Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Small Switches that Make a Difference

Even the closest families and the best relationships can get stuck in a rut or grow apart in this hectic, digital world that we live in. By making a few small adjustments or switching up your routine, you can create romance and quality time with moments that are memorable and fun.
I've learned that the most important switch that I made was from going with the flow to scheduling a routine. Having a to do list and planning your day ensures that you make the most out of every minute. You already know how long it takes you to drive back and forth to your child's school, the grocery store and most places that you drive to and from each day. Now you just need to find out how much time you're spending on other things. Keep a log of how much time you spend sleeping, watching tv, checking email or on the internet in general, doing hobbies, talking on the phone and texting, cleaning and cooking, working out, spending time with your kids (whether reading them a book, playing with them or giving them a bath), time with significant other, church, etc. 
After you keep track for a few days of the time you are spending on various activities, you may be surprised by how much time you spend on non essentials -watching tv or scrapbooking for example - that can be put to better use. I don't mean that you should cut out your tv or hobbies altogether but maybe while watching tv you can run in place or ride a stationery bike for a half  hour then do weights or other exercises. You can also do some hobbies while watching tv. The main thing is to get from this is to discover how much time you can cut from non essential activities and switch that time over for family time or romance. Prioritize and consolidate activities!
Switch from working out alone for an hour at the gym or on the treadmill - however you workout - and instead go for a hike or out dancing with your significant other. You can find other ways to burn calories if hiking or dancing is not your thing.
Switch from the same old routine and surprise your loved one with a love note in their pocket or on the mirror. A fantastic way to surprise them would be to send the kids to a sitter, turn your bedroom into a hotel - add flowers and candles, pillows and other items that make it feel like a new room.
Switch your kids to an earlier bed time - even if it's just 15 minutes or a half hour earlier. Spend that extra time connecting with your partner each night.
There are so many little things you can do to add a touch of romance to your relationship. Put a love note  in their jacket pocket, compliment them, bring little surprises home and just remind them that you love them most of all!
When it comes to spending more quality time with your family, switch at least once a week from eating separately to eating with everyone - the whole family - at the same time, with no distractions like tv or cell phone-PERIOD. The rule also applies to mom and dad! This will give your family time to communicate and just get some face time together!
For yourself, switch bad habits for good ones! I've heard that it takes 90 days to both form and break a habit so get started now on quitting cursing, flossing twice a day, quitting smoking, starting pilates, etc. and you'll have gotten rid of a harmful element and/or added a pleasant one to your life by July!
One HUGE way to free up time for friends and family is to switch from saying yes to everyone who asks you to help at a work/church/school function or whatever else they need a volunteer for and start saying no! I know it's difficult. I still have a hard time telling my niece that I can't drive across town to pick up her boyfriend's cousin or that I can't help on a field trip with a group of kids that my daughter isn't even a part of. I have learned to quit agreeing to help out on things that I can't handle or that I don't have time for - if you do too, you'll find yourself feeling less stress and having more time for your priorities.
Here are some other small switches that can save money and time, plus make a huge difference in your quality of life and your relationships with friends and family:
-Switch from sodas to plain or sparkling water. You'll cut calories and sugar from your diet and get more hydration. Even if you drink diet sodas, there are still benefits to switching to water because many studies indicate that the artificial sweeteners in diet drinks can cause many health problems. You can just cut out a few sodas each week at first because quitting cold turkey may cause headaches and other withdrawal symptoms.

-Switch from paper or plastic bags at the grocery store and bring your own bags.

-Switch from frequent trips to the store and go bi monthly instead. This saves time, money, energy and gas. Plus, making fewer trips encourages you to buy in bulk which helps cut down on the ENORMOUS amount of waste from product packaging. When you are running low on groceries (or when you think you are - you'd be suprised once you dig into the pantry and freezer!) have pantry and freezer raids. More than likely, you will have more than enough ingredients for some great soups and casseroles. Cook large batches of them then freeze the extras. Voila! None of your groceries have gone to waste in the freezer, fridge or pantry, you didn't waste time on a trip to the store and now you have meals put away for future meals!

-Switch from texts and emails to old fashioned letter writing to just one or two friends a month! This may sound boring but I actually find it fun and therapeutic at times. Plus think about how great it is to receive a card or letter from a long, lost friend or family member. Chances are, the recipient will be thrilled and they will call you to thank you, which could let to a get together. In most cases, you'll be reminded of why you cherished the relationship, in some you will be reminded of why you ended it :-)

-Switch to Organic Produce when purchasing the ones with the most pesticides: Nectarines, celery, pears, peaches, apples, cherries, strawberries, imported grapes, spinach, potatoes, bell peppers and red raspberries

-Switch to a clutter free, tidy and clean home for less stress, more living space and a better quality of life in general. Get rid of items that you don't use, clothes you don't wear and toys that your kids don't play with. Have a yard sale or donate the items. I know that it's hard to part with things that are sentimental or items that you paid a lot of money for. I had to rationalize it that it was worth more to my sanity to get rid of the items. I live in an extremely small home so any extra space helps out immensely. My daughter is a collector of shabby, disgusting stuffed animals so I have to sneak a few out each month to keep a handle on her clutter but I am finally getting it all under control.

-Switch things up to add more exercise to your day to day routine. Get a pedometer to keep track of how many steps you take then add a few more steps each day. Park in a far off spot instead of close to the door, take the stairs at work or if you live in an apartment, take a walk at lunch time, take a walk with your family and incorporate exercise into family time. 

What could you switch that would improve your relationships or quality of life? What are some ways that you add romance to your relationship?

Have you heard about the Cottonelle Ultra Switch?  
About Cottonelle
The Cottonelle brand provides innovative comfort solutions for perineal personal care. Cottonelle toilet paper is available in three forms: Cottonelle Ultra toilet paper, Cottonelle Aloe & E toilet paper, and Cottonelle Premium toilet paper. To help people feel cleaner and fresher than with toilet paper alone, Cottonelle offers Cottonelle Fresh Flushable Moist Wipes and Cottonelle SoothingClean Flushable Moist Wipes enriched with Aloe & E.

More info about the Cottonelle Ultra Switch:

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Cottonelle blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.