Home, Printables

An Easy Way to Keep a Clean House

an easy way to keep a clean house

 

As a busy mom of two, I’m always trying to improve on my organizational skills! Sometimes I straight-up just don’t want to clean my house! My husband and I work together to keep our home organized and clean, so it isn’t just on me, but I am kind of the one in charge of how it all works.

Over the last few years, I’ve figured out a system that helps me stay on top of things. I don’t always follow it… But I try! I’ve found that if I divide things up by daily chores, weekly chores, and monthly chores, then the cleaning is easier to manage. Here’s how I divide it up in my house:

Household Cleaning List

Daily

  • Make beds
  • Do dishes
  • Clean kitchen counters and table
  • Sweep kitchen and dining room
  • Pick up living room(s)

Weekly

  • Vacuum
  • Mop
  • Wipe down bathroom(s) (disinfecting wipes, clean toilets)                  
  • Fold and put away laundry
  • Pick up bedrooms

Every Two Weeks

  • Deep clean bathroom(s) (clean/disinfect toilets, counters, tubs, faucets, floors)

Monthly

  • Dust
  • Declutter household papers
  • Declutter bedrooms
  • Declutter toys (throw away ones that are broken; give to friends or charities ones your kids don’t play with anymore; put in keepsake boxes toys you want to keep as memories)

 

I have two printables for you! If you want this list as a reference to keep on your fridge, you can get it here!

And if you want a checklist version of the list, where you can check chores off as you go, get it here!

Happy cleaning! 😉

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Tips

Keeping Photo and Journal Records for My Kids

keeping photo and journal records for my kids

Journals: Writing

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I knew that I wanted to start some sort of tradition with journal keeping, as a way to remember the important things about my pregnancy, his birth, and his life in the early years. I got this idea from different family members who have kept journals for their children. I bought myself a little journal, and I started writing. I called my BABY JOURNAL, and I wrote it in often. I wrote down the milestones of the pregnancy, feelings I had throughout, and my baby’s birth story. But after he was born, I didn’t feel I should stop! This baby is no longer a baby, but I continue to write in his baby journal. I don’t write in it as often as I used to, but I try to write the big things down, and still my feelings about him and the things that happen in his/our life.

When I became pregnant with my second baby, I knew that I wanted to keep up the journal tradition. How could I do it for my first baby but not my others??? I HAD to keep it up! I was nervous though, because life was busier than when I was pregnant the first time. I wrote down the milestones and some feelings in my second baby’s journal during the pregnancy, but not as often as with my first baby’s journal. Interestingly, I think I write in my second baby’s journal more often now, even though he’s a toddler now! Maybe it’s because I have more time now that my two boys are a little older, or maybe it’s because he’s learning so much and so fun that there’s a ton to write about!

I highly recommend keeping a baby journal for your children. Even if you didn’t keep one when you were pregnant or when your baby first came home, you can start now! And this journaling can be in the form of a baby book! From what I’ve seen, most baby books have plenty of room and prompts for parents to write down their feelings about their child’s milestones.

I strongly believe that it benefits children to read for themselves how their parents think of them. My hope is that my sons will be able to turn to the things I wrote for them in times of need, to remind them that they are loved and cherished.

 

Journals: Photos

I am OBSESSED with photos. I am in love with every single picture that I take of my children, because each one captures a moment in time that will never again pass by. Kids grow so fast; I wish I could remember every moment. I desperately try to keep photo records of my sweet littles. Here’s what I do:

Instagram

This is the easiest way to keep photo journals, especially now that Chatbooks is around! You can have all of your Instagram photos in hard copy for your family.

Photo Books

I put a photo book together for each of my kids every year around their birthday. It takes a lot of time and work, but I absolutely love having these personalized memories of their year! Walmart.com is usually where I get these. I’ve never been disappointed by them!

 

I would love to hear what other parents do to keep record of their kids’ important milestones! What has worked for you??

 

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toddlers

You Know You’re the Mom of a Toddler When…

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Everyone knows that toddlers are crazy. Bipolar, erratic, defiant, hyper, wild animals… But they are also oh-so-sweet and oh-so-entertaining! It is so rewarding as a parent to watch your little person grow and develop into his/her own personality, and to see him/her absorb new things every single day, all day long! At this age, kids’ brains are sponges!!

YOU KNOW YOU HAVE A TODDLER WHEN…

1) You all of the sudden have a second shadow.

2) You realize one day that you’ve allowed yourself to become a garbage disposal.

*”Oh, you don’t want your chicken nuggets? I’ll just finish them for you…”

3) Getting yourself ready for the day before 3:00 pm is a tremendous victory.

4) If a stranger were to listen in on your conversations, it would sound like you are fluent in several different languages.

*Toddler: “Daddy agoo baja ROAR aba daba owtside bash coookie!”

Dad: “Ok buddy, you can have a cookie.”

5) Sometimes, the word “Mommy” makes you shudder and twitch (it’s the screaming that’ll do it…)

*Of course, the same word, said sweetly, makes your heart melt.

Your-Real-name-is-not-mom

6) Snuggles in the morning are the best part about waking up at the crack of dawn.

7) You’ve memorized several books, such as “Goodnight Moon”, “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”, “The Foot Book”, and “Elmo’s Night Before Christmas”.

8) You have been hit, kicked, pinched, and have had your hair pulled out on occasion.

9) You have a new-found taste for foods such as PB&J, string cheese, animal crackers, and apple juice.

10) You swell with pride whenever your son or daughter learns a new word, makes a good decision over a bad one, or hugs you for no reason except that they love you.

Yes, being the parent of a toddler makes life exciting, tiring, funny, crazy, and interesting. But one thing’s for sure:

www.pinterest.com

I wouldn’t choose to have any other life than the one I have as a mommy! Having and raising my little boys has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done.

And one more for all the dads:

parenting reality

 

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love

Why Having Boys Isn’t What I Expected

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“Little boy, you remind me how so much depends on days made of now” (“Little Boy”, Alison McGhee).

http://www.disneybaby.com/blog/the-best-mother-and-son-quotes/

I’m kind of a girly-girl. I love all things pink, flowery, and sparkly. I was never in the least bit interested in toy trucks, dinosaurs, etc… Dolls were more of my thing. Yet, I now find myself being drawn to the trucks and dinosaurs as well as all things blue; my life is immersed in all things boy. I am the mom of two boys who have completely stolen my heart!

At first I wasn’t sure how I would handle a boy. And then after I had fallen in love with my role as a boy mom, I wasn’t sure how I’d handle two of them! But little did I know that the second one would be just as precious, just as scrumptious, just as perfect as the first one. In fact, because of these two little people, my heart has grown about 100 sizes. I wouldn’t trade my role as their mother for anything in the whole universe.

Here are some things about having sons that have caught me by surprise.

5 Reasons Having Boys Isn’t What I Expected:


1) Sons are mamas’ boys.

I will forever tell my boys that they are never too old or too cool to hug their mom.

2) Boys are very snuggly.

My boys are so snuggly and kissable, I could just eat them right up!

3) Moms of boys feel a lot of pressure to raise good, noble men.

Don’t we all feel that our world could use more men who are kind, thoughtful, and honest? All little boys grow up to be men- moms with sons take their job seriously and often fret over their ability to raise those boys well.

4) Boys are sensitive.


Contrary to what society tries to instill in us, boys are naturally sensitive, gentle, and kind. They receive pressure, as they grow up, to be more “manly”, which often implies them “needing” to become more aggressive and less sensitive. No, a true man is not aggressive and insensitive. The men I know who exemplify true manhood (especially my husband Brian) are sensitive to others, kind, thoughtful, and respectful of women.

I feel a huge responsibility to raise good boys in a world that wants them to be bad and tells them that they shouldn’t love themselves unless they fit a certain “manly” mold.

5) I often feel that my heart might burst with how much love I have for these boys of mine.


After a day filled with lots of pee, poop (LOTS of poop), chasing, reading, growling, laughing, and snuggling, I watch my sweet boys as they sleep and can’t believe that they are MINE- that I get to raise them, teach them, and love them. As much as I wish time would just slow down and let them be little for longer, I can’t wait to experience crazy life with these guys and watch them grow into men with their own unique personalities, talents, and dreams.

Nothing could have prepared me for the way I would feel about my sons. I feel a precious little piece of Heaven when I kiss their chubby little cheeks and hold their soft little hands.

“No one else will ever know the strength of my love for you. After all, you’re the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside” (Unknown).

Tips

How to Potty Train a Strong-Willed Child

I’m going to be honest: I really can’t tell you exactly, step-by-step how my son was potty trained a year ago. I can’t say that it “just happened”, because there was definitely lots of work involved; but I also can’t say that my husband and I followed a certain plan for it. I’ve read and heard countless pieces of advice on the subject: everyone has their own opinion! This is because every child is different! I don’t believe in a miracle, one-size-fits-all approach to potty training, because methods that work for one child may not work for another, even within families.

So I’ve put together some advice for you parents who are wondering this: How do I potty train my strong-willed child? All toddlers are strong-willed by definition… 😉 But I’m talking about those Type A toddlers, the ones who are 2-going-on-13, the ones who see Mom and Dad as their minions rather than their authority figures. Oh wait, am I just talking about my toddler??? *cough cough*

Anyway, here is the advice I have for you parents of strong-willed children!

how to potty train a strong willed child

 

  • Don’t force the issue.

It took about three different potty training attempts for the idea to finally stick with my son. I knew it was too soon for him when he started to act anxious about going poo. Potty training does take encouragement from parents, but we can’t force a child to be ready on our timetable. They probably won’t come up to us and declare “Mom, I’m ready to use the potty now.” But if they’re ready to try the transition, they won’t fight it too much.

  • Prepare your child by saying that the diapers are almost gone.

This approach worked really well for my son! After we told him that the diapers were all gone, the concept clicked with him that his underwear was it! I think he felt that as long as there were diapers to rely on, he could always save his poop for when he wore a diaper at night instead of relying on his own body cues. Which brings me to my next point….

  • First, focus on staying dry during the day, then tackle nighttime.

I got this advice from a family member as my son was starting to potty train. She suggested to us that we focus on getting him to learn how to stay dry during the day, then once that was established, to help him learn the nighttime potty training.

  • Don’t rely on pull-ups. Transition from diapers to underwear.

I know lots of parents swear by them, but we decided to not use pull-ups. My son only wore underwear (or nothing!) during the day, then wore a diaper at night. Eventually, after he figured out how to stay dry during the day, and after he understood that we didn’t have any more diapers at home (P.S. We actually did have SOME left… We just told him that they were “all gone”),  he wore underwear at night. I feel that wearing underwear forces kids to learn what it feels like to sit in their own pee or poop…. And helps them understand that they are growing out of diapers and into a new, bigger, cool phase: UNDIES!

  • Don’t shame your child when they have accidents, but be firm with them that we cannot pee and poop in our underwear.

We don’t want to make our kids develop complexes about their body functions, but we also don’t want them to believe that there aren’t consequences for peeing and pooping everywhere. My son actually thought his first poop-on-the-floor accident was funny… But we kept telling him that “we don’t poop on the floor- it’s so yucky” and he watched us clean it up. (I wasn’t comfortable with having my son clean up poo quite yet…) We tried to not laugh or make it seem funny around him, but we also didn’t scold him for the accident.

  • Help your child feel accomplished and proud whenever he/she stays dry for a period of time.

Rewards for going pee or poo in the potty are great, too! But don’t forget that STAYING DRY is a huge part of the potty training process!

 

Good luck to all of you brave parents! 🙂 What are some of your potty training tips?

 

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Food

Recipe: Muddy Buddies/Puppy Chow

how to make the perfect muddy buddies

Hi, friends!

I know we don’t have a food blog here, but I thought I’d share one of all-time favorite treat recipes: MUDDY BUDDIES! (Or Puppy Chow, whatever you want to call it!)

This treat is classic and is derived from the original Rice Chex Muddy Buddy recipe. My husband and I literally make this almost once a month, at least!

Get the printable recipe here!

 

Muddy Buddies

9 cups Rice Chex cereal

-1 cup milk chocolate chips

-1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

-1/4 cup butter

-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

-2-ish cups powdered sugar

 

1.  Put cereal into into a large bowl.

2. Melt chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter together in a small, microwave-safe bowl. The best way to do this is to microwave for 30 seconds, stir, then microwave for another 15-30 seconds.

3. Add vanilla to melted mixture.

4. Pour chocolate mixture over cereal in the bowl. Using a spatula, stir to completely coat the cereal with the chocolate mixture.

5. Pour the coated cereal into a gallon sized Ziplock bag (keep your bowl out), then add the powdered sugar to it. Seal the bag, then shake until the cereal is completely coated with powdered sugar. (The powdered sugar amount you will need can vary, so start with 2 cups and add more if your cereal isn’t coated enough.)

6. Pour the cereal back into your bowl, and enjoy!

 

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Baby, Pregnancy

What They Don’t Tell You About Postpartum Recovery

what they don't tell you about postpartum recovery

One of the things that surprised me the most when I had a baby was how unprepared I was for the postpartum recovery period! Everyone has plenty to say about pregnancy and childbirth, but for some reason, the postpartum period gets kind of passed up. It isn’t the prettiest or most delicate of experiences, but I don’t think women should be embarrassed about it! I did have some awesome friends who gave me helpful information based on their recovery experiences, but my doctors, family members, etc. didn’t really tell me much. Maybe a lot of women don’t remember their postpartum recovery periods as well as the childbirth experience? I guess that would make sense, since childbirth is such an amazing and even traumatic (to put it frankly) experience for the body. I did get a little bit more preparatory information from the prenatal/childbirth prep class we took and from the website I got regular updates/advice from. However, Brian and I found ourselves surprised over and over again as I recovered from childbirth… Basically, the recovery was more intense than I thought it would be! Hopefully, this post can give some of you first time moms out there a little insight about what to expect during the postpartum recovery time. Now to be fair, everyone’s experience is different, just like every childbirth experience is different. But these tips are based on my personal experiences, and I know that other women can back me up on them!

What to Expect

1) Your uterus needs to contract itself back to normal size after giving birth. Your nurses and/or doctors will help speed up the contraction process by kneading on your tummy soon after you have your baby. I remember this being uncomfortable for sure and I didn’t enjoy it by any means, but it wasn’t excruciating pain. The nurses first did this within minutes after I was stitched up in the delivery room, and then they would periodically do it throughout my recovery stay in the hospital. It seemed to get less painful each time they did it, from what I remember.

Another thing that helps a uterus contract back to its normal size is breastfeeding. Each time I breastfed my son for the first week or two, especially for the first couple days in the hospital, I could literally feel my uterus contracting- kind of like a menstrual cramp. Again, it wasn’t a terrible kind of pain.

2) You will bleed for a little while after the birth. The bleeding shouldn’t be really intense (if you ever notice big clots, you need to call your doctor right away). It is kind of like being on your period for the first few weeks after giving birth. Your body has a lot of extra “stuff” to dispose of after you have a baby! In the hospital they give you large pads to use (they may feel like diapers, but they are necessary!), and I continued to use large ones for a week or two after I got home. After that point, the bleeding was still there sometimes (like spotting), so I just made sure to always have pads on hand. I would sometimes notice that I would bleed more after breastfeeding (remember the whole uterus contracting back thing?). Just like the cramping, the bleeding aspect of postpartum wasn’t too difficult for me.

3) Going to the bathroom will be painful at first. For me, this was the worst part of postpartum recovery. I almost had to have a catheter inserted again when I was in recovery at the hospital because I had such a difficult time peeing! Thankfully, it eventually got easier during the hospital stay. I just had to make sure to get up and go often or else I would wet the bed (no muscle control right after pushing out an 8 pound baby!). The little squirt bottles they provide you with in the hospital are a life-saver- you use them as you urinate to help relieve the burning sensation.

Going #2 is a whole different experience… It was VERY painful the first time! But I think my situation was worse than it needed to be because I was constipated. I think doctors want you to have a bowel movement within 5 days after having a baby, and it took my body this long to figure it out. What I suggest is preparing yourself before you go into labor by getting lots of fiber!!! Toward the end of my second pregnancy, I starting drinking prune juice and I ate a lot of fiber bars. I’m pretty sure this helped a ton the second time around, because going potty was WAY easier after my second delivery!

4) Tearing takes a toll on your body. If you tear during pushing (which is very common, especially with your first baby), you will need stitches and these will need to heal. I had to have an episiotomy with my first because forceps had to be used to flip him from the posterior position. I can tell you that it took several months for me to feel normal again down there, and I think it was mainly from this episiotomy (plus the other natural tears I had). I know it was good and necessary so I could have my son safely, but it caused me pain for awhile. In the hospital I was given a small inflatable tube to sit on to relieve pressure from the tearing, and this definitely helped. And when I got home, as long as I was following my pain medication schedule for the first few days the pain wasn’t unbearable. But even after the initial pain went away, I could feel some scar tissue forming. You do eventually get back to normal (and I’m really hoping my second postpartum recovery won’t be as painful and long), but it takes some time. Let your body heal and don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor if you feel something is wrong or abnormal.

5) Intimacy will be an adjustment at first. As you have probably heard or can imagine, sex after having a baby is not the most comfortable experience… But never fear, things will get back to normal! Again, just let your body heal and listen to its needs. And remember that there are lots of ways to be intimate besides the obvious. 🙂

6) Start thinking about birth control before you have your baby. Your doctor or nurse practitioner will be able to prescribe you your preferred method of birth control when you see him/her for your postpartum checkup (usually between 4 and 6 weeks after the baby’s born). But make sure you’re thinking about what you’re going to do before this point, and make sure that you don’t consider breastfeeding your method of birth control, because it is not a method of birth control!….. 🙂

7) Your period. I can’t speak for other women here, but I didn’t officially have another period after having my baby until he was about 5 months old (this is when I stopped breastfeeding). But I think I’ve heard of some women’s ovulation starting back up again within a couple of months after having a baby.

What You’ll Need

I found that the hospital provided me with most of the materials I needed to get through my recovery. I got witch hazel pads (which help with hemorrhoids), numbing spray (which helps while going to the bathroom), a squirt bottle (as I mentioned above, to help with urinating), and some large pads to wear for those first few postpartum recovery days when lots of fluids are still leaking. Some other things I would suggest having are:

Nursing equipment. If you’re planning on breastfeeding, you’re going to want a comfortable place or places to do it, and you’re going to want equipment to help you feel comfortable as you’re getting used to feeding your baby. I needed a water JUG (the one they gave me in the hospital) at all times with me because I always felt like I was going to die of thirst! 🙂 I also loved my nursing pillow and my nursing cover (for when people visited). You’ll probably also want lots of snacks to munch on, books and/or your phone/laptop to entertain yourself with. I watched a lot of my favorite shows while I breastfed my son.

Lots of help at home. If you’re fortunate enough to have loved ones who can come to your home and help you after your baby is born, take advantage of that! My mom and sister came to help us after my son was born, and it was SOOO nice having them with us. My mom pretty much took care of all of our laundry, meals, and cleaning, and she even watched the baby for us in the morning if we had a long, sleepless night with him. I also really needed my mom and sister there emotionally, since having a baby and experiencing all that comes with it can feel overwhelming at times. It was very therapeutic to have people there with me during the day when Brian had to go back to work and school during the day.

Emergency formula. Even if you’re planning on breastfeeding, I suggest having a small stash of formula on hand just in case you’re going to need it. Plus, I’ve heard that emergency preparedness kits should always have infant formula if there are babies in your family. This totally makes sense, because if an emergency were to ever happen in your home or area (or to you), your baby still needs to eat their specialized milk.

 

I could go on and on about different things parents might need when they have a baby, but since this post was dedicated to the postpartum recovery period specifically, I’ll leave it at that. 🙂

It may seem overwhelming or scary to have a baby and to handle everything that goes along with having one, but don’t worry- everything will work out and you will end up having your own story to tell! I honestly did not think things were that scary or painful when I was experiencing all of this; I was so in love with my baby and so excited he was here that those happy emotions usually overpowered any of the confused or overwhelmed ones.

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