Who made the butter tarts?
On a rare occasion, someone gives you a gift that changes your life.
So I had this little festive idea. How about turning The Elf on The Shelf into a big-hearted clutter buster?
Here's how: As these little buggers invade homes across the country, they find one item a day to donate to charity. It’s about time they were productive members of society, don't you think?
Introducing ... The Get the Elf-ing Out of Here Basket
Kids will enjoy seeing what their nocturnal nomad selects for the donation basket or box. After the holidays, you can donate the whole kit and caboodle to a local charity. Or even more magical, leave the basket out with the stockings. See where I am going with this ... Santa himself can pick it up to make sure it gets donated. I checked with him. He's onboard.
Don’t have kids or a weird little elf doll, you say?
You can still adopt this daily holiday donation idea. Fun, right? If you want to pretend there’s a sly elf involved, hey, the more merry on you.
What I like about this game:
In case you haven't noticed, "do easy things" is a recurring theme here at Rock Your Chores.
As Mr. Christmas says, "Keep it simple, sweetheart." (He has no idea what this elf-shelf business is all about, and he's good with that.)
The goldfish and the winning streak
I was a scrawny little girl, until I wasn't. In high school, I started to gain weight.
Perhaps you’ve seen the chocolate milk photo. I had a serious sweet tooth and especially liked to raid the kitchen late at night.
One day in the middle of my post-puberty upheaval, my little brother won a goldfish at a school carnival.
My parents weren’t the types to run out to buy fish food, so my brother decided he would feed his new little buddy Cheerios. Just Cheerios.
I was convinced this was a really bad idea, and that little Goldie Hawn or Fran Sharkenton, or whatever he named it, wouldn’t survive very long on that toasted oats diet.
So I decided I could use that fish for my own dieting motivation.
I never said all my ideas are good ones.
So I bet my little bro that I could go without any food starting with the letter “C” while his goldfish was still alive.
I have no idea what we wagered. What I was really looking for was an accountability partner. Something to help me stay off the chocolate, cookies, candy, cheese, etc. The letter C is so damn delicious!
I think I made it a day, maybe two. That silly fish lived for months and months. Seriously.
What are the lessons here?
1. Be realistic about your abilities.
2. Don't compare yourself to others.
3. Forget Wheaties. Eat your Cheerios.
How about starting your own winning streak? It's fun and effective. And no animals will be harmed in the testing.
On a streak, baby!
When great sports teams achieve incredible winning streaks, no one really ever talks about the first victories. No announcer says, “Today, we saw the start of greatest winning streak in sports history.”
Yet, those early wins matter the most. The team grows more confident in their abilities. They begin to see themselves as winners. They established a habit of winning. They get the job done and then they do it again.
That’s a pretty powerful thing.
Developing better habits can work like that too. You consistently get it done, day after day, until suddenly you’re doing it on auto-repeat. Talk about a winner!
I promised I’d make chores more fun, and what’s more fun than winning?!
Ready to get the party started and create a streak in your own life?
How it works
Think of a simple and specific habit change you would welcome in your life.
Streaks works best for everyday actions. But hey, we’re making up the rules as we go here at Rock Your Chores. So maybe you have a habit in mind that would be great on a weekly basis, like trying a new recipe or going on a hike.
It’s your streak, baby. You set your intention and define your streak. (Did that feel creepy? Me calling you, "baby." Little bit? For me too.)
Here are a few ideas for everyday streaks—some I definitely need to work on myself. Side note: This streak technique is helping me rock one chore, but more about that in a later post.
1. Pick a habit and track your streak. I make simple hash marks with a dry erase pen on a menu board in my kitchen. I like the visual reminder of my winning record. But I discovered there’s also an app for that if that’s more your jam.
2. Celebrate each win, no matter how small. Run around the imaginary bases! Do a touchdown dance. Give your mama a shout out on TV. You’re on a streak! And your badass celebration is wiring your brain for future success. Remember Dr. Fogg’s advice.
3. Protect your streak like the fierce competitor you are, but don’t beat yourself up too badly if you do miss a day. That’s the thing about streaks … you can always start a new one, all bright-eyed and hopeful.
What I like about this game:
Halloween has come and gone. That means one thing: It’s time for my hubby to start poking me about Christmas. He’s like a big box store. He gets started early luring me into the holiday frenzy—the planning, the shopping, the stressing, all of the above.
I know some of you are probably thinking, “Wow, a spouse who is excited to share what can be a big ol’ seasonal stress show. Poor you.”
The Ghost of Christmas Past will tell you that I have treated his festive enthusiasm as an added burden in my life. Really? Can’t we just enjoy Thanksgiving first? I can’t think about Christmas right now. There’s plenty of time. Relax, would ya?
I was wrong.
Here are three lessons I’ve learned from being married to Mr. Christmas. Thanks, Honey. You’re my own personal Hallmark Christmas movie hero.
Lesson No. 1: There’s no merry in the last minute.
The hubby finishes his shopping early. He wraps gifts for friends and family. He feels like he’s behind if this isn’t done in early December. He makes a plan for delivering gifts to his friends. He likes to get up really early and leave them on doorsteps. Pretty sweet, right?
On the final days leading up to Christmas, he’s only subject to secondhand holiday stress. That’s when he gets to support and soothe my crazed, frantic self. Lucky guy.
I know the thing to say these days is, “You do you.” But this year, I am going to try to be more like him and less like me. Well, minus the really early morning activities. Let’s not get too carried away.
Lesson No. 2: KISS, as in Keep It Simple, Sweetheart.
Christmas is the one holiday that brings all our adult children home—and now, our two adorable grandchildren. It’s a big deal. It feels like it’s my job to make sure that everyone has the most wonderful Christmas EVER. A beautifully decorated home. Incredible treats. Home-cooked meals. Delightful packages. You know, the perfect, Instagram-worthy, magazine-spread holiday. Cue the carolers.
The truth is, I can’t pull it off. I just can’t. And even my beloved rocks can’t make miracles happen. Not to say I don’t try … I stay up way too late to wrap gifts, check shipping status (Amazon Prime, don’t let me down now!!) and sample a few too many baked goods.
Ultimately, I run out of time to make that handmade gift, write those thoughtful cards and prep one of the 15 breakfast casseroles I pinned on Pinterest. Picture a haggard, menopausal elf with one eyelid twitching.
My hubby sees it coming and in his wisdom, he urges me every year to “Keep it simple.” “Don’t take on too much.” “Let it go.”
He’s not stupid. He picks his spots to share his thoughts, and sometimes it’s like he’s approaching a wild animal to gauge its friendliness.
When I listen, it’s a gift.
Lesson No. 3: It’s truly the thought that counts.
We’ve established that the hubby shops for those on his list. He gets items months in advance if he sees something that’s just right. He puts thought into what someone may need or simply enjoy. He texts or emails me ideas for the kids and other people on our lists.
What’s the lesson here? He makes the holiday season a time to think of the people in his life who matter to him. He’ll tell you that his friends put up with him all year, so it’s the least he can do.
Like my Mr. Christmas, I am going to try to slow down and be more thoughtful in my giving this year—to let my heart lead the way and to think carefully before hitting the “Buy Now” button just because it’s a good deal.
What I know for sure: It’s not going to be a perfect holiday, but I am going to be spending it with the most perfect people.
Ho, ho, ho … here we go!
I am Margie Reece. I am here to help you rock your chores and have some fun doing it.