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Many of the things I want my kids to learn don’t come from a textbook.  In fact, some of them don’t even have anything to do with school.  Throughout the homeschool day we spend plenty of time learning academic subjects.  I hope they’ll retain it, but odds are, much will be forgotten until they learn it again in the future.  Meanwhile, I focus on life skills which I hope will stay with them and allow them to function as confident, responsible, competent adults one day.  These random life lessons are not all-inclusive, but here are a bunch that come up often.

Using the Library

Finding desired materials online, looking them up and ordering them through the library system’s website, and even calling the library to request materials.

Shopping/Making a Purchase

Knowing how to find items in the store, politely asking for help when needed, how to compare prices including an understanding of unit prices, estimating a purchase price, presenting the proper amount of cash, counting change received, and interacting with the cashier.

Finances

How to count money, safely store it, open a bank account, understand interest, deposit/withdraw money, and how credit cards and loans work.

Answering the Phone/Making Calls

Politely answering the phone, knowing how to make a call to a business and ask for help/make arrangements, request assistance, make appointments, and develop an overall confidence with speaking on the telephone.

Respect for the Elderly

Spending time in a nursing home/assisted living, developing a comfort with individuals in various states of the aging process, learning how to interact with and value the elderly, and how to help take care of older relatives or neighbors.

Meal Preparation

How to plan, shop for, and prepare a healthy meal, including reading labels and recipes, kitchen safety, and use of kitchen appliances.

Cleaning/House Maintenance

How to treat a space respectfully, clean up after oneself, wipe up spills, sweep, change batteries in household devices, use a washer and dryer, be a conscious consumer of water and energy resources, and use household tools such as a hammer/screwdriver/drill.

Animal Care

Respectful care of pets, and how to feed, water, and properly clean up after them.

The ability to help shape our children into functional adults rates high on the list of privileges and responsibilities as parents.  I’m sure I’m forgotten a few, so feel free to share what skills and lessons are important in your family!

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Summer-camp season is upon us which means lots of kids putting their heads together in hot-weather activities. Time to step up measures to prevent the transmission of head lice. This spray has been working very well for us for the past few years, I’m happy to say. It’s easy to make and use, and the essential oils have many benefits for your child’s overall health.

7 Ways To Entertain A Sick Kid When You Are Sick

All my plans for this week have been stymied by that pesky cold virus. Not only are both my kids sick, but I am sick too. It is never a fair fight when mama is sick. The only thing I can do is just focus on survival. The girls missed two days of school to stay home and rest and to stop the free flow of snot. If you’re a parent that doesn’t even phase you. If you are a non-parent just know that is not the worst thing you will encounter as a parent. Snot happens. Gone are the days I can lie in bed with the covers up to my chin while the evil virus takes its course. I now have two kids, although sick, to entertain.

7 Ways To Entertain A Sick Kid (or Two) While you are sick

Make a comfy nest in your own bed. If you have a TV in your room put on a channel they will sit for, or pop in a DVD they love. Snuggle in tight with all their favorite blankets and stuffies. Put an arm around each kid and hold tight. (This way as sleep takes hold of you no one can escape).

Watch a Movie and Eat Popcorn. Yes, even in your bed. Trust me kids love popcorn and they will pick up anything they drop like hand fed pigeons in the park. (If not that’s what dust busters are for).

Books on CD. If TV is not your thing load up the CD player, or MP3 with digital editions of your child’s favorite audio books. Snuggle with them on the couch and let the voice in the box do all the work for you.

Use a lap tray to hold coloring books, puzzles, and treats. Sick kids usually won’t mind staying put on the couch or in a bed if they are occupied and someone is there to interact with them. A lap tray filled with items just for them will make them feel comforted.

Entertain A Sick Kid

Tea time. Tea is a great go-to for hydration and kids like to drink what the grown ups drink. My kids love tea served in a mug because that’s how they see mama drink her tea. Serve a favorite snack along with tea and drink together.

Board games. Playing card games like Uno, Go-Fish, or Memory are easy to play (and store nicely in that lap tray). It helps to pass the time. The last thing you want to hear on top of the sick day demands is, “I’m bored.”

Entertaining A Sick Kid

Make a craft. If your kids are too antsy to stay in bed, or lie down on the couch make a craft with them. Even if its cutting pictures from an old magazine and gluing onto a page. Just keep it simple. Save the finger paints for another day.

The most important thing to remember is to keep your expectations for the day low. Like super low. Don’t expect to finish the dishes, or the laundry. Don’t expect to have a full meal prepared (my kids ate an apple and Tostitos for lunch because that’s all they could reach). Just go with bare minimums.

If you are well enough, it might be tempting to use the day to catch up on chores and items on that to-do list, but it’s also a great way to catch up on sleep after taking care of sick kids; and so you can get better too. You can use this time home with them to bond. Unless your kid has a catchy stomach bug, then all bets are off and you should wrap yourself in plastic and yell to them from the other room.

How do you keep your kids comfortable on sick days?

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Being the Discount Diva is like being a frugal superhero (in my own mind anyway), but as they say- “with great power comes great responsibility.” Who knows better then moms, the immense amount of responsibility heaped upon us, even from the moment the pregnancy test comes back positive? Like most women I do two things really well – responsibility and guilt. I take the former and use it to justify the latter.

Money Is A Factor – But Not The Only One

I find myself holding tight to our finances as if money will solve every potential problem that could arise. While it’s a good idea to make smart decisions like I think I have been, I sometimes wonder if I’m stepping over the border into obsession. The other day after grumbling that I don’t want to buy a costume for myself for Halloween just to participate in Trunk or Treat my husband said to me, “You know Erin, not everything comes down to money.”

I know in my heart he’s right, but this is exactly what it came down to when I wanted to stay at home and raise my kids. We literally went through our household expenses with a fine tooth comb in order to justify why financially it just made more sense for me to stay at home. Now I’m not oblivious to how the world works. It takes money to live and not everyone can survive on one income. It’s sad to have to correct your children’s innocent ideas that almost everything is free. My poor kids are all too familiar with this life lesson every time I have to deny them some toy or trip, but I’ve had to temper it with the lesson that some things in life are priceless.

The Cost of Work

For my family we gradually weaned ourselves from two incomes to one. I went back to work part-time after our first daughter was born so by the time we decided I would stay home full-time it wasn’t such a financial shock. Something really weird happened when I started staying home – I realized just how much work had cost me.

I was about $4,000 in debt from using my credit card to pay for gas to and from work, convenience foods cause I was too damn tired to cook, work clothes, etc. I’ve been home for almost three years now and we’ve paid off about $13,000 in debt on one income. Has it been a cake walk? Hell No. There have been sacrifices – mostly made by me. Hence my yearly hair cut or our now traditional stay-cations, cutting our budget till it screams, and calling our service providers to lower our bills.

It’s a constant challenge and if I thought I was a helicopter parent to my children, then our finances are probably my most needy child. I check my bank account once a day to see what bills have drafted out, what things we’re spending money on and I’m constantly asking myself questions like, “Ok, we got some extra money from my husband working overtime so what do we do – A. pay down more debt, B. sock it away into savings for the inevitable heating bills, or C. use it for birthdays or Christmas which will sadly be here before I’m ready for it. I’m always wondering if I’m doing the right things.

D
ecisions Decisions

I’m a big student of Dave Ramsey who would say that to reach your financial goals you have to have gazelle like focus. But if you watch animal planet you know that the lion always looks for the weak gazelle. The one who is hurt or trying to go it alone. I don’t want to reach my financial goals one day just to look around and realize that I’m alone; that I’ve missed my life. There has to be more than reaching financial harmony – if that’s even possible. There has to be money for fun, right? There has to be money for charity, right? No matter what our situation is, I know there are always those who are worse off.

If you had asked me three years ago why I started staying home I would have told you this – it just doesn’t make sense for me to work to put two kids in daycare. Financially it didn’t add up. I was recently asked this same question in a SAHM group and I recited my work background, as well as my guilt and overwhelming love for my kids which seem irrevocably tangled together. The truth is, there is plenty of guilt on both sides of the fence here. You work, you feel guilty for letting someone else care for your kids. You stay home, you feel guilty for putting the financial pressure on your spouse. I have felt intense guilt either way, but I think maybe it has to do with being a mom and trying to do everything and be everything for everyone all the time. It’s supremely exhausting and guilt is like the temper tantrum that creeps up when your child is overtired. You can be fine one minute and on full tilt the next.

Consider The Possibilities

So why do women stay at home vs work outside the home? Is it really only about the money? For me it was a factor, but it was definitely my grandmother who changed it all, every single thing I thought was inevitable and normal. My mother always worked so that’s what I thought I’d do as well. My grandmother was a lovely hardworking immigrant from Germany who worked everywhere from farms to factories to housecleaning while raising three kids on her own. When she looked at my life she saw possibilities that I didn’t. She asked me if I was going back to work after my daughter was born and and I realized that I had assumed the answer without really ever asking myself that question.

So I decided that if she could see options, well then I would look for them too. I put together a job-share plan and was able to work part-time for four years till my company went through a merger which ended my time there. There are always two things fighting to tip this mommy scale – time and money. Which one do I feed? Which one am I slave to? It seems impossible that they could ever balance.

Owning Your Choices

I read an article yesterday that talked about how staying at home is a “luxury” for your spouse. It talked about the peace of mind a spouse gets from knowing the other is always working to keep the home ship running its course. While it certainly eases the guilt a little, I can’t help but notice that it is still one of many articles that feels the need to justify a woman’s right to stay at home. I know it’s just the cycle coming back around. I know that there was a whole lot of justification going on when women first starting working outside the home. But why are women always caught up in the guilt cycle no matter what we choose?

Here’s what I know. Everyone must make their own choices. Yet every choice comes with the guilt of the thing we did not choose. I don’t think anyone asks more questions looking for validation of their choices than moms. Again I think it comes down to the responsibility. It’s always there, whispering in our ears. I can’t say my husband carries any guilt what-so-ever when he leaves for work in the morning, or if he has to work late or on the weekends, or even if he has to travel for work. He leaves fancy free, without guilt. I’m not sure if it’s because he knows I’m here to take care of the kids. I suspect he’d also be fine if they were in daycare.

Dad’s Got The Right Idea

I think it’s because men recognize that there are different ways of caring for our kids – financial and emotional. I doubt he thinks of himself as less of a father for working. I’m sure it makes him feel like a better father for being able to provide financially. Just as spending time with his kids also makes him a good dad. Maybe men have it right. It’s not an either or situation – time or money. If you get up every day and put on your heels and do your hair and makeup and earn that paycheck for your family – you’re loving them. If you get up every day, throw your hair in a ponytail and throw on some yoga pants and spend the day changing diapers or cooking meals – you’re loving your family.

Make Your Own Happiness

Whatever you choose – the key is just to own it, love it and live it. I think I’m just done having conversations in which I try to justify why it’s better for me or my family that I’m staying home. I’m going to take a cue from my hubby on this and just be at peace with my choice. The best life advice I ever heard was this – if you want to be happy all you have to do is decide to be happy. If you’re unhappy figure out what it’s going to take to make you happy and do it. If you could do whatever you wanted in the world and money wasn’t a factor what would it be? What’s that thing you would gladly do for free? Find that answer and you’ve found your happiness.

Despite my debt repayment plan, my budgeting OCD, and my need to make it all add up, I know that being here with my family – that’s what makes me happy, as is sharing my words and heart with other moms. So since time and money will always be on the scale and I’ll always be weighing and measuring and fighting my guilt I have no other choice. I’ve decided to throw out the scale. It’s my hope that you do too.

I was having a conversation with a lady I met at church and I was saying how awesome it was to meet another Stay At Home Mom. It seems there are a ton of us online, but it can be pretty hard to connect with other SAHMs in real life. We were having the conversation about how we are viewed as an oddity at best and even looked down upon by some. She actually told me her own mother told her that she wasted a “good education” on her since she decided to stay at home instead of putting that education to use in the workplace. I was shocked a mother would say this to her daughter, but I’m not surprised some people think that way.

graduates

 

Motherhood Degree

When I was in college I had a poetry professor who was especially hard and since I was getting a minor in creative writing and there weren’t a lot of writing classes I had to take not one but two of his classes to earn my minor. I remember during one office visit my senior year after reviewing some of my work he asked me where I was going to graduate school. Though I had looked at one in Boston I told him I didn’t think I was going to go. His response was, “What are you going to do then, stay home and have babies.” This of course to him was the biggest tragedy of earning a degree. Never mind that half the people I know aren’t working in the field their degree is in anyhow. But a degree left to rot in favor of motherhood; that was unthinkable. Keep in mind that this very professor had married one of his own students years ago so I wonder if he views his own wife’s choice to bear his children with such disdain. You can bet he’d look at my life and shake his head with a mixture of “I told you so” and “What a waste!” After all, I’m a lowly blogger with no published work and I don’t earn a salary at a fancy job. So I’m a failure right?

Making The Choice To Stay Home

I’ve already written a post about myths about being a SAHM including that you must not have an education or viable work prospects or that making the choice to stay at home is built upon a presumption of luxury the rest of the working gals can’t afford. Sorry but there is nothing luxurious about trying to use a bunch of coupons at the supermarket with your screaming baby and the people behind you in line giving you dirty looks. There is nothing fabulous about shopping at consignment shops – though if you’re frugal like me you probably don’t mind at all. I walked away from a 10 year career in marketing about 3 years ago. I wasn’t making the “big bucks” since I worked for non-profits. I worked around plenty of well to do career women that were all too happy to treat me like the “hired help.” I juggled work and family as best I could, but even working part-time I felt like I couldn’t hack it.

I give women who work full-time a lot of credit. It’s hard. It means having two jobs and one of them is 24/7. By the time I was ready to quit that job my nerves were shot. But even if you decided between you and your spouse that you would make it your job to stay at home and take care of your family and never worked a day in your life would an education be wasted on you? I personally think that investing in yourself is never a waste.

Role Models of ALL Kinds

If my children ask me one day if I went to college I will tell them that I graduated from the same college as their daddy. If they ask me why I don’t have a job, I’ll tell them that I chose to stay at home with them instead. I chose to sacrifice A LOT of things so that I could be there for every milestone. I will tell my daughter Hannah, that having her changed absolutely EVERYTHING about my life. Motherhood changed me. My life was not about ME anymore, but the lives I created.

I’ll tell them that by the time I was 15 I had lost my daddy and by the time I was 32 I had lost my mommy and I learned how precious and sometimes short life is. I will tell them that I don’t regret my decision not to work outside the home because I had been on the other side. I did both and struggled. I’m woman enough to admit it. It doesn’t make me any less because of it. I stopped working when my family really needed me. At my job I was easily replaced, but in my family I’m absolutely irreplaceable. My husband is a good dad, but I’m the primary caregiver and the loss of me would be staggering.

The truth is, I don’t know what the future holds for me. I don’t know how long I’ll stay at home. Maybe I’ll want to go back to work one day. The point of it all though is that it’s my choice. Isn’t that what women’s lib was supposed to give us – the choice to do what we want with our lives? BUT if you give someone a choice you have to allow for the choice to stay at home too without that degrading sideways glance or backhanded comment or even the platitudes of “you’re so lucky.”

The point is that I’m working on my choice every day. I’m raising my family the way I think is best for me. Would you look into the eyes of your daughter and tell her that she shouldn’t go to college or that raising a family is a failure on her part? Probably not. Why does it have to be an either or? Why does career “success” trump family “success?” While others are feeling sorry for my lack of a paycheck, I’m feeling intense sadness for broken marriages and families in turmoil. I have chosen the latter as the form of success to gage my life by. I’m one of the richest people I know. I am the CEO of my household. If the world doesn’t agree, well the world can shove it.

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This is my company – Jayden, Hannah
and newest addition Sydney.

The 24/7 Motherhood Shift

I’m not saying that it’s all rainbows and sunshine over here. I feel like there are days I would love to take some time off and not have three little people relying on me for everything. There are days I want to scream when I hear “Mom, what’s for dinner?” Why? Because I know that whatever I slaved away making will just be met with, “How much do I have to eat? Can I be done?, What’s for dessert?” and it’s frustrating to no end. There are days when I just want a nap and a shower and an hour to converse with an adult during the day. There are great days too. It’s not black and white. Staying at home probably has the same highs and lows as a traditional 9 to 5 job.

The key thing is to understand that it is a job. When you send your kids to daycare, you’re outsourcing it. No judgment here. I ran a daycare for a little while. Motherhood is an unglamorous job with crap pay and no vacation or time off, not even for sick days. But if you choose this life, this job then you learn to own your choices. You roll with it and shake off people’s eyerolls or sarcastic remarks. So I dedicate this post to my poetry professor. His prediction was right. I did just “stay home and have babies.” I don’t regret it for a single second. I’m glad I had the opportunity to get a college education. I don’t think it was a waste. It’s made me who I am. Do I recommend going into debt to earn a degree without an income? NO. But there’s never anything wrong with bettering yourself. I still pursue my passion of writing. After all, here I am writing for all you lovely people.

I’m also learning every single day how to become a better mother. Not a perfect one, but a better one. The whole reason we have all these parenting books and magazines is because we want to give our kids the very best of us. It’s a constant learning process. So when you really think about it, we’re all attending Motherhood University every single day.

As I mentioned last week, I’m closing in on D-Day with just about three weeks till I give birth to my third child and the anxiety about going through labor again is kicking in. If you weren’t completely traumatized by my last post about the top 10 things nobody warned you about labor, then read on. If not, hopefully it’s not to late to consider surrogacy.

The closer I get, the more my memory comes back in healthy anxiety-producing flashbacks, but I know the crazy body changes don’t stop once the baby is out. If you’re a first time mom you may want to turn back now, but I always aim to prepare with the truth and dose it with just enough humor so that you don’t go running for the hills. So here are the top 5 hilarious and weird changes your body goes through after your baby is born.

1. Am I Bleeding To Death? – The nurses warned me about the size of the blood clots I would see when I went to the bathroom, but that still didn’t prepare me for that one massive clot that had me frantically pushing the call button, sure I was bleeding to death. I can’t speak to the C-section mamas because I never had one, but massive clots and heavy bleeding are pretty standard after giving birth. Invest in the most ginormous pads you can find, and granny panties you don’t mind throwing away if they get super gross. I snagged a few extra pairs of those mesh disposable undies from the hospital. Dermoplast spray and Tuck’s pads (witch hazel) are tremendously comforting, especially if you’ve had stitches. They also give you a squeeze bottle for warm water rinses which also helps. Be prepared for your bathroom routine to take twice as long as usual between all these different steps.

2. Sweat Much? – I don’t consider myself someone who sweats a lot, even while exercising so I was shocked to wake up days after giving birth with damp and matted hair, completely covered in sweat. Nobody ever warned me that this is how your body gets rid of a lot of the excess fluid it takes on during pregnancy. Wear some loose clothing and be prepared to change the sheets. It’s not a matter of being too hot so you just have to go along for the ride on this one.

 

3. Well HEEELLLOOO Dolly – I know some women would be thrilled to wake up one day with their boobs double their normal size. However, nobody quite prepares you to suddenly find yourself as busty as Dolly Parton. On about the third post-pardom day (it could be the second or fourth) your milk will come in and when it does holly crap does it come in. Your breasts will feel huge, hot, and hard as rocks. It’s not the most pleasant feeling as you can imagine, so invest in some ice packs to stuff into your bra and heavy duty nursing pads. Some women swear by putting cabbage leaves in their bras, but I just don’t know if I can get past the idea of cooking cabbage in my bra. I hate the smell of it cooking in my house let alone having it on me. But hey whatever works.

If you’re breastfeeding keep feeding your baby, but don’t worry if they stop frequently and cough or choke a little. Unlike the manufactured nipples you buy for bottles, yours only come in one flow and it’s your baby that adjusts by slowing down while eating and yes, spitting or choking a little. Don’t worry, you aren’t drowning them. The day your milk comes in you will have way more supply then your baby could possibly eat so don’t force them to drink more than they can handle. Instead pump just enough to take the edge off. But be warned, pump too thoroughly and your body will just produce more, prolonging engorgement. It’s a perfect supply and demand system. Instead try ice packs and a couple of IB profin and know that the worst of it will be over by tomorrow.

4. Cry It Out – Your baby isn’t the only one who’ll be crying when you bring him or her home. Your body is going through the process of dealing with a tremendous flood of hormones after giving birth. You may cry or feel sad for seemingly no reason. With my first child I remember having a conversation with my grandmother the day I brought her home. She asked me if I was going back to work and when I said yes she said, “Why? You wanted that baby so much.” Now I love and miss my grandmother dearly and in her defense she had no idea that I had a miscarriage before getting pregnant with my daughter and how desperate I was to get pregnant again as soon as the doctor gave us the green light.

But it was the spark that started a two week long cry fest. I would hold her in my arms and look at her little face and wonder how I could possibly hand her over to strangers at a daycare in a few short months. Because of my grandmother I hatched my job-share plan so I could work part-time and my mother could watch her. It’s an arrangement that worked brilliantly for four years before my company entered into a merger. I am so grateful to my grandmother, whose well-meaning but painful question gave me the courage and creativity to create the work/life balance I wanted and of course to my boss and family who supported me.

I can’t speak to Postpartum Depression, except to say that mood swings, sadness, and crying are normal right after birth but if you keep experiencing symptoms long after the baby arrives you should seek the advice of your doctor. It’s a real thing and there is help for it, so don’t be afraid to ask.

 

5. Incontinent? That Depends – Ok so I’m entitled to the occasional corny joke. I really didn’t expect this symptom after I had my first child. I think it’s because I pushed for an hour to bring her into the world, that I temporarily lost some feeling and I had no idea I had to pee until I was practically peeing my pants. It was all I could do to find a safe place to put my daughter down and run to the bathroom. The doctor assured me it was perfectly normal, but I guess this is another reason those ginormous pads come in handy and the granny panties you don’t mind tossing in the trash if need be.

And you thought it only took blood, sweat and tears to bring your baby into the world. Well, you still experience them after delivery as well. Whoever said pregnancy was a beautiful thing was never a pregnant woman. Sure the miracle of growing a baby inside you is pretty awesome, but all the weird changes that happen to your body can be pretty weird, gross, and scary. I always tell people you don’t forget how hard pregnancy and childbirth are, but you look at your child and think, “What wouldn’t I have gone through for you?” It’s a good mantra to repeat when they hit about age three and you want to tear your hair out, but that’s for another day and another post.

What was the most surprising thing your body went through after having a baby?

 

Some women chart their ovulation with phone aps and some have a birth control malfunction, either way the how you become a parent is less important than what you do once you become one. The same is true for staying at home with your kids. Some women know for a long time they want to stay at home and others have it thrust upon them, but its the what comes now questions that tend to stick out in your mind. Here are the common misconceptions about staying at home and some tips to make staying at home work.

Myth 1: You Must Be So Lucky To Afford The Luxury Of Staying At Home – I’ve heard this plenty. It ALWAYS makes me want to laugh. There is almost nothing luxurious about staying at home and a LOT of women end up staying at home because it so darn costly to work and put your kids in daycare and pay for the MANY other costs of working. While yes you do make money working, you also spend a ton of money on gas, convenience foods, clothing, beauty routines, daycare, etc. I ended up packing on some serious debt paying for my right to work outside the home for the 4 years I did it while raising small children.

Tip: Get On The Same Page As Your Spouse – The number one thing I had to do before even dropping from full-time to part-time work after my daughter was born was to get my husband on board. We had to crunch the numbers and that meant looking at all the income and expenses of our household and also factoring in the costs of my working outside the home – daycare, formula etc. Years later I opened a daycare that lasted exactly 6 months. When it failed I knew we could make the transition from one and half incomes down to one with some more planning and sacrificing. BUT I know that I could not stay at home without my husbands support – both financially and emotionally.

Appoint a CFO

Crunch the numbers, make a budget, and appoint a CFO (chief financial officer) of your household. I’d venture that most couples consist of a spender and a saver so appoint the saver to this job. My husband and I used to have separate finances and we each paid certain bills. Staying at home and living off one income meant that we had to adopt the “united we conquer, divided we fall” approach to our finances. We decided I’d be the one in charge of the budget and paying all the bills and it’s worked out pretty great for the past two years. We’ve paid off close to $9,000 in debt while living off his income. I know we’re lucky that he makes a decent living and not everybody can swing being a single income household. But alternative and part-time work arrangements might be possible. I’ve learned that if I want something bad enough I WILL find a way to make it happen. You can also look for ways to make money from home.

Myth 2: You Must Be Staying At Home Because You Don’t Have Career Prospects – I grew up with many feminist ideas about women and work. I even took a college course on it for a women’s study class. I am college educated and worked in the Marketing/PR field for 10 years before staying at home. Yet I distinctly remember a male college professor who would look at my life now and consider me a failure. When I told him I wasn’t going to graduate school his response was, “What are you going to do then, stay at home and have kids?” I think in our society’s efforts to make things fair – to say women can do everything men can do I think we’ve forgotten that women can do one fundamental thing that men cannot. We can be mothers. But somewhere along the way, women have been made to feel worth less if they aspire to motherhood without a career in tow as well. I feel especially bad for men who choose to be SAHDs because society is even harder on them.

Tip – I personally feel there are no real reasons behind the “mommy wars.” It’s a result of insecurities based on what society thinks motherhood should entail. Should we all be Martha Stewart wannabes creating Pinterest masterpiece art projects for our kids or Corporate titans wearing a baby carrier? The truth is we’re neither. We all fall into the gray areas between and people feel uncomfortable in the gray areas. We look across them to the other side and make comparisons and assumptions. How can we stop doing this? Simple: Own YOUR choices. I’m not saying defend them because if you own them, and if you choose your life every day, there’s no reason to defend it and that goes for whether you work outside the home or not. The truth is moms need a lot of support and it shouldn’t matter whether we get that from other moms who have chosen the same path or not.

Myth 3: You Have ALL This Free Time – I’ll admit I get 3 blissful kid free hours while my son is at pre-K and my daughter is at school. I also know this sweet deal expires when my second daughter is born this July. Not only are you surrounded by little people all day demanding all your time and attention, but a lot of SAHMs volunteer for everything under the sun, take side jobs or work from home. There are many days when I wish I was at work where I only had one boss instead of two (soon to be 3).

Tip – Don’t forget about you. When you stay at home it’s so easy to assume any and all sacrifices need to be made by you alone. It’s truly important to keep doing things that make you happy and get out of the house without the kids at times. A refreshed, fulfilled mommy is a happy mommy. A happy mommy equals a happy family.

Motherhood is a privilege not a right. I know many childless mothers out there. Chances are you do to. So if you want to stay at home and can make it happen then go for it. I don’t regret my choices and neither should you – no matter what you choose. A belated Happy Mothers Day to all of you, because motherhood is truly the hardest and best job there is.

 

 

 

Having children is the most expensive venture I have ever made! Thankfully, there’s a pretty big emotional return on my financial investment. Unless you’ve married a Trump, you know the financial pinch having kids creates. I have always wanted to be a SAHM. I thought, “I’ll just stay home that FIRST year.” Then that year became two and here we are at 3 1/2 years. I have not worked outside the home in nearly 4 years. Here are 5 ways to make an income without leaving for work:

 

DSA logoStart a direct sales business. There is a small start-up cost involved, but you can make that back quickly. The beauty of direct sales is it allows you to make your own schedule and work around your time with family. The key is to find a product you are passionate about so you can honestly share your experiences with customers. It will feel less like selling. On average you can make $150 or more per month. You really get back what you put into your business.

 

????????????????Provide childcare.  Providing child care in your home allows you to schedule your work hours around your family’s routine. Depending on the hours you are willing to provide care for you can earn on average $100-$300 per week. There are many different options for the kind of care you may want to provide: after school care, toddler care, newborn/infant care, etc. To get started check with your local child care council. They often provide training and can answer your questions.

 

garage sale.jpgSell your stuff. Set up a garage sale, open a shop on ebay, find a local online garage sale site, or take your gently used clothing to a consignment shop. My first garage sale made $500! I frequently sell my kids gently worn clothing, shoes and forgotten toys on a local family swap & sell site.  I make that my new budget for clothing, shoes and toys. I recycle my earnings back into purchases I make on these sites. It not only stretches my budget, but it also helps other moms buy items for their kids.

 

CouponMake a meal plan. I plan our dinners for an entire month and use dinner left overs for lunch. I spend the first week’s grocery budget for a month of dinners/lunches, and the remaining weeks I only purchase what we need. I use coupons to get our household goods for free or for pennies and stockpile where it makes sense. This allows me to keep approximately $65.00 from my budget each week. (That’s cash I don’t have to part with). Get a coupon crash course here.

 

wordpress logoStart a blog.  Income from blogging depends on how successful your blog is. (So keep reading PLEASE! *wink*). You can maintain a blog on your own and seek out advertisers, or you can shop around for publications looking for a blog writer. Before you begin, do a little research. This option definitely takes more work than the list mentioned above.

 

O.k., this isn’t Kardashian cash (might not even be their latte money), but I make enough to cover necessities without having to part with my little ones each day. Whether you work outside the home, or stay home with little ones these are great options for supplementing your household income.

Perhaps you have a talent or service you could provide to generate income? What creative ways have you made an income for your family?

As a follow-up to my post from earlier in the week, I’ve been asked by a few folks to share an easy, quick pasta sauce recipe (or as it is called by my Italian family, “gravy”).  The recipe I make for a Sunday pasta dinner takes four hours from start to finish, and is one that has been passed down through my family.  I can’t share it here for fear of being disowned, but I instead will share one that I’ve started using recently when I need a faster version.  It’s a very quick, tasty, super healthy recipe that you can tailor to your family’s tastes, especially picky little ones.  Traditional pasta sauces sold in grocery stores are loaded with oils, sugars, and often high fructose corn syrup.  To get something all-natural without spending the day in the kitchen, I’ve used this one, based on a recipe that comes from Weight Watchers.  It goes quite well in Italian dishes, and you can put it together quickly and let it simmer while you boil pasta, make a salad, or assemble the rest of your meal.

A quick, healthy pasta sauce

In a medium saucepan, heat one teaspoon of olive oil on medium heat.  Add two cloves of diced garlic (about two teaspoons) and saute until brown, 1-2 minutes.  Add one (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes, stir and reduce heat to low.  Add two tablespoons each of fresh basil and oregano (or a handful of dried herbs) and simmer for at least 10 minutes, and as long as an hour. Stir often to prevent burning on the bottom.  Season to taste, using kosher salt, pepper, onion powder, or whatever is desired.

To find out what’s for dinner at our house, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.

When my partner Stephanie and I had our baby last November, we took several classes in the months leading up to the due date. We found the information to be extremely helpful down the line. But perhaps even more important, we are still friendly with 3 couples we met at the classes.

Here  is the CRYSTAL RUN HEALTHCARE prenatal class schedule., with additional classes added for Middletown and Rock Hill.

 The classes, open to the public, first launched in April 2010. The program, designed by Crystal Run pediatricians, is intended to provide guidance and emotional support and help prepare expectant parents for the arrival of their new baby. ALL CLASSES HELD FROM 5pm to 6pm.

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