Ways To Save Money As A Stay At Home Mom

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How many times have you googled how to make money from home? Or work at home jobs? Guilty right here. Often times these searches don’t provide me with substantial information (for example, I don’t want to spend my time taking surveys that pay barely anything and take up all my time). And as a busy mom I don’t have a ton of time on my hands.

What I can do as a stay at home mom is save money. I would like to provide you with a few ways to save money for your family and a few ways to make money. These are things most any mom can do.

SELL GENTLY USED BABY ITEMS

I used to strictly donate all the baby gear and clothing that my kids outgrew, but in the last year I realized there are quite a few people willing to pay for gently used items. It can take some time to go through items and post nice pictures, but utilizing apps like LetGo I was able to sell my kids clothing they outgrew and make a nice chunk of cash in the process.

BREW YOUR COFFEE AT HOME

This one is easy and will save you so much money! I love my Starbucks just like anyone else, but I enjoy it as a rare treat these days because honestly how difficult is it to enjoy a cup of coffee at home and save $5?

CUT YOUR OWN HAIR

No, seriously! Unless you are doing more than just a trim, there is no reason why you can’t do this at home. Invest in a pair of shears and trim your own hair. In fact I recently started saving money by cutting my son’s hair at home and now my husband is on board for me to cut his hair. A haircut on average for my family is $21 a person and the guys need a haircut every four to six weeks. This equates to major savings.

BUY IN BULK

Some grocery items it is more cost effective to buy in bulk. We definitely save money with our Costco purchases. Items such as toilet paper, diapers, wipes and coffee creamer are part of our bulk purchases.

MEAL PLAN

Meal planning is a great habit to form. When I plan out our meals for the week it gives me a concise idea of what to shop for and makes it easier to curb the temptation to eat out.

FIND FREE ACTIVITIES

Keeping kids busy while expanding their knowledge and social interactions does not have to cost money. Take your kids to the park, to story time at the library, to a splash pad or the beach. Make crafts with your kids at home, teach them how to make cookies, or play a board game with them.

OFFER TO BABYSIT

Have friends with kids? If you are at home with your kids already, why not offer to watch other people’s kids? It offers a playmate for your child and you earn some money in the process.

I hope you found some of these suggestions helpful. What are some ways you save money? Please share below in the comments.

Seasons of Parenting

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Are you in a place where you feel like parenting is difficult? Frustrating? Perhaps you have a baby not sleeping, a child with anxiety or anger issues, or perhaps you are dealing with tantrums and potty training. I’ve dealt with my fair share of issues in parenting three young children and I want to assure you, this too shall pass.

As my kids grow older and I continue to experience the plethora of issues that come with parenting, I find myself reflecting on the past six years of time I have shared with them, the storms we have weathered, and the ones we are currently dealing with.

Just like we experience four seasons in a year, I feel that there are multiple seasons to parenting. These seasons, however, are not so predictable. Every child is different with their own personality, likes and dislikes, emotional reactions, and so is every season of time with them. I think this is another reason why we shouldn’t compare our children to others.

For example, my son never gives me any grief – he listens well, he’s kind, he’s helpful, he’s independent. When he was three however, he went through a short phase of throwing tantrums and being aggressive. This short period of time was extremely stressful for me, as he was also having issues at preschool, and in the middle of potty training. Being that he was my first child I didn’t understand at the time that this was normal behavior for his age, especially since he was not very verbal and dealing with some big changes.

At the time my son was going through a rough patch, my daughter was a toddler. She was very easy at the time, but flash forward another year and a new season of parenting began with her. We were once again going through some big changes; adding a baby to the mix, and potty training again.

This season of transition with my daughter lasted years as opposed to the short three month time with my son. My daughter is very different from him in how she sees the world and reacts to it. I have to accept that they are not the same and that the challenges they each face will be different.

I am just now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with my four year old as my baby is blossoming into toddler-hood. I am now entering a season of challenging behavior and changes with her. She is exerting her independence and has a mind of her own. It can be an exhausting time, but also rewarding if we go into it with the right mindset.

So with the passage of time comes change, both for my children and myself. Like with the weather we will have periods of sun and occasionally a storm or two. As they grow I know the challenges we face will change too. I highly doubt the issues we face now will be the same issues we face when they are teenagers and all in school full time.

These challenging times where we are dealing with aggressive behavior, tantrums, medical issues, sleep challenges, potty training, transitions – the list goes on – can seem like they last forever. But they don’t. And whatever you are dealing with will get better. And perhaps you will get a period of time where there is a reprieve and everything seems to fall into place – until the next season of parenting begins.

Just remember – although it can feel overwhelming at the time – this too shall pass.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced as a parent?

Why I Wean Cold Turkey

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The last few days have marked a transition in the relationship between my daughter and I. On Friday morning we began the process of weaning – and by process I mean we were DONE. No gradually decreasing nursing sessions, just DONE.

It might sound drastic or mean, but it’s my philosophy that it is much easier to make the change (for her and I) when we are on the same page and start a new routine for naps and bedtime right away. She understood that there would be no more nursing and now we cuddle to bed. I feel it would be more cruel to let her nurse once or twice a day and otherwise fight her on it. I have the same philosophy about potty training – once we start going in the potty we don’t use diapers or pull ups, we go straight to underwear. It’s all or nothing.

We are now on day 4 of ‘no nursing’ and she is doing great. The first day is always the hardest. She woke up a few times and didn’t want to go back to sleep, so we were pretty tired on day 2. Day 2 she didn’t try to nurse and she took her nap no problem with some cuddles. Day 3 she did great again and she only woke up once at night. I was able to lay her in bed and she put herself back to sleep within minutes. This is the reason why I chose to wean her now, because our sleep was suffering massively from her using me as a pacifier all night. With my other children I found that as soon as I weaned them they started sleeping through the night.

WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU CHOOSE TO WEAN COLD TURKEY

Both times I weaned my other children I was pregnant at the time so I never experienced the reason why they tell you to decrease nursing sessions gradually – painful engorgement, blocked ducts, and possible mastitis (breast infection).

I have been very careful and aware of my body over the last few days to avoid this happening. Some ways you can relieve the pain of engorgement are:

-Take hot showers and express manually (just enough to relieve the pain, you don’t want to ramp up your supply)

-Use cabbage leaves in your bra (it’s not based in science, but it’s worth a try)

-take ibuprofen to relieve pain and swelling

Also consider that weaning affects your hormone levels and moods. It is very possible you will feel sad or weepy. Your body also needs to adjust to the change. While I did not experience much in the way of mood swings, I did experience body aches and some flu like symptoms the very first day.

I have been following these steps and I am happy to say by day 3 I was feeling much better. My flu like symptoms were gone, I had less swelling and engorgement, and I am no longer needing to take ibuprofen for the pain.

If you choose to wean cold turkey you might consider discussing with your doctor or child’s pediatrician if you have any questions. I am in no way a medical professional, just offering my personal experience and advice.

Did you wean your child gradually or cold turkey? Do you have any advice for a mom thinking about weaning?

Not A Perfect Mom

Me and Baby El being silly

Do you ever take a step back and realize just how much of your life is dictated by technology? Particularly ‘the image’ we try to convey to everyone else. In the age of social media we are bombarded with pictures and status updates of beautiful people, seemingly perfect families, trips, inspirational quotes and stories.

I have been guilty of this too. Sometimes I find myself writing something that sounds more like it’s out of a hallmark card or cheesy beyond cheesy and I cringe a little, but I post anyway because hey, everyone else is doing it right?

I just want to stop and take a moment to be real with you. I am not a perfect mom. It’s not my intention for you to think I am a perfect mom.

I mess up all the time. I struggle with anxiety. Sometimes I yell at my kids and get frustrated. I haven’t figured out how to parent perfectly, I’m just doing my best in the moment.

I will never be the ‘cool mom’ in my group of friends. Most of the time I look a hot mess and don’t do my hair or makeup. Usually I grab whatever clothes look semi clean out of the crib piled with laundry and put that on. I bite my nails. I have split ends.

I’m really shy. I’m not good with the spoken word. I try to be friendly, but I think I can come across as socially awkward. I don’t like to make decisions. I tend to repeat myself.

My ‘social status’ is average at best. I live in a two bedroom apartment with three kids, no A/C or laundry. We struggle to save money. We have student loan debt. Southern California is an expensive place to live.

I struggle with comparison and being content with what I have. I want the beautiful homes you see moms posting on Instagram. I want to wear the designer clothes (well not really, but maybe up my game a little bit) and look presentable at all times.

My point is maybe seeing all these images isn’t healthy for us. Most of it probably isn’t even true. It’s all for show. I realize that, I’m sure you do too. I’ve posted about pictures a bit in a previous post if you care to check it out.

I just want to reiterate that I am not perfect, do not have a perfect life, and I’m sure you don’t either. But I am happy. I am trying my best to be content. I am not a perfect mom, but I am doing my best.

How Do We Normalize Breastfeeding?

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Chances are you’ve seen the memes of an innocent mom feeding her baby (with not much exposed) and next to her a woman wearing a bikini (with definitely more skin exposed) shaming you if the one of the mother feeding her baby offends you but the other does not.

Quite frankly, I don’t think either should offend you, but it does seem like women in bikinis are more widely accepted than a mom simply trying to feed her child.

Breasts can be sexual, yes. But breasts are also for breastfeeding babies if a mother chooses to do so. And a mother should be able to feed her baby, however, wherever, she needs too. It’s not something to debate.

I have read so many comments on posts about this that make my head spin. Most of them are from older women stating that they breastfed their children, but they did so ‘modestly’. Often times this means they used a cover, went somewhere private, or my favorite – waited until they were home to feed their baby.

To refute these comments I say what does modesty mean to you? Not all moms want to use a cover. Not all babies want to eat with a cover over their head (especially when it is hot). Do you like to eat with a cover over your head? A mom should not have to go somewhere private to nurse her baby unless it makes her more comfortable. Breastfeeding is not about YOUR comfort, it’s about baby and mom. I would love to know how did waiting until you were home work out? Babies (especially newborn babies) cannot wait to eat. They have tiny tummies. They are hungry. They will cry. It is so much easier to just feed a hungry baby and calm them down.

More comments that make me livid – what if my husband or my kids see your breasts? They don’t need to see that!

My response: God forbid your children see a mother feeding her baby! God forbid your husband see a boob! Has he never seen one? Why have we made breasts and breastfeeding such a taboo thing? If you see a mother breastfeeding her child you (and your husband) have the maturity to look away if it bothers you. Use this as a teaching moment for your children if they seem curious or have questions.

I have breastfed all three of my children. My son for a year, my daughter until she was almost three, and my baby is still nursing. Breastfeeding is a personal choice and overall I am glad I chose that for me and my babies. With my first two I was extremely self conscious and wanted privacy so I used a cover to nurse. It wasn’t always easy or comfortable.

With my third I said screw it and I nurse her without a cover, wherever I am, whenever she needs to nurse. I have NEVER been shamed for nursing my child. Most people do not give me a second glance. This is my personal way to normalize breastfeeding.

I also teach my children that this is how babies eat. To them a mother nursing a baby is normal. They are not traumatized by seeing it. As they grow up I hope it continues to be just a normal, every day thing to them. I believe if we make breastfeeding normal while our kids are little, they will grow up to be adults that also normalize breastfeeding.

To summarize, breastfeeding is normal. Breastfeeding is about the comfort of mother and baby. Breastfeeding does NOT require, a cover, privacy, or your permission. Teach your children that it is normal, and be sure to support the moms in your life you know that choose to breastfeed.

What is your experience with breastfeeding? Did you choose to feed your baby this way? Have you ever been shamed for doing so? Comment below.

After Baby: Navigating Postpartum Care

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After the excitement of laboring and delivering your new baby, a new sense of reality begins to set in.  If all goes smoothly and you have a relatively normal delivery then you will be discharged within a day or two to go home.

What happens then?  What do you need to get by?  Let me share my experience of not just the monetary things you need, but what you will need physically and emotionally the first few days.

*This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you*

1.  REST

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Having a baby is incredibly hard work.  You are likely exhausted, running on low sleep (if any), and it’s incredibly hard to rest in a hospital with nurses coming to check on your vitals frequently, or to make sure you have fed baby.  When you get home you will need sleep, you will need to recover from the amazing marathon your body just performed.

2. HELP

If you are going to rest, then you need help.  Help can come in many forms, but I speak from experience when I suggest you have family or a friend that can come and watch the baby for you while you sleep, bring you a glass of water, help you to the bathroom, whatever it is you need.  Often times our birth partners are tired from the birthing experience too and in those first few days I think it’s nice to have someone that is caught up on their sleep helping out.

3. PADS AND WITCH HAZEL

Whether you have a C-section or vaginal delivery you will need pads.  Postpartum bleeding can vary from woman to woman, but you will need an ample supply to keep yourself clean and comfortable.  Witch hazel is also very soothing. If you prefer you can purchase pads with witch hazel already on them.

4. BREASTFEEDING SUPPLIES

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If you choose to breastfeed you definitely need to invest in nursing pads (either washable or disposable) and some lanolin cream.  When your milk comes in and your supply is still balancing out you will be leaking and pads may make you feel more comfortable. The lanolin is great for soothing sore and cracked nipples and it is safe for baby as well.  If you are planning to pump and bottle feed you will also need to invest in a quality breast pump, bottles, and breastmilk storage bags. I also make it a priority to invest in some nursing bras that are wire free and comfortable to sleep in.

5. DIAPERS AND WIPES

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Babies go to the bathroom nonstop in those first six weeks.  It will feel like you are changing diapers constantly, and you are, so it is important to have a large supply of newborn or size 1 diapers depending on how quickly your baby will size up and plenty of wipes.  My favorite brand of wipes is Huggies Natural Care.

6. BASIC ONESIES

With how often you will be changing babies diaper you will not want an outfit that is complicated to take on and put back on.  Save the cute outfits for when baby is older or for a photo op, but in the meantime when you are recovering at home stick with basic simple onesies.

7. SELF CARE

It is really hard at first to focus on anything for yourself when you have a baby who is completely dependent on you.  But it is vitally important (and much easier if you have help) that you take the time to do basic things for yourself like shower, stay hydrated, rest, make sure you have a good diet.  I remember how terrified I was to take a shower and leave my baby alone for five minutes, but you can do it I promise, and your baby will be just fine.

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Eventually you will settle into a routine and the day to day care of your baby will become second nature.  This list is only the things I would suggest you have in the first few days of coming home to ease you both into the new life you have together.

Is there anything else you would add to this list that a mom needs in the first few days postpartum?  Comment below.

Finding Your Village

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We all have bad days.

Maybe it’s not even a particularly ‘bad’ day by definition, but it certainly feels like it to you. You feel irritated, overwhelmed, like there is too much to do and not enough time to do it, like you are being pulled in twenty different directions and just can’t cope.

Phew.

I am having one of those days today. It’s no secret I struggle with anxiety. I’ve talked about my struggle a bit here. I try to be cheerful and put a positive spin on things, but there are some days where it will hit me out of nowhere. And it sucks.

And this is why you NEED a village. Someone to pull you out of the funk. The calm to your crazy. You need friends. A support system.

I live 8 hours away from most of my family so that outlet does not exist for me. There are many days where I miss my mom and wish I could call her up and hang out with her (or dump the kids on her). On top of that I am a stay at home mom so I am with my kids literally ALL day.

Me and my husband. He is my rock, the calm to my crazy, my ‘person’ as Meredith would say.

I am very fortunate to have a husband that handles my mood swings and anxiety like it’s second nature to him. I am also fortunate to have a group of friends I discovered when I moved here a few years ago. We have shared the ups and downs of parenting and watched our kids grow up together. Without my husband and without my mom friends, I would be alone with my crazy self and oh my poor kids…

So here is where you can find your village:

THE PARK

Go to the park! Moms love the park. This is where we take the kids to get out their crazy energy, to get some vitamin C, and also to find some adult conversation. This is where I found my first mom friends when I moved here. Chances are you will find someone who needs a friend as much as you do. Don’t be shy! Strike up a conversation (moms love to talk about their kids), feel out the situation (some moms already have a ton of friends and don’t seem interested in having more), get a phone number, arrange a play date.

MEETUP

This app is where my new park friend led me. From here I found an entire group of mom friends to have play dates with, celebrate holidays, birthday parties, and to have a kids free night out. Meetup is great for finding people in your area, or you can create your own group if you feel so inclined.

This is my good friend Irene. We met through Meetup and now she’s stuck with me!

CHURCH

I know church is not everyone’s cup of tea. If you are not religious then you can bypass this one. But when I did attend church I loved interacting with the older folks that have already ‘been there, done that’. There is a lot of wisdom to be had from those that have already raised their kids. Chances are you will find someone that will encourage you, listen to you, and share in your struggles without offering judgement. Churches also tend to have a ton of activities geared toward kids.

There are plenty of other places to go out and find people, but these are the few I highly recommend (especially the park).

On days like today, when my anxiety is peaked, I know that it is temporary and I am grateful for the village I have found for me and my kids. And if my daughter wasn’t sick right now I would definitely be spending time with them.

Do you have your own village? Where do you go to meet new friends?