Caregivers: You CAN take 5 minutes for yourself even when you can’t leave the home

Caregivers: You CAN take care of yourself (Even if you can only find 5 minutes and you can't leave the house)

So I gained 10 pounds in the past month. Because that’s what I do when I am stressed and completely ignoring my own needs. I end up just grabbing junky food that I really don’t want or need and eating it…and eating more of it…and eating more of it.

We all have our own ways of manifesting stress when we don’t slow down. I’m a stress eater and I get migraines and tension headaches (yes, I suffer from both) that can last for weeks. Maybe you don’t eat when your stressed and lose weight. Maybe you don’t sleep well when you are stressed out and then feel like you are walking around in a brain fog.

Whatever it is, however you manifest stress, it’s time for us to look after ourselves. I know it feels like there’s no way to take time for yourself. It seems like that’s the last thing you need to be doing sometimes when you are being pulled in all different directions. And it would be great to be able to go to the gym, sometimes it seems like it would be a great feat to even go for a walk around the block because you are needed inside. (If you can go for a walk around the block I highly recommend it! If you have kids that don’t want to go try suggesting an Alphabet Scavenger Hunt or walk a neighbor’s dog.)

If not, then here, Caregiver, are 7 ways to take care of yourself with only 5 minutes and without ever having to even leave the house.

Here they are. Make sure your share your easy ways to de-stress if you have more to add to the list! I know I need it and hopefully we can help each other as well as other super stressed parents and caregivers.

April/May Lifestyle Favorites

April Favorites - momissuchanerd.comI want to mention that I don’t consume just to consume. I would never buy or recommend a product that hasn’t actually improved our lives in one way or another. So these items are really ones that I can truly say have made a difference.

  1. Prepworks by Progressive Stainless Steel Herb Ball
    I love this little strainer ball. I ordered it when I was looking for a way to use loose leaf tea. I looked through a bunch of different products and this is the one I finally settled on. I didn’t realize how big it was, but now love the size because I can use it to make pitchers of iced tea all summer long. It just clips right on the side of a pitcher, so you can poor in the hot water, let it steep, and then cool it down. Add some fruit and you have the perfect pitcher of iced tea!
    IMG_0695
  2. Gear Beast Running Belt
    My car got hit on the side of the road and was in the shop for a couple months. During that time, I figured out that our new place is only a couple of miles or so from the kids’ schools. So I used it as an excuse to start running again. I would run to the school and then walk back with the kids. But I was running WITH MY PURSE! It was crazy, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t be prepared. Finally, I ordered this running belt and while it looks small, I am able to fit my phone, ID, keys, and a snack in it. So I am so prepared!

  3. Thug Kitchen Cookbook
    I was given this cookbook by my brother and sister-in-law-to-be (that’s a lot of dashes). And I absolutely love it! I have cooked a number of meals out of it and I keep it propped up on my counter. I love the food. It is great and my new go-to. It is also amazing kitchen art. It’s so cool and a good reminder to “eat like you give a f*ck.”
    April Favorites - momissuchanerd.com
  4. Zoob Racers
    I work full time from home and my son only goes to Kindergarten until 11:40 (plus I take care of my dad in the afternoons and evenings). So sometimes I need my son to be able to entertain himself. I do print out worksheets, put out craft projects, books, flash cards, etc, but sometimes a toy that he is able to play with by himself is a huge help. Plus I think that while I love to play with my kids, sometimes it is good for them to learn how to entertain themselves. Anyway, my mom gave my son these Zoob Racers for his birthday and they fit the bill perfectly. They are easy enough for him to do on his own (he’s 6) and he can either follow the instruction booklet or use his own creativity.
    April Favorites - momissuchanerd.com
  5. My DIY Lattes
    So this is not a product, but it has revolutionized my mornings. I cannot keep spending money or other resources on picking up my Caramel Soy Lattes. My mom had instant coffee packets in her cupboard that she did not like and wasn’t going to use. So she let me have them. I decided to attempt to make my own version of a latte. I used the coffee packets (I know nothing about coffee, please let me know in the comments what kind of coffee you recommend), almond milk, and coconut sugar. I use about equal parts coffee and almond milk, whisking the almond milk on the stove to make it bubbly. I sweetened the coffee with the coconut sugar and then added the milk to it. I’ve started making them in mason jars. It fits just perfectly.
    DIY Latte - momissuchanerd.comDIY Latte - momissuchanerd.comApril Favorites - momissuchanerd.com

You can watch me babble about them here if you would like:

What products have helped change your life recently?

 

 

***Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in the post. Should you use them, it will be at no extra cost to you, but will help support this blog.***

Alphabet Scavenger Hunt – Outdoor Family Game

I know I’ve been big on the outdoors thing lately. But I’ve been super stressed and had a 2 week long migraine that just finally went away this past weekend (knock on wood!). Being outdoors is soothing to me both emotionally and physically. The fresh air seems to help my head maintain a somewhat tolerable pain level. I think it is good for all of us though, regardless. Kids need nature in their lives too. But sometimes, once their faces get glued to a screen, I simply cannot find the proper remover. Sometimes, it’s just easiest to put a wall between them and the offending device.

One particular day I felt the need to get my son outside, he just wasn’t having it. So I exclaimed “let’s go try to take pictures that look like letters of the alphabet!” My son loves to take pictures so he loved the idea of getting to take some pictures too. So armed with our cameras, we took to the streets.

I thought it  best that I set an example so I took the first picture of the letter “A”:

Alphabet Scavenger Hunt - A

I showed him the picture and how the legs and seat of the chair come together to make a capital A. We traced the A in the picture with our fingers. So he got the idea and was excited to go off on our alphabet scavenger hunt.

Keep reading for more tips and to see some of the letters we found on our scavenger hunt.

Read more

It’s Almost Earth Day!!!

Happy Earth DayEarth Day is one of my favorite holidays! But really, who doesn’t love a day dedicated to the environment? It’s a great chance to teach the younguns to respect the planet on which they live as well as ways to take care of the Earth, the animals, and all of the miracles we take for granted the other 365 days a year. (It is a leap year.)

 

How are you planning to celebrate this year?

Read on for some ideas…

Read more

A Few Favorites: Links I Love

I had this whole plan to add a second day to my blogging schedule. I thought having a Friday Favorites would be such a great idea. Okay so then it went to adding 2 more days to my posting schedule and on and on. Because sometimes I get a little overambitious.

But with my full time job, my kids, my father (who had a stroke a couple of months ago), my daughter’s play rehearsal schedule (so worth it though – it is AMAZING), and so much else going on, posting 1 day a week still seems to be about all I’m good for. Not that I’m sure all you moms and dads out there don’t feel all of the same stresses and you are all amazing for all that you do! (Hopefully I’ll get it together soon and can increase my posting schedule because blogging makes my heart sing!)

Anyway, so here’s my favorites, just not yet on a Friday.

Read more

Lessons from the Littles: Life is about the Journey not the Destination

journeyWe are always rushing! Gotta go here, gotta go there. It’s like non-stop. All in the name of getting stuff done. We rush to school. We rush to sports. Even when all we have to do is play, we rush. We rush to playdates. We rush to the playground.

 

Such is the exact situation we were in the other day. We recently moved into a new development and there is a big park with a playground within a fairly reasonable distance. I wanted to try the trails and see if we could figure out which one would take us to the playground. I mean, one of them HAS to, right? So, of course, I’m thinking I’m being the cool, let’s-savor-life, living-in-the-moment kind of mom as we are heading to the trails. But nevertheless, I’m on a mission. I’m going to find that trail that will take us straight to the playground so we can play.

 

See the irony yet?  Read more

Read more

Meatless Monday Idea: Red Lentil Tacos

There are so many reasons to add a meatless meal night to your usual meal plan. It can have benefits for the environment, your health, the animals, and even your budget! I don’t want to be all preachy preachy so if you are interested in reading about Meatless Monday in more detail you can check their website out and more in depth reasons to start Meatless Monday here.

 

Okay, so yeah, you’re a knowledgeable mum. You’ve probably heard about Meatless Mondays about a zillion times by now. But “GIVE ME A HEALTHY RECIPE THAT THE KIDS WILL ACTUALLY EAT!” Hold on! Don’t freak out. I got you on this one. I have a kid-friendly, meat-free recipe that is so easy to throw together. Hold onto your hats! You wouldn’t even believe how good this next one is.

 

Introducing…

Meatless Monday Idea: Red Lentil Tacos

Meatless Monday Idea: Red Lentil Tacos

 

Read more

FAQ: What’s the Secret to Getting Kids to Eat Their Fruits and Vegetables?

People ask me how I get my kids to eat fruits and vegetables so well.  When we have been invited over for for dinner people always comment that they can’t believe how many veggies these kids are able to consume without me having to say anything too much. Don’t get me wrong, we do not have perfect diets. As much as I try, there are still days that leave me shaking my head wondering what happened!

 

But all in all, I think we do pretty well. So here are my top 5 tips on getting kids to eat their veggies.

 

 

  • Be a Good Role Model
    A lot of people who say they have trouble getting their kids to eat veggies don’t Try something different - like rutabagaeven eat them either! Why would the kids eat spinach if you or another adult in the family turns their noses up every time it’s on their plate. Show enthusiasm!  You are still a major role model in your kids lives!  I make sure mine see how excited and enthusiastic I am especially when we are having some of my favorites. Seriously, I’d so much rather a box of broccoli than a box of chocolates! 
  • Keep trying!
    It can be so frustrating when your kids refuse to eat something. It feels like such a waste. And after saying “eat your ______” so many times, it is absolutely exasperating. But don’t give up. They can try it at least. They say that it takes 7 times to get used to a new flavor…or maybe it was 5 times…or 10? Eh. Whatever it’s different for every kid and every food. Maybe they’ll never like it, but maybe one day they will. Or maybe they’ll at least stop fighting it so much.
  • Teach them to eat the rainbow.
    Eat the Rainbow - get kids to eat their fruits and veggiesI taught my children about how they should try to eat as many colors of the rainbow as they can. Blue and purple can count as one category. So some days when I feel like they need a little motivation, I remind them that we should try to eat the rainbow. They immediately rattle off a list of what fruits and veggies they ate so far before they launch off looking for produce to fill in the missing colors. And no, starburst and skittles do not count. (Where do they even keep getting those things?!?)
  • Try different styles of cooking – or not cooking.
    My kids love kale chips! But they won’t eat steamed kale. Banana ice cream is one of my daughter’s favorites (made of one ingredient: bananas). But she won’t touch a regular banana. They love zoodles. But my son will no longer touch aVegetable Peacock - Crudite cooked zucchini slice. And everyone loves green smoothies. When my son was a super little, he went through a phase when he didn’t want to eat fruits or veggies. He broke out of that phase simply by me adding a crudite and dip with every meal. It wasn’t a huge assortment of veggies, but he was eating carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower with almost every meal. So at least it was somethin and his repertoire has vastly increased since (thank goodness).
  • Get them involved
    Get Kids to Eat their Veggies - let them pick something at the farmer's marketThere are lots of ways to get kids involved with eating healthy. They can help cook. Or in some cases get to use super cool and fun kitchen gadgets (read: spiralizer – I have this one), Grow your own veggies and have the kids help plant, water, and check the growth. I learned to love beets when I was young because I grew them myself. And nothing is more exciting than picking a ripe vegetable you grew yourself and eating it. My son’s love of spinach came from eating it straight out of a friend’s garden. They thought they were being sneaky and a little naughty eating right there in the middle of the garden as they were pulling the leaves. But we knew what they were doing. We just let them think they were sneaking. He now loves his spinach. It has become a favorite. And I cannot complain!

    Another fun way I got my kids involved was by deciding that we should try a new food every month. Sometimes it’s going to a new type of restaurant (they had never had thai food before! I know parenting FAIL, but now they love it) or just going to the grocery store/farmers market and picking a new fruit or veggie that we never had before. This introduced them to dragon fruit, purple everything, and rutabaga to name a few.

These are all awesome strategies in a pinch. And I use them all, but I think the most important thing is just making fruits and vegetables a part of your lifestyle and a part of theirs too. If you are just a family that eats lots of fruits and vegetables it will not even be a question for them.

What tips do you have to get kids to eat their veggies? Let us know!

*This post contains affiliate links*

Book Review: Siblings without Rivalry – a few takeaways

Siblings without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

I recently read a book called Siblings without Rivalry. I noticed it in an e-mail from Bookbub. Even though my kids get along really well as far as siblings go, I still have those moments when the bickering makes me want to pull my hair out! Plus, I put a lot of emphasis on them having a good relationship because I always wished I had a better relationship with my own brother and I think it is important for them to know that they will always have each other. So I purchased the book figuring if I got even one decent piece of advice out of it, it would be worth it. Little did I realize I had stumbled upon a gem!

 

The book is well written and a super easy read. It is written through the perspective of a support group offering lots of anecdotes from the parents there as well as the author herself. There are even little cartoon depictions of the ways situations could be handled (often an “instead of…” cartoon followed by a “try it this way…” cartoon) which are fun examples and great to refer back to.  I thought it stayed light even while tackling a heavy subject. I provided me with many eye opening revelations (and some I already knew but felt were worth reading and reiterating anyway). It was well worth the time and money.

 

I thought I would share a few of my biggest takeaways:

 

  1. Allow children to express their emotions regarding their sibling. (pg.19-30)

As a parent, we want everything to be so wonderful and loving all the time between our kids that we are quick to blow off their negative emotions (or even pretend they don’t exist), but when they say they hate their sibling or something equally hard to hear and we respond with “no, you don’t,” we are really doing them a disservice. They need to get that emotion out. Bottling it up inside is not healthy for them and can often lead to them “letting it out” in other, possibly hurtful ways. Just think about it. As adults, when we get really upset sometimes it just feels better after we go to our best friend and have a huge venting session. We don’t need a solution or answer all the time. It can be therapeutic just to get it off our chests. Even if the kids say scary things during these venting sessions, it is far better for them to feel heard and know that we do care about them and their feelings than to have to walk around holding on to that pain.

 

  1. You do not have to make everything equal all the time. (pg 67-81 )

I know my parents struggled with this when my brother and I were young and I struggle with it all the time. We want our kids to feel equal love – get equivalent things, have equal time with us, etc etc etc, but I love the quote in the book that “to be loved equally…is somehow to be loved less.” Our children are unique individuals and should be treated as such. They need unique treatment that caters to their own needs. It is okay to buy one a new backpack because his is falling apart without feeling like we need to buy the other one too even though hers is perfectly good. Although in situations like this, we do need to take heed of their emotions.  It can be hard for them too. They do need their feelings on the subject validated. You don’t have to love them equally, you have to love them uniquely. (It’s like a weight off my shoulders.)

  1. Give kids the freedom to resolve their own disputes. (pg. 135)

Conflict resolution is tough. Even for us adults. Helping your kids create the skills needed for this by allowing them to resolve their own disputes is a good, safe place to start. Plus it can also help build their relationship and allow it to grow it ways it may not if we, as parents, continue to intervene. This is a hard one for me as most of the arguments happen in enclosed spaces (such as the car) and I just hear “Mooo-oom, she told me to shut up,” “Mooo-oom, he hit me” and on and on and on until I start to feel my last brown hairs turning gray. I just want to yell “WOULD YOU TWO LEAVE EACH OTHER ALONE! STOP TALKING! STOP TOUCHING! THERE IS AN INVISIBLE WALL AROUND EACH OF US SO WE CAN’T HEAR EACH OTHER!” Thankfully, Adele Faber has laid out the step-by-step framework for dealing with such a situation:

  1. Acknowledge their anger
  2. Listen to each side
  3. Show appreciation for the difficulty of the situation
  4. Let them know you are confident that they can come to a mutual agreement
  5. Exit

So the exiting part is hard in the car, but having these steps in my tool belt is extremely handy. The kids still feel like they are being heard. Hearing that you have confidence in their abilities is always a bit of a boost and hopefully they find a way to come to an agreement. If not Adele Faber also explains what to do in that situation. She lays out more steps involving a family meeting, brainstorming solutions (without any criticisms) and picking the one everyone can live with. Those aren’t all the steps, but you get the gest. Luckily, I have not had to resort to anything beyond the 5 I have laid out, but I am keeping them highlighted and ready to go!

 

I highly recommend this book whether your children are constantly at it or if they only have occasional arguments.The situations above are just a few of the many it tackles. It discusses comparisons (how often are we tempted to say “but your brother/sister was ready 10 minutes ago, what is taking you so long?”), sharing (I’m still trying to figure out which strategy will work for us), dangerous situations and much more. While reading the book, I felt like a lot of it was stuff I know in my head, but realized I’ve been doing all wrong anyway. It opened my eyes to a lot of day-to-day issues and possibilities for how we can run more smoothly and cohesively like a family.

Have you read the book? Do you find any of the above tips can apply to life with your kids? How do you handle conflict in your house?

 

DIY Maple Taffy

My daughter had a really cool French extra credit assignment. For extra credit, she made a video of herself making Maple Taffy. It was really fun (and really sweet)!

I asked her if I could share her video on here and she gave me permission. So here is her video:

My hand is horribly shaky apparently! But she did all of the cooking and editing herself!

And here is how to make Maple Taffy:

Ingredient: Maple Syrup
Needs: pot
stove
wooden spoon
adult (if older kids are helping out)
cookie sheet/pan/flat surface
snow/crushed ice
spoon/craft stick
What to do:
Bring the maple syrup to a light boil on the stove.
Turn the heat down and continue to stir until has a thicker consistency.
Spread the snow (or crushed ice) out on the cookie sheet.
Drizzle the warm syrup in lines on the snow.
Press the back end of a spoon or a craft stick on the end of a line of maple syrup and roll the stick, winding the hardening maple syrup around it.

1 2 3 4