When life throws you curveballs

A reader recently sent me a question asking what my suggestions were for her and for other readers who get thrown from their usual routines by life’s curveballs.

I think this is a great question because she’s right – we all have things that throw us off track:

  • busy time periods at work (month-end/ year-end/ closing out a project/ going live with other projects, etc.)
  • busy periods in our kids’ lives (concert week, recitals or plays)
  • any illness (usually means kids or parents not sleeping)
  • going on holiday (lovely to be away but re-entry can be tough)
  • any out-of-the-ordinary happening that messes with your routine

I’ll share with you my top 3 ways to get back on track:

  1. Lower my expectations

That seems counter-intuitive but it makes complete sense for any of us control freaks.

I know after returning from a holiday that it’s going to take about a week for things to return to our normal. There’s no sense in getting stressed every day because there are piles of undone laundry, no food in the fridge and kids who can’t wake up for school because they’re too tired.

This one step is the biggest creator of peace of mind in the home.

  1. Get back to my basics as quickly as possible

For me, that’s making a menu plan and making sure we have enough fruit and vegetables in the house. I can almost always cobble meals together from the freezer or pantry; it’s when there aren’t enough apples or carrots that I start to twitch. Food is important to me and the family, so this is one of my priorities.

In essence, start putting your routines in order. When we get back from a holiday, I start unpacking immediately because I can’t stand things laying around on the floors and I’ve trained the kids to do the same. They’ve unpacked their own suitcases for the last 3 years.

  1. How can I restore order in the quickest, painless way?

I could take one day, generally the Sunday afterwards, and do laundry non-stop, and while that would be quick, it is not painless for me! I choose to do a daily load until we’re caught up instead as we generally only do the laundry about 3 – 4 times a week. It ends up being just a day or two longer, but knowing that there’s a plan in place helps a lot to keep me at peace!

If doing laundry isn’t painful for you, you might as well get it done quickly.

I read a blog once where the mom used to go to a laundromat, use 6 machines and just get all the laundry done if they had a curveball or two thrown at them. She said she’d take a book, relax for two hours and leave with everything up to date. That actually sounds splendid.

To summarise, I’d give myself two weeks to get back to my routines. Decide what is most important to you, and start doing that thing immediately (as you saw above, unpacking and food for me!).

Then build on those initial steps until your routine – and peace of mind – is restored once again.

What are the basics you rely on to get back on track?

Create the perfect Christmas… for you

Pssst – if you’re not on the newsletter list yet, do jump on. I’m sending out my 2017 Let’s Do This guide on Wednesday and another special offer.



A friend asked me if I had a Christmas planner she could use (I sent her the one I sent to my list last year) and then it occurred to me that I needed to get my head in gear for Christmas.

I find that as the years pass I get more and more low-key 🙂

You see, I love Christmas when it’s about just these things – Jesus, Christmas music, some pretty things up around the house, delicious food and spending time together with family and friends.

What does Christmas mean to you?

If you’re feeling a bit (or a lot) overwhelmed and just a little bit stressed at everything you have to do, maybe it’s time to stop and give yourself permission to slow down and get back to your basics.


Let’s get intentional:

  1. What are the top 3 – 5 things that make it “Christmas” for you?
  2. Are those the same things your family would say? Sometimes we’ve been doing things thinking the family enjoys it but they don’t really care 😮

Once you decide on your top things, embrace them and let the rest go.

Are you twitching?

It’s hugely freeing when you realise no-one cares about the tubs of biscuits you previously felt compelled to bake  and your friends don’t expect a gift at all.

I used to think up all these cute things to do (biscuits/ snacks/ etc.) for friend gifts and I realised that nobody even cares about any of it. Just because I would love something from someone else’s kitchen doesn’t mean that others feel the same.

I still do some baking….. especially for those I’m going to see (maybe 3 – 4 people) but it’s now an extension of the baking for my own family and not days and days of Baking for Presents!


Here’s your Christmas thought plan (not action plan, unless the item is on your Top Five list)


Decide, together with your family, on any activities you want to do, etc. baking, church, plays, seeing the lights, theatre, ballet, etc.

Christmas cards

Will you be sending any cards this year? Do you send them via the mail/ Facebook/ email? (I’m having a crafternoon with a few friends on Saturday and I’ll be making some Christmas cards, killing three birds with one stone – creating, having quality time with friends and knocking out some of those cards for posting)

Christmas gifts

Will you be giving gifts this year? Are you making gifts or are you buying them all? What is your gift-giving budget? If you have family or friends in another city, use the Aramex courier bags in Pick and Pay stores. I’ve used them a couple of times and they’re the best. Pop in the cubby at PnP by 3 pm and they’re at your destination the following day before 12. It’s like magic 🙂


Christmas Day

Where will you spend the day? Who will cook which parts of the meal?

My one friend always says that they have the loveliest, no-stress Christmas meals because they keep it easy – two chickens, tons of salads and desserts.


Do you put up a tree? (Two friends don’t even take theirs down ;)) When do you want to put up the tree? Is it a family activity? Do you decorate every room? How much decor feels like enough for you this year?

The shops have the prettiest things every year and I adore it all. But I take a deep breath and remind myself of my (now) three boxes of stuff….. and my one in, one out rule.

Also, this house, while bigger, doesn’t seem to have as much wall space. It’s all the windows looking out on the view!

Still I will take a few photos and walk you through parts of my house next week.

Has this helped you think through Christmas? Tell me what made your top 5 list.

Remember it’s good to let go so you can focus on what’s most important to you!


Edited to add this PS here is a great Christmas post I just read from Memories on Clover Lane

Free 2016 goals pack

It’s that time of the year (my favourite time!) when we talk goals, intentions, word of the year and other such good things.

I’ve updated my goals pack and it will be sent to you automatically when you sign up to my new mailing list.


2016 Let's do these goals | www.organisingqueen.com

I like to print it in booklet form – it saves paper and is cuter 🙂

Subscribe to my mailing list

2016 Let's do these goals | www.organisingqueen.com

If you haven’t yet signed up, what are you waiting for?

The best thing about this is the 2015 review because you can’t move forward til you take stock…

Share this blog link with a friend and make a date to virtually work on them together.

PS for much more detailed how-to on goals, you have 4 days left to grab my goals products before I close the store. Here you go – discount code CLOSINGDOWN gets you 50% off.

What does freedom mean to you?

Happy Freedom Day, fellow South Africans.

Freedom | www.OrganisingQueen.com

Freedom is one of my highest values and it is therefore very important to me that I live, expressing this value in my life.

Coaching prompts

  • Do you know what your highest values are?
  • Are you living them?
  • What does time freedom mean to you?
  • What does creative freedom mean to you?
  • What does financial freedom mean to you?

I have a special, new e-course launching on 4 May. It’s called Discover yourself and is a super-fun and insightful course.

Discover yourself

We’re going to talk more about these kinds of things, like your values, your passions, what makes you tick, figuring out your definition for success, and so on.

I can safely say you’re going to love it. I used to run this workshop live years ago and have taken more than 50 people through the content.

Look out for the announcement next week – there’s an early bird special to reward those who take action 🙂

So, what does freedom mean to you?

{Weekend inspiration} Phone stacking

I’m listening to an audio book at the moment. Thrive by Ariana Huffington.

I’m still trying to figure out my groove with these audio books but while that’s happening, I keep a notebook on the seat next to me in the car and jot down a few keywords that will hopefully help me to remember what I was thinking afterwards when I try to blog about it.

I said hopefully because the other day I looked in my work notebook and I had absolutely no idea what my own notes meant 😮

Phone stacking | www.OrganisingQueen.com

In talking about being addicted to our phones, she mentioned a new thing which I think is a fabulous idea.

Apparently when a group of people get together for supper/ lunch/ whatever, everyone tosses their phone onto the middle of the table. The first one who grabs their phone to do anything – take a call, send a message, take a photo, etc – has to pick up the bill for the whole table.

Fabulous idea to keep focussed on connecting with friends or family, and not on the devices.

Phone stacking | www.OrganisingQueen.com

I often forget to take out my phone because of too much talking but I’ve got to confess – if the light is perfect and the food looks photogenic, I’m usually the one taking a picture. I won’t post it to Instagram right there and then (unless the friend I’m with goes to the bathroom), and sometimes not ever, but light + pretty = photo 🙂

Still, I really don’t like wasting money so if my friends and I agreed on rules like this, I’m sure I wouldn’t grab my phone.

What about you?

Would you be picking up the bill?

PS There are only 24 hours left til the pay what you want sale is over.

You know all those things you want to do?

You should go do them.

Every year as part of my goal-setting process, I print off the pages from Leonie’s planner and I go play with the 100 things to do this year pages.

You do know there’s no rule that says you can only do goal-setting in January, right? I start and end goals throughout the entire year.

In fact, I just started a new goal last week – to start a project with photos of doors captured on my photowalks. Some might say a quarter of the year is gone, what’s the point?

There’s plenty of point.

Live intentionally |www.organisingqueen.com

Kendra did ballet for one year and that was a push. She was not into it at all so she stopped and decided to do actionball instead.

I wanted to get some photos of her in her ballet clothes before she outgrew them so I put it on my list.

And then one not-so-very-cold winter’s day, we got her dressed up and headed for the gym (because I liked the beautiful light in one of the studios) to take some photos.

Do you know how these photos thrill me?

I love that I got photos of her in her ballet clothes, I love the light, I love that I can now take photos that I love, and I LOVE that I got to do something I wanted to do.

So those things that you want to do?

Go do them.

I need more time

I’ll help you create the time on the Help! I need more time course. It starts today – sign up now.

What are you waiting for?

If you don’t do something different, next year this time you’re still going to have a pile of books unread, your big kids’ baby books undone, and not know how to use your big, fancy camera.

Join me for Help! I need more time.

Today’s the last day to register.

“Pick my Brain” sessions for March – now open

Pick my brain | www.OrganisingQueen.com

I’ve had many requests from people to pick my brain.

Maybe you’re one of those thinking about it too?

I’ve decided to offer a limited number of “pick my brain” sessions every month.

We can talk on the phone or via Skype.

In the past, people have picked my brain on these kinds of issues:

– how to run a business while working full-time
– how do I write the book I know is inside of me?
– I’ve written my book. How do I get all the bits and pieces together so it gets Kindle-ised and up on Amazon, or ready for publishing?
– I want to start doing talks. How do I get clear on my message and how do I get my first talks booked?
– I would love to be a professional organiser. How do I get started? (this is very popular)
– how to save towards a big juicy goal like taking a sabbatical (like I did last year)

actually, the sky’s the limit!

Read more here.

Email and tell me when you want your session, I’ll invoice you via Paypal and we’re good to go.

(if you want the recording, tell me and I’ll arrange that for you too)

Looking forward to having 10 of you pick my brain soon.

Now what? Let’s do this – a new workshop

Some of my friends have said to me they’re very glad to see the back of 2014…

Some have been working throughout and haven’t had any time to think or process the end of 2014 and transition to 2015

Still others are a bit overwhelmed by all the goal-setting, resolutions and one word posts out there (if you’re on all the social media, your head must be bursting)

And others want to be more intentional but are not sure exactly how that works or where to start.

Good news for you!

Let's do this!

I’m launching a new workshop this month and you’re invited to join me.

For those who can come to a workshop in Johannesburg (if the dates don’t work for you, send me a mail to keep you on the “interested” list. there’s nothing special about January; you can start living intentionally anytime!)

For everyone else…

Please click through to those links and have a read.

Are you joining me?

{Organising} Travel with pre-school kids – my 3 top tips

We haven’t travelled internationally with our five-year-old twins yet, but we have travelled with them a lot locally.

We’ve driven to destinations by car and we’ve also flown… and I’ve found that these tips will work for both methods of transport.

Kids are unpredictable so yes, you have to be flexible but there’s a lot of things you can do to make sure they’re comfortable and that can make our lives easier and so I thought I should share things that work for us:

Travel with kids | www.organisingqueen.com

1. Food

We try and keep them eating the things they normally eat at home so that I know they will eat, and also, so that there are no new things to get used to.

We do have a couple of different options but I’ve found these are mostly for us, rather than for them. I once said to Connor, “but isn’t it boring to eat peanut butter every day?” and he said, “it’s not boring for me, Mummy”. Okay then, that’s very clear!

I like to involve the kids and give them choice but I do it in a sneaky way – I have my set meals but I’ll say should we have this or that for lunch, or what do you guys want for supper – this or that? They feel empowered but the meals were on the menu anyway, maybe just not for that specific day.

Super tip – whenever you’re out and about, have a snack for you and for them. This could be fruit and water on the beach, or some cheese and crackers if you head to the shops. Again, this might just be my kids but they’re always better behaved when they’re not hungry.

Travel with kids | www.organisingqueen.com

2. Clothes

For our last 4 holidays, I’ve booked a self-catering place with a washing machine (and I take a scoop of laundry detergent with us) so we can do laundry half way through our holiday.

This means we take half the clothes we actually want with us.

I pack sets of clothes for the kids in individual ziploc bags so that when they wake in the mornings, they can choose a bag of clothes and get themselves dressed. I also try to choose clothes that all generally match (I believe this could be called unconscious capsuling :)) for easier mix-and-matching.

We generally pack just two pairs of shoes.

Super tip – don’t pack a lot of toys. I pack less and less every time. For our last holiday I packed one notebook each, a set with a very thin activity pad, colouring book and stickers, and some pencil crayons and crayons. That’s it. And they still didn’t use all the items.


Travel with kids | www.organisingqueen.com

3. Routines

I find that kids like to know what will be happening next, or at least mine do, so we tell them what to expect.

Generally our “beach holiday” routine is wake, dress in swimsuits, breakfast, beach, back for showers and clean clothes, lunch, naps/ quiet time, another long walk on the beach (also known as Marcia’s photo time), relaxing in the flat, supper and bed.

If the weather’s not good, we do something else but we explain to our kids so they know what to expect.

Super tip – keep your expectations very low. I consider it a good day if there’s no tantrum or sulking, and if I get to have an hour of relaxation (photo walk, reading, beach time). Some days you might just get all the sun tan lotion on and get down on the beach when you have to go right back so your kids can use the loo. Low expectations will ensure you don’t freak out and still enjoy your holiday. If you expected to have 4 hours of beach time a day and your kids are in a miserable mood, you just won’t enjoy yourself. Don’t do that to yourself.

If you keep the big picture in mind which is to spend time together as a family at another destination (as my friend Kirsten says, “same circus, different tent”), you’ll enjoy your time together a lot more.

Are you going away during the December holidays?

What are your favourite tips for travelling with kids?

{Living intentionally} A simple Christmas

Before I start today’s post, let me quickly point you towards my apology at this post. Go have a read and then, don’t hesitate to book your place!

make it count workshop | OrganisingQueen.com

For the past couple of years, I’ve done an elaborate (for me!) Advent Calendar with 25 activities for the kids.

Granted, I’m clever so a lot of things we’d normally do would still go on the calendar, like buy presents with Mummy, buy presents with Daddy, put up Christmas tree, etc.

I also put up easy things to give us a breather like “go for a drive to look at the lights”, a really low-key, 15-minute activity.

A simple Christmas |www.OrganisingQueen.com

But this year our weekends have been really full and last weekend, I just thought about it and decided NO.

None of this crazy.

I took a piece of paper (not even a cute printable!!!) and wrote down what I want from Christmas – carols at a local shopping centre, and at church, make some Christmas biscuits (gingerbread men), do presents and a few cards, and maybe two crafty things if I’m inspired.

The children and Dion then added to this list things like watching a move at the “theatre” (Connor), and watching a movie at home while eating popcorn (Kendra), going to see the lights, and decorating the house and tree, and doing some secret shopping with each parent.

That’s it.

A simple Christmas |www.OrganisingQueen.com

That’s our little list for the next 25 days.

Best of all? We already crossed off two of those things this past weekend because the carols at the shopping centre and at church were early this year.

  1. Decorate house and tree
  2. Carols – shopping centre
  3. Carols and Christmas play at church
  4. Make gingerbread biscuits
  5. Wrap presents
  6. Make some cards for people we will see
  7. Drive around and look at the lights
  8. Movie – theatre
  9. Movie – home with popcorn
  10. Do two Christmas crafts with kids (did one already)
  11. Christmas shopping with Mummy
  12. Christmas shopping with Daddy
  13. Christmas service at church

I love simple Christmases.

I share this not to impress you or for you to feel sorry for my “poor kids” 😉 but to inspire you to let things go that you may be doing just because you think they should be done, or because you’re comparing yourself to your real, Facebook or Instafriends.

What are the must-dos on your list this Christmas?

PS if you’re wondering where my monthly goals post is…. I’ll do that post on Wednesday.

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