Happy Family, Happy Habits

Do You Dinner Stress, Prep, or Plan?

I’ve been following Stephanie from @whatsthefigidea and admiring her tasty and beautiful meals. She has been such a food inspiration to me, so I asked her to share her secrets for getting GORGEOUS food on the table. In this blog post she shares a bounty of tips and tools! Thank you for sharing your meal planning tips, Stephanie! Everyone else, enjoy! 


To think I used to go to the grocery store EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. for dinner makes me cringe. What a waste of valuable time that could be spent at home with my fam jam. I was spending so much money (hello impulse I’m hungry and stressed buys). Something had to give.

After a quick browse on Pinterest the shining answer was meal prepping! Figured out what meals I was going to pre-make, went to the store, got my items and came home and made a huge mess. I spent a good chunk of the day juggling a million different pots, pans and other a sundry items. I was so worn out after this. During the week we had our meals but ended up with a lot of waste. Not cool. 

Meal evolution part 3. I find something cathartic in being organized. Knowing how things are going to play out helps my inner peace. Upon more research I decided we were going to try meal PLANNING instead. My goal was to lay out dinner for every day of the week and shop ONCE. My original system was rudimentary and simple. I sat down and wrote out every meal I knew how to cook and things my family liked. To broaden my selection I made a board of “Recipes to Try” on Pinterest. This would add to my database of meals. On an index card I wrote out the days of the week and started plugging meals in. From there I would take my recipe cards and compile a grocery list, sorting it down to sections of the store. Below is an example week: 

Meal Planning

As The journey to meal freedom progressed, I wanted to be set free from breakfast and lunch. BLD freedom sounded bliss! {Fun fact: We spend on average $200/week on groceries. You eat 84 meals a month. This comes out to about 9.50/meal! That’s not even per person. 5 days a week we feed 6 people too! Not only is it healthy but big savings to your wallet.} I went on the hunt for an app that could take my meals I plugged in and create a grocery list for me. After a lot of research, I found Meal Plan. Best app purchase EVER. For $2.99 (it’s $3.99 now) I can import recipes from the internet, or manually add my own.   

meal plan app

So here is how we roll. For breakfast we pick simple, easy and nutritious. Eggs (you can make the night before), shakes (if I know I won’t have time in the morning to blend up a smoothie, I premix my protein powder in my shaker bottle and put in the fridge). I’m going to skip to lunch, we will come back to lunch.

For dinners I start with nights we have activities, give those guys the easy meals. Next I plug in meals that use similar items. One night we might be having Mexican Buddha Bowl that uses roasted sweet potatoes, and another night that uses roasted sweet potatoes as another ingredient. Don’t double do work! Knock those bad boys out once and then put the remainder in the fridge for the next meal. Same goes for things you use all the time like sautéed onions and garlic or even quinoa. 

Now back to lunch. Lunch is leftovers! Ok I know some people turn their nose up at the term “leftovers,” but hear me out. Remember the meal prepping idea? Leftover lunch is no different than those meals you prepped in advance. The key to success is presentation. The brain bases its likes off of look/color and smell. Start by doubling what you are making (I’ve tweaked ours since I also feed my mom and sister lunch during the week). This should make enough for dinner and then lunch the next day. Get a set of good containers (we recently treated ourselves to a set of glass containers). This truly helps to have a bunch of one type. 

Leftovers Look Awesome

Start small. Create your meal database, whether that be a stack of index cards, post its, or  an app. Keep a well-stocked pantry. Be flexible. Have fun with it! It may seem intimidating at first but the planning pays off! Getting one extra task off mama’s plate, makes for a happy mama. Next time when they ask, “What’s for dinner?” you already have an answer. If you have any questions, let me know! I’d love to chat. You can find me @identiteeshirtco or @whatsthefigidea

Much happiness,

Stephanie

Do You Dinner Stress, Prep, or Plan?

Caring For Yourself, Happy Family, Happy Habits, Limiting Beliefs

Meditating Like A Mother

So I want to pick up on my Mindfulness Made Easy post from last week, and talk about the same concept as it relates to meditation. As much I want to meditate, I struggle to fit meditation in. As a work-from-home mom with a preschooler and toddler around, there just isn’t a good and quiet time to block off for meditation.

Or so I tell myself. I have this belief (excuse) about meditation that’s difficult to shake — like mindfulness, I have to do it “right” or there is no point. I have a perfect meditation scenario in my mind — a silent chunk of time with my oil diffuser making soothing water drip sounds as a calming scent wafts over me. And I tell myself it has to be exactly this or I can’t do it. Sound familiar?

I have this belief (excuse) about meditation that's difficult to shake -- like mindfulness, I have to do it
Photo by Lisa Zoe on Unsplash

But why have I decided that meditation has to be perfect or nothing? Because I’m looking for an excuse not to practice? A limiting belief regarding how much peace I’m allowed to feel? I’m not sure. But this “there is no perfect time for meditation” excuse is a big one for me.

Meditation for some is the practice of noticing what bubbles up into the mind and letting it go by concentrating on breaths or a sound. This is the essential piece in my own practice. And once I realized that I could do the same with little people bubbling up into my meditations space — acknowledge them and let go of the loss of my “perfect” meditation environment — suddenly I had more space in my calendar for practicing meditation.
I wanted to share a video I took this week. My purpose for filming my mediation was to share a few deep breaths on Instagram Stories as a sort of calm motivation. But what happened while I was taking the video is so much more what meditating like a mother often looks like for me. Enjoy!
If you are interested in meditation, but never find yourself getting around to it, what excuses do you make to avoid practicing? Are they real barriers or limits and constraints you have made up? Meditate on that for a bit!

If meditating is something you are interested in, what excuses to you make to avoid practicing? Are they real barriers or limits and constraints you have made up?

Caring For Yourself, Happy Family, Q+A

Q+A: Dropping Mom-Guilt

It’s our second Q+A video and this one is about mom-guilt. And I had been thinking… what do I have to say NO to, in order to drop mom-guilt. I talk about that here!

Hope you enjoyed our second video Q+A video! These videos will be quick, informal, straight-to-the-point, and delivered in 3-ish minutes. Easily digestible answers to your important questions, one at a time!

Have a question about parenting, self-care, finding more happiness in your life? Follow me on Instagram @thathappymom and stay tuned for the next question roundup!

Dropping Mom-Guilt

A Question, Happy Family

You Know What I Could Use? Another Lecture! Said No Mom Ever.

Soooooo… I came across a blog post during an insomnia Facebook scroll called Why Are Kids Impatient, Bored, Friendless, And Entitled? And you know what the implied answer is here, right?

Right?

THEIR MOMS ARE DOING IT ALL WRONG. And I got so angry.

And, to be fair, I  think the author, Victoria Prooday, a Registered Occupational Therapist, does mostly blame parents generically and uses the term “we” to soften the blow when relating all the things WE are doing wrong, but I have never in my life heard someone say, “That little kid is so impatient, her dad must not make her wait for things.” I’m pretty sure I know what “parents” means in these articles. These articles are written for an audience and that audience is moms.

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Doing it wrong since 2012

And as I skimmed this list of things I should and should not be be doing, I thought, this is so recklessly harmful, but EVERYONE does this. Do moms really need another list of EVERYTHING we are doing wrong and EVERYTHING we need to be doing to fix it? SPOILER ALERT: We don’t.

And why is everyone, women included, so quick to give a mom, an adult person, a lecture? Please Stop.

But I would like to answer the question proposed by the author of this blog. Here we go!

Why are kids so impatient, bored, friendless, and entitled?

Kids are so impatient, bored, and entitled, because being otherwise is learned behavior. Being otherwise means mastering these base reactions and acting against them. Children are still learning and still mastering. And so are adults, by the way. Have you seen a Baby Boomer waiting in a line? The very picture of impatience, boredom, and entitlement. I’ve heard these same words used to describe Millennials too, and Gen X and Gen Y…

Maybe a more accurate questions is why are humans so impatient, bored, and entitled? But it’s harder to blame mothers for a 40, 60, or 70 year-old person’s impatience, boredom, and entitlement.

I haven’t mentioned the friendless bit, because I don’t even know what this means. Perhaps today’s kids’ friendships look different than they did when the author was a kid? But from where I’m sitting, in my part of the world, friendships look very similar to my upbringing. I see my kids playing and negotiating and compromising and standing their ground. Playing nice and playing rough and figuring it all out.

But I have a question. Why do people feel so entitled and justified in lecturing parents (moms) and vilifying children?

This mom is tired of it.

 

Caring For Yourself, Happy Family, Q+A

Q+A: How To Be An Introvert and A Mom

Thank goodness for this freeze-frame! Haha! Our first Q+A is here as promised!

Hope you enjoyed our very first video Q+A video! These videos will be quick, informal, straight-to-the-point, and delivered in 3 minutes or less. Easily digestible answers to your important questions, one at a time!

Have a question about parenting, self-care, finding more happiness in your life? Follow me on Instagram @thathappymom and stay tuned for the next question roundup!

Caring For Yourself, Happy Family

Go Away Big Hairy Guilt Monster

There has been a lot of talk about guilt in my conversations with you via email, messages, Instagram, and Facebook. And the only thing I absolutely know about guilt is that we feel it ALL THE TIME!

We feel guilty about screen time, snack choices, lack of sleep, taking a look at our phones for 5 minutes while our toddler plays in front of us, taking a little time for ourselves, not taking a little time for ourselves, being cranky that one time, that time we let our kid test her boundaries on the wall and she fell off, that time we helicoptered in and didn’t let him manage that social interaction on his own. So much guilt is paired with our mom-choices.

Go Away Big Hairy Guilt Monster

But what’s with all the guilt? Why are we constantly being chased by guilt and simultaneously feeding it? What if we just stop feeding the guilt monster? Will it stop chasing us looking for food?

I say we stand our ground and tell this guilt monster to go away!

It isn’t serving us. Is it? Well maybe a little bit. The guilt I felt immediately after I shouted at my kid a month ago did serve me. I should have felt guilty. That was a totally crappy way to react to a crying 5 year-old. But now a month later? What is that guilt still doing here now? I apologized and explained that I was absolutely wrong. We talked it out. She moved on. But that guilt whispers in my ear, “Remember that time you shouted?

I don’t need guilt to stand guard. I don’t need guilt to keep me from shouting at my kids. I work hard every single day to keep from shouting because I don’t like people shouting at me, I’m not a shouty person, and it just feels wrong and nonsensical to me. So what is the guilt still doing here?

I’m not sure just yet. But it’s got to go.

Not over to you! Just down a long road to nowhere else. Because I don’t need guilt in my life. And I suspect neither do you! I’m trying my best, I’m busting my bottom for my kids’ happiness, health, wellbeing. I’m doing the best I can plus a little bit more. And that HAS to be enough because it is all I have. And there is just no more room for guilt.

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Caring For Yourself, Happy Family

I Can’t Do Everything Right

I didn’t realize that when my first baby was sort of pushed and pulled from out of me, and I held her in my arms — from that moment on — I was expected to do everything right. I had to be perfect. Because only perfection would keep this baby safe, happy, on the “right” developmental pace, and healthy. Everyone was suddenly expecting me to do it all right all the time.

That was the unwritten contract I had unknowingly signed when they said, “she’s a girl!” And my fat jaundiced baby who wouldn’t nurse for the first few days because I wasn’t doing it right already, needed a perfect mom who did everything right.

My first didn’t sleep through the night until she stopped nursing at 11 months. Because I wasn’t doing naps and bedtime right. And obviously she stopped nursing “early,” because I wasn’t doing that right either. She was late to walk and talk too. I took her to all the baby movement and singing classes and countless baby playdates, but I just wasn’t doing it quite right.

Then my second baby came. This time I knew what was expected of me. Right! She nursed right away! Yessss! But she nursed too often because I wasn’t doing it right in a different way. And then she slept with me (and not even once in her crib) because I couldn’t get sleeping right again. And I didn’t read to her as often as I did with my first, because I didn’t have time to do that right either.

I'm Not Doing Everything Right

And I can go on and on about all the ways I have done it wrong. And I can tell you about the days, weeks, and years of tears and frustration while trying to figure it out — that right way to do things. But I have a feeling you’ve already been there.

And maybe you’ve known this for a while, and I’m arriving to the party late as usual, but I’ve been wasting all this time looking for something that doesn’t exist. Doing it right isn’t a real thing. It’s just not real!

What is real and doable is our way — the way that works for our family of four. And I’m pretty certain our way could be more clear to me if I could just shut out all the regurgitated and tired advice shoveled my way via social media, blogs, articles, and the lady at the grocery store who couldn’t wait to tell me the better way to do that one thing.

And I’m out. I’m done! I’m not going to try to to do it right anymore. I’m going to follow my own intuition about parenting, not the Seven Things I Need to Change Today to Have More Grateful Children.

My children will see how to be imperfect and kind and silly. Instead of a mom trying to figure out how to do it right, they will see one who can grow, change course, and apologize when doing it wrong means doing someone wrong. I will be someone who gets it right sometimes and sometimes gets it wrong too. Just like everyone else, whether they’re a mom or not.

Everything Right