, , , , ,

The Stay-At-Home Mom Game Plan

I don’t know about you, but as a stay-at-home momma, I can start to go out of my mind if I don’t have a game plan for the day. Winter months are always the worst because many days we are stuck inside. On days we stay home, sisterly tiffs can break out, television gets turned on, and momma gets TIRED! The best of my days are the days when I have various activities planned throughout to keep the girls “busy” and entertained. Here are a few of my go-to activities:

  • Read Books…lots & LoTs & LOTS of books
  • Paint-Put LARGE sheets of paper on the kitchen floor and let them create. They will be entertained for a LONG time with this instead of the usual 8 x 11 piece of paper
  • Sensory Bins…I literally put corn or beans in a plastic storage tub with some kitchen utensils
  • Puzzle Time-My oldest struggles with puzzles so we put them together often
  • Dance Parties…LOTS of Dance Parties
  • Bake something together-My youngest daughter’s FAVORITE thing to do
  • Clean the house and get rid of old, broken or unused toys
  • Make forts under the dining room table
  • Write your (the child’s) own story or draw pictures to tell a story
  • Dress-Up/ Dramatic Play
  • Jump on the Trampoline in the basement or wherever you have one. If you don’t have one…GET ONE…it has been a game changer!
  • Play-Doh, a rolling pin, and cookie cutters are GREAT
  • Science Experiments are always fun! Don’t know which one to do, Google “Easy Science Projects at Home” and see what pulls up. Pinterest is another good option for ideas.
  • Good ole Independent Play. Send the kids to their rooms or a particular place in the house with something they want to play with and allow them to explore, create, and imagine on their own.
  • Weather permitting-Go outside and play games or allow kids to create and imagine on their own.

Whatever you decide to do with the kids, make sure you have it pre-planned out so you can quickly and easily move from one activity to the next. By being prepared and ready for the next lull in the day, you save yourself putting out little fires and the day runs SMOOTHLY!

 

 

 

, , , ,

How to Create Healthy Habits with Little Ones in the House

I haven’t mentioned this much on the blog but I am a health and fitness coach through Beachbody along with being a mom blogger, a Homeschooling parent, a wedding coordinator, etc. It’s a busy life and because I spin a lot of plates at once, I have a lot of friends and people ask me how I fit it all in. How do I exercise everyday with 2 very young kids at home? How do I eat clean with toddlers in the house? How do I fit in a healthy lifestyle when chaos breaks out?

While these are all good questions, they all fall into one category. I have created a healthy “lifestyle” for my family and me. My week consists of a lot of planning, implementing and executing strategies to keep our lives “healthy.” It has become a habit for us and can for you too…with just a little work on your part.

Because the need seems so great (at least in Facebook world) to know the answers to these questions, I thought I would give you some tips to help you and your family get on track to a healthier lifestyle.

My weekly routine (and yes, routine is IMPERATIVE to success with this) consists of waking up no later than 5:00 AM. In the beginning it was hard but now I truly don’t even need to set my alarm. I head downstairs, do my daily Bible reading, start a new blog or finish one that has been started :), check in with all of my clients in my health and fitness groups, read some personal development, and work on my Beachbody business until about 6:30 AM. I then head down to our basement to “get my sweat on!” I workout for an hour. This takes me to 7:30ish. (I know my husband needs to leave the house around 8:45 AM for work so I plan my morning around him helping the kids once they wake up…which is usually 7:00 AM). I shower and am downstairs to be “mommy” by 8:45 AM.

**I know this schedule doesn’t work for everyone…I get it. The point isn’t about the schedule not working for you, the point is that YOU need to design a schedule that DOES WORK for you and allow yourself NO EXCUSES (and no I am not yelling…I am just EXTREMELY passionate about what I do and I know that ANYONE can do it if they put their mind to it).

As far as eating healthy in our household, I have just a few tips.

  1. The kids eat what we eat…I do not make 2 separate meals. I have found that if they are hungry, they will eat it whether they love it or not. If they know I will make a separate meal just for them, they would manipulate the situation to get what they are wanting.
  2. I preplan all of our dinners. I sit down in the week (usually Thursday or Friday) and plan out the next week’s meals. Then I make a grocery list that reflects those meals. I try to grocery shop on Sunday or Monday for the week and prep some of the meals (crock pot meals, grilled chicken, etc.) so that when we are in a rush or I know I won’t have time to make a grand and healthy meal, I don’t have to. We can just reheat it and stay the course (beats fast food any day).
  3. I shop the outside perimeter of the grocery store. I have found that when I shop through the aisles of the store, I tend to buy more snacky foods and sway off of my list. So, I make sure I stick to the list and stay away from inner aisles.                                                                                      
  4. I bake all of our sweets in the house. I don’t buy cookies from the store. I make them fresh and with healthy ingredients…Check out this website for some ideas on healthy baking recipes).      https://www.beachbody.com/beachbodyblog/                                                                                                                                                       
  5. I give myself NO EXCUSES to stay fit and healthy for my family along with being a good example for my kids.                                                                                                                                      

The last piece to my puzzle is one that I feel is almost the most important…the piece I could NOT live without…I have accountability partners…LOTS to be exact! As a health and fitness coach through Beachbody, I run private online accountability groups each month. These groups have given me the support to stay the healthy lifestyle course, dig deep to work hard and the motivation to not give up. We have a blast and I walk away each month with a new group of friends and accountability partners that I didn’t have the previous month. This has allowed my repertoire of friends to be all like-minded individuals and that makes it SOOOO MUCH EASIER when making healthy lifestyle changes that will last.

If this resonated with you and you are stuck and need the motivation to stay the course, need someone to guide you to a healthier lifestyle, need some new healthy recipes or even a meal plan to follow to get you started, need to get healthier, I would love to help you on your journey. Feel free to shoot me a message and I will make sure to get in touch with you.

, , , , ,

“Me Time” Indulgences

These days, I don’t get a lot of time to myself (unless I schedule it in) but when I do it’s kind of a big deal. As women and moms it’s imperative that we take care of ourselves. I had to learn that taking time for myself was a way that I could refill my love tank and give love to my family without feeling depleted or drained.

Here are some of my favorite indulgences that I like to do when I get a little time to myself.

EXERCISE!

I feel at my best when I have had an opportunity to get a good workout in. Working out gives me that natural high and energy boost I need to be the best version of myself for my kids and husband.

QUALITY TIME WITH FRIENDS!

Hanging with my girls fills my tank…and actually OVERFLOWS it! My friends have been my sounding board, my shoulder at times, and the best laughing buddy out there!

A RUN/WALK IN THE PARK!

I know I could tie this to exercise, but when I am in nature by myself (not my basement or gym), I am able to focus, pray and pour out to God the things going on in life.

READING!

It is rare that I have an opportunity to sit down and enjoy a good book. In fact, this is more of an item on my bucket list than an actual “Me Time” indulgence.

A HOT BUBBLE BATH!

Man can I feel stress leave my body after a hot…and I mean HOT bubble bath. This too is an opportunity for me to reflect on life, focus and pray.

DATE NIGHT!

My husband and I have committed to Date Night once a month. We pre-plan them months in advance so we don’t “forget” about nurturing our marriage relationship.

What are some of your “Me Time” indulgences?

, ,

Meal Prepping to Satisfy Young Kids

Being such a health and fitness geek, I get asked all the time if I make 2 meals every night for dinner. My answer is always No. My kids are expected to eat the same food I prepare for my husband and me. I do make adjustments such as adding Garlic Expressions salad dressing to Couscous to make it more flavorful, Ranch dressing on their baked chicken, etc. Although they eat the same dinner, it is easy to make some adjustments to their diet for breakfast and lunch.

Honestly, It all starts at the grocery store. I admit, I prefer grocery shopping alone so I can concentrate and take my time finding the best deals.

At home, I take advantage of nap time to do some food prep. I don’t always jump for joy at the idea of doing it and I don’t always get to it to be honest, but I am grateful everyday of the following week when healthy food is ready to go.

  • Choose a grain for the week. Quinoa or Couscous is a good choice, which cooks in 30 minutes or less.

  • Prep several veggies. I don’t know about you, but these are the toughest to grab in a hurry. Red pepper sticks and hummus usually work. My girls also LOVE guacamole and that is an easy grab when in a hurry. By taking 30-40 minutes to roast broccoli or another hearty vegetable, I know I’ll have an easy-to-grab veggie for quick lunches or dinners. By steaming the vegetable, it truly loses it crispness and my kids don’t necessarily “love” veggie leftovers so roasting the veggie is a better option.
  • Create a chopped blend of peppers, onions and sometimes mushrooms.

You can throw this blend in a pan with a little butter or Olive Oil spray in the mornings to create a quick veggie egg scramble. Top with cheese (I encourage you to try goat cheese) or add a teaspoon or so of cream cheese to the egg scramble to make it extra delicious for your kiddo!

As for the prepped bean, grain and green, you can throw them together in multiple combos throughout the week. The beans are great to add to cheese quesadillas. The broccoli is delicious on it’s own as a side.

***I also keep a few favorite staples on hand at all times.***

Frozen berries are often eaten in yogurt or on their own. Or roll the berries in yogurt and freeze them for an extra special snack…seriously tastes like candy!

Chia seeds can be sprinkled on everything! You can add them to yogurt, on peanut butter toast and on your morning hot or cold cereals.

Looking for a good protein to amp up the meal, edamame is a great choice. A sprinkle of salt might be necessary to make them disappear quickly.

And there it is! The basics used to prep for a week of healthy meals for young kiddos.

 

, , , ,

Teaching my Child the Act of Kindness…NO MORE BULLYING!

I specifically remember being in the first grade and another child saying to me…

“Mary, You’re pretty!”

Which I replied…”THANK YOU!!!”

Then he said….

“PRETTY UGLY!”

Wowsers…I am now 35 years old and that seems like it was just YESTERDAY! Our words pierce…and they stick. That little bullying act affected me for YEARS until I realized it was simply a way for someone to just be mean. Kids are mean and unless we teach them what kindness truly is, how can we expect them to show it towards others? We teach kids math, reading, writing, science, etc. but sometimes expect that they will naturally know how to treat others.

My oldest has shown compassion for others since she was a baby. She wouldn’t hurt a fly and cries when others get hurt. It is her disposition. I didn’t teach her that, I didn’t model that for her, it came naturally. So it was quite the shock to me that when her little sister came along, she started getting a bit jealous and treating her “not so nice.” It started with slight pushing, stealing her sister’s toy, etc. until one day I heard her name calling.

I was FURIOUS and really yelled at her about how we treat others. MOM FAIL #I lost count! This whole time I could have been modeling how to treat those closest to us just as wonderfully as we treat friends. In fact, this is a work in progress as I type this. Having been a former teacher, I know how to tackle Bullying in the classroom and the plan I used back then is the plan I am going to implement in my own home.

It goes something like this…tweaked a bit from the classroom of course:

1. Model kind behavior.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. If you tell your child to be kind, but you are modeling negative, unkind behavior – your words will have little impact on their behavior. Children do as they see – not as you tell them to do. Be a wonderful role model for your child.

Show your child respect when redirecting them or disciplining them. Speak to your spouse with kindness. Your children will learn from your example.

 

2. Highlight people’s emotions around you.

If your child has a hard time reading social cues, practice a game I like to call “Guess the Feeling.” Sit at a park or a mall and watch people. If you love people watching – this game shouldn’t be too hard.

Find someone showing an extreme emotion – such as excitement, sadness or anger. Ask your child, “What do you think they’re feeling?” Ask them to make up a story about what may be happening.

This helps children identify non-verbal clues as to how others feel and helps them put meaning behind emotions.

 

3. Reassess how you tease your children – is it demeaning, taunting or degrading?

Some families love to tease each other, but some children can’t take intense teasing. Some parents do not think their teasing is cruel – but if your child reacts by crying and storming off – chances are they are feeling degraded.

Would you want your child to make fun of peers the way you are making fun of them? Some parents might think they are just “toughening up” their children or being playful, but kids will often take it out on their peers.

Children learn how to be playful by the tone their family sets. If mean spirited taunting is acceptable at home – then children will think it is acceptable elsewhere.

 

4. Point out how their behavior affects those around them.

When your child’s behavior is affecting those around them – point it out. Let your child know how they are affecting others without shaming them.

 

5. Teach your children the joys of helping others.

Be an example for your children and help strangers, friends and family. Let them know that it feels good to help others – even if you get nothing back. Set up opportunities for you to help others as a family.

 

Teach your child that even small acts of kindness go along way. Express to your child why you are holding the door for another person, letting someone get in front of you in traffic or helping someone when their hands are full. Explain that it is nice to be helpful, even if the person doesn’t say thank you or appreciate it. You should give to give – not give to get.

, , , ,

Teaching the Art of Setting Realistic Goals for Your Kids

I get all geeked up when it comes to goal planning and setting concrete goals that I have every intention of hitting. In fact, goal planning has become what my world revolves around. I goal plan for my health and fitness business, our family, my relationship with my husband, and my kids. I feel that if you aren’t aiming at a target (goal), then you are going nowhere…just remaining as is. Isn’t the point to continuously work toward bettering yourself?

When I goal plan specifically for my kids, I think about what it is they enjoy, desire to try, and want to accomplish. I keep them short term and attainable. We write them out and talk about them often. Starting the goal planning process at a young age gets them in the mindset that #1 what they put their mind to they can accomplish, #2 working hard pays off, #3 know what you are aiming for, #4 set goals you are able to accomplish, and #5 always work toward bettering yourself (even if in insignificant ways).

The best ways to goal plan with little ones is to use the SMART model. If you haven’t heard of the SMART goal planning model, here is a quick recap. The goals should be S-Specific, M-Measurable, A-Attainable, R-Relevant, and T-Timely. SMART goal setting brings structure and track-ability into your goals and objectives. After my daughter and I chat a bit about what the goals she wants to accomplish are, she is free to draw a picture of each one…making it stick in the forefront of her mind. I then hang the picture up somewhere she sees it everyday and include it in our conversation on a daily basis. For example, my daughter really wanted to learn how to skip the right way (she is 5 and our goals are small and attainable). So we practiced each day until she got it. She had drawn a picture of herself skipping, we chatted about it often and she practiced her little heart out until she was skipping like a pro.

Would she have learned to skip without goal-setting…sure she would have. The point wasn’t to learn to skip in this case, it was teaching her that by setting goals, writing them out/drawing them, and working hard towards them, you are able to accomplish what you set out to do.

, , , ,

What is my Parental Role with my Anxious Toddler?

It has been several months since our youngest of two, Delise got the diagnosis of severe anxiety. She is just two years old. Understanding how anxiety can be present in a toddler was mind boggling…and still is. What worries could she possibly have? I decided to dig deeper into her diagnosis and get a better understanding of what she was going through.

Having a child with anxiety feels very lonely. On the surface, everything seems alright. Teachers rave about them. Friends adore them. Relatives and family friends might not see what all the fuss is about. But what people don’t see is the daily struggle in the home. The fear that paralyzes them at night. The worries that consume their young mind and prompt them to feel nauseous, nervous and overwhelmed.  Every day feels like a battle. A battle Delise doesn’t always win.  I have discovered how to empower her by adjusting my parental role.

As a parent, we have a role in this battle. I could be a bystander, watching this beast overcome her. I could be a protector, paving a path so she feels no bumps. Or I could be a coach, training Delise for every battle, gearing her up to win the war.

I choose to be the coach!

To beat anxiety, you must understand anxiety. I had to learn how to recognize anxiety’s hidden symptoms like irritability and opposition. I had to learn about anxiety’s physical symptoms as well.

I am continuously learning how to detect Delise’s anxiety themes. Bedtime and the fear of the dark, being hungry, her OCD tendencies, being around men she isn’t familiar with, etc. These are all Delise’s triggers for an extreme meltdown and cause of an anxiety breakout.

Watching your child battle with anxiety is devastating. As parents, we are often confused about what our role should be. We often haphazardly fall into the bystander or protector role. I have learned that anxious children will flourish when their parents take on the coaching role. Fighting anxiety can be a lonely, overwhelming experience. Delise needs us to train, cheer-lead and encourage her throughout her fight. She needs us to celebrate her victories and pick her up when she is defeated. Ben and I can’t fight this fight for her, but we can certainly be by her side.

For a more in-depth look at how to empower your child, sign up for the parenting E-Course How to Teach Your Kids to Crush Anxiety. In this course, taught by a child therapist, you will be given a complete blueprint on how anxiety works and what you can do to help your child beat anxiety one skill at a time.

 

, ,

Traveling with Kids…YIKES! Ways to Make it Less Stressful

THIS WEEKEND February Family Must Do’s!

Looking for some FUN things to do in the Toledo, Ohio area this weekend? Check out our families list of to-do’s:

Saturday, February 4th:

  1. Theatre Class for 5-6 year olds: Ongoing throughout February; 9:00-10:00 AM
2417 Collingwood Blvd
Toledo, OH
Price: $100.00

Introduction to theatre, using play and story drama to introduce character development. Students will begin to practice auditioning and basic theatrical terms.

Students ages 5-6 in the Early Stages Company students attend one-hour classes on Saturday mornings for 8 weeks. See the website for more information; including information regarding registration. Registration is required.

2. Disney Reads Day: 11:00 AM

4940 Monroe Street
Toledo, OH

Celebrate the Magic of Storytelling on Disney Reads Day! Comee read popular Disney stories and do fun activities to inspire kids’ imaginations. Plus, giveaways including stickers, bookmarks and mini-posters (while supplies last).

3. Winter Wonderland Walk: 2:00 PM

10001 W. Central Ave.
Berkey, OH

Discover all of the amazing things that there is to find at the Metroparks in the winter. Snowshoes provided with snowfall.

Sunday, February 5th:

4. Family Pottery: 1st-12th grade with adult: 10:00 AM-12:00 PM

577 East Front Street
Perrysburg, OH
Price: $20.00

Adult & child enjoy an exploration of hand built pottery projects. Make projects using coils, pinch, slab or extruded clay techniques. Make projects together or individually. Decorate with colored slips. 577 will finish pieces with a clear glaze. BOTH ADULT AND CHILD MUST REGISTER FOR CLASS. Register online. There are 2 different sessions offered for this class. Registration is required.

5. Family Center Activities: Sculpture!: 12-5 PM

Toledo Museum of Art

2445 Monroe St
Toledo, OH
Price: Free Free admission

Catch the last days of the exhibition, Libbey Doll collection, and create your own sculpture inspired by what you see. Activities at the Family Center are designed for children 10 years of age and younger accompanied by an adult. The Family Center is sponsored in part by The Andersons.

6. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live: 2:00-3:30 PM

4645 Heatherdowns Blvd
Toledo, OH

The legacy of the beloved “Mister Rogers” lives on with the hit television series, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, from The Fred Rogers Company and airing daily on PBS KIDS. Now, Daniel and all of his friends are hopping aboard Trolley to delight live audiences with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live! coming to the Stranahan Theatre in Toledo, OH on Sunday, February 5th, 2017 at 2pm and 5pm Tickets (starting at $22 plus applicable service fees) go on-sale Friday, August 19th at 10am and are available at Stanahantheatre.org, or at the box office.

Donning his iconic red sweater, Daniel invites the audience on an interactive musical adventure as he and his friends explore the vibrant world of their much-loved Neighborhood of Make-Believe, sharing stories of friendship, helping others, and celebrating new experiences. This live theatrical production filled with singing, dancing, laughter and “grr-ific” surprises will warm the hearts of multiple generations. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood tells its engaging stories about the life of a preschooler using musical strategies grounded in Fred Rogers’ landmark social-emotional curriculum. Through imagination, creativity and music, Daniel and his friends learn the key social skills necessary for school and for life. In February 2015, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood was the #2 program across all TV networks for Kids 2-5 and with moms of young children. In addition, it continues to be one of the highest-streamed shows, averaging over 40 million streams per month. One million Daniel Tiger books have been published to date, and downloads of the apps, music and episodes continue to rank high on iTunes. The animated TV series has garnered a host of prestigious awards, and most recently was nominated for a 2015 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Preschool Animated Program. This recognition follows a string of additional honors, including a 2015 Parents’ Choice Gold Award and 2014 Prix Jeunesse International Selection as well as the 2013 Kidscreen Award for Best Animated Series in the Preschool Category, and 2013 Cynopsis: Kids! Imagination Award for Preschool Series.

CHILDREN WHO HAVE REACHED THEIR FIRST BIRTHDAY MUST HAVE A TICKET! ▪ Tickets may be purchased by calling 419-381-8851 EXT 1 ▪ You may also stop in to their box office, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. They are open: 9AM-5PM MON-FRI 9AM-1PM SAT ▪ You may also purchase on line @ etix.com.

Monday, February 6th

7. Preschool Photography: 10-11:00 AM

10001 W. Central Ave.
Berkey, OH

Give your preschooler a chance to express her/his-self and explore nature through digital photography. Toddlers will learn how to use a digital camera, look for shapes, color and subject matter in nature. Parents will accompany children for this program. Equipment will be provided but please bring your own SD card if you wish to keep your images.

Feel free to comment below with your family’s list of To-Do’s!