4 Steps To Cheap Summer Activities

4 Steps To Cheap Summer Activities

With summer right around the corner, I am SO excited to spend most of our days outside, getting inasmuch sunshine as my super fair skin can handle, and making memories with my family!

 

In the summer, I find that we spend way more money than needed because of all the fun events and things we want to do and this year, I vow to stick on my budget! We are coming out of a season of financial hardship and for the past few months, haven’t really had any space in the budget for luxuries and events.

 

Due to that, I’ve had to get super creative in finding and creating fun that our whole family can enjoy. So I sat down and said that no matter what we will have a fun summer, not break the bank, and find things that they all enjoy! I came up with a simple summer activity planning system that will keep the kids busy, you from going crazy, and your wallet happy!

 

Step #1 Identify your time pockets

 

Depending on your household, your kids may or may not have a schedule for the summer. Some families send their kids to camps, some prefer to keep their schedule more open and some take a lot of trips or homeschool events.

 

For us, none of our kids will be attending camp regularly (though my stepson has the occasional basketball drill on the calendar) and we’ve decided to keep a more open schedule. This helps a lot because currently, baby naps rule our life! I am a HUGE proponent of good sleep practices and try my best to make sure that the baby and the toddler get their sleep!

 

Their nap schedule also helps identify when we will be doing things and what days we have more free time. There are days when we will want to do a fun day trip and naps will happen in the car but, for the most part (and my sanity) we’ll try to be home for nap. Since I also work from home, that nap time is crucial for working so I plan to keep it as much as I can.

 

Identify for yourself what your typical day will look like this summer. How structured is your time? Do you have to do a lot of driving to activities? Will kids have time at camp or be home all day? How many activities do you want to plan each week?

 

Once you have that time picked out you can look at a typical day and see where you might want to add in an activity. For us, we have about a 2 hour window right now in the morning where all of the kids are up and we’re ready to be out and about so that is when I will plan something fun or an errand. Otherwise, we keep the day open. The kids are encouraged to play with their toys, read and do other crafts, and play outside. We’re also fortunate because we have a pool so that keeps the 11 year old pretty happy! I’m hoping this year goes better with the toddler in the pool because last summer she hated it!

 

Step #2 Determine your summer bucket list

 

Once you see your week at a glance, you’ll be able to see how many day trips, overnight trips, or just fun activities you can fit in. I’m not huge on planning every little bit of the day out but I do like routine and I like a plan in advance. I’ll encourage the kids to just do their things most days but I will plan out a few fun things or playdates just so we can get out of the house and have fun together.

 

If you’re trying to stay on a budget, you won’t be able to always do every single thing on your and your kids’ lists. There may be a limit to how many trips you take and places you go. So many of the fun places out there cost a fortune and when you add parking and food you’ve spent almost $100 for a few hours, and in my mind that is not worth it! I also suggest picking a ‘summer fun’ budget for eack week. This will give you the freedom to do things while making decisions that fit your budget. 

 

Sit down with your family and come up with a list of things that they’d love to do this summer. Is there a place they really want to go? Can you determine one big weekend (or longer) trip you want to take? What do they want the day to look like?

 

This is much easier if you have older kids because my toddler really has not idea what we’re planning but, if you can invest the older kids in the summer plans they may be more excited to do things or less bummed out if you can’t visit all of the places that they heard their friends talking about.

 

 

Step #3 Plan Ways to Enjoy Summer Activities on a Budget

There are actually a lot of fun things you can do with your family that doesn’t cost a ton. You just have to do a little research, some planning, and being creative and you can all have an excellent summer. I know sometimes we look at other moms and see their pictures and get envious because we’d love to take our kids to a lot of the same places but maybe it’s just not in the budget. We need to get rid of that mindset and realize that you can all have an amazing summer without always doing things that cost a lot.

Join local groups and community pages

You can go to Facebook to search local groups and community page and will be able to see a bunch of events going on. The other day in my area I randomly found a post about a free carnival for the kids. It wasn’t huge at all and we only stayed an hour but it was a free, fun activity and got us out of the house.

You can save these events as you see them on Facebook or, I like to write them directly into my planner so that I didn't forget about them or have to look somewhere else to plan activities for the week.


Local colleges are also a great place to look for activities and events because they are always posting things that might be open to the public. The library is another great stop. Ours has movies outside for free, fun day time activities for the little kids, and it’s always a great place to just go spend a few hours.

You can also check out the newspaper to see community events or things happening in the area. I just saw an ad the other day that some Regal CInemas offer $1 movies on Wednesdays and it’s the perfect time to try out taking the toddler to the movies!

Find Out Policies In Advance

Check out a place’s website before you go and see all of their policies. You might be able to bring in your own lunch, find a special place to park for cheaper, or a cool special free event one day.

We live super close to Sesame Place and last summer went a few times a week. I knew from their website that I could bring in all my own food so when we were there we never even went into the food places so the kids wouldn't even know to ask and we’d just have our snacks that we brought in. Most places will let you do so and it never hurts to ask or check. It just takes a little extra planning to do it.

Look for discounts

I am a HUGE couponer so obviously before we go anywhere I scour the internet for coupons. They often aren’t too hard to find if you just search google! You can also find discount codes on apps, in other Facebook groups and in some stores just sitting right on the counter! Our local library also has free tickets for local zoos and parks and all you have to do is call and pick them up!

If you know you might be going to a place a lot, like we did with Sesame Place, it may not hurt to get a season pass. Ours paid for itself in 3 trips and, like I said we went 2x a week! You could also maybe get passes to split with another family or meet up at someone’s house before going and split the cost of parking.

Also make sure you check out local YMCAS for what activities you can get with a membership or kid’s gyms that have discounts for open play! And before you get tickets to anything, check out discount sites like Groupon to see what events they have going on!

Budget Friendly Summer Activities

Step #4 Have fun at home

There are also a ton of activities that you can do right in your backyard without spending any money at all (or maybe a few bucks at the Dollar Store!)  So on those days when you don’t want to leave the house, spend money at all, or have a ‘home summer camp’, just have the kids go outside or do something fun together!

Check out this list of activities that you could do that are free and cheap and super fun!

Bubbles

Family Walks & Bike Rides

Water Play

Hikes

Geocaching

Make  a Time Capsule

Take a park tour

Go local

Nature Walk

Find cheap museums

Baking Day (bring to a neighbor)

Game Nights

Make a summer scrapbook

Puzzle

Parks and Splash Pads

Farmer’s Markets

Find free classes (college campuses)

Utilize the library

Outdoor games

Busy Bags

Sensory Boxes

Pick a Summer Read Aloud

When you’re planning out your summer activities, don’t let the stress of spending money get in the way of making fun memories! Use this system and ideas to get the ball rolling and just enjoy the memories!

And don’t feel like you have to plan out every minute. I know we want our kids to have a fun time but there is something magical that happens when we let them get bored and use their imaginations!

Did these tips help you??? Make sure you PIN the image below and share it on your Facebook!

Budget Friendly Summer Family Activities

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I am 1 in 5: The Truth Behind Post Partum Depression and Anxiety

I am 1 in 5: The Truth Behind Post Partum Depression and Anxiety

I was sitting in my therapist office one day and we were talking about guilt and shame and why I always feel like if something goes wrong, it’s automatically my fault.

“Well, that’s the depression talking”, she said so calmly.

Wow.

We had talked earlier on in our sessions about my anxiety and it was very clear that I was struggling with Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) but we had never talked specifically about Postpartum Depression (PPD).

To me PPD felt so much more real, so scary, and it honestly just made me feel so much more broken.

I felt like I could ‘deal’ with having PPA, I mean isn’t everyone just a stressed out mom? But PPD was so foreign to me. I felt fearful that people would think I was a bad mom, that I couldn’t take care of my kids, that there was something wrong with me. I mean I didn’t feel depressed. I wasn’t under the covers crying and unable to get out of bed (which was my previous experience with my depression when I was in high school) and I felt like I was getting better.

But there it was, clear as day and right out of my therapists mouth. I was a woman who had Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.

cara harvey

Did you know that 1 in 5 women suffer from either PPA or PPD? And so many moms out there just suffer in silence. They are afraid, just like I was and sometimes still am.

“What will people think of me?”

“Am I really crazy?”

“Why can’t I just get it together?”

For me, my anxiety isn’t always panic attacks or heavy breathing like they show so often on  TV but more of a mental tug and what we refer to in my home as my ‘spiral’.

It starts with the smallest trigger, mostly connected to me feeling like I’ve made a mistake or am inadequate in some way and it turns into spiraling thoughts that I struggle to shut down. Something as simple as getting the wrong thing at the grocery store can become catastrophic.

“Ugh, I don’t have time to go back out”

“I always do this”

“I am so forgetful”

“See this is what happens because you never pay attention”

“Why are you so stupid?”

“Ugh, why are you thinking like this again?”

“See, now no one wants to talk to you because you’re crazy and ruined dinner.”

This spiral is followed by some tears on my part, my family looking confused because they don’t know what to say to me, and me feeling even more guilty because I ‘ruined it again’.

It wasn’t until this pattern had happened for a few months in a row, and a LOT more crying on the middle of my kitchen floor that I realized I needed help. I told my husband I had to do something, I was tired of feeling so tired, and life was just exhausting me. As a life coach, I felt like an even bigger fraud because I felt even less together than I ever had been, and I knew that it was going to have bigger repercussions for my family if I didn’t get help.

So one day, I bravely walked into a therapist office and just said it “I think something is wrong with me”… followed by those ever flowing tears.

 

Cara Harvey

 

After a few sessions, she had diagnosed my PPA (and later my PPD) and we had come up with some coping techniques that have helped me get through my days better. I share them openly with my husband, though honestly I sometimes worry that I am TOO vulnerable with him, and they help him help me with my anxiety when it gets really bad.

In the 5 months since I realized that I needed help, I am proud to say that many of the techniques (from counting, to breathing, to reframing, and more) have really helped me when I am in a spiral. And while I would love to say that my spirals are gone, at least I can say that when I am in the moment, I can self identify what’s happening and bring myself out of it much quicker.

So many of us are afraid to speak our truths because we don’t want to be judged. We don’t want to admit that something is wrong with us. We love our kids and want to be seen as a ‘good mom’. But in keeping our struggles silent, we not only harm ourselves but our family and other women who are suffering in silence.

In that vain, I’ve had a few amazing women be willing to speak out on their struggles and share their personal experiences with PPA/PPD. Because the things is, it affects everyone so differently, which is why it’s also hard to identify right away. We might just think we’re stressed or hormonal or just having a bad day. But mama, if you feel off, if you’re struggle lasts a bit, if you know something just doesn’t feel right, can I encourage you to go and talk to someone, be it another mom, your doctor, or a family member? Because you don’t have to feel stuck, you don’t have to feel alone, and you don’t have to feel lost. Because YOU are not alone!

I’ve wrote a bit more about my PPA on other pages so feel free to check out my guests posts over on;

Scary Mommy

Jessica Grace Blog

What Postpartum Mental Illness Looks Like; 4 Moms Stories

Alyssia’s Story

I got pregnant with my 1st child within 2 weeks of going off the pill.  My 2nd was not as easy and I had secondary infertility. After many doctors appointments, medications, and months of tests I got pregnant.  

From the moment I got pregnant with my 2nd child, Reilley, she did things her own way.  The pregnancy was rough.  I felt like a beached whale from day one.  A few months into the pregnancy I found out I had placenta previa. I planned my C-section and little miss decided a few days before it was time to party! The C-section went well and I felt physically okay afterwords.  

In the weeks after getting home with the most beautiful baby girl on Earth, I felt sad, emotional, and disconnected from my entire family.  Nursing went very well. (It was the opposite of my first.) I began to resent her for never taking a bottle and her constant need for me. She hated my husband for the first 9 month of her life. (I wish I was joking.)

I knew something was not right and I talked to my OB at my 6 week check up.  I recognized depression from years before and explained exactly what I was feeling.  At the time I didn’t talk to anyone other than my doctor about my feelings. They put me on a safe for breastfeeding, antidepressant.  It helped BUT it put me to sleep! I couldn’t fall asleep on the sofa with an active toddler running around.

After about 4 weeks I just stopped the medication.  I don’t recommend this to anyone! I was already told I was on the only medication safe for breastfeeding and my baby girl wouldn’t take a bottle EVER (and never did!) I went back to not feeling myself and feeling disconnected from the world. I didn’t take as many pictures with her as I did with my first.  I didn’t snuggle her or sing to her as much as my oldest. If she was happy with someone else, I let them hold her for as long as possible. I cried while nursing her all the time. About month 8 I started feeling myself. I had eaten my feelings and felt awful in my own skin.

Now, 5 years later, Reilley is my little mini me!  She is the sweetest and sassiest little girl you will ever meet!  I catch myself taking more pictures of her and snuggling her more now!  The guilt I have for my feelings toward her are sometimes overwhelming. We now have 3 children and after her baby sister was born I had a moment of panic in the hospital.  I cried in my husbands arms because I was so scared of feeling the same way again. I was ok but very aware of every little feeling I had in those first few month postpartum. I look back and know I could have done more for myself and my family but I can’t go back.  I was lucky because everything turned out ok and hope to help other women now they are not alone!

Linda’s Story


I think when I had thought of PPD/PPA initially, prior to my postpartum experience, I thought it was something that hit you like a ton of bricks right away. You’d give birth and just know right away that this was something you were going to have to deal with. This was not my experience at all…and the more I speak with other women who have dealt with PPD/PPA, this is not their experience either.

For me, PPD/PPA crept in really slowly, building overtime mysteriously in a way that it was disguised underneath sleep deprivation, sleep training, lack of proper nutrition, a huge life transition from being a full-time working mom to a stay-at- home mom, and a long cold winter setting in.

One day, I realized that my husband was looking at me differently and treading softly around me. I thought back to the past week or two and realized that he had asked me if I was “okay”multiple times and called to “just check in” numerous times in a day. I had been losing my patience with him and our 8-month old boy pretty regularly, especially around naptime, bedtime, and middle of the night wakings.

PPD/PPA did not feel like what I thought it would feel like. I did not feel “sad” or “unable to bond” with my baby. Instead, I felt angry and frustrated…but with what I didn’t know. It almost felt like really intense PMS.

I reached out on social media to my mom friends and found so many had been through this as well. I received a lot of sound advice on ways to deal with it, but most importantly, I found support.

I am now 13 months in to my postpartum journey and I’ve been dealing with PPD/PPA for five months. I have learned that the most important piece is giving yourself a voice. A voice to say “I’m having a difficult day,” or “I need to get out of the house tonight,” or just “I need a hug.” My advice to other moms is that if something doesn’t feel right, no matter what that “feeling” is,

talk to someone. Ask others around you for help. You don’t have to silently deal with it alone.

 

Danielle's Story 

PP Anxiety.... you never think it will happen to you. 

 With each child the anxiety grew stronger, but I hid it. Why? I felt so ashamed like it was something I should have controlled, something I could have prevented. Four years later and hear I sit, writing about my story. My struggle, still raw and real.

 I always thought I would be the Mom who has it all together. Even when my first was born, overwhelmed and unsure I put on my face, fake it til you make it right? 

 Until one day, It happened... I had an anxiety attack. It came out of no where, I couldn't stop it. I sobbed, felt terrified, felt like a bad mom for the overwhelming feelings. Feelings that started out of what felt like no where. 

I've realized a few things since that night over three years ago; 

Post partum anxiety doesn’t make me weak. When I look at my wonderful (and wild) toddlers I see the beautiful things I created! Wow!

It's okay to need help; we lost my husbands parents, one around the time we brought each of our beautiful children into the world. That's hard. That huge loss and becoming parents at the same time triggered anxiety that wasn’t explainable; that hasn't really stopped since.

I struggle every day, trying to balance being a good mom, holding a career, trying to save money, helping women through my blog and passion, maintaining great friendships. Adulting is SO HARD. Add in parenting, no wonder we struggle right?

I have finally realized something.... it’s okay. It’s okay to ask for help. To struggle sometimes, feeling overwhelmed and unsure. To admit that it's too much, that I need rest too.

I'm not weak, I'm strong and I'm brave, because I fight the odds. I’m raising two brave and beautiful kids who love me no matter how I’m feeling; unconditionally through the good or bad. I remain positive (99% of the time) and continue to do what's best for myself and for my family.... each and every day.

If there’s ever a day you feel you aren’t good enough or strong enough, please remember this. Tomorrow is a new day, thank God!

With each new day I hope to be the mom, wife, person I need and want to be without limitations.

To anyone else struggling, I'm here. You are not alone. You are God’s masterpiece just as you are. 

To connect more with Danielle, check her out on her blog Coffee, Grace and Tomato Paste or over on Instagram!

 

 

Jess's Story

 

 

These three pictures were taken at very different times. True, they are only a few years apart, but the person in them is different. The first was taken in December  2012, The second in May 2017, and the last, in April 2018. It’s the same person on the outside, but a very different person on the inside.

 The girl in the first picture is scared, haunted by obsessive thoughts and feeling like a bad mother for wanting nothing to do with the baby she can’t believe is hers. This girl would be put on medication for the short term, but then suffered with crippling anxiety and rage long after. This girl was a one and done with children. This girl thinks she just made the biggest mistake of her life. She hates the baby, her husband, and herself. She overcompensates by keeping her house obsessively clean and working out for hours on end. She cooks months worth of homemade organic meals and keeps herself up at night making homemade graham crackers. She is not me anymore.

 The girl in the second picture can’t believe she did this again. She can’t believe she’s feeling this way again. She had it right this time: exercised and ate healthy all through pregnancy, switched from her  OB to a more natural minded midwife, had a natural birth, encapsulated her placenta, took magnesium supplements and had read every book out there. Yet, once again, she’s plagued by sleepless nights, panic attacks, and a crippling depression. She’s heartbroken to see a safe haven sign and learn that she can only drop off a baby 30 days old, and her son is 33 days old. She has visions of dropping her newborn down the stairs. However, she’s  acting as if nothing has changed, and she can totally handle life. She repeats to herself: This is normal. It will pass. She is not me anymore.

 Then that girl got the help she needed. That girl started therapy, found the right medication, and met her people. She made it her job to go to every possible event at the Center for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety disorder. She learned she has struggled with anxiety her entire life. She learned that therapy, meditation, mindfulness, writing, exercise in moderation, medication and acupuncture could help her thrive.

 The woman in the third picture is not without her battles. The difference now is that smile is genuine. Sure, her kids drive her nuts sometimes and she still struggles with anxiety and not having a constant sense of order. But, she knows how to handle it. She laughs more and stresses less. She’s found a sisterhood of amazing women who accept her for who she is. It’s hard work changing her mindset, but she’s committed. She loves her boys fiercely and knows that she was brought to this place for a reason. This woman is me.

Maternal Mental Illness is a REAL thing and 1 in 5 women (at least) will struggle with it post partum. There is nothing to be embaressed or ashamed about. Know that YOU mama are strong and if you, or a mom you know is suffering, there is help out there for you. Mom life is hard. Don't do it alone!

If these stories inspired or helped you, do me a favor? Make sure you SHARE them! Share this article over on your Facebook or hit that PIN IT button on the image below!

 

Post Partum Anxiety and Depression

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5 Ways to Save Money on Groceries (without using coupons)

5 Ways to Save Money on Groceries (without using coupons)

 

 

How to Save Money on Groceries without Coupons

 So I want to start with saying that I actually LOVE coupons.

Using coupons was one of the strategies that helped us when my husband was unemployed for 7 months and we had virtually NO money coming in for groceries.

During that season of our life, I used coupons to stretch the budget, pinched pennies like crazy, and did a lot of small side jobs to make ends meet. Thankfully now, he is back working and we on our way to getting back on our feet.

 But just because we have more of an income coming in, doesn’t mean that we went back to spending like crazy. Our time of no income actually taught us a lot about wants vs. needs and helped us create amazing habits that is really helping us get rid of a lot of the debt we accumulated in those months.

 Yes, I still use coupons for things that we use (it’s actually one of my hobbies now!) but I also incorporate it with a variety of other money saving hacks that allow us, as a family of 5, to have a $100 a week grocery budget with ease.

 

Use a Meat Delivery Service

 

I have been looking for a great meat delivery service for a long time. I kept hitting a lot of roadblocks in my search, such as they were WAY out of my budget, the meat quality wasn’t as high as I hoped, or that they didn’t deliver in my area.

 So when Zaycon Fresh opened in my area I was jumping for joy. 

I had heard a lot about their farm to table meat services and was super excited to try them. The way it works is that you order your meats (they have everything from chicken breast to beef to bacon) online in bulk (orders go in sets of 40 pounds a package) and select a pick up date. When it’s your day and time to pick up, you simply drive through the line, give them your name and get your meat. The process takes minutes and you get a TON of great meat.

Since we don’t have a large freezer space, I got my first order and split it with 2 friends. I also had a coupon code for … get this… $1.49/pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (!!!) so I couldn’t pass it up. The typical price for chicken there is $1.89 a pound which is still a steal and the meat tastes great.

You do have to order about a month in advance but, we’re at the point where we’ve ordered enough so we have a great selection and variety in the freezer which makes cooking so simple. And seriously… the price can’t be beat!

 Even if you’re not sure you’re going to get it now, I recommend making a free account  because they’ll email you a ton of promo codes each week and you can take advantage of sales. If you’re a blogger or influencer, or think you might recommend the service to others, you should take advantage of their referral program! You get $15 per person that uses your link to order (so thanks in advance if you use mine!) and that’s a great way to pay for your meat! Oh, and at some locations you can even volunteer to help on delivery day for a $10 meat credit.

 

Check it out now!

Shop Now at Zaycon Fresh

Look for Grocery Markdowns

Using grocery markdowns is one of the major ways we not only got some variety in our menu but, save money on fresh produce!

Most grocery stores have a section of clearance or markdown items. For my local stores, you can find them in the back corner by the produce and also by the meats. These are items that are either close to expiring (but not expired, they aren’t allowed to sell those), the manufacturer is getting rid of, or were seasonal and didn’t sell.

The cool things about these sections is that they change daily based on what gets pulled off the shelves so essentially, if you wanted to go to the store each day, you could make a killing using these items.

You’ll often find bags of fruit where maybe one of the apples is bruised, meat that is about to expire (but you could toss in the freezer to extend the shelf life) or really random pantry items that most people in your area might not buy.

What’s great about this section is you can also use a coupon if you happened to have it to make it even cheaper but, if you don’t, most things go from as low as .50 cents to around $5. You could grab items from this section to make your dinner that night (so they don’t go bad and you wate them) or just freeze them to use later. We’ve often frozen fruit that is close to going bad to toss in smoothies at a later date or make banana ice cream with.

Shop the Discount Stores & Farmer’s Markets 

People have told me for a LONG time that I needed to check out Aldi Markets and I never bothered with it. SHAME ON ME.

Aldi is the best thing since sliced bread and now, between one Aldi shop and one coupon shop, I have everything we need for the week for less than $100.

Aldi is an employee owned store that is a ‘brother store’ to Trader Joes. They have some pretty odd quirks you have to remember like bringing your own quarter to get a cart and bagging your own groceries (so make sure you grab those reusable bags) but if you can get passed that and not be a brand snob, you’ll LOVE Aldi too.

They also have a great line of gluten free and organic products at a fraction of what you’d pay anywhere else. They save a lot of money because they don’t sell name brands (you might see the occasional name brand floating in the clearance section) and because they don’t always have the same items. For example, my Aldi will always have yogurt but might not have the cauliflower rice that is a new staple in our home.

I also love that I can get more snacks for the kids without the gift. All of their cereals don’t use food dyes but instead use natural coloring and many of their meats are without added nitrates (we love their deli sliced turkey breast and turkey bacon for that reason)

Save Money at Aldi Markets

The one thing I will say is I don’t love the produce at my local Aldi so I do go to a farmer’s market for that. Our farmer’s market has a great selection and I love knowing that I’m helping our community while giving my family stuff that has been treated with less pesticides and is better for their little bodies and our environment.

Meal Plan and Use Leftovers 

The #1 way to save money on food is not to waste what you have. How often have you thrown out that gross moldy tupperware container of leftovers that no one eats or had to toss the product that you forgot you put in the crisper?

Each week, I spend a little time adjusting my meal plan (I plan a monthly dinner plan so I only need to adjust some lunch and breakfast ideas) and do a shop to get any ingredients I am missing. I spend about 2 hours on Sunday cooking and preparing (and making a huge mess in my kitchen) so that I can save time during the week. You can see my whole system here!

This saves me a TON of money because I only shop for the ingredients that I actually need (not just some random impulse buys of things that I think I need) and use what I already have in my pantry. We also make sure to use leftovers to mix up some menu items and repurpose them for lunches which helps us save.

Every 3 months we also take the challenge to eat only what we have in our pantry (but can buy some fresh stuff that we need) and see how creative we can be. I love the site SuperCook where you can put in the ingredients in your cabinet and it gives you sample recipes. If you do this for one week every few months it’ll help you clean out the pantry and save money.

 

Use Rebate Apps

Okay, I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about coupons but I have to add a bonus section for Rebate Apps… I mean technically they aren’t the same as clipping coupons right?

I love rebate apps and find them to be the easiest way to save some money here or there. Rebate apps get downloaded directly to your phone and you can use them after you shop to get cash back. You use what you already purchased on your receipts to claim money that they’ll send you, most of the time via paypal.

For most of these apps, you may only get a few dollars each time you shop but, trust me, I’ve gotten HUNDREDS of dollars from these apps by just claiming a few dollars each time I shop. You can read more about my favorite apps and why I love them here!

So whether you love or hate coupons, know that you CAN save money on your groceries if you’re willing to take a few steps to get there! I suggest aiming for $20-25 per person per week for your budget and really look at what you’re buying. Cut out some luxury items for a bit, clean out your pantry and shop smarter to save money and cut costs!

 

Were these tips helpful to you??? Share it on your Facebook or hit that PIN IT button!

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24 Day Kitchen Organization Challenge

24 Day Kitchen Organization Challenge

 

When it comes to organization if you’re like me, you probably tell yourself over and over that you will get things together… on Monday. And then Monday comes and something happens and you decide to push it off and push it off and push it off until you’re like that lady in the tupperware commercial with everything falling on her (that seriously happens to me once a week!

 

But have no fear! You CAN get the kitchen and pantry organized and in control, you just need a system that works for you!

 

So how do you start to conquer all the kitchen clutter without getting overwhelmed? Check out my top tips 3 tips to take action today!

This post may contain affiliate links which cost you nothing extra to use but help me fund this page. To read my full disclosure head on over here.

 

Tip #1 Small Chunks Each Day

 

So often we overwhelm ourselves by trying to jump in and conquer a big problem head on instead of taking the time to figure out the small steps needed to get there. On our way to trying to do everything in a hurry, we also bite off WAY too much. And as nice as it sounds to say “this Saturday I am going to organize the kitchen”, we know in reality it’s not going to happen.

 

I suggest you start with 15 minutes a day. 15 minutes may not seem like a lot but 15 minutes spent every day for 30 days will have your kitchen organized in no time! It is so hard for us moms to find time to pee, let alone time to take everything out of our cabinets to organize it so don’t try to tackle this project in one day.

 

Schedule 15 minutes in your day (yes, I want you to put it in your planner) that you can consistently keep up with. Maybe it’s right after you do your evening routine and make all of the lunches for tomorrow, or maybe it’s the first thing you do after nap. Whenever you decide to do it, schedule it in your planner and set a 15 minute timer to get going.

 

When the 15 minutes is up, it’s done. You can keep going or you can stop, it’s completely up to you. Make sure though, that you don’t decide to conquer 4 shelves in that 15 minutes. Pick a small section to work on each day. For example, day one could simply be your utensil drawer or all the tupperware. Chunk out super small sections that you can do so that you can feel immediate success.

 

Head to that section, empty it completely, wipe it down and clean it out, and put everything back in. While you are putting back in, I want you to do an inventory of what you have (for the food sections) and throw out stuff that is broken, doesn’t belong there, or that you really will never use.

We wind up collecting so many kitchen utensils and appliances that you never wind up using that just take up space physically and mentally. Outer order leads to inner calm and the less physical stuff you have in your home and in your face, the less stress and anxiety you will have in your life. Trust me, I’m a wannabe minimalist who knows how good an empty counter feels!

Tip #2 Take Inventory

While you are cleaning any areas that have food, I want you to take inventory of what you have. This makes cooking SO much easier. I keep a pantry checklist in my cabinet and put it in a sheet protector. This way, whenever I run out of a spice, I can just cross it off the list. Every week when I go shopping, I check over recipes I am making and quickly scan my list to see if I need it. Before I started this system, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to run out to the store for a last minute ingredient (I mean seriously… where the heck does all the cumin go???)

I keep a similar chart in the other food sections of my pantry for general canned or boxes items. We follow the Capsule Pantry system and I create a monthly dinner meal plan so we use a lot of the same ingredients over and over. I like to see how many cans of tomatoes or boxes of rice I have so that, when it’s time to make dinner I can just grab and go.

 

Doing a food inventory will also start to save you a ton of money. You’ll notice ingredients that you might not have even known were there, can use them to make some different meals, and not just grab another can of chicken broth ‘just because’ when you’re at the store.

While you’re cleaning and doing an inventory, make sure you toss out any expired spices or food items you have. If you have an item that has been there forever (but isn’t expired) and your family just doesn’t eat, put it in a bag and drop it at a local shelter or food drop off location.

Tip #3 Clear off the Counter

 

Like I said earlier, outer order leads to inner calm, and our countertops are the biggest place of clutter in the kitchen. For some reason we stack everything on the counter and then get so frustrated because we don’t have space to cook or do any of our regular kitchen chores.

 

I highly recommend getting rid of as many appliances as you can or at least move them off your counter. Ask yourself when the last you used it and if you hadn’t in this past week, it should NOT be a counter appliance. Keep the stuff out that you actually use and store (in a easy to grab place) the rest of it.

 

Make your counter inviting and easy to access and you’ll find yourself cooking in it more and actually enjoying the kitchen.

 

Every night, as part of an evening routine, I recommend doing a clean up of your kitchen so that you wake up and don’t feel behind. Make sure the dishes are loaded and sink empty, take out any trash, and wipe down all the counters. And the less stuff you have out, the quicker and easier it’ll be to get it clean!

 

As you go through organizing your kitchen, make sure you celebrate all of the small wins you have! It won’t happen overnight but if you use your time wisely, within one month you can have transform your entire kitchen into a place you love that doesn’t stress you out!

 

Want some help getting started? Download this 30 day calendar with 15 minute clean up areas that you can tackle each day!

See a tip that helped you? Sharing is caring! Share it on your Facebook or PIN it!

 

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Easy Tips to Keep the Kids Toys Organized

Easy Tips to Keep the Kids Toys Organized

When I was pregnant and nesting, I spent hours organizing all of the kids’ stuff. I opened things my newborn wasn’t going to use for months or even years, set up beautifully organized crates of toys, and was so proud of myself for how neat it all was.

 

And then I had kids…

 

Fast forward almost 2.5 years later and my house has started to look like a Toys R US (RIP Toys R Us! I’ll always be a Toys R Us kid!) with toys in every room, clutter everywhere, and I can’t stop stepping on these dang legos!

 

After a late night rant of “I’m just going to throw it all away”, I decided it was time to find some good organizational systems to declutter the mess and make it easier for the kids to play. With all the stuff everywhere, I realized that my kids couldn’t even get to some of their toys and had forgotten about brand new things that they got.

 

I drew a line in the sand with all the stuff and decided it was the perfect time to spring clean all the junk! So if you’re over all the mess, check out my tips to get started and scroll down for some examples of real life moms who have MASTERED organizing the toys!

This post may contain affiliate links which cost you nothing extra to use but help me fund this page. To read my full disclosure head on over here.

 

Get rid of things 

 

The first thing I recommend doing is to start getting rid of things that your kids don’t use, have outgrown, or are broken. Grab two boxes and your trash cans and pick one room to start with. You should have one box or bag for toys to donate or give to a friend who has kids younger than you, one that you can store stuff to sell on the Facebook marketplace or at yard sales or consignment, and anything that’s broke just toss it right out!

 

Sometimes we hold onto things because they have sentimental value or honestly because we feel guilty getting rid of things our kids have gotten as gifts but let that guilt go! If you’re kid doesn’t play with it, particularly because they have outgrown them, you don’t need it taking up space in your home!

 

Separate the Toys

 

As you are going through and separating your toys into toss, sell and donate, make a plan for what room you want to store which types of toys in. This makes it so much easier when you are putting things away to have them in one section of the house.

 

For example, we are currently homeschooling some Tot School  so I try to keep anything that is more of a typical learning toy in our gym/office where we have whiteboards, easels and all of our craft stuff set up. I do NOT want play doh and paint all over my house so I keep it all in one space. I also try to keep more of the creative and imaginative toys in our playroom where the TV is. These are things like magnatiles, puzzles, or her doll house. My hope is that she’ll have more things that help her think in there so she’ll ask for the TV less. The kids’ bedroom hosts all the random stuff, tons of blocks, and more quiet time toys for before nap and bed. Oh and books are EVERYWHERE in this house (seriously, I just found some in the bathroom because you know.. Potty training!)

 

Having themes for where you keep your toys helps makes clean up easier as well. If you come across something that you know goes in one room vs another, you can just grab it and bring it into that room whenever you go. I keep a few empty bins around our home just for this reason. We have a bin at the bottom of the stairs where I can toss things that belong up there and, whenever we head up to the bedrooms, I can just grab the bin and bring it up!

 

Only keep a few things available at a time 

One of the biggest struggles I found was that we just had TOO many toys out for play at a time. My 2.5 year old would get bored with what she had and not ‘have anything to play with’. Once I started doing a toy rotation, it allowed all of her toys to feel ‘new’ every single time. Now, the biggest struggle I have is when I bring toys downstairs for the baby, my daughter remembers them from when she was a baby and thinks they are all hers again (sigh.. toddlers).

Every single month, I have a simple rotation where I bring the baskets that I’ve created from room to room. I am lucky to have some built in shelves in our bedroom hidden behind a curtain so I keep soft boxes in there filled with books, blocks, music toys, dolls etc… When I do my rotation, I simply take the box of books from the bedroom to the playroom, the box in the playroom into the office, and the one from the office goes back to the storage spot. It takes me maybe 20 minutes one time a month and helps make things fresh again.

Have them help 

One of the skills we are working on right now with my toddler (and heck the 11 year old too!) is cleaning up after herself. She currently loves to help around the house, sweep, mop, do laundry, cook… anything! But one thing she doesn’t love so much is when I say it’s time to pick up her toys.

We now do a 5 minute pick up throughout our day which helps remind her to clean up as she goes. Obviously the less stuff she has to pick up, the faster and easier it’ll be (and the less tantrums!)

Their toys are their responsibilities and yes, I know as moms we do most of the picking up, but I find I go through seasons when I start to feel bitter because I am ALWAYS picking up something off the floor and having the kids help, even if they don’t do it the way I would, helps not only teach them the skills but eliminates the stress on my end.

Tips from Real Moms

 

I asked over on my Facebook for moms to give me tips and share some pictures of how they keep their kids stuff organized and I wanted to share some awesome ones with you! I hope they give you some inspiration to get things organized and destress your life!

 

“One thing I’ve done before is to get two separate toy boxes. One full of toys one empty. Let the kids take out what toys they want to play with. At the end of the day, put them in the empty box. After a week or month (whichever you prefer) take what toys are left in the original box and either donate or sell. Shows that the kids aren’t interested in those toys and makes room for their other toys. Depending on how often you buy toys for your kids, repeat either every few months to 6 months. It’s not much on organization, but it helps to declutter.” – Brittany J.

 

 


“A “zoo” for stuffed animals with bungee cords or you put them inside a beanbag chair”

“A great way I got my daughter to get rid of toys was to say she needs to pick the ones she no longer plays with, so that we can make room for new toys she would want to play with. I would then sell them on kijiji and the money would go into purchasing new toys (xmas gifts, bday gifts, or she can choose to go pick out her own toys). Gives good practice for kids to be able to let go of things, as well as the meaning of money.” – Robin L

 

 

Storage units! The ones on the left are great as you can keep stuff together. I have Lego in one, colouring and paper in another etc”-Rachael D.

 

 

“This is how we handle all of their projects! We can’t use magnets on our fridge, and it’s special for them to see their art up in the “gallery”!” – Kaytie S.

 

“I sorted my toddlers stuff by type and made six sets which I store in 12″ cubes up in her closet, she gets to have one set out at a time, and I rotate to a new set roughly monthly. I have some seasonal) holiday bags of toys too.” – Carol C

 

 

Baskets and those soft square bin things! This is just the “playroom”. We currently live in England where most (if not all) houses don’t have closets and rooms are smaller. So our kitchen “pantry” is a large bookshelf with baskets to keep things organized. I also have baskets in the cupboards to keep things organized and makes it easier to move one group of things to find something that i may use less often that i put in the back” – Angela W

 

So take some time today, make the commitment, set a 10 minute timer and just do a little each day. THe mess didn’t happen overnight and you won’t get rid of it overnight! Declutter, destress and clean up all the kid’s stuff!

 

Did you see a helpful tip?? Sharing is caring! Hit that PIN IT button or share it on your Facebook!

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7 Perfect Gifts for Moms of Little Ones

7 Perfect Gifts for Moms of Little Ones

I personally think I’m pretty easy to shop for. I mean I like coffee, peeing alone, and sleep. I mean, how hard can that be?

But sometimes I find it much easier to direct my husband to things I’d love as a gift for holidays or my birthday so that I actually get something I will use and not a vacuum or other cleaning supply (and yes… I know someone who got a vacuum for their birthday)

So feel free to check out my list of awesome Mother’s Day Gifts for Moms of Young Kiddos and ever so discreetly tag your husband or share it to his email… (oops! I meant to send that to my friend because she’d love that coffee mug!) If you’re a aunt or godmama, don’t miss out on sending these gifts to all the mamas in your life too!

This post may contain affiliate links which cost you nothing extra to use but help me fund this page. To read my full disclosure head on over here.

1. Anything personalized with the kids pics

Ya’ll… moms are saps! And particularly when our kids are little, sentimental gifts mean a lot. I would love a coffee mug (because coffee is life) with a picture of my kiddos on it or a small photo album of memories. BONUS if you sneak a few pictures that you’ve taken without her noticing to really capture what real mom life is like!

Create & Customize your gifts and more-Shop TargetPhoto’s Store!

2. Faith Box

 

As a mom of littles, I don’t think I can even begin to count how many times a day I ask Jesus for strength and patience. And I know I”m not alone! If you have a mama in your life who might need a little help to get through the day or time to slow down and get closer to God, you should think about gifting them a Faith Box subscription. You can do one month or multiple and they’ll get sent a gift with things to help bring them closer to God!

Faithbox Subscription

3. Rad graphic tees

 

For many of us, our ‘work uniform’ is yoga pants and a top so why not gift some incredible graphic tees that show how awesome we are? If nothing else, they’ll become awesome workout or sleep shirts! Check out a few of them from Matchnode (they have a ton more so head over to check them out!)

4. Coffee Mugs Galore

When in doubt… buy me a coffee mug. I mean for real. I can never have too many, I love mugs with fun sayings (they really are the highlight of my morning sometimes) and who doesn’t love coffee!

5. An awesome service

 

If my husband sat me down on Mother’s Day and said “I got you someone to come clean the house’ I seriously might cry. We used to have cleaners that came every 3 weeks but now that we’re trying to tighten the budget, it’s back to me attempting to keep this house together by myself (well the boys help a little).

Did you know you can find a service through your Amazon Prime Account? I know, Prime does EVERYTHING! You can search your location and find a service that you need! They have cleaners, people to come fix things, plumbers… it’s endless! Head over and check out what’s available in your area!

6. Some reads to fill their cup

I am a HUGE believer in doing personal development each day (even 10 minutes makes a HUGE difference for me!) and tell every woman I know that she should try to do the same. I have a huge list of my favs but shared my top picks for moms below!

And if they have a kindle, I recommend sending it that way or via Audible. As much as I try to actually read 10 minutes a day in a paper book, I often find myself reading on my phone while nursing my 7 month old or listening to an audiobook while making dinner! And if they are a weirdo like me and have a CD player still in their car, books on CD are awesome so that she can listen to them in the car!

7. Massage or anything that Pampers them

Oh lordy lou… the thought of a massage right now! Get the mama in your life a gift card to get a massage or have a spa day! But here is the KEY to that… pick the date, schedule the sitter (or you make sure you do it) and make them go! Drive her if you have to! I really recommend scheduling it ASAP so that they don’t wait. Honestly, I got a gift card for Christmas last year and by the time I remembered it was there I had lost it and then it wasn’t worth the effort to schedule it because I knew that I’d have to find a sitter and it would be a whole to-do. Give that mama a chance to feel relaxed and treated super special!

Want any of these gifts for yourself? Do they stand out as a perfect Mother’s Day, Christmas or birthday gift??? Then make sure you hit that PIN IT button and SHARE it to your social media!

PS Don’t forget there is no shame is sharing it right to your hubby’s page.. Wink, wink!

How to Change Your Money Mindset

What is a Money Mindset? “Everyone has debt.” “You need debt for your credit score.” “I mean, who doesn’t have student loans?” “You’re supposed to have a mortgage forever.” “That’s what credit cards are for!.” Statements like these are what is keeping people in...

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“Ma’am, it says your card didn’t go through. Do you want to try it again?” I could feel the tears starting to form in my eyes already because I knew that if that card didn’t work I had no other options to buy the rest of the groceries I needed for the week. “Ummm, no...

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With summer right around the corner, I am SO excited to spend most of our days outside, getting inasmuch sunshine as my super fair skin can handle, and making memories with my family!   In the summer, I find that we spend way more money than needed because of all...

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