Taking Time For Yourself – Yes, It’s Necessary!

Yes, taking time for yourself is necessary. No, it’s not always possible. But I’m here to help you figure out how.

Last year I wrote a post about how to beat the Stay at Home Mom Blues. I laid out some of my favorite things to do to stay on top of it.

When I was working full time, it actually was a lot easier to take time for myself then now that I’m not working. I would run to get my nails done while Dylan was still in daycare when I got off early. I would drop him off early at school and go to the gym before work. I feel like you hear more often than not that it’s more difficult for stay at home moms to get that alone time.

But it’s just as necessary as working moms. Now, when I say taking time for yourself, I do NOT mean working that full time job. I mean doing something solely for yourself. While grocery shopping for the family alone or sitting at the pool reading a book while your kid has swim lessons is a nice break, it’s not for YOU.

It may seem like this is impossible. But to make sure it is possible, the first thing you need is support. You need your spouse to be on board with alone time. People aren’t mind readers. So you have to tell them you need alone time. Make your plans and let them know you are peacing out for a few hours. If not (or if you are a single parent) you need support elsewhere. A family member, babysitter, neighbor, daycare, nap time, whatever. You have to free yourself of the responsibility of being a parent to get something done for yourself.

Once you’ve figured that out, find what makes you happy. Reading, shopping, creating, crafting, sewing…the list goes on. I reached out to my lovely mom group and asked them to hit me with their most favorite alone time activity or selfish habit. Everyone deserves one!

It is also so, so important that you SCHEDULE this alone time. I have found that if I don’t write it down or schedule it, it isn’t less likely to happen – it just flat out doesn’t happen. And that sucks.

  1. Direct Sales – It’s something for YOURSELF. Yes, you are helping other people by giving them products in which you believe but some people truly enjoy it. They are sharing things that you love. (Side note, think about that next time you roll your eyes at someone’s direct sales post on Facebook 😉 )
  2. Gym – This is a pretty popular one. When I go to the gym, I drop off the kids and lose all sense of adultness. I turn my music up as loud as it goes (Samsung, stop telling me it’s bad for my ears. I don’t cuuurrr) and I just move. Run, steps, bike…just go. To be totally honest, I’m not there 100% for the work out. I’m there for the private shower. I’d say it’s about 50/50 for me. I also enjoy going to a class or 2 during the week.
  3. Massages – OH MY. If you don’t do this AT LEAST once a year for your birthday, you are missing out! I think the best part about my massages is I have to disconnect from the outside world. Phone stays off and in the purse for a whole hour. That’s huge for me. But I’m okay with it! It feels nice to just turn off.
  4. Take a bath – This was also a pretty popular one. I know some moms who do this at least 2 times a week. Put some baking soda and/or bath bombs in there too! Just make sure to lock the bathroom door if the kids are awake 😉
  5. Girls’ Night – Yes, this is a must as well! I have 2 friends that I see probably once a month. We get together for dinner. We plan it for later (like 6:30ish) because I have to wait for my babysitter (read: hubby) to get home from work. Plan something monthly for dinner with friend(s) – maybe the first Tuesday of every month or something. It’s nice to just chat with an adult not about kids and not about work.
  6. Pampering – Mani/Pedi is a popular one, too! Again, another time to just sit down and unwind. Let someone else do all the work! And you get pretty nails at the end.
  7. Write – Part of the reason I started blogging was to do something for myself. I always used to journal growing up and I missed it so much. So I started writing and you know what? It feels so good to just sit at my computer and type, type, type.
  8. Sleep – Also possible. Go to bed right after you put the kids down. Toys don’t need to be picked up right now. Laundry doesn’t need to be folded right now. Just go to bed at 8:15. Try it.
  9. Skin Care Routine – No, this is not a sales pitch 😉 I have a friend who has a 10 step skin care routine each night. 10 steps. I am way too lazy for 10 steps, but she loves it. She literally told me “it’s my me-time.” Get you some, girl.
  10. Take a day off work – if you are a working mom, take a day off. You have personal days for a reason. Take a day off to sit at home in your jammies. Send the kids to daycare/school and do not feel guilty about it. You even can spend the day cleaning. If that’s what relaxes you. I don’t judge. If you’re a stay at home mom, your spouse gets personal days too. He/she can use them on you. Take a day off and handle the kids while you do your thang.

Lazy Mom Cleaning Hacks

(This post contains one or more affiliate links)

I am lazy. AF. During the day, the last thing on my list is cleaning. I’d like to say it’s because I spend so much time with my children that I just can’t bother with it. Truth is, I just hate it. I do the necessary things – sweep the floor when things are getting stuck to my feet, vacuum under the kitchen table when Reagan can muster an entire meal from the “crumbs” (I miss my dog), laundry when Dylan has to break into his whitey tighties, clean the toilet when….I’ll spare you the rest of that one.

I do have a few cleaning hacks that I use so I reached out to my Facebook group of moms and asked what their hacks are. Because let’s be honest – we all have at least one. AT LEAST!

I compiled them for you in a nice little list (you can print it out at the end, too.)

Cleaning Hacks to Keep Life Mostly Under Control
(You see what I did there?)

  1. Sprinkle baking soda in the garbage can (and diaper pail) before putting in the new garbage bag, but after you take the full one out.
  2. Essential oils in the air filter for your house to drown out the smell of stinky kiddos/animals.
  3. Put the toilet bowl cleaner in the toilet bowl before cleaning anything. Do your other cleaning, them come back and do the toilet. It has sat there for so long that it has already done most of the cleaning for you. So much less scrubbing.
  4. Baby wipes. You’d be amazed at how well they clean.
  5. Take a bath with baking soda – good for you, good for the bathtub.
  6. Fill one of these bad boys with 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 dish soap. Keep it in the shower and clean the shower while you’re showering. Mind. Blown.
  7. Clean your bathroom mirror and/or counter while you’re brushing your teeth or swishing with mouthwash.
  8. Dryer sheets on the back of a fan to bring a fresh scent into the room.
  9. After cooking something in the microwave with water, wipe away the grime and caked on food with a cloth right after you take out the food. The steam from cooking the food helps loosen up the yuck.
  10. And the obvious – cleaning lady! Treat yourself!

Download and print the list here.

Happy “cleaning!” 😉

My new Favorite Planner

I am an unorganized mess. Part of it stems from the fact that my brain runs 100 miles a minute. I will have an idea and then run off to Hobby Lobby for all the supplies, only to get home to realize I had 3 other things I needed to get done.

Story of my life.

I wanted to start blogging again and I knew with blogging and mine and Gina’s other website (noshamemommies.com – shameless plug. Completely shameless), I was going to need a planner and it was going to need to be good.

For my 32nd birthday (ha!), I was determined to find the perfect planner. I needed something with the following:

-Week at a glance
-Month at a glance
-Monthly goals
-Weekly goals
-Yearly goals
-Monthly tabs
-Monthly notes section (on the month at a glance AND at the end/start of the month)
-Perpetual calendar

That is a needy list. So I set off to Etsy, because planners that were already made were just not working out for me.

I had no idea what to search for so I just started searching and sending messages asking if they had a planner with the aforementioned sections.

Finally, like a light at the end of a dark, 5 year, random post-it note filled long tunnel, I got a response from Erika with Write it Down Books. She was so patient with me and answered all of my ridiculous questions before I placed my order.

I am only a few weeks in, but I am obsessed with this planner. It has everything I needed and more. Each month there are places you can write things you need to do, things you’d like to do (because we all know those are 2 totally different things), a place to doodle, and some writing prompts (which is great for bloggers). You can also have her start in any month you want.

It fits perfectly in my every day purse and matches great with my notebook I snagged up at Wal-Mart before I bought the planner.

Doesn’t this picture make you want to just plan everything?! AHHHH!

I don’t think I could have created a better planner. Honestly. I have tried 😉

This planner is the horizontal planner – so the week is laid out horizontally in the book instead of vertically. Here is the week at a glance list….

While browsing her shop, I went ahead and added a password/address book and a bookmark for my planner. You can customize pretty much anything – and for planners that can be customized, her prices are on point – trust me, I’ve done research for years.

I love that she puts your name on the front too!

She also has an option of printing your own planner. Oh, and you can print out a few of her styles and try them out for a week or so before you order. FOR FREE.

Here is my little trio that follows me around the house – besides the kids obviously – my planner, my notebook and my Kindle.

Erika was kind enough to give us a coupon code for the next week. 10% off of your order in her shop and it expires on 4/20/17. The code is MOSTLYUNDERCONTROL10. I encourage you to use it! Seriously, I cannot tell you how much I am in love with this thing.

So take advantage of this code, people. You will NOT regret it.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cereal Bars

Right after chocolate, strawberry is my favorite flavor combo with peanut butter. Which is why we never have grape jelly in our house. Ew. We are a strawberry jelly family!

Dylan has been bugging me for a fun cereal for a while now. When Dan goes grocery shopping, he picks up “fun” cereal. I come home with Costco sized boxes of Cheerios, tell him to add a banana and call it a day. He also gets fun cereal at Grandma’s house. So I was becoming the lame one.

I picked up Fruit Loops and Berry Kix on my last grocery trip and Dylan literally told me I was the best mom ever.

Mic drop.

We are short on snack ideas around here. So I had wanted to make a cereal bite thing (yes, that’s the official term) and I had it on my list to make. But when I saw the Berry Kix on my counter, I got a wonderful idea. Peanut butter and jelly breakfast (or snack) bars!

These are so good. Dylan LOVED them (again, I got dubbed the Best Mom Ever) and of course, they are very easy to make. Almost like making Rice Krispie Treats. You melt the peanut butter, honey and vanilla in the microwave and then dump in the cereal.

Place them in a baking dish lined with foil and sprayed with non stick cooking spray and pop them in the fridge. Take them out when they’re set and slice them up.

 

Dan even grabbed one (asking me first – life of a blogger’s husband. haha) last night and said they were delicious.

Definitely keeping them around for snack and breakfast ideas!


Print Recipe
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cereal Bars
2 great flavors rolled into one yummy bar! Great for a snack or breakfast on the go.
Course Breakfast, Snacks
Servings
depending on how you cut them
Ingredients
Course Breakfast, Snacks
Servings
depending on how you cut them
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a large microwaveable bowl, melt the peanut butter for about 30 seconds in the microwave.
  2. Remove from microwave and stir. Add honey and stir.
  3. Microwave for another 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in vanilla until all ingredients are combined.
  5. Add in the cereal and mix, mix, mix!
  6. Line a baking dish (13x9) with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
  7. Dump cereal mixture into the baking dish and spread it out into one layer.
  8. Let set for at least 3 hours in the fridge.
  9. Cut into bars/squares.
Share this Recipe
 

Sensory Bin Ideas – All From The Dollar Store

Hey there hey!

If you have read my stuff for a while, you know that I love sensory stuff. I always have, even before I had kids. When I taught, sensory was my favorite center.

I also am slightly obsessed with the Dollar Tree. That is always my go-to when I need stuff (that they sell). My friends usually come to me first when they wonder if The Dollar Tree sells something in particular. What can I say? I’m cheap and everyone knows it.

I did a post a while back with sensory bins. I went through the aisles of The Dollar Tree and grabbed anything I could find that I thought would be good in a sensory bin. Thus, my first sensory bin post was born. And I can’t look back on it anymore because it makes me so sad to see D’s chubby little toddler hands! WAHHHH!

I also did some sensory bottles for the babe when she was tiny. We actually still use them!

You can also find the bins from The Dollar Tree – this is what I use

I had on my list to make a big giant list of all things sensory (and you can download the printable list at the end) so people can keep it on them and take it out when you need to. It’s a whole list of sensory bin ideas. You can take anything from column A (fillers) and add it to anything in column B (tools/toys). And they are all available at The Dollar Tree! (disclaimer, they are all available at MY Dollar Tree in Villa Park, Illinois) 😉

Here we go!

Column A

*Decorative shred
*Sand
*Rocks/pebbles
*Balloons
*Crepe paper
*Buttons
*Cut up drinking straws
*Pipe cleaners
*Tissue paper
*Rice
*Pasta
*Dirt
*Clean mud (shredded bar soap, torn up
toilet paper and water)
*Water beads
*Shaving cream (will need new each time)
*Hair gel
*Popcorn kernels
*Dry beans
*Wrapping paper
*Salt (table, sea or
Epsom)
*Play-doh
*Tinsel/garland
*Battery powered Christmas lights (seasonal)
*Pom poms
*Fake leaves (seasonal)
*Feathers
*Easter grass (seasonal)
*Marbles (NOT FOR LITTLES!)
*Pony beads (NOT FOR LITTLES!)
*ABC beads (NOT FOR LITTLES!)
*Raffia cord
*Ribbon
*Cotton balls
*Bird seed
*Foam shapes/letters
*Oatmeal
*Construction paper
*Soapy water
*Fake snow
*Coffee grounds
*Dry cereal
*Baby oil
*Yarn
*Googly eyes
*Frozen veggies

Column B (tools/toys)

*Fake flowers
*Measuring cups
*Measuring spoons
*Cars
*Spatula
*Silicone pasty brush
*Serving spoons
*Nesting bowls
*Fork/knife/spoon (play versions)
*Plastic food
*Chalk
*Kid scissors
*Cups
*Party favor cups
*Magnet letters
*Fake money
*Stickers
*Plastic bugs
*Plastic snakes
*Easter eggs (seasonal)
*Rubber ducks
*Ice cubes
*Plates
*Baby bottles
*Socks
*Tweezers
*Toothbrushes
*Toothpicks
*Small ceramic pots (seasonal)
*Gardening tools (seasonal)
*Potato masher
*Sand toys (seasonal)
*Large blocks
*Gardening tools (seasonal)
*Superhero/Disney figures
*Dinosaurs
*Funnels
*Whisk
*Sponges
*Cookie cutters
*Small plastic storage containers
*Slotted spoon
*Tongs
*Water balloons (seasonal)
*Cleaning brushes

PHEW! You can print out the list here.

I had way too much fun creating all of that! Use your noggin when it comes to things that are age appropriate, alright? alright. Have fun!

Blueberry Banana (Spinach) Fruit Leather

I am not above sneaking vegetables into my kids’ food. They hardly ever eat them, but surprisingly enough, my 4.5 year old actually enjoys spinach. However, I know he is the minority, for sure.

We love fruit leather in our house. When I make it, I never even have to store it. It goes from the pan right to the hands. It’s gone within 24 hours. You don’t even need a dehydrator for it either! I have one, but I don’t know where my plastic piece is that holds the fruit leather! Save the search for a rainy day I guess.

We tried this strawberry beet fruit leather and it was outstanding. Not to be outdone, ha, I wanted to create my own flavors and sneak some vegetables in there as well. You absolutely could not taste the beets so I thought I would give it a go.

As most of my recipes start, I had some bananas that were on the end of their life. Which is the perfect time to make banana stuff!

These are very easy and you don’t even need a dehydrator to make them.

Shall we?

Really all you’re going to do is put all the ingredients into a blender and blend it up until it is about the consistency of juice. Then spread it all over a pan lined with parchment paper. Bake – done.

See all the directions below – and print!

 

Print Recipe
Blueberry Banana (Spinach) Fruit Leather
This is a delicious combination of fruits - with hidden veggies!
Course Snacks
Servings
Ingredients
Course Snacks
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a blender, combine spinach and 1/4 cup of water.
  4. Blend until liquid.
  5. Add lemon juice, honey, banana and blueberries.
  6. Blend until a thin consistency. Add more water water if necessary.
  7. Pour your fruit/veggie mixture onto the parchment paper and spread evenly (I used an icing knife.) You do not want to be able to see the parchment paper underneath. If you do, it's too thin and won't peel off of the parchment paper.
  8. Place in oven for about 2 hours. You will want to take it out when you touch the top and it is not sticky anymore.
  9. Cut it into strips when it is still on the parchment paper.
  10. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Share this Recipe
 

New Etsy Shop

Hey friends!

You may or may not notice that I haven’t been posting as consistently as normal. I wish I could tell you it’s because I won the lottery or had a baby or some big blogger discovered me and I have been helping them.

But it’s because I am a crazy person and keep adding things to my proverbial plate.

People always say to me “you do so much.” “How do you keep up?” “How do you get it all done?” “I could never do all you do.” And usually I respond with “I couldn’t sit at home and do nothing.”

My mind races a mile and minute, and that’s ok for me. I keep busy and I think I would go insane if I had nothing to do. I can’t remember the last time I napped while my kids napped or I just sat and did nothing. It’s just not me!

So, with that being said, I launched a new Etsy shop!

In doing research, shops are more successful if your niche is small. So I am planning on separating my shops into 2 – Home decor and kids and baby gift. I have launched my kids and baby site and I am so pumped. I am starting with baby blankets and superhero capes but plan to add so much more. Here are some pictures of some of them.

img_7250edit_edited-1 img_7267edit img_7210edit-copy img_7216edit-copy    img_7280edit_edited-1 img_7293edit_edited-1 And here are a few with personalization

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I img_7120edit-copy I am having so much fun picking out all these different designs and getting them turned into blankets. It’s a great way for me to practice sewing and making these bright colors come alive. Please feel free to hit me up with special requests!

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Meal Planning Monday – Lasagna Pasta

pinterest-image

Pasta is delicious. I mean, can you get much better than a carb in some sauce and then smothered in cheese? Multiple kinds of cheese! It’s so, so amazing.

Lasagna is my favorite kind of pasta. I bet you can guess why. Because it has 3 kind of cheese in it. (In our case,) cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.  Normally, recipes for lasagna have you use ricotta cheese. My mom has always used cottage cheese and I am never satisfied with ricotta cheese. Which is precisely why you won’t ever see me ordering lasagna at restaurants.  They just don’t make it correctly! Haha…

lp2

The first few times I wanted to make lasagna on my own, I called my mom to ask her for her recipe. To which she responded, “recipe?” She never wrote it down. She just threw some stuff together. So she rattled off what she put together and gave me her blessing. I am fairly certain I still called her 2-3 times during the cooking process, and 90% of the time she was not able to give me a solid answer.

So, armed with my mom’s “recipe,” I was expected to create her recipe.

Does that make sense?

I don’t think so either.

lp3

I did eventually get it all written down, but mine never turned out like hers. It always turned out like soup. Even if I used precooked noodles, noodles that don’t need to be cooked, whatever. It didn’t work. So I set out to try some other form of lasagna pasta because I could just toss it all into a pan and it was much easier.

Boy was I right.

Ingredients:

1 box (1 pound) mostacolli pasta
1 pounds ground beef
1 jar (24 oz) pasta sauce
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Grated parmesan cheese to top

Directions:
1. In a large pot, start cooking the pasta according to the box’s directions.
2. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef while breaking it up into small pieces.
3. Drain the meat (if needed) and add back to the skillet.
4. Add a cup of sauce and heat the sauce and meat over low heat until warmed through.
5. Add your drained, cooked pasta and stir until they are all combined.
6. Add cottage cheese and mix on low heat.
7. Stir for about 1 minute.
8. Add shredded mozzarella cheese until it is all melted.
9. Top with parmesan cheese and serve.

 

Get the printable version here. lp1

Sensory Sniffing Jars

smelly-jars-pinterest

If you are a regular reader around here, you know that I love sensory activities. I will spare you with the details as to why because I’m pretty sure I’ve shared that 100 times.

I took a little break with sensory activities because I felt like it was all I was doing. It took over all of my educational posts. I was a woman obsessed! It’s just so fun to watch the looks on kid’s faces as they cram their hands into some gooey substance or the way their nose turns up with they smell something super gross!

Oh, sorry…I said I would spare you my reasons.

I haven’t really done a sensory activity with the sense of smell. I’ve done plenty with touch.

The Dollar Tree has these little snack containers in their food storage section. I have absolutely no idea what you would store in them because they are so tiny. But naturally, I snagged them up thinking I would use them at some point in my life. I mean, it was 10 containers for $1!

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I remember doing a sensory activity when I taught with little jars and holes in the cap. We put different extracts onto cotton balls and plopped them into the jar. The kids loved them! We diffuse oils around here from time to time (read: when I remember to fill it) so I decided to recreate this project, but with oils. BOOM.

I took the little containers and a razor and sliced a small square hole out of the top. I put cotton balls inside each container (2 cotton balls per container) and dropped some oils onto the cotton balls. Some cotton balls got 2 drops, some got 10 drops.

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Of course since it was actually supposed to be an infant project, Dylan stepped in to “help” and then couldn’t get enough of them. He would sniff one and then try to tell me what it was.

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Reagan tried to eat them. Because she’s 1. She honestly had a lot more fun stacking them then actually smelling (read: eating) them.

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We used lime, orange, lavender, blends, cinnamon bark (yuck)….we had a lot of fun putting it together.

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Halloween Treats Round Up

As I’ve said lots of times before, I am not a baker. I do love, however, to pin things on Pinterest that look delicious, with the complete knowledge that they will never get made in my house. Unless someone is coming over or we’re going to someone else’s house.

I wanted to make my own Halloween treats but was so overwhelmed with the different levels of ability. Something would look so simple, I would click on it, only to realize it wasn’t so simple.

So, I did the work for you and rounded up 5 easy Halloween Treats.

Photo courtesy of justataste.com
Photo courtesy of justataste.com

Halloween Candy Bark via Just A Taste
Candy bark is so crazy easy and you can add anything to it. All you need for this recipe is 3 cups bittersweet chocolate and 2 cups assorted candies. She used candy corn, Kit Kats, candy eyeballs she found at her grocery store, peanut butter cups, & m&m’s. She also has a few other recipes linked in that post. Check them all out!

Photo courtesy of sallysbakingaddiction.com
Photo courtesy of sallysbakingaddiction.com

Candy Corn Pretzel Hugs via Sally’s Baking Addiction
Candy corn is a favorite in our house and so are chocolate covered pretzels. Put them together. Boom. Done.

Photo courtesy of cupcakediaries.com
Photo courtesy of cupcakediaries.com

Halloween Chex Treat via Cupcake Diaries
Another super simple recipe that mixes salty and sweet flavors. All you need for this one is a few snacks and a sweet sugar sauce to bring it all together.

Photo courtesy of twosisterscrafting.com
Photo courtesy of twosisterscrafting.com

Halloween Candy Corn Popcorn via Two Sister’s Crafting
Here is another recipe that blends sweet and salty. That dang candy corn makes an appearance again! Popcorn, salt, butter, candy corn, marshmallows and m&m’s.

Photo courtesy of chelseasmessyapron.com
Photo courtesy of chelseasmessyapron.com

4 Ingredient Halloween Treats (eyeballs!) via Chelsea’s Messy Apron
Peanut butter cups make another appearance in this simple eyeball recipe. Grouped together with cream cheese frosting, black gel and chewy Lifesavers, they are crazy easy (of course) and really tasty.

Let me know in the comments if you made any of these and how they turned out! Happy Halloween!

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