11 Frugal Ways To Cut Back On Living Costs

I have a problem.

It’s called Amazon Prime.

I mean, who doesn’t want 2 day shipping, guaranteed? Well sometimes it’s not guaranteed because we have this thing called WINTER in Canada.

Being able to shop for groceries online and have them delivered to your house sounds pretty amazing, right? I’ve never tried it but I was tempted to when my second baby was born, 7 months ago. When you haven’t showered in 5 days and you’re too tired to even put regular clothing on, having groceries delivered sounds like a dream come true.

Convenience is what motivates many of us to make the purchases that we do. But you know what isn’t convenient?

Debt.

I think the majority of people my age, that I personally know have some form of debt whether that be student loans, a mortgage or credit card debt. I have mixed feelings about debt. I think it’s inevitable at some point in your life that you will have some form of debt.

I’m all about finding ways to cut down our our expenses as we have financial goals set for our family. Amazon Prime doesn’t align with my goals of being frugal and owning a home one day. Curse you Amazon Prime!

But I want to share ways we cut back on our spending.

  • Limit or eliminate Eating At Restaurants or Takeout : Why does food always taste better when someone else prepares and cooks it? Seriously. It could be a hotdog someone else microwaved and I’m all over it. Buying lunch usually costs $10 plus a $3 coffee a day (or more if you’re fancy) which adds up to $65 a week alone. If you factor in eating dinner out, a few times a week that’s easily another $50 or so. You could be saving $300 (or more) by limiting take out and packing your own meals.
  • Cook More and Buy Less Packaged (and processed) Foods: Sometimes I enjoy cooking but most of the time I only enjoy it if my husband and I are cooking together. One thing I’ve noticed with our grocery bills is the difference in what we spend when we buy less packaged, processed foods. Packaged is easier, no doubt about it! But it’s also more expensive because it’s convenient. I try to set myself up for success with very simple meals because it’s a generally chaotic time of the day. The more you cook, the healthier meals tend to be, as well. We do NOT eat organic, Keto or paleo. We have no allergies. I Have thoughts on the whole organic thing but that is a post for another day! If eating organic is extremely important to you but you have a tight budget then you will have to adjust your spending and other areas so that you can have a more flexible grocery budget
  • Have A Grocery Budget (and stick to it). When Dave and I first married, we spent about $50 in groceries a week, sometimes less. Since then we’ve fluctuated in what we spend on groceries. Recently I’ve reset our weekly budget because it was OUT OF CONTROL and I’m amazed at how little we can spend if we try. I challenge myself to do a few meatless meals a week, cook with all the meat I already have (in the freezer) and get creative with leftovers. Our budget isn’t $50 a week anymore, partly because we have a baby who drinks formula. But with some tweaking here and there we can typically eat within a budget of $65 to $80 right now, including formula.
  • Buy In Bulk. Speaking of Costco! It might be worth it to consider a Sam’s Club or Costco membership. In Canada a Costco (gold) membership costs $60 per year or $5 a month. You could easily split that cost in half and share with someone else in your family or even a friend. It’s easy to overspend at Costco if you don’t plan ahead. We typically purchase diapers, wipes, toilet paper and paper towels at Costco, once a month.
  • Shop Secondhand (especially for kids): I switched over to purchasing second clothing around the time I was getting married. I watched a documentary about the negative impact fast fashion is having on our world, today. It changed the way I went about purchasing most things. 90% of the clothing we wear as a family is second hand. I’m not a name brand person to begin with but surprisingly you can find some great brands when shopping second hand. So my 7 month old is a few pounds behind his 21 month old brother. Buying new clothing for him would be like lighting my money on fire. I have this mentality with all baby gear and things in our home as well. If I can find it second hand and repurpose it (if it needs it) then I’m going to do it. You can read more about my tips on buying second hand here.
cloth diapers
  • Invest in Reusable, Low or Zero Waste Products: We spend less than $60 a month on diapers. That is because we mostly cloth diaper. It’s fortunate for us that currently, the boys wear the same size diaper. My 7 month old and 21 month old wear the same size diaper! One box of Kirkland’s and one box of Huggies overnights gets us through the month, with 2 weeks worth of Kirkland’s leftover. Cloth diapers has saved us SO MUCH! And if you think we spend a ton on hydro/water from washing them all the time, read THIS. I also use reusable sanitary products which you can read more about here. We bring our reusable grocery and produce bags to the store.
  • Cut Down On Your Utilities. While utilities is included in the cost of our rent, we try to practice being smart with how/when we use our water and electricity because one day we will pay for these things. Where I live in Canada, they have on and off peak times of hydro/water usage. This means that you are charged more on your usage depending on what time of day/day of the week it is. As much as possible, We try to do laundry, shower and run the dishwasher during off peak times. Even with having cloth diapers to wash, I’m only washing them twice a week. Since my husband is in HVAC, he makes sure that the AC/Furnace are running efficiently. He changes out the filter and we close windows when we are running the air or heat. You could open windows for air circulation during the day, turn off lights when not in use and unplug appliances. Reuse dishwater for watering plants etc.
  • Do It Yourself: I am a HUGE fan of DIY. Most people probably think arts and crafts when it comes to DIY. But DIY can apply to so many things in life. It’s kinda scary how dependant we’ve become on others, to do things for us as a society. I’m wary of paying others to do everything for me. It’s good to have some SKILLS, am I right? I’m not very good with power tools but I’m letting my husband teach me. We’ve made all the decor in our home. I’m taking sewing classes this fall and we grow a garden every year. We learned how to can from my husband’s grandfather and we started experimenting with dehydrating different foods a few summers ago. My husband and I both grew up with fathers who were handy so naturally, it’s simple logic for us to learn to do certain things for ourselves. My husband is also in the trades so he’s extremely skilled with tools. We initially took our oldest son to a hairdresser for his first haircut but going forward, I’ll just cut it with my husband’s clippers. I know someone who does hair out of her apartment so I get my hair done (cut and highlights) at half the cost of what I used to pay in a salon. I LOVE a good shellac pedicure but I have a bag full of nail polish that I can use to paint my toenails for FREE.
  • Take Care Of What You Already Have: You might be wondering how this saves you money? I think it’s pretty simple but if you take good care of what you already own, the chances of it breaking and needing to be replaced are less likely. Inevitably there are things in life that will need replacing. But how much money do we waste because we are careless? My husband is in a field of work that places him inside people’s homes. He has seen everything you can imagine. He said what frustrates him is to see how people do not maintain their homes. A home is easily the largest investment of a person’s life. Why wouldn’t you take care of it? We don’t own a home yet but you can imagine that we’ve learned a lot about what not to do from the things my husband has seen. I think it’s important to note here that not everything can be done yourself. Sometimes you need to hire an expert so you don’t try to fix something way beyond your skill set.
  • Have One Car, Walk or Take Public Transit: Apart from a few months when we first married and then 1.5 years when my husband had a job with a work truck, we’ve only ever had one car. Right now he works really close to home and I am able to walk where I need to. Driving places with two babies kinda gives me anxiety right now so one car works well for us but it’s also a mindset. Do I HAVE to go somewhere every day? I usually spend money if I do. Having one car means you are paying less in terms of gas, insurance and car payment (or even LESS if you owe nothing on your car). It’s not always easy during the winter time to have one car but in the past I have driven my husband to work if I needed the car that day. During the summer I walk everywhere with the boys. We are fortunate to live in an area where parks, community centres and grocery stores are within walking distance. My dad takes public transit EVERY day into the city of San Diego. He enjoys his commute for the most part and it’s saving him a fortune in gas!
  • Live In A Place You Can Afford. This is unique to each family based on location, income and financial responsibilities. We currently rent because it’s what fits our budget at this time while we have other financial obligations to resolve before we can take on the cost of a mortgage. The cost of living is quite high, where we live. It could change at some point but we’ve lived the majority of our marriage in basement apartments and always in a shared dwelling place. This means that to some degree where we’ve lived, we’ve had to share the building with another person or family. Do I always LOVE it? Nope. Is it what works for us? Yes! When I really struggle with my perspective in this area, I try to remember that I get to be home with my babies every day for the next few years or longer. I’m so grateful and I wouldn’t trade that for the world even if it means that owning our own home is awhile away for us.

We are a single income family and we’ve been a single income family the majority of our marriage. I’m sure someone could say, “Just get a job, Sarah.” Thanks but I already have one. I’m raising my kids! And that’s not to say that a mom who works another job outside the home isn’t raising her kids. But where we live the cost of childcare would make going back to work completely pointless, for what I would earn. One income is what we’ve learned to live on. It takes discipline and perspective to live this way and we aren’t perfect at it. I think it’s taught us a lot about what we need versus what we want. It’s also fast tracking us to resolving financial obligations and having more freedom with our hard earned money!

What are ways that you cut down on the cost of living and save in your home? I’d love to hear from you!

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4 Toddler Activities That Build Fine Motor Skills.

I like screen time. Sometimes I even LOVE screen time. And I don’t just mean for myself.

The first word out of my toddler’s mouth in the morning is usually, “BLIPPI!” If you don’t know who Blippi is, go check him out. You may thank me or hate me!

Lately I’ve been putting together some age appropriate activities for my 20 month old to keep him busy throughout the day that don’t involve screen time. I do this for a few reasons. I have a 6 month old who takes a morning nap and I need the house to be somewhat quiet. Now that my oldest is officially a toddler, I feel like he’s capable of learning to be quiet while his brother naps AND able to work on some fine motor skills.

My educational background is in ECE (early childhood education) so I enjoy putting these things together! Its important to remember that every child is different. I could go on a soap box about this. I take some issues with standardized education because I’ve seen the vast differences in a child’s development, during my years of teaching and now, as a mom. We’re taught 7 learning styles when studying ECE. Every human being learns differently and that is why I believe standardized education is too narrow of an approach to learning.

I digress.

Deep breath.

Today I’m going to share 4 toddler activities that build fine motor skills and that I’ve actually tested on my own toddler. The best part is you can put these things together for little to ZERO cost. I had most of these things already or I ran to the dollar store for a few things. As with all baby and toddler activities, PLEASE supervise your child.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. So when you click on a link and purchase something (anything) on Amazon I make a small commission. Thank you for supporting all the hard work I do here at The Messy Housewife.

Pom Pom Wisk

Items Needed:

  • Large wisk
  • Pom poms

This activity is pretty simple! The objective is for your toddler to pull the pom poms out of the wisk and/or stuff them back in. This is a wonderful activity that teaches a child critical thinking. It’s challenging but still simple enough that they don’t usually become frustrated.

Pipe Cleaner Threading

Items Needed:

  • Pipe cleaners
  • Straws cut in half
  • Strainer

The objective with this one is to have your child thread the pipe cleaners through the straws or strainer. My toddler took a creative approach and started pushing the straws through the strainer as well! This exercise is great for building muscles children use for their pincer grasp. That comes in handy for holding writing utensils later on.

Cupcake Pom Poms

Items Needed:

  • Tablespoon
  • Cupcake Tin
  • Pom poms

In this activity your child uses the tablespoon to scoop pom poms into the cupcake tin. Grasping the tablespoon is great for building the muscles they need to hold utensils for eating. It also requires hand and eye coordination.

Colour Sorting Pom Poms

Items Needed:

  • Coloured bowls or containers
  • Pom poms in colours that match the bowls
  • Plastic fine motor tweezers or grasping tool

This activity is a bit more advanced. The only reason I’ve done this one with my 20 month old is he’s been recognizing a few of his colours for the past month. I started working with him on colours by sorting his blocks onto the matching colour mat, on the floor in his room. So I thought I would try a colour sorting activity like this. The tweezers can be challenging but fantastic for developing those muscles in the hands. Even if your child doesn’t recognize their colours yet, it’s a great activity to try. I purchased the bowls and poms at the dollar store. You can find grabbing tools here.

A Few Things To Consider When Doing These Activities For Your Toddler:

  • Know when your child is done with the activity and that it’s ok if their attention span isn’t very long. My son is 20 months old and he can spend around 5-10 minutes on these activities. 10 minutes is an incredible amount of time and he has to be quite interested as well as motivated to last that long! Once he starts throwing things, I know he’s telling me he’s done. Developmentally, most children have an attention span of their age plus a few minutes. Do I think throwing is wrong? Nope. I actually don’t. Let me tell you why. Children are scientists. They are the BEST scientists. The are going to figure out cause and effect better, faster and more efficiently than any adult ever could. It’s innate. I let my son throw things. I don’t let my son throw EVERYTHING. I’m teaching him what is ok to throw and what isn’t. He may not understand that concept now but with time he will. So if you see a kid outside throwing rocks into a pond or kicking dirt around-probably my kid. #sorrynotsorry

  • Are they ready? 6 months ago my son wasn’t interested in doing these things. He probably would’ve put everything in his mouth or thrown it all across the room. It’s important to approach activities like this with the question: “Is it developmentally Appropriate?” If your baby/toddler is still very oral then you will have to watch them closely or choose a different activity. This leads me to my next point.

  • Don’t compare. Comparing our children to others isn’t fair to them. Take it from an ECE with close to 15 years experience working with kids. I’m not an expert but I’ve seen enough in my years working with young children to understand that they develop skills at different paces. My son is quite verbal at 20 months old. But I know another child around his age who isn’t verbal at all. I know children who started walking as early as 9 months. My son was about 15 months old when he started fully walking. Comparison usually only serves to stir up jealousy, guilt, insecurities and mean mom competition. It can also cause you to hold your child to unrealistic standards. Love your child for who he is, not who you think they should be. You’ll be surprised at all the amazing things they are capable of as they grow in the security of your love.

*I’m not suggesting that you disregard the advice of any doctor or health professional if they are concerned about something developmental with your child. If you suspect your child may need help in a specific area, please seek help.

I’ve really been enjoying new activities with my son and soon enough his little brother will be joining him. Check back for more posts on fun, developmentally appropriate (and inexpensive) activities for babies and toddlers!

A Doula’s Perspective

As a mother of two, a self-titled birth nerd, and a soon-to-be doula, I can promise you that there are so many things your OB won’t tell you. Why? Well…their job is strictly to bring the baby safely to this side of the womb. It isn’t in their job description or in their model of care to educate, offer ALL the options, or to empower you in the birth space. If you’ve had an OB who did these things for you, I’m so glad! I hope you recognize that they aren’t the norm. 

They won’t tell you these things because…it isn’t relevant to the job they need to do. It really is left to us, the mothers, to be informed and to educate ourselves. My hope is that this list encourages soon-to-be mothers and mothers expecting their second (or beyond) to recognize their freedom of choice in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. (My word is NOT medical advice. Please do your own research!)

  •  You are allowed to deny ANY procedure throughout pregnancy and labor. This includes vaginal exams, ultrasounds, tests, IV fluids, pitocin, etc. There are valid reasons that women refuse these procedures and it is worth researching each one to see how you feel about it. 
  • You can look online or ask your doctor’s office for the statistics of their care. How many of their patients are induced or get an epidural? How many require an episiotomy or forceps? How many end up needing an emergency Cesarean? These things matter, because this information may show you that the risk in choosing this doctor to deliver won’t be in the best favour of the birth you want. 
  • Your due date can be off as much as two weeks before or after. First time mothers generally will go past their due date. There is no reason to rush baby’s arrival simply because their due date has passed! Most doctors will postpone any methods of induction until 42 weeks. If your doctor suggests induction for this reason, it is perfectly ok to deny it. This is also where concerns about size of the baby come into play. The first issue here is that ultrasounds and other methods to guess baby’s size are only that…a guess. They can be off as much as two pounds. Another issue is that the majority of women’s pelvises are well equipped to open wide enough for even a large baby, especially when given freedom of movement and not required to deliver horizontally (more on that in a second!)
  • You should labor at home as long as possible even if you are set on getting an epidural. Once you get the epidural, chances are you will be confined to the bed, which can slow down labor. Being up and moving throughout even just the beginning of labor works WITH your body and your baby to keep labor going at a steady pace. 
  • The pain of contractions isn’t necessarily a BAD pain…they are the necessary pain that brings your baby into the world. Instead of running away from the pain, embracing the pain can help you endure if you want an unmedicated birth. Before giving birth, take time to rethink what birth pain is and the purpose it has. 
  • You don’t have to push on your back! In fact, this position is working against gravity because of the angle of the birth canal. Being upright, squatted, or on all fours is much more agreeable with gravity. These positions also lessen the chance of tearing. It is even possible with a low dose of the epidural to deliver in an upright position! This is definitely something you want to talk to your doctor about BEFORE its time to give birth. 
  •  Your body is capable of telling you what it needs to give birth. May it be a change of positions, a dark, quiet atmosphere, less pressure of time, etc. These things can impact our body’s ability to give birth. When we are uncomfortable, feeling pressured, feeling at odds with someone in the room, our bodies will instinctually slow labor. Listening to these things can only help labor progress in a healthy manner. 
  • They give you very little breastfeeding information, if any at all. If you feel strongly about breastfeeding, you NEED to research it yourself BEFORE you give birth!

Here are some great breastfeeding resources!

Lactation Link

Maternal Instincts by Amberly  

Kellymom

  • You will have VERY little support from any professionals postpartum. Taking care of a newborn is already hard…combine that with healing from a labor that left you feeling like a car crash victim. The majority of the attention will be on baby now, and that leaves some mothers suffering, either with physical issues or mental health issues. The biggest advice I can give is surround yourself with a support system that will recognize your needs…which are sleep, physical rest, nourishing foods, hydration, spiritual support, and time and space to bond with baby. 

The LAST thing I want to leave you with: consider hiring a doula for birth, postpartum, or BOTH! If you want an empowered birth, if you want a restful and joyful postpartum, if you want to start parenthood on the best foot you can, a doula will be a priceless service. Look beyond the price for what a doula can offer you: unbiased support, emotional coaching, a library of knowledge, help to get you the birth you want, and if you DON’T get the birth you wanted, a support through the change of plans. Chances are you wouldn’t be able to imagine doing it without her! 

Ultimately, the goal is for you to have a birth and postpartum experience that is enjoyable, empowering, and one you will look back on fondly (yes, its possible!). The bottom line is that this will look different and be unique to each woman, it won’t even look like the descriptions above, and a lot of the time it won’t go the way we planned. That is also what makes birth special: it is as unique as the individual giving birth! Treating it as such is the best way for every mother and baby. 

About The Author

Mary Moran is an emerging doula, a wife, and a mother of two babes. She lives and works in Eastern Idaho where the summers are lovely but the winter is wayyy too long! Her passion is for women to be informed, empowered, and transformed through their journey in motherhood. More of her work can be found on Instagram @marymorandoula and on Facebook at Mary Moran Doula & Educator

What Wikipedia Can’t Tell You About Natural Childbirth.

If you are thinking about having a natural or medication free childbirth, I’m here to offer some help! Or at least I hope I can help. I’m going to share some helpful insights into preparing yourself for a natural labour and delivery. I’ll also be sharing some of my own story and how I experienced two natural childbirths in hospital.

This post isn’t about what it’s like to have an epidural or caesarean because I have no experience with either of those methods. All methods of birth are important and this post is not casting a negative light on other types of birth. I have many friends who are epidural and c section rockstars. Be proud of yourself however you gave birth. You brought a baby into this world with your body and that is a huge accomplishment, however it happened!

Natural childbirth is incredibly painful and I can truthfully say that from experiencing it twice. If it’s something you want to try (I say try because anything can happen in birth. There are so many variables!) it’s vital to prepare for it. Preparing for a natural childbirth is like preparing for a marathon. You have to train your body and mind to be ready. It takes time and effort. You can’t expect to deliver without traditional pain medication if you don’t have a plan on how to deal with the pain of childbirth. (And just to reiterate, I’m not knocking pain medication. I’m simply sharing how to cope with the pain of labour if you do not want medication). Here are some important points to consider and things that aided me in having two fairly quick, natural childbirths.

  • Midwives are great advocates for medication free birth. Midwives partner with the hospitals here in Canada and are part of our healthcare system. They provide care during and after pregnancy.
  • Doulas are also great advocates for medication free childbirth. Doulas do not have hospital privileges like midwives do. They are hired privately and while they can offer emotional support, they can’t make medical decisions. (at least not here in Canada)
  • A resourceful book to read is Ina May Gaskin’s, “Guide To Childbirth”. Ina May is a midwife of over 40 years with profound insight and experience in natural childbirth.
  • Natural Pain Management Techniques. I took a class where we learned about rebozo, how to use counter pressure and water therapy for pain relief. If you live in the KW area check out Balancing From Birth To Baby.
  • Chiropractic Care. I received regular chiropractic care during both my pregnancies. I credit chiropractic care for putting both my boys in optimal position for optimal labour. Chiropractic sent me into labour with my second son, I have no doubt about that! Here are some great facts on the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy.
  • Physical activity. I walked every day during my first pregnancy. I was naturally active during my second as I had a baby (becoming a toddler) to care for. You don’t have to even work out during pregnancy. A simple walk, once a day provides great health benefits and can aid in shorter labour.
  • Preparing your uterus and cervix for labour and delivery. I implemented four things to prepare my body for labour and delivery during my 3rd trimester. Evening Primrose Oil can help ripen the cervix. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea is known to strengthen the uterus for stronger contractions. Clary Sage Oil has been used to bring on contractions and labour. Please do not use Clary Sage Oil unless you are at least 37 weeks term and/or cleared by a doctor. Also used for cervical ripening is date fruit.

When you are finally in active labour you will want to have techniques to progress labour quickly and ways to manage the pain of contractions. These are 7 things that helped me progress my labour and cope with most painful part of contractions.

  • Yoga ball during early labour
  • All fours position, rocking back and forth (help move baby into position)
  • Low, guttural noises or let some roars out. Do what feels the best.
  • Shower water pressure on the lower back
  • Straddle the toilet backwards (this can help get baby into position)
  • Walking, deep squatting, stair climbing
  • Horse Lips (blowing raspberries)

Movement is important when you are in labour. It aids your body in moving the baby deeper into the birth canal. It helps baby adjust himself into optimal position for birth. It helps dilate your cervix. Movement can also help with pain relief. If you listen to your body and do what it says, you will be amazed at what happens!

It took me 45 minutes to push my first son out. He was 6 pounds and 15 ounces. I had a 2nd degree tear with him. It took me 18 minutes to push my second son out. He was 9 pounds and 2 ounces. I barely tore with Jack. Interesting right? I’ve had quite a few people ask me how on earth I vaginally birthed a 9 pound 2 ounce baby as quickly as I did, when I’m a fairly small person. I’m 5’1” and weighed around 145 pounds when pregnant with Jack.

Jack it wasn’t my first rodeo so I had a better idea of what I was doing. Muscle memory! A few things made a huge difference in how efficiently I pushed him out. These things can also help lessen tearing and remove the need for an episiotomy.

  • Not screaming (or minimizing screaming as much as possible). I closed my mouth and directed ALL my strength towards pushing.
  • Not laying on my back. I started pushing while I was standing. Then I was placed on my left side with my birth team holding my legs.
  • My midwife put her fingers exactly where I needed to direct my pushing.
  • Warm compresses on the perineum between pushes.
  • Holding baby at the entrance to the birth canal, between pushes to help stretch everything (less tearing!)

Having a solid, supportive birth team is very important. Surround yourself with people who support what you want. Don’t have anyone in the room that will cause unnecessary stress. This could cause your labour to stop and cervix to retract. You don’t want that! 

My first son was born after 7 hours of active labour. My second son was born after 4 hours of active labour. Giving birth is the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I definitely screamed a lot but the pain of childbirth is temporary and it will end. That helped me when I felt like I couldn’t endure another contraction. I was cheered on by my midwives and husband. While the pain was truly intense, I was so proud of myself when both my sons were born!

In conclusion, remember that birth has so many variables. There are more and more stories of birth trauma that I am reading about. I think it’s really important to have realistic expectations instead of setting yourself up for extreme disappointment. It’s ok if nothing goes as planned! That is how birth can go. As much as you prepare for it you also keep an open mind. A healthy mama and healthy baby are what matters most. Cheers to you, mama.

“I don’t care what kind of birth you have…..a home birth, scheduled caesarean, epidural hospital birth, or if you birth alone in the woods next to a baby deer. I care that you had options, that you were supported in your choices and that you were respected.”
-January Harshe

What kind of birth did you have? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

5 Natural Ways I Support My Family’s Health During Cold and Flu Season

My husband always says that the best way to get a healthy person sick is send them to the doctor’s office. I agree with that sentiment. Especially after recently being at my doctor’s for a post-baby follow up and then a recent stint in emerge with my youngest son. SO many sick people! Yikes!

If you’ve been following my blog for a while or if you know me personally, you’ll already know that I tend to lean towards a holistic, natural approach to health. While I was working on this post my 10 week old son ended up in emerge with a high fever. While it was initially scary, I was reminded of a few important things along the way.

This blog is not intended to replace medical advice. I am not a licensed medical professional nor do I claim to be. Always consult with your chosen medical professional when needing medical advice for illness.

Here are 5 ways I protect and promote good health in our home:

  • I protect our sleep. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says, “Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. This system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances. Ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way in which your immune system responds. For example, if you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble fighting common infections.” (source)  So, I sleep train. I think it’s important to get good, restorative sleep however you can, in your family. That will look different for every family. For us this is sleep training, set bedtimes and making sleep a top priority. Sleep is critical to good health and we’ve seen this! I respect their schedules and I plan my day around their sleep. Literally. With a new baby, I prepare myself to be super boring for the first 6 months of his life. That may not be something you feel like fits your lifestyle. That is ok. Just understand the importance of sleep in good health and figure out how you can give that to your children and yourself.
  • I keep our exposure to germs to a minimum. With 2 babies less than 14 months apart, getting out isn’t super easy these days. We stay home a lot, partly because it’s difficult to get out and this is another way I protect their immune systems. Are they still exposed to germs? Obviously. This past week my 10 week old caught a nasty cold virus that landed us in emerge for 8 hours. He spiked a fever high enough to cause concern. He needed blood tests, x-rays and urine tests to rule out any infections. Thankfully it turned out to be a bad cold and nothing more serious. But it was very scary and also just plain awful watching him go through all that. I know he caught the virus from being in our church nursery (hello germ circus) only once. That just confirms for me that I need to be very careful what I expose him to and protect his growing immune system.
  • Elderberry syrup, vitamin D and probiotics. Once Hudson turned 1, I started giving him elderberry syrup, which is full of antioxidants and so much more. It has raw honey in it so I waited until he was at least a year old. Both boys get probiotics and vitamin D to promote a healthy gut and immune system. I also take these things and have found success with boosting my immunity when I’m feeling run down. This is the probiotic I use with the boys and Vitamin D as well. I’ve seen great results with these two things alone!
  • Essential Oils– While initially wary, I’ve since decided I’m ok with buying some essential oils through Amazon. Throughout my blog you’ll find oils linked that are brands I use and trust. During cold and flu season I like to diffuse cinnamon, clove, tea tree, lavender, or peppermint for immune support. Roman Chamomile and Copaiba are great oils for infants and toddlers. I am very careful with dilution around my babies and I would recommend researching dilution guidelines.
  • Chiropractic Care- This alone has been significant in the health of our family. I literally can not recommend it enough. When Jack was sick, it was only after being adjusted that we saw his very high fever break and gradually come down on it’s own. I personally didn’t grow up with it but once I started going I don’t know how I managed my entire life without it!

I love a holistic approach to health because it’s taught me to listen closely to my body. Since my children can’t tell me how they feel, I’ve learned to watch them and weigh things. I had to do this with Jack when he was sick. After researching high fevers in infants and talking with a nurse practitioner on the phone, I felt it was best to get him checked out by doctors. Always err on the side of caution with very young babies. You can’t go wrong!

I think researching things in regards to health is more than important. It’s necessary in order to make well informed choices. It takes a lot of time and effort. I find time to study and research things because I want to make well informed decisions. I can’t stress enough-do all the research!

Do you practice natural ways to support your family’s immune system? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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My Top 5 Must Haves With 2 Babies Under 2.

EDITED as of May 31, 2019.

Here we are, a few months postpartum after my second and I’m surviving having two babies who are 14 months apart. Yes, you read that correctly! I share here what our daily routine looks like and I talk about our transition into have 2 under 2 here with a few tips and tricks!

So here are my top MUST HAVES of baby gear to help life go a little smoother when you’ve got 2 babies really close together in age. Many of these things apply to the early weeks and months when life feels like a constant gong show. You need all the help you can get!

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  • A GREAT camera monitor or two. We have the Levana and the Foscam R2C. Both were gifts that we asked for. We used the Levana with our first up until after we moved his baby brother into his own room. Then we set up the Foscam in big brother’s room. Let’s talk about the Levana. It retails for $129.99 CAD. It’s not cheap but for a baby monitor camera it does exactly what it’s supposed to. You can mount it to the wall and it comes with all the hardware for that. My parents bought us the Foscam RC2 off Amazon for around $60 USD. This camera does not come with a monitor but connects with your wireless internet and you download the APP onto your smartphone. You can then access all the camera’s features through the app.

  • A Swing, bouncy seat or MamaRoo type thing. I have found that my babies benefit from different types of gear. My first son loved the bouncy seat. Both boys also slept in this swing the first couple months of their lives. I scored a MamaRoo secondhand for a great price. Go for second hand or borrow baby gear if you can. The majority of our baby gear is second hand because if one of my kids hates it, I’m not out lots of money. I plan to resell ALL our baby gear when the time comes. Win win!

  • A baby carrier you like. I have 3 different types of baby carriers because it’s nice to try out different ones. I have the boba wrap, the baby bjorn and the Ergo Baby. Neither of my boys seemed to like the wrap style carrier. I’ve found the Bjorn and Ergo to be the easiest ones for me to use.

  • A GOOD double stroller. We’ve gone through 3 strollers to get to the right one. I wanted to reuse the infant carseat we’d had with Hudson as it hadn’t expired yet. I ended up with Phil&Ted’s Sport double for awhile. It’s tandem but stacked. The double kit allows you to put baby on top or bottom/toddler on top or bottom. You also have the option of buying a universal adaptor so that your carseat will click in which was a big draw for me. I scored a used one that came with everything and while I loved this troller my boys eventually did NOT. They didn’t seem to like the tandem aspect of the stroller. I also didn’t like that the brake system on the P&. It was a handbrake like a bike. It hurt my hands and eventually got a little wonky. I just purchased a Contours Options brand new. It’s not as well made or streamline BUT my boys are super happy in it. It gets the job done and I don’t stress.

  1. Baby Gates. I have 3 of these simple, wooden baby gates. They are handy to have! Get some gates, you will thank yourself.

You will figure out what works for you but I know that when I was pregnant with my 2nd son, I was scouring the internet for tips on what made life easier with 2 under 2. I hope some of this helps!

What are some of your must haves with multiple kids in the house? How did you survive those early days? I’d love to hear from you!

6 Tips For Balancing Life With Babies Close In Age.

I still remember how I felt when I suspected I was pregnant at 5.5 months postpartum. I had that all too familiar feeling of nausea. I knew it well and I was nervous.

We found out on Family Day 2018 that we would be a family of four before the end of the year. I felt unprepared to be pregnant again, so soon. In the ensuing months I battled morning sickness and extreme fatigue. The end of October of that year, I was 4 days past my “due date” with our sweet Jack and I was so READY to have him be born. For one, I had a truly miserable second pregnancy. But I was also anxious to have Jack be with us so that we could begin to find our rhythm.

Jack’s surprising arrival finally came on October 26th, 2018. I say surprising because we didn’t know Jack would be Jack. We’d been expecting a little girl as we had been told at my 20 week scan. But one look at Jack and we felt our little family was complete! In the weeks to follow, life was at the peak of stress for us. With my husband starting school full-time, while maintaining his full time job, I didn’t have the luxury of him taking much time off. He started his new schedule 3 days after Jack was born and my mom, who had been with us for 6 weeks needed to head home. As I look back over the last year, I want to share how we’ve transitioned into this new season as well as some tips on how to make things easier and what we would’ve done differently.

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    Plan well. My husband started school full time, 3 days after Jack was born. He’s also working full time during the weeks that he’s not in school.  It’s been difficult for both of us but we planned for it and knew it was coming. We try to make it a habit of sitting down before the start of a new month and write everything out on our calendar. Then that calendar hangs on our fridge where we can see what is coming up. I would encourage you to sit down with your spouse and look at the year ahead of you. Don’t say yes to more, especially if it’s around the time your next baby comes. We said no to being in a wedding that was set for 3 weeks after Jack was born, which thankfully the bride and groom understood. Once we said no to those types of things, we didn’t feel guilty.We also talked a lot near the end, about worse case scenario type situations. What if I had a c-section? Who would help me for the 6 weeks post-op where carrying a toddler isn’t an option? Have those conversations long before your birth month because you don’t want to be scrambling for help at the last minute.
  • Ask for Help-My family lives far away so I am extremely grateful to my husband’s family, for all the help we’ve had with Hudson this past year. My mother also came and stayed with us for 6 weeks. Most of her stay was before the birth because I was pretty worn out by the end of my pregnancy. Hudson goes to his Gramma’s sometimes once a week. He’s done really great with sleepovers, something I am personally comfortable with. I encourage you to try something like that, if it’s possible. It’s good for everyone.
  • Make Meals to freeze or have someone make meals-Just like with your first baby, having pre-made meals are a blessing.
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    Pay For Extra Help. There is no shame in hiring someone to help you. If you can afford to, seriously consider hiring someone to come clean once a month. Maybe there is an affordable daycare nearby, that you’d feel comfortable sending your toddler to a few hours a week. We are a one income family but those are both things that we are looking at, as a family. We know that having extra help, whatever it looks like is worth it because it brings calm and peace into our home.
  • Have A Routine-The first few weeks of Jack’s life felt really unsettled. I think that is normal in terms of all the new adjustments going on. But once Jack turned a month old, I began a bedtime routine as well as a nap routine that I stuck to, no matter the outcome. I started lightly sleep training him at 5/6 weeks. Hudson’s schedule just kinda flowed into Jack’s. It doesn’t mean that everything goes according to schedule BUT it does give us some structure to our day. I need structure so I don’t feel like I’m running all over my house, losing my mind. You don’t have to sleep train to have a routine. But I encourage you to find some rhythm to your day to avoid extra stress. You can read about what our daily routine looks like, here.
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    Have Low Expectations In The Beginning-It takes 21 days to form a habit. We all know that! I was kidding myself when I thought I’d have everything in running order, a few days after Jack was born. Sure, I was cooking meals and cleaning my house 3 days postpartum.  My mom kept telling me to sit down and rest but I had to prove to myself that I could handle 2 babies while running my home, right off the bat. It didn’t go well. I had a few minor breakdowns that week. I’ve also made some adjustments to lessen stress , like being done with breastfeeding. It just wasn’t in the cards for me, again, this time. Initially that was a really difficult decision to make but I’m ok with it now. I talk about that here. It’s been in the past 2 weeks (Jack is now 9 weeks old) that I feel like I’m finally gaining ground and we are falling into a rhythm. (Or maybe that’s just today because both boys are miraculously sleeping at the same time!) It will take time to find a rhythm and routine that works, so don’t panic!

Life with babies less than 14 months apart has been the crazy circus that I fully expected it to be and MORE! But I am here to tell you that it’s manageable with realistic expectations and a little bit of planning. In the tough moments (when both kids are screaming because neither has napped, both have probably pooped themselves, I haven’t showered in 4 days and if ONE MORE PERSON TOUCHES ME) I try to remind myself it won’t always be this insane. There will come a day many years from now when my kids won’t need me the way they do now. I’ll actually MISS crazy town days. My house will be quiet, with no sound of little feet running around and someone crying for their mama. It’s bitter sweet, mama. Take a deep breath and know you can do this.

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