Practice Makes… It Easier!

posted by Andrea | 10/19/2018

I’ve always been the type to learn by trial and error… so essentially everything I’m even slightly good at was, at some point, something I failed at (potentially many times)!

It’s sort of humbling to think of things that way!

As is often the case, most of the skills I have today are a direct result of years of “practice” and lots of trial and error — or maybe I’m the only one that has to try and try and try before something finally “clicks”!

Everything from cleaning and organizing, to meal planning and freezer cooking — parenting, blogging, decorating, budgeting, home management, etc. etc. are all skills I’ve practiced over and over and over and over throughout my life…

And although practice doesn’t make “perfect” as the familiar saying promises, practice definitely makes it a lot easier!

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Let me give you a few examples from my own life.

COOKING A HOT BREAKFAST: 

I get SO many emails and questions about the fact that I manage to serve a hot breakfast to my entire family (at 3 different times throughout the morning) every single day. They want to know how I do it, what foods I serve, how I make the timing work, how I get my kids to eat fast enough, how I keep the foods hot, etc. etc.

I completely understand how this might feel overwhelming for someone who has never tried to cook a hot breakfast or for someone who is NOT a morning person; however, it’s never been an issue for me because I’ve done it for so long.

I always made a hot breakfast before our kids were school age, and as they started school and needed to leave the house earlier, I’ve just shifted and adapted my routine a little each year to accommodate the new schedule.

Hot breakfasts might not be something I do forever and ever, but for now, my family appreciates them, I enjoy making them, and after so many years of practice, I have a solid routine down that allows me to get hot food in bellies each morning with very minimal effort.

Practice makes hot breakfasts (and all kitchen endeavors) so much easier! 

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KEEPING OUR HOUSE CLUTTER FREE: 

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone make an excuse for the reason their home wasn’t as neat or as organized or as clutter-free as they’d like it to be, I’m pretty sure Dave could quit his job!

I always just smile and nod… but in my head, I’m thinking “you just need to practice more and it wouldn’t feel so overwhelming.”

Of course, I never say that — but it’s true!

I have had hours and hours and HOURS of practice cleaning, organizing, and decluttering different spaces — all the way back to when I was very young, living with my parents. Obviously, it’s something I’ve always enjoyed, which makes it so much easier for me to WANT to practice this particular skill; however, the fact that I’ve put in the time to regularly and consistently practice this skill makes keeping my home organized (and sharing about it on my blog) so much easier!

Practice makes continual decluttering (and all home maintenance) so much easier! 

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RUNNING AN AT-HOME BUSINESS WITH CHILDREN: 

When I first started my organizing business and blog, I was working full time with no children. I did everything for my business in my spare time (which I had a lot of back then!) and eventually worked it to the point where I quit my full-time job in favor of a part-time flexible job with the same company.

Over time, that company turned into one of my Virtual Assistant clients as I began having children and decided I was only willing to work from home.

It was a HUUUUUUUGE learning curve for me to figure out how to best structure my day and prioritize my children, my house work, and my computer work… but after lots and lots of practice (and trial and error) I feel like I have a good routine that allows me to accomplish everything I need to accomplish each day with plenty of time for my family and home responsibilities.

I need to tweak and adjust my routine on a regular basis as my life and family and clients continue to adjust and change — however, continual practice makes it all possible!

Practice makes running an at-home business with children so much easier! 

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GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE WITH CHILDREN: 

I can vividly remember the very first time I took Nora to the grocery store as an infant — she screamed the entire time and I ended up abandoning my half-full shopping cart to head home.

It was a nightmare — and honestly, I think it “scared” me for a long time. I was so sure running errands with young children was life’s worst punishment that I simply vowed I wouldn’t do it anymore. I would just wait until Dave was home, wake up early, go out after they were sleeping, etc. etc.

However, then I ended up with 4 children and way too many to-do’s to accomplish them all when others were sleeping (I like to sleep too)!

I told myself it couldn’t be THAT horrible… and after several years of practice, I can happily report that I have taken all FOUR kiddos out and about more times this past year than I can recall. We’ve gone to the grocery store, various thrift stores, the doctor, the dentist, the kids’ school, various play groups, the mall (I know… I’m crazy!), various fast food restaurants, random community events, on bike rides and walks, to garage sales, to church functions, and more — all on my own!

Of course, sometimes I leave Clara home, and other times Dave and I take the kids out together, but many times I’m all on my own and it doesn’t even feel stressful anymore! Dave has even mentioned how impressed he is with my willingness to take all 4 kids to so many different places.

Practice makes getting out of the house with children so much easier! 

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JUST A FEW MORE: 

  • Meal planning
  • Freezer cooking
  • Eating more nutritiously
  • Implementing routines (laundry routines, bedtime routines, etc.) into our daily lives
  • Entertaining
  • Playing the piano for Sunday School

The more I do these things, the better I get at them, the more confident I feel in my abilities, and the the easier they feel.

I still don’t think practice makes “perfect” but I’m a firm believer that practice makes almost everything easier!

So… if there’s something you wish you were better at, something you wish was easier for you, something you wish you enjoyed more, my simple tip for today is PRACTICE IT!

Force yourself to take 10-20 minutes today and do something to practice that skill — whatever it may be.

Then do it again tomorrow, or at least in a few days again!

It won’t happen overnight, but soon enough, you WILL begin to notice a difference. You might never hit “perfect” but you’ll be better off than you are right now. 

What skills have you improved due to lots and lots and lots of practice?

Or, what area would you like to improve in?

One area Dave and I could use some practice in is taking our kids on vacation. It’s currently very overwhelming for us to even think about, but I have no doubt a little practice will make this feel so much easier!

We have a few different friends and relatives with multiple young children who travel CONSTANTLY. They have their systems and routines down, they know exactly what to pack (and what not to pack), they know where to go, who to contact, etc. etc. and they promise me it’s actually a fun and enjoyable experience.

I’ll get back to you in a few years when I’m ready to practice this skill more! 🙂

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26 comments

  1. Anna

    10/22/2018

    I’m sure this may sound odd but I struggle with being at home and struggle even more being at home with kids. I get bored a lot quicker than they do. I love to be out of the house but winter months make that really rough. So combating my boredom with the kids is tough. I have a pretty short attention span and am not a very art and crafty kind of person. I also don’t do well with a lot of television, reading or cleaning and organizing. I love being outside, exploring new places and driving are my favorite things to do.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    no, I know lots of people who don’t really enjoy being home. Have you checked your area for community programs, library programs, early childhood programs, church programs, etc. We have one that we can go to almost every morning if we want to.
    also, it might be worth the investment to join a gym or the Y or something — one that offers free daycare so you can get out and the kids can do something fun too!

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    Anna Reply:

    We do the library and the park mostly. But honestly its hard for me to associate with people as well. I love being out but not really associating with people for interaction. It drains me to have to do a lot of interacting with people at events. I save most of that kind of energy for school related events with the kids. Our town is too small for a free daycare type of programs and gyms unfortunately.

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  2. Trina

    10/20/2018

    Email and mail clutter. Too easy for me to look the other way, but I know I need to deal with it.

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  3. Bonnie'sMama

    10/20/2018

    Oooh, blog post, please, Andrea–how to take four small children anywhere by yourself! My four are 2 months to 8 years old, and I would love tips about how to take them places by myself. My husband works from home, so I don’t actually have to take them many places by myself. But I don’t like feeling like it would be a really frustrating experience if I did try it.

    We started parenting through foster care, and almost every day I packed up all three toddlers and took them places by myself. My triple stroller and I were invincible! But after being pregnant and/or nursing for the past nearly six years, I don’t quite have that kind of energy.

    Two things I’ve practiced and become good at are laundry and dishes. Regardless how tired I am or how much I’d rather do other things, most nights I load the washer and the dishwasher. My reward is waking up to clean clothes and clean dishes. It’s a beautiful system.

    I got better at traveling with children because I had to do it a lot and because I changed my mindset about it. I accepted that it was part of our life and that it will just plain involve plenty of moments when it is not ideal, maybe uncomfortable, when we have to make do without some things, and when all the children melt down at once (staying out too late, being around big crowds, etc), BUT that we would all survive those moments just fine. Most importantly, I realized that I am the one who will shape the traveling into positive or negative experiences for my children. Even though my husband is more laid-back about traveling, if Mama ain’t happy, my frustration and griping will make unpleasant memories for all of us. I have the opportunity and capability to transform something I don’t naturally enjoy into a lot of good memories for our family. And with LOTS of grace from God and lots of practice, I have learned to do traveling with kids pretty well.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I don’t think I could ever really blog about that with any sort of “instructions” for other parents. I honestly think it all comes down to just doing it, figuring out what works for YOUR kids and YOUR personality, and continually tweaking it as you go.

    That said, now that Clara is a year old, it’s MUCH easier! Give yourself another year and you might realize the same thing!

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  4. Ann

    10/19/2018

    I need practice *putting it away, Not putting it down!*

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  5. Sandy

    10/19/2018

    Practice makes Progress
    We don’t have kids, but we foster/raise/train puppies for Paws With A Cause, a service dog organization. Puppies, like people, have different quirks 🙂 and learning curves, even from the same litter. We have them for a year before they go in for professional training for their specific client.
    We say “practice makes progress” and it’s true. I have never liked the practice makes perfect saying, because, face it, NO ONE (on earth) is or will be perfect. As a type A, you and I know as much as we try, it’s not going to happen.
    Practice does make it easier and produces progress toward our goal. Even folding fitted sheets!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes exactly — practice makes progress!

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  6. Ashley

    10/19/2018

    I think this is such a great point, but we don’t always want to practice what we’re not good at, because we have to struggle through it. Your mindset is different after practice, because you’re confident in what does or doesn’t work for you and your family. I do think the things we practiced a lot before kids makes it easier once you do have kids. I regularly cooked 5-6 nights a week before kids, so while I make simpler, quicker meals now, I still cook. We used to travel a ton and got really comfortable with it before kids. It’s definitely more work (and way less relaxing) with little ones, but as in so many things in life, it’s easy to make things more complicated than they have to be.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes! It’s much more fun to just stick with the things we’re already good at — but it’s also amazing for me to realize how quickly we can improve on the things we aren’t so great at with just a little practice!

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  7. Evie

    10/19/2018

    Remember that the three older children are also practicing and refining their “going someplace as a family” skill and getting better and better at it. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, this is very true!

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  8. Margaret

    10/19/2018

    Prepping all my dinners for the week.. I have always bulk-cooked and eaten my way down through a pot of something–I don’t mind eating the same thing every day if I like it, and if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t make it (helps that I’m single and live alone)–but 2 years ago I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and I have chosen to manage it entirely with diet and exercise. That meant that all the quick-to-prepare high-carb foods were literally off the table, except in very small portions.
    After 2 years of practice I can go to the farmers’ market on Saturday morning with my CSA basket, come home, prep a week’s worth of dinner salads in canning jars (and I have also learned what can be combined and what needs its own jar), hard-boil eggs, grate and portion cheese, portion soft fruit, pre-slice the small servings of bread I can have, empty the trimmings in the compost, and wash the dishes, all in well under 2 hours. The rest of the week I only need to grab jars out of the fridge, usually to pack for work, sometimes to eat at home. I do make other meals, like chili, black bean soup, or stir-fries on my nights off.
    And it’s paid off, big time, I’ve lost 50 pounds, and my a1c is now 5.8.

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  9. Anonymous

    10/19/2018

    Cookies! I had to learn to take them out of the oven BEFORE they looked done! They finished baking on the hot cookie sheet! Now my cookies are soft and yummy!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — this is one of my leas favorite things about baking a new recipe for the first time. I’m never sure when exactly to take it out of the oven 🙂

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  10. Cathy

    10/19/2018

    My most recent would be incorporating a dog into our life. I resisted for a long time because I felt I couldn’t take on more. Then I got to the point where I saw my daughter really needed a dog in her life, but no puppy! I thought it would just be to much.

    Then we fell for a puppy!

    It took time and a lot of practice to find our routines at each stage of his life, but I’m so happy I finally agreed to do it and can’t imagine our lives without our furry little boy.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    YES! I can take time to find a new routine — but it’s SO worth it once you find that routine. You save so much time and energy in the long run! Enjoy that new puppy!

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  11. Stephanie

    10/19/2018

    Again, I like and appreciate your perspective! I tend to be hard on myself and think “well, if I knew then what I know now, things would have gone better!” instead of looking at the past as trial and error and practice.

    I do look back to when our oldest four were little and we traveled frequently. They knew the airport routine, the on-the-plane routine, etc. They were good at it. Our youngest, however, doesn’t travel well so we haven’t gone on many trips. When my husband and I do get away for a business trip, I sometimes don’t pack everything I need simply because I am out of practice as we usually travel only once a year now.

    I am going to take this new perspective and apply it to my day-to-day goals. Thanks, Andrea!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s very easy to get “out of practice” for things you don’t do very often. Just remind yourself that you can relearn that skill again — probably much faster the 2nd or 3rd time!

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  12. Christine

    10/19/2018

    Thanks for the encouragement! I need to practice my putting away the laundry right away skills more often. 🙂

    I laughed when I got to the end because the whole time i was reading, i was thinking, Now they just need to practice their vacationing skills more often. 😉 It really is SO worth it! Even if i remember the trip as being terrible, all the kids only have good memories and love looking at the pictures.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, our kids always think traveling anywhere is “so fun” — meanwhile, Dave and I swear we’ll never do it again!

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  13. Brenda

    10/19/2018

    As for the vacationing with kids, that gets easier as your youngest gets a little older. With small kids, you’re not really on vacation, you’re just chasing them around in a different location!

    I was amazed when I took my kids camping this summer how much fun I had. It was actually relaxing! They are 7 & 11 and I could let them go to the playground together (without me). It was a very family-friendly campground and I could see the playground from out tent, but I didn’t have to stand out there trying to be excited about swinging!

    I think you’ve done a very good job of making your house and summer schedule very fun and vacation-like for little kids.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    exactly! it’s not a ‘vacation’ it’s a ‘trip’ 🙂
    And yes, I’m certain it will be easier once the kids are older. I can’t wait for the day when we can leave the house with a stroller, or diaper bag!

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  14. Mary Ann

    10/19/2018

    I can so relate to your statement about the things that you are good at were things you had to practice over and over. I have friends who say they wish they could cook, etc like I do but it doesn’t come naturally to them. It didn’t come naturally to me either; just ask my family!!!LOL Lots of practice for sure!

    Someone said to me a number of years ago in regards to changes in routine for children, etc. that giving any change 2 weeks usually is a good time frame to see if something will work. I think about that a lot with so many areas of life. Can I give it 2 weeks? It’s so easy to give up after the first few times, but practice, practice, routine, routine is often what it takes to make things work. Obviously, many things may take longer than 2 weeks but it’s a reminder to not give up but take some time and then reevaulate what is working, what is not and if anything needs tweaking to work better.

    Great post!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for sharing Mary Ann! I love the idea of giving it 2 weeks before you make any assumptions of if it will work or not. That’s a good way to think about it!

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