Category Archives: Tips

Insanely Easy Packing Hack

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Want in on a BIG secret to make your life a little easier when it comes to traveling?  I’m talking about any type of travel, too. Overnight visit, weekend getaway, vacation, work trip, whatever you have coming up.  This one trick has been a genius lifesaver. 

We’ve been following this tactic for a few years now, we just update it as we change and once our son was born.  You can watch the video online or down below for our insanely easy packing hack:

If you want more packing hacks, check out this post for packing your toddler and this one for packing for a work trip.

Simplify Your Morning Routine

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Raise your hand if you love routines and order. I know I do! I love knowing exactly how long it should take me to get something done, how often I need to be doing a load of laundry and what my day is going to look like from a quick glance.  However, Moms if you’re deep in the trenches then you totally get why toddlers don’t like routines and usually throw a wrench into our perfectly planned days.

BUT we still need our routines that simplify our days.  WE NEED THEM! Because when you come home after a long, hard day and your house is a mess a routine can help you tame the chaos and re-center yourself. 

In this post, I’m going to talk about a few routines you can create to simplify your mornings.  Let’s face what happens in the morning is what sets the tone for our whole day. If we feel rushed while getting ready then we feel stressed and anxious the rest of our day – and that’s no good.

Recently, I shared our evening routine for our toddler and it has made a huge difference at our house.  It has made our evenings a little more calm and it’s been easier to put our little man to bed each night.  I will admit though, it all started when we spend a few days sleep training our son when he was just a baby.

Let’s get into today’s post – simplify your morning routine – because the sooner you can implement some of these tips then the quicker you will get results.  I do want to share a disclaimer – I try to follow each of these every day, but I’m not perfect.  When you have kids, you have to accept that you won’t be perfect 100% of the time – it’s impossible! In an earlier post, I shared details about how I schedule my day by blocking my time, but here are more details in my schedule blocks. 

Now, you’ll notice some of these routines actually happen at night or the day before, which has been a huge blessing to my mornings.  I actually consider anything that makes my mornings easier part of my morning routine.

Here’s your Sunday routine:

Each Sunday evening or any free time you have during the weekend, spend a few minutes planning your outfits or even laying them out for the next week. I don’t have a ton of space to lay out each outfit for work the next week, but I can at least plan out what I am going to wear. 

If you’re like me and don’t have a ton of free space to lay out clothes, then here are a few things you can do: create a space in your closet that you can physically hang clothes for the week or you can make a written list in your planner with each day’s outfits.

Prepping for the week includes making sure your clothes are washed, pressed and ready to be put on within seconds. Make sure to think of every aspect of an outfit that’s going to be needed – obviously a blouse and pants or skirt, but also include an undershirt, tights, shoes, jewelry, etc.

Here’s your evening routine:

Review your to-do list for the next day. This way you can make sure everything is ready to rock-n-roll the next morning.

Make sure to look over your meal plan for tomorrow’s dinner so you can defrost any meat and get a head start on the meal. 

Make lunches before going to bed and have the lunchbox packed with anything that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. 

Your morning routine:

Try to get up at the same time each morning – even if you don’t have to. That way your body can get used to following the same routine each morning, too.  

Follow the same steps each morning to help make everything more streamlined:

  1. wake up and shower
  2. put on makeup and style hair
  3. get dressed
  4. review any appointments that you have today
  5. make breakfast
  6. wake up kids and get them dressed

By following the same steps in the same order, you can have getting ready down to a science. You’ll know exactly how long it takes to do each step, which means you’ll know when you’re running behind.

Don’t check social media first thing in the morning. Wait until your little ones are up and dressed to get on social media. You can lose so much time by scrolling on FB and IG, so make sure to avoid it until you are completely ready.

Don’t check emails until you’re at the office. Again, this is such a time sucker. For me, I have personal email, work email and then business email that I like to check.  I try to get to work a few minutes early each day so I can check my personal email and business email before my work day starts.  If I spend too much time before I’m finished getting ready on the computer or my phone then I almost always run late.

Make breakfast easy on yourself. Try not to over-do it on breakfast during busy mornings. Sure you want your little one to eat a healthy meal, but who has time to cook a gourmet breakfast each morning?  Here’s a few tips to make breakfast simple:

  • cook a big batch of scrambled eggs on Sunday and put in the fridge for the week
  • make a batch of freezer waffles to pop in the toaster on the weekends
  • grab fruit at the store for those easy morning breakfasts
  • find simple foods your little ones can finish in the car when they take FOREVER to eat

These simple steps can really help create order in your morning routines. As a mom who is constantly running around from meeting to appointment to family time and everything else I need something that I can follow each day to help tame the chaos.  

 

Tips for Buying in Bulk

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Do you buy in bulk from any membership stores? We love Sam’s Club at our house (not that we have anything against Costco, but they aren’t as close to us). I’ve been a member since college thanks to my Dad’s office extending me a card. These days my purchases are much different than at 22 (which usually consisted of wine, chips, and sorority necessities for any events).  Nowadays we like to buy meat when they have it on sale, bread for lunches and any other frozen meals that are a good deal.  We also stock up on dog bones a few time each year.  

Watch the video online or down below for some of my best tips for buying in bulk:

We’ve learned with this whole budgeting thing that it’s best to buy certain items at wholesale clubs, but you have to be careful. Some items are more costly per unit and the expiration dates make it hard to use in time. Here are a few of my favorite tips for buying in bulk:

Buy Non-Perishable Items

We love buying toilet paper, paper towels, detergent and so on in bulk. If there isn’t an expiration date then sign us up. Most food items we tend to not buy in bulk. Since our little guy doesn’t eat a lot, it’s just the two of us consuming majority of the food.  Now while I love a good bag of pretzel crisps, it doesn’t mean I need 2 giant bags that size of my head in my cabinet.

In contrast, if you have a larger family and you go through 5 gallons of milk in a week then by all means buy in bulk.  You need to know your family and what is best for you. If they have a really good deal on fruit, but you know your family won’t eat it before it goes bad then don’t buy it (but you can freeze it and make smoothies out of it).  You just need to know what works and what won’t work. 

Compare Unit Prices

Most prices on store labels will have a unit price or a price per pound on it. Make sure you compare those to the ones at your local grocery store. Just because it’s in a bigger package at Costco or Sam’s Club doesn’t mean it’s always a good deal. 

Don’t Buy On Impulse

This is one of the worst mistakes you can make at a wholesale club. Just because it looks like a good deal and you get excited about it, doesn’t mean you need to buy it. Make sure you think your purchases through.

Have A Plan

This tip goes with the previous one. Before you step foot into any store have a list of what you need. If you don’t have a list it’s like you’re going in blind and with no direction. You end up putting things in your cart that you don’t need nor really want, which means you spend more money. That money could go to other parts of your budget, so make sure to stick to your list.

Shop Around and Know The Prices

Do your research. Before we go to the store I will search for the bigger, most expensive items we want to buy online. I will compare the unit prices from Sam’s Club to Amazon to Walmart. That way I know without a doubt I am getting the most inexpensive item possible.

Split With Someone

If you find an amazing deal on a case of toilet paper, but couldn’t imagine going through that much then split it. Find a family member or a friend to go in with you. I used to do this in college.  I would go in with a friend on some toilet paper and paper towels every few months.  We would split the cost and the items. That way we had enough to last us and didn’t have to hid extra toilet paper under our bed when it wouldn’t fit in the cabinet.

Tips For Packing For Your Next Work Trip

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What happens when you have to go out of town for work? Well if you’re like me, you probably put off packing until the last minute. You try to stuff everything into a small back just to arrive at your conference with wrinkled clothes. Well … that was the old me.

The new me is all about being prepared, looking my best and only bringing what I need.  And the best part?

I still pack last minute.

Yep, I sure do.  Want in on my secret?

It’s all about what to pack, how to stay organized and how not forget anything! You can create an easy packing system to help you manage just what you need to bring with you – no matter how long your conference is going to be, this one tip can help with a 2 day trip to a 2 week trip.

You can watch the video online or down below:

I love sharing new tips and tricks as I figure them out. This one is no different. I travel a lot for work, so I like to stay organized. I found that it helps by creating a list before I start packing. This list serves as a reminder of everything I need to bring and then when I get there, it’s a guide to remember what day I planned to wear what. It really saves time while I’m on the road and away from home.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to sleep so good when I’m in a hotel. I don’t know if it’s because it’s nice and dark, the temperature is (usually) easy to control and for work trips I typically have the place all to myself. I find myself sleeping in until the last possible second before jumping out of bed already running behind. By bringing a list of what outfit to wear, it really helps me to not feel rushed in the mornings.

You should try it!

Check out these other helpful posts:

How To Do It All As A Mom

What To Pack For Your Toddler On Your Next Trip

Tips For Traveling With A Toddler

What To Bring On A Road Trip With Your Baby

What To Pack Your Toddler For Your Next Trip | Tips To Staying Organized

It’s no secret I love to-do lists and planners. I pretty much have my whole life over on Google between using the calendar to keep our lives organized and with having our expense tracking on Google Sheets. I love having my life organized and detailed out.

There should be no surprise then that I have a go-to list for when we travel with our young son. We travel quite a bit, between visiting J’s family, to seeing friends and just getting away for awhile. We love going on adventures.

I realized early on that in order to not forget anything, I would need a list. With working full time, running a house, being the best mom I know how and a wife – I needed help.

I put together a list over on Google (duh!) and every time we go on a trip, I pull it out and print it off. In this list is a detail of everything we need to bring for no matter how long we’re going to be gone or no matter which part of the country we’re going to be going to.

You can watch this video online or down below to see exactly what I like to bring along on any trips for our son.

For more information you can check out these posts:

Tips For Road Trips With A Toddler

tips for traveling with a toddler, traveling with a toddler, toddler road trip tips, what to bring for a toddler, packing for a toddler,

Traveling With A Baby

easy road trips with baby, road trips with a baby, what to bring on a road trip with a toddler

How I Get It All Done

how to do it all as a mom

Tips for Traveling With a Toddler

tips for traveling with a toddler, traveling with a toddler, toddler road trip tips, what to bring for a toddler, packing for a toddler,

With the holiday season fast approaching, we are planning for some road trips to see family.  Now that our little man is almost 17 months old (cue tears!) we travel a little differently than when he was first born.  Long gone are the days of him sleeping most of the car ride and we’ve replaced those peaceful days with fighting the car seat, boredom and counting down the seconds until we reach our destination.

I make it sound just horrible traveling with a toddler, don’t I? It’s really not that bad.  Sure some trips are better than others.  Some days he’s a peach in the car and entertains himself with a small toy and a few snacks.  Other days he can’t stand his car seat and is sure to let us know how unpleased he is.

But as I’ve told him over and over, Mommy and Daddy have to use the car seat because it’s the safest place for him to be.  He usually fights me, but I at least try to reason with him (HA!).

With J’s family living a few hours away, we tend to travel on a regular basis.  I wanted to share with you my tried-and-true travel hacks with you.  I want you to be prepared for those long car rides you’ll be facing and nights away from home.  Plus this time of year usually means the roads aren’t always the best, especially with temperatures dropping below freezing at night.  So I like to make sure we have our little guy nice and calm during road trips so that it makes driving a little easier on us.

Not too long ago I shared some of my go-to tips when traveling with a baby.  Now as he’s gotten older and a little more independent some of my tips have changed.  But if you have a younger baby then these tips could really help you.

Let’s get into today’s post – tips for traveling with a toddler.  Now don’t worry I am going to cover everything from the car ride to staying the night.  So let’s do it.

What to bring in the car:

Snacks

Few Favorite Toys – I typically bring one (or two) that makes noise and the rest are silent. I either bring a few balls, books or stuffed animals.

Diapers and wet wipes for any changes – I like to leave a few of these outside the diaper bag so I don’t have to dig around for an emergency stop.

Towel – in case there is a mess that needs to be cleaned up or we have to do a diaper change in the back seat.

iPad to watch movies

What to bring for overnight stays:

Pack-n-play – that way when it’s bedtime your little one has a place to sleep that’s all their own.  

Blanket – it’s nice to have something that smells like home and can be a comfort to them

Extra Clothes

Favorite Bottle or Sippy Cup – my little guy still loves a bottle in the morning.  We’ve been able to replace everything else with a sippy cup, but not his morning one.  Since he takes medicine I prefer not to fight him just yet.  

Favorite Foods – you pack snacks or non-perishable foods you know your little one likes.  This works great if you’re eating out a lot or not sure what meals will be prepared.

Bedtime Routine – it can be hard to stick to a similar routine that you have at home, but try.  Your little one loves having a routine and it makes it a lot easier on them if they are being put down about the same time each night and follow the same steps they would at home.  For us, it’s bath, brush teeth, have some water, snuggle for a bit then be laid down.

Morning Routine – again, try to stick to the similar routine you have each morning.  I know it can be hard, but just do your best.

If you plan on flying with your little one, then check out my tips here to make it so much easier on yourself and your child.

How To Balance Life When Your Have Kids and a Career

How To Balance Life, work life balance, mom balance, how to stay sane as a mom

I had been working on this post about how to balance life for a very long time.  I’ve had the idea scribbled in a notebook for months.  I’ve had a draft started, but not finished for weeks.  Yet here I am completely changing the whole premise of this topic.  

Let’s get real for a second – when you have kids there is no balance.  Sure you can feel like everything is rocking and rolling for a few days, maybe even a few weeks, but it will come crashing down at some point.  I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but it does.

For instance, I started this post off (then deleted it) talking about how to find balance you need to be a planner.  You need to have a list of everything that needs to get done, be able to know when to delegate and when to say no, and you need help.  But that was before our little boy spent the better part of 3 hours nonstop crying last night.  No idea why.  He just did.

I’m tired.  I’m dragging and I sure know that today is going to be rough.

It’s 8 am and I’m already sipping on a Diet Mountain Dew (it’s my version of coffee).  This post was supposed to be finished last night so it could go live this morning, but that didn’t happen.  Because no matter how hard I try to plan, prepare and schedule my day – it doesn’t always play out like I hope.  So instead of finishing this post last night, I sat in complete darkness holding my crying boy in my arms until he fell asleep.

And there is no place I would have rather been.

Truth.

So maybe work life balance isn’t a fine balance act.  Maybe it’s having the ability to say no to some things so you can say yes to more important ones.

My son, my family and my well-being comes before anything else.  So on days like yesterday, I have to reschedule everything I had planned for the last 3 hours of my day, I have to go to bed later than I normally do and I have to wake up earlier than I thought was possible.

But to me balance isn’t doing it all and being perfect, it’s choosing what’s perfect for me.

I may not get it all done in the time frame I dreamed of and that’s okay.

You may not either and you have to be willing to accept it.  There are a few things you can do to help you not feel pressure to do things you HAVE to do when things you WANT to do come up.

  1. Plan your day.  I use Google calendar to plan out my family’s life.  Everything task, appointment, and reminder are scheduled in my calendar.
  2. Keep a running to-do list.  I am someone who will obsess over something until it’s done.  I have found that when I write a task or an idea down, then I can turn my brain off and focus on what I was supposed to be doing.
  3. Be okay with change.  Days don’t always go as planned and you have to be willing to accept it.  Let’s face it as Moms no two days are the same.  And if you think they can be, then just spend time with a toddler because they will correct your thought process in less than an hour.
  4. Build in buffers.  For me that means going to be later or getting up earlier (preferably not within a 12 hour period, but that’s mom life).  I also try to keep my lunch hour free to do other work.  I work full time so when my lunch break comes I usually run home to write posts, record videos or edit them.  This gives me some flexibility when my evenings or mornings don’t go as I hope. 
  5. Know your priorities.  Sometimes we get wrapped up in the hustle of life.  We get frustrated when we have to stop mid-thought to dig a toy out from under the couch just for your little one to do it all over again.  At those moments, just stop and remind yourself every day they are learning something new and one day they will be able to reach for a toy under the couch themselves and that day will be hard.  You may not realize it at the time, but it will be.  When our little one could finally hold his own bottle, I was happy until the day came that I wanted to rock him to sleep for nap time and he didn’t need me to any longer.  He could hold his own bottle and lay down on his own.

I may not be perfect with work life balance, but I don’t think anyone can be perfect when they’re a mom.  No matter if you’re a mom who works away from home, works from home or in between.  Any woman who mothers a child, runs a household and is making a difference will never have a perfect balance act.  And at the end of the day when you watch your little one sleep you realize that it’s okay because they are more perfect than you could ever imagine.

Summer Family Activities for Free

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It’s summertime!  Oh how I love Summer.  When I was younger Summer was my least favorite season.   When I was in middle school through high school I would have to help my parents in the yard on summer weekends.  It was always so hot and so miserable.  We would have to pick up sticks on their 5 acres, burn leaves and work around the yard.  I hated it.  I used to beat my sister for volunteering to stay inside to clean the house.  I would much rather have cleaned the entire house and made lunch for everyone than having to sweat outside picking up sticks.  As I’ve gotten older and the yard we have is much, much smaller I don’t mind summer yard work nearly as much.  Now don’t get me wrong I would much rather be having fun on a hot Saturday morning, but I’ll take a hot summer day over n ice-filled winter one. 

Now that I’m older and have a family of my own I like to save those hot days for finding free and fun stuff to do.  I’m bringing you my complete list of free activities you can do with your family this summer.  You may have to be a little creative, but you and your kids can have a blast checking these items off.  In case you missed it, not too long ago I created a list of free activities to do during the fall, but I figured it was time for a season update.  Plus it goes perfect with our spending freeze we’re currently doing.

I love finding fun things to do as a family especially when they are free!  

best summer ever, free summer activities, free activities for the family

Here you are – a complete list of free summer activities for your family:

  1. go swimming – around here most public pools are free or you could always befriend someone with a killer backyard pool!
  2. go to the zoo – we’re lucky because the St. Louis Zoo doesn’t charge for admission and if you get there early enough then parking is free too!
  3. head outside for a picnic
  4. scavenger hunt in the backyard
  5. sprinkler fun!
  6. have a game day where you play board games inside
  7. go to the local park
  8. camping
  9. checkout an outdoor movie
  10. museum free days
  11. explore the public library
  12. host a summer reading challenge

You can print off a PDF of the summer activities, too.

Amazon is Mom’s Best Friend

amazon is mom's best friend

Moms, let’s talk about how Amazon is Mom’s best friend.

There’s a saying about how a dog is man’s best friend. Which I totally get and would have agreed with before having a baby.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love my dogs.  I would do just about anything for them, which is evident in the $1500 we’ve shelled out for Bud recently.  They still think they’re my best friend, which usually ends up in me asking “why do you love me so much?” when they are follow me through the entire house. Tiny with always having to be under my feet. Bud with finding ways to stick his entire head in the shower each morning. And Maggie only wanting to play when I’m sitting in the floor with the baby.

But let’s talk about my real, real best friend – Amazon. Let’s get serious, shall we? Only a true friend is there for you around the clock. Only a true friend will bring you whatever you heart desires. And Only a true friend will have a little dot that sits on our TV console that allows me to add laundry detergent (or chocolate) to my car without judgment.

This true friend is Amazon, folks.

The other night while sleep training our little guy I realized we desperately needed a white noise machine.  Our neighbors park their trucks close to his bedroom window and their son works odd hours through the night.  So around 4am each night he is either returning home or leaving for work.  The start of a F150 is enough to wake our little guy out of a deep sleep.   Of course the idea hit me at 4am, when I had to stumble through the dark to comfort our son.  What did I do? Grabbed my phone and added a white noise machine to my shopping cart. It arrived two days later.  Easy!

Let’s talk about all the other wonderful stuff you can buy on Amazon.  Like… protein powders I get to buy without ever having to step foot into a store. I can do my research, read reviews from people and then make my selection. No small town options for me!  Or how I have the dogs’ food delivered once a month automatically.  They go through close to 100 pounds of food a month now I don’t have to haul it around the store or make a special stop since we feed them a higher quality food then the local Wal-Mart sells.  

amazon is mom's best friend, love of amazon

amazon is mom's best friend, love of amazon

We’ve ordered step-ups for J’s truck, a TV console, clothes, nursing gear (that I ended up not being able to use), jewelry, dog food, diapers, wipes, protein powders, ready-to-drink shakes, toilet paper, detergent, veggie spiralizer, chew toys (for dogs and baby), and so, so much more. My order history looks like a cornucopia of wild thoughts!

A best friend remembers even when you forget.

Can we talk about diapers for a second? Moms our little ones go through so many diapers. Who knew a child so small could produce so much?! Am I right? Nothing is worse than having to run to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night leaving one parent home with a diaperless child because you ran out. What do you do with them? Put a bunch of blankets around them? Sit them in the bathtub?

I mean, seriously what do you do with them?

Amazon will remember your diapers for you. Once a month I receive a case. Did I remember to hit the “buy now” button? No. But Amazon remembered.  It remembers two bags of dog food a month, a case of wipes and a case of toilet paper every three months.

It’s magical. Every month two bags of dog food and one case of diapers just appear. Then every three months I also get a case of toilet paper and wipes. Pure happiness.  I have to admit, I just added the TP to my subscribe & save feature.  I needed one more item to boost my savings and I thought it would be a good fit.  The case came but we didn’t need it right away so I stuck it in the garage.  The other morning J yells down the hall that we’re out of TP.  So I go out into the garage, grab my case and set it down in front of him.  I said “here ya go, think this is enough?”  He just looked at me.  I knew what he was thinking – why did you order a CASE of toilet paper?  Then I showed him the math from buying that same amount at the store compared to what I spent… it was enough to pay for half of the case.  

Not only does Amazon remember what I need, but it gives me a discount for forgetting! Seriously?!

Thank you Amazon for being the best friend I didn’t know I needed during the hardest transition of my life – parenthood.

Dr. Facebook is Not Your Health Professional

facebook is not your doctor

Alright this post might offend some of my Facebook friends. But that’s okay. I’m all about speaking my mind. I think I get my bluntness from my Dad.

When our Baby Boy was really sick before Christmas I knew deep in my heart it was RSV. But I wasn’t about to go searching his symptoms on Google or asking by FB friends. Because here’s the problem with that… you will get every story, disease, illness under the moon – even the ones that haven’t been discovered yet!

Have you seen the movie “He Just Not That Into You”? Justin Long’s character is explaining to Ginnifer Goodwin’s character the rules of men. How if a guy doesn’t call you back then he’s just not that into you. Or if a guy acts like he doesn’t care then he genuinely doesn’t care about you. Gennifer’s character is good because she then goes on to say well she knew a friend whose cousin met a guy that didn’t call back for one month and now they are happily married with kids. Justin Long just simply says “that’s the exception, not the rule.” You are not the exception to the rule.

You may be thinking how does this movie relate to Dr. Facebook? … well it does. Because your child’s sickness is probably not the exception. Meaning it might be a simple cold, but you don’t know for sure. You need to talk to an actual doctor. And if for some reason your FB friends with a real doctor then I hope you are good enough friends to have their number so you could just call and ask. Most doctors aren’t going to do a diagnosis over status update.

That’s the rule.

So before you go typing away how your kids poop is yellow and they haven’t eaten in two days, maybe you should save your time and take them to the emergency room or urgent care. Just a thought.

J gets a little overwhelmed when he tries to look symptoms up online. He usually ends up thinking he has a tumor or some sort of incurable disease. So I have to play the cool cucumber when Baby Boy gets sick and just call the doctor myself. I can’t get sucked in to googling every little thing. Especially when it’s your child involved. Because if I was coughing with a low grade fever then I assume it’s a cold and I would take a swig of Dayquil and go about my day. But if it’s Baby Boy that has a cough and low-grade fever then I feel like my world is crumbling down.

facebook is not your health professional

Before I go asking online what could be wrong, I ask myself if I really want to read other people’s responses. Because they could have been the exception to the rule and my kid will be the rule. Their kid could have ended up in the hospital when mine just needs Tylenol. Their kid could have also had their symptoms longer or have more symptoms then they remember. Who knows.

But please, people for all that is sane stop posting medical questions on Facebook. Just call the doctor or take your kid to see one.

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