How to balance work around a busy family life

How to balance work around a busy family life

I posted this article to my Facebook wall that garnered some great discussion- the topic was balance, and if it exists. 

The article argues that of these 5 things: family, sleep, work, friendships and exercise- you can only do 3 well. The other 2 will suffer.

Based on observing my own life I would have to agree with this 3/5 premise. In my life currently sleep is always the area I let suffer, despite my desire to wake up early

So what gives? Are we doomed to always live lives that are out of whack? Does balance not exist and is the pursuit of it futile? 

After running a business for 8 years and having 5 kids during 6 of those years, I would agree- expecting a 50/50 split, or trying to pursue equal distribution of time between work, family, exercise, friends and rest is just not realistic. 

I prefer my friend Mona Corwin's definition of balance- which is that balance is achieved when attention is given at the proper amount in the proper place at the proper time.

This definition of balance resonates so well with me, and is definitely more attainable- there are always going to be seasons where work might need more attention, or family might need more attention. But even with adjusted expectations, the pursuit of balance and succeeding at it all can be pretty challenging. Here are a few of my strategies, to borrow Michael Hyatt's phrase, to win at work and succeed at life and balance "it all":

1. Schedule your most important priorities first, and actually keep those appointments

I have done Michael Hyatt's 5 days to your best year ever course 2 years in a row, and exercise was on the list of goals for the year both times. I had high hopes to exercise 3 times a week, go to bed early and eat healthy. I would block off the time in my calendar to work out in the morning and put my clothing out the night before. But my challenge was, I would never keep the appointments. I would come up with a million reasons why I should not work out and cancel these appointments I had made with myself to get healthy. So towards the end of 2015, I took drastic measures and I hired a personal trainer who comes to my house. I can't exactly cancel on her when she is standing in my living room- and the results have been amazing. To illustrate this point in another area, every Tuesday morning I participate in a program for my three youngest kids at our local community centre. I adore the time I get to spend with my kids in this interactive play group we attend. It's marked as a recurring appointment in my calendar and I schedule work around it.

The key is to spend this time on paper before it gets spent for you. In an ideal world I would schedule components from each of the 5 pillars mentioned above- work, family, sleep, friendships and exercise, not in equal amounts but in amounts appropriate to whatever season of life you are in- with intention. And then actually keep the appointment, regardless if it's an appointment only you are attending. 

2. Remember the why behind the appointment

I think a big reason why things fall to the wayside, or items get pushed to the bottom of a never ending list, is that we forget why it's important to do it. I did not care about my physical fitness really, until I was forced to. At the end of 2015, I was doing the every day, routine task of putting my 2 year old in her high chair. I lifted the 18 lbs sweetheart of a girl out of the chair and because I did not lift using proper muscles, I threw out my back completely. I was in agonizing pain, completely immobilized, feeling like a total failure and moron for letting myself get so out of shape. That was the straw that literally broke the camel's back for me, and I was reminded if I don't take care of my health, I can't be there for my family. So whether it's being present in your kids' lives when they need it most, or making time for a coffee with an old friend, always remind yourself why these things are important and the benefits that come from keeping these appointments, 

 3. Delegate, automate, delete

I utter these three words almost daily as I am constantly reviewing the processes in which I do things. Because I have 5 kids, and I really want to be present to them as much as possible, I delegate a lot. Anything that can be automated with technology I automate, and anything that just does not need to happen anymore I delete. Some practical tips from my life include:

– Delegate: In my business I use this filter to determine what gets delegated: what am I not good at / is some else just as good or better than me at this? In my life these include accounting, anything related to my website aside from writing blog posts, shopping for products for styling days, graphic design, anything related to web marketing except fo the creation of the actual content. In my home life I have delegated house cleaning and laundry, still trying to figure out a grocery shopping option that isn't super costly (I just learned you can shop for groceries online and pick them up at Walmart in the GTA- next on my list of things to try to save me time!) 

– Automate: The way in which I book and take payments for my 2-hour design consultations is now automated. I am currently figuring out gmail tags that allow you to forward specific kinds of emails off, like invoices, directly to my accountant. My trainer and I work out at the same times every week, so I don't have to think about it too much. I have a friend who puts people into his calendar so he remembers to call them and stay in touch every other month. Love this "automated" approach to staying in touch with friends. 

– Delete: In my life, we keep the weekends pretty commitment free if possible to give ourselves tons of margin for unexpected plans. I say no to projects that won't fit within the number of hours I want to work. We are selective in the number of activities our children participate in. I limit the number of media previews or other work appointments in the evenings which is precious family time to me. 

These are some practical ways I strive for balance- I would love to know some of your strategies in the comments below. And special thanks to Anna With Love for the shot above with my third child, and an exciting batch of photography for some new content I am creating on motherhood and balance. #excited #staytuned  



I used to think I would always live in chaos. Hello- I have 5 children. But then I discovered what happens when you tidy up.

Don’t worry, this isn’t another blog post applauding the KonMari method (although don’t get me wrong, I am kinda obsessed with her tidy folded tees) but it is a discussion on why cleaning up is so worth it. 

I have decorated hundreds of rooms for tv and residential projects alike and supervised many renovations- and experience has taught me that you can put hundreds and thousands of dollars, countless hours into a project, hire the best trades, spend thousands of dollars in furnishings, and hire the best photographer for magazine swoon worthy images, but if your house is constantly covered in crap- it doesn’t matter. Your house- and life- will be in chaos.

This is why I love the title of Marie Kondo’s highly applauded book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”- because living without piles of clutter, living without hunting for something in a rush, living with the peace that comes with a space that allows you room to breathe and be at peace is life changing. 

Tidying up is not an easy task for me. I live with 5 small people who are basically experts at dumping every possible toy bin on the ground. I have a laundry room that currently has a pile of unfolded clothing that is 4′ high. And at the end of the day, after the regular rewarding duties of work and child rearing, all I want to do is Netflix binge. 

But here is why tidying up is worth it, and why it matters for you.

1. You deserve a clean house

After working hard for other people all day, I cannot think of anyone who deserves a clean house to relax in more than you. I used to think it was a fruitless exercise- I used to say things to myself like “I could never have a clean house with the amount of children I have” or “I’m just too tired to clean” or “what’s the point it is just going to get messy tomorow”. But when I forced myself to be disciplined and get over all my personal objections to why I should not tidy- and actually just did it- it was pretty amazing. I’m not saying every single room in your house has to be completely tidy every night before you go to bed. But I do argue the place you relax in at the end of the day should be- mainly because you will get so much out of it. So do it. 

2. It will save you time

While my house is far from perfect, I have developed systems to make things like the morning rush as efficient as possible- mainly because I have so many people to get out the door and I just don’t have time to look for things. So the art of tidying up- getting rid of things that don’t bring you joy, making sure you empty junk drawers on occassion- will streamline things so you’re not hunting through junk to find the one thing you need.  

3. It will decrease stress

I have never met anyone who just LOVES to search for things at the last minute. Let’s face it- especially where kids are involved, hunting for something right before you have to leave for a class, or trying to find keys as you are already running late for an appointment  is no fun. Tidying up and creating systems for storage will bring you peace and just make your life easier, trust me. 

4. It will keep your house looking beautiful

Again, you could hire me to design your entire house, spend a billion dollars on furnishings, accessories and art, and have a gorgeous space to be proud of- but if it is constantly covered in paper, clothing, “just-in-case” items, and general mess, it will look like a mess. And no one can fix that but you (or your cleaning lady)!

Are you convinced that tidying up is worth it? Want some help doing it? I’ve got a FREE 7-Day Declutter Bootcamp where you’ll get a 15-minute quick-win exercise daily (or a 60 minute deep dive if you have the time) to tackle key areas of your home and get you on the path to keeping your home looking beautiful. ‘Cause really- that the secret to keeping a beautiful home- an organized one. 

Love to know how you’re doing if you are currently taking the challenge in the comments below- happy decluttering!


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The Toronto Gift Fair, a sprawling trade-only show where store buyers purchase all the goods that show up on our retail shelves is on right now and I'm giving you the inside scoop on what will be hitting the floors the nation over this 2016. Show ambassadors Glen Peloso and Jamie Alexander took me on a tour of the top spots- so grab a latte and stay while- here are the trends that are here to stay.  

1. Metals are meant to be mixed

As I shared in my live Periscope with Glen and Jamie (you can catch the replay here), metals are meant to be mixed. Rose gold is still a thing, gold is more brushed and antiqued than it is shiny,  and chrome can be thrown into the mix too as exemplified by booths like Bovi Home and Torre and Tagus.

2. Grey is still a big thing

Grey was everywhere at the show- which means that it is still here to stay. It's not waning- but what I observed is that is it is warm- by using warmer tones of grey / layering it with a ton of textures, natural fibers, mix of mattes and high shine. Indaba's booth was a master at this mix.

3. Text on anything is still in

While I am not a fan of using text in obvious cheesy ways, the trend of text in interior decor isn't going anywhere. Handwritten saying on pillows were all over the floor, as were the popular handwritten sayings on mugs, journals and other paper products. 

4. Natural woods among modern forms

The contrast of a live edge wood against a glass top or a metal leg was pretty huge. Jamie and Glen shared their favourite ways to incorporate wood into any decor style in this Periscope replay with me.

5. Retro throwbacks

Particularly at Canadian designed brand Danica, whimsical, fresh interpretations of very retro themes were all the rage. Think corningware like your mom had but in fresh bright colours and graphic patterns. 

My thanks to Jamie and Glen for the personal tour of the show, which is open to the trade until this Thursday. See all these trends hit the shelves of your fav retailers throughout the year. And of course, if you need help integrating these trends into your home, you know who to call