Right now, the Larkin Family is driving back to Chicago, and all we can talk about is how April and May are going to be our Months of Calm. Mitch and I have instated a self-imposed “travel ban,” and I think it’s going to be amazing for us. I know I’ve spoken about this many times in recent weeks, but I have to say it again: our adventures have been awesome, and never in a million years did I think I’d have some of the experiences I’ve had over the last couple of months. I’m beyond grateful! But I’m excited to have the comforts of home, sleep in my own bed, see friends, do laundry, have workdays, and make dinner. You know: to feel settled and have a routine.
(All of that said, I think I’ll always be one of those people who wishes she was traveling when she’s home for “too long” and vice versa. Mark my words: in the next month, Mitch and I will grow antsy, and next thing you know, we’ll be booking flights. 😂 Last year, I asked readers to hold us accountable when we said we were pulling back the reigns on our busy lifestyle. And one reader–I think it was Susan?!–did. She said something along the lines of “Kelly! Things are calm for you right now! Keep it that way! Just go spend the day downtown.” SO helpful, haha. Do you guys mind doing that again for us? 😉 Thank you!)
After my first trip this year, I quickly learned that it’s very easy to let my life spiral into complete chaos upon returning home. There’s just so much to do in order to “catch up,” and it’s really easy to end up feeling overwhelmed and downright defeated. So pretty much right away, I put the kibosh on having that feeling, and decided to do a few things on a daily basis to help me create a calmer life at home. A few of ’em are no-brainers, but they’ve made a big difference, and I thought I’d share them today:
6 Ways to Lead a Calmer Life
Create a morning routine that makes me happy
At first, I kind of gave up on a nice morning routine in favor of tackling other tasks. Showering? Getting dressed? Taking care of myself? Pssssh. Those things could wait. There were mounds of laundry, tons of cleaning to do, (late) projects to complete, errands to run, appointments to make, and e-mails to catch up on. But after a few days of running around like a dirty chicken with its head cut off, I started to feel a little down. I looked bad and felt bad. And my productivity was suffering because of it.
Enter my morning routine. About half the time, I do it before Emma wakes up. If she gets up early, though, Mitch does his first and then we switch.
Here are a few steps that make my personal routine absolutely lovely:
Pampering myself in the shower. Self-care is always the first thing to fly out the window when life gets busy, but I recently started using a bunch of Ivory products, and it’s been so lovely.
Because we have such sensitive skin, my Irish family has been buying Ivory for as long as I can remember. (Did you know Ivory has created soap that is 99.44 percent pure for over 138 years?! The company continues to uphold its standard of using only pure and purposeful ingredients in products, and I love how the brand understands that a lot of people are looking for simple, gentle cleaners. The Ivory Original 3-Bar has a new look, but it’s the same pure soap it’s always been, free of dyes and heavy perfumes.)
But this is my first time using the brand’s body wash, and I love it! I’ve been using the dye- and paraben-free Ivory Free & Gentle Body Wash with Pear and Sandalwood–formulated to cleanse and nourish skin. I love how it includes the #1 dermatologist-recommended moisturizing ingredient. Mitch is using Ivory Original Body Wash, which features a new gentle formula and is also free of dyes and heavy perfumes. We obviously have a ton going on at all times, but it’s nice to know there’s a fuss-free line of products we can rely on. They don’t cause our family irritation or breakouts, and the smell (if any!) is subtle and relaxing. An added bonus? Using Ivory products doesn’t make my morning routine longer; it actually simplifies it!
Embracing “happy music.” I use the Sonos system, which Mitch set up through our house. I pump the tunes and usually sing my little heart out in the shower. Right now, I’m really into Kelsea Ballerini because I enjoy pretending I’m a country music singer, haha. Seriously, though: seems like such a given, but I can’t believe how much happier my days are when I start them out with music.
Creating new outfits by mixing and matching/Pinterest. Raise your hand if you find yourself wearing the same outfits day-in and day-out. If it makes you feel any better, I’m with you. And I’m technically a fashion blogger, haha. To liven up my everyday looks, I’ve been creating a few cute outfits once a week with the help of Pinterest. I seriously just search “Preppy Spring Outfits,” and go with whatever I can create with what I already have in my closet. Then I hang ’em on my clothing rack and I’m good to go for the week. I find when I look better, I feel better… and I get so much more done!
Take time every day to fix or accomplish something non-pressing
This has been huge for me. So often, I feel like I’m putting out fires. One minute it’s a deadline that’s quickly approaching, and the next it’s running to get a new “city sticker” for the car before the old one expires and we get a ticket. I’ve found, however, that if I accomplish just one non-pressing task every day, life slowly becomes calmer and more enjoyable. Silly example, but we had this non-functioning light switch for the longest time, and the other day, we finally replaced it. We could of continued to push it to the bottom of our to-do list for another couple of years, but we DID it, and it now truly gives me joy each time I use it.
So these days, I’m reserving 15 minutes every night to do something similar, like write a thank you card I’ve been meaning to send, complete a return that’s been sitting on the floor for a week, or finally put together that silly end table. (Okay. That one took more than 15 minutes, but you catch my drift.) Sometimes I can do these tasks with Mitch, too, and we usually find ourselves laughing during it and having a lot of fun!
Similar Desk (This is my high school bedroom!)
Create a “me” place and use it
After going to the Abacos with my friend Carly, I’ve been really inspired to create my own space in the house where I can both get my work done and write for myself. (Carly is the most organized person I know, and I’m the most disorganized. 😂 She’s been helping me revamp my workflow and I’m so appreciative!) Right now, my workspace situation is terrible. Since it’s the kitchen table and because I have a toddler, I’m constantly having to wipe it down. There are crumbs all over the place, and no matter how much Windex I use, everything is sticky.
Last year, I turned our home office into a full-on guest room, and I’ve since decided that it was a mistake. Because we only have three bedrooms in our house, the third room needs to function as both a guest room and an office. So I’m redoing it once again! I’m going to paint the walls “Gray Owl” by Benjamin Moore, diluted by 50 percent–which is what I painted the rest of the house. And then I’m going to move the bed to another wall; sell our dresser and campaign night stands which are essentially brand new; and invest in a desk (with drawers), new lighting, and perhaps a bookshelf or armoire.
I don’t plan on working in the guest room/office 100 percent of the time as it’s pretty dark. I am, however, really excited to have an organized space, and somewhere I can go when I need to get tasks done or spend some time alone!
Use Google Calendar
Carly and one of my very best friends–Tara, who I met at Fairfield U.–have been singing Google Calendar’s praises for a while. I held onto my paper calendar for as long as humanly possible, but now that Mitch does so much more for the blog and we have a family, it’s clear we need something both of us can rely on. (And something I can access while traveling!)
I’m sure you ALL use it, but Google Calendar has been a complete game-changer. Carly showed me that if you double click on an event, you can also add notes. I’m a visual person, so I also love that I can color code everything. Because of all this, nothing slips through the cracks anymore, and we’re rarely late on projects. We’re also cognizant about not over scheduling. Life is SO much calmer because of it!
Start every day with 10 minutes of a hobby
Sometimes, when I sit down at my computer in the morning, I feel really overwhelmed. Maybe I’ve had a busy month; maybe it’s just because I’m my own boss and I make the decision as to what I should tackle first. Either way, it used to be somewhat paralyzing.
Recently, I began starting my day with 10 minutes of a hobby to transition myself into the workday, and it’s helped. Sometimes I edit photos, which is so relaxing and enjoyable for me. Other times, I write for myself for those 10 minutes. And every once in a while, I surf Trulia, which is also fun. Anyone else LOVE exploring what’s for sale in different parts of the country? I’m obsessed with figuring out what X amount of dollars will buy me in Oklahoma versus what it’ll buy me in Vermont. Weird hobby, for sure. But fun, and it makes me feel a lot calmer as I start the workday!
Let some things slide & go to bed
Here’s the thing. As much as I want to be Danielle (one of my best friends here in Chicago ❤), I think I’ve realized that it’s just never going to happen, haha. I need to remember that by nature, my friend is an orderly person.. and by nature, I am not. Life’s too short to beat myself up about it. Danielle is the inspiration; the goal. But there will likely always be a little clutter in my home. Things will likely always be a little out of place. And there will likely always be handprints on my windows. And that’s okay. Hey, maybe it even adds a little character to our home?! ;)
One New Year’s resolution I’ve really stuck to this year is going to bed before or at midnight. Even if the house isn’t tidy or the work isn’t 100-percent complete. I do still struggle with guilt and that nagging feeling to stay up the extra hour to get it all done, but I somehow survived this crazy “travel season” without getting sick. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence! Sleep wins.
Do I live the calmest life? No. But making a concerted effort to lead a calmer one has resulted in just that. Would love to hear how you keep your crazy days at bay and maintain a clear head. I’m open to all ideas!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ivory. The opinions and text are all mine.