Time. For some of us there never seems to be enough hours in the day but for many of us right now, it may seem there are too many hours in the day. If you find yourself struggling to the fill the day with constructive or interesting things to do, I’m here to help.
I’ve been thinking about how times like the current are always great for learning something new. Why not learn a new skill or hobby? While there is nothing wrong with binging Netflix, it can really help being productive to counteract feelings of depression or being stuck in your home. You might need to purchase materials for some of these so do your research before you commit to a huge project.
Learn to dehydrate food for your own snacks. We have this dehydrator and it’s great!
Make your own jams and jellies. Once strawberries are in season, I’ll be making my own this summer!
Perfect your baking skills. I just bought these adorable cookie cutters to make my own cheese crackers. My sons also love to use them with play dough. I just wash them in hot soapy water!
Learn to fillet fish
Learn how to make sushi
Learn to paint with unusual mediums.
Start a hydroponic garden (indoors). It’s never a bad idea to be able to grow your own food!
Start a soil based indoor garden from seed and then transfer your seedlings to an outdoor garden once the weather warms up! A neighbour we had did this every year and saved herself so much time and money.
Sculpt with clay
Learn photography. I bought my first Digital SLR secondhand and it was a great way to try something new without breaking the bank!
Take an online course (Herbal Academy is currently offering courses at 50% OFF! There is a chance many other institutions are doing discounted courses at this time!) I started their introductory herbal course, it’s wonderful!
Take your new skills a step further a make something for a neighbour or someone in need. You don’t even have to see them to give it to them-just leave it on their doorstep.
It’s never a bad time to learn a new skill that might save you time and money in the future. Think about the Great Depression-an era that produced some incredibly innovative people because they had to learn to live with next to nothing.
What are some new skills or hobbies you’re interested in trying? I’d love to hear from you!
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. When you click on a link and purchase something on Amazon I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I recommend products and brands that I have personally purchased from OR items that are similar in cost and function. Thank you for supporting all the hard work I do here at The Messy Housewife!
About a week ago (the first day of September to be exact) I woke up to rain, cool temperatures and falling LEAVES.
While it’s not officially autumn according to the seasonal calendar, it’s official IN MY HEART. We still have a few warm days coming but FALL I AM READY FOR YOU.
The pieces in this post can still work even if you aren’t a stay at home mom. If you’re someone who doesn’t need to dress up for a job outside the home but can wear comfy, casual clothing-keep reading!
I’ve stepped up my game, using a clothing styling app called Urstyle. You can select from essentially millions of clothing, shoe and accessory items to create and style a clothing board. It takes a little skill to use the app efficiently but they provide youtube videos to help! You can use the website from your computer (which I prefer) or from the app on your phone.
If you don’t have a capsule wardrobe yet but are interested in putting one together, Urstyle is a fantastic tool to help you do that. Keep in mind (as with the pieces I’m posting) I don’t own these EXACT pieces in the sets I’m sharing. The app links you to buying that item directly. I choose items very similar to what I already own. *Check the bottom of the post for a direct link to the entire wardrobe I assembled for pieces and prices.
I buy almost everything second hand because 1)It’s affordable and 2) It’s sustainable.
Let’s chat FIT. I am 5’1” and around 150 pounds. I carry most of my weight in my belly. I wear leggings pulled up past my belly button and all my jeans have an element of stretch to them. I wear soft, slightly dense materials that hang nicely but don’t overwhelm my body. High waisted pants do not compliment my shape so I wear flowy shirts or sweaters over leggings. If I wear a more fitted top with jeans or leggings, I offset that top with a cropped jacket, something I’ll share an example of below. I can’t rock showing my belly with crop tops and all that, just not my thing.
Let’s jump in and start with BOTTOMS. I own more than what is shown. I own 4 pairs of stretchy black pants/leggings, 2 pairs of grey leggings, 2 pairs of jeans (one skinny fit, one straight leg) and 2 sets of overalls, one light wash and one dark wash. That’s still 10 pieces which I find to be more than enough for me to work with. George brand leggings from Walmart are my favourite leggings right now, not see through but not stifling. My overalls are from Bluenotes (Canada) and my jeans are from Gap.
Can I get a holla for thrifting?! I stick with BASIC colours. I don’t know the exact # of tops that I own currently but I rotate through about 10 of the same tops. If you’re building a capsule wardrobe aim for something similar to the picture. There are 9 tops shown here 7 of which are enough to get you through the week. Start there! For brands I own a lot of Gap, Old Navy and H&M. I find these brands to specifically offer soft materials, a comfy fit and neutral colours.
In Canada where the weather varies, especially during the season of Fall. I don’t like being cold, wet or overly hot so I make sure I have a variety of jackets! Jackets can also be a key item that changes up an outfit. Another reason I like having a few different but functional styles of jackets.
Shoes don’t have to be numerous or complicated. I avoid heels and impractical shoes, especially during the colder months. If you’re a mama, you understand the need for a good slip on tennis shoe. The 3 shoes I wear the most during fall at my Timberland knit sneakers, Naturalizer slip ons and of course, my Blundies! I typically don’t find shoes while thrifting and it’s the one item I don’t mind investing in.
So as a mama of two BABIES I don’t really find accessories practical for my lifestyle right now. I rarely carry a purse and typically carry backpack style diaper bags. Sunglasses, a ball cap, knit cap or scarf would be the other accessories I reach for during fall. I also like a good, giant tote bag! If you are a messy bun wearing type of girl and haven’t tried THIS hat….you should check it out.
Here are some outfits I put together for some ideas! I don’t get too fancy but cute and comfy works well for me!
If you click the picture below of the full capsule wardrobe it will take you to the website with links to all the clothing items.
So there you have it! Whew! A labour of love for you guys. I don’t think of myself as a fashionista or even trendy. I aim for being comfy, cozy and maybe cute sometimes. A capsule wardrobe doesn’t have to be difficult to put together but it does take time. I started minimizing my clothing 5 years ago and finally feel like it’s becoming what I’ve wanted. When I realized that I was wearing the same items all the time, it made sense to minimize my clothing. Hopefully I’ve helped you gather some ideas to put together a cute but functional and comfortable fall wardrobe!
Do you work with a capsule wardrobe? What would you call your style? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
It’s the middle of August and dare I say that I’m kinda OVER summer?
I live in Ontario, Canada where our longest season is winter so it almost feels sacrilegious to say this. But deep down inside, I love fall the most of all.
See, I even get a little poetic about it. My heart actually beats a little faster when I think about the season of fall and all that it entails. ESPECIALLY this year as we just bought our first home and we’re moving in, just in time FOR FALL!
Ok, I digress.
If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know that in terms of clothing, I work with a capsule wardrobe. This means I have minimal pieces that I use in a variety of ways to maximize the clothing I already have. Every item (except my Birks) I share today is completely thrifted.
I already did a Spring Capsule Wardrobe where you can check out here. Spring and Fall are transitional seasons for me, in terms of what I wear. In the fall I’m getting ready for winter so I gradually transition to warmer pieces and in the Spring I’m coming out of heavy, thick and warm pieces as the warmer weather arrives. Summer gets to be all by herself because it’s a fairly distinctive season here.
In the past few years my body has changed, a lot. When I entered my 30’s I noticed that my skin elasticity said, “SEE YA LATER B!”. Currently, I comfortably wear a size 9/10 in bottoms and M/L in tops. I’m currently a stay at home mom full time. I also (TMI) have psoriasis in my thigh/groin area that flares up badly during the summer season, so COMFORT is key with what I wear. I don’t like to sweat more than I have to, have my thighs rub together (no booty shorts!) I don’t like wedgies from tight bottoms (who does?) and I don’t want to feel like my boobs are going to spill out at any given moment.
When I’m building up my wardrobe for the season, I keep things simple. I’m drawn towards neutral colours with maybe one to two prints thrown in. I stick with white, grey, black, browns and burgundy. I choose pieces that are not complicated, fit loosely and (hopefully) flatter my body shape. I rotate through the same 5-10 shirts a week. I have 3 different white tanks, two black tanks, one grey, two prints, and two coloured tanks. I have 4 pairs of shorts I also rotate through.
I like pieces that I’m able to use multiple times during the week because I don’t have a lot of time in the mornings to build an outfit. I’ve learned the art of things like tucking tops in with draw string shorts. Comfy and simple! If you don’t have a pair of Old Navy’s drawstring shorts, you should get yourself some ASAP. MOM uniform!
I keep my shoes simple and honestly, I wear my Birkenstocks 99% of the time. I have two other pairs of dressier summer shoes that I rarely wear because, I just don’t “dress up” that much. The shoes I have are neutral and can go with pretty much anything, which maximizes their usage. I don’t like having sweaty, sore feet so I aim for maximum comfort without looking like an 80 year old grandma wearing loafers. Although, I’ve seen some weird sequin loafers floating around. New fashion trend?
I’ve been challenging myself to branch out and put together outfits that I feel cute in, though still comfortable. My body has changed so much in the past two years that it has been HARD to accept who I see in the mirror sometimes.
Her thighs touch, rub and chafe. Her arms jiggle with cellulite. Her belly folds down in multiple rolls when she sits and sometimes spills over depending on the jeans she’s wearing. But this same body has lovingly carried and grown two babies in less than two years. She’s made milk and dried up milk and done it again. She bears stretch marks as sign of love and change. I’m learning to love her again, you know? She’s always loved me!
I’m learning to be kind to myself and give myself grace after all my body has been through in the recent years. I think our society mixes up “grace” with “excuses.” I have really pushed back against that mentality that motherhood is an excuse to not care about your body or that we use our children as an excuse not to achieve a certain level of fitness or appearance. That simply isn’t true, for me. I recognize that every person is motivated differently to do things with their bodies. Peak fitness might be a motivation for some and watching Netflix during nap time might be another mom’s choice. Whatever our choices, we aren’t lacking.
Do you what you have to (and want to) do, to accept the body that has always loved you, never left you and is still waiting for you.
I hope you enjoy this! I’m no fashionista or photographer. Just a stay at home mom sharing her everyday, normal coffee loving life.
I sighed as I surveyed the path directly in front of our porch. There were SO many weeds.
As I began to pull the weeds that had grown between the spaces of cement blocks, I realized most of these weeds were not going to give up their residence so easily. While it was a cool summer evening, I soon found myself sweating.
It struck me. These weeds had made themselves a home in the most unlikely of places. They had embedded themselves in the cracks in the asphalt, between the spaces in the cement blocks and even out the sides of the steps on our porch. I was amazed at how I couldn’t even get to the root system of these plants, they were entangled so deeply.
My husband and I have been renters our entire 5 years of marriage. We’ve lived in basement apartments for the majority of our marriage and then finally on the main floor of a bungalow with renters below us.
I’ve learned a few things along the way. A physical house (apartment, condo, townhouse or room) does not make a home. Things do not equate to happiness. Money does not bring contentment. There is a lot of societal pressure to own a home. I’ve been told that it’s a waste to pay rent rather than put that money towards a mortgage. When I was pregnant with my first son, I was asked a few times if my husband and I were going to buy a home and I had to laugh at the thought of such a expensive baby shower gift!
Whatever the situation or reason for renting or buying, there can often be the struggle with being content with the season of life you are in. I want to share 4 things that have helped me make my house more than just a building I rent, when I’ve struggled with contentment.
Decorate. Something as simple as paint or hanging pictures on the wall can go a long way in making you feel “at home.” I keep our home decor simple but I aim to put things around me that I find aesthetically pleasing and calming. We’ve invested in furniture that is comfortable and functional. Cut the grass, trim the hedge and plant some flowers! Do things that make your space feel “homey.” I anticipate fall every year, because it is my most favourite time of year to pull out my fall decor, bake apple crumble and put pumpkins on the front steps. Decorating doesn’t have to be expensive as there are so many second hand things you can repurpose. 99% of my home decor is repurposed or handmade!
Minimize the clutter and clean things up! We are always in the process of minimizing our possessions. Having less to clean up and organize makes our home feel fresh. It also gives us more time to spend together as a family.
Practice Hospitality. I am not great at hospitality. I don’t clap my hands at the thought of entertaining and I’ll admit, I don’t do it often in this season of having babies. BUT it’s something I’m growing and being stretched in. I think something happens when you invite people into the space you live and take the time to make them feel welcome. You begin to take pride in your surroundings and become intentional in sharing your home.
Adjust your perspective. This takes time-trust me, I know. I’ve gone through seasons of hating places we’ve lived in. I made myself miserable and no one was to blame except ME. It’s a process but set little goals for yourself to do things that will bring about a more positive mindset. Prayer for a grateful heart has gone a long way in helping change my perspective.
As I was pulling those weeds the other night, I had the realization that I have a choice. I can choose to take no pride in where I live. I could cringe when I’m asked if we own our home. I could apologize for my modest, small brick rental when friends come to visit.
Or I could choose be like those weeds. Practically speaking, weeds aren’t great. Metaphorically I want to be like a weed, right where I’m at. I can choose to set my roots deeply and firmly in this season. I can choose to make a home exactly where I’m at. I can choose to take be a good steward of what I have, right now.
For every time I sweep my front porch, shovel snow off the path, clean my tiny bathroom or hear the old hardwood floors creak obnoxiously in my bedroom-I can welcome the warmth of gratitude.
I have gratitude for this house being the place where I brought BOTH my babies home. Gratitude for this home being the place where we became a family of 3 and then 4. Gratitude for my sweet friend who lives nearby and can walk to my home with her little boy for visits. Gratitude for living close to relatives. Gratitude that my husband doesn’t have to commute long distances to work. Gratitude for the view out my front window of the beautiful trees that change colour every fall.
Where we live and what we have (or do not have) does not have to determine our measure of joy in this life. I reckon if I can not learn to find joy where I’m at now, then I never will. Its a process, my friends!
At the end of the day, who is beside me matters so much more than where I’m living. My family has made this house a home. If you find yourself struggling with your living situation, I hope this encourages you to embrace and make the most of what you’ve been entrusted with. You won’t regret it!
Do you rent? What are some things you’ve done to make your place feel more like home?
“Wow, he didn’t walk until 16 months? That is SO LATE!”
“My child had 20 words before they were 2. Isn’t that what they’re supposed to have?”
“Oh he isn’t crawling yet? Aren’t you concerned?”
“She’s still not talking in two word sentences. But your child is, I don’t understand why!”
If you’re a mom of young children or just a mom in general, chances are you’ve been a part of these conversations. You’ve probably had similar things said to you as you stand around at the park watching your child play with other kids.
It’s all too familiar isn’t it?
What am I talking about that makes me want to walk away from these conversations with other moms?
I talked about this very thing a few weeks ago in my instagram stories because it’s something that is as common as your toddler’s 10 AM poop every morning. We’ve all done it and we’ve all had it done to us. I’m not talking about having a chat with a close friend and discussing concerns you might have about your own child. That’s entirely different. I’m talking about feeling the need to constantly compare your child to other children in terms of what they are (or aren’t doing) to reassure yourself.
If you didn’t catch my insta stories, then I’ll tell you now how I really feel about it.
I think it’s a huge waste of time and it’s NOT important.
Today I’m going to share in more detail WHY.
Comparison can create unnecessary competition. This is inevitable . When parents stand around and start talking about what their kids are doing or developing in, it will without a doubt stir up feelings of competition. When did parenthood become about whose child does “X Y Z” the soonest, fastest or most efficiently? All of sudden we’re worried about our child performing in a certain way because little Bobby had 40 words before the age of two. This sense of competition can strain relationships with friends, family AND our own children. None of which is healthy from a relational standpoint.
Comparison can create unhealthy expectations. THIS is really important. If you don’t take anything else away from this post, please consider this point. When we get caught up in this comparison trap we can place heavy, unrealistic expectations on our own kids. This is not fair to them. As a former ECE, someone who studied early childhood development in college and then spent many subsequent years working with young children, I’m here to tell you that children develop uniquely based on a variety of factors. Is there a standard of development for babies, toddlers and children? Yes. I’m NOT saying you shouldn’t take your child to a doctor/specialist if you suspect developmental delays. What I am saying is it can be damaging to our children to continually compare them to others. Ask a therapist. Ask them what they counsel many adults about. It’s often the damage that person felt as child being constantly compared to others, never feeling good enough. That is serious. Consider the weight of your words and expectations with your children. What is most important to you as a parent? Don’t make your affection and love something that your child has to earn based on how they perform or what they do.
Our child’s development actually has little to do with our abilities as parents. We NEED to hear this as parents! We think that because we did (or do) X Y Z our children are little geniuses. OR it’s the reason WHY they aren’t doing this or that. Whether your child was walking at 9 months or 18 months does NOT make you a GOOD or BAD parent. It doesn’t mean anything. Children are intrinsically motivated to develop certain skills and abilities based on their OWN unique personalities. If you have one child right now, it might be difficult to see this. But if you have more down the road, you will see the differences in your children and learn that personality has so much to do with what children are motivated to learn.
Comparison can reveal our DEEP insecurities. This point is interesting. When I’ve had these conversations with other parents, I often start to see what exactly they are insecure about. I’m not a therapist or counsellor but it isn’t difficult to feel the weight of someone’s insecurities in the conversations you have with them. If you personally find yourself caught up in comparison, worrying about what your child is (or isn’t) doing and always talking about it, I would encourage you to seek counsel. Again, I’m NOT a professional but I think it can only do good to talk through our own insecurities as parents, if they are consuming us and negatively impacting our parenting. This is also why, when you have these conversations with other parents and start to feel overwhelmed you can say, ” Your insecurities are NOT my insecurities.” Maybe don’t say it out loud, but you can have some understanding as to WHY so many people struggle with comparison. It’s often deeply rooted in insecurity that can stem from a variety of causes.
Comparison is a waste of precious time, at the end of the day. Moms and dads, I’m here to tell you-it’s just not as important as you might think it is. I’m not saying you shouldn’t care how your child is developing. But remember, much of how children develop in their early years has little bearing on their lives in the long term.
What if you feel like you’re really stuck in this vicious cycle of comparison with your child? I have a few ideas that you could try to shut it down and start changing the way you think.
Look at your child’s qualities, abilities and skills as unique to them. Appreciate what they ARE doing, focus on those things and work with them.
Talk with someone about your own insecurities. I’ve been professionally counselled before and it was one of the best decisions of my life. I know two different (wonderful) local Psychotherapists who work with parents, children, and offer maternal mental health support, specifically. Contact me if you want their information!
Start purposing today to just love your child without expectations. Embrace who God made them to be. Let go of who you think they should be and what they should be doing. Imagine how freeing this can be for you and your family!
I’m on this journey, with you. I understand the trap that comparison can be. I understand the pride, insecurities and frustration that comes with parenting. We ALL want the best for our children! We want them to succeed in life. Don’t beat yourself up if you struggle with this, I’ve been there! A tell tale sign that you struggle with it could be that you feel the need to constantly prove to other’s that your child is developing normally. Hey, it’s ok. Just take a deep breath!
It’s a one day at a time process and we’ll all get there. You’re doing a great job!
If these thoughts resonate with you, I’d LOVE to hear from you in the comments.
If you talk to your grandparents (or great grandparents if they’re living) you would probably find that the practice of things like cloth diapers, composting and reusable grocery bags were a normal part of their everyday lives.
Everyone is talking about Zero Waste living right now like it’s some innovative concept but it’s not. I love intentionally choosing ways to cut down on waste. I think it’s important to be conscious of excess but I have to be honest in that I’ll never be a Zero Waster. I believe that waste is unavoidable.
The answer is more complex than this though because things like monetary status, economics, and personal beliefs are going to individually impact the way we all view a zero waste lifestyle. What I’m learning is to do what I can with what I have.
So on my journey to cut down on our waste as a family, I’ve found Low Waste Living to be a much more practical approach. It’s not so extreme as much as it’s a thoughtful and intentional approach to reducing waste.
Here are 10 ways we are currently working on low waste living, in our home:
Cloth Diapers. If you’ve been following my blog for a bit, you know I cloth diaper about 90% of the time. The boys are in cloth diapers excluding nighttime and weekends. This has significantly reduced our garbage while saving us money! Something that really helps is that the city actually limits how much garbage each household can have. We’re allowed 2 large garage bags per family twice a month. We don’t have garbage pickup every week so that has really motivated us to use less disposable diapers. I don’t really enjoy having garbage bags full of stinky diapers sitting around for 2 weeks. Yuck! You can read more about my use of cloth diapers here.
Cloth Wipes. Along with cloth diapers, I try to use cloth wipes as much as possible for a few reasons. Our garbage is less when we use cloth wipes. I also find that they work 20x better than disposable wipes when it comes to cleaning baby bums. I use these baby wash cloths as cloth wipes. Check back here for an easy, non toxic baby bum wash that I’ll be sharing!
Family Cloth (reusable toilet paper). This is the most recent change we’ve made in our home. When I asked my husband if he wanted to switch to reusable toilet paper he surprised me by saying YES! Without going into great detail, I’ll just say that reusable toilet paper is 100x better at keeping things clean than disposable. Once we’ve spent a little more time using it, I’ll write a solid review! I’m no stranger to trying weird things.
Reusable Hygiene Products: I use cloth pads and a diva cup. I’ve been doing this for a few years now and can’t imagine going back! You can read more about that here.
No Plastic Shopping Bags: Using my own shopping bags (and produce bags) has become second nature. I just started taking my own containers to our local bulk bin store for things like honey, oats, pasta and more! It’s amazing how easy the switch can be with an adjusted mindset. My mother in law made me some reusable produce bags from repurposed sheer curtains, similar to these! I’m hoping to eventually sew my own snack bags, like these. If you’re handy with a sewing machine put your skills to use!
Unpaper Towels and Cloth Napkins. We now use microfibre cloths in place of paper towels. My initial reason for switching wasn’t actually motivated by wanting to reduce our waste. It was because I found these microfibre cloths to be much better at cleaning up messes. Since this pack comes with 3 different colours, it’s easy to assign a specific colour to a job. I use these for everything from wiping down household surfaces to wiping down babies faces. I also like these cloth napkins. I’m still figuring out to wash them and keep them nice but they get the job done, regardless.
Eating Leftovers, Smaller Portion Sizes and Composting. THIS is a tough one because it’s easy to justify throwing out moldy food. What I’m working on is cooking smaller portion sizes and having us eat leftovers a few times a week. When that isn’t possible, we compost. Invest in some reusable freezer storage bags to cut down on plastic bag waste.
Clothesline and rack drying: My husband strung up a simple clothesline for me between two trees in our backyard. I also have something similar to this drying rack.
Buying Second Hand: As much as possible we try to thrift items in our home. We also work on purging once a month and donating what we don’t use back to local second hand stores. Our garage is a work in progress. It’s easy to keep junk when you don’t see it! Check out my post here for tips on buying second hand clothing.
Refillable Water Cooler: So, I’m kinda weird about how my water tastes. A few years ago we asked for a water cool for Christmas from our family and it’s been one of my favourite gifts we’ve ever received. It’s similar to this one. About every week or so my husband goes to our local water refill station and for about $8 he fills 3 huge (reusable) jugs (I don’t know how big they are honestly) and brings them home. Our water from the refill station is free from nasty things like fluoride, so that’s a bonus too.
There are so many great ways to practically reduce your family’s waste output. These are just some of the things we are currently practicing. You can save money and simplify your things by implementing a low waste lifestyle. What are some ways you reduce your waste? I’d love to hear from you!
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. When you click on a link and purchase something on Amazon I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I recommend products and brands that I have personally purchased from OR items that are similar in cost and function. Thank you for supporting all the hard work I do here at The Messy Housewife!
The other day I caught my toddler walking around the house with a mouthful of chewed up cat kibble.
A few days after that, my cat decided to projectile vomit all over the dining room floor. When I was a little girl I didn’t imagine cleaning piles of cat puke and wrestling my toddler for kibble as my future. Nonetheless that is my life these days though not ALL the time.
I literally do not want to spend more than a half hour a day cleaning up. But I want a clean home. I also have two children under the age of two! HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?
I’m here to tell you it is and share a few simple tips that can help you streamline a daily cleaning routine.
Have LESS Things. The less stuff you own, the less you have to clean up! It’s really that simple. I recently replaced our dishes with this simple, clean set from Correlle. I have more space in my cupboards and less things to clean. Win win!
Have One Main Cleaning Task Each Day. I put together a weekly cleaning list and every day I have one “big” task that I try to complete. For example, Mondays I clean the bathroom, Thursdays I mop the floors etc. By doing this, I don’t feel the pressure to clean my entire house from top to bottom. I stick to one main task per day and the upkeep of that makes everyday cleaning easier.
Have ONGOING Daily Cleaning Tasks. Keep things simple like wiping down the kitchen and a quick sweep after meals so that grime doesn’t pile up. Decide how often you will pick up toys so that you don’t spend your entire day picking up toys. I tidy up toys and clutter about three times a day usually after mealtimes.
Simplify Your Cleaning Products. I love Norwex because their products make cleaning super simple and quick! They’re also non-toxic and good for the environment. I make a few of my own cleaning solutions which I share about here. We invested in a Dyson Animal stick vacuum. It’s perfect for a quick cleanup! I also love these microfibre cloths from Amazon. I use them for everything except the toilet. I don’t use any reusable cloths on the toilet, EVER. GROSS! I save paper towels for that and then compost the paper towels. If you have products that are messy and difficult to use, chances are you probably won’t use them. Make it easier on yourself and cut your cleaning time in half with products you actually want to use.
Live In A Smaller House. We just returned from a family vacation where we stayed in a massive 5 bedroom beach “cottage.” While it was beautiful and spacious the charm wore off pretty quickly. The bigger a house, the more you have to clean! You know how long it takes me to do a good clean of the house we rent? MAYBE an hour. We live in about 800/900 square feet on the main floor of a bungalow. Prior to that we lived in the basement of this bungalow which was about 600 square feet and even easier to clean! Seriously consider downsizing if it means less stress. It might also mean a smaller mortgage which is even better!
Involve Your Children In The Process. When my oldest was about a year old I started involving him in the clean up process. Now that he’s almost two he can put his toys away with supervision. If you have older children and you’re still cleaning up after them……why? Get those kids involved!
Have A Solid Laundry Routine. Make a routine and stick to it. I know when and how a person does their laundry varies from person to person. But keep it simple. I personally don’t want to be doing laundry every day, all day. And I have cloth diapers to wash but I still only wash those twice week. Tip: if you build a capsule wardrobe you will have LESS clothing to wash! I use Nellie’s because one tin will get you through 100 loads. It’s also non toxic and environmentally friendly!
My home is NOT sparkling clean all the time. It’s moderately tidy and somewhat clean most of the time. I don’t want to spend all day cleaning because I can think of a billion other things I’d like to be doing. I hope my tips save you some time and a bit of your sanity.
Cheers and happy cleaning! If you have any tips and tricks, please share in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
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I’ll never forget Family Day 2018. I sat in my bathroom with a pregnancy test in hand watching those two lines form quickly. While I suspected I was pregnant prior to taking a test, there is still something about the finality of a confirmed positive pregnancy test.
That next weekend was my birthday. I spent the majority of the weekend crying and holding my 5 and 1/2 month old. I felt alone, overwhelmed and most of all-I felt incredibly guilty.
Sparing the details of how I became pregnant so quickly (because frankly no-one should ever be asking that question) after the birth of my first, you can gander a wild guess-it wasn’t expected. Unplanned? No. All babies are part of a beautiful plan. But unexpected? Yes.
We all have it. It varies in it’s forms. Mom guilt is as complex and as diverse as we are.
The heavy guilt that I carried for many months into my second pregnancy and that even now, I still struggle with is an unwanted companion. Initially, I was consumed by the guilt of not feeling excited about my unexpected pregnancy. While many struggle to conceive, here I am pregnant again. 5 and 1/2 months postpartum. I wasn’t thrilled at the thought of being sick again for months on end. I was just starting to sleep more at night, now that my son was sleep trained. I wasn’t overjoyed at the thought of my body changing all over again.
Another complex part of my guilt was that I was still struggling with extreme postpartum anxiety from the birth of my first child. Hadn’t my son been robbed of enough? He’d already experienced enough difficult days with my overwhelming emotions. Our bond was not immediate upon his arrival. While I loved my first son from the moment I saw him, our bond was not an immediate thing. As I faced the toll that pregnancy would take on my body and mind again, he too would inevitably be affected by my struggles. In many ways, I felt as if I had lost the chance to deepen my bond with my first child because our time together was cut short.
As I imagined, being pregnant while raising a still very young infant, was harder than anything I’d ever done. Medication helped control my sickness but nothing helped the overwhelming fatigue. Nothing changed that my son would go through developmental milestones I was too tired to appreciate. Nothing changed the sheer physical load I had to bear as I carried a very large child within my body AND on the outside of my body. It didn’t matter that I was heavily pregnant and still getting up with my son in the night when he had sleep disturbances.
The night before my oldest son’s first birthday, I snuck into his room long after he fell asleep, took him from his crib and held him, while I silently cried. I stroked his soft blonde hair and lightly kissed his chubby, full cheeks. I marvelled at his size. I couldn’t believe he was a year old, already. The guilt consumed me that night. I had gritted my teeth through the latter half of his infancy. Not because I resented him or the baby I was carrying. It was because I often resented myself for my lack of perspective.
As my second pregnancy neared the end, I never doubted that I was ready to meet who I thought was going to be our daughter. It was a mistaken guess by the ultrasound technician but we had another boy. Truth be told? I was relieved. If anything, I already knew what to expect in many ways with another boy.
My bond with Jack was immediate and surprising to me. While Hudson is strong, independent, emotionally assertive and rarely affectionate, his brother Jack is incredibly affectionate, easygoing and steady. I initially felt guilty that Jack was (and is) an easier child than his older brother. But I’ve come to reconcile that their differences do not make them better than the other. They are wholly different yet the same because they came from me and my husband. I celebrate how different they are.
The transition to having 2 babies who were fourteen months apart was life changing. Because of my postpartum anxiety, everything felt difficult. Going places by myself with the boys felt like an impossible task. The sheer thought of being alone in the evenings while my husband often worked late, was enough to cause a panic attack. The weeks following Jack’s birth were very busy. I tried diligently to hide from others that I was moments from a massive breakdown and only my husband saw the depth of that. I often felt like I was barely treading water. Our little family went through some of the most difficult months of our lives.
As you can imagine the guilt came back with overwhelming force. I would watch my oldest, now transitioning from baby to toddler. I felt guilt as I watched him become, just become-so much quicker. I knew I was missing moments as I felt overwhelmed with the care of another baby. When did he learn to say that? When did he start doing that? I would watch other families that have only one child, around the age of my oldest son. I would feel envy as they experienced every singular milestone in it’s joy.
I have also felt judgement.
I am the hurried mom. I am the distracted mom at the park as I try to manage an infant and toddler. I’m the frustrated and flustered mom. I’m the get to the point mom. I am the- I don’t have time to shoot the breeze while both my kids scream for their naps, mom. I’m the mom who turns on the TV all day sometimes. I’m the mom who sometimes yells. I am the swear like a sailor when I’m stressed out, mom. I’m the exhausted mom who forgets her loads of laundry for days in the dryer because why? Because I’m caring for two other little people whose needs often feel formidable.
But amidst all this guilt, I’ve asked myself a question. What is most important? I think about the wonderful things that my oldest son is already learning, so early in life. He is learning patience, compassion and consideration. He will never not know a time in his life when he was my only baby. And while that thought may bring me sadness at times- is it more important that my oldest son have the childhood that I think he deserves? What would that even look like?
I have this to say.
The companions of motherhood do not have to be guilt and comparison.
What do these terrible companions do but rob us of precious moments with our children? It’s inevitable that we will all feel some guilt in regards to our children at some point during their existence. But to be wholly consumed is another monster altogether. Heed my caution. Do not let it overtake you. It isn’t worth it.
While my observations are nothing miraculous or new, my journey is mine. I am learning to live in the now and embrace the mother that I am, imperfections and all. I do not relish the guilt. I do not desire the comparison. I am learning to surrender these things I carry to a very faithful, kind, merciful and patient God.
When I look at my sons, it heals another part of me. I often marvel at how God gave me the gifts of my sons and I gave my sons the gift of one another. I can’t imagine life without the both of them, here together. That truth can effectively silence the voice of all guilt.
If you would’ve told me 6 years ago that I’d be doing some of the things I do now, I would’ve raised an eyebrow at you.
And what I mean by that is how I’ve embraced this journey to living a life filled with less chemicals and opting for more natural alternatives. Sparing you the details of my reproductive history, I want to talk about some things I’ve been doing in the last couple of years that have a made a huge difference in my health.
But let’s start with the not so great news.
When it comes to disposable hygiene products like pads and tampons, did you know there are toxic chemicals in them?
Today, most cotton is genetically engineered (GE) and soaked in pesticides as it is not a consumable product. However, inserting a GE cotton tampon into your vagina several times each month may be worse than ingesting pesticides from GE food, considering the highly permeable nature of the vaginal wall. (Mercola)
The manufacturers of these products aren’t required by the FDA to disclose what is in their product. And while they want you to believe that the amount of chemicals in them is harmless, think about something for a moment. The skin in your lady parts is VERY thin and highly absorbent. ALSO I have a problem with the fact that the FDA isn’t requiring these companies to disclose the toxic ingredients they’re putting in their products? NOT COOL. Also not surprising.
Think about how many YEARS you use these products. The average women menstruates from the time she’s 14 until she’s 50. Many girls are getting their periods as early as 10 years old because of all the synthetic hormones in our food and water. That is a LONG TIME. It’s not hard to imagine that years and years of absorbing harmful chemicals can lead to serious health risks. I sometimes wonder how much those toxic chemicals have played a part in increasing the risk of things like cancer, PCOS, infertility and other reproductive health issues in women. Interesting thought.
I didn’t know any of this until a few years ago when I came across the silicone menstrual cup known as the Diva Cup. It’s exactly what it says it is. A silicone cup that you insert inside of you when you are menstruating. It can hold up to an ounce of liquid (don’t quote me on that) because there are different sizes (and brands) of cups. You can wear it for up to 12 hours but ideally would empty (and rinse it) every few hours.
Can wear much longer (safely) than a tampon.
One time cost.
More regulated cycles
I experienced fewer and then NO cramps after a few cycles of using the cup.
Easy to clean once your cycle is over! You can boil your cup on the stove. Let air dry and store in it’s breathable, cloth bag for your next cycle. *Don’t do what I did and leave it out where a child or cat could get it. My cat chewed my first cup because he’s a little A-hole!
Tricky to insert. It can take a few cycles to get used to inserting and removing the cup.
Messy. It CAN be (doesn’t have to be) messy to empty the cup if you aren’t at home. I’m generally home 99% of the time so I empty, rinse in the sink and re-insert. I avoid emptying my cup if I’m not home for sanitary reasons. I avoid public restrooms in general.
Can Leak. Leaks are possible if you aren’t wearing the correct size or it isn’t inserted properly.
After the birth of my first son when I had to wear those awesome mesh panties and giant sized pads because you know, afterbirth is just lovely-I discovered I was allergic to these things. All these years and I never knew thats what was going on. I developed a horrific infection and rash while still healing from blowing out a baby. I mean it was worse than labour and delivery, to be honest. I was miserable for at least a month if not longer.
I swore I would invest in cloth pads for after my next baby, when I found out I was pregnant again.
So let’s talk about Cloth Pads. They are exactly what you think they are. You wear them, store them after use and then wash them. Cloth pads can be overwhelming to navigate because there are so many different materials that people use to make them. You could even make your own cloth pads if you are handy with a sewing machine!
One time cost.
More regulated cycles
Less and then NO cramping after using these for a few cycles
Easy to wash! Throw in the wash ( I LOVE Nellie’s) NO fabric softener and then line dry or tumble in the dryer.
Tricky to find the right style and fabric with the best absorption that feels comfortable for you.
A learning curve to store after use when on the go (you need a wet bag)
Expensive (deff an investment!)
It’s important to do your own research and figure out which reusable hygiene product works for you. There are so many different brands, materials and models available now. There are quizzes you can take online to determine fit for maximum protection and comfort.
And, again you could even make your own pads if you can sew!
I talked about experiencing less to no cramps and more regulated cycles when I started using a cup and cloth pads. You might have done a double take?
That isn’t an exaggeration. I used to get wicked PMS with accompanying cramps once my cycle started. I would often resort to OTC pain meds, a hot water bottle and lay on the couch because I was so miserable. But switching to reusable menstrual products has eliminated my cramps and almost all of the PMS I used to experience as well as helped regulate my cycles. You might wonder how that is possible?
I don’t have a super educated answer for you but I suspect it has to do with the fact that I’m no longer exposing my lady parts (inside and out) to toxic chemicals. I also noticed a huge difference in my cycles once I stopped using hormonal birth control, but we’ll save that topic for another day.
That is my spiel on reusable hygiene products. I personally have found the switch to be easy! That might be because I’ve embrace cloth diapers but I want to encourage you-don’t be afraid of reusable hygiene products. You can’t go wrong with something that is good for you AND our environment! IF you struggle with difficult, inconsistent, or painful cycles maybe think about it.
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.
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
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
Straws cut in half
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
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
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!