I love following along with Emily Freeman's "What I Learned" series on her blog, so I thought I'd share what I've been learning.
1. Keep expectations for productivity low in the summertime.
I don't know why, but I am massively drawn to being productive, so this one is hard for me. But it helped so much this summer to keep my expectations in check when it came to being productive while the kiddos are home from school. Otherwise, everyone is frustrated. I kept a list of things I wanted to get done and saved the to-do list for September. Of course, now it's September and my list is a mile long, but that's ok! I have so much more brain space when the house is quieter and there aren't as many interruptions.
2. Audio books work for me.
I have a hard time staying awake in the evenings when I'm reading a physical book, but I can listen to audio books during the day while I'm working/driving/making dinner, and it works great. I use the Overdrive app on my phone and borrow audio books from library using the app. It's perfect. Some recent audio books that I listened to are "American Sniper" by Chris Kyle (has strong language) and "Instant Mom" by Nia Vardalos. I've learned that fiction audio books just don't work for me, so I choose non-fiction.
3. When planning meals for multiple events, use the same menu.
I'm naturally a spontaneous person and like to try new things, so this is not normal for me, but I learned that when I'm planning dinners for different people, keeping the menu the same for every party keeps life so much simpler. I've hosted quite a few brunches with girlfriends, and we've invited several families for outdoor dinners this summer, and I've made a few staples over and over that never failed. I tried tomato pie for the first time and it is easy and so delicious! This sandwich was also a hit. Also, this creme brulee and this French strawberry cake, which I've substituted with blueberries and peaches. They are all fantastic recipes.
4. Being outdoors in the evening grounds me.
So much of my work life is spent behind a computer screen or camera, and sometimes it is just hard to get outside. But I've found that evenings spent picking peaches or pulling weeds or deadheading my roses always makes me feel calm and gives me energy. Even when I have a lot to get done in the studio, I make myself go outside, if only for a few minutes.