Category: Healthy Moms

Sometimes I Need to Get Away From My Family, and I Don’t Feel Bad About It

A good friend once said to me, “you need to get away from the husband and kids. You need time to miss them.” She is totally right.

My husband and I both work from home, and now both of our kids are attending school from home. We spend every waking hour together. I love them and I am so grateful we have the option to bet together through these crazy COVID times, but, I need mental space. And sometimes I really need physical space. I need to not be on demand for a meal, a snack, a quick question or to settle an argument.

Before the pandemic hit and the kids were in school for most of the day, I met with friends for coffee and we talked about our lives as moms. We vented about our stress and laughed at the ridiculous things our husbands can’t seem to find right in front of their faces. It was good for our mental health to drop those feelings in a safe space and let them go.

Now that I am “teaching” all day while trying to write and balance the chores, I am stuck inside my house more and it really makes me crazy. I am not a “homebody” or one to sit still for long. Movement and getting out of my house (and away from my family) is essential selfcare for my mental wellness. Some days I fantasize about running away or leaving a note on the counter, “Dear family, I love you. Now get away from me.” That’s not considered polite, so here are four ways to nicely inform your family you need time alone with your thoughts.

FIND SOME HEADSPACE

Taking a daily walk through my neighborhood each morning before logging everyone into a laptop helps me feel free. There’s no schedule, there’s no tether to my home, there is only me, the fresh air and my air pods. It isn’t the spa or working out at the gym, but it truly helps me clear my head and get ready for the chaos of the day. If I can’t get outside to walk because of weather, I walk on my treadmill. And sometimes, I just stand at an open door and quietly sip my coffee and listen to the birds chirp.

SOCIALLY DISTANT VENT SESSIONS

Once a week, usually a weekend morning, I invite other moms to join me on socially distant hikes. We walk on opposite sides of the trail while we chat about our stress and laugh about how crazy our families make us. It’s a great way to stay connected to my village and take in nature, which always makes me feel more grounded. Once a month, I meet with a couple of other moms outside in one of our driveways, or an empty lot just to talk about our stress. We sit 10 feet apart and bring our own chairs.

JUST LEAVE THE STRESS BEHIND

There are some days after the laptops are off and the kids are plugged into a video game, I leave the house. I no longer walk the aisles of Target slowly to peruse. Instead, I head to the drive through for a coffee and take the back country roads and soak in the passing scenery. Sometimes, I get out at a park to sit on a bench and watch people go by, read a book, write in a journal or phone a friend, which ever I am in the mood for.

SCHEDULE TIME TO UNPLUG

About once or twice a week, I skip watching TV after the kids go to bed and opt for reading a book. I leave the phone in another room so that I am not tempted to scroll, or look through the horrifying headlines of the daily news. This gives me time to unwind and plug into things that bring me joy like reading a good book and being in my cozy bed.

Selfcare means something different to everyone. I personally, need deep connections to others and nature and time to connect with myself. I miss dining out at leisure and going to the gym. But, scaling back to basics have really helped me cope with how different things are right now.

Do you spend time away from your family to recharge?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and freelance writer just looking for a quiet space to enjoy her own thoughts.

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My Daily Smoothie Hack

I have to confess, I am addicted to drinking smoothies. Not only are they easy to make, but I can just toss a bunch of stuff in a cup without measuring and it still tastes good. The one thing I don’t like, is the clean up. Plus, rummaging around for ingredients and pulling them all out of different locations in the kitchen while I am barely awake, is a pain.

It is so tempting to sign up for a smoothie subscription and have premade smoothies delivered to my door step. I even found a local company to source them, but then I saw the price. It will cost me around $100 for one dozen premade smoothies. I can’t justify spending that much just for my personal breakfast each morning. I’d save time on the prep, but I’d still have to dispose of all the packaging and shipping materials after I transfer all the cups to the freezer. That still takes up time. But man, I’d sure love the convenience and simplicity of dumping a cup of ingredients into a blender.

So….

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That’s what I do!

I found some left over disposable coffee cups with lids stashed away on a shelf in my basement and realize they make the perfect DIY grab and go smoothie cups. I make seven smoothies ahead of time, stash in the freezer and grab one each day. My kids have caught on to this and will grab one for themselves occasionally. They won’t make their own smoothies if they have to lug out all the individual bags of produce. Now that mom has done all the prep work it’s suddenly fair game. At least they are eating healthy and feeding themselves, right? In the future, I’d like to switch out the coffee cups for glass jars with lids to minimize waste, but since my kids are young and clumsy, paper cups do the trick.

Ready to see how easy it is to make a weeks worth of smoothies in about 10 minutes?

Line up seven freezer friendly cups.

Pull out all your favorite fruits and veggies to divide between containers. You can add nut butters or protein powders, seeds or any extras you like in your smoothie.

Just layer in each ingredient, attach the lids and put in the freezer.

When you are ready for a smoothie, remove one from the fridge and fill container with your favorite milk or water (are you a creamy smoothie drinker or a watery smoothie drinker?), dump the entire cup into the smoothie blender and give it a whirl. Then you can dump the mixture right back into the cup to take along with you. If you need something fancier to transport, I’ve attached a couple of options here in this post.

I topped each cup with a piece of waxed paper before adding the lid. This provides an extra “seal” against ice crystals and it keeps the fruit from absorbing any funky flavors from the freezer. Now I have breakfast already made for the entire week (as long as neither of my kiddos takes one for themselves).

Now you have a full week of breakfast (or snacks) for significantly less money and with less wasteful packaging to have to cart to the curb. I love a good hack that gives me more for less!

Our favorite combination so far is bananas, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, kale, spinach, pumpkin seeds and peanut butter. What do you put in your smoothie?

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Dairy Free Ice Cream Cupcakes

Picking your own berries and fruit is a great way to get kids outside and enjoying nature. Strawberries, cherries, blueberries and raspberries are all in season right now. And we are here for it!

This week we picked 4 gallons of strawberries and 8 lbs. of sweet cherries. We definitely could have picked more, but the storm clouds were moving in fast. We climbed into the car to go home just as the first raindrop fell. Perfect timing! My kids love cherry picking the most because they can climb the trees to reach the top branches. Thankfully, cherry trees are’t terribly high. Tomorrow we plan to pick blueberries and I can only imagine how many we will come home with.

After we picked all of our strawberries, I washed them and divided into freezer bags and tossed in the freezer. This assures me they will be usable later. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve let the berries sit for too long and wasted them, literally spoiling the fruits of my labor.

We have our standard uses for Strawberries. I toss them into our smoothies, pancakes and baked goods. And every year I make fresh strawberry ice cream. I make it right in my food processor and it is ridiculously easy.

I also make frozen banana ice cream pretty regularly. So, when I eyeballed those sad little bananas on my counter just turning brown, I had an idea. Why not make banana strawberry ice cream cupcakes? I’ll throw a little peanut butter into the banana ice cream for protein and it will practically be a health food! ~ genius

Here is the recipe I whipped up for my family to enjoy. It is dairy, gluten, soy, dye free and there is no added sugar. We did add a layer of graham cracker crumbs between the ice cream layers, but that is optional. Next time I am going to make the strawberry ice cream with coconut milk to see how that changes the texture. This makes six cupcakes, however, there will be about a pint of additional strawberry ice cream you can tuck away for yourself for later. You’re welcome!

I hope you make these and enjoy! Do you get out to pick your own berries? What do you make with all of those sweet berries?

Roxanne Ferber is a blogger mom and freelance writer. She enjoys the sweet silence of kids sleeping in and has a crippling coffee addiction. Motherhood has changed her in many ways, but remaining non-judgey and ready to support other moms are her strong suits. If you’d like to work with her, visit the work with me link in the side bar. If you want to send her happy thoughts or share your motherhood story drop a line at [email protected], or find The Whatever Mom on Facebook.

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Summer Hydration Tips for Kids

Do you have a kid that just will not drink water, no matter how much you remind them? I have two kiddos that I have to constantly remind to drink water on the daily. It is frustrating. I barely remember to drink my own ounces and somehow I have to remember to get them to drink enough too?

Water is essential for so many things, but most importantly, it is essential for our mood and energy levels. So, if you want the kids to have enough energy to log off of their video games without an attitude make sure they are properly hydrated. OK the attitude part is not a guarantee, but at least they should have enough energy to log off the screens for a little bit.

Thankfully, water isn’t the only way to hydrate. If you have a kid that is not a water drinker, there are still plenty of ways for your kids to get their ounces each day, including water dense fruits and veggies and icy cold treats.

Go nuts – coconuts! Coconut water is a fantastic way to hydrate and replenish electrolytes without artificial dyes or added sugar. You can purchase coconut water in a variety of flavors, or as a powder to mix into your bottled water.

Just add ice – puree your favorite berries, or fruits and pour into ice cube trays to freeze. Then just add to a glass and add water. It will keep things cold while slowly adding flavor to your water.

Skip the mix – fresh squeezed lemonade is a tasty way to get those ounces with the added benefit of vitamin c. As my kids say, homemade lemonade is easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Harness the power of the sun – Sun tea requires very little effort and brews while you are playing in the yard. Add 2-3 caffeine free herbal tea bags to a gallon pitcher of water and place it in the sun. Pour over ice to cool down while you rehydrate.

Go Natural – fill up a gallon pitcher of water and add slices of your child’s favorite fruit, or frozen berries. It will add flavor and antioxidants to your next drink.

Solid advice – freeze herbal teas or fruit infused coconut water in popsicle molds. Your kids will be more than happy to eat an icy treat on a hot day. Or offer your kids fresh fruits and veggies with high water content like apples, oranges, watermelon, blueberries and raspberries. Snacking on fresh foods through the day goes a lot further for hydration than eating salty processed snacks. Plus there will be more salty snacks left over for you to enjoy once those little cherubs go to sleep. 🙂

Water can taste bland and seem like a chore for kids to finish. But if you keep a few of the flavorful options listed above, on hand, they may be more willing to sip through out the day.

How do you make sure you and your kiddos get enough hydrating ounces each day?

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Meet a Mom and Owner of Three Sisters Herbals, LLC

Meet Kimberlee Tompkins, owner of Three Sisters Herbals, LLC. Kim creates hand made herbal skin care, aromatheraputic essential oil products, lip balms and more. My family began using these products nearly ten years ago when a friend introduced me to using Wicked Salve for my daughter’s diaper rash. Then we tried the Bug Away spray while my kids were toddlers. These products work so well for us, we keep them in supply all year long.

Kimberlee is mom to three biological children and two bonus children, a business owner, gardener, nature lover, wife and business owner. She has an eye on sustainability and it is reflected in her packaging and business practices. She even offers a recycling program for empty containers her customers use (including brands not her own). Kim is generous with her community and even during this pandemic she made sure the front line workers were taken care of with essential product care packages to keep them healthy and cared for. She is as nurturing to the world around her as she is her own family.

Meet Kimberlee!

What is your business? Three Sisters Herbals, Inc.

Who does your business serve? Mom, usually between 35-45 years old, who have an interest in non toxic living and the environment.

What is your business mission? To help families reduce the amount of chemicals in their homes by providing them with all natural and organic products, that have multiple uses and are budget friendly. To provide opportunities for our customers to give back to the community we live in by offering donations to local charities.

What local charities do you support? We routinely raise product donations for Sparrows Nest clients, Hope on a Mission, Dutchess Outreach and now essential workers in the Hudson Valley.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I think this is a really hard question. Becoming a parent has been a journey of self discovery. As I saw undesirable qualities in my kids, I had to face up to the fact some were from me. I began to really dig deep to be the best person I could be, so my kids would be better. It has catapulted an epic life changing spiritual journey. I let my kids see me, all flawed and weird and stressed and laughing and human (hopefully not at the same time!), and I think it makes them better people, to realize we are all just humans.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I am an introvert who would rather talk to her pets or her houseplants over most people 🙂 I struggle with social anxiety and various health issues, which makes working from home so valuable to me, it affords me the time to rest if I need. My husband and my kids are the most important thing to me. I love to hug people (which is in direct conflict with being an introvert, but I’m also a Scorpio, so don’t try to figure me out). And lastly, just to keep it real, I sleep with multiple stuffed animals every single night.

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? How Roxanne keeps a judgement free zone. We are all moms, we all have struggles and good/bad days. The more we can support and lift each other up, the better the world will be.

Where are you located and how can other moms find you? I am located in Hyde Park with products available in local retail locations which are listed on my website. For great updates about products everyone can follow along on Facebook, Instagram and my Momsteading blog.

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Meet a Mom and Certified Stress Management Coach

Meet my friend Lisa Zawrotny!

Lisa is an amazing conversationalist, stress management coach, decluttering expert and mother of two. She loves coffee, making music and spending time with her family. After living through the overwhelming experience of juggling her combined roles as a wife, mother, care taker (for her mother) and business owner, she founded Positively Productive Systems LLC. Lisa is now a Certified Stress Management Coach specializing in Productivity & Organizing and the host of the Positively Living Podcast. She shares the powerful healing of simplifying, self-care, and structure through speaking engagements, and offers coaching to overwhelmed moms and women everywhere.

Lisa Zawrotny is the owner and founder of Positively Productive Systems, LLC.

How do you help overwhelmed mamas make positive change? I offer personalized coaching and content relating to stress management, time management, decluttering/organizing, gratitude, and more!

Where are you located? I just moved from the Hudson Valley region to Finger Lakes area of New York.

Who are you looking to help? Caregivers, nurturers, the overextended, the overwhelmed, the ones who give until they hurt, the mamas, the multitaskers, those with chronic conditions, those who feel like there has got to be a better way, those who believe in simplifying and not sweating the small stuff, the ones who are daring to dream again and define who they are, the empaths who feel the weight of the world and still show up.

How do you serve others through your business mission? It is my mission to be the antidote to stress, not simply another task on a todo list, to encourage action in a way that is livable, and a guide to true and lasting change that fits each person’s life.

How do you most relate to The Whatever Mom philosophy? I adore the non judgmental “we’re all just trying to make it through here” philosophy. Why does it matter *how* we do what we do? Unity is key.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I get it. I’ve been there. And even when my positivity is flying high, my heart still feels your weariness and pain. I’m here to help and encourage…to highlight Hope in your life. ?

What makes you stand out as a mom? I respect my kiddos and laugh a LOT with them. I am real with them. I show them I am human and I think they respect me all the more for it.

Where can other moms find you? My website: Positively Productive Systems, My Podcast, Facebook and Instagram.

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What is Going Right During this Pandemic?

Several weeks ago, I asked the moms in my Whatever Mom Circle private group what is working for them during quarantine. What is something positive they are gaining from this time at home? Almost everyone said, slowing down has made a big difference in how they feel.

Normally, as moms, we are rushing from one drop off to another, running errands and racing through our day in a blur. Now that we are home more, that hectic pace has shifted. Yes, we are now handling more educational tasks than before, but there is less pressure to get everyone out of the door by a certain time. Most of us are letting the kids sleep in a little longer. It is sad our favorite activities are on hold, but it’s also nice to not have to crack the whip to get through dinner on time for soccer practice.

What else is going right?

Well, I for one feel less anxious about sending my kids off each day into the unknown. Will they be bullied today? Will they be afraid during a lockdown drill and I won’t be there to comfort them? Will they eat their full lunch today? Will they feel ill and sit in the nurses office? Now that we are home together all day, I don’t have to worry so much.

Then there is not having to pack lunches! Shout out to the gods above because I HATE packing two lunches every night. Lunch planning is the bane of my school year! I count down to every Friday because the cafeteria serves pizza. The one school food my kids willingly eat. God bless the lunch ladies! I haven’t met them, but I hold each of them in my heart.

My kids are connecting more with each other. The hectic pace of the school day, shuffling from one classroom to the next and using manners seems to wear them out entirely. This leaves very little patience for one another. As soon as they return home it is non-stop bickering and arguing. They still argue in quarantine, but they are a bit more patient and more accepting of each other in their respective spaces.

Overall, this pandemic at home thing is not ideal. It’s not my favorite experience. But, I am grateful my kids are home with me where I know they are safe. I like that we can slow down and we have less obligations on the calendar. I like that we are eating better. I like that we are using our local farms more, have more time to grow things and my kids are learning life skills.

Plus, there is a lot more wine in the house lately. Perhaps one silver lining to this pandemic.

What is working for you during this pandemic?

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Meet a Mom Monday

This post kicks off my new weekly series, Meet a Mom Monday! I thought it might be a fun way to introduce some moms already in The Whatever Mom community. I put out a call to moms already following along to introduce themselves and tell us more about how they are making a difference within their communities alongside being a mom. It’s easy to lose ourselves in motherhood, especially in those really early years. It’s hard to remember that life will get a little easier and there will be more time for ourselves. I hope the amazing women you are about to meet will inspire you to keep your own dreams alive! I know they inspire me. So, without further ado, meet Nakeyia!

Nakeyia Jones is an author and owner of Uniquely Purposed, LLC a publishing company focusing on children’s books and novels. She has authored children’s books, family devotionals and a recent novella of her own. Her first book, Super Spots shares the story of a young girl living with a skin condition known as Vitiligo, a condition Nakeyia herself lives with. Her hope is to inspire others living with this condition and to raise awareness and acceptance.

Describe your mission: To inspire children to embrace their differences and those of others. I want to reach moms of twins, children with special needs and rare diseases and adults that want a little suspense out of a book.

How many children do you have? Two children and one grandchild.

How do you relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? We are not given a handbook on how to raise our children. The Whatever Mom helps us all to know we are human, will make mistakes and we are not alone on the parenting journey.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I am passionate about the future of young people and it’s my calling in life to help them find purpose and keep them motivated.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I raised a hyper-active child successfully, that is my super power!

Where can other moms find you? I am on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Being The Mom During COVID-19

It sucks.

Don’t get it twisted that I don’t love my kids and appreciate the extra time we are spending together, because I do. I love my kids more than anything and I am kind of happy to be home with them. It isn’t perfect, but we are together and that’s the only place I’d rather be right now. But… being THE MOM through all of this is a royal pain in the arse.

In my household, nothing gets done with out my planning and prep work. Literally nothing. I’m not down playing my husbands efforts, he is the main bread winner and without him we wouldn’t have a roof over our heads. I do appreciate his hard work, but that’s mostly what he is doing 98% of the time. Working for someone else. He pitches in with laundry and dishes and mows the yard and takes out the trash when asked, but the kids schedules, home improvements, vacations, appointments, meal plans, shopping, holidays, doctors, emergency room visits, middle of the night kid anxiety, that’s all me. Before this lockdown, I was already tired and missing out on my own essential self-care. But during lockdown? I wonder if I even exist most days.

I mean obviously, I do exist. In the same way Cinderella exists. Overworked and unnoticed.

As soon as my alarm goes off, my feet hit the floor and take me out to the kitchen to make the kids breakfast. I sling their fresh made pancakes in their direction while they rub the sleep out of their eyes in front of the TV. I take five minutes to get dressed for the day before settling each kid in front of their respective lap tops to log into their online classrooms. Then I spend the next half of the day bouncing between both kids playing tech support resetting WI-FI and helping them with writing assignments. We break for a quick PBJ before we do it all again for the next two hours.

Besides my new career in tech support, I’ve become a virtual assistant scheduling their online classroom meet ups and virtual play dates. So far, my kids have a better social life in quarantine than I do. Tuesday’s one kid bakes cookies, or paints online with a friend. On Thursdays the other kid meets online with a friend to play Minecraft. I stare longingly at the people walking by my house and wonder how weird would it be if I whipped open my front door to yell, “hello, hello, hellooo!!!”

The six hour work day I had before, is now filled with non-stop caretaking and managing other people’s needs. Yes, before the virus I was doing this too, except I was limited to only a few set hours each evening. There were only 4 or 5 hours of the day I was taking care of other people, cooking and cleaning and organizing take out to get out of cooking. Now, I’m on duty from sun up to sun down. And it is exhausting. The last time I was this exhausted, my kids were toddlers waking through the night.

It’s hard being THE MOM during the life and times of COVID-19. All I really want is a little mental space. A little time to do something more than brokering my kids social life and meticulously planning a two week grocery haul so I can avoid being in public.

I miss public.

I had some of my best times there. Talking. Chatting. Laughing. Taking a walk untethered from complaining children who never seem to be happy with anything I do.

For now, I will steal away the even smaller moments in the day to unplug from the motherhood grind. I will give myself grace when I’ve failed to put myself first. I will remain grateful for this time with my family. And I will give myself permission to admit that some days, it just sucks to be THE MOM.

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Picky Eater Solutions: How to Minimize the Fight

Many of you know by now, I have two very picky eaters. There was a day I could feed them anything without a problem. Suddenly, they decided food wasn’t exciting anymore. They began limiting themselves to the familiar favorites of macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets.

Before kids, I was not a meal planner nor spent hours prepping ahead. I love the joy of cooking and spontaneously creating a meal from ingredients I’ve tossed together. I love sampling the food combos I’ve dreamed up. Unless it is made entirely of cheese, my kids could care less about my craftiness in the kitchen. So, over the years I’ve learned to push passed my frustration with their picky habits. I’ve realized the main focus is getting food into the belly. Not just any food, but nutritious food. So, how do I get nutritious food into such picky eaters? Here are some lessons I’ve learned over the years.

1. PICK YOUR BATTLES: If you are tired of missing out on meals because your entire time is spent fighting a kid to eat, let it go. If that means prepping a smaller side dish that your kid will eat, then do it if it works for you. To me that is easier than missing my own meal to focus on a battle I am not going to win. I let my kids eat boxed mac and cheese and stir in a couple spoonful’s of squash or cauliflower puree. It makes them happy to eat what they love and it makes me happy they are getting extra nutrition.

I like this hidden veggie mac and cheese recipe from My Fussy Eater.

2. FOCUS ON NUTRITION: Often as parents we get caught up in subscribing to the clean plate club. But this doesn’t help kids understand their hunger cues. Portion sizes vary widely for kids, some enjoy larger portions than others. I try to make sure what I am serving is so packed with nutrition that even if they take two bites, it counts for something. I have become the queen of concealing veggies in my kids’ favorite foods.

My picky eaters don’t even notice the spinach in these Secret Ingredient Pistachio Muffins from Making Thyme for Health.

3. GET THEM INVOVLED WITH FOOD: My kids may turn their noses up to sitting at a table with a full meal before them, but they will nibble all day long on familiar favorites. I encourage them to make their own foods by putting out a sandwich bar or a “picky” tray filled with proteins and nourishment like cold cuts, devilled eggs, hummus and veggies, fruit and dip, etc. It makes things easier for me and we all win when our bellies are full.

Related post: Moms to Kids Everywhere, Make Your Own Damned Sandwiches

4. CHANGE THE WAY YOU CELEBRATE WITH FOOD: Before kids, the only meal planning I did was around the holidays. I created a menu combining my and my husbands favorites from childhood. All I had to do was pull out the recipes and go shopping. But my kids really aren’t into stuffing and Ambrosia Salad. If your kid isn’t into your favorite holiday meals, move your celebration to the meal they love the most. Make a special breakfast, or lunch and enjoy a less stressful experience. You can still enjoy the traditional foods you love at dinner and let them eat smaller portions or something they will stay at the table for. Memories of being at the table together without a war will mean more to them in the future than whether or not they finished the dreaded peas.

We make this Dublin Coddle for St. Patrick’s Day from Fit Slow Cooker Queen. My kids just pick out the parts they will eat.

5. USE COMPASSION: Some kids have anxiety around food, or sensory disorders, they will stick to the foods they know are familiar. Ultimately, it was this discovery in my own kids that made it easier to accept there are times I need to make two different dinners. The old school technique of forcing kids to eat, DOES NOT work for kids with anxiety, or sensory issues. It only forces them to become more rigid with their choices. It can really do more harm than good.

Learn More at Anxious Toddler.

Do you have a picky eater? How do you plan for meals?

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