pack for the box. Of course I said yes. It was so easy for me and yet adds up to a whole bunch of goodness when donated to a school.

3. Digital files

It’s so easy to download freebie printable after freebie printable. I understand – I myself offer about 7 freebies when you sign up to my mailing list. But… for each thing you download, ask yourself if you use it? Or if you’re not sure yet, download, and then delete something else you know you’re not using.

It may help to have a folder called “freebie printables” so you can see them all together in one place.

When you download a new app, see if there’s another you’re not using and can delete.

4. Photos

We all take too many photos because it’s so easy on our smartphones. I therefore recommend the Daily Delete, which Becky Higgins made famous.

Every night, go through that day’s photos and delete, delete, delete. You don’t need 30 photos of the same event unless you captured 30 different things.

If you don’t have a chance to do this every night, then play a game with yourself and every time you wait for the kettle to boil, see if you can delete 10 pics.

5. Stuff

This is the most obvious part. Definitely get yourself trained to look through your stuff after each shopping trip. When I buy new T-shirts, I train myself to “joy check” the rest of them to see which I can donate. Sometimes I don’t want to donate a t-shirt, but I do see something else that can go, so out it goes.

I actually go so far as to leave my new things on the bench at the foot of my bed until I decide what will leave, because I simply never want to live an overstuffed life.

Which of these is easy for you? Which will need more thought? Do share your tips in the comments so I can learn from you.

{time} Let’s talk about morning routines… and a peek into my own

Let’s start by talking about my morning routine and then we’ll talk about what you might want in a morning routine.

Sunrise

Why should we even have a morning routine?

A morning routine sets you up for the day ahead to ensure a successful day. Depending on your day, your morning routine might vary but I’d suggest that you’d need clothes, food and stuff for the day as the three components, no matter what you have on the agenda.

But let’s talk about my morning routine:

Work at office days

I wake up, shower, dress, grab my things and travel to work šŸ™‚

Work from home day

This one is a little slower, by design.

I wake, play on my phone, read, and then shower, dress and go to work which is about 15 steps from my bedroom.

Work life

Weekend days

Saturdays – I roll out of bed, put on my gym clothes, brush my teeth and put on lipstick (always with the lipstick!), and go to gym.

Sundays – look exactly the same as the work at office days, except… I go to church

You’ll notice that there’s very little I do in the morning and that is very intentional; it’s because I’m not a morning person so I set up my life such that I don’t have to think very much in the morning.

If I had my way, no one would even talk to me much before 9 am.

I can do this because all my preparation happens in the evening.

work prep

What might you include in your morning routine?

  • Choosing clothes for yourself and your kids (your husband can choose his own clothes!)
  • Making lunch for yourself if you work outside the home (this might even be a good idea if you work from home so you eat a planned meal and don’t just grab something when you’re hungry)
  • Setting out anything that has to go with you (running errands on the way to or from work)
  • Setting out gym bag (if you exercise on the way to or from work)
  • Popping food in the slow cooker or defrosting meat

What is included in your morning routine that I haven’t even considered? Do you have a minimal routine like me because you’re also not a morning person?

{mindset} The DREAM method of organising Christmas

Christmas cards

I see Christmas trees and lights up in the shops, and yes, I’ve already had two Christmas mince pies, so I guess it’s time to talk about Christmas.

For a change, let’s approach it another way by referencing my DREAM method to organise your Christmas.

D ream

What is your dream for Christmas? What is your vision? What do you envision when you think of Christmas? Be sure to include your family’s vision and dream too – it’s often a lot more scaled-down than we imagine.

R emove

Remove everything from your mind that does not contribute to that vision. What can you remove that you thought you couldn’t? Full-on decor? Lights outside? Too much cooking? Most of the gifts? All the cards? šŸ™‚

Christmas decor

E liminate

Eliminate all but the necessary. If the kids don’t want to make cards any more (like my kids!), then don’t. There is no Christmas cheer from forcing anyone to participate if they don’t want to.

Last year I had on my list to get festive doughnuts from Krispy Kreme. The kids told me they actually only like the very plain glazed ones.

A rrange

Arrange all the elements you’re keeping in a way that works for your family. If you have a family of introverts, do not jam-pack the schedule because your introverts need time to relax, lots of time to relax. In the same way, do allow the extroverts time to get out, mingle, and see all the pretty lights šŸ™‚

Do, however, put the things you’re keeping on a visible schedule to be sure you will enjoy those events. Now’s the time to speak up and encourage each family member to think of the one or two things they absolutely love about the season so that you can arrange it in plenty of time.

Christmas meal

M aintain

Maintain a good spirit through it all. The reason for the season is not to be grumpy because people only want to do 3 things versus your 10 things.

Often we have a not-so-enjoyable time because our expectations vary so greatly from those of our family’s. Adapt and remember it’s better to do less with a grateful heart than be running around, stressed about “getting it all done”.

And now, I need to start making my very short list of my DREAM Christmas. Usually my list only has the Carols by Candlelight on it, decorating the house while listening to Michael Buble and Mariah Carey, and reading plenty of Christmas-themed books.

What’s on your DREAM Christmas list?

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