We have twelve more weeks of 2021.
We're over 3/4 the way through this year.
Let me be really frank with you tonight, readers: 2020 was ROUGH, but for me...2021 hasn't been much easier.
As a public school administrator, the pandemic has been difficult to navigate.
Virtual or in-person?
Masks or no masks?
Visitors in the school or no visitors allowed?
So. Many. Decisions.
Some students stayed home for several months and came back in the building with wider learning gaps that they had left us with.
Some students came back to school with anxiety that they had not had before.
Some students have quarantined two, three, or four times (or six -- like our oldest daughter).
This summer, it almost felt like things were getting "back to normal" and I think I breathed a sigh of relief a little prematurely.
The other school district leaders and myself started talking about the school year as if we were going to open normally. We had hopes that things would go on like they have always gone on.
And then...the virus ramped up again in early-August and we were back in the boat we were in over the last 18 months.
Here's the truth:
I have felt like I was treading water since school started on August 23rd.
I have not been able to keep up with anything at home and due to some changes in my responsibilities at work, I'm barely able to keep my head above water there. My office has been a mess. My paperwork is getting done just a day or two before the deadline (I really prefer to be EARLY). I'm not able to give myself to my staff like I like to.
I've been on the struggle bus, folks!
And unfortunately, when one area of our lives is chaotic, it throws the rest of our lives off-balance.
What other areas?
Home organization (don't even get me started on LAUNDRY),
Staying physically healthy,
Sticking to a budget,
Focusing on spiritual growth,
Being a good wife,
Being a good mom.
All. The. Things.
ANYway -- so this weekend, I decided to sit down and make a plan for our next twelve weeks.
I thought it was crazy and neurotic and a little over-the-top, but then I shared it with a few people who actually thought it was kind of helpful.
For those of you that are a little more like me -- grab the document and let's try to get our homes under control over the last quarter of 2021.
Now remember -- tomorrow actually starts WEEK 2, but you should be able to catch up by squeezing Week 1 and Week 2's content into this coming week.
High hopes for a peaceful holiday season from the farmhouse,
Today I'm going to continue my little series on a few lessons I've learned through life.
Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, I decided today I would blog about lessons I've learned about marriage.
For a little backstory, Mr. Farmhouse and I were high school sweethearts. We've been married now for almost 17 years.
We've owned three homes together, we are raising three daughters, and we are still head over heels in love with each other.
I'm not claiming to be an expert, but I do know that it takes hard work to maintain a healthy marriage and I do feel like we've learned some important lessons through the years.
So here are five pieces of advice for keeping a strong marriage.
1. Communicate, communicate, communicate
This might seem obvious, but trust me...it's not.
Listen first to understand what your spouse is saying and then talk.
Brené Brown talks about how our brains really crave "a closed loop" in situations, so we sometimes make up stories in our heads to fill in the gaps when we don't know all the details.
You know that moment when someone doesn't acknowledge you in the grocery store and you think, "Oh no...did I do something to offend that person?" or "I wonder why she doesn't like me."?
This is what Brown is talking about. We don't like unresolved loops in our brain, so we make up stories to fill them in.
And it happens in marriages ALL THE TIME.
So when something is bothering you...talk about it.
When you are unsure of the motive for your spouse's actions...talk about it.
Sit down and have real life conversation.
2. Be Present
This one goes hand-in-hand with number 1.
Put the phone away and be with your spouse.
Turn the television off and be with your spouse.
Carve out time in your day to be together.
When you are with your spouse, be fully there...not distracted by outside influences.
3. Find Out Your Spouse's Love Language
Here is a quiz you can take to find out your love language and the love language of your spouse. TAKE QUIZ HERE
When Mr. Farmhouse and I found out that his love language is quality time and mine is acts of service, this was a game-changer for us.
I learned that I needed to stop multi-tasking and trying to "get stuff done" and just sit down and BE with him.
He learned that doing the dishes or filling my car up with gas before I realize it's empty really fills my cup.
With that said -- I would encourage everybody to take the love language quiz because it is great for ALL relationships -- friendships, parent/child relationships, work relationships, and others!
4. Focus on intimacy
I'll make this short and sweet because I'm pretty sure my parents read my blog.
Ladies, even if your husband's primary love language is not "physical touch", he still craves physical touch.
Wives, commit to initiating an intimate encounter with your husband twice this week and see what happens. I promise, you'll be pleasantly surprised at what it does for your relationship OUTside of the bedroom.
Okay, moving on...
This next piece of advice might step on a few toes and I don't mean to do that, but I think it's a very important point to discuss.
5. Do not elevate your relationship with your children "above" your relationship with your spouse.
I know this is difficult to consider because, my goodness, those sweet babies are just our WORLD!
But there will come a time in 18-20 years, when those babies will grow up and move out.
During this season of the "empty nest", I've known so many couples who feel as if they don't know their spouses without the kids in the house.
Serve your spouse in front of your kids.
Put his or her needs in front of your own needs.
Schedule monthly date nights...just the two of you!
Take trips (after COVID)!
Sit on the porch together after the kids are in bed.
Love your kids well WITH your spouse.
Back each other up! Our kids have known from a very young age that if one of us says "no", the other parent will say "no". There's no reason to even ask. This is not to say they haven't tried!
Your relationship with your spouse will serve as a model for them as they build relationships when they get older. Give them a healthy marriage to watch & model in their formative years.
I hope these five pieces of advice were helpful for you.
What would you add to my list?
Spending this cold, cold day inside with the family here at the farmhouse,
These daily routines are so important to help keep the house manageable.
And when I started following the FlyLady 10-15 years ago, I learned how important cleaning zones in our homes can be too for those "deep-cleaning" tasks.
The basic concept is for you to divide your home into various zones.
I used to try and make sure I was getting through every single zone every single month.
However, starting this next week, I think I'll put my house on an eight-week zone rotation.
Today, and for the rest of this week, I'll be focusing on deep-cleaning the front porch, the living room, and our deck.
I make a list of tasks to get these three areas "all spiffied up" and I work on that list for 15-30 minutes a day (depending on each night's activities).
So...your task for today is to divide your home into zones.
You can decide how many.
You can decide what types of tasks to put on your zone lists.
The important part is to start to develop some habits for deep-cleaning a little at a time, instead of just constantly being stuck in the cycle of having a BIG cleaning day every few weeks.
Working my zones at the farmhouse this morning!
Let's be real.
I know what I need to do.
When I want to make healthy choices, I can.
I am completely capable of making the right call when various food choices are in front of me.
I've studied and implemented the Whole30 program.
I've eaten using a Keto lifestyle for weeks (sometimes months) at a time.
I did Weight Watchers for over a year and lost between 15-20 pounds.
And then, one day, I'll feel so good in my own skin that I'll make the choice to eat something that isn't a healthy choice.
Something like a donut from Koehn's Bakery...
A pumpkin pie blizzard from Dairy Queen...
Or a blueberry scone from Starbucks.
And you know what?
If I had consciously made a choice to have a scone and a caramel macchiato and get right back on track, that would be great!
And slowly, my weight creeps up and my pants feel a little tighter and that Stephens double-chin becomes a triple-chin.
And before I know it, I'm throwing a kid on my lap or in moving them in front of me every time we take a picture.
I'm wearing flowy layers because I don't feel comfortable in my more fitted clothing.
And I'm digging out my jeans that are a size bigger because I feel better in them.
But the thing is...it's never about how I look.
It's about how I feel.
When I'm making good food choices, my joints are less achy.
My face is clearer.
I'm less irritable.
I have more energy.
So that's why when I got the email announcing the "Biggest Loser" competition at school starting this Monday...I knew this was a great opportunity to start again.
Through the Farmhouse654 12-Week Challenge that several of us are going through this year, I'm working towards making my dream life a reality...with goals related to our home, relationships, finances, personal growth, and of course, health.
Using the insight I gleaned from these authors, I have set up a 12-week challenge to set goals for the first twelve weeks of 2019, to keep myself accountable, and to check my progress throughout the next three months.
After setting up my goals and weekly challenges, I thought to myself that maybe you all would want to join me!
Excited for the new year here at the farmhouse,