Saturday, 30 July 2016

5 lessons from my first week in blogging

Wow! I think I've learned a lot in the last week. It's been a pretty amazing experience.

Here is a bit of rundown on what I've learned:

  1. In order to start a blog you need to just start the damn thing. This is not a joke. As I say in About the Busy Bee - I'm a procrastinator. I started thinking about a blog, then I started reading blogs, then blogs about starting a blog etc. I would probably have continued on researching and planning until I completely abandoned the idea had Mr Busy Bee not said to me, "Shouldn't you just start a blog and see if you enjoy it? You'll work it out if you experiment with it." Brilliant!! So just get out there and experiment.
  2. All the websites told me how easy it is to start a blog - it only takes five minutes. Yes, that's true, but it took me a little while to work out how to tinker with the layout. Don't let it get you down if you don't pick it up straight away. I've certainly got a lot to learn, but I'm really enjoying the learning process.
  3. Social media helps to get your blog out there, but it also incredibly distracting! I'm not one for social media ordinarily, but it has taken up a lot of my time (as discussed in the blog post: How social media made me anti-social). Keep your eye on the prize. If you want anyone to read your blog, you do have to get it out there, but can you can lose HOURS playing on Facebook and Twitter.
  4. Reach out. I reached out to a couple of people whose work I admire, beginner bloggers like myself and professionals. All were exceptionally kind to me and I was flattered that they took the time to give such genuine responses. If you genuinely love someone's work, let them know. I guess we all need a pat on the back occasionally.
  5. Blogging is fun! I've had a great time planning my blogposts, playing with pictures and finding like-minded bloggers. I've been pleasantly surprised by the number of people reading my blog (some don't even know me) and that's giving me the courage and inspiration to continue on into the second week. 
So there you go. By no means do I think I've got this thing worked out and no doubt one day I'll look back at these early posts and think they are terrible, but for now I will settle for being incredibly happy that I'm having fun and learning. Surely that is the very best reason to do something.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Bee a role model

Ahh... a word play... well done me!

Today I'm pondering whether we have an obligation to prioritise our health, wellbeing and balance for the sake of our kids and future generations.

As I've indicated previously, I'm a chronic multi-tasker and I run around like a bunny on too much caffeine. That might be because I consume too much caffeine of course, but I think its just me.

I bounce around from one thing to the next doing a lot, but seemingly achieving little, and constantly focussing on "getting things done".

Mr Busy Bee is a keen sportsman, so two nights a week he plays his sport. I don't begrudge it - I admire it. We all know how good sport is for you and as a parent, a bit of time out is invaluable. Certainly, he's a much more balanced person when he gets a bit of exercise.

The problem is, whilst I'm happy to take on a few extra duties so that Mr Busy Bee can play sport and I know he would do likewise for me, I can't seem to prioritise myself enough to do the same. I always find an excuse not to take care of myself - there's no time, I'm too tired, who will do x, y and z?

I focus so much on looking after others, that I don't look after myself.

The result is that I'm often short tempered and grouchy and sometimes I snap at the kids for no good reason (what - me? never!). More regularly than I care to admit, I resent others for the fact that I don't make time for myself.

This seems to be a pretty common theme amongst my friends. I've discussed this at length with my friends - do we do this because our own mums did it? I know certainly my mum was the same, as were many of my friends' mums.

Am I condemning my daughter to do the same thing? Am I showing my son that its more important to his partner to look after him than herself (or himself if the case may be)?

That being the case is it not an obligation to my children to prioritise myself and actively self care? And if I don't maintain some interests of my own, who will I be by the time my children grow up? Already I wonder where my old self went - the fun one that I was before I had kids. The one who loved going out on Saturday nights for dinner and trying new restaurants and wine.

I'm proud of myself for starting this blog because its all about me. It's about me actually pursuing my love of writing, rather than something that has to be done.

So thanks to everyone for reading and giving me the motivation to keep going.

Please share with me how you approach balance and self care. I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

When did we get so wanky?

This blog is not intended to be ranty kind of blog, more of a ponderous kind of blog. Having said that:

WARNING: This post could get ranty

Right. Now I have that out of the way, let's begin.

I took myself off to the shops to buy some groceries. Nothing special about that - 500 litres of milk, 20 loaves of bread, the usual.

Usually I have the kids with me when I shop, so I just throw random things in the direction of my trolley and hope something useful lands in there. Today though, I went on my own. It was BLISS. I didn't yell at a single person. I didn't have to apologise to any complete strangers. Lovely stuff.

However, I actually had time to notice some of the products on the shelf.

The thing that really made me raise my eyebrows was a particularly expensive packet of baby wipes. I could just about buy the aforesaid 500 litres of milk and 20 loaves of bread for the same price as a couple of packets of these wipes. 

These wipes claimed to be 99.9% water and .1% fruit extract. I'm not kidding. 

Firstly - would this not make the wipes a liquid? According to me 99.9% + .1% = 100% liquid. Which, clever marketing genius of scammy wipes, means they aren't actually wipes at all. They are just water with a drop of juice in them.

Secondly - are people falling for the crap? If so, why? I'm not sure that I understand why you would spend a week's groceries on a packet of wipes when you can just buy ordinary priced ordinary ones. 

I get that there are kids with sensitive skin - I have one of those. I spend way too much money on wanky sensitive skinned soap free organic soaps etc for Captain Destroyer (it appears that ordinary soaps etc are his kryptonite). I stick to soap free, extra moisturising wanky products in his case, but have never had to resort to 100% liquid solid products.

For those people whose kids who have even more sensitive skin than my boy. You have my sympathy - spend away on natural products.

But I can't help wondering whether we've gone so far in favour of natural and organic that we've actually just gone a little bit too far. 

In my mum's generation, they weren't even using wipes. If they existed, they were restricted to rich people. My mum used cotton balls and a bit of water. If she was feeling out there - maybe a damp face washer. Get out!! You mean she actually put the water on the cotton balls herself?!! Because if we're paying all that money to essentially put a bit of water on a tissue, could we not just damp a tissue ourselves?

I don't limit this disbelief to parents. I just think we might have gone a bit overboard with the consumerism thing.

If we could just damp some cotton balls (thanks for the tip Mum), we could save a bit of cash, borrow less from the bank, pay less interest and put less in the pockets of the big nasty evil minds behind big banks and "natural" products.

Well now. I think it might have gotten ranty. Sorry about that.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Empty rewards from little sugar coated tasks

I've been reading Daniel Levitan's "The Organized Mind" (2014). I say reading, but that's probably very generous and makes me sound more intellectual than I actually am. It's probably more correct to say that I jump through the book like a bunny that's had too much caffiene - which is probably how I go about most things in my life!

Ordinarily, I'm more of a Marian Keyes or Mhairi McFarlane kind of girl, but I'm trying to shake things up as a better life investigator - expand the mind you might say.

But, I've gone off topic like the caffeine bunny that I am.

I'm a multi-tasker from way back. I've gotten worse as I've gotten older and jammed more things into the limited minutes in my day. When Princess Sparkles was 6 months old I went back to work a couple of days a week and I was still doing my Masters in Business Administration (don't judge me - I'm the main income earner in the family and I was SO close to finishing that damn masters that I don't actually use in my corporate escapee job). There are only so many hours in the day and I had to multi-task like a demon.

Daniel Levitan (The Organized Mind, 2014, p 170) says:
"In multi-tasking, we unknowingly enter an addiction loop, as the brain's novelty centers become rewarded for processing shy new stimuli, to the detriment of our prefrontal cortex, which wants to stay on task and gain the rewards of sustained effort and attention. We need to train ourselves to go for the long reward, and forgo the short one."

That's me!! I'm so addicted to achieving things that I definitely forego the long reward in order to get the kick of "achieving" something. I took the day off work today so that I could write an essay for a competition. It's quite an intellectual thing about addressing gender parity and there is REALLY good prize money. But here I am writing my blog because:

  • It will take me most of the day to even get a draft of that essay done, so no immediate reward there
  • Most likely thousands of people will enter the competition, so I won't win it anyway (one day we might talk about my self esteem issues, but that's for another day)
  • It's intellectual so I have to turn my brain into serious mode and it just doesn't like being there.
So here I am foregoing the reward of actually writing something important that I'm passionate about because I'd addicted to shiny new stimuli and "empty rewards from little sugar coasted tasks" (a great phrase that I'm pretty sure I nicked from Levitan, D, The Organized Mind 2014).

Is anyone else out there out there addicted to "achieving" (ahem... just a little sarcasm there on my part) and multi-tasking? How far do you go with your multi-tasking and what do you do to try and manage it?

Sunday, 24 July 2016

How social media made me anti-social this weekend

All I can say is it's a good thing it was a long weekend at my house this weekend!

I'm not a social media person and I don't even surf the web that much. So this weekend has been a bit different for me...

In order to set up a blog I had to do a lot of research on how to set one up and how to actually get people to see it.

That's not too bad in itself, but I'm very distractable! I don't want to think about how many times I've snuck off this weekend to quickly google something (really basic stuff like - how does twitter work?), or to set up an account of some sort.

So I've done my crash course:

  • Blog created - CHECK
  • Facebook page created - CHECK
  • Twitter account created - CHECK
  • Worked out how to use all of the above - CHECK (I think!)

Here is the downside - I've been pretty anti-social. Like I said, I kept sneaking off to do these things.

If the aim of this blog is to investigate better living, I'm probably getting off on the wrong foot.

Note to self: Don't let better life investigator blog on how not to be so busy just make me even busier.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

How about that junk bench?

Does your house have a junk bench?

My junk bench is right beside the back door, where I enter the house. It's a big bench right there in the kitchen. There used to be a wall where the bench is now - so like I say, its a big bench.

"The bench" is so handy for dumping things on. I come home from a long day at work with 2 cranky kids that haven't been picked up from daycare until pretty much dinner time, so they are begging for food and what could be easier than throwing the backpacks and handbag on "the bench"?

I think that would be ok if I ever went back and sort the things that I dumped there for "just a few minutes" while I get the kids sorted. The problem is of course that I don't go back and sort it. It makes Mr Busy Bee very, very annoyed. He is a very tidy sort of man - not one for throwing things on a junk bench. He's also very relaxed and patient, but even his patience is tested by "the bench".

I also collect an assortment of confiscated items on "the bench". It is often hidden beneath piles of confiscated toys that have been thrown there from the dinner table because Princess Sparkle or Captain Destroyer would rather play than eat (usually they are Captain Destroyer's toys, because they are loud and make me just a little bit crazy!! As an aside why do little boys like loud toys so much?)

This week, I've been making it a mission to keep things under control on the "the bench". Firstly let me say - it's hard frikking work. I just can't bring myself to stop dumping things there, so every night I have to go back and clean it up. I'm not kidding when I say sometimes I go back to "the bench" not two hours after last tidying it, and I can barely see it again.

Today I made my kids' lunches then walked away leaving the butter knife and the bread on the bench. After breakfast I left three types of cereal there and the sugar for my coffee on that stupid bench.

What is the deal with that??

I've gotten a couple of trays and the like to see if that helps with the chaos, but Mr Busy Bee assures me that no amount of gadgets will solve the problem unless I actually use them.

Does anyone else suffer from a junk bench compulsion? How do you deal it? Better yet - has anyone overcome a junk bench compulsion? Please share your tips.

Chaos in a bag

On a show that I watched recently, a woman turned to minimising her possessions to take control of her life. Post natal depression and left her feeling as though she didn't control her life. I can relate to that - I feel like my life controls me and drags me along for the ride. I try so hard to keep up with my life that I can’t stop to take a breath. 

This lady started her minimalist lifestyle by cleaning out her handbag. It was a small job that gave her a sense of accomplishment and by doing it, she felt like she achieved something. Eventually she did the whole house. They showed a picture of her house and it was amazing. She had young kids (as I do) and yet her house was tidy!

My house is not huge to say the least. It’s a 3 bedroom house and its pretty snug. Most of our cupboards are full to the point of overflowing and if you sneeze doors spring out and the cupboards overflow (Ok so that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point). The thing is, most of this stuff is just STUFF. They aren’t things we need. Do I seriously still need my high school graduation jersey?? That was almost twenty years ago! Do I need to keep those ugly retro wedge shoes in case they are useful for a costume party? Whilst costume parties were pretty regular for our group of friends in the past, I don’t think anyone has had one for a good five years now and we all have kids so noone is likely to have any raging parties worth dressing up for in the next fifteen years. Will I still have those damn shoes in fifteen years? Possibly - I mean they’ve been there for fifteen years or so already, what’s another fifteen?

So the next day i cleaned out my handbag. I found about 50 pens, multiple empty mini sultana boxes (kids!) and lots of crumbs (also kids???) a lot of napkins and an empty container that I use to transport crackers. Seriously gross stuff. 

Here’s the amazing thing. My handbag was literally lighter so I was carrying lighter baggage with me all day - literally and metaphorically.

The ultimate question though is can I keep it up?

What decluttering tips do you have? More importantly, how do you maintain the clutter once you have it under control?