Meal prep for the busy mom: Stay-at-Home Mom side hustle

Whoa, life has been BUSY these past couple weeks. With the start of school for my oldest, family visiting, birthday parties and more, it’s been a minute since I’ve found the time to sit down and write about all that’s going on in life. I’m feeling pretty stressed these days, trying to find some balance in my life with all that’s going on. I’m trying to make a new life for my little family, trying to find a job after 8 years at home, and it’s not easy. But, in the midst of all the chaos, I also have a new opportunity that I began this week that I’m pretty excited about! I’m looking forward to sharing this new journey with you as it grows, evolves and becomes whatever it may be ;-). I don’t have a name yet for this new side gig, but I’m thinking something on the line of, “Meal Prepping Momma for all you Busy Mommas.” I’m not so great with names, so by all means, if you have one, help this momma out ;-).

new beginnings

A couple weeks ago a friend I grew up with connected me with one of her mom friends who was looking for some childcare help. If you’ve been following my journey, you probably know that my ex has left me any boys with no financial means to stand on. I’m actively looking for employment opportunities, but with no money at all for childcare, and no car, well it’s been challenging. I’ve been extremely frustrated these past few weeks with the legal process. It’s been almost 6 months and I still have not been granted rights to the proceeds from our home, assets, accounts etc. The legal system is so maddening at times, but I’ll save more on that part of my life for another post.

Embracing new opportunities

Today I want to talk about something exciting, as I haven’t had a lot of that in recent months! As I was chatting with this mom, we began talking about health and wellness and how I love helping other moms get fit and healthy. She told me that having healthy family meals and prioritizing nutrition more for her family is a priority, but she finds herself having little time and motivation to cook. When she asked me if I would be interested in being paid to meal prep for her family one day a week I jumped at the opportunity. Not only do I love helping other families eat clean, but it also has forced me to explore and try out some new recipes for my family as well. It’s a work in progress and we’re still trying to figure out what will work best for both of us, but yesterday was my first day and I feel like it was a success. She sent me an email end of last week with her wish list for this week. I took what she was looking for, researched recipes, came up with a food list and sent it to her. She stopped and got any items that she didn’t have on my list before I got there yesterday.

Clean eating for the whole family

This week she was looking for a healthy breakfast to have on hand for the week, protein balls for the kids, a healthy veggie dip, chili, and a stuffed cabbage recipe. We discussed things like reducing sugar intake and staying away from processed foods. Over the past few years, I’ve worked with a lot of moms and families who find it challenging to find easy healthy meals that everyone in the house will eat. I love a challenge. I love trying to find recipes that will not only be good for you, but also be loved by both grownups and kids. Eating healthy, nutrient dense food doesn’t have to be extremely difficult. It doesn’t take hours in the kitchen each day, but if you put a little work in one day a week it can make a huge difference. Mornings with kids for me are difficult so I personally like to have a couple healthy breakfast items prepped for the week. I also find when my kids eat a nutritious breakfast it really sets their mood and energy for the day, so making sure they start their day off right is a priority for me. After my oldest got on the bus yesterday I headed over to her house and got to work. She has a beautiful kitchen which was fun to play around in. It took me a little while to figure out where everything was etc., so I think next week will go much more smoothly.

I’ll be sharing my recipes that I prep for this family each week under my fitness tab! If you’re looking for some yummy, healthy family recipes be sure to check in there weekly to see my latest finds. I’ll give you my honest feedback, which recipes were a keeper, and also ones that I would adjust and how!

Free events at the town library

My boys and I recently moved back to the town I grew up in, and it’s been so strange being back in my hometown after 20 years. Man, just saying that out loud makes me feel old. We had quite the group of friends in Florida, for both me and my boys. It’s been challenging at times to find things to keep ourselves busy and we have become frequent visitors to the town’s library. 

It is the cutest little library, with such a tight knit small community feeling to it. Oddly, I don’t remember frequenting the library as much as when I was a kid as I am now. As I was signing my oldest up for the summer reading program, I noticed that the library had all these free events and classes that you could register for. Being on a very strict budget right now, the word FREE struck my mind. One night while enjoying a glass of wine I got clicker happy and signed up for just about every event they had for the summer, lol. We did not end up attending all the events we signed up for, but we did manage to participate in three of them and they were a hit.

Bug Day

First up, Bug Day! Let’s get real. I am not a fan of bugs. I really find it odd that anyone would want to study bugs as their profession. But, as a mom to two little boys, I’ve often been forced to go on bug hunts, and create an overnight habitat for my son’s most recent find. It’s definitely forced me to get out of my comfort zone when it comes to outside creatures. Isn’t it funny how being a mom can do that? It’s amazing how many new things I’ve been forced to try since becoming a mom.

My oldest was right in his element. He had a blast. I was very thankful that my mom decided to tag along, as what I had thought was going to be an entirely outside event, started with a 45 min presentation inside talking about the anatomy of bugs. Totally manageable for my 7-year-old, but my very active 21-month-old…well anyone that has a toddler knows how that ends up. Unfortunately (maybe?), I missed most of the inside presentation as I was chasing my toddler up and down the library stairs as we waited for the group to go outside for the bug hunt. 

Eventually a large group of happy, energetic kids scurried outside with tiny jars in their hands, ready to go hunt for the bugs they had learned about. It brought me so much joy to watch all the kids running around, digging through dirt, looking at the trees, underneath the rocks, working together to find in (their eyes) a bunch of miraculous insects. I was amazed to see how all of them were helping each other out when some kids were getting sad that they hadn’t caught one. Thankfully to all the moms and dads there, the teacher made them free their finds before returning home, so I didn’t end up coming home with 5 new insects. 

Pirates lost at sea with Talewise

Next up on the calendar was Pirates Lost at Sea with Talewise and my son and I absolutely loved this one! Out of the three events we attended this was my absolute favorite. I was extremely thankful that my mom agreed to watch my youngest which allowed me to be fully present and enjoy watching this extremely engaging event with the kids. Talewise is an interactive educational S.T.EA.M program for libraries, schools, scouts, camps, etc. It’s a program emphasized on story telling all while teaching kids that science can be fun. A woman from Talewise was there and she told an interactive story about two boys out at sea encountering pirates and throughout the story she incorporated science experiments for the children to participate in. It was nonstop engagement and interaction with the kids, and I found myself smiling and laughing throughout the entire presentation. My son LOVES science and stories, so it was perfect for him. From toilet paper blowing from the waves at sea, to eruptions and more, I can’t say enough positive things about this performance. I would definitely attend another event hosted by them!

Summer concert with the Toe Jam Puppet Band

The last event that we attended was a celebration of the completion of the summer reading program. The Toe Jam Puppet Band came to perform, and my son had an amazing time. The Toe Jam Puppet Band is a children’s entertainment group from New Bedford MA. Unfortunately for this one I did not get to participate as much, as my 20-month-old was with me and had an ear infection and I think the loudness of the band was a little too much for his ears. Him and I spent the majority of the time in and out of the room where the band was playing, running up and down the halls, and trying to persuade him back in the room. Normally this would be something he would LOVE, so it totally caught me off guard when he started crying. Although I didn’t get to see the whole performance, every chance I had to sneak back in the room was greeted with dancing, laughing and full-on fun for the kids. My son was smiling, jumping around, and having the time of his life. They ended the show with some hula hooping and I was very impressed at all kids’ hula skills!

Toe Jam Puppet Band

My Toddler’s First Lovey

It’s been a week guys. Let’s be honest, it’s been 4 and then some months. To say my kids have had to go through some serious changes is an understatement. 

I’m overwhelmed, completely drained, and I’ve been really struggling with short naps and early morning waking’s for my 20 month old. I’m a Babywise mom. I thrive on schedules. It helps keep me sane, something my ex and I always fought about. But don’t we all do better with a routine? I know when I have some sort of consistent routine, my mind feels so much more calm, and I’ve always been a firm believer that kids thrive on that too! My first born was so so easy. Yes he came 6 weeks early and was only 3 lbs, but, he was the HAPPIEST baby, and the easiest baby to sleep train once he weighed enough. I read the Babywise book and thought wow, this book is ingenious. It worked just like it said! I followed the book to a T and within weeks my oldest was sleeping through the night and napping like a champ.

Fast forward 5 and ½ years later to my second born, and well let’s just say I’ve been pondering pretty much every day what I’m doing wrong. Re-adjusting wake windows, getting the room that much darker, turning up the sound machine…it’s a constant guessing game. Don’t get me wrong, my son, after lots of babywise conversations, following all the sleep training Instagram accounts, and lots of hard work, has been “sleeping through the night” since he was probably 6 months old. But those first 5 months …they were rough, and I was doing it all alone. Not only were we having LONG nights but he was a chronic 40 minute napper for about 10 months. 

Finally things seemed to click and I thought I had it figured out, it was such an awesome feeling. Sleep, it’s an amazing thing, right?! We had about 4 months of a blissful 2 hour nap schedule, and sleeping until almost 7am. I felt like a new woman. And then our entire lives were uprooted and his sleep became a puzzle once again. I try to remind myself that he still is a pretty great sleeper. He has independent sleep skills, and he sleeps 10-12 hours at night. But, we’ve been two months into transitioning to 1 nap and have gone from having 2 one hour and a half naps, to 1 at max hour and 15 minute nap, most days it’s much less than that, and that’s a huge chunk of mommy time! Today he was up at 5, and only took a 30 minute nap, and I’m left once again thinking… I must be missing something. 

I love my baby boy. But, right now, going through all the changes, coping with all the emotions, the legal battle, wearing all the hats… I’m finding it extremely hard to find time to breathe and do all the million things that need to be done.

So tonight, I’m trying something new…again. I brought out Monkey George at bedtime. My oldest loved his Monkey George. I asked my youngest if he wanted to take the monkey to bed with him. It was the cutest thing. He looked at his new found friend, gave him the sweetest hug and kiss, looked at his bed and then at me and said, “Monkey bed?” I started laughing, because it was at that moment, I realized that he was thinking the monkey was taking his place in bed and he was getting to stay up. After a quick chuckle, another hug and kiss, I quickly put him in bed with his new friend, and told him, monkey can sleep with you tonight. Cuddle and give him love. I kissed him goodnight and walked away watching him lay in awe of his new bedtime companion laying next to him.

Will this help tonight? Will he sleep past 5? We shall see…but his sweet face laying there with his friend, priceless. 

Survival Tips for Raising Boys

I grew up with two older brothers so when life blessed me with two boys I thought I knew what I was getting into. Being a single mom to two very active boys is quite the adventure and keeps me on my toes all day long. Looking back there are some things that would have been helpful to have known. So if you are about to be a boy mom, or recently had a boy, here you go! 

  1. Forget about the toys. Seriously. Invest in a nugget, or some soft padded mats. I promise you, it doesn’t matter how many toys you have, all they want to do is climb on things, jump on things, and wrestle. At least this is the case with mine. 
  2. Teach them how to use Lysol wipes in the bathroom, and make sure you stock up on wipes now in case of another pandemic. It doesn’t matter how much practice you give them in potty manners, your bathroom will consistently smell like pee. I think I could give my oldest a toilet the size of a pond and he’d still miss it. 
  3. Watch your head. It is only a matter of time before you get hit in the head by a toy, or a shoe while driving. 
  4. Get outside every day, as much as possible. If it’s raining, send them out in rain boots and let them play in puddles. On days we spend more time outside, mentally we are all in a much better place. 
  5. It’s ok to let them play with nerf guns. We all want to raise sweet loving boys. But, even if you don’t buy them toy guns or swords, they will turn everything they can find into a pretend weapon. It will be ok, boys can be kind and sweet and still have nerf gun fights. 
  6. Fart jokes become the norm, embrace it and have fun with it. Look up the song, “Momma tooted.” And then either thank me or hate me for it 😉
  7. Always have coffee and wine on hand. 
  8. Find yourself some mom friends that also are raising boys. I promise you, it makes all the difference. Nothing gives me more laughs than looking back at some text threads with my fellow boy moms. 
  9. Let them cry, let them have their big feelings. Talk to them. Let them feel safe opening up. Boys need to know that it’s ok for men to feel the big feelings, it doesn’t make them weak. 
  10. There is no such thing as personal space. The bathroom with the door locked is your new place of brief solitude. 

Finally, and this one is the most important one. Boys love their mommies. Hug them a million times a day and more. The days are long and trying, but their hugs, slobbery kisses, and giggles make every single moment worth it. As crazy as they drive you daily, they also have a way of making you feel like the prettiest, most special woman on the planet. I always wanted a little girl. But I have to tell you, now having two fun loving little boys, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

raising boys

The Easiest Backyard Water Slide

At our old house in Florida we had a pool and AC. And although the summers here are in general way less hot, we’ve had some hot humid days here and I’ve been trying to find creative ways to cool off without spending any money. 

boys playing on water slide

This idea really belongs solely to my 7 year old. He dumped some of the water out of the kiddy pool onto the grass right in front of our Little Tykes slide, wet the slide, and voila! One hour of pure muddy, wet entertainment for both my 20 month old and 7 year old.

Finding safe activities that make them both happy isn’t always easy! 

Doesn’t get much simpler than that! I think we got our Little Tykes slide off Amazon for about $20. Best $20 I’ve ever spent.