Category: Parenting

2020 Was the Worst, but We Can Still Carry Light Into the New Year

Sparkler, Holding, Hands, Firework, Sparkles, Fire

It’s the last day of 2020 and everyone is ready for this year to be over. While I am one to lean into optimism for a happier new year, I am also realistic enough to understand the flip of a calendar isn’t going to change the circumstances we carry into 2021.

This year has been a solid suck fest, one thing after another to worry about, leave behind or pivot away from. It has been mentally exhausting and at times draining just working with our new restrictions for shopping, vacationing, and finding activities that do not involve being near other people. My kids have attended remote school for almost a year and their mental health has incrementally declined since the beginning of our “quarantine life.” But overall, we have persevered. I feel like I had just enough positivity in me to get through the spring and summer months. It was easier when we could still get outside and do things we enjoyed, but with winter here, I can feel it faltering.

I know it’s hard to think of anything positive from this last year, but everything exists in opposites. So, we can’t have good without evil, or evil without the good. Looking back over 2020, I can see the darkness and the sadness, but I can also see the love and kindness that came out of this “unprecedented” year.

The nurses, doctors, EMS, EMTs, and ER staff working the front lines caring for us jumped in with sleeves rolled up and ready to love complete strangers through their most difficult days. Nurses held up iPads for families to say goodbye and wept right alongside of them while they died. Nursing home staff gave married couples dying from COVID the dignity and compassion to spend their final days side by side. Love was found in the strangers who sent pizzas, meals, coffee, cards, and gifts to those on the front lines.

Kindess was found in the landlords that gave rent relief to those who lost their jobs.

Love was found in the teachers who scurried to create virtual classrooms so they can stay connected to their students, not just dole out a lesson plan. Love was found in the cafeteria workers who put together meals for kids who eat most of their meals at school. Love was found in the school nurse who prepared to return in a gown and plastic face shield to keep their students safe.

Love was found in firefighters and police officers offering birthday parades to kids during quarantine because traditional birthday parties were not allowed.

Kindness was found in neighbors feeding neighbors. Neighbors watching over each other and delivering goods to those who weren’t feeling safe going into a store.

Kindness was found in those who donated blood for those in need.

Love was found in those who continued to volunteer to feed, clothe and help their communities most vulnerable populations.

I’ll bet if you look around your own community and neighborhood, you will find places love and kindness suddenly showed up. Maybe in places it didn’t exist before. Maybe you were on the receiving end of someone who helped you that you didn’t expect or count on before. I am still blown away by kind friends who drop deliveries at my doorstep, left crafts for my kids, sent packages to brighten our days and listened to me when I was most frustrated by so many changes happening at once.

In my broader community, people are filling refrigerators outside their doorstep for anyone in need to shop from. Families are sending cards and happy mail to our local nursing homes, so no one feels alone. Our local restaurants are partnering to create feeding programs to serve those in need and finding creative ways to keep their own doors open. Churches are keeping their feeding programs open. Warming centers are quickly evolving to meet safety protocols, families are adopting other families Christmas wish lists. Some of my friends are donating their time to serve community meals. This is love in action. If I stop and think back on this year, I can find several ways love and kindness still pulled through.

I am in no way thankful for COVID and things like “quarantine” and “cohorts,” but if I dig deep enough through the craziest parts of this year, I can still find a lot of love and gratitude to take with me into the new year. This won’t solve our current crisis and is in no way meant to gloss over the deep wounds many of us still feel from the year, but reminding ourselves of the good gives us hope that there is still goodness left to come, even if we must actively look for it.

One of the things that has helped me through the sadness of missing out on our usual things and the feeling of time standing still, is taking pictures of us trying new things together. Every time we hiked a new trail or found a new place to play, I took a bunch of photos. On the days I am feeling sad about missing out on our vacation or our life pre COVID, I scroll through those bright photos and remember we can still find happiness.

What is one bright spot you had during 2020?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of this blog. Thank you for reading along and for being a part of this supportive motherhood community. Follow along on Facebook or Instagram.

Join Me for a virtual International Family Summit

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I am excited to share that my friend Dr. Orlena has invited me to be a guest speaker in her Fit and Fabulous Family International Summit! It’s a virtual 3 day summit just for parents!

Dr Orlena has invited 17 amazing speakers, all of whom are parents, so they know your struggles! Each of the speakers will talk about a different aspect of health and wellness. For example, I’m talking about how to create easy selfcare routines for overall wellness.

Dr Orlena’s Fit and Fabulous philosophy focuses on 4 pillars of healthy living.

1. What we eat.

2. Exercise

3. Sleep 

4. Emotional wellness (how we reduce stress and create a loving atmosphere in our homes.)

Because we are all busy parents, just like you, each video is 15 minutes or less to maximize your time, and covers different aspects of all 4 pillars.

Why Attend?

Do you worry about your family’s health and wellness?

Do you want a long healthy life for you and your kids, but life seems to get in the way of your goals?

The goal of this summit is to show you how to create healthy living habits, so you and your family can feel fit and fabulous! We’ll show you how to make it easy and fun!

The event is entirely FREE for 3 whole days from Friday December 4th to Sunday Dec 6th.

You can find out more here.

Life Time Ticket Option

If you’d like to have lasting access to the videos, Dr. Orlena has created a lifetime ticket, so you can watch the videos whenever you want. This makes it so much easier for busy moms!

The lifetime ticket also includes other fabulous products that have been donated by contributors.

Until Tuesday 8th Dec the lifetime ticket will be just $47.

On Tuesday 8th Dec the lifetime ticket goes up to $97.

Want to win some prizes?

Simply click to share this link on your Facebook page and tag Dr. Orlena to enter.

See you at the summit!

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of this blogspace. She spends a lot of time trying to find balance and teaching other moms that it is OK to embrace the messier parts of parenting! Follow her on Facebook for her less than perfect posts.

Why I Like to Spend Time Alone

I took a walk all by myself today, literally over the river and through woods. It was glorious!

I rarely get time to myself, but this week my husband is on vacation. It means I am on vacation too.   I know, I know “but he works!” Well, so do I. I work from home as a freelance writer while making sandwiches and packing two kids for a day at the beach. He works only one job at a time, albeit stressful he isn’t managing meltdowns while trying to look professional to a client. We both deserve a break. But while he is working 70 hours a week, I am covering all the childcare needs while simultaneously running a business. I’m not kidding when I say, if I go down no one knows how to the food gets in the house or when the toilets get cleaned. It’s all courtesy of moi!

I walked 1.28 miles one way without pushing a stroller or with any kids hanging on me!

Today, I chose to visit one of my favorite walking trails because it is quiet and has such beautiful views of the Hudson River. I’ve only ever walked this trail with my kids, so it felt strange not pushing a stroller or pulling a heavy wagon full of screaming kids. I made pretty good time walking nearly three miles. I had my favorite music pushing me on and no one to talk too. The silence was golden.  

No answering questions about sea creatures.

No organizing lunches.

No packing up a swim bag.

No blowing up pool toys.

No slathering sunscreen and carrying an armful of towels to the pool.

It was a glorious start to my vacation!

This is the first break for myself I’ve had all summer. My kids and I have been tethered since their last day of school. It’s OK, I love them. But as a work from home/stay at home mom the daily tasks of motherhood can become the weekly grind. It’s almost cliché to call my job as a mom exhausting. Everyone knows how tired we are because we can’t stop telling everyone we are tired.

View from 212 feet in the air walking over a converted train bridge.

Taking a walk while you’re that kind of exhausted sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s exactly what I needed! To roam freely, unattached to a to-do list, or locked into mealtime demands. Listening to my own thoughts without interruptions helps me declutter things that are bugging me. Do I really need to hold on to that friend if she clearly let me go? How about cleaning out some of this guilt about letting my kids eat so many hot dogs? Being alone allows me to regroup a little and feel lighter. It’s like therapy.

Are you someone that likes to be alone in your head? Or do you enjoy escaping from the mom demands with friends? Leave me a comment below, or feel free to join the conversation on Facebook! ????

Roxanne Ferber is a freelance writer and owner of The Whatever Mom blog. Nearly nine years on the coffee wagon and she still doesn’t have enough energy to keep up with her twins. But she is a survivor and she’s gonna make it; even if she has to white knuckle it through each day until her kids graduate. Follow her on FacebookTwitter or Insta.

Perfection Is Not a Place To Live

The other morning was really rough. My kids didn’t want to get out of bed and I was getting really impatient. I may have blown my top once or twice and barked some commands. Of course I always feel like a jerk after. In my defense motivating my one daughter out of bed in the morning can take up most of our morning routine. When she wakes up in a grumpy mood it makes the morning even harder.

What made this particular morning so rough was during our heated exchange she shouted back at me, “you just want everything to be perfect!” It literally caught me off guard. My kids can tell me they hate me and it rolls right off my back, but this hurt. I think it hurt because I work really hard to let go of expecting things to be perfect or pushing things to be perfect. I mean I only write a blog about letting go of perfection, so I MUST be an expert already right?

But she is right. Old habits die hard. I can’t escape how I am hard wired to be any more than she can escape her hatred of mornings. We have several home projects that need to be finished before winter; I have a house to manage and a few blogs to write each week, plus all that pesky meal planning and laundry to do. I try to stick to segmenting my time for each thing I need to manage. As a result I can seem a bit like a drill sergeant because I EXPECT this will get done in the exact amount of time I have allotted for it. That would be a symptom of perfection by the way.

If only life were that neat and tidy.

Last night I decided to loosen the reins a bit with our evening routine. I am also exhausted from the constant running around and finishing things, so I called it a make your own sandwich night for dinner, which seemed to make everyone happy. I know I was happy to not spend my time cooking something no one would eat! Then we put on some tunes and chatted through dinner.

After dinner my husband agreed to make the lunches while I sat down to play a board game with the kids. I am always rushing to make lunches and getting two kids showered – usually at the same time. So getting to take a break from that was simply amazing. My girls and I spent 30 minutes rolling in laughter because we just caught a case of the sillies. And it was exactly what we needed. You can’t script those moments and when my kids look back on their childhood they will remember it wasn’t perfect, but it did have perfect moments like this.

The night time routine was a little easier, no one kept fighting for more attention and both kids drifted off to sleep easier. Best of all there was zero yelling in the morning before school. It seems unplugging from the race to keep everything in order and on time was exactly what I needed to do. I can’t say I won’t get caught up in it again, because I am hard wired with a drive for perfection. But maybe now I can recognize it sooner and let go of it much quicker. That’s always my goal anyway.

It’s funny how when I think I’ve got this perfection thing licked, or under control, my kid will make sure to remind me that I’ve gone off the rails. Thanks for keeping me on track kid, and thanks for helping mommy grow!

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents.  

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?

Tips for a Sensory Friendly Halloween

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Halloween can be overwhelming to anyone with sensory processing disorder (SPD). If you haven’t heard of this particular disorder before, you are not alone. Most people do not know what it is until their own child is diagnosed. The difficulty is that even with a diagnosis, you as a parent may struggle to understand your child’s sensory triggers.

According to the website Understood.org, children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) “may be oversensitive or undersensitive to the world around them. When the brain receives information, it gives meaning to even the smallest bits of information. Keeping all that information organized and responding appropriately is challenging for them.”

Some kids never notice the feeling of a tag inside their shirt, or the seam inside their socks. But there are kids who are so distracted by this sensation that they can cry or scream, or even become aggressive. One in twenty children live with some varying degree of sensory processing disorder. Navigating daily life can be a struggle, let alone while wearing an itchy costume in a crowded, loud setting.

After speaking with other moms whose kiddos have SPD, I can share some really great tips. The most important thing is, do not force your child beyond their limits. Halloween activities are for their enjoyment and it is OK to let them enjoy activities in their own way. If your child can only handle wearing a small piece of their costume, or no costume at all, let that be enough.

PRO MOM TIPS

  • Select a costume that is mask free, or does not require face paint.
  • Let your kids use their own familiar clothing as part of their costume to help them enjoy dressing up.
  • For kids with auditory sensory issues, using noise cancelling headphones works great.
  • For kids who are sensitive to bright lights, start your trick or treat night as early as possible and take advantage of the day light.
  • If your child tires easily map out a short route, or bring along a wagon to let them take a break. And again, it’s OK if you cut your time short and head back home early.
  • Skip the costumes and make your kiddo feel included with fun family coordinated themed set of t-shirts. Use a small, personalization business like Mom Squad Creations to print up your matching shirts and you’ll be ready to head out together.

PRO TIPS

  • Avoid a meltdown by keeping your child informed of timing of events.
  • Host a small gathering in your home for your child’s comfort.
  • Trick or treat on streets with sidewalks to lesson anxiety.
  • Get creative in how your child participates. Nothing is set in stone. Instead of bobbing for apples, maybe your child can stack apples in a bucket.
  • Put yourself in their shoes. Being a parent of a child with sensory issues can feel overwhelming, but imagine being the child who is struggling to process so much sensory information at once. It can provoke a lot of anxiety not knowing what is happening next.
  • Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Gina Bergdall suggests allowing your child to carry a fidget toy. This will allow them a constructive “place to focus their anxiety on.” Bergdall also shares these tips provided by the American Occupational Therapy Association. 
  • Pick only a few places to trick or treat and review that plan with your child before hand so they know what to expect.

If your child is overly sensitive to crowds or noises, there are no rules mandating they go trick or treating. You can make some really amazing traditions right at home. Bake and decorate treats, have a fun meal together, or make some popcorn and settle in for a movie. There is no wrong way to participate in Halloween! 

If this Halloween looks different than the way other families are celebrating, that’s OK. Embrace your unique traditions! If your child is comfortable at home watching Halloween specials and eating popcorn, join them! Deciding to follow their lead helps them feel capable and less stressed.

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. Her spookiest Halloween decoration is an empty coffee pot. *shudder*

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

diytooth-fairy-bags
Post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission if you purchase through the links.

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.

10 Date Night Ideas for Couples Without a Babysitter

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Date nights with your spouse are an essential investment in your relationship. After all, you were each other’s everything before you became parents. It is important to spend time nurturing your romantic relationship too. Once the kids grow up and leave, it will be just you and the hubby together again. Plus, it makes it easier to cope with those annoying habits like absurdly loud chewing and never changing out the empty tooth paste tube. *eye twitch*

COVID has created some complications for date night opportunities, but even before this pandemic it was hard for my husband and I to spend a Friday night out on the town together. We do not have access to regular babysitters and the extra cost to pay for childcare limited what we could spend on dinner, or a movie. My kids did not love being left with a babysitter and would cry, which always led to me feeling guilty and wanting to rush back home. When my husband started working from home it was easier to treat ourselves to a grown-up lunch while the kids were in school. Except, now school is happening at home.

So where do parents with two rambunctious children and zero babysitting options go for a date night?

Here are 10 date night ideas for couples without a babysitter:

  1. If you have a back yard, us it! Light a fire, grab a blanket and a couple of favorite beverages and head to the back yard to gaze up at the stars. Super easy and spontaneous.

2. Have a subscription box delivered to open together after the kids go to bed. Take turns presenting each other with a new snack box, or silly gifts to exchange.

3. Host a Zoom night double date with good friends and include a wine tasting. Each couple can recommend a bottle for the other couple to taste and sample along with some snacks. Treat the kid to their own special movie night in the living room with snacks and separate places to get cozy to buy yourself some quiet time with friends.

4. Host a game night with another couple on Zoom. You can split your screen for online games or go old school with fun Pictionary or charades.

5. Set up a candlelight picnic outside under the stars after the kids go to bed. Order out some grown-up appetizers from that new place you have wanted to try, but you know the kids will not like.

6. Stream a movie on the lawn. Set up a comfy spot with an air mattress and cozy blankets, or a double seated swing chair to snuggle in while watching. Bring out the snacks and beverages to enjoy.

7. Order a DIY craft kit from a local maker and make something at home. A lot of local crafters are offering a make and take kit to do at home. Pick one that you both like and give it a try! It does not have to be perfect, just fun.

8. Pick up a favorite dessert that you don’t want to share with the kids. Once they go to bed, bring it out and do not feel guilty!  

9. Go through old photos and movies together and laugh at some of the crazy shenanigans you have taken part in over the years. Pop open some champagne and re-watch your wedding video or honeymoon videos.

10. Make it an early morning date. Wake up an hour or two before the kids and enjoy some quiet coffee and a savory brunch without picky eaters. You don’t even need to get fancy, just toss some fresh bagels out and call it breakfast. The point is you’re alone and it’s quiet.

Even when bedtime is a struggle (as it is in my house) these ideas are all easy enough to put together without a lot of planning. And they can break you out of the channel surfing rut most of us find ourselves in after the kids go to bed.

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and freelance writer in search of picky eater free meals and exciting adult conversation. Visit The Whatever Mom on Facebook Instagram Pinterest and Twitter.

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.

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.

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