Mission Organization: Paperwork Edition

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Our family command center

It’s back to school time, which means it’s time for the copious amounts of paperwork. Some paperwork needs to be completed and returned to school, some paper needs to be displayed prominently to serve a reminder and some paperwork needs to be organized and filed for future use. How does a busy mom juggle all of this? Well, if you are like me, you have an entire system devoted to paperwork so that every permission slip, every finger painting and every sticky note can easily be found.

With paperwork from school and mail, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer amount of stuff that comes home. Stay on top of the paperwork daily and weekly and it shouldn’t become too overwhelming. I sometimes don’t even open credit card offers I receive and I immediately place them in the shred box. Why waste my time opening mail I know I don’t need?

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One of the two drop file boxes.

My system has evolved over the years due to improvements in technology and the addition of a husband, kids and dog. When it was just myself, I had a portable drop file box filled with bills to be paid, paid bills and one for important documents. It was simple and I always managed to stay on top of it. At it’s worst, it was maybe 12-15 pieces that needed to be filed on a monthly basis. I shredded whatever was confidential but didn’t need to be kept and filed the rest.

When my husband and I first got married, I was introduced to his file cabinet system of organization. I wasn’t a fan of this method, but it sort of worked because we lived in a one-floor condo so it was fairly easy to access the file cabinet. Then we moved to a two-story home and the file cabinet went upstairs and wasn’t as easy to access. I implemented my drop file box system to keep track of paperwork on a daily basis. On a yearly basis we would go through the file cabinet and toss whatever paperwork was no longer relevant.

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Storage bins for each of my girls’ artwork.

Along came our three daughters and ENDLESS amounts of sometimes useful and sometimes useless paperwork. I remember adding a section to my drop file box for each of our girls and that’s when I realized that I needed to update our system. Medical documents, school documents and more art projects than all of the art museums in the world currently own. This is when I purchased large plastic bins with lids to house the art projects and also downloaded an app on my iPhone called Artkive. If you’ve never heard of Artkive, the concept is pretty cool and it’s easy and free. Simply use your smartphone to take a picture of your little Picasso’s artwork and save it to your child’s file in the Artkive app. There are options to order books and other projects to commemorate the pieces but sadly, I have yet to do this. They also offer a concierge service in which you send them ALL of your child’s artwork and they archive it for you! My drop file box became two drop file boxes and I micro-organized everything. My files included things such as an individual medical file for each family member (dog included) and individual school files for each of our daughters. Other files include things such as homeowner’s insurance, car insurance, HOA documents, coupons and I even file my Bed Bath and Beyond coupons in their own file because I have so many. My husband and I also implemented a “screen shot” system of important documents, just in case we can’t locate a document. Taking a screen shot eliminates the need to hold onto items that may be useful, but probably aren’t.

When we moved in 2017, I set up a family command center in our kitchen. The placement was perfect because it was in the hallway of the kitchen, which everyone passes to get to the garage to exit. You can’t miss it, so it’s easy to double-check the wall calendar and the wall folders. On a weekly basis, I check the wall folders and either complete and return the paperwork to school or file it in its appropriate file folder. I update the calendar for the next month at the end of the prior month. I keep dry erase markers close by so that I can add events and I even color coordinate for each family member because I feel like that helps everyone see what they have on the calendar. For myself, I keep an agenda planner. I carry it with me in the car so that I’m able to write down items as I receive them. I transfer items from my agenda to the family calendar. My husband and I go over our schedule monthly and then weekly. We have a lot going on and we don’t want to forget anything. We even remind the girls in the morning of what is on the schedule for the day, so they’re not surprised when I tell them we have back to school night or a dentist appointment.

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My agenda from The Happy Planner.

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A glance at a typical week.

As for the paperwork that doesn’t need to be saved, we shred it. Sometimes paperwork contains confidential information that you don’t want to compromise, so it’s always best to properly destroy it. I also purchased a stamper to block out information, but we usually end up shredding that document anyway.

Here are my top tips for keeping all of your paperwork organized:

  1. When you receive something, read it and decide if you want to keep it. If you need to keep it, file it immediately and if you don’t need to keep it, place it in the shred box.
  2. Do a little each day and stay on top of it, otherwise you may end up with a mountain of paperwork.
  3. Find a system that works best for you! Our system works for us, but it may not work for you.
  4. Share your system with your family so they can participate, too!
  5. If you implement a new system and it doesn’t work, quickly change it so you don’t fall behind. Your system can and should evolve.
  6. Find an app to help archive your children’s artwork.

Happy organizing ladies!   

  • Kimberly Lasher – SAHM to three beautiful girls, reality TV junkie & ISR advocate. 

Dear MOMpreneur, know your worth! Six tips to help balance your life and business

 

Little girl playing with makeup

This is a long post with very little pictures, but I promise it’s worth every word!

Work life balance.

(Please note that this is coming from the perspective of a photographer and a homeschool mom. While this is something I see rampant in my industry, I am certain it is rampant everywhere)

This is such a hot topic these days. How do we make sure our business doesn’t take over our lives, but still get the things done that need to be done? Our worth as a woman is more than just being a mom, more than just being a business owner, more than just being an employee, more than just being a wife. We collectively need to support each other through the guilt of trying to do it all and help each other know that it’s ok to work hard in our business, work hard in our home life, and work hard in our personal life. We cannot do them all at once. We have to know when to say no, when to speak up for ourselves and when to just get the hell out.

The other day I was talking to a dear friend. She is also a photographer, as many of my friends are, and we were talking about life, business, and husbands. This is a topic that often comes up with my female photographer friends (seldom as often with my male friends, but they do talk about it to). We all seem to struggle with the balance. This is a profession that tends to take over our weekends and sometimes our lives.

We were talking about her life (and mine). She recently found out that her husband had been unfaithful and she was restructuring her work life to have more of a home life in efforts to save her marriage. Now, I want to stop right here. I have a lot of things to say about this, BUT I want to make it very clear, this is not the only thing she is doing. THEY are working on things together, but I want to address a few things from the female perspective, because my first reaction to her (besides what an asshole and man that sucks) was, I get it.

I know the hardship of working late nights and weekends to run this business. I hear my husband’s complaints of my late hours, going on shoots leaving him home with the kids and in general the putting of my camera before family.

What.The.Fuck

How dare we blame ourselves for our failing marriage?

Why the fuck do we do this?

Now, I get it, a failing relationship is a two-way street. It always takes two to tango. BUT here is the thing with many women I know, our husbands tend to look at our business as a hobby. They see it as something that takes away from their family, and not as a business. Yes, it might not be profitable this year, but without a shit load of hard work and late nights, it never will be!

There! I said it.

As a __________ (insert business here), I am running a business. A business that will take a lot of hard work and I have to treat it as a business as much as my significant other treats it as a business. 

PERIOD.

This isn’t a hobby, it’s not something I do just for fun (as much as I love it), and it’s not a side gig.

This is a career.

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According to Small Biz Trends, 69% percent of new businesses in 2016 started in the home and a bit more than 50% of those will fail within the first 4 years mainly due to poor money management. Which makes me wonder how much of it has to do with lack of support?

How many of my MOMpreneur friends struggle to balance work + life when all of that runs out of our home and how many have husbands that say, “no it’s my time to take care of the kids while you work”? How many are working nights to get shit done? Would these women get that same dirty look of “oh you are staying up late to work again” if they were leaving the house for a full-time job outside the home?  Do their husbands even realize they give that look?

I get it, what we do isn’t conventional.

Yes, I have some flexibility to schedule things in a way that allows me to leave the kids with their father while I meet clients. Yes, he is not the babysitter (I have one of those too), but actually a contributing member of this family. Yes, I don’t leave my house for 80% of my career. Yes, I can wipe my kid’s butt and edit at the same time (well, not exactly the same time, but you get it), but I still have a fucking job to do!

little girl crying

And as I spew all this angst, I get that I am to blame for some of it. I should have set office hours (I have tried this, but maybe should try harder…). Yes, at one point this was just a hobby. I should say more often this is my work time and I shouldn’t just say “don’t worry I will do it.”

Fuck this.

Our marriages are two-way streets of support!

PERIOD.

Should our husband cheat on us if he doesn’t get enough wife time? NO! He also can’t roll his eyes and say “ugh, working again?” Like everything else, there needs to be communication. WE, have to work together. I will totally support you, your work, and your hobby, BUT I fucking expect the same in return.

I also get that our husbands work hard. Mine often works 70 hours a week to provide for our family life. Here is the thing though, I NEVER roll my eyes and lay on guilt when he tells me he has to work the 3rd weekend in a row. Honestly, my heart aches for him that he has to work that much. It sucks for all of us. I hate that he has to get up at 330 am to go to work, BUT does he ever hate that I have to stay up till 2 am working? Nope, he just gets mad about it.

Sure I am a “stay at home working mom”. We made the choice to homeschool which complicates things too. My days are filled with school stuff, my afternoons with home stuff and my nights with work stuff. I realize that these are choices I made, but fuck, can’t we get some support in them? Would I get more support if I was bartending or a lawyer?

I feel like as women we give, give, give, and then get shit on because we didn’t give quite enough. So to fix the not giving enough, we give up more of ourselves.

Fuck. This.

So tell me, how do I fix this, not just for me, but for all of us? Instead of sympathizing with the next wife who tells me about her husband cheating on her for working so much, what conversation do we have? Instead of her just deciding to cut back on work because that will solve things, how do we rearrange things to make a marriage and a business work?  What do I tell her (and me) to make a difference in this world?

How do we, as working women, get some fucking support in our businesses?

Am I doing things wrong, do I see this problem wrong or do you feel this way too? Maybe it all just comes down to sex right? If we give more of ourselves to our significant other, everything will just be ok? Because I totally want to go to bed after teaching, working in the house, working in my job and give just a little bit fucking more!

So this then leads into another conversation from a dear friend and photographer Maragret. She just wrote a great 3 part series about us as women. She talks about the question, have we done this to ourselves?

“I can’t help but wonder if we as a gender have just accepted the narrative

that our time and skill just isn’t worth as much. 

…when we do step up to the plate and admit our worth, we get scared

that we aren’t falling in line with the norms. We worry we’re coming off

too strong, that we’re demanding too much. No one will love us for not

being like everyone else.”

Do we just set the stage that our time and skill, both in the home and out of it, are not worth as much? Why the fuck do we do this? Are we following some made up standard that we are supposed to do everything? We are to wipe every butt, wash every dish, work a job, teach our children and put them to bed. I know I set this expectation in many ways. It was easier for me to put them to bed with a boob, so I did. It was easier to wake up with them in the middle of the night with a boob, so I did. It was easier to just change the diaper, so I did. It was “easier” to work the job from home while teaching the kids, so I did…

This has to stop!

We are worth it.

If you want to wipe every nose, great, BUT we are not the only ones that can do it. Start asking for help. Don’t just complain about it, make it happen. Start demanding it! Start knowing your worth! Yes, they are assholes for cheating, no it’s not our fault! Could we handle our business better? Sure, BUT we need the fucking support to be able to do that!

 

little girl and brother face painting

Would you like a push in the right direction to help with knowing your worth for your business? I know some fabulous mentors to help you learn your numbers to make your business profitable! Just ask me and I will point you in their direction!

Want some help in your home life? Speak up, and know you are worth it! Take control, do the things that need to be done in your life and business.

  • Ask for help, from anyone that you think could help you
  • Talk to your spouse, be clear in your intentions
  • Write out a weekly schedule and share it with the whole house. Put everything on it from kid time to house time, business time and husband time.
  • Hire help, trade for help, beg for help. Find someone else to clean the house, have the laundry mat wash and fold your clothes, use a service for freshly prepared meals. Delegate, delegate, delegate!
  • Prioritize that to do list, you don’t  have to do it all at once
  • Have the grace to let the guilt go!

Have any more great tips? Tell me, please! Write them in the comments so everyone else that reads this can read them too. Let’s support each other virtually on how to get the support we need at home!

 

Mom and Daughter Selfie

The momma behind Momma Got Soul Photo and Films, Tampa Bay Family Photographer. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am an artistic storyteller. I stay up late, try to sleep late, and drink lots of coffee and beer (usually in that order, but not always). I grew up in sunny (which means really hot) central Florida, never go to the beach or Disney, but try to hike in the woods as much as I can. I remember a time when I said I would never photograph people, now that’s all I do. I think it started with wanting to explore the world and capture that to share with people. Now I just want to tell people that the real stuff outweighs the fake crap every time -Kelly

 

DIY Farm Table

So I’ve been watching a lot of Fixer Uppers, and have wanted a farm table for some time. After looking up the price points, it was pretty clear that I wasn’t getting one…

Or was I?
I took a look at my current dining room table. It was given to me used, and had been very loved. It was a sad looking table after it had been adopted by my family. Bubbles from spills, paint from crafts with my kids that would NOT wash off… So I had an epiphany! I’m gonna turn my own table into a farm table!
After looking up several posts on Pinterest, I kind of took a general idea of them all, came up with my own plan, and got to work. I did some measuring, made a list of all materials I would need, and we headed to Lowe’s.
My materials list consisted of:
2X6s
Stainable wood filler
Liquid nail
The stain of my choice
Matte finish poly
Sand paper
We already had an electric sander, screws, white paint, and paint brushes.
I had my husband cut the wood long enough to have about an inch an a half-2 inches over hang and set them aside.
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We sanded down the whole table.
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Flipped it upside down, and pained the bottom white. I wasn’t super careful with the bottom because I was going to sand over the paint, anyway.
We let the paint dry, flipped the table back up, and glued down the boards with liquid nail to the sanded (and wiped Free of dust) table top.
We did run into a little issue here, as my husband put down WAY too much liquid nail on the table top. It took a long time to dry, and before it was fully dried, it caused the boards to sit funny. So, if I ever do one again, I will put a small amount of liquid nail on each board and apply instead of the liquid nail all over the table top. After a couple days, the boards sat flat as we wanted them to.
Once that was dry, we used stainable wood filler for the cracks between the boards. I had seen this on Pinterest, so assumed we wouldn’t have any issues.
We did.
The wetness of the wood filler expanded the wood in the cracks, raising them higher than the rest of the table.
When it was fully dry, I sanded it down even, and then it started cracking which defeated the entire purpose of using the stinkin wood filler.
So far I’m feeling like I’ve ruined our table…
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I sanded down parts of the painted table bottom, and then got to staining the entire table. The table top, and over the painted legs. The stain gets into the sanded parts of the paint to give it a rustic look.
If you’ve never stained anything, the stain is applied and wiped off.
I did a couple coats of stain on the top to get it the color I liked.
I let the stain dry a couple days, and then decided I needed to do something about the cracked up wood filler. The only other thing I had, was some clear caulking by Gorilla Glue that was supposed to work with wood.
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I applied one coat of Poly, let it dry and sanded it. Once it was wiped down, I put down painters tape on the edges of the boards and filled it with the clear caulk.
I forgot to pull up the tape when it was still wet. When I pulled the tape off, it had a little bit of an overhang which I was not happy about, but I used an exacto knife to carefully cut those off.
I let the caulking dry overnight.
Once it was dry, I put the remaining layers of poly on top and let it dry a couple of days before bringing in the house.
With all the road blocks I ran into, I was thinking it would turn out to be a disaster, but I am very happy with how the table came out, and have gotten several compliments on it!
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Now I’m going to build a matching bench seat and refinish a couple of our chairs to match!
                       Becky Phillips
                          Mom of 2
  You can find more of my posts on                Workingwifemommalife.wordpress.com

Take it down a notch

Minimalization.

So much needed in my life right now.

I’ve been so overwhelmed with trying to keep up. My house, my kid’s school, my stay at home kid, events, friends, acquaintances, the Kardashians, TIME.

There’s so much going on, but how much of it actually involves ME, MY FAMILY, MY LIFE?

I had a text conversation with a couple friends the other day, and one mentioned something nobody had told me about. So I questioned it and was told that it was shared on Facebook.

I’d previously deactivated my Facebook. Mainly because it’s something else to keep up with. How many of these people are actually part of my real life? A handful or 2 at most. While I would love to know what everyone is up to, I don’t have the time to sit around and catch up on people by scrolling all day and I’ve GOT to break that habit.
If there something I should know, I assume a different avenue will be used to let ME know. Not just letting the world of Facebook know and leaving it up to chance or expectation for a certain person to see. If not, it wasn’t meant for me to know.
Let me tell you, just by doing this I have already felt relief.

My house. I’ve got to get rid of all the things. This has been stressing me so much lately. The kids have too much crap so they can’t focus on what to play with. It ends up being a treasure hunt that results in all of the toys all over the floor instead of their toy bins. I’m planning on keeping only a select amount of things. Move EVERY toy to the game room. Get them out of the house!!
Papers?? What do you do with all of your papers? There are literally papers everywhere…

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I cleaned the house for 7 hours on Sunday.
7 HOURS! I got rid of a lot of shit.
This was just from the living, dining, and master bedroom.
I made my husband go through his closet, stuff he doesn’t wear anymore. Get rid of it, because what happens is he’ll go to wear it, put it on, it doesn’t fit, it goes on the floor in the laundry pile and it’s in a never ending loop of being laundered when it’s never been dirtied. I made him get rid of all the socks with holes that he puts on and takes off when he sees the hole and throws on the floor. Same with underwear. I had gone through my closet a while back when i did my capsule wardrobe so I only had a few things to remove from my closet.
Drawers! I threw away a lot of drawer stuff. Old undies, shirts that were being held on to for “around the house/yard work/crafting/sleep” why would I need 124633674787 of those? I don’t. Get rid of it!
We now have 2 EMPTY drawers!
I have space to put away laundry now!!

I went through the laundry piles, to see what is too small, doesn’t get worn, etc. this cut down on the laundry I have to catch up on.
No more toys in mommy and daddy’s room. Maybe we can finally get to the point of having a nice grown up bedroom.
This stresses me out, too. Like why don’t we have a nice bedroom? I’ve got to get to work on that once I’m done with the whole house.

Toys!!! I got rid of a TON of toys. All the little bullshit that comes with other toys, accessories, barbie shoes (let’s be real, there was only 1 of each shoe anyway after a day of having them). Baby toys that the kids don’t play with or are just not on their levels anymore, stuffed animals, stuff that is always left everywhere, blocks that were in the living room when they belong in my daughters room. Tired of asking for them to be picked up, tossed em. We now have 2 HALF FULL shelf bins and a basket for the living room stuffed animals. Praise the lord!
The next day was my daughter’s room, more crap gone. Clothes in the giveaway pile, old socks that don’t fit or have lost their matches, I’m over waiting on them to show back up again. Really, why was I even expecting them to come back from lost sock land??

I still have a long way to go, but my friend walking in and saying “the house looks GOOD, girl!” Was exactly what I needed to hear.

I didn’t start any of this from reading a book or following a plan, I started because it’s one less thing to lose my shit over, and I have been way too stressed out lately.

A cluttered home=a cluttered life. I just can’t do it anymore.

To those of you who always have a clean home, I assume you don’t have as much crap as we do. I’m gonna say you got rid of all your shit when you moved into your home so you didn’t have to do this… it makes me feel better to assume that.

Recently we’ve been talking about finding out what our home value is now, selling (if we would make a profit), and downsizing. Pay off everything. Have a smaller mortgage so we can travel and do things we want to without worrying about being on one income.

Happiness vs. Suffering

I’ve got to work on the happiness…

Declutter. Not just my home but my life.

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Becky Phillips

You can find more of my writings at Workingwifemommalife.wordpress.com