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 Habits

Mindfulness Made Easy

Mindfulness is a big buzz word right now and everyone wants to be more mindful, including me, but it feels like this HUGE thing. Right?

What do you think of when someone starts talking about mindfulness or being mindful? I first imagine meditating in a dark room for 30 minutes — a goal I have set for myself so many times, but never get around to it.

When people start talking about mindfulness it makes me imagine somehow plugging into the world or the energy of the world in a way I don’t usually.

Mindfulness makes me think of mental exercise. Mental exercise makes me think of exhaustion. And then I think, well I already have enough EXHAUSTION (thank you very much) and I keep scrolling.

Mindfulness-2

But What If The Hype Of Being Mindful Is Distracting From The Ease Of Being Mindful?

What if we removed mindfulness from the hype and pomp and all the extra? What if we separated mindfulness from that gorgeous photo of that impossible yoga pose on the beach? What if we removed mindfulness from the 30-day Instagram challenges? What if we approached mindfulness from its core?

The most simple definition of mindful is:

mind·ful   (adjective)   conscious or aware of something.

Mindfulness is then simply a state of being conscious or aware of something.

Did your head just explode too? Yes, It’s just that easy.

You Can Be Mindful Anywhere!

You can switch in and out of mindfulness all day long! And, yes, that’s doing it right! Our brains help us plan, and contemplate, and sense danger, and feel joy just as much as they can help us move in and out of mindfulness.

It’s not an Instagram challenge! It’s not a 30-minute meditation. It isn’t impossibly difficult mental gymnastics.

Mindfulness Is…

  1. Being aware of the temperature of the water when you wash your hands. Noticing the smell of the water. The sound the water makes as it exits the spout and hits your hands and the sink below.
  2. Mindfulness is taking a minute to watch the rain fall outside. Watching the drops splat on your wood deck or form tiny puddles on the concrete. Smelling the rain. Feeling the dampness in the air. Being conscious of the size of the rain drops and the air pressure.
  3. Mindfulness is taking a moment to be conscious of the water falling on your head and over your body in the shower, how your sheets feel — crisp, heavy — when you wake in the morning, the smell of your morning commute, the sound of “quiet” when your kids are all at school — the fridge rumbling, the tinkle of the dishwasher as a glass rattles, the hum of the air conditioning. It’s coloring with your kids and noting the way the wax spreads across the area you’re filling in.
catt-liu-1624-unsplash
Being Mindful

Mindfulness Is Simple

It is also rooting, grounding, connecting, heightening, a place from which to draw gratefulness, peace, and strength. It is all of those HUGE things, but it is also so simple.

Instead of trying to be mindful today, I ask that you notice the times you are mindful today. I guess I’m asking you to be mindful of being mindful. All those mindful moments are a practice. There is no right way. There is no set amount of time. There is no trying to be mindful.

You Are Mindful Already.

Goal-Setting, Happy Habits

4 Happy Habits I Should Work On (But Won’t)

Many of us have that list — whether it’s formally written, journaled out over time, or jostling around in our heads. We hold a list of things we should change, or try, or do to make our lives easier, happier, and/or healthier.

But is that Should Do list helping? Or is it just taking up much-needed mental resources and energy? I have a Should Do list, but recently decided to let go of most of it… for now. So let’s say goodbye together to my shoulds, shall we?

  1. I should stop swearing. I know, it’s hard to imagine that a hand-sewing, all-things-BBC consuming, essential oil using, wannabe yogi is over here swearing like a teenager who just decided swearing sounds cool. But I do. I swear. I have tried to NOT swear 1000 times. But I’m now coming to terms with the fact that my heart isn’t in this goal. So until it is, I’ll be dropping the occasional f- and s-bombs. Not in front of your kids though!
  2. I should try to put myself together before leaving the house. Well, I actually WANT to do this one, but I won’t anytime soon. Time is precious to me and between maximizing playtime, downtime, and working on my handmade business, I don’t leave much time for getting my kids ready to get out the door, let alone myself. One day I’ll wear mascara and maybe a lip color again. For now, “natural mom getting sh*t done” is my look. (OMG I just swore again!)
  3. I should buy a quality piece of art to hang over the fireplace. Another one I have to shelve. If only so I don’t waste energy and time obsessesing over art pieces that I can’t realistically get for a few years. Our house still feels very new-to-us and there are tubs to replace and porches to repair, a driveway to re-pave and drain. Art will have to wait for some more foundational things to be put in place. But we’ll get there.
  4. I should learn to garden. I am embarrassed to admit this. It may ruin any woo-woo Earth cred you may have assumed I have, but I have an irrational disgust of bugs. So gardening al fresco is a source of panic for me. I want to get over the disgust so that I can plant more with my girls and landscape our yard. But this is something best left to the professionals for another year at least.

You guys, taking things off my “Should Do” list has made me one million times lighter. It doesn’t mean I’ll never get to these things, but it does mean they are no longer taking up my energy and mind space right now. What shoulds can you drop now to make space for what is important to you today?

Let me know in the comments below! Or over on Instagram or Facebook!

And if you haven’t already, and you want help planning out a goal to make your life happier today, check out my TOTALLY FREE Happy Habits Workbook to start making the happy life you want today! This workbook will also help you drop those shoulds and concentrate on what will make YOU happy today!

4 Happy Habits I Should Work On (But Won't)

 

Goal-Setting, Happy Habits

The Biggest Difference Between YOU and THAT Mom

Have you ever found yourself staring at another mom wondering, “How does she do it?” Me too.

The put-together mom. You know the one who is ALWAYS put together — earrings, adorable shoes, real pants, hair perfectly coifed and yet… kids in tow.

How does she do it?

The workout mom. The one that makes it to Zumba classes each week and encourages you to go. Has three kids. Exercises regularly outside of the home.

How does she do it?

The organized mom. The one who knows about all of the special events happening in town, has the school schedule memorized, and seems to show up to all of those things on time. She has four super active kids in 3 different school buildings — preschool, elementary school, and middle school.

How does she do it?

The snack mom. She always has healthful snacks packed in adorable bento boxes, probably arranged in adorable designs, plus extra to share! She makes food so fun that your kids are begging her for more broccoli.

How does she do it?

The smiling mom. The one who can connect with anyone’s kid on their level. Kids can’t wait to see her and she can’t wait to see them! She can entertain your kid, her kid, and still has a hand and calm voice to help the mom with the kid having an epic tantrum.

How does she do it?

Well, I figured it out. The difference between you and that mom doing that thing you want to do is…

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Priorities

THAT mom has made THAT thing a priority. That mom has made it a priority to feed her kids healthful snacks. That mom has made it a priority to look super cute every day. That mom has made it a priority to hit the gym three times a week no matter what.

Getting started on being THAT mom you want to be is merely deciding to be that and making it a priority. Simple to state but tricky in practice. When you say something is a priority you are saying it is important to you. It’s of value to you. That’s huge! The rest of it is knowing what you want and making dedicated to steps to get there. And that’s were you and I get stuck, right?

I Can Help You!

I’ve developed an approach to setting goals and taking dedicated actions — that I call Happy Habits — to help you make what you want a priority! The Happy Habits Workbook is a FREE 14-page guide that is equal parts:

  • aspirational and goal-setting theory and
  • pragmatic digging in and doing the work

By the time you have worked through the guide you will have a created a concrete plan to help you be THAT mom. The one YOU want to be!

That Happy Mom Workbook

Are You Ready To Be That Mom?

Are you ready to be THAT mom you want to be? Sign up for The Happy Habits Workbook here! It’s TOTALLY FREE, so you have nothing lose!

If you are wondering who I am and why on Earth I am guiding anyone, you can read a bit more about me and my background HERE!

If You Aren’t Ready

If, for any reason, you aren’t ready to be any kind of mom but the kind who gets through the day, put this in your pocket. This is not a priority in your life right now, and that is OK. I’ve been there. But I do ask that you talk to someone if you think you need extra help– your friends, doctor, midwife, partner. They will want to know and they can help you. xoxo

The Biggest Difference Between You and That Mom

Caring For Yourself, Happy Habits

A Quickie: Happy Holiday Breath (Not The Egg Nog Kind)

Hi! This is your holiday reminder to breathe.

Holidays are exciting! They bring that super special palpable energy into our lives! And that excited energy is so good, until it isn’t.

Suddenly we find ourselves negatively excited  — our breaths get shorter, our tempers get shorter, the time it takes us to go from “this is going well” to absolute panic gets shorter… If you find you’re starting to get excited in the wrong places (well, that sounds wrong), take a few deep breaths.

Deep Breathing is a Happy Habit of mine. Deep breaths (or abdominal or belly breaths) encourage full oxygen exchange in your body and can slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure, not to mention they help you take a few beats between feeling a powerful emotion and reacting. Or is it just me who needs an extra beat during the holidays?

Try out a holiday mediation I made just for you and me:

Take a deep breath — in through your nose for 6 counts and out through your mouth for 6 counts. Imagine a beautiful golden sparkler at a safe distance before you. Your exhalation makes the sparkly flame dance before you and your inhalation brings its glowing crackle closer to you but still a safe distance away.

Close your eyes and do this 5 more times. Good! You just had yourself a little self-care holiday meditation and a few wonderful deep breaths! How do you feel?

In the hours and days that follow, come back to this if you need to!

Happy Holidays — full of lots of positive excitement (and a few sparkler breaths if you need them)!

-Gillian