4 Reasons to Schedule Your 2018 Goals Audit Right Now

desk with coffee, blank paper, smartphone

Ever heard of a goals audit?

Me neither! At least, not till I started brainstorming ways to actually make my goals of the new year become a reality, as a busy wife and mom.

In this post, we’ll explore how a goals audit can be one of the kindest ways to move forward with our goals, can set us up for succeeding, and help us to avoid the discouraging crash that can often overwhelm us when our pretty plans begin to derail a bit.

desk with coffee, blank paper, smartphone

There’s something about the start of a brand-new, sparkling, shiny year that just brings out the ambition in us, isn’t there?

We buy a new planner, and print off goal-setting worksheets, and prep our healthy meal plans. We pray. We build our exciting castles in the sky. And we know, just know, this is going to be our year. Then, we slip across that midnight line into January, with hearts full of hope.

And then…what happens? Some of the shininess wears off. The pages in our planner get smudged a bit, then neglected. The goals lose some of their appeal, as we realize that, really, they’re actually just more hard work! And some days, it really would just be easier to break out the mac’n’cheese than to wash, peel, cut, and cook vegetables.

We may even wonder…did we pray over our plans enough?

Come February, our lofty castle has faded a bit into the fog of everyday.

Ever been there?

I sure have!

Here’s the problem: we tend to feel like it’s all or nothing with these goals, and that once we’ve made them, they’re set in stone. We can begin to feel discouraged very quickly when our plans derail, like there’s no hope of ever getting back on track. Guilt sets in. And suddenly, the goals that were supposed to make our lives better…begin to feel like a burden.

I’ve experienced this cycle before, and decided I was sick of it. This year, I brainstormed a plan to prevent it.

At the end of January, I’ll be doing a goals audit.

Simply put, a goals audit is the process of reassessing all of your goals to make sure they’re still feasible in “real life,” and that they’re worth carrying around for the year (or the next 6 months, or whatever).

We often make our plans for the New Year in an artificial environment – we’re on vacation, or the kids aren’t in school, or we’re just not doing all of our normal-routine-things that actually control the flow of our lives. The holidays create this big bubble that we’re inside when we choose our focuses for the year, and as a result, we can sometimes set ourselves up for failure.

No one wants that, and no one wants to waste time. We want each day, and each year, of our small lifetimes to make a difference. Having a goals audit will help with that.

Here are 4 great reasons to schedule a goals audit:

  1. Making your plans with the intent of performing a goals audit later creates a tremendous amount of freedom. Planning a goals audit sets you free to dream big, and write down the things you really want to do — knowing that you can reassess what these dreams will cost you after a month of actually trying to live them into reality. Some may call this a lack of commitment. I call it counting the cost. After living and breathing in your normal everydays, what really is important–and possible for you, right now,–begins to come into focus a little better.
  2. Having an audit scheduled at the end of the month can help you focus on your goals with more motivation than if you “have all year” to make it happen. How many more people would cheat on their taxes, if they weren’t afraid of getting an audit? It’s incentive, actually!
  3. It helps to release us from baggage that we might otherwise carry around for an entire year, for no good reason. Especially for those of us who enjoy making lists, once that thing is written down, whatever it may be, you feel like it has to be done…almost like it’s a contract you’ve signed, and to break it would make you a criminal. Instead, think of January as your “try-on” period. This is the month where your goals get tried on, examined in the mirror, and then altered accordingly. At the end of January is when you can really decide what to hang onto and “wear” throughout the year…and what to let go of because it’s just not worth holding onto.
  4. A goals audit will better set you up for success by giving you the opportunity to make any necessary changes to your game plan. It’s the perfect way to step back,  see what’s working, what’s not, and then decide what steps to take going forward. Ideally, it is the time to ask God if your goals are His goals for your year…and release whatever would pull you away from His plans. For instance, maybe you will decide to do your creative writing in the evening vs. the morning, because that will give you more time with Jesus at the start of your day. Maybe you need to research a different workout series, because you hadn’t counted on that old knee injury flaring up. Or maybe, you need to read 2 books a month, instead of 4, so you can spend more time reading to your kids…or who knows, maybe you have learned you can fit 5 books in a month, and want to upgrade your plans! Whatever the details, you want to make sure your goals, and the steps to accomplish them, are married to your real life.

So, your next step is simple! Pick a day on the calendar in the last week of January (or even early February), and schedule your “goals audit.” Choose a day when you can snag a full, interruption-free half hour – after the kids are in bed, before the household wakes up, lunch break, whatever.

Planning for this day should be fun! NOT like an IRS audit. Think about if you want soft background music, or pure silence for your session. Arrange your schedule so the time is protected. Anticipate it with delight, not dread, and let it motivate you to enjoy actually doing the work to meet your goals.

One important note: if you haven’t already written down your goals, DO IT. You’re much more likely to achieve your goals, if you take the time to write them out.

I’ll be putting up a post later this month to explain a helpful process for auditing your goals – if you’d like to be notified when the post goes lives, enter your email below, and you’ll be the first to know. {hey…that rhymes!}

 

 

How To Save Money When You’re Having a Baby

baby shoes and clothes, bringing a baby home from the hospital

baby shoes and clothes, bringing a baby home from the hospital

Having a baby, just like every other big event in our western culture, has unfortunately become a huge marketing project for retailers. If you’re not careful, you can be subconsciously sucked into the mindset that you have to have X, Y, and Z (all carefully color coordinated of course!) in order to give your new little one the “right start,” and the “best life.”

Poppycock.

This post is especially for the soon-to-be mamas out there. I have a few tips to share that have really saved us big money over the past year as we prepared for Jungle Baby’s arrival. Most people probably won’t use all the information…but implementing just a few can really save you a bundle–ha ha ha, no pun intended.

So, here we go! Here are the top tips I’ve come up with for saving money while preparing for a new baby.

1. Buy gender neutral gear

If there is ANY possibility that your family will get to enjoy another baby in the future, go with stuff that you won’t mind using for either gender. Instead of the pink Bumbo seat, go with the green. {Of course, some of you wouldn’t care a bit about sticking baby-number-two-who-happens-to-be-a-boy into a pink Bumbo, and I applaud you! In fact, I’m right there with you. In that case, buy whatever color makes YOU happy!} Put gender neutral swaddle blankets, bath stuff, etc. on the registry. If you’re keeping the gender a secret, you’ve already covered this base.

2. Shop consignment

This was probably the biggest money-saver, in general, for our family. I bought baby stuff at yard sales, off of Craigslist, and at thrift stores. I got an excellent condition nursing pillow for $9 through Craigslist. {And by excellent condition, I mean excellent. Seriously, the people who owned it previously even put plastic wrap around the foam underneath the pillow cover to keep it from getting stained!} I found a Diaper Champ pail {fantastic because it doesn’t need special bags–any old trash bag will do} at a yard sale for $6. We found a high quality wooden bead maze for $5 at a daycare center that was closing. {These things run anywhere from $15 to $75!} Just yesterday, we pulled it out of storage, cleaned and disinfected it, and put it to use!

Two other great ways to shop used items: the free apps OfferUp and Letgo. These apps allow you to search for used items in your area, just like on Craigslist, so no shipping fees. What’s great about it is that you can communicate with the sellers directly through the app–in other words, you aren’t putting your personal contact info out there. It’s all done internally, through your app message system. You can put as little info about yourself out there as you want, which is a plus in these days of less and less online privacy. I prefer also these apps to Craigslist in general, because it’s focused. There aren’t several dozen categories to choose from, there’s only eight or so. OfferUp seems to generally be more pricey than Letgo, but both have tons of listings for baby goods and gear. I have used Letgo to purchase several things non-baby related {Like our first Christmas tree!! 4-foot, pre-lit, excellent condition artificial tree that fit perfectly in our little camper, for just $10!}, and have been very pleased with the experience. You have the opportunity to rate other sellers, so if they’re late or are difficult to contact, other buyers can steer clear in the future.

3. Get the cheapo stuff

Knock-offs are generally just as good as the name brand. For instance, when choosing a car seat system, I picked the cheapest I could find. I read this extremely helpful article, which explains that the safety features for the less expensive car seats are just as up-to-date as their pricier counterparts. BY THE WAY…car seats have expiration datesI’m not joking. Just another reason to get the cheaper options, because you may or may not be able to use it for the next kiddo.

Regarding diapers – I was given tons of different brands of disposables for Jungle Baby’s showers, plus we’ve always gone with whatever is cheapest or on sale since. So I have tried TONS of different diaper brands. And you know what? They are all the same. I really haven’t noticed any benefits to a particular brand. I have found that once in a while a name brand seems to edge out a generic brand on corralling a blowout…but just barely. Honestly, if they’re gonna leak, they’re gonna leak! I’ve found that what position I put him in–tummy, back, or sitting upright–when I hear him start working on a heavyweight diaper actually makes the biggest impact in preventing blowouts.

NOTE: I have several friends who say that using cloth diapers saves the most money! I haven’t yet gone this route, due to the fact that when Jungle Baby was born, I was sharing a washer with 2-3 other families. Plus, nobody needs extra laundry when recovering from birth! But I’m eager to try this option in the future! If anyone reading uses cloth, feel free to weigh in with your experience on the money it saves.

4. Cut wipes in half

I was given bukus of disposable wipes…haven’t had to buy a single package yet. And one thing that has extended the life of my stash is cutting the wipes in half. Seriously, a newborn baby does not need a full-size wipe for most diaper changes. {Messy diapers can be a definite exception to this.} So, every so often, I’ll whip out my scissors, cut a chunk in half, and put them back in the package. This was a lifehack from my mother, and it is awesome.

5. Be discriminating when purchasing items for yourself. Ideally, wait until after the birth

This is a biggie. You never know what people will be generous enough to give you for showers, or even just because they don’t need it anymore. So wait to make most purchases until after all showers, and even the birth. There are really only a very few things you need when the baby actually arrives {post on that coming soon!}, and honestly, you’ll have a better idea of what you really need after you and baby have spent some time together. {Plus, sometimes relatives just get so excited, they go out and buy you a bag full of stuff, just because they can’t contain themselves! I had this happen.} So be really deliberate with your purchases. The diaper pail was something I couldn’t pass up for $6, and I knew it would be a really good thing to have, even if it wasn’t totally necessary. So I snagged it, and took it off my registry. But most things that weren’t an absolute need, or a future investment, we waited on. You never know where free stuff is going to come from. My hospital even gave me a ton of gifts on the way out the door, including vouchers for free + shipping baby slings, and a travel bassinet! {“Free” is relative, of course…you could say we paid a pretty penny for these lovely extras through the hospital bills, but I digress.}

This is a big deal regarding clothes especially. All babies grow at different rates, so you may need a different size when the season changes than you thought you would. {All clothing labelled ‘newborn’ is not created equal. Ask me how I know!} You won’t buy things that won’t get use if you play this part by ear.

6. Feel free to go without

Our current residence does not have a bathtub, only a shower. And, I just haven’t felt like paying for/storing a baby bath. So, you know what we do? We give him exactly the same kind of bath he first got when he was born–a sponge bath. We get bowls of warm water, plenty of towels, put it all on the kitchen floor, and go to it! He doesn’t sit up well enough yet to enjoy playing in a tub {plus I don’t worry about him somehow drowning}, so this option is great for us for where we’re at right now.

I registered for a diaper bag, but when it arrived, it was defective. My sister and I went shopping for a new one, and I just couldn’t find one that wasn’t truly ugly, or the size of a duffle bag. Soooo, we went to the purse department, and found a lovely bag that is actually a businesswoman’s tote, designed to carry a laptop, paperwork, and purse essentials. It was pretty, way cheaper than a lot of diaper bags, fit everything I needed to carry, and suited me perfectly.

So just really think through what the industry tells you you’re “supposed” to have, and decide what you and your family truly want and actually need. 

 

Okay, what other ideas would YOU add to this list? What have you done or do you do to save money in the baby department? Share the knowledge!

3 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Brought My Newborn Home

baby feet held in mother's hands newborn

No one ever told me what it was like to have a baby for the first time.

baby feet held in mother's hands newborn

Sure, there were all kinds of information available about the process of birth, what color to paint your nursery, how your life would change, etc. etc.

But…no one ever told me what it was like.

For instance, that last moment of superhuman effort to push him out…how it felt like warmth and slipperiness and determination and desperation all at one time. And that, actually, the afterbirth is hard, too, for several reasons–a post on that coming soon!

And then, after all the bustle and busyness melts away, there you are, lying in bed. The lights are out, your husband is asleep on the couch in the room, and suddenly, after what feels like dozens of people barreling through your life in a few short hours…it’s just you and your baby. And he’s whimpering a little, and listening to your voice as you whisper in his tiny, perfect ear. No one ever told me what that amazing first moment of bonding is like. No one ever could. I guess that’s because it’s not something to be explained, but experienced.

 

And, that’s not all I was never told. I did tons of research, both online and in books, prior to the Jungle Baby’s birth, but there’s Just. So. Much. Information! Here are several pieces of valuable information that either just aren’t out there in plain sight, or that I somehow skipped over (the latter option is quite possible!). Hopefully, new or soon-to-be mamas will find these tips on caring for a newborn useful.

1. You will need to cut their nails. Sooner, rather than later.

Most babies are born with perfect little fingers and toes. However, those sweet little fingernails and toenails grow! FAST. Babies love to keep their hands close to their faces, and will inevitably give themselves some nasty scratches. Also, especially if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll want those nails kept short, otherwise they will give you some scratches too. And the toenails need trimming to avoid getting painfully snagged by socks and leggings.

So if no one gives you a pair of baby nail clippers {I recommend these} at your shower, get some before baby arrives! (Or, send your mom out to get some within the first week or two, like I did.)

 2. Newborns’ hands and feet peel, big-time.

It looks sort of like sunburn, actually. It’s white, and is really bad in between the toes and fingers. But the good news is that it doesn’t bother the baby whatsoever, and will go away quickly. Sort of like baby milia. If you want to put something on it, this is what I used. I prefer using natural products whenever possible and affordable, especially on a brand new baby. I also like merchandise that does double duty. The Natural Nipple Butter is a win both ways!}

3. Burping is important. Very important.

Now, I knew babies needed burp. What I didn’t realize is that newborns need it OFTEN. As in, every 3 to 5 minutes during a feeding. Otherwise, the air will build up in their underdeveloped digestive systems and cause serious pain for them, and serious concern for you. I learned this the hard way, when Jungle Baby struggled with distressing gas for a week or two.

You’ll have to forgive me if this is painfully obvious. But I didn’t spend much time with tiny babies growing up, so I never knew that newborns needed burping so much more often than bigger babies. The good news is this frequent burping will give both of you plenty of practice with latching. 😉

 

So there you go! Hopefully, these tips may save you (or the mama-to-be that you share it with) some worries or difficult moments in the first few weeks with a new baby. There is so much information to digest and take in when preparing for a new baby, and different things will be important for different people. Veteran moms…what did I miss? What are things that would have really helped you be more prepared for life with your newborn?