Keeping Plates Spinning
For much of my “mom life” I have frequently had one to many plates spinning at once – to the point when something caused my balance to falter, all the plates have come crashing down. The most obvious way to prevent this from happening is to limit the number of commitments and responsibilities you and your family have. Ideally, everything you and your family do should support your
personal and family mission statements. Anything, that is out of line with your personal values and mission are going to be more of a chore than a joy. Sometimes, life has a way of throwing in some extra plates that aren’t values or mission driven but just extra work. Thinks like my Celiac diagnosis, or that I likely will be needing extensive orthodontic work and possibly surgery, or the death of a loved on (or two). Often these extra plates overlap and if you are anything like me keeping plates spinning is hard work.
Your First and Best Tool
The Word “No.” It is the most effective barrier to over-committing, bringing in extra unwanted clutter, reducing waste and protecting your time. If you have a hard time with saying no practice in areas where the stakes are small: Freebies at public events are a great place to practice – say no to the extra swag. It will result in less stuff entering your home and give you practice. Then move up to higher stakes “No’s”: Like the poorly timed play date or the lunch with a “friend” that always has strings attached.
Honesty. Being honest with yourself about how much time you have, how much energy you have, and where your heart is at will help you know where best you should actually set out those measured “Yeses.” If you are an artist and your church asks if you can do the bookkeeping – it really is okay to pass it to someone else. It is much better to be honest – “I’m sorry I don’t think I would be a good fit for that task.” Is really all that you have to say.
The Supporting Players
Simplification Tools are crucial to keeping the plates spinning. Here are a few of my favorite simplification apps.
My bullet journal is a simplification tool – one that kinda gets duplicated into Cozi. I don’t keep everything in my bullet journal and not all that is in my bullet journal gets copied here. What does often end up in both places is specific dates, appointments and schedules that both my husband and I need to keep track of. My husband considers my bullet journal private and will not touch it. Cozi is turning into a life-saver when life gets a little harried, I get sick or as is happening this week – I get called away on extended-family matters.
I plug in all our schedules, to do lists, grocery lists, etc and like magic it is all getting done (well 95% of everything at least). It isn’t all being done by me either. With our to-do lists and grocery lists accessible to both of us we are better able to pick up the slack. Right now we are using the free version of Cozi but I am planning on upgrading to their “Gold” package ($19.99/year) soon.
I generally have a number of papers that come in regularly. Like our city recreation catalog or reminders for dental cleanings or random doctor appointments. I utilize Evernote to keep track of these bits and bobs of information. So for the kids’ swim lessons I take a picture of the course schedules for their level and then recycle the catalog. I can find the information online but having the photo available at my fingertips is actually faster during registration. For reminders, RSVPs, etc I take photos and keep them in a note “Action Items” and each Monday and Thursday (my desk days) I add them either to my to-do list or calendar. I recycle the reminder cards immediately and as a result I have a lot less papers floating around.
Papers from the kids’ school are handled in the same way. Information on field trips, due dates and special events are snapped into Evernote and then recycled. Sometimes I also take pictures of pages from my bullet journal just so I have them when I am out and about.
Speaking of cutting down on the papers floating around. Refusing direct mail makes a huge difference. I made sure to stop as much of the excess mail as I could from our apartment. I contacted the three credit bureaus to add me to their no mail lists to stop credit card offers from coming in (I had my husband do the same). I contacted CatalogChoice.org to stop old catalogs and random solicitations from landing in our mailbox. Then for all the oddball direct mailers I use paperkarma. It is an app you install on your phone and take photos of unwanted mail and Paperkarma will unsubscribe your home address from that direct mail list. Again, I did this after registering for all that I could online first. Paperkarma is best for all the local direct mail campaigns. It doesn’t stop it all but does make a significant dent.
Minimalism has significantly cut down on the amount of shopping I do. My zero-waste goals have limited the number of stores I frequent as well – even then I find that I have a few membership cards that I need to keep track of. I carry a wristlet instead of a purse and so I don’t have room for all the extra cards. I tried a couple different apps that allow you to upload membership cards I found that KeyRing was the easiest and most reliable. I only have nine cards saved to my KeyRing account and three of them are library cards (mine and the kids). The rest are for the pharmacy and local grocery stores and a couple cards I had in Texas that we do use when we travel to see family. I used to have more uploaded but most stores allow you to look up by phone or email so I only keep specific ones.
I don’t have any banking apps on my phone because I am not confident that my phone is 100% secure. I am traveling to Dallas in a couple days to help settle some little issues with my aunt’s estate and getting it ready to sell. Not the most fun thing to do and I would much prefer to be in South Texas celebrating a baby shower for one of my best friends. I helped her come up with some ideas for her registry and will be sharing a Minimalist Baby Registry Checklist soon.