Category: Organizing

Tips to Pitch the Plastic as a Family

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It can feel overwhelming trying to pitch the plastics from our homes. And it might be unrealistic for families with young kids to eliminate every ounce of plastic from their lives. The busier we get, the more we tend to rely on convenience packaging, grab and go meals and water bottles for hydration. But there are ways to greatly reduce the amount of plastics we use on a daily basis, thereby reducing the amount of plastics in our water stream and landfills. And it can even save us some money.

If you try to eliminate plastic all at once, it can feel daunting. It might feel like too much change at once. But if you introduce one new habit at a time, or start with simple swaps, it will get easier in time. Once you have the hang of ditching plastics, you’ll discover you have an eye for earth friendly materials, and thinking about our environment will become second nature.

Here are my tips to families looking to purge the plastics from their lives:

START WITH ONE SIMPLE SWAP

For us, it was replacing our paper napkins and towels with cloth. This eliminates plastic wrappers that cannot be recycled. To make it more affordable, I shopped thrift stores for my collection of cloth napkins. We use them at every meal and toss into the laundry basket with our kitchen towels. To replace paper towels, I gathered up old hand towels and wash cloths (a great way to recycle baby bath cloths). I did purchase some Norwex cloths because they are absorbent and designed to last for years. It did take time to get everyone in my house in the habit of grabbing a cloth, or towel to wipe up spills instead of grabbing paper towels. Since we have a dog that makes some pretty gross messes, I do purchase a small number of paper towel rolls. I get paper made from bamboo and packaged in paper, not plastic. This feels like small change, but it will have added impact.

Silicon Jar Jackets- Click to buy

NEXT REPURPOSE, REUSE AND RELAX

Instead of cupboards filled with toppling towers of plastic cups, we only use glass. I know that just gave a lot of moms anxiety, but I use mason jars because the glass is more durable. For extra protection, I use a silicon sleeve for better gripping, and if my kid drops their glass it won’t shatter. If glass is still too much anxiety, you can use stainless steel cups which are quickly becoming a trend.

I reuse glass jars for pantry storage. I’ve already paid for a jar when I purchased my pasta sauce and pickles, why send them to the curb? My husband thought I was kind of crazy those few weeks I was obsessed with saving our glass jars, but it is worth it to revamp my pantry with a matching set of jars I didn’t have to pay extra for. And, if one breaks I won’t be heart broken, or have difficulty finding another matching jar. To make this truly zero waste and plastic free, I take my jars to the bulk bins and fill up in the store.

WHAT TO REPLACE

I went room by room and made a list of plastic products I want to replace. I focused on replacing things in one room before I moved on to the next room. This created new shopping habits and made the process much simpler and easy to manage.

In the kitchen, we replaced our plastic coated dish sponge with a net dish cloth. It was definitely an adjustment because I was convinced it was never going to work as well as a sponge. It actually works great! Plus, it lasts for 10 years, so I am saving my wallet and the earth in one step.

I stopped using plastic food containers or baggies for left overs. I use pint sized mason jars to store things like sauce, veggies, avocados, apple slices, lemon slices, canned goods, and more. The seal on the jar keeps things fresher longer than in plastic and with no chemicals leaching into my food. I also picked up a set of glass storage containers at the thrift store that were brand new. (My guess is they were a duplicate wedding gift). I can see what’s inside and toss right in the microwave and have hot food in minutes.

We made some big changes in the bathroom with our care products. Did you know that every plastic tooth brush manufactured since the 1940s, still lives in landfills today? As soon as I read that, I switched to bamboo tooth brushes. They work just as good as their plastic counterparts, but do less damage to our water ways. Bamboo is renewable and breaks down in your compost.

Instead of plastic floss containers, I use glass. This is such an easy, affordable swap. The glass container can be recycled or repurposed. I use this brand because it is produced with manmade fibers and not from silk moths.

Switching to toothpaste tabs was an adventure. My kids had zero problems with it, I think because it felt like chewing candy. It did take my husband and myself time to get used to crunching our tooth paste before we use it. Knowing the eco-impact of removing the most purchased piece of plastic helped us power through. The tabs come in glass jars, and you can subscribe to receive new tabs in paper packaging instead of buying a new jar each time, or simply purchase a new jar. Honestly, buying a jar to recycle or reuse is still avoiding significant plastics from entering our water stream.

Buying bars of soap without packaging is another super easy swap. My local grocery store carries a large assortment of package free soaps made from organic and natural ingredients. The price per bar is around the same as name brand soap. You can’t buy a mega sized, family pack. But, you can buy a few fresh scents and know there’s no garbage to toss later.

Lotion bars are a great way to eliminate plastic tubes that are rarely recycled. These bars are so easy to use and create less mess. I store my bars in a washable and reusable zipper pouch (I can toss right in with our weekly towel wash). The heat from my hands melts the lotion bar enough to apply to where I need it, but the bar stays solid.

Stainless steel water bottle – click to find your perfect color.

HOW TO PITCH THE PLASTIC OUTSIDE THE HOME

We’ve stopped asking for plastic straws at the drive thru. We aren’t a family that needs to use plastic straws, so we carry a reusable and washable wet bag filled with metal straws. I keep it right in the glove box. When we are traveling, we use our plastic free utensils and put them back in the wet bag to take back home to clean.

We’ve stopped grabbing plastic water bottles at gas stations on our short trips. Instead, we bring water from home in our reusable stainless steal beverage containers. Plus, the double wall feature keeps beverages ice cold for 24 hours.

To avoid grabbing prepackaged foods, we often bring along our own snacks or meals in sustainable packaging, or seek out local family friendly spots who use eco-friendly containers. I have reusable snack bags that I use to fill from our larger container of snacks that I pack in our cooler bag. And I’ve swapped plastic containers for steal.

I bring reusable bags to the grocery store, and if I forget them, I request paper. Some areas charge to use the store bags, so by using my own I avoid the 5 cent per bag fee. Plus, my reusable bags are stronger and carry more in them, which means less trips from the car. I leave my bags in the trunk, so I don’t forget them.

It doesn’t have to cost a million dollars to pitch the plastic, and you don’t need to buy all new products for your home. Focus on your biggest priority for change, then when you have that down, move on to the next. It’s really easy once you get started and your kids will easily follow your lead. Convenience packaging and relying on the same products is easy, but true change takes a little extra thought and a new purchasing pattern.

How are you planning to pitch some plastic this month?

Get your FREE Pitch the Plastic Action Guide Here

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10 Day Inspirational Home Declutter Course and Special Offer

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Clutter in our homes has a direct impact on our social and emotional stress. It can impact how we feel about ourselves, our creativity and overall mental wellness. A recent survey finds that most people are more annoyed by clutter than dirt. Perhaps this is because it feels less overwhelming to run the vacuum over a pile of dirt to remove it in seconds, than making decisions about what to keep and what to toss. Personally, I feel deflated just looking at the messes and clutter piles around my house. Most of those messes are created by my family with all the things they leave behind. You know the shoe pile by the front door, the growing stack of mail that no one else knows what to do with, baskets of laundry calling me. I could go on, but I am sure you have similar hot spots in your homes too.

I know I am not alone.

But moms, I’ve met a new friend to help. Her name is Emily, she is a mom with small kids and the owner of The Orange Slate blog. She created an Inspiring 10-day e-course to help us reclaim the spaces in our homes. It’s a one-time download that you own forever. 

I followed the daily actions for 10 days (I may have missed a day or two in between, but Emily knows busy moms oversee a lot of things and missing a day or two is going to happen). My favorite part is that in true Whatever Mom fashion, Emily is not seeking perfection here. She is simply sharing her systems for reclaiming the messiest places in the home so we can feel less stress in our day. She tosses aside the notion of creating a house to share on Pinterest for the idea of creating a home to live in.

Kids make messes. Families make messes. It’s where the living really happens. Playtime is messy. We get busy with life and things pile up. It is perfectly normal to live in a house with clutter. This e-course shares how to create daily habits to tackle the clutter to minimize your stress and daily battle with clutter. 

sample pages from a course
Sample pages from the course.

I followed this e-course for myself and found it helpful and easy to follow along with. I also find it helpful to hand off some of the action items to my husband and kids, so they can learn to help care for our space too. We schedule a time each day to declare, “tidy time” and we all pitch in to put away our own things and clean up our own clutter. This clutter sweep saves me a lot of time from cleaning up everyone else’s messes and teaches my kids some life skills. Using Emily’s lessons, we now have an evening routine to reset the kitchen and living spaces to create a calm, clutter free space for our morning. Getting us all on onboard with habits and routines helps me feel less overwhelmed by having to do it all.

As a bonus, Emily has sprinkled in links to her top blog posts about how to simplify your home life and her best tips on meal planning and creating rituals as a mom. You will feel truly inspired by her 10-day home reset and relating to another mom who gets what it is like trying to find balance in parenting.

As a special gift to my readers, Emily is offering her course at a discount. Use this link to download and code: WHATEVER to receive your e-course right away. For a tiny fraction of what it costs to hire a professional, you can own this course. Start when you are ready and reuse when you need to. We all fall out of rhythm from time to time. I can’t wait for you to share your review with me.

The whatever mom blogger bio

How to Tackle Home Clutter (Free offer)

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Clutter is defined as ‘a collection of things laying around in an untidy mass.’ As moms, we are familiar with the untidy mass and the frustration it creates. It is well known by now how clutter impacts our minds. Organizers tout the benefits of decluttering by hauling out our belongings to sort into piles to toss or donate. Who doesn’t love replacing a chaotic mess with a well-organized bin with a cute label, right? But not everyone has time for an extreme make over.

Moms are busy and often the only person to tackle the clutter at home. We might set aside time once a year (usually in the spring) to clean out our closets and kid toys, but it is the daily management of clutter that can wear us down. Managing the daily clutter and mess causes stress. Clutter impacts our mood when we feel like we are nagging, it affects our relationship with our loved ones because we can resent having to do it all by ourselves, and it can be physically draining being a cleaning team of one.

As much as I love an organized closet and escalate to giddy heights over the perfect storage solution, I find the daily clutter to be the most overwhelming. It distracts me from working and feeling productive, it takes time to clear the dining table so we can eat, and I am exhausted at the end of the day after returning items back to where my family took them from. I admit, my blood boils when no one else notices the crumbs and puddles on the counter nor remembers that coats do not belong on the floor.

Scientists agree that clutter signals to our brain that our work is never done. It can be difficult to relax when we feel like we see an endless task list. I don’t know about you, but I could use a few less things on my to-do list. I already have enough running to-do lists taking up space in my brain. What I need is a simple solution to tackle the daily clutter my family creates.

Sort mail as it comes in! (Click to add to cart).

Cleaning out the closet doesn’t make me feel better when my husband tosses the mail in a pile on the side table next to my workspace and leaves it for me to take care of.

Putting the kids toys in cute bins with pretty labels doesn’t make me feel better when I find toys strung about the house left for me to take care of.

Rounding up things to donate or toss doesn’t make me feel better when there is a new stream of stuff right behind me to take care of.

I’ve noticed, I am the only one doing all that cleaning and organizing on top of the daily cleaning and organizing and I am tired.

One day, I thought about what will make me feel better. I will feel better when my family pitches in to take ownership of their own stuff.

After months of feeling angry and festering in silence, I realize it isn’t fair to me or my family to just do everything myself. It isn’t teaching them life skills they need to learn, and it isn’t fair to drain my energy each day picking up after other people who can pick up after themselves.

FREE DOWNLOAD – 5 Tips to Tackle Home Clutter

I created a list of the top five sources of clutter in my home and planned how to tackle each one.

After I made my list and my plan, I sat my family down for a family meeting and told them they needed to pitch in. We are a team, and we are all capable of sharing the workload to maintain our home.

Organize your purse to save time and minimize clutter! (Click to add to cart).

That’s it.

I set the expectation for their help and explained how working as a team frees up time and energy for all of us, it improves our moods and our relationship.  That doesn’t mean every day is perfect or that I stop giving reminders, but now there is no question of where and when I need help. It minimizes my nagging and pleading and saves me energy!

So, how do I motivate them without nagging and making an elaborate chore chart?

I assign a tidy time each day. We all pitch in together to put away our own clutter and items that need to return to their point of origin. If we are all working together, there is less complaining and not one person feels like they are the only ones doing the work. I am less exhausted and less annoyed.

I delegate responsibilities, not just tasks. My kids need to learn to be responsible with their belongings. So, I assign each of them their own laundry day. I taught them the steps to loading the washer and dryer. They still need help folding, but they are responsible for putting away their laundry. They pick up the clothes on their floor during tidy time and do their own laundry on their laundry day. This is a huge step toward independence and less for me to tackle.

If you want to know the other steps in my daily declutter plan, sign up for my monthly newsletter! My list of 5 ways to Tackle Home Clutter is my free gift to you, and it arrives in your in box within minutes.  

How do you get your family to pitch in more? I’d love to read in the comments below!

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and creator/owner of The Whatever Mom community. As a freelance writer she has contributed to parenting magazines and influencer campaigns. A fan of snarky comedy, she uses humor to share the messier parts of her parenting life and helps other moms embrace the chaos and let go of perfection.

Spring Cleaning Just in Time for Spring to Arrive

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I know it might sound early for spring cleaning since we are still in winter. But this is the perfect time to start cleaning. I take advantage of being inside more due to the cold weather and start cleaning out closets, dusting ceiling fans and giving the house a deeper clean. Then when the sun pops out and it’s warmer outside, we won’t waste any time inside cleaning.

Most people start with a room-by-room strategy, but I tackle the same hot spots throughout the house. For example, I focus on cleaning all the closets at once instead of the closet in the room I am currently cleaning. Instead of cleaning one ceiling fan, I clean them all the same day. This way I have all donation items take out at the same time, and I have all the dusting finished at once instead of starting that process over again in each room. Does that make sense? It can feel different if you are not used to do it that way.

Here’s how I get it all done:

Closets and dressers are the first place I start so I can eliminate anything we no longer use. Old clothes, tablecloths, sheets, towels, etc. I bag everything up and toss it near the door for one trip to the donation bin. I find the Hefty extra strong black out bags are best for donations.

Bathrooms: I make sure to toss any expired makeup or cleaning supplies and make a checklist of items that need to be replaced. We love Method Bathroom cleaner because it cleans, disinfects and gets rid of bathroom smells.

Kitchen: I pull all the pantry items out at the same time and toss anything that has expired. Then I wipe out each cabinet before I return items. Then I move on to the fridge to toss anything that may be expired and give the fridge a good wipe down with my Norwex Envirocloth. I check each cabinet for any dishes that may need to be tossed or re-organized.

I use a Swiffer extended handle duster to clean each ceiling fan in the house and then I dust the walls from ceiling to floor, including the base boards. Now each room should be cleaned out, organized and free from dust. The only thing left to do is clean the floors.

We have a Dyson Animal vacuum for deep cleaning (that thing is still kicking 14 years later) and a Yeedi robot vacuum for a daily sweep of the main living areas (that little guy is brand new!). This helps keep the pet hair and kid dirt managed.

I leave window washing until the very last because it is my least favorite. However, using my Norwex window cloth has been the easiest and fastest streak free window cleaning system I have found! Since I am the only one in my house to clean the windows, I am a big fan of anything that will get it done quick.

That’s how I spend my February. In upstate NY we can still get a few snowstorms in March, but we can also get a rare week of 80-degrees and sunshine. And those are the days I’ll be ready for because my chores will be done!

Roxanne is a twin mom and freelance writer. She owns this little piece of the blogosphere where parents are encouraged to let go and embrace the messier parts of parenting, without judgement.

Home Organizing Week Product Round-up

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This week we are organizing like crazy. Every year I do the 40 bags in 40-days challenge. That’s where you fill one bag a day for 40 days with things to donate or toss. You would think I’d run out of things to toss, but somehow, we end up with so much stuff!

My kids grow out of things so quickly and honestly, as each year passes, I get comfortable with letting go of more things. We are donating toys my kids have outgrown. We have clothes and housewares that we are no longer into. So, it all gets tossed in a bag and sent on it’s way to a new home. But I want to organize what is left in a way that makes sense.

Here is my organizing plan for this week:

Stackable Lego or toy car storage we have a lot of free build pieces and some display builds. Finding storage for those lose bricks is always a challenge.

Art supplies my kids are super creative so they get a lot of art supplies as gifts. I need to toss anything that is old and unusable and organize what is left.

Shoes I am constantly fighting against a mountain of shoes. It drives me crazy that my children will kick their shoes off their feet and into a pile at the back of the closet. Maybe these will help them take better care of their shoes.

Books we have a ton of books to sort through. It is hard to part with ones we love so much, but I am going to upcycle them to friends and family.

Blankets what is the deal with kids dragging blankets everywhere? It’s like 3 feet to the basket, or even easier just fold it neatly and leave on the back of the couch. Why kids?

Make-up I have tweens who are getting into a skin care routine, so that means we each need our own storage for our respective products.

Spice rack my kitchen cupboard is overrun with random spices I bought for that one time meal or I bought at a home party. I need to toss what is expired and organize what is left.

Drawer organizers I could use these in every single drawer in the house. From our nightstand drawers to the kitchen and even the garage. I love opening a drawer and finding what I need instead of rummaging.

I think that’s enough for this week right? I won’t get to all 40 bags this week, but I am on a mission to get the bulk of this organizing project complete this week. Wish me luck!

What are your organizing tips?

Roxanne is a twin mom and freelance writer. She owns this little piece of the blogosphere where parents are encouraged to let go and embrace the messier parts of parenting, without judgement.

How to Plan a Virtual Birthday Party this Winter

Planning a birthday party for your winter baby is hard enough when there isn’t a worldwide pandemic. But now with social distancing a must and sometimes mask wearing is mandated, it’s even harder to plan a party in the same way we did only a year ago.

My twins celebrated a double-digit birthday back in November and we made the choice to host a very small, all-masked, back yard party. The girls could invite just one friend each to make s’mores in our back yard. All kids and parents wore a mask, and all our snacks and beverages were prepackaged or prepared with gloves. It was different, but everyone was so happy to spend time together that the extra safety protocols didn’t even feel inconvenient.

Now that we are in the dead of winter in the North East with plummeting temperatures and most indoor places closed off for gatherings, birthday party ideas are running short. That’s why I created a virtual party planner to help you get creative and keep the details organized.

RELATED READ: How to Host a Socially Distant Party with Friends

As a mom, I am always looking for easy solutions to the most common problems we all face and right now, we are all facing some tough choices for the safety of our kids. Indoor gatherings are not advised, and not everyone is feeling comfortable having people in their home. Last year drive-by birthday parades were a hit, this year virtual parties are taking over. But, creating a party through a screen is all new. If 2020 taught me anything, it is to embrace what we’ve got to work with. I hope this helps other moms embrace fun in a new way and makes kids feel celebrated!

I asked other moms to test this planner before I share it and one mom said, “I used this for their “virtual party” on Friday. And honestly it gave me ideas I didn’t even think of. I was able to organize who I wanted to join, sent out links and plan games (I didn’t even know this was a thing)! Your planner helped me get everything together and I really appreciate it. The kids had a great time!”

This planner is free when you sign up for my e-newsletter (which only arrives once a month). I send out mom hacks and simple solutions to the most common struggles like picky eating, self-care, meal planning and more. As a thank you for signing up to follow along, I will email you this easy-to-use party planner right away!

Grab your copy here! —-> here <—-

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and blog owner. She is helping other moms feel less alone and creating the community support she wants as a mom.

Get Ready for the Tooth Fairy with These Easy DIY Tooth Fairy Giving Bags

diytooth-fairy-bags
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Would you believe me if I told you that I used to work as a craft blogger? True story! Someone paid me to share the really lazy crafts I made each week with my kids. Turns out moms want easy crafts, preferably without glitter. And there are some moms who can’t resist a cute DIY.

I shared in my moms only group this week that I use these simple little DIY baggies to automate our tooth fairy giving. I made six at once and I keep 4 of the baggies pre-filled at all times so the tooth fairy never misses a stop! The other 2 bags I leave empty, one for each kiddo to collect their fallen teeth and leave under the pillow. Once they are asleep, I just swap out for the pre-filled baggie.

This system has worked for me for several years. It especially came in handy during the COVID quarantine when businesses closed. I couldn’t get the usual chocolate coins, or the gold dollar coin our tooth fairy traditionally leaves behind. Thankfully, I was already ahead of myself with this easy system. You can read my original post here, or scroll below for the step by step directions.

tooth-fairy-bags

Here’s what you’ll need: (Makes 4 bags)

6 Medium organza gift bags (you can find at the dollar store)

1 Piece of white felt

Download a tooth shape to trace

12 Googly eyes

School glue

8 inches of string or yarn

Wax paper

*Optional pink paint for rosy cheeks

I found the tooth shape online and printed it out to trace and cut the felt shapes for all six bags.

To make the face, I cut the string into two inch pieces and glued to the felt, next I glued on the eyes. If you’d like cute little pink cheeks, dip a pencil eraser, small dowel, or the end of a round paint brush  (whatever you have on hand) into the pink paint and apply at the ends of the smile. Allow time for the glue to dry before attaching the tooth shape to the bag.

Since you are working with an organza bag the glue will seep through and make a mess. If you cut a small square of wax paper to fit inside the bag it will keep the glue from sealing the bag closed.

Begin by inserting the wax paper into the bag before applying the felt shaped tooth. Once the tooth is on the baggie, wait a few minutes before removing the wax paper. Then, hang the open bag to dry. You can leave it at the end of a chopstick, a pencil or paint brush to keep the bag open while it dries. Allow the glue to dry overnight and before filling with treats.

We fill our bags with one gold dollar coin and five chocolate coins. Nothing fancy. I have heard of parents giving their kids $5 per tooth, or $20 for the first tooth and some parents put together an entire basket of gifts. Whatever works. I just know that having twins means double the magic and double the tooth fairy money. So keeping some pre-filled bags between payouts means I won’t be caught off guard the night a tooth falls out.

Do you go all out for the tooth fairy, or do you keep it simple?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. She likes to keep expectations low by avoiding craft projects that involve any real crafting. Follow along with her daily posts on Facebook.

Time Saving Meal Prep Ideas

Going back to school this year looks vastly different than any other year. Many of us are working from home, while also teaching our kids at home. We are not sending our kids off on the bus and our back to school traditions may have changed.

At least this time around we are not feeling the last-minute scramble of a complete shutdown, we are starting day one at home. Thankfully, we learned what worked and did not work and we can use that to plan this year.

The one big thing I learned during our shutdown in the spring, is that I am over standing in my kitchen all day making meals on demand. Scrambling to prepare food in between Zoom classes did not work well for me. I spent a lot of time making fresh meals three times a day for picky eaters and it was exhausting. So, to free up that time this year I am ramping up my meal prepping.

Since becoming a mom meal prepping is my go-to sanity saver and number one-time management technique. It does require a one to two-hour time commitment in the kitchen, but the amount of time it saves me from clean up and standing in front of the stove the rest of the week is worth it.

Here are my quick tips for planning and prepping for each meal of the week. Maybe it will help you save some time/sanity around remote learning this Fall.

BREAKFAST

I use the weekends to prep ahead a few different breakfast options that my family can grab and go or warm up for themselves. I wake up an hour before the family on Sunday morning to have the kitchen to myself. You can check out my Pinterest board for ideas, but some of our favorites are breakfast burritos, protein pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, hidden veggie muffins and smoothie blender cups. I make two options for my family to choose from and then I make the blender cups for myself. I have them preloaded and stacked in the freezer to make my mornings easier. My family can reheat their breakfast sandwiches and pancakes on their own or grab a muffin from the fridge.

LUNCH

Each night after dinner, I have the kids pack a lunch just like they did when going to school. And my husband and I pack up our own lunches. This saves me the headache of making two different sandwiches or rummaging around for leftovers to reheat every day. Preparing all of our lunches each night saves enough time for all of us to take our lunch break together, and it encourages my kids to be self sufficient.

DINNER

Before I even go grocery shopping, I make a dinner menu for the week. My meal plan for the week includes a DIY pizza night (or take out) and a leftovers night to give me a night off from cooking. On my grocery shopping day, I like to wash all the produce before putting it away and I prepare as many meals ahead of time that I can. I am especially fond of freezer meals that I can toss together in a freezer bag and dump into the crock pot later. This is a huge time saver and way less mess to clean up during the busy week. I am also a fan of one sheet pan meals to make in the oven. And on really busy nights, I’ll make a charcuterie board that fits everyone’s picky favorites. You can find some of my favorite go to meal pins here.

SNACKS

I discovered my kids will eat through a bag of chips like its an Olympic sport. So, I stopped buying bags of chips that literally disappears within minutes and leaves my kids crabby. I set up bins in the fridge with grab and go options like cheese sticks, baby bell cheeses, yogurt tubes, mini oranges, hummus cups and bags of veggies. Don’t get me wrong, chips are delicious, and I do not judge anyone buying them for their kids. I just know my kids stay fuller longer (and stay less moody) when they eat protein and fruits.

It took me a little while to make these prepping hacks a routine. So, don’t think you have to do all of the above to be efficient. Pick the toughest meal of the day and prep it in advance to help make that time of day run a bit smoother for you.

What’s the toughest meal for you to prepare each day? Mine is breakfast, so I will always prepare breakfast in advance. I like sleep more than I like to cook.

If you have any great meal prep hacks or recipes, feel free to share in comments below or send them to [email protected]

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, fur mom, wife and freelance writer just trying to eek out as much sanity as she can from each day.

Is it Time to Hire Professional Help?

After nearly six months at home with my family here around the clock, I might be ready to lose my mind. I cannot tell you how many messes I have cleaned up, nor how often I’ve heard myself yelling, “pick that up” or “put that back where you got it!” or “don’t even think about stepping over that one more time!”

I am officially burned out from all of the cleaning and sanitizing. I don’t know about you, but I like a good deep clean right after summer to clean up all the mess we dragged in through the season. Since I am so tired of it all, I am seriously considering hiring a cleaning service to do the heavy lifting for me.

4 Reasons You Can and You Will Get a Cleaning Lady

We aren’t ready to have a weekly cleaning person come into our home, but we could definitely use some help with a deeper cleaning. The folks at E&J Cleaning and Floors have provided deep cleaning and sanitizing services for businesses and residents throughout the Capital District. They have perfected their sanitation levels and protocols throughout this Pandemic, and they are ready to help you too! Their team will arrive to your home with masks and gloves and stay at a safe distance while they work.

Not only can they sanitize high touch surfaces by hand, but they also offer an Electrostatic Disinfection Technique to apply an EPA approved sanitizing solution to surfaces that lasts for months. A great way to protect your home as we head into flu-season.

Visit their Facebook and Instagram pages to see before and after photos of their residential, furniture and floor cleanings and what a great job they can do! Having someone else shampoo the couches and carpets will save me a ton of time and energy that I just don’t have right now, while planning our return to remote learning for two kids, working from home, meal planning and wiping down all the door knobs.

If you are worn out by all the extra cleaning, or trying to balance all the extra messes with working and cooking and everything else that comes along with this Pandemic life, do yourself a favor and hire someone who can help. Treat yourself to a little extra time in your week, or month and let someone else do the heavy lifting. You can use that time to relax in the back yard reading a book, or taking the kids for a drive for ice cream. If you hire someone for a weekly cleaning, count that time as self care and head to your local drive through to pick up lunch or dinner. Hiring extra help definitely leaves room for sanity in our day.

A clean and sanitized home is one less thing to stress about as we head into back to school season, holiday planning and worries about keeping our family safe. Call / Text For Your Free Estimate Today (518) 419-4683

(This is a paid post, but all opinions expressed are my own).

How to Host a Socially Distant Party with Friends

Last year, I made a big plan in my head to celebrate my summer birthday with a backyard bash. I wanted lights, catered food, friends and music. Just a relaxing summer night with people I enjoy most, eating cake and toasting with prosecco. As always, when I make a plan the world steps in with different ideas.

[Enter a world wide Pandemic]

One of the bummers about this COVID Pandemic is that birthday celebrations just aren’t the same. We can’t have our usual big gatherings to celebrate. There can be no sharing of bowls filled with snacks and dips for potentially contaminated fingers to swim around in. Pouring drinks from large containers means a variety of hands touching the same surface and sanitizing after every use. It feels daunting to try to entertain safely right now.

But, I wasn’t giving up on what I want, which was food and friends. Instead, I found another way to celebrate on a much smaller scale while enjoying some of my favorite things. Instead of fifty people, I had five. I didn’t serve a catered menu, but we did enjoy some safe snacks at a distance. And yes, there was prosecco and music. For a background playlist I chose the Hamilton musical soundtrack. If you haven’t listened yet, you are missing out.

Our small group enjoyed gathering around the firepit in the open air where we could maintain enough distance without worrying about spreading germs. Since no celebration is complete without food and wine, I got a little creative with how to serve sanitary snacks at a distance without constant sanitation.

I picked up some reusable storage bins at the dollar store to fill with ice and some snacks. I added a bottle of water, two mini bottles of my favorite prosecco and prepackaged snack plates that include cheese, prosciutto and toasty bread. It was a big hit! Plus, moms could take the entire bin home with them, so no worries about sanitizing after.

I placed the individual snack boxes on the ground six-feet apart around the firepit in my yard, and asked each mom to bring their own chair for seating. When they arrived I pointed them to a sanitized snack box to set up next to in our circle. We spent the next three hours socializing and snacking safely. I also asked moms to bring their masks just incase, but we didn’t need them because we sat far enough apart. Chatting without a face covering felt a little more like the normalcy of pre-pandemic times.

It also felt great to celebrate my birthday with friends, but it was even better to commiserate with other moms in person. We laughed about our kids, shared our anxieties about school, told hilarious stories about ourselves and it felt like we left our worries behind for a bit. It was a great moms night out!

My only regret is that it was too dark for photos outside. But, I’ll have the memories of our time together to look back on as we get through the uncertainty of the winter ahead of us.

Did you celebrate a birthday during the pandemic? How was it different this year? I’d love to hear about your creative celebrations in comments below!

Roxanne Ferber is raising twins with double the fun of writing from home during a pandemic. Her parenting style is messy with a side of chaos and archiving it all on her blog for others to read.

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