How Do I Do Everything?!?

Question: How do you do everything?

Answer: I don’t.

….okay, blog over. Thanks for coming!

Just kidding y’all, I’ll fill you in on my (secrets). Or lack of secrets to be honest. I know mothers have it tough, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a stay at home mom, work at home mom, work away from home mom…or any combination. Motherhood is hard! But it is also incredibly rewarding. Unfortunately it is very defeating at times and social media is largely to blame. I know everyone sees Pinterest and Instagram and whatever else there is where moms look so put together, perpetually happy, with spotless houses, and gourmet dinners served on handmade ceramic plates. But I hate to break it to you, those pictures take a moment to snap and even less time to edit. I’m not saying they’re fake…but they don’t show the whole picture. Let me elaborate.

Check this picture out…

Our Homeschool reading area.

Isn’t it pretty? And clean? And look at those sparkly fairy lights! It’s so festive and inspiring….but this was taken after we wrapped up our school day, the kids were asleep and I already picked up. Now look at the next photo…

Yep, same area…just taken during a very average day with three little ones trying to function. It’s a mess and you can’t even see the sand spilled on the floor or the lunch crumbs. This is normal, and there is nothing wrong with having days where your house looks like this. Just because you see the first picture on Instagram, doesn’t mean that the second photo doesn’t exist.

The point is, I don’t do it all…I just keep going. The house gets messy, the laundry doesn’t get folded, there’s a screaming naked child running through the house. Sh*t happens…but I don’t give up and give in. I grab a cup of coffee, a peanut butter cup, and start Rosie (the Roomba) while I begin to tidy up. I am consistent and I’ve set up solid routines that don’t allow me to get overwhelmed. But when those times of dread hit, I think of my two favorite phrases;

“Start where you are”

“Progress is progress, no matter how small.”

Saying these things to myself helps a great deal in working through a seemingly endless task, and frankly those tasks are usually done in about thirty minutes or less. For someone just starting out with setting up a routine, I highly suggest reading up on The Flylady. That is where I got my start, and from her words of wisdom I was able to set up a system that works for our own family. I’ll pop some examples of our own routines at the end of this post if you’re in need of a printable to get you started.

Now, a routine isn’t a cure all or a guarantee of a perfectly Pinterest worthy house….but It is a cure for mom guilt, stress, and frustration. It is a way to keep your sanity, to be thankful for what you have, and appreciate those moments that caused a ‘messy house’. Those toys were from a fun play date, the crayon marks on the floor are from a toddler’s attempt at a self portrait, the spilled milk is a baby learning to eat on his own….there are many people who would love to have a ‘messy house’ from time to time.

I know that sometimes it is hard to see past the perfect picture on your news feed, but remember that it is only a fleeting moment and a tiny snapshot of a much larger picture that we cannot see. I guess the whole point of this post is to let anyone who has mom-guilt to know that it’s okay and you’re not alone. We all have those moments…even those of us that seem “perfect” and can “do it all”. If you’re truly overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, a routine will help you break out of a depression rut, and never be afraid to ask for help. It really takes a village, and nobody has to be alone.

So there it is….the secret is I don’t do it all…..hell some days I can barely get the laundry taken care of. But I just keep plucking away and enjoy the little moments as much as possible. Frankly I’ve never met a mom that can do it all, we just do the best we can and that’s all we really need to do.


What is a Snackin’ Tray?

“Mama……I’m HUNGRY!” I hear as I roll my eyes. It’s been two hours since breakfast, how are they hungry again? Oh yea…they picked at some food but decided to go play instead. This was such an issue in our home. The kids, being at different stages didn’t necessarily understand to eat enough…or sit still…or be hungry at “meal time”. I can’t blame them though, I had an active second grader, a teething toddler who still breastfeeds, and a baby that only just started some baby-led weaning. So I had to come up with a savior for my sanity, the mounting dirty dishes, the picking, and the constant cooking. To fix the problem I took to Pinterest. Bad IDEA! Talk about overwhelming…then I asked the kids what they thought. Guess what? That solved the issue! To summarize, here’s what they had to say (the two older of course).

  1. I was really having fun and didn’t want to stop to eat.
  2. I was only a little hungry, but then I ran around and got really hungry.
  3. I didn’t really want ‘that’ but didn’t know what I wanted.

Honestly, it all made perfect sense. Putting myself in their shoes and thinking back to my own childhood, I could relate…and then I set out to come up with a plan to change our mealtime routine. After searching the internet I was inspired by a charcuterie board and thought that might be our answer.

Day one! I took out my cute serving tray and started cutting up fruit, veggies, cheese, meat, and little tea sandwiches. It took me about 3 minutes to load up the tray. Once I was finished, I called the kids into the living room (a shocker…not being at the dining room table). After I placed the tray on our low coffee table, the kids dug in as I turned on some relaxing music and grabbed our read aloud book. They came and went, played, nibbled, and then we continued on with our daily lessons….still having some food left on the tray. As the day lingered on, the tray continued to be picked at until it was empty by 2 o’clock…just in time for a cup of tea!

We continued using our little tray for the remainder of the week…then I got crazy and did a tray for breakfast foods. Since nobody in our home is really into breakfast, this allowed for some simple items to be put out on the table for those early risers. It definitely made my mornings much less stressful since I can prep once a week and even freeze items to be used, like pancakes and muffins. More importantly, the kids got to decide what they wanted and how much they needed. It solved the picky-ness, over or under eating, and hangry kids….and it even made meal times easier on this mama!

After my chatty post, I’m sure y’all are wondering how long I’ve been doing these Snackin’ Trays (the kids named it that since charcuterie didn’t go over too well). Well….it’s been over a year and it’s been wonderful! Of course I’ve added foods and mixed things up to keep the trays interesting, but it’s still a very simple and quick way to get meals on the table in no time with little effort. Check out the list below for some inspiration to make your own Snackin’ Tray.

Breakfast Ideas:

  1. Egg Burritos
  2. Muffins
  3. Sausages
  4. Pancakes
  5. Pig in a Puddle
  6. Fruit
  7. Hash Browns
  8. Quiche Cups
  9. Overnight Oats
  10. Granola Bars

Lunch Ideas:

  1. Cut Meat
  2. Cheese
  3. Fruit
  4. Veggies
  5. Bread or Crackers
  6. Pickles, Olives, Dilly Beans
  7. Quesadillas
  8. Hot Dogs
  9. Mini Pizza’s
  10. Popcorn
  11. Tea Sandwiches
  12. Pinwheels
  13. Savory Croissants
  14. Mini Pot Pies
  15. Sliders

Review: Hello Fresh

Let me start this off by giving a few quick facts…we are a family of five. Two adults, an elementary aged kiddo, a toddler (still breastfeeding), and a baby (starting baby led weaning). Nobody is a picky eater, we have no allergies or special diets, and we eat an average amount of food.

Okay, so now that’s out of the way we can move on. 🤣

It’s been two weeks of using Hello Fresh, and honestly I’m impressed. I love cooking, I cook three meals a day…every day. I know my way around the kitchen. But I also end up in a cooking rut quite frequently. Being that we are a large-ish family I’m not going to be buying specialty ingredients for one meal…despite wanting to mix it up. Food waste is something that I just can’t tolerate in our house.

So having funky recipes and all of their ingredients dropped off on our porch each week is a breath of fresh air. We’ve really enjoyed eating cuisine from other countries that we wouldn’t get to try outside of date nights. Surprisingly, the kids have enjoyed the new dishes as well…and the best bonus is we use the simple recipes as a cooking class for our oldest! Homeschool for the win 😁. Besides pretending to be Martha Stewart for the night, I also noticed a few surprising benefits to having a meal delivery service.

  1. I’m less stressed. Meal planning is much easier when you have three fewer meals to figure out each week. I also have to buy less groceries, and if I forget to get to the store it’s not a big deal.
  2. The price is worth it…for the most part. I’m going to be honest, you can absolutely buy the ingredients for less in the store. But being a mama to many is exhausting, and sometimes convenience will save your sanity. Consider it a bit of self-care.
  3. Our kids get to try new foods. I’d like to think that the kids will look back and think of all the interesting foods they were able to try and of fond memories of cooking as a family in the kitchen. Hey, I can think ahead.
  4. It’s not just dinner. It’s true, these little meals have been used as date nights, lunches, brunches, and even add ons to other meals. Plus you can always add some of your own extra ingredients to help stretch the meals. For example….add more rice, roasted vegetables, or a side salad. We get the meals for two people, and we feed everyone…sometimes with leftovers!

All in all, we’re busy parents and need a break from time to time. Hello Fresh has become a go-to for us and we plan on using it for quite some time. We haven’t tried any other meal services, and I’m not sure if we will….but who knows. Do I recommend giving it a try? Yes, if it fits with your budget. Is it for everyone? No, its not. But one thing we all need to do is set priorities for our families. For us, it was needing a break from mundane chores, and Hello Fresh came to the rescue for that.



Homeschool 101: Curriculum

Question: How do I pick a curriculum? What if I get the wrong one?

This is probably the hardest question for any homeschooler, not just newbies. There are hundreds of curriculum options out there and frankly…curriculum isn’t cheap. So how do you begin to choose? Let’s take this one step at a time and decide what style of homeschool are you trying to create.

Waldorf

Developed by Rudolph Steiner, this approach is based in rhythm, learning through play, and a gentle holistic manner of teaching. Waldorf is child led and does not introduce formal education until around 3rd grade. Although it is a beautiful philosophy, it is a lot of prep work and a lot of research into Steiner’s teachings.

Charlotte Mason

This method bases learning off the the teaching style outlined by Charlotte Mason. It focuses on the whole child, living books, and appreciation for the liberal arts. You’ll be reading poetry, studying composers and artists, and enjoying Shakespeare.

Montessori

Created by Maria Montessori, this approach is child centered and encourages self motivation. Like Waldorf and Charlotte Mason, this philosophy focuses on teaching the whole child.

Traditional

This is also called ‘Boxed Curriculum”. Simply put, it is all of the textbooks, teachers manuals, and such for every standard subject. It is as close to a public school set-up as you can get and is often very guided. But be warned, this is most often the most expensive option.

Classical

Do you like Latin? Yes? Great! Just kidding…sort of. Classical style is what it sounds like. Very traditional styled learning and heavily book based. Classical curriculums can come as a boxed curriculum which makes it easy to assemble, but I do suggest utilizing your library for many of the literature used…unless you want a big house library, then be my guest.

Eclectic

So…you like a bit of everything? Or maybe just a mix of two or three similar styles. Guess what? That’s the majority of homeschoolers out there. While this is a popular option, it can be more difficult to put together as a first timer. I personally pull my favorite parts from different styles and create my own curriculum but this isn’t always for the faint of heart.

Digital

The title is pretty self explanitory, but digital homeschoolers are those who use online curriculum or digital public school programs. Typically, all of the supplies are digital and the work is done online and turned into a teacher for grading and guidance. This is one of the most hands off methods of homeschooling.

Now once you pick your style, you can start looking into publishers, joining groups that utilize the same philosophy, and ASK OTHER HOMESCHOOLERS. Yes. Ask those who have already walked the path. Get incite and opinions from others….are you secular? Do you want religious studies as a base? Do you only like physical books? Have a mix of ages? Don’t be afraid to ask people who have already used a particular curriculum how it worked for them.

How we organize our week.

So, you’ve picked your style…asked others….and now you bought your curriculum. But what if it isn’t perfect?!?! Oh, believe me when I tell you nothing will be perfect. You’ll tweak things, skip things, try something else….that’s normal. The most important thing is that you are enjoying it and your kids are too. Homeschooling is fun and creative. Stop stressing about thinking you’re not doing enough or the curriculum isn’t perfect. Explore, enjoy, and if something doesn’t work….change it.

Morning of planning out the week.