5 At-Home Date Ideas

Every time I have a baby (I’m currently at three total), I seem to go into lockdown mode. Getting away when you are the baby’s source of nutrition or comfort can be really difficult. In fact, it seems like every time I try to leave, the baby has a weird day or night. He suddenly wakes in the night when he’d pretty much been sleeping through.

Add to this the difficulty of putting our three year old to bed. He’s nice, but we often worry about asking a babysitter to try and him having a meltdown.

That’s why my husband and I typically just stay home. While it may not be luxurious and overly romantic, we find ways to connect with one another and lower the stress of figuring out how to get out the door without more trouble than it’s worth.

Here are five at-home date ideas that may be so simple you’ve just forgotten they existed!

athomedatestwahm2

1. Make take-out your friend – We live in a very small area, so our choices are limited. But we still choose take-out over cooking something at home when we have the chance. It at least feels like we’re splurging!

2. Redbox, Netflix, Amazon Prime Movies – Since we never get to actually go to the movies (we don’t have the heart to ask someone to sit here all night so we can go to a late movie), we choose to just rent. It’s actually a lot cheaper, and we can hit pause to refill our drinks or run to the restroom. Plus, we can snuggle a lot better on the couch than in the very uncomfortable (and often sticky) movie theater seats.

3. Talk! – Seems trivial, but talking really does make us connect even more. When the kids are awake and screaming or crying or playing loudly, we don’t have many opportunities to talk seriously and focus. We have found ourselves turning off all electronics to actually look each other in the eye and talk about what’s going on.

4. Play games – Remember those games you used to play when you didn’t have children and weren’t worried about someone feasting on the Scrabble letters? They can still be a great way to do something different and somewhat educational! We enjoy playing Scrabble or a game of cards to be a little competitive with one another. It also generally leads to fun flirting we haven’t done in a while.

5. Get outside – As the weather begins to get warmer and the sun is staying out longer, being outside is much easier. Our bedroom happens to be in the back of the house where we also have our patio furniture. We put our monitors in our open windows so we can hear anything that may be happening inside, and then we enjoy a late dinner or drinks while we sit in our open and quiet back yard. We also don’t have to worry about how loud we’re being since the kids can’t hear us!

What at-home date ideas do you have? Share!

Action and Intention

Action and intention in the springtime

It is April! We have more light through the day if we are subjected to the horrors of daylight savings time and then the rites of spring. The warmer days creep up in rapid succession and before you know it Easter is overtaken by Memorial Day then the 4th of July then school starting again.

This rapid onslaught happens unless you take a moment to step back and be present. Being present can be very hard for us moms who have the demands of our little one constantly tugging on our clothing as well as a million other responsibilities.

In my yoga classes where I work with mothers around their childbirth journeys I cue special themes at this time of year to hopefully gear them up to make the most of the beautiful weather and what it does for our souls. Perhaps my favorite theme is “action and intention” at this time of year.

Before spring hits and we have to leave our domestic cocoons is a fantastic time to pause, breathe, then honestly reflect if your actions align with your intentions.

For the woman who spends a great deal of time at home it is easy to lose sight of your intentions because life happens. If this is your first step, then take a moment to think about how you want to be conducting yourself in your daily affairs. If you know the path you want to be on then honestly hold a private conversation to determine if you have been walking that path or imagining it from far away.

Some examples of intentions to examine are:

Are you eating the right kind of foods you said you would eat when the winter holidays passed?

Are you and the family moving as much as you had planned on?

Are you interacting with your relationships as warmly as you think you do?

When working from home are you setting boundaries of when you are working and when you are able to wear your mom hat?

Have you been practicing your religious or spiritual discipline if you have one?

If you did a vision board or set any long-term goals then reflect on those. Next set up some sort of realistic accountability to align your action with intention. And then go forward into spring feeling empowered to fully utilize the newness of the season.

Above all treat yourself with gentle kindness if your actions do not perfectly line up with your intention. This is the case for pretty much all of us, especially moms who have to deal with the balancing act of life for us and our littles.

It is April! It is spring! Use this time to your advantage or at least enjoy the peace and quiet as you sip on a nice glass of wine to reflect on this post.

Kia Ru wears many hats. She is an Ignite Fitness and COCreate Organizer, ShiftCon speaking coordinator, yoga instructor at-large, an ecologist on parenting hiatus, and a writing and image contributor on wellness, green and parent topics. She blogs at: http://bodhibear.net/

Making the Most of Your Family’s Schedule (Video Tip)

Do you have a wall calendar for keeping your family’s schedule straight? Are you making the most of your family’s schedule? Kari of Driskotech is sharing awesome tips today.

Tips from Driskotech on making the most of your family's schedule

Kari Driskell is a previous middle school math teacher, mother of two busy lil blonde headed girls, wife of a busy high school football coach, a Premier Designs Jeweler, and owner of DRISKOTECH. Driskotech is a brand new company that specializes in helping direct sellers and small business owners create fun and engaging videos, meant to be shared via social media, and especially during their online Facebook Parties! In her spare time she enjoys THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, folding laundry, and watching her kids on the soccer field… and not particularly in that order. She is an avid run-on sentence writer. Check out her DRISKOTECH Facebook fanpage at: www.facebook.com/DRISKOTECH

Stealing Moments for You

Working from home means that you never leave the office. If you’re like me and you have your email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on your phone, you really never leave. Then, as is the nature of a work-at-home-parent, there’s your 24/7 job of, well, being a parent.

My for-pay job(s) has me on the computer or phone for what seems like hours on end. And the kids? Well, they seem to always want to eat or play a game.

Stealing moments for yourself feels like a laughable non-option. It’s not.

stealingmoments2

 

  1. Turn off the phone and close the computer. Set times for yourself to be “on” and “off.” I try to make sure that I’m “off” by 9 pm if possible. This gives me a chance to actually look my husband in the face instead of barking our conversation over our kids’ heads.
  2. If the weather is nice enough, get outside. My boys love to be outside right before lunch. We take a walk to our post office (about a block down the road) and then draw or swing. While they are playing happily, I have time to let my mind wander.
  3. Prioritize your to-do list. My list seems to be never-ending. As soon as I think I have made it through, I remember about three other things to add to the list. This makes me look closely and work on the biggest issues first. What is due soonest? I take care of those first and still meet my 9 pm deadline. Otherwise, I could sit at the computer without moving for the better part of any day.
  4. Take a shower. This sounds really silly, but if your house is anything like mine, going to take a shower is one way I can guarantee about fifteen to twenty minutes of alone-time. It’s after I take the actual shower that I might sit in my bathroom and work on my nails or straighten the counter.
  5. Get to sleep at a decent hour. I know it’s tempting to stay up really late and get more work done. Believe me — I’m guilty of this one. But just five extra minutes that I swear I’m going to spend doing just one small task always leads to another five minutes and another. Next thing I know, I’ve found myself hitting the pillow at midnight.
  6. Find a way to hang out with your BFF. I have one very close friend, and she’s as busy as I am. We try really hard to get out to eat once in a while so we can catch up without kids or husbands bugging us. Mommy needs a chance to talk to real adults about her favorite topics, too!

What ways do you try to steal some peace and freedom just for you?

Balancing School, Kids and a Full-Time Job: Yes, You Can Do It

If you work from home full-time and have young children to take care of, you might think going back to school is not an option. But that is not the case. According to WorkingMother.com, more than 60 percent of students earning a degree online are women, most of them over the age of 25. Balancing school, kids and a full-time job can be difficult, but with motivation and the right strategy, you can do it.

How to balance school, kids, and a full-time job

Time Management

This should probably go without saying, but the only way this is going to work is if you manage your time properly. If you have young children, you won’t be able to devote hours at a time to your studies. There are too many distractions and kids have too many needs, and you will only wind up frustrated and unable to focus.

A great piece of advice from The Bump: Break up the work in sections. Instead of watching an hour-long lecture while the kids are nagging, watch 20 minutes and then hang with the kids for 10 minutes. Get them a snack, change a diaper and put on a new show. That can buy you another 20-30 minutes straight to watch or work. Moms can complete an hour lecture in an hour and twenty minutes by doing this, rather than it taking two hours with constant stopping and no focus at all.

Focus

Another important aspect of time management is focus. If you’re not understanding the material because you’re distracted, it does not matter how much time you set aside. One of the most difficult parts of online learning is how easy it is to shop, chat and surf instead. Use a tool like RescueTime that tracks what you are doing and enables you to block online distractions.

Reduce Stress

Seek and spend time with other student/working moms who are going through the same things. Consider sharing babysitting expenses a few nights a week so you can get work done. Having an in-person support group can really help, especially when your classmates are all online. Visit a site like CollegeOnline LLC for more tips and resources about being a successful online college student in nursing.

Be Realistic

Don’t take on too much at once. Set realistic goals about how many classes you can juggle with the rest of your schedule. Plan your daily routine; figure out how many hours are left after work and taking care of the kids, then determine how many hours you will need to devote to each class. And do not forget budgeting time for yourself and sleeping.

No one is saying this is going to be a cake walk, but you can do it. Maintain the right attitude and put a good strategy in place, and you can get that degree for your nursing profession.

The Good Mother Myth Book Review

The Internet has brought me so many new friends: bloggers, people with similar interests, etc. But, it also has a way of making me feel “less than” especially as a mother. Every day, there’s a new list or headline about things that you SHOULD be doing for your kids, or SHOULD NOT be doing for them. And behind the cloak of social media, it’s easy to be judged by other mothers (or non-mothers) who read something, out of context, and think they could be doing it (parenting your kids) better. Or, only sharing the good stuff and neglecting to mention the “real stuff”, making it seem as though they have it all together. Because of all of this, I was thrilled to open up The Good Mother Myth, because reading the book, I instantly felt like I was “good enough” as a mom….there were others just like me, sometimes struggling to get through the day and successfully past bedtime.

The Good Mother Myth book review

The Good Mother Myth is a collection of essays that takes a “realistic look at motherhood” and provides “a platform for diverse voices and raw stories.” They are meant to take apart the idea of this fairy tale “good mother”….reflecting on “stereotypes and expectations and offers some truth about what it means to be a mother today.”

One area that is hot with contention is food allergies….parents whose kids don’t have them sometimes think that they shouldn’t have to work around the kids that do. Parents whose kids do have them feel like their kids aren’t safe at school during parties, or are exhausted from making sure that their kids do have safe foods there. One story, called Parenting Without A Rope, is told by a mom whose daughter has a severe milk allergy and almost died from her mistakes more than once. It shows just how stressful, exhausting, and precarious an allergy like that can be.

No More Fakebook shows a real Saturday in the life of a mother vs a “Facebook Saturday”… a hilarious play by play of real life not seen in Facebook statuses. My favorite line from the essay “Instead of pretending that everything is hunky-freaking-dory, let’s be real: Parenting is ridiculously hard.” Amen to that…it’s easy to wrap up your life in a happy little bow for all of your “friends” online, but it’s another to show what’s really going on.

Failure To Launch tells the story of the first days with a newborn without that blissful bonding feeling, an effect of postpartum depression, and a mother’s struggle to claw her way out of it and really see her sweet son for the deliciously lovable bundle that he really was.

The book, compiled and edited by Avital Norman Nathman, also shares stories from single mothers, lesbian mothers, teen mothers, adoptive mothers, mentally ill mothers, and the one thing they all have in common is that they are, in fact, good mothers.

Pick up a copy of The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality on Amazon, or check out more information on goodmothermyth.com.

Amazon link is an affiliate. I was given a copy of the book to review but received no other compensation. All opinions are 100% my own. 

One Mom’s Work At Home Schedule

Ok so the title is misleading: I’m not technically a Work At Home Mom.

I’m a Work Out of the Home, Work in the Home, Work in the Car, Work Work Work Mom.

I’m a high school teacher and writer.

For nine months of the year, my teaching job structures my working day, but during the summer (and on other breaks) I have to schedule writing and mothering my two boys, Eddie (4.5) and Charlie (2). I found very quickly that it’s not just the boys that need routine, but I do too. I need to know when I’ll be able to write and work. It helps me focus better on my work and on my “momming”.

Knowing I will have certain times guaranteed for working lowers my anxiety and helps me know how to schedule my freelance work. It also helps me plan activities and maximize my time with my boys.

This is the routine we follow when I am working from home:

One Working Mom's Daily Schedule

Anytime between 6:30 and 8:00 am: The boys get up, I drink coffee, we snuggle on the couch.

9:00: breakfast

9:30-noon: Play time/daily adventure. Unless the boys are in daycare (which happens once a week in the summer), I expect my mornings to be work-free. If we are going to go to the park, library, out with friends, or to visit daddy at work, this is when it happens. Some days all we do is go outside at our house, but we always shut off the TV and DO SOMETHING.

Sometimes during this time, the boys will play nicely outside without wanting or needing me to be involved, and I can do some work from our deck or patio. I don’t ever plan on it though…just in case it doesn’t happen.

12:00-12:30: Lunch

12:30-1:30: Some TV time/toys/daddy home for lunch. Sometimes I catch a shower during this time. Sometimes.

1:30-4:00: Nap/Quiet time. Charlie will nap anywhere from 2-3 hours if I let him, and Eddie knows he may do a craft, play outside, play the Wii (if it’s  yucky out), have Tablet Time, etc as long as he can do it quietly on his own. This is when I work.  I write my buns off during this time. Or, if nothing is pressing, I read.  Sometimes (the best days), Eddie plays outside while I read/write on the patio.

4:00-5:00: The “witching hour”. Charlie gets up from nap, the boys have a quick snack, and most days we head to the front yard to play or chalk the driveway until daddy gets home from work.

5:00-6:00: Making and eating dinner

6:00-8:00: Family time

8:00-11:00: Boys in bed, time to write. Also time to snuggle with the husband and/or a good book.

Once a week my boys both go to daycare from 7:00am-4:30pm. Those days are cram days for work and errands and “me time”.

I probably devote an average of five hours a day to work (which ranges from my blog to freelance to academic/teacher stuff).  This is the schedule that works for me and my family.  Since I am working so much during the school year, it’s important for me to devote parts of my day during breaks to just my boys and not to work.

What does your Work Day look like?

Weekend Tip: Teach Your Child To Interrupt Politely

Deborah Gilboa is a working family physician with four kids. She spends her days helping her patients with their medical needs AND her community with their parenting questions. She has a YouTube video series and a blog with dozens and dozens of practical parenting solutions, and a book coming out soon. (affiliate link) Today, she’s sharing how to teach your child to interrupt politely while you’re working at home so you can get work done and they can get what they need.

As a work at home mom, it’s so hard to be professional while the kids are around and always needing you. Doctor G has a short video with a priceless tip on how to teach your kids when and how it’s okay to interrupt you. Whether you’re on the phone, a meeting at your house, a lunch date with a business partner or part of your downline, this skill will become invaluable as you juggle the challenges of working at home and parenting.

Work At Home Moms Spotlight: Angela of Grocery Shrink

Coffman Family 2013a

Hi! It’s Angela here from Grocery Shrink. I’m so excited to be a guest blogger for Today’s Work at Home Mom. I’m a mom to 6, ages 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, & 2. When my career started, I was a public school teacher. I married halfway through my first year of teaching, and just 3 months later, I was expecting our first child. I wanted to be home with my baby, but with my husband in grad school full time, we relied on my job to put food on the table. I spent 4 months as a working mother before DH took over as provider, and every day that I left my baby to go to work I left my heart behind.

Heidi and  Grant

My First and Latest Babies

From the moment I quit my job, I started thinking about work at home opportunities. I added to our income with teaching music and sewing lessons, taking in custom sewing, and designing and publishing sewing patterns. I threw a paper route, and joined a direct sales company. Then I added a blog and ebooks and finally our family menu subscription service. I homeschooled during this time (about 7 years) and now my school age children attend a private school where I teach part time to help with tuition expenses. We are busy.

Heidi Violin

You knew it without my telling you that the kids play violin, piano and soccer, my oldest is a pointe ballerina, and 3 of the kids have visual processing challenges that require extra Dr visits and therapy.

Kitchen During

This will be my kitchen some day.

As if we didn’t have enough to do, we are completely gutting a fixer-upper while living it.

We need my income to give the kids the opportunities we want them to have, but there’s a catch to working from home. It is still work. It requires time to make a decent living, and being a stay at home mom is already a full time job. So how do you carve out time to work without parking the kids in front of a video or letting them color with markers all over the wall or waking up one morning and noticing the house looks like the next filming location for Hoarders? (Not that that has happened here at all….or anything…ahem.)

Oops Kitchen

Aaak! Don’t let this happen to you! But if it does, you aren’t the only one.

1. Be realistic: If you just had a brand new baby or are expecting, you will need to slow down a little. You can’t compare your business growth to another person who is living a different stage in life than you are. It took me over a year to feel normal again after Grant (now 2) was born.

2. Choose a job that can run on autopilot sometimes. For example, blog posts can be written in advance and scheduled to post. Guest bloggers can help with the writing. An ebook, sewing pattern, or video sales page is always there to handle things and sends the download links automatically. On the other hand, my sewing business is worthless if I’m not available to do the work.

3. Use Videos/TV with boundaries. It’s okay to use videos to get through the crazy part of the day, but have in mind how much time you are comfortable letting your children watch and then stick to it.

Grant is helping me stage a Valentine photo shoot for my blog. I try to “work together” as much as possible.

4. Get up early. I couldn’t do this when I was still nursing a baby, but now that Grant is 2, I can get up at 5am and put in 3 hours of work before I take the kids to school. This frees up my day to get housework done and play with Grant. Then I put in another hour after the kids go to bed—usually while I lay in bed and watch a Netflix movie with DH on his laptop before we lock it down for “Daddy Time.”

5. When you carve out time to work, know exactly what you will do during that time. Have a checklist and make sure only necessary tabs are open on your browser. No distractions. I have to close my email account, facebook tabs, pinterest, and turn off notifications on my phone…or I will get completely sidetracked and wonder where the time went. I also have to tell myself to not start spontaneously organizing my desk. Some of the stuff I do as part of my job is scary for me—like writing sales emails or making a video, and I’d do anything to avoid it—even clean.

He’s working behind me improving his fine motor skills with clothespins while I sit at the table and write blog posts. Our house is under re-construction right now–another good reason to keep him close.

6. If you need to work when the kids are awake, have a plan for what they should do during that time. My favorite thing is to have activities planned that they can do right beside me. I have a Toddler Bucket o’ Fun that I curated from a busy bag swap that we can easily carry to whatever area I will be working in. Here are some of the things in the bucket.

a. Playdough and Gak

b. A clothesline to tie between chairs, felt clothes and clothespins

c. A paper towel tube to tape to the wall, a bowl and pom poms to drop through

d. A colander and pipe cleaners to poke through the holes

e. Fat Tweezers, egg carton and small objects to pick up and put in the egg spaces

DSC_2641

f. File Folder matching games with sticky tack on the back of the pieces so they don’t slide around

If I pull the camera out a bit you can see that I’m packing MK orders to his left, and writing a guest post to his right. He’s more content when we are near each other.

g. Felt pizza kit with all the toppings

h. Felt ice cream cones and scoops with pattern cards

i. Large wooden beads and a shoelace to string them on.

Since I am with him, I can guide him through putting an activity away before he gets out another one, and try to instill some good habits in the process. I’m also one to get engrossed and may not notice right away if he sneaks away….so all markers are now locked up at my house. I only put some of the activities in the bucket at once and trade them out every so often. That keeps it from getting boring. (I didn’t make all these things myself–I made 10 pizza kits then took them to a swap where I traded with other mom’s handmade activities.)

7. Every month schedule one or two Work-A-Thon days. These are the days you finally film the entire video class you’ve been dreaming about. Or the day you research, purchase software for, and then launch your affiliate program. Or the day you write the complete line up of auto-responder emails that will go to your new subscribers. Or the day you write and schedule a month’s worth of posts for your blog. Get a babysitter for the day (Hi Grandma ) or let DH handle things while you head to the library or coffee shop and make major strides.

DSC_2399

Snack baskets make lunch packing faster in the morning. Each child has his own basket and I put Mom approved items in there, such as cuties or veggie straws that I divided into snack sized baggies from the Huge bag.

8. Use your children to help with chores. It is so good for them to learn how to do basic household tasks. The older ones might grumble but if you show your appreciation for any effort, it helps build their confidence. This includes packing lunches. Even my kindergartener packs his own lunch every day. That said, sometimes there’s a need to hire help. When it’s time to pay for help I weigh the expense with how much money I could make using my time for business instead. Then make sure I use that time like I planned (and not reading Facebook updates….guilty.)

Heidi Cleaning Chores

9. Use your appliances to help keep meals coming. Mom’s who work outside the home often rely on their slow cookers to start dinner in the morning and have it ready to eat in the evening. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t do the same. I also use my bread machine to time delay homemade pizza crust so it’s ready to roll out at night. Breakfast can also be done overnight in the slow cooker or bread machine. A rice cooker is another appliance that saves me a lot of time. This is all made easier if you have a good menu plan. When I create my menus every week for subscribers, I also include an action plan at a glance guide that reminds them at the right time of the day to fill their slow cooker or bread machine.

Bread machine dough into Rolls

If you think a menu plan like that might be helpful (and yes there are dairy free and gluten free options for every recipe) come check it out here.

 

Organize 365 eBook Bundle: 23 eBooks for $20

Welcome to the eBundle that will have you organizing and spring cleaning your home, schedule and home based business! In these 23 eBooks, you’ll find tips, support and know-how about working from home, cleaning, organizing and mom support along with printables!

Update as of April 8, 2014: The bundle is no longer available, but the individual eBooks are. Click on the links to purchase.

Organize365 All Organized Ebundle 23 ebooks to organize your home and home based business for $20

The All Organized – Organization eBook Bundle is available March 24th until April 7th for only $20. That’s a savings of $133! So hop over and buy it now!

Organizing your home

Organize your home and home based business with the organizing mini bundle from Organize365.com

This 6 eBook mini eBundle will have you breathing a sigh of relief as you move through getting your pictures organized, know what paper you need to keep, help for homemaking and getting to less stuff & living more!

Working from home

Organize your home and home based business with the work at home mom mini bundle from Organize365.com

The ‘Working from Home’ mini eBundle will help you stay sane and productive when the kids are home and you need to work. It will also help you organize your direct sales business, and, along with an eClass, to learn about establishing office hours and a schedule that will help you run a family and a business. And, if you’re looking into starting a home business, or already run one, there’s an eBook about how to be a work at home mom.

Moms

Organize your home and home based business with the mom support mini bundle from Organize365.com

This mini eBundle will help all of us with meal planning and involving the kids in cleaning so we can work and live more efficiently. There’s also support here for the mothers of special needs children and those in the military to organize their homes even more efficiently than their military service.

Cleaning

Organize your home and home based business with the cleaning mini bundle from Organize365.com

This mini eBundle of 2 cleaning books is mighty! They’ll help you schedule your cleaning and know what’s clean enough so you’re not embarrassed when clients, friends or your mother-in-law stops by unexpectedly.

Schedule

Organize your home and home based business with the scheduling mini bundle from Organize365.com

This ‘Scheduling’ mini eBundle of 6 will help you create a schedule, arrive on time and provide simple strategies that work for your entire life. With the planner printables included, you will be able to make a plan that works for YOU!

This eBundle will be available March 24th until April 7th for only $20. That’s a savings of $133! So hop over and buy it now!

The Fine Print: We have all the nitty gritty details over on the Frequently Asked Questions Page, but here are a few highlights:

  • Download and back up your eBundle right away! We all know how busy life can be, so don’t wait! We can renew download links until May 9, 2014.
  • Can’t find your eBundle? Check the spam folder in your PAYPAL email.
  • All sales are final. There are no refunds and the deadline for purchasing will not be extended.
  • If you have any questions or issues with any of the e-Books included in this bundle, please contact that author directly.
  • YES! This eBundle CAN be read on Kindles, iPads and more!
  • Have questions about the eBundle? Check out the FAQ page for support!

EXTRA fun!

Want to become an author or affiliate of our next eBundle? Head over and submit your eBook information!

This eBook bundle link is an affiliate so it will help your family AND mine!