Tuesday, July 14, 2015

5 Things Efficient (and Happy) Moms Do Every Day: Part 1

There is no reason that Moms can't run their households like a very efficient workplace.  They are very similar.  Both at home and at work we must prioritize our time, plan for the future, and check things of our to-do list.  I find that the more efficient I am the more free time I have, both for me and for my kids.  Not only that, I'm much happier.  With this in mind, I have worked hard to come up with ways to save myself time at home, just as I did when I was working at a Fortune 500 company, and you can do it too!

Get an Email Organization System
Get a system for your emails.  I recommend using Outlook (if you need help setting that up, check out this old post I did with lots of great information).  The trick is setting up folders and filing away things you have done so that you can use the in-box as a to-do list.  Then spend 15 minutes per day organizing and going through emails.  You can even set up rules within Outlook so that all those annoying emails from Gymboree go straight into the "Coupon" folder so you don't have to see them in your in-box but they are there if you need them for your next trip to the mall.  Here is an example of my folders (notice how many coupons I have accumulated!  That's over 5,000 emails that I never had to sort.  They just went straight to that folder for future reference)


Get a blue-tooth Headset
Purchase a head-set for multi-tasking.  You can fold laundry, work on dinner, organize files, clean out your purse, all while you wait on hold for the cable company or catch up with your Mom!  I use mine every single day, and it is so much better than using the speakerphone.  Here is the one I use.



Wake up Early
At a minimum, wake up thirty minutes before the kids do, so you can get your day organized, wake up in the peace and quiet, and take a shower.  If you can even wake up early enough to get a little bit of exercise, even better!  You will feel so amazing if you give your body a little time to get some endorphins first thing in the morning.  Buy a cheap treadmill from someone on Craiglist for the basement and the kids will never even know you're awake.  Then take a few extra minutes to sort your emails so you have a fresh slate for the day.

Review your budget
Moms should run the budget for a couple of reasons.  First, we won't overspend if we know what our goal is.  Second, we are the ones who make a lot of the decisions on what to get for birthday parties, clothing, etc., so again, it makes sense for us to take control of the budget.  The trick is looking at it every day.  I like to use Mint.com.  It's free, and easy to set up.  You can set up monthly budgets and then link to your credit card and bank accounts so you can make sure you are sticking to your budget each month.

Use your Phone for Notes
Make lists on your phone like books you want to read, music you want to download, birthday ideas for kids, etc.  I like to use the "Notes" feature on my iPhone, that way it's always handy.



Helping Moms stay organized and efficient is a passion of mine!  I will be continuing this train of thought with a 2nd post about 5 more ways to make the most out of your days.  I will also begin consulting with Moms on getting organized, so if you're feeling overwhelmed with budgeting or emails or anything else, let me know!  I can help!


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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

15 Fun Ways to Work on Letters and Sight Words


My daughter finished Kindergarten this Spring and her teacher advised us to work on sight words every day this summer so she doesn't forget everything.  We prefer to spend our time outdoors playing in the sunshine, so this seems a little daunting.  However, I know it's important, especially since we will be moving to a new school next Fall, so I made a list of all the fun ways we have worked on letters in the past.  I hope this will help you this summer too! 



  1. Egg Hunt for Letters and Sight Words - Write words or letters on small pieces of paper and leave place them in eggs for a fun hunt!


  2. Make Letters with this Easy Home-made Play-Dough
  3. Write letters to friends or family or create a Pen-Pal
  4. Matching Game - Write letters on several different sheets of paper.  Use Play-Dough to create shapes and then ask your child to match each shape to the correct letter.  Such as matching "Star" to "S".  Have your child physically place each shape on the correct letter.
  5. ABC Activity Using Dot Markers 
  6. Rock Letters
  7. Hunting in sand for letters
  8. Using glue and Christmas sprinkles for fun sensory letters and words
  9. Letters with Home-Made Puff Paint
  10. Play Bingo, either by making your own, or buy this cheap one from Amazon!
  11. Play Scrabble Junior - It's a lot more fun than than we thought it would be!
  12. Do "Homework".  Make letters on a page and have them circle each letter as you say it (This works especially well if kids have an older sibling and you can tell them they are doing "homework")

  13. Cut out objects from a magazine and spread them on the table.  Tell your child to pick out every object that start with "s", and so on.
  14. Letter Tree - Make a large tree and make sight words on "leaves".  Have your child glue the sight words to the tree and let them hang it in their room so they can see it often.




For more ideas on engaging your children and keeping them busy, please consider buying my book, co-written by an amazing Kindergarten Teacher! We give you lots of fun ideas on ways to work on fine motor skills, reading, math, science, and lots more.   The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn.

 
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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The 10 things my kids say all day (every day)

Well, it's 4th of July week and I'm guessing that most of you are off enjoying fireworks, BBQ, and sunshine.  In honor of that, I will keep my post short this week, since you have far more important things to do.

I thought it would be fun to do a round up of the most common phrases I hear all day...I suspect they are similar to what you hear in your own house.  Do me a favor, and tell me what are some things your kids say to you all day long too!

1.  Please Mom, can I have just one more chance?
2.  Please Mom, can't you wipe me just this once?  I'll do it next time, I promise! 
3.  Mom, can you find me the bug jar?  I found another roly-poly!
4.  Mommy, I'm hungry!  Can I have something to eat?
5.  Please Mom, I PROMISE I won't do it again!
6.  But Mom, he/she started it!
7.  But Mom, why????
8.  Can I play a game on your phone?
9.  Just one more minute?
10.  Mom, do I really have to take a rest today?
So, Happy 4th of July!  I hope you have some wonderful family time!  


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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Super Yummy Stuffed Zucchini

As you might have read, after 10 years of struggling in the kitchen, I have finally turned things around!  And here is one of my husband's favorites!


Stuffed Zucchini
2 or 3 Large Zucchini
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup chopped yellow onions
4 slices Turkey Bacon (or regular, your choice)
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

1.  Set oven to 400
2.  Cut zucchini in half and scoop out zucchini flesh.  I have tried this several ways.  I tried using a melon-baller.  I tried using a spoon.  The best and fastest way is to use a steak knife and carefully cut out the flesh.  Every other way is just too slow for me.
3.  Cook the bacon (I prefer microwave)
4.  Chop the flesh and place the shells into a 9x13 Pyrex, sprayed with Pam
5.  Melt the butter and add the zucchini.  Cook for 3-5 minutes and add onions.
6.  Continue cooking for another few minutes, until tender.
7.  Meanwhile, cut up the bacon and tomato
8.  Add the bacon and tomato to the pan and cook for 1 minute
9.  Pour all ingredients in a bowl, along with bread crumbs, cheese, and a dash of cayenne pepper for a little extra zing (we like things spicy)
10.  Fill zucchini shells and cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes

Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Tip: You can prepare this early in the day and cover with foil until you are ready to cook.  I paired this with pork tenderloin and it was a great meal!




Totally unrelated to cooking, but here is my book!  It is written by both a Mom (me) and a Teacher, and we give lots of ideas on ways to stimulate your child's brain with easy, fun activities, which also free you up to do things you need to do, like cooking!

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