Self-Care is Critical for Health & Happiness

Self-Care is Critical for Health & Happiness

No matter how busy you are in your day-to-day life, it is important that you take time for yourself.  Spending the day focusing exclusively on potential stressors, like your commitments at work and chaotic schedule at home, without providing time to allow your mind to rest and recharge can cause you to develop dangerous conditions, like high blood pressure.  Neglecting your care routine can make it more likely that you will catch a cold.  It can also lead to severe anxiety, depression, and low self-worth.  Self-care is the term generally applied to the process of taking time for the simple things from day to day — even things as simple as getting enough sleep and reducing your stress can have positive consequences for your physical and mental health alike.  Here are some of the easiest ways you can start to incorporate self-care into your daily routine.

 

How to reduce stress

 

A huge part of self-care is reducing stress in general.  Since each piece of self-care works closely with the others, reducing your stress will make it easier for you to sleep, which in turn will reduce even more stress.  There are two major ways you can cut stress out from your life. First, if you feel yourself being overloaded with things to do, whether they are in your professional or private lives, practice saying “no.”  Your friends will understand if you miss an engagement or two, and the quality of your work will increase if you aren’t constantly worried about the amount of work that’s still on your plate.

 

Another way you can reduce stress is by making your environment as relaxing as possible.  At home, this means cutting out clutter. Clutter significantly adds to stress and reduces your home’s relaxing qualities — but a clean home helps foster calm moods.

 

How to fix your diet

 

Kicking bad eating habits isn’t as easy as some people might initially believe.  When it’s easier to swing by a fast-food restaurant on the way home from work than it is to spend an hour in the kitchen, convenience often trumps health.  However, there are several ways you can defeat those bad habits and embrace a healthier lifestyle. One way is to subscribe to a meal-delivery service, which will provide you with the ingredients you need to put together delicious dishes with little fuss.  And when you add an electric pressure cooker to the mix, which can make cooking food much easier, eating a homemade bowl of chili at instead of heading to the closest restaurant suddenly became much simpler — not to mention a lot healthier!

 

How to get enough sleep

 

Another critical step in your new self-care routine is getting enough sleep.  While it may seem trivial, getting a good amount of sleep each night is crucial because your nightly rest sets up the pattern of your entire next day.  If you wake up refreshed and energized, you will be able to jump into the tasks of the next day with more fervor, performing more efficiently, with heightened mental abilities and a greater ability to reason your way through and past potential problems.  However, if you did not get enough sleep the night before, it is likely that you will wake up feeling groggy or achy.  This inhibits your ability to get a move on in the mornings, which – in the short term — may make you late for work, but will also greatly affect your ability to process situations and be aware of your projects in general.  Even if you end up working at a decent pace throughout the day, it is likely that the quality of the work you produce will not be as high (or as quickly created) as if you had gotten a good night’s sleep.  

 

This is why sleep is so important, but an increasing number of adults say they have difficulty sleeping through the night.  There are several things that you can do that will help yourself fall asleep at the end of the day.  First, make sure that your bedroom is cool and dark.  Cover up your windows with blackout curtains if you need to (just remember to be diligent about setting your alarm in the morning!), and turn your thermostat down if the outdoor temperature is 70 or higher. If your bedroom is too dry, considering getting a humidifier because dry air can cause cold-like symptoms which can disrupt your sleep. You should also try to foster as quiet an environment as possible — turn off the television and don’t listen to music or a podcast, even if it helps you sleep.  If external noise typically interrupts your sleep, you may want to use a sound machine or a similar type of app on your phone to create a cushion of white noise.  

 

No matter how chaotic your schedule, it is important that you find time for self-care.  By getting more sleep and making your home more relaxing, you will help your physical and mental health.

Guest Article from Stephanie Haywood

Fun Fall Bucket List For Families-Free Printable

Fun Fall Bucket List For Families-Free Printable

Autumn is such a fun time of year, with all things pumpkin, cozy, and crisp. There are so many fun activities for families to do and amazing places to go! I don’t know about you, but the time can really get away from me. I blink and it’s Christmastime. Last year I missed out on doing some of my favorite fall things with my family. So this year, I decided to make our first-ever fall bucket list.  Now, I’m not saying we’re going to do everything on the list, but we’ll have fun trying! My hope is it will help me be more intentional with our family time. If you’d like to give it a try too, click on the link at the end of this post to get your free fall bucket list for families. And to save you some time, I will be posting how-to’s for several of the items on the list throughout the next few weeks.  For example, keep your eyes peeled for fall slime and a free printable scavenger hunt!

Some of the activities include:

Backyard Scavenger Hunt

Make a Scarecrow

Do a Random Act of Kindness

Make Fall Slime

Wear Fuzzy Pajamas and Have a Movie Night

Make Leaf Rubbings

Create a Sensory Bin With Items From Your Backyard

Make a Pinecone Bird Feeder

Make Apple Butter in the Slow Cooker

And so many more!…

Fall Bucket List Screenshot

Click on the link below for your free fall bucket list.  Happy Fall Y’all!

Fall Bucket List for Families

 

 

How To Help Your Child Go To Sleep: Bedtime Tips

How To Help Your Child Go To Sleep: Bedtime Tips

Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for your support!

Now that school has been in full swing for about a month, there is one common thread I hear while chatting with other mommas. The dreaded BEDTIME.  Yep, it can be a bitch.  And let’s face it, if your child isn’t sleeping, you aren’t sleeping.  This not only interferes with your sleep, but can also seriously interfere with your work.  This may be especially true if you work from the house, have a side hustle, or are building a new business and need to work when your child goes to bed. It can also impact your time to wind down, have “me” time, or spend quality time with your partner. For your kiddos, lack of enough sleep may result in behavioral issues and difficulty learning. In short, it’s tough stuff when your kids won’t go to bed. Everyone feels cranky, emotions run wild, and over-reactions to little problems happen frequently (oh, yeah, the kids overact as well).  😉

Do one or more of the following scenarios sound familiar? Your sweet boy has been in a good mood throughout dinner and is now starting to get sleepy. That’s perfect because bedtime is 15 minutes away.  You’ve given sweet, sleepy boy the 15-minute warning.  Sweet boy then suddenly looks like a live wire zapped him as his eyes open wider and he begins running through the house and jumping on furniture, yelling at the top of his lungs that he’s not tired at all!  Little Jane suddenly announces she’s thirsty and hungry and remembers homework she has to do TONIGHT or her teacher will “literally kill her”. The toddler?  He cooperates with getting into jammies and bed but then proceeds to crawl out of bed laughing the whole time for the next 2 flippin’ hours.  Oh yeah, this could drive you to drink.  It can certainly cause us mommas to dread bedtime, that time of the day when our children “turn”.

Don’t worry, I have some tips on how to support your kiddos in going to sleep before the roosters start crowing. First of all, please know it’s not uncommon for children to test boundaries at bedtime. You are not alone in this tough struggle, and while there aren’t always “easy” fixes, the following strategies are important to have in your “toolbox”.

In this post we will explore strategies from 2 main areas: cognitive/behavioral strategies and sensory strategies. You will benefit from consistently using several strategies from each category to form the nighttime routine. These strategies are for use with toddlers and children of all ages.  They are not for use with infants.

Cognitive/Behavioral Strategies:

  • Post a visual schedule of the bedtime routine, perhaps in the bathroom your child uses.  You can make your own, or look for a free one online.  (Heads up, I’ll be posting a variety of visual bedtime schedules in a few days.  Check back soon).
  • Consistent routine.  Seriously, consistency is KEY.
  • Go over expectations with your kiddo before implementing. Nothing lengthy or emotional; just go over the new rules.
  • You may need to gradually back up the bedtime to get to the ideal time.  This is called bedtime fading.
  • Stop tv and tech at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Give a 10 or 15 minute “heads-up”.  Time Timers are great to use with young kids.
  • Positive behavior chart.  This is a reward chart for your child following the bedtime routine.  The reward might be a sticker, or you could choose to have the child work toward a larger reward.  For example, “After you earn 3 stickers, you can choose a toy from the special toy basket”. (You have purchased toys from the Dollar Tree or Target Dollar spot ahead of time and placed them in a basket).

Sensory Strategies:

  • Turn off tv and tech at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime.
  • Start to turn down dimmer switch 15-30 min prior to bedtime.
  • If you don’t have a dimmer switch, turn off overhead light & turn on lamps.
  • Warm bath
  • Use essential oils or fragrances that are calming, such as lavender and chamomile (bath wash, body lotion, diffuser).
  • Comfortable pajamas and bedding. Remove tags if they bother the child.
  • Cool room
  • Bedtime yoga
  • Breathing: 2 deep breaths
  • Deep pressure/heavy work activities (proprioceptive input) have a calming and organizing effect on the nervous system. Incorporate such activity 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime.  Examples include bear hugs or pushing a box of stuffed animals (with books in the bottom of the box for weight) down the hall to their bedroom.
  • Calming music, such as nature sounds or classical music.
  • White noise (repetitive low frequency).
  • Tent bed
  • Stuffed animal or pillow cocoon (Do not use with a baby or very young child who cannot move in the bed easily due to risk of SIDs).
  • Bedtime story
  • Soft stuffy or favorite cuddly blanket to hold during the bedtime story.
  • Weighted blanket or heavy quilt (but do not cover the face or overheat).
  • Use your own voice to demonstrate slowing down, becoming calmer, more monotone.

Additional Tips:

  • Stay calm (at least your outer demeanor), keep a calm voice, don’t argue.
  • Broken record: Once it’s time for your child to be in bed, when he /she tries to talk with you about something else say, “We’ll talk about that tomorrow”.  Just keep saying that same thing.
  • Remember that kiddos will try to bend, stretch, and break every rule in a variety of ways…stay consistent and determined.  This is KEY.
  • A child’s protests often increase at the beginning of a new routine implementation.  This is normal and will likely pass.
  • Even if you have tried several of these strategies in the past, please hear me…it’s using a combination of them and finding the right combination for your child that makes all the difference.  That, and your consistency with the routine.  Hang in there; don’t give up.

Sample Routine To Get You Started:

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I’ll get you started with a sample routine…Let’s say you have a 6 year old whose bedtime is 7:30pm but he has been staying up regularly until 9:00pm.  Rather than initially setting the new bedtime for 7:30pm, start with 8:30pm.  After 2-3 weeks, back it up to 8:00pm, then eventually to 7:30pm.  Implement the following:

  • Make a visual schedule (just draw pics on paper or print out a freebie).
  • Make a reward chart (this can be as simple as drawing circles for stickers on a sheet of paper).
  • Go over the schedule and reward chart with your kiddo.
  • 30 minutes before bedtime turn tv and tech off. Redirect to quiet activities.
  • Turn off overhead light and turn on lamp.
  • Turn on calming music.
  • Get in some proprioceptive (deep pressure/heavy work) activity: Play a game where you give each other bear hugs for 5-10 seconds each. Then you each give yourselves bear hugs. You could even make up a sweet bear story to go along with this).
  • Give a 15 minute “heads up”.  You could use a time timer so there is a visual.
  • Walk with your kiddo to bed and turn on a diffuser with lavender or chamomile.
  • While your child holds or rubs a soft stuffed animal or blanket, you read a bedtime story in a calm, somewhat monotone voice.

Remember that a combination of strategies is frequently needed and that often involves some trial and error.  And then of course, as your child grows the strategies might need to be tweaked as well.  But you know what?  That’s okay because we are strong mommas and you have some kick-ass strategies in your tool belt! (And then there’s wine…).

If you continue to struggle with bedtime or feel your family needs extra help, reach out to your pediatrician, local pediatric occupational therapist, a counselor, or your county’s public health department for assistance.

-Kristen M. Rodgers

Five Tips to a Productive Week

Five Tips to a Productive Week

We all love Sundays right? It has to be my favorite day of the week by far.

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For my family it’s a day to spend together baking, adventuring, exploring, or finishing projects. The freedom of this day leads to endless possibilities. Sometimes we cuddle up watching movies and some days we re arrange the entire house, either way, we are doing it as a family.

The most common question I get asked is “how do you do it all?” (Which is funny because as entrepreneurs we are so hard on ourselves.) I often think goodness I am so behind, I should have done this, I need to do that. Some times you just need a little grace and peace. This is where proper planning for your business is so crucial.

Boss babes need days off too!! Don’t get me wrong, rest is so important!

For me personally, I use Sunday evenings to plan my week ahead and I’m sharing all the secret tricks I use to navigate through and tackle it all with very little stress.

I am still not convinced “balance” of mommyhood and entrepreneurship is a real thing, but I think I have gotten pretty darn close to the secret recipe it takes to make it all go round with very few hiccups. Ready Mama Bears? Lets get to it…

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Plan your social media ahead of time. Yes this is totally doable. I use PLANN – an app that allows me to pre post for the week everything I want to talk about and deliver to my audience. The app also allows me to review my color schemes and appearance of all my content before my actual IG and Facebook post go live. Make sure you are delivering quality content that you would be wanting if you were a reader. Nine times out of ten your target audience is someone just like yourself (This means they most likely have the same interests, goals, and want to spend their time reading something valuable.)

Get a planner and write it down. I am all about hand to paper. I just feel connected and it helps me remember vs. typing it in my phone and forgetting about it til an alarm goes off. Call me old school but I am convinced pen to paper is the best way. I write down all of my kids practices, games, and schooling events first. Then I orchestrate around their schedules my work. When will I blog each week? What are my topics for the week? When will I complete my Etsy orders? How much time do I need this week to connect and reach out to companies for work collaborations? Respond to emails? Make appointments? What ever it is that is lingering on your plate – write it down.

Make a weekly goal list. Mine this week went a little something like this –

  • Finish painting kitchen and updating cabinets to all white. 
  • Create content for IG for the week.
  • Schedule September’s Home look photo shoot for blog.
  • Reach out to 10 new people about my book. 
  • Touch base with 5 companies about possible collabs for projects. 
  • Start building nerf obstacles for Liam’s birthday party.
  • Finish up volunteer project for Liam’s Library.
  • Learn something new on Pinterest Marketing – ( Okay totally squirreling over here….eeeeek I love learning new things and am totally including all of you as I learn to navigate traffic through pinterest this month!)
  • Finish all Etsy Orders.

Now that I have my goal sheet I have big things I can cross off and feel super accomplished through out the week as I put a check next to each one of those bad boys. I chizzle out time to multi task the best I can while my husband works. (I have the kids do crafts when I do Etsy, I’ll have them play out side while I do stuff in the garage.) It is SUPER IMPORTANT to have just time with your children and shut it all down, but running a business from home you also need to get creative with how to be present and in the moment while also tackling milestones on your business and not falling behind.

Finish your laundry. There is just something with mammas and laundry. DAMNIT. I am telling you what girlfriend, if you get the laundry done and put away during a great show Sunday night when the kids are in bed, the week goes smoother. You start out fresh and clean with no lingering giant “chores” at home deterring you from your work and mom goals. (I also try to squeeze in a quick clean up of the house to just start Monday off right.) It’s like Monday has a magic new beginning of whats in store for our stories. I love it!

Get some zzzz’s. Nothing has healing powers like water and sleep. For children, for adults, for animals, for any living thing. A good nights rest and h20 can fix pretty much anything. Make sure to get a solid eight hours and wake up feeling refreshed and energized. Grab your favorite book and get those eyes feeling heavy.

Take an hour and just plan, each week it gets easier and you will know how to navigate your time better and better. 

Heres to a Productive Second Week of September –

Who has their fall decor out?

Thats on my agenda as well!!!

 

 

Love Letter To My Cleaning Hack

Love Letter To My Cleaning Hack

Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for your support!

I don’t know about you, but I appreciate any cleaning shortcuts that work. Less time cleaning means more time I can spend with my family and working toward my goals. I’m not sure if it is technically a cleaning hack, but my iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner has made cleaning easier.  In fact, I wrote a love letter to mine a few months ago (because I’m weird that way, that’s why).  Here goes…

Dear robot vacuum cleaner,

Thank you for cleaning my floors while I passively sit and sip coffee. Thank you for letting me feel like I can relax with a book while still “cleaning” the house. I love that you travel through my house like a little pet exploring room to room, humming a sweet pet tune, yet I don’t have to feed you or give you water or remember your name. I am also not allergic to you, don’t have to take you outside for walks, clean your cage, or pick up your poop. You do not eat my shoes, favorite books, or 1 each of several matched pairs of socks.

Dear robot, I want to say thank you for making me feel tech-savvy so that even though I still can’t figure out Facebook (what the heck is messenger & where are these group boards coming from?), I can say that I have a robot in my house.

In summary, thank you for picking up the crushed Cheerios, crayon pieces, pencil shavings and boogers that my child leaves on the floor. Thank you for picking up chocolate crumbs so the evidence is gone before my child and husband get home. Thank you for making my life a tiny bit easier.

Sincerely,
One tired momma

-Kristen M. Rodgers

Back-To-School and BatShit Crazy

Back-To-School and BatShit Crazy

Does back-to-school have you feeling BatShit Crazy? Not to worry momma, you are not alone.  And there is help. Based on a recent study (that included myself and three other tired, BatShit Crazy mommas), we have found proven ways to move from BatShit Crazy to “I Can Make It One More Day Before I Lose My Shit”. The effective treatments?  I’m so glad you asked…

The 1st treatment is a simple 5-step process:

  1. Open a bottle of wine.
  2. Drink from the bottle of wine.
  3. Pass to the friend on your right.
  4. Continue this process until said bottle of wine is empty.
  5. Repeat as needed.

The 2nd treatment involves a high-end gym. (By high-end, I mean they have childcare and allow members to bring guests). Now wait, hear me out…even if you are on a tight budget (raising my hand), you can make this happen.

  1. Make friends with a momma who is a member of aforementioned high-end gym.  Yes, you can do this.  It’s for your sanity.  If you don’t want a new friend, see step #1a.                                                                                                                                                 (#1a.Tell the momma that if she doesn’t invite you, you’ll have to visit her at her home frequently to feel relaxed. You’ll get an invitation to the gym verrrrry quickly).
  2. With your invitation, go to the gym and drop your kids off at the gym childcare. Tell your kids you are going to exercise. Make sure you look miserable.
  3. Lounge by the pool with music or a good book.  Can you remember the last time you were able to lounge by the pool?  I couldn’t either until yesterday when a friend took me to her gym! Heaven.

*Side note: Do not, under any circumstances, pick your kids up in a bathing suit cover-up and wet hair.  Even if they are young. I did this. The 4 year-old busted me.

The 3rd treatment for tired, BatShit Crazy mommas is as follows:

  1. Buy and hide a chocolate bar. Don’t hide it in your tampon box.  Kids (and husbands) are getting wise to this spot.  Hide it in an empty box of prunes.  No one will look there.
  2. When the time comes, make sure you are wearing yoga pants. Trust me.
  3. Loudly announce your stomach hurts and get out the box of prunes.
  4. Quickly, place the chocolate bar in the waistband of your yoga pants. Cover with shirt.
  5. Casually walk through the house and into the bathroom with the chocolate in your waistband. Because you have complained about your stomach, and “taken prunes”, you will have approximately 2.3 minutes of uninterrupted time. Enjoy!

Keep hanging in there, BatShit Crazy mommas! You are amazing!

-Kristen M. Rodgers

Hoppin Johns New Years Dish

Hoppin Johns has been a fun family tradition we started the year my daughter was born! Its considered a “lucky” dish, and I thought what fun to look into a little history behind the Hoppin Johns Recipe. (I have also worked years on perfecting this recipe, and this year my friends…. I hit the jack pot with simplicity and patience!)

The History

The first recipes for Hoppin’ John appear in cookbooks that date back to the 1840s, although the mixture of dried black eyed peas, rice and pork was made by Southern slaves long before then. It seems to have originated in South Carolina. Rice grew well in the deltas, but the white farmers had no real experience with cultivating rice on a large scale. However the slave trade and enslaved Africans who had grown rice for generations.

Any type of dried peas can be used for Hoppin’ Johns, the black-eyed pea is the most traditional. This pea happens to have been domesticated in West Africa, which led to the belief that slaves took the peas with them to the United States, planted them in their new surroundings and created a dish that would remind them of their lost homes.

 The origins of the name “Hoppin’ John” are slightly less clear. Some say an old, hobbled man called Hoppin’ John became known for selling peas and rice on the streets of Charleston. Others say slave children hopped around the table in eager anticipation of the dish. Most food historians think the name derives from a French term for dried peas, “pois pigeons.”

It’s also uncertain why the dish became associated with New Year’s and good luck. The most likely story is that slaves would often have the period between Christmas and New Year’s off, since no crops were growing at that time. Hoppin’ John was, and still is, often eaten with collard greens, which can resemble paper money, and “golden” cornbread. The peas themselves represent coins. Some families boost the potential of their Hoppin’ John by placing a penny underneath the dishes—or adding extra pork, which is thought to bring more luck. – The History Channel

Best Recipe…Like Ever.

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  • What you need….
  • Ham Hock
  • Black Eyed Peas (3 Cans) or 1 bag of dried (you must soak 24 hours prior to cooking.)
  • Stalk of Celery
  • 1 box Chicken Broth
  • Bay Leaves
  • Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Rice (I use 5 minute rice for the pure conveinence of it.)

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Lets get to cooking

Cut up hamhock into square 1/2 inch pieces.

Cut Celery Stalk into thin slices.

Take about 4 bay leaves out.

Throw into pot the following ingredients….Cut up celery, ham hock, bay leaves, oregana, Chicken broth and salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer until bay leaves become aromatic.

Next Throw in Black Eyed Peas.

Let Simmer for about 30 minutes.

Start your rice.

Once the rice is done scoop the Hoppin Johns on to the rice and add salt and pepper to taste!

BON APETIT’