6 habits of highly effective people at home with a young family.

Having a new family is overwhelming.

It is lonely, it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do, it’s all-consuming, and it’s risky but its also highly rewarding and leads to your most treasured memories and friendships.

Sound familiar? Started a business? Worked your way up a ladder? Studied hard?
Or started a family? It’s the same thing. Really.

Simplify

In business it means streamlining and prioritizing.
In a home with young children this is equally vital.
Do one thing a day, prioritize family and close friends, give your children a good base of tools and emotional language to empower them from a young age so they can take part in decision-making.

Manage distractions

The demand of your attention is endless. The supply is limited.
Without boundaries you’re dead. Find a routine and structure that works and stick to it. Rules help.
Start early, this way you can take care of matters that are most important to you before you are endlessly interrupted.

Inspiration

Humans are gregarious by nature.
Your situation is fairly unique and few people can relate to you.
You are sleep-deprived, your time is limited, and some envy your position. Everybody needs inspiration. Find one person or book or song that inspires you and revisit them as often as possible. Do it guilt free. You cannot keep giving without also receiving. And avoid people who drain your energy, cut them loose.

Seize small units of time

Empower yourself to take advantage of gaps. If someone is late, read something you’ve been delaying, make that phone call you’ve been postponing. Make sure your phone and laptop are charged and remember to pack your book or magazine. Change your attitude.

Make lists and set goals

“If you fail to plan, your plan to fail”.
Prioritize three things every day and do them first.
A concerted effort of planning takes 5 minutes and saves you hours of wasted time and mental fatigue.
Spend 5 minutes setting up the agenda for the meeting and stick to it.
Dedicate 5 minutes to plan the meals for the week, and shop once.
Pack a ‘get-away bag’ once with everything you may need for the baby and leave it at the door.

Multitask

Within reason. This is a minefield.
Don’t become ineffective. But work smarter.
Type emails that are easy to forward, keep templates, use auto-complete.
Cook for a week and freeze instead of cooking every night.

That’s it.

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Why the journey of life is like running

Running allows me time to think. To really brew.

The beauty of life is that it is so complex and immense that the challenges and joys are revealed to us slowly. Various seasons unfold and create new opportunities for us to understand each other and ourselves better.
We can’t fast track these moments and we can’t avoid them.
But, we can choose our response and our lesson. When we make a good choice we’re left in awe afterwards trying to understand how good things can emerge from setbacks.

I have read that females are better at pattern recognition. It’s a survival instinct. We analyse what happened, what triggered it, and what we can learn from it. I take mental notes and replay them while I’m running. It’s just me and my thoughts, my heartbeat and the sound of my feet on the road, or better yet, the sound of crashing waves, rumbling rivers, or chirping birds.

Our journey through life can be compared to running in so many ways, but for me, the three most meaningful correlations are the ones that bring me freedom and happiness.

Keep an open mind

Runners don’t judge. On the open road we don’t know where people come from or where they are going. Whether they’re starting or ending, newbies or oldies, improving on a personal best or cruising comfortably.

In life we’re all on a journey of our own. Created somewhere unique and headed for somewhere extraordinary. The journey takes us up hills, into wind, along single tracks and makes us stronger and braver. Occasionally we’re rewarded with an extraordinary view or a flat road that makes it all worth while.

Everyone’s journey merits respect and adoration. It’s never easy. Use your energy wisely.

Follow your passion and work hard

Many people have said it: “you’re a product of your environment” and “follow your passion with determination”. I love to run in mountains, isolation and sacred quiet places. These places are not easy to find or reach. So the people I come across are equally determined and share the same passion. We have something in common that we’re willing to sacrifice our breath and time for.

The same is true for our choices in daily life, companies, or families. Set parameters to create the ideal environment. Know your values and what is worth pursuing. Actively chase these ideals through focus and hard work. You’ll find like-minded people and feel supported and inspired.

This is where the magic happens.

Opportunity cost

I love spending time with my family and would always rather be at home with them. Weeks are busy and weekends are a sacred time to be together.
But I love running and need my fix. Therefore I optimize my run and use the opportunity to demonstrate the concept of opportunity cost to my children. What good is it for me to preach to them about pursuing their passion if I’m not willing to do the same?

We’ve come up with a good solution: Go fast, go steep and go early.

No matter what we do, there is always a sacrifice. We need to learn to back our decisions. Guilt free. Either you’re in or out. You want to or don’t want to. It’s that simple. Do it and don’t feel guilty, or don’t do it and let go of any regrets. Learn to optimize. If you’re comfortable that you’re setting a good example or teaching a valuable lesson to your children in the process, go for it. They’ll understand and respect you for it one day.

Take responsibility and follow your heart. We only have this life once.

Insight into inspiration

I’m at the Wired Women conference in Johannesburg and feeling very inspired. We should all take time to indulge in moments that inspire us, its worth it!

“Dreams have no age limit!” Keep dreaming, girls, there are many stars who only emerged after the age of 40. Walt Disney was fired from his job as a newspaper editor for “lacking imagination”…

Don’t allow anyone to curb your dreams, including yourself. Emerge. Only you know what you want to be remembered for and only you can make it happen.

Have a great day
xx

Ever heard of Elim?

All roads certainly don’t lead to Elim. The GPS calls it 34°35′30″S 19°45′30″E.

On the map you might see L’Agulhas or Napier, but Elim is much smaller and might not feature at all. Its picturesque in an anachronistic kind of way. Not much has changed since its establishment as a Moravian mission station in the 1820’s. The local folk are clad in suits and skilled as nimble artisans. The area was selected (the by missionaries) for the ability to grow vines for communion… Need i say more. Good wine? Yes!

A weekend of driving with three small mites evoked feelings of self-inflicted torture. Nevertheless, we braved the road, and the reward was worth the ‘padkos’ sugar-rush.

Wild flowers and frolicking lambs were evidence of spring from Hermanus to Gansbaai and through Baardskeerdersbos (what de what?). Upon arrival at the Black Oystercatcher, we laboriously had to deal with delicious wine, seasonal food, a lawn, a pool, a puppy and joyous children in a laid-back beautiful setting. Hard, i know.

The climate in Elim is stormy, windy and cold and this results in excellent Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends that age well. Go. Now. Experience the epicness of Ghost Corner and Strandveld Adamastor. John Platter loves it and so do we.

Finally, if you stay in the self-catering cottages at the Black Oystercatcher, they encourage you to help yourself from their luscious vegetable garden. Now that is what I call super cool.

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Strawberry fields forever

Life is busy, so I choose the path of least resistance.
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That means choosing healthy fruit and vegetables that are in season. They’re easy to find, in a delicious condition everywhere you look, and cheap.

For us right now, it’s strawberry season. Gotta love it. (Need I give a reason?)

Strawbs tick all the boxes: a meal, a snack, and a dessert. Oh they make my life so easy.
Where we live, it’s natural for my kids to learn about seasons. Autumn vines in orange glory, a river tumbling past our house in winter, and this, our favourite, strawberries in spring.
Fields of neat mounds draped with red berries surround us, sweet smelling boxes overflow in the shop isles, sometimes we pick them ourselves and we devour a box in a day.

I am determined for my little people to remember strawberry season forever. Eating so many that their lips turn red, happy spring days with bare feet in the sun. Green freshness bursting from trees, spring air and childish laughter.

An ode to the Strawberry:
Oh sweet smelling redness
Bursting with freshness

You appear each season
and give us reason
to await the welcome sun
with bare feet we run

Spring leaves and new vines
Remind us of good times
Many moments we steal
To enjoy you as a meal

Long after childhood days
The memory always stays
Fresh spring days
and bare feet plays.