Happy Mama, Mom Life, Simplify, Stay-at-home-mom, Write 31 Days

31 Days to a Happy Home – Day 4: Create a Vision

Hello and Welcome to Happy Mama Life! This is my series for the Write 31 Days Challenge and I’m calling it 31 Days to a Happy Home.

Day 4 – Create a Vision

(If you’re following along, you probably have noticed that I’ve gotten behind. But I’m determined not to give us, so let’s press on together, shall we?)

I hope you read the first posts in this series, so you know where I’m coming from 🙂

Now that you’ve thought about your “perfect home” and “reality” here’s the next step.

Create a vision for your home. Compare your perfect ideal and your reality and come up with your ideal of what you want to work towards in your home. What is the happy medium that would challenge you, but also be doable?

For me, several words come to mind like peaceful, clean, and happy. It took me a little while to put it into words, but this is my vision for a happy home:

To have a house clean enough for our family to enjoy day to day and to invite people into our home anytime

To have a peaceful home where relationships are of higher value than things and people matter more than the jobs to be done

To make dinner a process rather than a task, and involve everyone together

To take care of our things and enjoy what we have

To be outside as much as possible

To work together to accomplish our tasks

To have fun together and independently

 

The next several posts will be more details on each of those things. I’m looking forward to sharing those ideas with you and challenging myself in these areas.

Happy Mama, Stay-at-home-mom, Write 31 Days

31 Days to a Happy Home – Day 3: Reality

Hello and Welcome to Happy Mama Life! This is my series for the Write 31 Days Challenge and I’m calling it 31 Days to a Happy Home.

Day 3 – Reality

Yesterday I asked you to think about your perfect home and what that would look like.

Of course, we all know that we aren’t going to have a perfect home – especially if we have kids, ha! But I think it helps to start there in our thinking to help us identify some of our goals.

So my next step (because remember, I’m on this journey with you!) is to compare my “perfect idea” with the reality of what is possible.

Some of the things on my list are completely doable with a little planning, organizing, and actually doing the work. Others are something to strive for, but most likely won’t be perfect. For example, I listed “fresh, clean, uncluttered space”. Now I have four children, under the age of six, so that doesn’t happen in perfection. There are toys and books out a lot because I want my kids to play and to enjoy reading. But it does help to have fewer toys that they really enjoy and that can be put away easily at the end of the day.

Another example would be that I wrote “dinner is cooked every night in a relaxed fashion and I have everything I need at my fingertips. Again, I have kids so “relaxed fashion” is a pipe dream! But I can save myself a lot of brain work by having a list of meals we enjoy and by knowing what we are having for dinner early in the day.

Those are just my examples, I know you will have your own. I’ll continue this idea of casting a vision for your home tomorrow, but start today by looking at your “perfect” list and thinking about which ideas are doable and which ones need some tweaking to fit into your reality.

Happy Mama, Mom Life, Write 31 Days

31 Days to a Happy Home : Day 2 – Creating a Vision

Hello and Welcome to Happy Mama Life! This is my series for the Write 31 Days Challenge and I’m calling it 31 Days to a Happy Home.

Day 2 –

Hello friends! Thanks for coming back for day 2 –  Let’s jump in!

Anyone who starts a business, a ministry, or even just plans a vacation somewhere, has a vision and a plan. Today we’re going to talk about a vision for your home. You might not have ever thought about it, but starting with what you want your home to be like and envisioning that is the first step.

So what IS a happy home? It could mean different things for different people. So what would YOUR happy home look like?

I want you to think about what your “Perfect home” would look like. I know you’re thinking “Wait a minute! Didn’t you say this wasn’t about having a perfect home?” Yes. You’re right, I did say that. And I mean it. But stick with me for a couple of days so we can work through this vision process.

A “Perfect” home for me would mean a couple of things:

  • Fresh, clean, uncluttered space
  • Laundry and dishes done every day
  • Everything cleaned on a regular basis
  • Pantry and fridge well stocked with healthy foods (and my kids actually eat them)
  • My kids listen, obey, and play well together, and help with chores around the house
  • Dinner is cooked every night in a relaxed fashion and I have everything I need at my fingertips.
  • Paperwork is completed and organized
  • We spend time enjoying outdoors, reading books, cuddling on the couch, and playing with the kids with toys they love

 

I could go on. But those are some things that I would envision as a perfect house. We’ll talk tomorrow about going from “perfect ideal” to reality, so I hope you’ll come back for that! But today take a few minutes and make your list of what would be a perfect home. I would love it if you shared it in the comments!

 

Happy Mama, Stay-at-home-mom, Write 31 Days

31 Days to a Happy Home – Day 1

Hello and Welcome to Happy Mama Life! This is my series for the Write 31 Days Challenge and I’m calling it 31 Days to a Happy Home.

Day 1

First of all I want to say this series is 31 days to a happy home … not a perfect home, not a home where nothing ever goes wrong, and not a “we have it all together” home.

For one thing, this is the first day of the writing challenge and if you could see me now you would know that it’s 10:00pm and I’m typing this post. I was planning to write it this morning, and then at nap time and then sometime this evening. But today I’ve had a sick child, a baby off his normal schedule, and a couple of wild boys. So let me start off by saying that my house is definitely not perfect. But this series is meant to be an encouragement to you, and honestly, to me.

I want to look at what really makes a happy home and what are some practical steps that you and I can make to move towards a happy home for ourselves, our family that resides in our home, and our extended family and friends that we welcome into our homes.

I hope that you’ll join me in this journey towards a happier home and that it will be an encouragement to you.

If you’re new here at the blog, I’m Hannah and I’m a wife to Harrison and a mom to four kiddos under six years old. I use this blog to share encouragement to mom and tips and tricks for busy women. I share the same kinds of things over on my youtube channel if you’re interested in that. You can check that out here. 

I would love to “meet” you, so please comment and let me know you’re here and how I can help!

Write 31 Days

31 Days to a Happy Home – Write 31 Days Challenge

Hello friends!

I’m excited to be joining in the Write 31 Days Challenge  a challenge to write every day in the month of October!

I’m calling this series “31 Days to a Happy Home” – notice I didn’t say a perfect home, but a happy home. I hope you’ll join me for this series as we all seek to make our home happy and welcoming for ourselves, our family, and our friends.

All of the posts will be linked here as they’re added, so you can find them all here throughout the month.

Day 1 – Welcome

Day 2 – Creating a Vision 

Day 3 – Reality

Happy Mama, Homeschooling, Routines

Back to School Tips for Homeschoolers

It’s almost time for Back to School!

OK, well, for homeschoolers that may or may not be true. Maybe you homeschool year round, or maybe you started school in July, or maybe you’re not starting back until September – you can do whatever you want! But we have chosen a traditional school year so we’re getting ready to start soon! These are some practical and fun things I’m planning for this school year.

Side note: As a fairly new homeschool mom, I sort of feel unqualified to offer “homeschool tips”. I’m still figuring some of this out! But I’m also a second generation homeschoolers and was homeschooled from kindergarten to twelfth grade, so I do have a little experience under my belt.

Create a Routine

Homeschooling offers lots of freedom and flexibility, and while we love that, it’s helpful to give your kids (“students”) an idea of what to expect from day to day. It doesn’t have to be a rigid schedule of time blocks (unless you want it to be), but a general idea of what is coming next is helpful. I’m planning another post on our family’s routine soon! Maybe take some time to explain the routine the night before, or on the first day of school and then implement it each day your first week to get everyone used to it.

Plan your Lunches

I don’t know about you, but lunchtime can be a little hectic and I can end up standing in front of the fridge just wondering what to feed everyone. You might consider it a perk of homeschooling that you don’t have to pack lunches every day, but planning ahead can create a peaceful mealtime with minimal interruptions to your school day. You can make this as simple or as involved as you want. You could prepare lunches the night before (Maybe even put it in lunch boxes for fun!) or just make a note of what you’re planning to eat. If you have older kids who can fix their own lunch you could put a “Menu” on the fridge of lunch options that are available. I recommend some Simple kid lunch ideas here  And don’t forget your own lunch! My favorite is to have a salad for lunch (which I eat with lots of dressing!) so I feel like I had something healthy and filling.

Give Yourself Quiet Time

As homeschool moms we are with our kids ALL the time – which is great! But it can also be exhausting. With little kids, nap time is a helpful time to take a breather and refocus for the rest of the day. But older kids (and moms of older kids) need rest and quiet too. So I recommend that you have a set “quiet time” every day. After lunch in the early afternoon seems to work well, but do what works best for your routine. Send everyone to their own space for rest or for reading, drawing, listening to music, even playing quietly. My younger kids still nap, but my oldest has time in her room and has a clock so she knows when it’s time for her to come out. I use that time for my own rest or reading.

Remember to keep it Fun!

There is plenty of work involved in schooling our kids, but I always consider that my biggest job is to help them develop a love for learning. I don’t want to just stuff them full of information and hope they remember it. I want them to discover how to learn for themselves and to dive into subjects that they are interested in. And I truly believe that when they think it’s fun to learn, they will learn more and learn well. Let your kids choose fun science projects, or make messy art. Read books with them about adventures and wonderful stories and about nature and the world around us. Math facts are important, but alongside those be sure to play games and sing songs and enjoy the journey.

 

We are looking forward to a fun year and I wish you the same!

 

Happy Mama, Lunch, Meal Prep, Mom Life, Preschool, Simplify

SIMPLE LUNCHES FOR KIDS

Do you ever find yourself staring into the fridge around noon while your kids are climbing the walls and declaring that they are starving just hoping that some prepared meal is going to suddenly appear for you to take out and serve for lunch?

Me too!

Lunch is one of those things that use to stress me out. I would try every day to come up with some grand meal for my kids that wasn’t the same thing they had eaten yesterday. But I finally figured something out: my kids don’t care if they ate it yesterday! They don’t care if they have the same meal every day for lunch all the time. So I stopped trying to be super creative and decided to be super simple instead. I do have a few different options that I pull out, but for the most part lunch for kids is pretty much the same things. Here’s what we do:

Protein Choices: Cheese and Turkey cut up into bites (or something fun shapes if I’m being really fun), yogurt, peanut butter sandwich, or peanut butter spread on crackers, or a spoonful of peanut butter

Grain Choices: Whole wheat crackers, pretzels, cheese crackers

Fruit Choices: grapes, bananas, apple sauce, or oranges. (I’ll pick one or two that they have all week)

That’s it! Super simple, super quick, super happy kids, non-stressed mama.

 

Part two of how this works really well for us is this: Make lunches for the whole week!

Since I’m a stay-at-home-mom and we homeschool, we are home for lunch most days. But I figured out it was still easier to pack a bunch of lunches at the start of the week and then when my kids are unable to live without food a second longer ready for lunch I can just grab the containers from the fridge and set them on the table. It also works great for days that we have co op or head out for a playdate or even need to run errands during lunch time. I don’t have to even think about it, I just throw the containers in a bag and we’re ready to go. I like these Bento Divided Lunch Containers the best, especially since they have different colored lids for each kid.

 

Do your kids have a favorite lunch?

 

 

Birmingham Moms Blog, Pregnancy, Routines, Simplify

SURVIVING THE FIRST TRIMESTER WITH OLDER CHILDREN – BMB POST

This is my latest post for Birmingham Moms Blog!

People always ask if my pregnancies have been similar or different (usually it’s a question of feeling different with different gender babies). But my first pregnancy is so much harder to compare with the others. Why? Because it was my first baby and I only had to worry about myself and the baby on the inside — not other littles that were running around outside my body!

If I was tired after working all day, I would tell my husband the dishes could wait in the sink while I lay on the couch. But with my second, third, and now fourth pregnancies, things have been very different. I still don’t have a lot of energy during the first trimester, but there are a lot of people counting on me and I have to keep things afloat a lot more than I did that first time.

So how do you survive the exhausting first trimester when you have other kids running around? These are just a few things I have found helpful.

Click here to read the rest of the post – – – – – – >

Homeschooling, Kindergarten

HOMESCHOOL KINDERGARTEN CURRICULUM

We are officially a couple months into “real” homeschool journey in kindergarten. Phoebe misses the kindergarten age cutoff for public school by about a month, so if she were going to public school she would not be in kindergarten this year. But we felt she was definitely ready to start some formal learning and that’s one thing I love about homeschooling – the flexibility to do what works for each child! And we will just see where she is as she grows, whether we need to slow down or keep going. But so far it’s going great and she loves it!

We chose a gentle kindergarten curriculum and so far I’m very happy with our choice. I had read a lot about Charlotte Mason teaching methods, and I love the idea of reading and learning around what she calls “living books”. As a little bit of a type A personality, I felt like I needed a really concrete curriculum to feel like I was covering all the bases.

I’ll be completely honest. Last year we did preschool at home, and while I loved it and I do feel like Phoebe learned a lot, I just wasn’t very good at being consistent and I wouldn’t prepare well ahead of time. So when I found a curriculum that was all planned out and told me what to do every day I was stoked! I know that doesn’t work for everyone, but right now since I’m homeschooling and have a preschooler and a baby at home too it just helped me to have it all laid out.

I did look at and consider a number of different programs before I chose this one. The program we chose is My Father’s World Kindergarten – “God’s Creation from A to Z”. You can read more details and see samples of the curriculum on their website (because of copyright I won’t share any images of the actual curriculum pages here.)

Not only is it a great curriculum with learning letter sounds and learning to read, it’s also ALL about the world around us and  both Phoebe and Phin are enjoying learning about creation. So far we have talked about things like the science of leaves and trees, the sun and moon, and learned about apples and different types of animal homes. We get to do crafts and experiments mixed in with handwriting practice. A lot of these would just get left out if I were planning it on my own. But the curriculum is FUN! There is plenty of play included, like dancing to classical music and tracing shadows outside. And of course, we read loads and loads of books – my library card is certainly getting a workout!

We have added a few things to the curriculum just because I feel like Phoebe is benefitting from it. You do not have to add anything to the kindergarten curriculum. We are using “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”. We had already started it and so we are continuing. We are almost halfway through and I’m proud of how well she is doing. We’re also using Math-u-see Primer. It’s a good base of math skills. Phoebe really likes it. I’m still not sure if I love it, but it works so I can’t complain and we’re going to finish it, so I’ll hold off my review on that.

One thing I love about My Father’s World is that they have really thought through making it work for a homeschooling FAMILY. It’s easy to incorporate younger children into what we’re doing. And if we continue to use it as we get into the upper grades of the curriculum it combines a lot of the work for the whole family. That way the teacher (i.e. me) doesn’t have to prep multiple lessons for multiple students, it just teaches a lesson and gives assignments for each student based on grade level. We’re a little ways away from that, but I hope that will work well for us one day.

So that’s our Kindergarten plan! I’ll be sure to post a review when we’re finished to let you know how the year went and my thoughts after doing the full curriculum.

 

Community, friends, Happy Mama, Mom Life, Stay-at-home-mom

BUILDING COMMUNITY AS A STAY-AT-HOME-MOM

I have a passion for building community and living and sharing life with the people around us.  But as a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) it can be a real challenge to find community and build solid relationships in between diaper changes and nap times.  Here are a few suggestions for building community as a SAHM:

  • Attend or start a playgroup – Playgroup can be so simple if you just get started. All you need are some moms, some kids, and a place to meet.  A group of moms from our church gets together every other week.  We take turns hosting at different houses so no one person feels overwhelmed, and whoever shows up, shows up.  It’s not a big commitment, and it just works as an automatic plan.  See if there are playgroups already going on in your church or neighborhood, and if not, start one!

  • Meet new people – Kids are a GREAT way to meet new people and make friends because it is SO easy to start a conversation about your kids.  Take your kids to the park or indoor playground and just start making conversation with other moms.
  • Video chat for Coffee – Let’s face it, some days it’s just too much to get out of the house.  Schedules might be crazy and getting everybody dressed and ready to get out the door can be a lot of work.  So once your kiddos are down for a nap or having quiet play time (or a movie!), grab a cup of coffee and “meet” a friend over a video chat.  Be sure to schedule it ahead of time, and be and mindful of each other’s time, but this can be a great way to sit down for a conversation without leaving the house.

  • Make friends in your neighborhood – There’s nothing better than having a friend next door or just down the street! Start building relationships with the people around you by inviting a neighbor over for coffee or to take your kids for a walk in the neighborhood.
  • Communicate frequently – It’s hard to build relationships when you only see someone once a week or a couple of times a month.  Make it a habit to communicate frequently with your friends, whether that means getting together, talking on the phone, or just sending a “How are you this week?” text once in a while.

Having children is a true blessing, but the time when they are little can be difficult to build and maintain relationships.  Take the time to make friends and invite people into your life where you are and walk through the childhood years in real community.

What are some other ways you can live in community as a busy SAHM??