Helping Your Toddler Understand Time- Less than $20 DIY Resource for Parents

Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash

 

Hey Parents,

Did you ever notice that the concept of time is really tough for kids to understand– all the way from birth up until they are like 7 or 8?

It’s a real problem, because we use time to manage everything in our lives! When to wake up, when to go to daycare or the babysitter’s, when to the store, when to eat, when to nap, when we come home from work, when to celebrate holidays, when to go to parties, when to take a bath, when to go to bed….

And through all this, our poor children don’t even know what we’re talking about when we say, “We will get to have bath time at 7 o’clock. Please wait til then.” The closest thing they have to rely on is the ol’ routine- like, we usually have bath after play time and before bed time. Don’t get me wrong- it’s better than nothing.

But then what happens on that one day when the routine is all screwed up?

You know, when someone has to work later than usual, or family comes into town, or you have a doctor’s appointment during snack time?? The poor child just doesn’t understand it, and they’re left to struggle along as we get the things done that are necessary.

 

Case in point-

I was feeling so sad for my poor daughter the other day. She was getting so frustrated because she couldn’t understand why it wasn’t time to eat dinner. Having a family dinner is very important to us, so I was hoping she would wait a few minutes for my husband to get home from work. But some unexpected projects came up at work so he had to stay later than usual.

My daughter also seems to be fighting bedtime lately- wanting to stay up for one more story, or one more sip of water, or she has to go potty again and again… I’m sure she just wants to be with us a little more and have more fun. But I need her to sleep for my own sanity, and I know that she needs the sleep to be the happy little girl that I know she is.

 

I did what every mom does- I complained to my friends about our problems. My awesome sister-in-law Monica (an amazing mother of four who I really look up to) gave me the best idea!

She said that she had heard of a tool that you can make at home, DIY, for less than $20 that will help children better understand time.

Ummm…. YES PLEASE!!!

I took her suggestions and added my own twists. I call it our “Routine Clock.”

I’m focusing on two parts of our daily routine- eating times (snacks and meals) and sleeping times (nap and bedtime) by marking those events on the face of an analog clock for my child to see.

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Do you have any great ideas on how to improve this “Routine Clock”? Tell us about it! Comment below!

Step 1: Gather materials.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A cheap analog clock

(Click the images below!)



  • Sharpies

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  • Scissors

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  • A screwdriver

  • Stickers, paint, or any other fun decorations your child might like!

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  • Not required… But there were tiny screws that are easy to lose, so my husband’s magnetic tool tray might have come in handy. I wish I had thought of it beforehand.

(Click on the image below)

Step 2: Remove the minute hand (or at least mark the hour hand).

The overall goal with this clock is that my child can watch the hour hand approach a marked time for a snack or a meal or nap time to visualize when those events are getting closer.

The problem is that the minute hand crosses each of the marked time slots every hour of the day, while the hour hand only crosses them once per day (once per day during the hours that my child is awake anyways…). So I really want my child to watch the hour hand, not the minute hand.

By removing the minute hand or at least marking the hour hand, my child knows which one to keep an eye on.

You’ll have to remove the clock face for this step. It was super easy to do- just take out the screws on the back of the clock.

The minute and second hands were easy to cut with scissors. I did leave a small bit of each hand so that I could set the time on the clock.

If you would rather not cut the minute hand, just mark the hour hand with a sticker or by painting it or using a sharpie to change its color. This will help it stand out so that your child knows to watch the hour hand.

Step 3: Use a sharpie to mark the times of various daily activities on the face of the clock.

Replace the face of the clock. Again- so easy, just screw the face back on.

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I tried light-colored sharpies so that my child could still see the numbers under my markings. As my child practices with the clock, I would like to start teaching her how the numbers correspond with the time, which corresponds with our daily activities. I really didn’t want to cover up the numbers with dark colors.

I found that the light green and yellow sharpies were too light. You could hardly see the color. But the pink and darker green were perfect!

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****Idea- One limitation of this clock is that it still only works to help my child understand the daily routine, not to prepare for curve balls that life throws when the routine is thrown off.

If you want the clock to change based on what your plans are for the day, don’t use sharpies. Try using dry erase markers so that you can add different tasks or activities based on what new things are going on for the day! Then just erase it at the end of the day so that you can put the next day’s tasks on the clock!

 

For my purposes, I color coded the clock using green and pink. Pink marks are for meals and snacks. Green marks are for naps and bedtime.

My child usually goes to sleep at 7pm and wakes up at 7am, so I marked from 7 to 7:15 in green to mark bedtime/wake up time. Her nap is around 1-3, so those times are marked in green.

Breakfast is between 7:15-8, lunch is between 12-12:45, dinner is between 5-6, and snacks are from 10-10:30am and 3-3:30pm. Those times are all blocked out in pink.

I chose to mark out a whole range of time when we generally eat or sleep. I am hoping having the entire time marked will allow some flexibility, rather than only marking a specific time when we must start eating or sleeping.

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Step 4: Decorate it!

I have not been blessed with a talent for drawing, especially on a curved surface like the face of a clock, so it was surprisingly difficult to make my clock look cute! In the end, I decided I’d better go simple. I outlined each different task in black sharpie to make them nice and defined, added a boarder, and called it good.

But let’s be real- kids aren’t judgmental. They love you no matter what, and they’re excited about new things with pretty colors. So I had nothing to worry about.

If my little one were a little older, I would probably invite her to decorate it herself, but right now I know she would only scribble on it. 😊

Oh, and I also added labels on each routine so that my awesome husband knows what’s coming up next. He always wants to help but doesn’t always know how. Win Win!

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Step 5: Set the time.

Just follow the directions on the package!

Step 6: Put your new tool to work!

Well, we completed our clock about a week ago.

My daughter is catching on fast. I make sure to show her the clock each time a snack, meal, nap, or bedtime comes up. She is starting to point to it all on her own when we are getting close to one of those times in our day.

I chose not to hang it on the wall. Rather, I keep it on the counter. When a meal or nap is coming up, I hand it to my daughter (she loves to hold it) point to the color coming up. I ask her, “Do you know what’s going to happen soon?” or “Do you know what’s coming up next?”

Then we talk about it and I give her a 5-minute opportunity to finish up whatever she’s doing before it’s time to transition.

I have noticed frustration levels for both me and my child decreasing every day! It’s so nice to have a simple way to help her look forward to what’s coming up next in her routine.

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Did you try out this “Routines Clock”? How did it go?? Comment below!

Do you have any great ideas on how to make these clocks better? Tell us about it! Comment below!

 

I hope this resource helps some cute kids out there!

And parents, as always, keep up the good work!

(As a total side note, I recently learned about another amazing tool to help children with time! This one is a clock that lights up green when it is “wake up time.” If the child wakes up too early, the light is off so he knows to keep resting or engage in a quiet activity until the light turns green signaling that he can begin his day! AMAZING!)

Click on the image below!

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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Mamma’s Turkey Tips for Beginners (Like Me)

Photo by Cayla1 on Unsplash

 

My mom is one of those people who make amazing turkey every year for Thanksgiving.

Whenever we have potluck Thanksgiving dinners, she’s always asked to cook the turkey. Year after year. Turkey after turkey.

And it’s always so delicious! Her turkeys are moist inside, and yet crispy on the edges.

I looked forward to her turkey every Thanksgiving…. Until I got married and moved off to Idaho. I couldn’t always get home for Thanksgiving. I was faced with a real dilemma- How in the heck am I supposed to cook a turkey for my own Thanksgiving dinner??

It’s not like you can have Thanksgiving without a turkey!!

But I quickly figured out that my mom made it look much easier than it really is. My first turkey got burnt on the outside but was not fully cooked inside. My second turkey was cooked at least, but it was as dry… Like nasty wannabe jerky. Yuck.

So I finally swallowed my pride and asked my mom for help. Thanksgiving 2018 is gonna be better!!!

I told her that nobody made turkey like her and I needed some help.

Do you know what she said???

Nothing!

She just laughed!!

Yep, laughed- because her turkeys are SOOOO easy. In her loving words, “Maybe you should have your kids help you get it done right!”

Here’s what she told me, and a step by step view of how my first attempt went:

  • Buy the cheapest, fattest turkey you can find, a turkey bag, and a turkey pan.

Click the image below!

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One shopping trip, everything you need. Done and done!

Oh well, you’ll also need butter, garlic salt, onion powder, and pepper. Make sure you grab those things too if you don’t have them at home!

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  • Defrost the turkey.

Most turkeys come with directions on how to defrost.

My mom recommended putting the turkey in the fridge for up to 3 days to ensure that it thaws completely or putting the turkey in a cold water bath for several hours before cooking.

In my case, I put the turkey in my sink with cold water in the morning the day before Thanksgiving. (Always clean out the sink well before putting the turkey in there!)

It took most of the day for the turkey to defrost. Then I put the turkey in the fridge overnight and it was all ready to cook Thanksgiving Day!

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  • Preheat the oven.

Just follow the directions on the package! My turkey cooked at 325 degrees.

  • Rinse the bird, removing the extras inside.

Usually there are things like the turkey neck, the heart, and the gizzard (what is that anyways??) inside the hallow of the turkey. Remove those before cooking.

My turkey had a turkey neck and a package of turkey drippings.

 

Well… at least that’s what I thought until after I cooked the turkey.

Once we cut open the turkey and started removing the meat, I found the other extras hidden inside the turkey. Just like my mom said they would be. Woops.

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  • Place the turkey bag in the disposable turkey pan, then put the bird in the bag, leaving the bag open.

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You’re all set to season the bird!

  • Sprinkle garlic salt, onion powder, and pepper generously on all surfaces of the turkey, turning the bird as you go to reach all areas.

This will add delicious flavor to the exterior of your turkey.

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My mom said the she even seasons inside the hallow of the bird sometimes! I didn’t worry about that this year. I’m just a beginner after all.

I tried to use one hand to turn the bird (not easy!) because I didn’t want to stop to wash my hands several times before touching my seasonings. Nobody wants raw turkey juices on their cooking stuff! It didn’t always work, so I did have to wash my hands a few times during this process.

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I did run into one hiccup. The first seasoning I applied to the turkey (onion powder) stuck to the turkey because the bird was moist. But the second seasoning I applied (garlic salt) didn’t stick because the onion powder was already covering the bird. I added butter flavored cooking spray to help the other seasonings stick.

 

  • Add big chunks of butter all over the top of the turkey.

Be generous- Just like Paula Deen!

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  • Tie the bag shut and place the turkey in the oven.

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I needed to adjust my racks to make the turkey fit. Make sure the plastic turkey bag does not directly touch the top or sides of the oven.

 

I will always choose a turkey with an internal thermometer that lets me know when the turkey is done cooking. That was my saving grace! I would be totally lost without that little red thermometer.

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My mom took it to the next level! She told me to turn the turkey so that the thermometer is facing the front. This makes it easy to see when your bird is done. Why didn’t I think of that??

  • Use the turkey package to determine how long the bird should cook.

My turkey was about 14 pounds. The package estimated it would take 3.5 to 4 hours to cook.

Another bit of clever ingenuity from my mom- check the bird a little earlier than the package recommends. Keep checking the bird every 15 minutes as it gets closer to the recommended time. This will ensure that the bird doesn’t stay in the oven for any extra time- which could cause it to dry out.

This tip saved me this year!

Kick back and relax because this takes a while. Or you know, slave over the rest of your Thanksgiving meal… Whatever applies to your situation. 😊

Watch for the red turkey thermometer to pop out. You’re almost done!

My turkey went into the oven at 8:20am, so I planned to start checking it at 11:20am. That’s 30 minutes sooner than the package recommended.

By some strange luck and due to my own impatience, I started checking my turkey at 10:30am instead of 11:20.

To my surprise, the turkey looked almost done!

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By 10:40, the thermometer popped and the turkey was done! That’s only 2 hours and 20 minutes of cooking time!

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Come to find out, the package on the turkey and the package on the turkey bag had different cooking instructions. The turkey bag instructions were more accurate. That’s weird…. Watch out for that when you cook this year!

  • Once the thermometer pops, cut open the top of your turkey bag.

If your turkey needs more color, allow the turkey to cook for another 15 minutes or so to brown the top of the turkey. This also helps the outside of your turkey get nice and crispy!
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It looks great and tastes delicious!

Your turkey will be a show stopper at your next Thanksgiving party!

My family loved the turkey! They ate the entire thing, down to the bones. Thanks mom!!!

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Fun tip from my mom- The turkey drippings are all contained inside your turkey bag. It makes excellent turkey gravy for your Thanksgiving mashed potatoes! All you have to do is strain the turkey drippings and add a roux (flour mixed with water or butter). Bring it up to a rolling boil and you’re done! Delicious, homemade gravy! Wow, I’m starting to think my mom knows everything.

I hope my genius mom’s tips simplify your turkey-cooking this year!

It really saved my Thanksgiving!

Cheers to people who are smarter than me who share their wisdom!!!!

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

 

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Gifts For Kids (Ages 0-18) That Will Meet Their Developmental Needs

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Please comment below- What was a Christmas or birthday gift that  your child loved? How old were they?

 

Christmas is right around the corner! It’s time to start shopping!

There are lots of things parents could get for each child on their list… but lots of toys are just noisy or obnoxious, without really contributing anything positive to the child’s life.

This holiday season, give a lasting gift to your child (and a bonus reward for yourself!) by teaching the child something useful through your gift. Understanding the child’s developmental needs will help you choose a thoughtful and educational gift. 

For your shopping convenience,

CLICK ON ANY OF THE IMAGES BELOW for a quick link to Amazon! 

Babies (0-18 months)

Babies have two main developmental goals: 1) learn how to use their bodies (fingers, hands, sitting up, crawling, walking, eating, etc.) and 2) build a relationship with loving adults around them.

Click on any of the images below for some great gifts that tailor to those needs:

  • Sensory Objects

  • Activity Cube

  • Walkers

  • Shape Sorters/Stackers


  • Soft Blocks

  • Plush Books


Toddlers (18 months-3 years)

Toddlers have mastered a few skills during their baby stage- such as walking, some talking, eating, etc.). Now that they are more capable, the big struggle for a toddler is to find ways to use these skills independently…. But this usually gets them into some trouble. Toddlers are exploring the world around them, learning their own limits, and learning their parents’ rules.

One important way that a toddler gains independence is through toilet training.

Learning to communicate through speech helps toddlers accomplish these developmental goals.

  • Buckles, Snaps, Dressing


  • Blocks


  • Nuts and Bolts (Builds fine motor skills)

  • Thick Cardboard Toddler Books



  • Potty Seat



  • Puppets


Early Childhood (4-6 years)

Children in early childhood are beginning their school years- bringing new challenges such as learning to sit still, wait their turn, stand in lines, listen and attend to the teacher, play cooperatively with friends… Not to mention academic demands like learning the ABC’s and reading.

Having mastered basic communication skills, they are able comprehend basic logic, such as cause and effect. Children at this age often struggle to comprehend abstract concepts.

Play really expands during early childhood as children’s imagination allows them to pretend with their friends.

  • Dress Up/Pretend Play


  • Color Coordinated Tea Set (Builds color recognition and matching skills)

  • ABC Fun



  • Beginning to Read Books


  • Coloring Set (Promote artistic expression)
  • Musical Instruments

Middle Childhood (7-10 years)

Children in middle childhood are beginning to understand abstract concepts. They are ready for more advanced learning- in school (such as in math) and outside of school (such as in learning to use money).

They have excelled in their communication enough to grasp irony and humor.

With more understanding of why’s and how’s, these children are ready for advanced teaching about moral character. They can start deciding for themselves who and what they want to be. They can plan for the future and start setting goals independently.

These children have more awareness of their surroundings, so they start to catch on to social norms and expectations. Children start to take on roles at home and at school that define themselves. They are ready for a little more responsibility.

  • Comics or Joke Books


  • Geometric Blocks

  • Chapter Books


  • Pets or Pretend Pets


  • Money Management Tools


  • New Skills (Playing an instrument, sewing, cooking, etc.)



Late Childhood (11-12 years)

In late childhood, children are in a transitional phase. They are beginning to outgrow younger children and prefer to interact with older youth. They are looking for ways make themselves more accepted by teenagers.

This is a time of parental teaching and warning. These children usually haven’t hit the rebellion that often comes with adolescence, so they are still willing to listen to their parents. It is an important time for talking about peer pressure, sex, drugs, alcohol, bullying, how to use technology responsibly, porn, and other major topics that will arise during adolescence.

  • LIFE Board Game

  • Lessons or Materials to Play an Instrument, Dance, Play a Sport, etc.



  • Dream Boards
  • Family Friendly Games




Adolescence (13-18 years)

Adolescence is surprisingly similar to the toddler stage. The main challenge for adolescents is to find independence, while still operating within their parents’ rules. Adolescents push boundaries, trying to find the limits.

They are almost adults- and need to be prepared for every situation that they will encounter when they hit adulthood. They need to be prepared for: cooking their own meals, managing their own money, keeping track of time, working a job, cleaning their own home, balancing work/school and play, having positive friendships, having positive romantic relationships, organization, being a responsible citizen, and graduating college.

Adolescents are also finding their own unique hobbies, interests, life skills, and exploring possible future careers.

Teens are strongly influenced by their peers, so any gift that will make the adolescent feel “cool” will help your child in their social skills.

  • Cash (Encourage them to save some of it!)
  • Appropriate Clothing/Shoes/Jewelry/Accessories



  • Money Management Tools


  • Time Management Tools


  • Things for their Future Apartment/Dorm (Some teens are weirdly more interested in “boring” practical gifts when reminded that they will get to move out someday soon….And that this gift will help them do that!)





  • Products to Care for the Car/Safety in the Car



  • Tickets to the Movies, Gift Cards for Restaurants (For hanging out with friends)




  • The Gift of Making Your Home “Teen Friendly”

Making your home “teen friendly” depends on your child’s interests and the interests of his friends. Adding perks to your house that appeal to them will encourage your teen and their friends to want to hang out at your house. This is awesome because you can get to know your child’s peers- and keep an eye on things to make sure they are being safe and responsible.



  • Vacations/Family Time Rather than a Physical Gift

I’ve known families who go on a cruise, rent snowmobiles, or go for a hot air balloon ride with their teens instead of buying gifts for Christmas! This builds your family togetherness, and is a ton of fun!

Enjoy your new gift-giving confidence, knowing that your gift will be loved and useful.

Please comment below- What was a Christmas or birthday gift that  your child loved? How old were they?

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

 

Please share with a parent who needs help shopping for Christmas!

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5 Tips to have Optimal Health Before a New Baby (For People Who Don’t Like to Exercise or Diet)

Photo by Angelos Michalopoulos on Unsplash

Every mom goes through a unique phase before she gets pregnant. It’s a time of preparation… Time to start thinking about what kind of health I should be in before my pregnancy.

This is always a tough time for me. I typically make much better choices eating and exercising when I am pregnant or nursing than I do normally. I’ve got to reign in all the emotions that come with eating, not just the eating itself. It’s an entire lifestyle change, a whole new mindset. More than just eating your veggies. 

I just like tasty food. And I’m not a dieter. And I hate exercising.

But I also don’t want to be unhealthy or overweight, especially when there’s another little human who depends on me.

If only chips and cookies were nutritious… But they’re not.

So, I go through this terrible process before every pregnancy where I try to prepare my body for building another person- and that means being in good physical condition.

Nothing crazy, mind you.

Again, I am no dieter and I hate to exercise. All I’m aiming for here is being healthy in general.

No counting calories, or cutting out carbs altogether, or cayenne detoxing.

So how do I get prepare my body for having a child- without going crazy?

  • Healthier Choices

Ok, we all know about this. We know that refined sugars and carbs are bad. We know that veggies are good. We know that we should have a balanced diet with lots of colors.

So the first (Unavoidable!) step is to make a few healthier choices.

When I’m thinking about getting pregnant, I try to change my diet a few months in advance. Here’s some of the changes I make:

  • Take a prenatal vitamin. Ok, so I usually do this all the time, but it is especially vital now! (Click the image below!)

  • Buy whole wheat everything. Tortillas, bread, buns, you name it. I can’t seem to function without carbs, so I at least try to make them a little better for me by choosing whole wheat.
  • Increase fresh veggies. I eat at least one veggie with each meal. No exceptions. Buy a variety of colors. This ensures that I’m getting a balance of nutrients from my food.
  • Drink water. Pregnancy requires a ton of water, even more than normal. Before pregnancy, I start getting used to that by increasing my water intake. There are great resources out there, like water bottles that help you track your water intake (Click image below!)

This also means giving up other drinks- especially those with high sugars (like soda) or high caffeine (like coffee and energy drinks- read here for more information on how to keep your energy up without the caffeine!). And we all know that pregnancy means limiting or cutting out alcohol, so this is a good time to get started.

  • Just stop buying unhealthy snacks that I can’t resist. Chips, chocolate, ice cream, and cookie dough are a few of my weaknesses. I can’t have them in my house if I am going to make a change to being healthy. So I just don’t let them in the house.
  • Get through the cravings. It helps me to know that cravings for my favorite carbs and sugars should go away after a week or two of the new, healthier lifestyle. I just have to make it til then!

But that is only the first step!

  • Sweat and Stuff

Ok, seriously, who has time to exercise?

Nobody.

And who wants to exercise?

Nobody.

So how on earth does anyone ever get it done?

The only times in my life where I have been successful at keeping a consistent workout routine is if I am working out with a group. That way, they know if I am missing my workouts and they hold me accountable.

Effective. But I hate it.

My favorite way to get in some good physical activity is to play with my kids for 30 minutes to 1 hour every day.

I love this, especially right before another pregnancy, because I just want to soak up my little ones before I have a baby that needs most of my attention. I feel like it helps my kids cope with a new sibling because they get lots of mommy’s attention beforehand and it helps me feel connected with each child. And I get my workout in. And let me tell you, it’s an intense workout.

Win, win, win.

Click the image below for some great family fun!

  • Power of Fluids

Here’s a simple trick that I use to make sure I am drinking enough water and also monitoring my portions at meal times.

About 30 minutes before the meal (usually right as I am starting to cook dinner or lunch), I drink a BIG glass of water. Not your average 8 fluid ounce cup. A BIG cup of water.

That’s 3 glasses of water (one at breakfast, one at lunch, and one at dinner). Not the entire day’s worth of water, but a good start! Again, if you would like some extra help keeping track, try these water bottles that keep you updated on how much water you need! Click the image below.

The water fills up my belly so that I eat a more appropriate portion of food rather than helping myself to a heaping plate.

This trick alone is responsible for a significant amount of my pre-pregnancy weight loss.

  • Time Limits

Another pitfall of my everyday eating habits is that I allow myself to eat whenever I want.

That means if I want a snack, I can have one. If I want a midnight snack, I can have one. If I want all the hobbit meals- breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, and supper- there’s no stopping me.

If I’m working on being more healthy, I cut out some of these extra meals by setting rules for myself.

And, I don’t just mean lines in the sand, but firm, for reals, no joke rules.

For example, I don’t eat past 6pm.

I don’t let myself snack between meals.

I make my mealtimes consistent every day, such as breakfast between 9-10am, lunch between 12-1pm, and dinner between 5-6pm.

And that’s the only 3 hours in the day when I am allowed to consume food of any kind.

I know, I know, it’s healthier to eat small snacks often rather than big meals. If I had enough self-control to do that, I would. But when I try to eat 6 small snacks in a day, I just end up with 6 big meals.

In that case, it is more healthy to limit myself to meals rather than trying to snack.

Please note that this is one habit that I give up after pregnancy. I find that snacks are a helpful way to keep morning sickness away, and you need more calories during pregnancy anyways.

  • Feeling Zen

Emotions about food are difficult.

It is a tough topic for a lot of people. Media portrays a perfect body type that many people aspire to obtain. This brings up feelings of self-doubt, self-esteem, being in control, feeling accepted by others, health and wellness, confidence, and mortality to name a few.

(Click below for a great resource on emotional eating!)

Lots of big emotions are tied to food.

Success at changing a lifestyle takes more than just grudgingly following steps that you don’t want to do.

That’s where I went wrong for a long time.

As I have said many times, I’m no dieter. I’m no exerciser. I’m no good at counting calories.

These few tricks I have identified are the prefect mix (for me) of small and simple changes that I can handle. They are things that work for me, but they don’t send me into big emotions of frustration, regret for foods I have eaten, wishing for foods I can’t have, or self-punishment when I mess up.

At the same time, I find new ways to reward myself, to rejuvenate myself instead of eating (many ideas are mentioned in this blog post). 

I can feel happy about my food choices without putting myself under intense stress for giving up a major part of my life.

In doing so, I control my feelings and my food.

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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A Rockstar a Day Keeps the Children At Bay…. When You Gotta Have More Energy to Keep Up

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

 

As parents, we are always out of energy.

(Clink the image below if you need a Rockstar right about now!)

Between waking up during the night for our kids and catering to their needs all day long, not to mention the day to day grind of normal life (working a job, meals, laundry, dishes…..) there just isn’t enough energy to go around!

And with all that, it seems like the kids have energy to spare! So not only are we juggling everything, but we have to do it at a run just to keep up with the kids.

It’s exhausting.

And it’s never ending.

No weekends off, no holidays off, no 9-5 shifts. So it’s vital that parents get some much-needed energy boosts here and there.

These are my top hacks to keeping up with the kids when you’re out of energy.

(Please note- depression or anxiety disorders may need professional help of a doctor and/or counselor.  These steps should not take the place of professional help.)

  • Energy-Boosting Foods

What if I told you that you could boost your energy… and at the same time be cutting a few of those extra pounds??

That’s right. Who knew?

There are lots of foods that naturally contain the perfect ingredients to cure your mid-day lull. Look for things like fiber, protein (increases concentration and focus), and complex carbs.

Watch out for the short-lived high that comes with a spike in your blood sugar from things like starches and sugars (especially refined sugars) or caffeine. Yes, they give you a quick boost in energy but this is followed by an energy crash that will leave you struggling to continue your everyday tasks. And then the natural tendency is to seek out that high of the sugar rush again! It’s a vicious cycle.

On the other hand, the following foods provide longer and more stable increases in energy.

  • Yogurt
  • Nuts
  • Whole Grains
  • Eggs
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Salmon or Tuna
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Spinach or basically any dark leafy greens
  • Quinoa
  • Chia Seeds
  • Oranges
  • Pumpkin Seeds (Click the image below)

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Asparagus
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Hummus (Click the image below)

  • Beets
  • Grapes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Pistachios (Click the image below)

  • Sesame Seeds
  • Ginger

Besides all these great foods that help you feel awake and energized, there are great foods that help supplement your sleep. These foods contain ingredients like lactucarium, tryptophan, omega-3’s, melatonin, and serotonin, which can help you sleep more deeply and restfully- thus helping you feel more rested the following day!

Try snacking on one of these great foods just before bed to improve your sleep:

  • Halibut
  • Cherries
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Small amounts of Cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Chickpeas
  • Honey
  • Elk Meat (Click the image below)

  • Turkey

You can also save energy preparing meals using customizable freezer meals. 

  • Don’t Forget Hydration

Water is a very important factor in keeping your body energized.

Being dehydrated can cause you to feel sluggish and lethargic. People often mistake feeling thirsty as feeling hungry, which can increase unhealthy snacking.

As we mentioned earlier, if I chose to eat a snack that is high in refined sugars and carbs, I will have a spike in energy followed by a crash. Lack of water can trigger this cycle.

Drinking plenty of fluids will decrease feeling tired as well as decreasing unhealthy snacks.

Remember that not all fluids are created equal. Watch out to make sure you aren’t drinking unnecessary calories or sugars.

  • Get Your Sweat On

Exercise increases serotonin to your brain. This directly increases your energy level.

When I think of exercise, I immediately want to go crawl into bed instead. But exercise doesn’t have to be mundane.

Any activity that gets your blood pumping and your heart rate up will release endorphins.

My favorite way to get exercise in is to include my kids and neighbors by playing games. It feels great to spend some quality time with my family and also build a healthier lifestyle at the same time. That’s two things checked off the list!

Here’s some great activities to do with your kids that will also give you a great workout and get your energy up:

  • Tag
  • Freeze Tag
  • Trampoline (Click the image below)

  • Dancing
  • Anything at the park- swings, climbing, etc.
  • Any kind of sports- soccer, football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, tennis…..
  • Playing catch
  • Jump rope
  • Climbing trees
  • Piggyback rides
  • Foot races
  • Pretending to be an animal
  • Hopscotch
  • Playing Twister (Click image below)

  • Yoga
  • Riding Bikes
  • Roll down hills
  • Read for more options of Indoor Activities 
  • Turn on the Tunes

Sometimes, we have done everything we can think of and we are still just tired.

These are the moments when we need a little pick me up.

The first thing I do in these moments is turn on the radio or Pandora!

A little bouncy music can change the mood for the day. Instead of moving slow and lazy, it makes me dance! I can get so much more done with some nice background music playing.

And the kids love it! It’s a great way to cheer them up too- since kids seem to feed off of the adults’ moods. If we are tired and lethargic, it affects them. Sometimes, they mimic a lethargic adult and are also tired…. And other times, they do the opposite and have enough energy for both of you!

In any case, music will get them moving to use up some of that extra energy while giving you the boost you needed to keep going.

Plus, music just makes us happy. We need that.

  • Hey, Good Lookin….

When parents are feeling zapped, I always recommend putting on a cute outfit. Keeping your body image up is so important to life, but it’s also something that gets overlooked in the busy life of a parent.

So, if you’re so drained that you can’t keep moving, go change your clothes. Find something cute, pizzazz-y, spunky. Something that will put some pep in your step.

Give yourself a confidence boost and then go try again with whatever you needed to get done.

Don’t underestimate the power of your look.

Click the image below.

  • Making Moments Count

If I’ve done all this and I am still feeling lethargic, it might be time to sit down and take a break to consider my own mental well being for the day.

Some days just suck.

On those days, I try to see the silver lining.

Remember that the time you do have matters- even if it doesn’t seem like much. The time you have to sleep matters, so make the most of it. The time you have for “you time” matters, so make the most of it.

And the time you have as a parent matters. Yes, we are exhausted. A lot. But we are so lucky to have these wonderful kids in our lives. They bring so much fun and excitement. They keep life real. They make us carry on.

When things just suck, remember to make the moments count. Love your kids. Tell them and show them.

This will brighten your day and put the pep back in your step.

When you are too tired to do anything, just smile. (What about the days when you have nothing left to give? Read more here!)

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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