Friday, July 21, 2017

10 Ways Busy Moms Can Sneak In Self Care + 6 Month Netflix Subscription Giveaway

10 WAYS

DISCLOSURE: I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, and I receive service and promotional items in exchange for monthly posts.

Motherhood is a strange and beautiful thing. I have never been this exhausted, stressed and busy before, yet this is the happiest I've ever been! I'm a busy mom and I love it. I love my four kids beyond measure, and I wouldn't trade my time with them for anything


Motherhood

(No, you're not getting the posed "motherhood is beautiful" shot. You're getting the real life "I'm trying to embarrass my almost-teenager by looking cool and posting it on Instagram" shot.)

But speaking of time, there is NO time for myself these days. I sacrifice sleep to get things done and give up some of the things I love to spend more time with my family. In some ways, I lost a little bit of myself, but the truth is, I gained so much more!

I love mom life, but the most difficult thing about having four kids is juggling four different schedules plus my own. My kids, my husband, and my work come first, and often, there is no time left over for anything other than meeting my basic needs.  There simply aren't enough hours in the day, and even if I skipped sleep entirely, I couldn't cross off everything on my to do list!

One thing I recently realized (it only took me 12 1/2 years) is that I HAVE to take care of myself, too. And I mean more than just meeting my basic needs! With four kids (one of whom is rocking an extra chromosome), I have to do the Mom Sneak in order to fit in much needed self care!


If you're a mom, you know exactly what the Mom Sneak is! It's hiding in a closet for five minutes, devouring a chocolate bar, so you don't have to share with your kids. It's sitting in a hot bath for 25 minutes because you have a "headache." Or taking just a bit longer while running errands alone.(Alone...what's that?) It's staring at a wall, in a silent room, for 10 minutes because you have sensory overload. And it's sneaking out to your car to watch an episode on Netflix while your husband thinks you are doing housework. (Not that I would know.)

There are so many ways busy moms can indulge in self care, and I'm going to share my favorite ways with you. I encourage you to choose one item off my list and do it for yourself TODAY. Every mom deserves a little break! And at the end of this list you just might find a giveaway for one of my favorite #MomSneak methods!

10 Ways Busy Moms Can Sneak In Self Care



1. Wake up a half hour before the kids. 

It's tough to drag yourself out of bed before you have to wake up, but those few quiet minutes alone are completely worth it! Climb out of bed, drink your coffee (or hot tea) in peace, and focus on only yourself for 30 minutes before the chaos begins! 

Motherhood

2. Reward yourself.

Once a week, buy yourself something little to enjoy! It doesn't have to be anything big.  It could be your favorite candy to hide and eat alone when you need a treat, a lipstick that makes you feel pretty, or a coffee while you are running errands. You deserve at least a few dollars a week to spend on just yourself!

3. Make time to read each day. 

Books are a great escape from the reality of everyday life! I used to be able to read one book a day, thanks to my speed reading skills. Now I'm lucky if I can make it through one book a month, and I miss it! Although most days I can only sneak in 10-15 minutes of reading, it's important that I do so. I love to get lost in a good book, and I look forward to my reading time each day!

Although my house is rarely silent, I take advantage of those quiet moments when my kids are eating lunch or enjoying their iPad/TV time. It's the only time I can sit down all day, so I can relax for a few minutes to lose myself in a few chapters!

Self Care

4. Do something that reminds you of your pre-mom days.

There are so many things that get bumped down or even off the to do list once you become a mom. Manicures and pedicures, a facial mask or hair treatment, writing in a journal, scrapbooking, music, art, etc. I'm sure there's something little that you wish you still had time to do.

It really is this simple: MAKE time for it. Schedule it into your week, and stick with it. Instead of racing around trying to do all the things while your kids nap, make time for yourself, too.

Give yourself that manicure or pedicure. Kick up your feet for ten minutes while using a facial mask or hair treatment. Pour your heart out in that journal. Rediscover your creativity through scrapbooking or painting. Belt out a show tune or play an instrument. The end result will be a mom who feels a bit more like their old self!

5. Get some exercise.

It's difficult to find time to exercise unless you are REALLY committed to a fitness routine. My family, my kids' activities and my blog always comes first, and I don't have time to exercise nearly as much as I used to. The problem is, when I don't exercise regularly, I notice a huge shift in my mood and energy. I have to plan my workouts around 6 different schedules, which is incredibly challenging, so sometimes I just skip it, and then I regret it!

Although it is ideal to exercise without kids, it doesn't happen often, and I'm sure many moms can relate. So stop the excuses, lace up those running shoes, strap the kids into a stroller and go for a walk. You'll be glad you did! Not only will your mood improve, but it's good for your health, too. A healthy mom is a happy mom!

Self Care

6. Get out of the house ALONE!

Schedule a Moms Night Out, a date night, dinner with a friend or just a day to go shopping alone once a month! And if you can do it more often, kudos to you. (That doesn't happen in my home!) Every mom deserves a little bit of time away from everyday life with kids, so make it a priority. If your significant other happens to complain, gently remind them that everybody deserves a little break now and then! Having time away from kids (sleeping doesn't count) is vital to a mom's well being!

7. Take a hot bath.

To me, there is nothing more relaxing than soaking in a steaming hot bath, in a dim and silent bathroom! It can easily reset my mood. Obviously, this can only happen when my husband is home, so I try to do this once a week when I am feeling really stressed! (If you have to claim you have a headache in order to get in there, just do it!)

But don't just sit in the tub. Make that rare time alone special! Lock the bathroom door, light a favorite candle, dim the lights, turn on the fan to block out the noise, put a cooling gel mask on your eyes, toss in a bath bomb or use some special bubble bath, then sit back and relax. (If you're a person who thinks sitting in dirty bath water is gross, just quickly rinse off in the shower before and after. That's what I do! Psst...F Bomb anyone?)

Self Care

8.  Try a quick yoga or pilates session. 

As moms, we are programmed to be highly energetic to keep up with our kids, and we have the ability to tune things out. But living with tiny humans can be stressful AND exhausting! A short pilates or yoga session can work wonders on frazzled moms.

There are times when all moms feel like they are reaching their breaking point. When that feeling hits, naptime, quiet time or electronics time is a MUST. On the days (which will be most days) when you can't escape alone for a run or barely have energy to stand up, a few minutes of yoga or pilates can work wonders. All that stretching and breathing instantly calms you down, and makes you feel so much better. It works like a charm every time!

Self Care

9. Go for a drive without the kids.

When you reach your breaking point, it's so important to escape for just a few minutes to refresh and recharge! Have a secret code worked out with your significant other that you both can use when you absolutely need a break. Sometimes you just need to leave for a few minutes to calm down or decompress.

There's just something so therapeutic about driving in the car without kids. I often turn off the radio and just get into the driving zone. Other moms may prefer to sing along with the music. For me, silence always does the trick! After a few minutes, I'm ready to return and start fresh!


10. Do the #MomSneak to binge watch Netflix!

I'm not going to lie. I love to sneak away to watch Netflix! Most of the time I spend watching Netflix is with my entire family for weekly Family Movie Night or with my husband 4 nights a week for our Netflix Date Nights. But sometimes I just want to escape and watch what *I* want to watch, with no interruptions.

I love getting lost in the world of NCIS, re-watching episodes of the Gilmore Girls or House of Cards, or enjoying my guilty pleasure, Switched at Birth! I usually grab my iPad and binge watch episodes while I do dishes or laundry. Those chores can sometimes take a lot longer than usual if you catch my drift! I'm not ashamed to admit that I download episodes on Netflix so I can watch them while I'm waiting at kids' activities. (Two hour dance classes anyone?) And sometimes I sneak out to the car just to be alone...

Netflix Stream Team

I'm definitely not alone with the #MomSneak! In a recent poll, "(71%) of moms admit to sneaking in TV “me-time” while juggling a busy schedule, with some even hiding from their kids for just a moment of peace."

Netflix Mom Sneak Graphic

And I'm obviously not the only mom who hides in the car to watch Netflix!

Netflix Mom Sneak Neighborhood Graphic

It took me nearly 13 years of parenthood before I began to make self care a priority again! It took some work and tweaking to find a good balance between family life and time to myself. To be completely honest, I still give my all to my husband and kids, and sacrifice a little bit of myself in return, but I'm happy in this stage of my life. It's exactly where I want to be, and it's 100% true: Mom life IS the best life!


10 Ways Bus Moms Can Sneak In Self Care - + Netflix 6 month subscription giveaway

What are your favorite self-care tips?

GIVEAWAY!!!


Who wants to win some Netflix?!? I have ONE 6 month Netflix subscription up for grabs for one of my readers!

TO ENTER: 

Share how you sneak in your Netflix shows by sharing a quick story or a selfie in action on social media, using the hashtag #MomSneak.  Share the link to your social media post (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) in the comments of this blog post.

*US participants only. Giveaway will end on July 30, 2017 at 11:59 PM EST. Winner will be chosen randomly, entry will be verified, and winner will be notified the following day. (Do NOT delete your social media post. It needs to be verified!)

GOOD LUCK!!!

While you wait, get in some #MomSneak time by printing out this activity sheet to keep your kid(s) busy! (Click HERE to print!)

Mom Sneak Activity Page

A YEAR OF COLOR


It's the third Friday of the month which means it's time for the monthly A Year of Color linkup! Justine from Little Dove and I are still co-hosting the linkup, but this month we have two new co-hosts. Welcome, Thrifty Wife, Happy Life and Sunshine and Munchkins!

A Year of Color link up

The color for this month is:

A year of color link up


I had something else planned for this month's post, but life got in the way, and an item I needed for the post hasn't been delivered yet! This left me scrambling for a post idea at the last minute! And, well, other than that big red target, nothing thrills me like seeing these red letters:


Netflix


It really is the little things in life...

So read those self care tips, enter that awesome giveaway, and share your #MomSneak methods in the comments below. And don't forget to link up your RED posts all month long!

Join us next month for:

A Year of Color link up


Plan ahead:

July 21- red
August 18- neon
September 15- blue
October 20- black
November 17- orange
December 15- metallic



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pool Party Fun with a side of Real Mom Life

Pool Party Fun - What it's really like to take four kids to a pool party!

Nothing screams Summer quite like a pool party! There's just something so perfect about spending the entire day at the pool with good friends. Even with a million kids, it's still fun, and by the end of the day, everybody is tired and content!

Swimming

Over the weekend, we celebrated a very special friend's recent high school graduation by gathering for an afternoon of fun, food and swimming! The weather was beautiful in Pittsburgh, and the kids stayed in the pool until the sun began to set. It was the perfect Summer day!

Pool Party

That being said, pool parties are not what they used to be. My days of relaxing poolside are long gone, but as a mom, I still thoroughly enjoy days at the pool with my kids. It's what Summer is all about!

Down Syndrome Awareness

The Lucky Few

Brothers

But what's it REALLY like to take four kids to a pool party? Well, it goes a little something like this:

Swimming

The Prep:

  • Start getting ready six hours before you have to leave, because even if you think it will be plenty of time, you will still be late. 
  • Gather up the 50,000 necessities that you will need to take along. 
  • Argue with the almost 6 year old over why she can't wear the 3T bikini that she has been hoarding in her dresser drawer. Finally, just give up, let her wear it, and secretly plot to make it disappear after laundry day.
  • Change 3 year old into swim diaper, trunks, and rash guard, only to have him completely undress himself 5 minutes later. Because getting completely naked to pee on the potty is what we have to do. Redress him, have it happen again 10 minutes later, and just give up and let him run around naked until it's time to go. 
  • Chug a huge cup of coffee, because, well...pool day with four kids.
  • Tell the 10 and 12 year old to change into their suits and get everything they need for a day of swimming. Remind them three more times before it gets done, then check their bags to make sure they followed through. 
  • Glare at the husband every time you pass through the living room because he's calmly scrolling through Facebook, all ready to go, while you run around in a panic. 
  • Realize the party started 10 minutes ago.
  • Forget that you have to wrap up the 6 year old's finger, because she CUT HER FINGERTIP OFF, but have no idea how to do it. Press & Seal to the rescue. (Just FYI: It really worked!)
  • Realize you are now 20 minutes late to the party. 
  • Get changed into your own suit as quickly as possible, and frantically cram enough towels for a family of 6 into a huge bag that's still much too small for all the necessities. 
  • Stare down the husband who finally walks into the room and comments on how much stuff you have and how you don't need to take it all. Remind him that YOU are the one who takes the kids to the pool, all alone, each week, so you know exactly what is needed, then toss one of the two bags in his direction. Listen to the sound of laughter echoing down the hallway.
  • Herd the not so little crew down to the car, strap the younger ones into their seats, load up the car and realize your 8 seat SUV is still too small, climb in, and...realize you forgot something.
  • Race into the house and back, jump in the car, and head out. You are now 30 minutes late. (You should have started preparing 7 hours in advance!)

The Pool Party:

  • Unload the kids, unload the car, and claim a large spot for all the stuff that seems to have multiplied in the car.
  • Catch the 3 year old before he jumps into the pool without a swim vest.
  • Wrangle 4 kids so you can make sure they are fully protected from the sun. Sunscreen times 6 is not an easy task. Chase after 3 year old approximately 20 times during the process. 
  • Spend the next 6 hours keeping 3 year old from falling in the pool or escaping through the open gate, reapplying sunscreen, meeting demands, keeping a watchful eye on the pool, and swimming with the youngest
  • Attempt to sit with your friends, but stand up every 2 minutes to chase the mini tornado.
  • Get your kids food, get yourself food, take a bite, get your kids something, take a bite, get your kids something, take a bite, and so on.
  • Divide and conquer with your husband, but to be perfectly honest, it's more of a 75/25 split.
  • Make a mental note to buy your unbelievably active 3 year old a child leash for your trip to the beach next month, because this just isn't going to cut it!
  • Bathroom breaks every 5 minutes, in wet suits, which is SO much fun.
  • Get splashed in the face or squirted with a pool toy approximately 20,000 times.
  • Hear "Mom, look at this!" every 5 seconds.
  • Fish my sleeping 5 year old, who fell asleep on a raft, out of the pool. Brace yourself for the anger. (We were spared.)
  • Tell the big kids "just five more minutes" at least five times, because they are having so much fun and you don't want it to end.
  • Try to gather up the unbelievable amount of gear while keeping the 3 year old from running off. 
  • Trudge to the car with a bag on your back, a bag on one shoulder, safety vests on the other arm and the 3 year old slipping off your hip.
  • Get everybody and everything loaded into the car as quick as possible because everybody is exhausted!

The After:

  • Arrive home and carry two sleeping kids up to their beds. (The best part of swimming all day is easy bedtime!)
  • Do a load of laundry, because 30 lbs of wet towels and swimsuits can't wait all week.
  • Hang up the safety vests to dry and unpack the bags while everybody else showers.
  • FINALLY get your own shower.
  • Collapse on the couch, completely exhausted after a day of running after kids in the hot sun.

Despite the chaos we had a fun day! It's easy to watch Dylan, Lexie and Lily at the pool. Liam, on the other hand, needs full attention. He never stops moving!  One day I will be able to sit and relax again. But for now, I'll be happily chasing after the Toddler Tornado while cheering on Dylan, Lexie and Lily! 

Down syndrome

Down syndrome

Swimming

Down syndrome

The Lucky Few

The Lucky Few

Swimming

Pool Party

Pool Party

The Lucky Few

Down syndrome

The Lucky Few

Motherhood

Down syndrome

Even though it sounds like taking four kids to the pool is a total nightmare, it's really not that bad. It's just a lot of prep and constant busyness, just like anything else in life. We're actually heading back to the pool today, and this time, it will be just me versus four! Summer is passing by far too quickly, and we're trying to get in as many pool days as possible before they're gone!

Summertime


What are your tricks to make trips to the pool more relaxing?


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Spray Park



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Road Trip Survival Kit Caddy for Kids

The Road Trip Survival Kit Caddy for Kids

DISCLOSURE: As a Nuby Parent Blogger, I received the cups included in the kits free for review. All opinions are 100% my own.

In less than one month, we will be making the 8 hour road trip to the beach for our family vacation! We are SO excited, but keeping four kids happy in the car can sometimes be a challenging task, especially when you get stuck in traffic for 5 additional hours (been there). It's never too early to prepare, so I created a Road Trip Survival Kit Caddy for each of my kids!


Road Trip Survival Kit

Dylan, Lexie, Lily and Liam are typically very well behaved on road trips. We recently made the 4 1/2 hour drive to Michigan with Lily and Liam, and they were excellent travelers! It was the easiest road trip ever!

Road Trip Ideas for Kids

The drive to the beach is almost twice as long, and even longer if we hit traffic. Netflix, iPads, iPods and our activity trays are must haves, but with the road trip caddy, they can have entertainment AND necessities within easy reach! (And mom gets a break!)

The Road Trip Survival Kit Caddy for Kids - Road Trip Ideas

I originally saw the use of caddies for road trips a few years ago on Pinterest. They were used to hold meals in the car, so I bought some for that purpose 2 years ago, and we never ended up using them. When I was recently perusing my favorite spot - AKA The Target Dollar Spot - I came across large shower caddies. As I filled my cart with what seemed like a million extra items, the idea for a road trip survival kit caddy was born!

Road Trip Survival Kit

The Road Trip Survival Kit for Kids

The Road Trip Survival Kit Caddy for Kids

This idea is so simple, and you can tailor it to the unique needs of your child. Start with one large shower caddy, then fill it with fun, age appropriate items, and all the necessities. The caddies can be found at the dollar store, but Target currently has larger, sturdy caddies in the The Dollar Spot. They were the perfect size for our survival kits!

(I'm just sharing the caddies I created for Lily and Liam, because Lexie and Dylan's caddies aren't as exciting!  Almost every item used was found in the Target Dollar Spot, and the travel and craft sections at Target.)

Road Trip Ideas for Kids

Here are the items I chose for our Road Trip Survival Kit Caddies:


NECESSITIES

  • Hand Sanitizing Wipes (I chose gentle ones that are safe to use on faces, too.)
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Tissues
  • Sandwich bags (Used to hold garbage or small items,)
  • Sunglasses

Road Trip Survival Kit

Kids Road Trip Ideas

CREATE

  • Dry Erase Lap Boards ($1 at the Target Dollar Spot)
  • Window markers (Drawing on the car windows can be extra fun!)
  • Coloring Kits ($3 each at the Target Dollar Spot)
  • Chalkboard Laptops ($3 each at the Target Dollar Spot)
The Road Trip Survival Kit for Kids - What To Pack for Road Trips


EAT & DRINK

Road Trip Ideas for Kids

These 12 oz straw cups from Nuby are perfect for  on the go, which means they are a great choice for road trips! Created for kids over the age of 18 months, they are available in 6 different prints. Lily flipped for the flamingo print (her favorite animal at the zoo), while the print on Liam's cup is made for a beach vacation (although we hope to avoid seeing sharks)! 

The soft silicone No-Spill Straw keeps things from getting messy, and the flip top keeps the straw clean when the cup isn't in use. The Thirsty Kids Flip It Boost is made from durable Tritan plastic from Eastman, so it holds up in the hands of my Toddler Tornado. The easy grip design is great for Liam's little hands, and the fact that the cups are BPA free makes me happy!

The Nuby Thirsty Kids Flip-It Boost 12 oz water canteen is coming soon to Babies R Us!

Nuby Thirsty Kids Flip It Boost

Nuby Thirsty Kids Flip It Boost

MESS-FREE PLAY

  • Modeling Clay ($1.99 at Target. It doesn't crumble like play dough, and is fun to mold.)
  • Silly Putty (Same price, same idea. The Glow in the Dark formula makes it more exciting!)
  • Felt play sets ($3 at the Target Dollar Spot. Folds up small for easy portability!)
  • Gel Clings ($1 each at the Target Dollar Spot. My kids love to create scenes on the car windows!)
  • Road Trip Bingo (I found this old school bingo game for $1 each at the Target Dollar Spot. It's fun and easy to play. No extra pieces needed!)
  • Books (My kids love to read, so surprising them each with a new book usually does the trick!)
The Road Trip Caddy for Kids - Non Messy Play Ideas for Kids


Lily and Liam got a sneak peek of what was in their caddies, and they were begging to dig in! In four short weeks, we will be on our way to Virginia Beach, and they can finally enjoy them. Here's hoping The Road Trip Survival Caddy keeps all of our kids occupied for the 8+ hour drive!

Road Trip Caddy Ideas for Kids


How do you keep your kids occupied on road trips?

The Road Trip Survival Kit Caddy for Kids

You might also like:

Simple Road Trip Ideas for Kids

Road Trip Ideas for Kids

TUESDAY TALK


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Tuesday Talk


Tuesday Talk

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