How To Get Free Products for Sharing Your Honest Opinion

How To Get Free Products for Sharing Your Honest Opinion

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

So, I went on Amazon the other day looking for a new cell phone charger. I saw a 5 pack for about $11 that had a 4.3-star rating with 1,916 customer reviews. This seemed like a pretty good deal.  However, I do like to check reviews before purchasing, so I started sorting through them.  The first few reviews were standard about it the chargers working well and the benefits of it being a 5-pack. Because there were so many reviews, I looked at the key phrases I could search the reviews by.  One option was “Barbie Nutcracker”, and I was definitely curious about how a cell phone charger review would incorporate “Barbie Nutcracker” into it.  I selected that phrase and was presented with a collection of reviews for a movie.  I then did the same thing with the phrase “backup camera” and received a group of reviews for a backup camera.  The problem with this is that I was still supposedly looking at reviews for a package of cell phone chargers. I thought maybe this was a glitch with Amazon.  However, when I started looking into that possibility, I found that these mismatched reviews are really just a small part of a much bigger problem.

How To Get Free Products for Sharing Your Honest Opinion

The Chicken and the Egg Cycle

To understand the scope of this problem and why it’s so difficult to correct, we first have to understand what caused it.

When we purchase products online it’s difficult to gain all the information we need from a description and pictures from the seller. Therefore, we rely on reviews from others to make sure that the product will meet our needs and is good quality.  If we are short on time, we might even just glance at the star rating and make sure that it’s 4 or 5 stars.

However, when a product is first introduced to Amazon it won’t have any reviews.  Would you as a buyer decide to purchase a product that had no reviews?  Maybe if it was cheap, but probably not if you were looking for something higher end.  We all know too well that there are internet trolls out their trying to cheat us out of our money. 

Conversely, how many of us regularly go back on to Amazon and write reviews for everything we purchase? I know that I’m tempted to only go to the effort of writing a review if I love or hate a product.  If it is sufficiently average, then I don’t review it.  I’m guessing there are a lot of others out there in the same boat.  That leaves a product with reviews on the two extremes when a large number of people may believe it’s perfectly average.

The end result is a chicken and egg type of situation where a product needs reviews to sell, but it needs to sell a lot to get one review.  So, how can a company get a new product on Amazon to sell?  They hack the review system, and there are a variety of ways they do this.

  • Editing a current product that has a lot of reviews to a new image and description so reviews from the old product get tied to a new one.  This is what seems to have occurred with my cell phone charger situation.
  • Contracting with a company that sells fake reviews.  There are a variety of these out there (many have shut down, but the problem hasn’t gone away).  These charge a fee for a certain number of reviews and then they will leave that many fake 5-star reviews.
  • Reaching out to people and telling them they will cover the product cost and then pay you a small amount ($5 or $10) to give a 5-star rating and post a pre-written review they provide.

All of the above methods result in a large number of 5-star reviews that can boost the product to the top of the Amazon search results.  Then when we get online to make a purchase, the 5 stars pulls us towards purchasing a product that may not be 5-star worthy.

The Solution

Amazon is working to crack down on companies that are utilizing these fake review methods.  However, that isn’t solving the problem that is causing the fake reviews in the first place.  Therefore, we need an additional solution – something that will help companies get these first honest reviews without deceiving potential customers. 

That’s the goal of the Early Review Service (ERS) Team – to help companies get new products off the ground on Amazon by providing fair reviews while providing customers with accurate information about these new products.  This is all done in compliance with the Amazon Pro Reviewer Program.

The ERS Team is really a simple concept:

  1. A company purchases a review package from them consisting of 5, 10, 20 or 30 reviews.  By purchasing a package of reviews, they are being promised that many reviews over an extended period.  However, there is no guarantee of rating or content of those reviews.
  2. The products are posted in the ERS Team Facebook Group where members that are interested in the product can comment that they want to do a review.
  3. Those that will be reviewing the product are sent a Google spreadsheet showing when to order and when to review the product. 
  4. Reviewers order the product, try it out for a few days, then write a review.  After the review is written they are reimbursed for the actual cost of purchasing the product.

The end result is that companies get honest reviews from people really using the products.  Reviewers get to try out products such as kitchen utensils, privacy screens and skin care items that are new to the market and then keep them or gift them in exchange for telling others what they thought of the product.

Do you want to be a reviewer?  If you meet the following criteria, then it may be your lucky day.

  1. Residing in the US
  2. Have an active Facebook account because the group is run through Facebook
  3. Have access to an Amazon prime account
  4. Have a personal PayPal account (for reimbursement)
  5. Have an active Gmail address (to facilitate sharing of the Google doc)

If you are willing to become a member of the review group, request to join the ERS Team Facebook group, and answer the required questions.  When you answer the question about who referred you, use the code R8 which indicates that you came from a reputable source.

How To Get Free Products for Sharing Your Honest Opinion

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Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

6 Tips For Dealing with Postpartum Depression

6 Tips For Dealing with Postpartum Depression

For new and expecting moms alike, the phrase “postpartum depression” can feel like a boogeyman. We’ve all heard the horror stories of extreme, postpartum psychosis, but what most don’t realize is that postpartum depression is much more prevalent than you think.

According to a study that surveyed 10,000 new mothers, just over 20 percent of mothers experience depression within the first year postpartum, illustrating just how prevalent a problem it is. However, the study also showed that the unfortunate stigma surrounding postpartum depression and mental health in general causes many suffering mothers to keep quiet about their issues. These results are apparent due to the fact that only 14 percent of pregnant and postpartum women sought out help or treatment for their depression –as compared to 26 percent of the general population. That’s why it’s important to highlight issues like postpartum depression to show these women that they’re not alone.

A sad woman with her face in her hands.

In fact, when you include the common and brief spell of depression most mothers shortly face after delivery knows as the “baby blues,” the number of mothers dealing with some form of depression or anxiety-based issue leaps to an astonishing 80 percent. Between that number and the high percentage of women dealing with full-on postpartum depression, there’s never been a better time to focus on this serious problem and give you useful tips to combat it.

But before we can fight the issue, it’s important to fully understand what postpartum depression is and how it’s different than the “baby blues.”

Postpartum Depression or Just Baby Blues?

One of the hardest questions anyone potentially dealing with any form of depression asks themselves is, “Am I really depressed, or am I just sad?” And for moms who can barely find time to eat, sleep, or shower, that question can quickly turn to, “Why did I even have a baby?” But the most important thing to remember when asking yourself either of those questions is that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed – everyone does from time-to-time.

It’s impossible to pinpoint the problem if you waste energy beating yourself up just for having emotions, and once you’ve accepted that feeling sadness, frustration, and even anger are normal, you can work on identifying the problem and finding a solution.

When it comes to differentiating baby blues from postpartum depression, there are actually medically established standards to identify each issue, so deciding which you may have is fairly simple. For the baby blues, symptoms can include bouts of anxiety, crying, insomnia, moodiness, and sadness along with feelings that you may not be capable or prepared to take care of a baby. These feelings are normal due to the massive swing in hormones that occurs in the days following delivery, where your hormone levels drop drastically, something that commonly leads to symptoms of depression. However, due to the reactionary nature of these symptoms, the baby blues typically only last for one to two weeks and disappear as your hormone levels stabilize again.

This occurrence is in contrast to postpartum depression, which, in addition to similar symptoms of moodiness and feelings of inadequacy, also includes trouble bonding with or feeling close to your baby. Symptoms of postpartum depression typically pop up within three weeks of giving birth and can last indefinitely if not addressed. Unlike baby blues, postpartum depression does not usually go away without some form of intervention, which makes finding ways to fight back crucial.

So to help you make a plan to beat postpartum depression, we’re offering six tips for dealing with the debilitating issue. And even if you don’t think you’re dealing with full-blown postpartum depression, these tips can help you get over those baby blues just as well:

1. Seek Professional Help

Too often, getting help from your general practice doctor or mental health professional is seen as the last resort – something you fall back on when you’ve tried everything else. However, the sooner you make your concerns known to a qualified professional, the quicker you can get back to feeling normal again. But it’s important to remember that going to a doctor doesn’t just mean you’ll be pumped full of pills, especially if you’re nursing or having to stay alert to take care of your newborn.

So as soon as you feel like your symptoms are getting beyond your ability to control, don’t wait to have a complete breakdown, just reach out and get help making a detailed plan to deal with your symptoms. Additionally, by making this your first step, you can run the other tips by your doctor and make sure that they each work well with your unique health situation.

Professional reaching out to help a woman that is covering her face because of postpartum depression

2. Exercise

Exercise is the most highly prescribed methods of dealing with depression, and it’s also one of the most effective.

Staying active has a nearly endless number of physical and mental health benefits to help you tackle the baby blues, postpartum depression, AND your New Year’s resolution, especially if you exercise outside. From a scientific perspective, exercise has been shown to enlarge the hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in both regulating mood and creating new memories. Which means that not only does regular physical activity help you stay in a good mood, it can help clear up the forgetfulness and fogginess that often comes with depression as well. And that’s without even considering the age-old adage “look good, feel good.” So get moving, look good, and feel better.

These tips can help you fit in a workout as a new mom.

Mom and dad walking with a toddler and pushing a stroller. Exercise helps with postpartum depression.

3. Healthy Diet

“Diet & exercise” get lumped together as often as peanut butter and jelly, but too often people think doing just one or the other will solve all their problems. As the saying goes, “You can’t outrun a bad diet,” so no matter how hard you’re working out, if you’re eating poorly, you may feel like exercise is doing nothing to help your depression.

In fact, having a healthy diet may be even more important to your mental health than we previously thought, as a recent study observed a link between gut bacteria and depression. What the study found was that the same two types of bacteria were absent in each of the subjects that reported suffering from either mild or severe depression, illustrating a possible connection that links the food we eat to the way we feel – which shouldn’t be that surprising.

Think of it this way – if you’ve got a high-powered sports car and you fill it with regular gasoline, sure it’ll run, but you’re going to have a lot more issues later down the road than if you had used premium and the same applies to your body. Avoiding low-grade fuel like sugar and heavily-processed food in favor of premium ingredients and fresh-made meals is an indispensable part of sustaining your mental health.

Fruits, veggies and nuts.  Healthy eating can help with postpartum depression.

4. Natural Options

In addition to a healthy diet, there are supplements and other natural alternatives that can combine with diet and exercise in the pursuit of whole-body wellness.

Some of the most common sources of natural healing are essential oils, which are commonly useful for aromatherapy, which uses certain scents to elicit specific responses in the body. For example, lavender, chamomile, and bergamot oil are three of the most common, essential fragrances used to help ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression, but there’s also another type of all-natural oil that’s recently taken the nation by storm for its anxiolytic effects – CBD oil.

CBD oil has become increasingly popular for its wide-ranging effects that help people deal with things from pain to depression to lack of sleep, all without any reported side effects. The science of CBD oil can be a little complicated, but to put it simply, CBD works hand-in-hand with things like the digestive, immune, and nervous systems to keep your body well-balanced and running smoothly. However, when it comes to beginning a regimen of either essential oils or CBD oil, it’s best to talk to your doctor – especially if you’re nursing – to make sure that they are right for you.

Have you been considering try silver supplements? Check out my review of alkaline structured silver.

A glass bowl with supplement capsules.  Natural products can be helpful for postpartum depression.

5. Make Time for Sleep

This tip may be the most difficult item on the list, but it’s one of the most important.

Parents, and in particular new parents, have almost no time for sleep, which means getting sleep when they can is extremely crucial. Lack of sleep can be tremendously harmful to your overall mental state and is a driving factor of depression for many people – with one study showing that people with restrictive sleep apnea—a disorder which severely impacts sleep—were five times more likely to suffer from depression. This effect is one of the driving factors behind why baby blues are so common, and it’s also largely responsible for why some cases of postpartum depression pop up or stick around despite other forms of treatment.

One of the most often repeated words of advice is to sleep when your baby sleeps, rather than trying to use that time to catch up on emails, phone calls, or housework. This sync allows you to at least get small pockets of sleep throughout the day since getting a full eight hours at night is going to be next-to-impossible.

A woman laying in bed with a mug of tea. Getting sleep can help with postpartum depression.

6. Support System

Regardless of how you choose to tackle this stressful period in your life, you won’t be able to handle it on your own without having a complete and total breakdown. For this reason, having a support system is extremely important for new mothers to be able to both feel emotionally supported and receive physical help with childcare.

Research has shown that loneliness and isolation can lead to a host of negative health consequences, including high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and lack of sleep. Those consequences are precisely why finding a support network is so crucial – because no matter how much you want to be “supermom,” even superheroes need help sometimes. Even if your support system is just one or two close friends or family members, simply having someone to confide in, relate to, and depend on when things get difficult can be the difference between a bout of the baby blues and full-on postpartum depression.

A dad, mom and baby have their hands stacked.  A family support system can help with postpartum depression.

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MyDoctorSuggests Alkaline Structured Silver Review

MyDoctorSuggests Alkaline Structured Silver Review

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

MyDoctorSuggests Alkaline Structured Silver Review

Recently I had the opportunity to review the collection of Alkaline Structured Silver Products from  These products are marketed is being effective for a wide variety of issues affecting the typical young family.  According to the product site, these products may be helpful for yeast infections, acne, diaper rash, gut/microbiome, flu/colds, cuts, scrapes and burns, scaring and anti-aging among other things. 

I don’t know about you, but my family struggles with many of these things, so I was curious to see if structured silver would be a natural answer to the problems. 

Before I get into my experience using the products, I want to cover a little background on silver supplements.

Silver containing remedies have been used throughout history and are still used topically in some instances in traditional medicine today.  The first documented use was in the 1800s.  When talking about silver supplementation, there are two types of silver, colloidal silver and structured silver.

Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver is a liquid that contains tiny silver particles and has been marketed as a dietary supplement on the internet.  However, this product has been shown to not be safe for oral ingestion and can cause serious side effects such as argyria where the skin gets a bluish-gray discoloration.  In short, you don’t want to ingest colloidal silver.

Structured Silver

Structured silver was developed around 2010 and it’s 99.999% water and 0.001% silver that is bonded to the water.  Older products are acidic while newer products are alkaline making them more similar to the normal pH of blood.  The alkaline form of structured silver is designed to be taken every day and as needed.  These products do not accumulate in the body like colloidal silver, making them much safer.

Why Does Silver Work?

It has antibacterial properties and may have antiviral and antifungal properties as well. It’s important to make sure to talk with your doctor prior to starting to use oral silver products. Likewise, talk to your vet before using silver-containing products for your pets.

What Products Did I Try?

I tried the following products:

  • Silver Solution
  • Silver Mint Mouthwash
  • All Natural Silver Lozenge (honey and lemon)
  • Silver-Infused Moisturizing Hand & Body Lotion
  • Organic Silver Soap (all natural lavender)
  • Silver Gel with Aloe Vera
  • Silver Gel (activated for maximum strength)

I also received 3 booklets with helpful information.

  • The Silver Miracle
  • Health & Beauty Secrets for Her
  • Silver and Animals

So, What Did I Think of the Products?

Note: I did receive the products mentioned in this post as a gift.  However, this review is my own opinion and not influenced by the company in any way.

Silver Solution

The suggested use for an adult is 2 tsp twice a day.  For children over 4, it’s ½ tsp twice a day.  The liquid tasted like stale water.  Therefore, it was tolerable to just drink it straight.  However, I preferred to mix the two tsp into my tea.  When I did that, I didn’t even notice it was in there. 

I can’t say that I noticed any specific benefits of the solution.  However, I didn’t see any negative effects.  My husband and I both used the solution and while using it we stayed healthy.  Was this because of the silver or because it’s not cold/flu season anymore?  I’ll leave that to you to decide. This was probably my least favorite product. Keep reading to see which one was my favorite.

a bottle of alkaline structured silver solution from MyDoctorSuggests

Silver Mint Mouthwash

This was by far my favorite product.  The directions for this are to swish a mouthful for 30 seconds twice a day and then either swallow it or spit it out.  The taste was like a peppermint candy.  At first it was a little surprising because I was expecting the strong taste of other mouthwashes.  However, the taste was pleasant and left my mouth feeling refreshed.  An added bonus for this mouthwash is that it doesn’t contain alcohol.  Therefore, it didn’t leave me with horrible dry mouth like most other mouthwashes do.

I would say we saw benefit from this product.  My husband has horrible breath even when he has recently brushed his teeth and used normal mouthwash.  I’m guessing he has some bacteria built up in his mouth which is causing the bad breath.  While using the Silver Mint Mouthwash twice a day, I noticed a big difference in his breath.  I think the silver component helped knock down the bacteria in his mouth to improve his breath. The taste and my husband’s improved breath, put this product at the top of my list.

a bottle of silver mint mouthwash from MyDoctorSuggests

All Natural Silver Lozenge (honey and lemon)

These can be used to sooth sore throats or to provide silver supplementation instead of using the solution.  These were soothing for a sore throat, and they tasted amazing – like eating a piece of candy.  I didn’t try using them for supplementation. Other than tasting better than normal lozenges, I didn’t see a big benefit.  However, the silver could theoretically be beneficial if you have strep-throat due to its antibacterial properties.

All natural silver lozenge package from MyDoctorSuggests

Silver-Infused Moisturizing Hand & Body Lotion

I have really dry hands because my job involves washing hands frequently and using hand sanitizer.  I decided to try the lotion on my hands to see if it would be strong enough to moisturize them.  It did seem to work well.  My torn cuticles finally started to heal while using this lotion.  The silver component likely played a role by providing antibacterial effects to protect the broken skin. 

Silver infused hand & body lotion from MyDoctorSuggests

Organic Silver Soap (all natural lavender)

I really liked the soap.  I’m not usually a fan of bar soaps because they are difficult to use and I never feel like I get clean.  However, this Organic Silver Soap lathers really nicely, smells great and has a nice moisturizing component.  I liked the lavender scent, but there are other scents available that I would try. My husband even commented how much he liked this soap!

organic silver soap from MyDoctorSuggests

Silver Gel with Aloe Vera

I decided to make a habit of using this on my legs.  I have a horrible time with razer burn, and I can’t seem to find a razor that doesn’t cause it at least a little.  Therefore, my lower legs are always dry, sore and irritated.  I figured this gel would be perfect because it indicated it’s hydrating and the aloe vera sounded soothing. 

I used the gel every time I shaved, and I did notice a difference.  Traditional lotion hadn’t worked, so I was pleasantly surprised to see an improvement using this gel.  The only downside is the gel leaves my hands feeling sticky, but it’s easy enough to wash off.

pH Balanced Structured Silver Gel with Aloe Vera from MyDoctorSuggests

Silver Gel (activated for maximum strength)

While I kept the gel with aloe in my bathroom, I dedicated this gel to my son’s changing table.  I decided we would test it out for diaper rash treatment/prevention.  It seemed to work okay, but I don’t think I would replace traditional diaper rash creams as I don’t think a gel is quite as protective as a cream base. 

Even though I won’t be using this for diaper rash, I will be keeping this gel in the first aid kit.  My son is just figuring out the whole walking thing which means scrapes are somewhat common in our house.  This gel works really well on scrapes and burns because the silver is antibacterial and the gel itself is soothing.

Extra strength structured silver gel from MyDoctorSuggests

The booklets aren’t something that I would purchase on their own, but as an accompaniment to the products, they provide interesting background and recommendations.  Here is briefly what’s contained in each booklet.

The Silver Miracle Booklet

This booklet is designed to provide all the info you need about the history, benefits and future of silver products.  I did find some of the information helpful; however, some of it was a little doomsday-esque for my taste.  There is a helpful section that goes over all the possible uses and exactly how much of a product to use and how to use it which is helpful.

The Silver Miracle booklet from MyDoctorSuggests

Silver for Animals Booklet

This booklet includes background information as well as ideas for how silver may be beneficial for animals.  I don’t have a dog, and I wasn’t willing to administer anything that isn’t absolutely necessary to my cats, so I can’t say much more about this.

Silver and Animals booklet from MyDoctorSuggests

Health & Beauty Secrets for Her

This booklet includes quite a bit of background on silver products as well as recommendations for various uses.  The recommendations are detailed and easy to follow.

Health & Beauty Secrets for Her booklet from MyDoctorSuggests

Final Thoughts

Overall, I really liked the mouthwash, the soap and the aloe-containing silver gel.  I will also keep a bottle of the regular gel handy for first aid use, but hopefully won’t need it too often.  I didn’t really see sufficient benefit from the oral solution to justify continuing to use it, and I’m still debating on the lotion.  However, I’m off to try that on my son’s roughed-up knees, so he may be getting a new brand of lotion.    

Products like this work differently for different people.  If you are striving for a natural lifestyle, these may have some benefit.  If you want to give the products a try, you can get 20% off your first purchase at using my unique link. 

If you have tried silver products, leave a comment to let me know what you thought of them.

MyDoctorSuggests Alkaline Structured Silver Review

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Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Mom Labels – What Is A Crunchy Mom?

Mom Labels – What Is A Crunchy Mom?
Mom Labels - What Is A Crunchy Mom?

I love learning new things, and this week I learned that crunchy, silky and scrunchy are terms used to describe different kinds of moms.  Since I can’t be the only person who didn’t know moms are now defined by textures, I’ll give you a brief overview of what each means.

Related Content

Crunchy: Moms that go with the natural option.  This includes home/unmedicated birth, exclusive breastfeeding until the child weans themselves, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, bed sharing, cloth diapering, and attachment parenting.  These moms are pro organic eating and natural medicine and are often vegetarians.  They are anti-vaccination, anti circumcision and anti-plastic.

Silky: Moms that prefer a medicated, hospital birth, disposable diapers, crib sleeping, cry-it out sleep training, feed their baby formula +/- breastmilk, use approved medications.  These moms are pro vaccination and pro circumcision.

Scrunchy (am I the only one who thinks big 90s ponytail holder here?): Moms that are a mix of crunchy and silky.

Other Posts You May Like

Regardless of what terminology you use, the most vocal of the current culture push that you aren’t as good of a mom if you aren’t exemplifying the characteristics of a crunchy mom.

What Am I?

I am SOOO not a crunchy mom. I am very much silky.  Does that make me a bad mom?  Let me explain why I don’t fit the bill for crunchy.

  1. There was no natural birth for me.  As soon as the pain set in, I demanded all the drugs STAT. I guess I was doomed to be a non crunchy mom from the start.
  2. I am pro disposable diapers.  I just can’t wrap my head around having to do anything more than ball up Paxton’s dirty diapers and toss them.  Cloth ones may be cute and eco-friendly, but you won’t find Paxton wearing them anytime soon.
  3. Give my kid all the vaccinations!  As a pharmacist I have been fully educated on all the scary diseases vaccines prevent, so I would like my child to be protected from those.  He will be vaccinated according to the well-thought out CDC schedule, and I will make sure the doctor doesn’t forget.  I was the mom that kept reminding the hospital that Paxton needed his first Hep B shot before leaving because that series should be started at birth.
  4. Organic produce is too expensive in most cases.  I have survived this long on ‘regular’ produce, I will continue my cost saving efforts and buy from the regular section of the grocery store regardless of whether it’s for Paxton or me.
  5. Where does one get coconut oil?  Supposedly, this is the cure for everything, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually owned a container (bottle, tub, jug,…??) of it.  Instead I go with whatever generic medication my pharmacy school knowledge tells me I need.
  6. Paxton has never shared a bedroom with us, let alone a bed. He started sleeping in his crib in his own room the day we brought him home from the hospital.  He has never, nor will he ever share our bed, except maybe to snuggle and watch some Saturday morning cartoons. 
  7. I did give breastfeeding a try.  Basically I figured if I was making it, I may as well save myself the money that I would have to spend on formula.  Actually, breastfeeding didn’t work out so well, so Paxton has had at least some formula since he was about 5 weeks old. I completely gave up on breastfeeding at 5.5 months.  And oh yeah, to top it off, he is stuck drinking generic formula.  Despite this, we are all much happier with this arrangement.
  8. The formula Paxton drinks, yeah it comes out of *gasp* plastic bottles.  Paxton also eats food that has been prepared in plastic, stored in plastic, microwaved in plastic – you get the picture.  Oh yeah, and he also has plenty of plastic toys that he LOVES to chew on.  I get the impression he thinks the sole purpose of plastic toys is for chewing on them.
  9. Paxton eats prepackaged snacks relatively often. Yeah, we do try to feed him healthy food the majority of the time, but we are not above giving him a cracker or yogi or puff or plenty of other things that come out of a box and I’m sure have been highly preserved.  I do make the majority of Paxton’s baby food, but he’s also eaten his share of store bought.
  10. I don’t want my kid sitting in front of the TV excessively, but if that’s what I need to do once in a while, then it happens.  And yes, Paxton enjoys watching the men in bright colors run all over the screen (aka football).

This is not, I repeat – NOT, meant to put down any moms reading this that do any/all of the above. With the exception of not vaccinating, I believe all of the other points are very worthy goals.  Way to go mama if you can do any of them consistently.  I am not able to do any of these, and I’m okay with that.  My kid is fed, healthy and generally happy.  So, here’s to all the other okay moms out that that have fed and generally happy kids – I’ll raise my can of artificially sweetened, cancer-causing Diet Coke to you!  But then again everything in California causes cancer these days.

California prop 65 warning
CA Prop 65 warning that is on just about everything in CA.

Further Resources

If you are in my boat, but want to try to be more crunchy, check out this how-to article.

If you are like me and happy in your silky ways, you may find these other articles I’ve written useful.

If you are feeling guilty about not being crunchy enough, check out this article which puts mom perfectionism into perspective.

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Mom Labels - What Is A Crunchy Mom?

Tips for Taking Frame-Worthy Photos of Baby

Tips for Taking Frame-Worthy Photos of Baby
Tips for Taking Frame-Worthy Photos of Baby

Babies are so cute, you can’t help but take boatloads of pictures of them.  I absolutely love having amazing photos of Paxton, but I can’t afford to get professional photos done every season.  Therefore, my husband and I have drastically improved our photography game since Paxton was born.  Here are our top tips for taking photos of baby.

Warning: Once you learn these tips, you will take so many pictures you won’t know what to do with them all! Check out this post about why you should digitiz them.

Get At or Below Baby’s Level

If you are standing up and your subject is sitting down, you end up with a really unflattering angle.  Crouch down to the height of your subject to instantly improve the angle.  That said, you can still try different angles.  I find that directly above can work in some cases.  Here you can see you get a better view of my son in the image on the bottom where I was at his level versus the image on the top which I took standing up.

baby in pumpkin patch standing next to big pumpkin
Baby in pumpkin patch standing next to big pumpkin. pumpkin is orange and the rest of the photo is black and white.

Play Around With Angles to See What Works Best

Often you can get softer photos from a slight sideways angle compared to straight on.  You may also get better photos of tiny humans by being lower than their level and shooting up a little.  Play around with the angle at which you take the photo to find what works best for your baby and background.

Other Posts You May Like

Have an Assistant

It’s really hard to jump around and clap and wave to get baby smiling and looking at the camera while trying to take the photo at the perfect time.  Having an assistant means they can jump around like crazy while you get the perfect shot.

Zoom In

If your subject fills the frame, the background automatically become more background and less of a focus. You can see in the pictures below, the zoomed in version gets the important part of the image front and center while hiding my cluttered house.

Zoomed out photo of a girl in workout cloths lifting baby to the side.
Zoomed in photo of a girl in workout cloths lifting baby to the side.

Make Your Subject Off-Center

If you want to get a particular part of the background in, off center your subject a bit.  This adds a slightly more ‘artsy’ feel to your photos.

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Design a Fun Background

Set up a background that matches the season.  We had great fun taking pictures with pumpkins for fall (check out this post for other fun fall ideas), and during the summer we took pictures by/in the pool.  However, landscaping can make a nice background as well.  The below images were taken with the same kid, same football, same pumpkin, same camera and only minutes apart.  Simply moving the setup to my landscaping instead of the front porch drastically changed the photo quality.

baby sitting in a pumpkin with a football next to it on a front porch
baby sitting in a pumpkin with a football next to it in the landscaping.

Enlist a Friend to Take Family Photos

If you just want photos of your babe with one parent, you can do without the friend.  However, if you are already doing a photo shoot, why not get some great family photos.  Have a friend come help you out, so you can all get in the photo.  You could even set up a fun photo shoot for both families and take turns taking the pictures. We had a friend take this photo which gave us much better quality and fun, spontaneous shots that we couldn’t achieve with a tripod and a timer

A mom and dad standing on a front porch while dad lifts a baby into the air.

Invest in a Good Camera

Cell phone cameras are getting pretty impressive, but there is still something to be said for using a digital camera. The cell phone works great in a pinch, but when doing a mini photoshoot, the quality of pictures from our lower end digital camera far exceed cell phone pictures. More info on basic camera equipment is available here and here.

Find a Good Photo Editor

You can find something pretty good for free.  For cell phone editing I really like this app.  For editing on my desktop, I love this app which has versions for Mac and Windows.  Whichever editing program you choose, practice using it to learn everything it can do.

Work a Toy (or Toy-Like Item) Into Your Shoot

Older babies get bored quickly and will decide they would rather play with the nice background or leave the scene all together.  Keep baby happy with something cute to play with.  For our fall photos, a tiny pumpkin that Paxton could hold worked great and made a cute addition to the photos.

A kid sitting on a front porch holding a small pumpkin with pumpkins behind him.

Look to Pinterest for Ideas

You can see what others have done for backgrounds and fun photos for different seasons or holidays.  We got the baby in a pumpkin idea from Pinterest.

Set Yourself Up For Success

Little ones have short attention spans and tolerance levels.  Plan to work quickly to get your shots.  This means setting up the background ahead of time and making sure you have all your props ready.  Also, start with a baby that is well rested and fed.  Taking photos at the time of day when baby is usually happiest helps too.  If that time of day is when it’s really sunny, then opt for putting your photoshoot in the shade or choose an overcast day.

Know Where the Sun Is

If you really want the perfect photo, take it during the morning or evening when the sun isn’t brightest.  If you take it midday try to do the photos in the shade or when it’s overcast.  If that’s not possible, position the sun to the side of your picture.  For indoor photos, you can never have too much light, but natural light is best if possible.

There you have my tips for taking great photos!  Remember to get out from behind the lens and into some of the photos with baby.  You may want the cute baby pictures, but someday that baby will be grown and will want the pictures with mom and dad in them too.

What are some tips you’ve discovered while taking pictures of baby?  Let me know in the comments.

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Tips for Taking Frame-Worthy Photos of Baby

Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave
Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

The United States as a whole offers much less paid maternity leave than other countries.  However, it doesn’t matter if you get a long or short leave, it’s still hard to leave your snugly baby and head back to work.  Here are my 10 tips for returning to work after maternity leave. If you are really dreading the return, check out this post I wrote about why being a working mom is awesome.

Top 10 Tips

1. Practice Your Morning Routine

You and baby have likely gotten into a morning routine that doesn’t involve leaving the house in time to be somewhere first thing. Work with your partner to plan what your morning routine will look like, and a couple weeks before you go back start practicing.

2. Do a Daytime Care Trial Run

Whether your partner will be staying home, you have a nanny coming to you, or baby is going to daycare, do a practice run or two. This allows you to make sure your baby is comfortable with the caregiver and gives the caregiver a chance to ask any questions that come up. If you are hesitant to give up any time with your baby, just make it a few hours. Use that time to run errands, get your hair done or just take a nap.

If you are feeling guilty or worried about putting your baby into daycare, check out this post about why it’s okay.

If you are thinking a nanny may be a better option, you will definitely want to ask these interview questions when finding the perfect one.

3. Make Sure Baby Will Drink a Bottle

If you have been exclusively breastfeeding while on maternity leave, your baby may not be too impressed with an impersonal bottle at first. Start practicing a couple weeks ahead of time, so baby gets used to it. The last thing you want is to be spending your first day back worrying about if your baby is eating.

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4. Practice Pumping

Along with baby practicing drinking from a bottle, you will need to practice pumping if you plan to continue breastfeeding. You don’t want to be trying to figure out how to use your pump when you get to work.

5. Build Up a Milk Stash

If you are planning to pump at work, you will be pumping to feed your baby the next day. It never hurts to have a little bit of a milk stash built up. If you have enough supply, start creating a freezer stash a couple weeks before going back to work.

6. Preemptively Skim Your Emails

If you have a job where you get a lot of emails, find some time to at least start going through them. Delete all the ones that are junk or no longer relevant. This will drastically cut the size of your inbox. Simply knowing what you are in for when you are opening your email on your first day back can help with the dread. I used my midnight pumping sessions to go through my emails.

7. Stop By Work For a Visit

Simply stopping by with your baby for a few minutes and chatting with coworkers can make going back not seem so bad.

8. Incorporate Your Favorite Part of Work Into Your First Day Back

For me, I love the traveling and speaking aspect of my job.  Therefore, the weekend right before I went back to work I traveled to spend the weekend speaking.  This was like ripping the bandage off.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to go at first but ended up enjoying myself and afterwards going to work for a day seemed easy.  Maybe traveling isn’t what you want to do, but if you love getting lunch with a coworker, try to plan lunch on your first day back so you have something to look forward to.

9. Consider Adjusting Your Schedule

Sometimes there may be a better way to make it all work. It could be worth asking your boss about flexibility. Are you able to condense your work week or work from home some days? I was able to change from working five days a week to working 10 hour days four days a week. I still work the same 40 hours but have a whole extra day with Paxton each week which makes a big difference.

10. Don’t Make Any Drastic Changes Until You’ve Been Back to Work for at Least 1 Month

As maternity leave nears its end, it can be really tempting to decide you want to be a stay-at-home mom. Don’t make this decision while you are on leave. Go back to your commitments for at least 1 month and try your hardest to make it work. If after one month you are still sure that you would rather be a stay-at-home mom, then it may be worth considering if that’s a possibility.

Once you are back to work, check out these 35 tips from working moms on how they manage to balance everything.

Final Thoughts

In summary, plan ahead.  I dreaded going back to work for the last couple of weeks of maternity leave.  However, I realized that once I had a plan in place and slowly started getting involved in the work world again, it wasn’t that horrible of a thought.  I also found that leaving the house every day to go to work forces me to step out of my role as mom and focus on my other roles which keep me from getting burned out with any one thing.

If you really want to focus on you, check out my tips for fitting fitness into a working mom schedule here.

What helped you go back to work after maternity leave?  Let me know in the comments. If you are still looking for more tips, here are some additional tips for returning to work after maternity leave.

If you want to hear from other working moms that make it work, check out this interview series. I was even included as one of the interviews. You can view mine here.

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Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

35 Essential Tips for Working Moms

35 Essential Tips for Working Moms
35 Essential Tips for Working Moms

Working mom is the job that comes with the world’s longest job description.  It includes breadwinner, chef, chauffeur, doctor, teacher, psychiatrist, activity planner, maid, pet mom, personal shopper, secretary, and other duties as assigned.  For a look into what it’s like being a working mom, check out this post.  So how do moms manage to do it?  Here are 35 tips from me and some other awesome moms in the working mom trenches.  If you are a working mom trying to figure out how to not only survive but thrive, try implementing these tips.

I asked a group of awesome working moms what their top tip is for balancing it all.  Here is what they had to say!

On Having a Schedule and Planning

The most common tip I received is to have a schedule and routine.  Here are what a few moms had to say on scheduling.

  1. Mandis from Everyday Emerson said “You need to follow a schedule! Even if you think you don’t, do it, and you will see just how much you do! Otherwise, it’s like running a free for all circus.”
  1. Nadalie from It’s All You Boo said, “As important it is to have a schedule for daily and weekly appointments and activities, don’t forget to schedule time for you too. You need downtime, moments where you can just breath, and rest your mind and body. Think of it as self-care, me time or even mediation time. Without these moments you can’t possibly balance it all.”
  1. Cindy from Living for the Sunshine said, “I keep structured routines in place. Kids do better when they know what’s coming next (and so do I!), whether it’s homework, bedtime, etc. There’s less arguing and we get more accomplished in less time.”
  1. Tish from Babies & Fur House said, “A routine. Having a routine when I went back to work made things easier.  When I have days off or weekends, we can go do things because I know when my little man will be ready to eat or when he’s ready for a nap. Having him on a routine even has him sleeping better at night!”
  1. Amanda from The Frugal Mom Guide said, “The secret is planning, planning and planning some more. If you want to be organized and not be pulling your hair out every morning, I suggest packing lunches and bags the night before. Set out clothes and shoes in advance. Organizing your command center is so important because it’s easy to forget things on a hectic morning when you have ‘mom brain’. Planning also involves meal planning so you know exactly what you’re making for dinner and you don’t have to scramble for ingredients every day. Also, have a calendar by your command center and make note of early pickups, appointments and extracurricular evenings.  Being a working mom is so tough, but planning can make it a tad bit easier!”
  1. Colleen from Good Bye Anxiety, Hello Joy said, “I must schedule me time on the calendar.  I write down things that I want to do like read a book, visit a bookstore, or visit with a friend. Adding it to the calendar makes it feel as important as one of my children’s sports practices or doctor’s appointments.”
  1. Jordan from Mom Unraveled said, “I have to set a schedule in order to achieve any kind of work/life balance. Certain times are devoted to work while other times are devoted to my family.”
  1. Sandra from Casa Speed said, “I live and die by my Passion Planner! I’ve used it for three years now, and it’s been a game changer. I’m a military recruiter, soccer mom, blogger…in addition to every other role women have in today’s society. Writing everything down in one place and being able to see a week at a time is how I keep everything straight. Nothing is too small, because if it doesn’t go in my planner, it doesn’t get done. Just never forget to allow for commuting time!”
  1. Raina from Kentuckiana Momma said, “Time blocking is my best friend. I plan out my day the night before. I know what projects I need to work on for my side businesses, what food I want to set out for the baby and discuss dinner plans with my husband. I also have a schedule for after I get home from work so that I make sure to spend time with my baby girl.”
  1. AK Brown said, “Create a schedule and stick to it. For example, I only record YouTube videos on Wednesdays. My daughter is old enough to where she understands my work schedule.”
  1. Murisa from Weekend Housewife said, “Prioritizing…make time for the things you find most important that night and go with it. Don’t try to do too many things at once or the night will get away from you and you will feel like you didn’t spend enough time with the littles. The stuff can wait; they grow up too fast.”
  1. Mandis from Everyday Emerson said, “You need to follow a schedule! Even if you think you don’t, do it and you will see just how much you do! Otherwise, it’s like running a free for all circus.”
  1. Elizabeth from Crazy Busy Happy Life said, “I couldn’t survive without my daily planner. Every weekend I sit down and plan the week ahead. I also carry it with me everywhere so that I can update it and refer to it on the go.”
  1. Angie at Calm for Mommy said, “I find that when I’m at work, I get my best ideas about things going on at home, and when I’m at home, I get my best ideas about things happening at work.  I started carrying around a small notebook with me to both places to write down these flashes of inspiration so that I remember them when I need them. This also tends to apply to what needs to get done or is a high priority for each place.  At work, I know exactly what really should happen at home.  By the time I would get home, I would feel tired and unfocused and would forget what those priorities were.  The solution for this is before leaving work, write down 1-3 key priorities for the evening.  Things that you will be really glad to have accomplished.  Then, before bed, do the same for work.  Write down 1-3 key priorities for the next day that you really want to focus on.  When you get into work, you’ll have your to-do list ready and be able to hit the ground running.  In general, I find that writing things down helps me to ensure I remember the things I need to remember.  It feels good to outsource your brain a bit by writing things down so that you’re not always scrambling to remember the details of life.”
  1. Nicole from Resting Mom Face said, “Schedule everything! Having a schedule of what needs to be done when and what is most important is crucial as a working mom. I plan out each week including work/blog goals, family goals, and self-care goals. I also decide what my most important task is that week. This helps me prioritize my week. Check out how I organized my week (and download my free weekly planner template) here:”
  1. Jade from Mommy Matters said, “Make a schedule. Set aside blocks of time every day to be present with family. Bonus if you put away your phone. Quality over Quantity. Also, meal prep one day/week. This will free up a significant amount of time throughout the week.”
  1. Sarah from Garden Full of Dreams said, “My favorite tip to juggle life and save money while I am working is to plan my meals in advance, make judicious use of the slow cooker/ Instant Pot, and batch cook so I can stockpile it in the freezer.”
  1. Here’s my addition to all of the above: Find an app that works. I find that no matter how much I like my planner (I always have at least one I’m using), it isn’t always with me.  However, my cell phone is always close by.  I use Wunderlist which is a free app to make lists.  I have to-do lists for my blog, my day job, and home life.  I also share lists with my husband, such as a shopping list and a to-do list for while he’s home with our baby.  This allows both of us to add things to the same list no matter where we are when we think of it.

For help with scheduling and planning, check out this post on how I organize my week.

On Asking for Help

No one can, or should have to, do everything on their own.  These mamas describe why it’s important to get help whenever and where ever you can.  Life will be easier once you start allowing others to help you out.

  1. Kristen from Full Time Vida said, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re feeling a little burned out after a long day, don’t feel bad for needing to take a moment for yourself. Let your partner put the kids to bed or take care of dinner (better yet, order take out! Sometimes it’s necessary). Sharing the load at home helps avoid burn out and allows you to spend a little extra time with your kiddos.”
  1. Sam from More for Mama said, “Asking for help! As a working mom who likes things done a certain way, it can be hard to admit that I need help, but sometimes I do. Whether it’s asking my husband, my mom or even a close friend, a little bit of help goes a long way when you’re juggling it all.”
  1. Jessica from A Modern Mom’s Life said, “Stop trying to do it all!  As a new mom, I wanted everything to be “just so” and I stressed out if it didn’t work out that way.  Now, 10 years later, I’m a pro at delegating and letting the work get done by others (especially my kids) but maybe not to my highest expectations.  It’s okay to let go of that control – trust me, you’ll be happy you did!”
  1. Marissa from Just Simply Mom said, “Use as many helpful services as you can afford. Grocery delivery (Peapod, Shipt, Instacart), meal prep delivery (Hello Fresh, Blue Apron), cleaning services, etc.”
  1. Autumn from Get Fit by Autumn said, “I strongly urge all my clients (who are usually busy moms) to leverage online grocery shopping. I love picking up my groceries & shopping while I’m watching Netflix. It saves me HOURS. Plus, I don’t get stuck purchasing unhealthy, middle of the grocery store junk!!”

On Separating Work and Family

Mom guilt is a real problem, especially when you spend a large portion of your time at work.  Working moms often feel guilty that they are leaving work right on time or not answering emails at home because they have a family.  However, these same moms feel guilty that they spend all day at work instead of with their kids.  It seems like there is no way to win.  Therefore, be totally present in whatever moment you are in.  These moms do a great job explaining why they focus on work at work and family at home.

  1. Laurie Michaelson from I Hustle for Her said, “There really is no such thing as “having it all” as a working or non-working mom. The sooner you come to accept that and determine what a “balanced” life is for you and your family the happier you will be. Making sure you establish boundaries with work and home life are also important. If you need to be there for your kids at a certain time, be there, and make it clear to your employer that it is not negotiable.”
  1. Huda from Ajsmommy said, “Honestly, organize everything so you’re not all over the place. When you are not working, make sure there are no distractions like phones, iPads, etc., and spend quality time with your family. Make sure to have a date night with your spouse. Also, make time for yourself; you don’t want to burn out. Take it one day at a time and don’t feel guilty that you have to work. You are trying to make your family better financially.”

On Fitting Things in Whenever You Can

Sometimes we just need more hours in the day.  Unfortunately, Amazon Prime doesn’t have a working version of Hermione’s Time-Turner, so we are stuck with just 24 hours.  Make the most of those 24 hours, so you have time to accomplish what is most important.

  1. Amber at Live Simply Better said, “Work out on your lunch break! And if you don’t work out on your lunch break, at least make it super effective. I run as many errands as possible during this precious hour. If I don’t have any errands to run, I use it as a chance to schedule a lunch date or a walk date with another mom friend. I’ve gotten my flu shot, gone to Mass, gotten forms notarized, and more during this amazing free hour!!”
  1. Brittni at Brittni Lee said, “My best tip is to wake up before the baby and get yourself ready for the day–if you wake up when the baby is up and don’t find the time to get dressed and look presentable, your day can automatically feel less productive.”
  1. I would add that multitasking can be your friend. We spend so much time every day waiting in line, waiting for a website to load, waiting to pick up the kids, waiting for dinner to cook.  Use the time you spend waiting to accomplish something else.  Cell phones are great for this.  On your cell phone, you can learn a foreign language, check your email, read the news, read a book, review documents, catch up on social media, make travel plans, order food, and tons of other things.  You decide if that waiting time is spent decompressing or being productive, but either way, make it count.

On Taking Care of Yourself

You can’t pour from an empty cup.  Make sure that you are taking care of yourself because if not, you won’t be any good to anyone else.

  1. I want to start by saying ‘Forget perfectionism’. Perfectionism is a pipe dream in the best of cases, but one that you may have been happy chasing before you became a working mom.  However, as a working mom, you will never be perfect.  You have to be okay with doing the best you can and knowing that you may still mess up at all levels.  Be happy with yourself if at the end of the day you did the best you could.
  1. Erica from I Spy Fabulous said, “Accept that some days you will balance it really well and other days you will fail at it spectacularly. Be flexible, stay positive and enjoy the ride.”
  1. Elizabeth from Crazy Busy Happy Life said, “The number one thing that helped me manage my kids and my work life has been exercise. I’ll be honest, there are days where I struggle to find the time to exercise. When I’m faced with that problem though, I remind myself how GOOD I will feel after I exercise, and I’m never wrong. Countless times I’ve walked out of the gym and said to myself, “I’m so happy I did that.” I find that my mind is clearer, I’m more focused, and I get more done when I regularly exercise. Plus, it helps me have more patience with my kids.”

On Mental Health

I also want to add the following tips to help with your mental health.

  1. Know when to take some mental health time. You can’t call in sick from being a mom, but you can skip making dinner and order pizza once in a while.  Use the extra time you would have spent making dinner doing something relaxing for you.
  1. Don’t compare yourself to other mothers. You will always feel like you are coming up short when you are trying to measure up to all the moms you see around you.  Don’t compare your bloopers to someone else’s social media highlight reel.  Just do the best you can and be content with the outcome.  If your family eats cereal for dinner sometimes, that’s okay.
  1. Learn to say no. Working moms who look like they do it all, manage that by not doing it all.  If you don’t want to go on every field trip, don’t go on every field trip.  Don’t say yes to things you don’t want to do just because you don’t want to disappoint.  If you stretch yourself too thin, it won’t benefit anyone.  Working moms already have plenty of things they have to do in a day, say no to things that are optional and you really don’t want to do anyway.
  1. Take a deep breath and know that you are good enough. If you have read this far, you are an awesome working mom.  You obviously care about being the best mom and employee you can be.  Do what you can and let the rest go.  You may have days where you screw up on every level, but you will also have days where you win at every level.  Take them as they come and learn to laugh instead of cry when things don’t work out.

So, there you have it straight from the horse’s mouth.  Take these 35 tips to heart and go slay the working mom game!  And if the day doesn’t go as planned, there is always coffee and wine to make it better.

Did you find this information helpful?  If so, make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any mom life tips!

If you want to hear from other working moms that make it work, check out this interview series. I was even included as one of the interviews. You can view mine here.

35 Essential Tips for Working Moms

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Organizing Your Week as a Busy Working Mom

Organizing Your Week as a Busy Working Mom
Organizing Your Week as a Busy Working Mom

I’m a firm believer that being a working mom does not make you any less of an employee or a mom. However, it does take a skill set ripe with organization and efficiency and is not for the faint of heart.  As a working mom, I have a super full week but still manage to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep most nights and do things I enjoy. Here are the steps I take for organizing my week to do it all.  Make sure you are doing these things when organizing your week.

If you want more working mom tips, check out this post!

1. Plan Your Meals

As a busy mom, the last thing you want is to be trying to figure out meals.  Designate a couple hours one day a week to plan what the entire family is going to eat for each meal and snacks for the next week and go to the store.  When you get home, prepare what you can ahead of time.  Put your ingredients for crockpot meals into gallon freezer bags so you can just thaw and dump. Wash and cut fruits and veggies for snacks. Prepack bulk snacks into single serving bags. Pre-make lunch sandwiches, just leaving off the condiments.  These things make many of your meals grab and go.  By doing it all at once, it also reduces your dishes.  Instead of dirtying a knife and cutting board every morning when preparing lunches, you only dirty one on your meal-planning day.

For how to meal plan, check out this post.  If you want to meal plan for baby, grab my meal planner for baby here.

2. Have a Weekly Family Planning Time

If your family is anything like mine, you have a million things going on each week with people going every which way.  Take time (I think it works well when meal planning) to have a quick family meeting. Discuss and write down all events going on during the week.  Include who needs to be where and when and how they are getting there.  You can then take this into consideration when planning meals.  By planning the week as a family, you decrease the number of forgotten events and can mentally prepare for what to expect.

3. Cut Down on Your Store Trips

By planning your meals and activities for the entire week, you can make a shopping list that really covers everything that is needed.  If you only go to the store once during the week versus 3 times, you will save a ton of time. 

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4. Make To-Do Lists with Priorities

If you want to get enough sleep, you don’t have time to lay awake thinking of everything you need to do tomorrow.  I use the Wanderlist app to keep track of what I need to do which allows me to have lists for work, my blog, stuff at home and a shopping list.  I then share all relevant lists with my husband, so he can view and add/delete things from the lists.  Despite this, I still really like a hard copy planner, but having an app for my to-do lists means that I have access to it whenever I have my cell phone handy.  That way I can add things as soon as I think of them (mom-brain is real!).  Within these lists I prioritize.  I order things in which I plan to do them(the app lets me rearrange).  I take 5 to10 minutes on Sundays (our meal/family planning day) to determine what must get done during the upcoming week and what extra things I plan to accomplish in my free time.  Because we have just done our family planning, I have a decent idea of how much time I will have to work on various things.  At the end of each day during the week, I spend about 5 minutes planning what I’m going to accomplish the next day.  If I have a plan in place, I can go to sleep feeling ready for the next day and hit the ground running in the morning (after coffee). 

5. Write Down Due Dates and Commitments in Lots of Places

I love my paper planner, but I’m not looking at it every second.  A cell phone calendar can provide helpful reminders, but if technology fails for some reason, you are out of luck.  Never rely on just one place to write down everything.  Write things lots of places.  I put things in my cell-phone and outlook calendars, my paper calendar and on my whiteboard calendar on my office wall.  This way I am sure to see where I need to be and when so that nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

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6. Identify Activities Likely to Have Downtime and Put that Time to Work

You can’t add any more hours to the day, but you can make the most of everyone.  Think about things you will be doing that will have downtime. Do you sit in traffic during your commute?  Use that time to listen to an audio version of the book you need to read for a book club or catch up on the news through Podcasts/radio.  Do you drive your son to and from practice every day?  Have a whiteboard and dry-erase markers in the car for your son and use the time to quiz him on his spelling words or multiplication tables.  Use your lunch break to run errands or go fora walk. You get the idea – now get creative on how you can use the time that otherwise would be wasted on activities you don’t care about. 

7. Work Efficiently

This is ideally a byproduct of the above tips.  If you have a plan for your day and make a habit of identifying and utilizing your downtime, you should be able to work more efficiently.  However, it’s so important, so I wanted to give it its own point.  You need to have the habit to maximize your efficiency.  Cut down on your social trips to the water cooler or your social media time in favor of getting more done.  This may seem like a sacrifice if you enjoy those breaks.  However, you can look at it as working efficiently now, so you can do what you want later instead of worrying about what you didn’t get done. 

If you are just getting ready to head back to work after maternity leave, make sure to grab the tips in this post.

8. Do Not Welcome Boredom

I get a lot of different projects done at work and am consistently product.  However, I don’t put in a lot of extra time outside of work. Instead, I fill downtime with something I need to do.  If I have 10 minutes between meetings, I’ll spend it answering emails or brainstorming a project.

9. Determine How You Are Spending Your Time

If you are still feeling like you don’t have nearly enough time or find that time keeps getting away from you, take a look at what you are filling the time with.  Often the culprit is social media.  The new iPhone update tracks your phone usage by categories, so if you regularly use social media on your phone versus other devices, you can see how much time is devoted to that.  Another culprit is getting sucked into a TV show someone else turned on.  I don’t turn the TV on very often, but if someone else in the house has it on, I can easily lose 30 minutes watching something that I never would have put on myself.

10. Keep a Schedule

You can find plenty of resources talking about why kids do well with schedules.  However, they can be beneficial to everyone in the house. For example, my son goes to bed at 7pm every night.  During the week I get home from work around 6:20. Therefore, I know from the time I walk in the door until I put my son to bed, I’ll spend it with him.  Once he goes to bed, I have a solid 2.5 to 3 hours to do everything I need/want to do before going to bed.  By giving myself a bedtime of 9:30 – 10, I ensure that I’m not getting lost in TV or social media instead of getting the sleep I need.  If you don’t have a schedule in place, it may take a little trial and error.  However, once you find one that works for your family, it will have huge benefits.

11. Delegate

My last tip is to recognize that you won’t be able to do everything, and you shouldn’t be expected to. Ask your partner to cook dinner a couple of times a week if he gets off before you.  Divide and conquer with errands on the weekend.  Take turns helping kids with their homework.  You get the idea.

12. Rest

As a working mom, I’m sure you are overwhelmed with a to-do list that is impossible to complete in the 24 hours each day allows. However, skipping rest and relaxation in favor of trying to do as much as possible is a recipe for burnout. I definitely struggle with this because I like to constantly feel productive. However, I find that scheduling time into my week where I give myself permission to just forget my to-do list is a lifesaver. Sometimes this is reading a book, relaxing with my husband or just going to be early. I do sometimes struggle with getting my mind to shut off though. There are days when I try to sit relax and I spend the entire time overthinking things for myself and everyone else. If this sounds familiar, here are some awesome tips that help to quiet your mind.

What are your tips for organizing your week?  Let me know in the comments!

If you want to hear from other working moms that make it work, check out this interview series. I was even included as one of the interviews. You can view mine here.

If you found this helpful, make sure to sign-up for my newsletter in the sidebar, so you don’t miss any great content!

Organizing Your Week as a Busy Working Mom
Organizing Your Week as a Busy Working Mom

The Hardest Thing About Being a Working Mom

The Hardest Thing About Being a Working Mom
The Hardest Thing About Being a Working Mom

A year ago, I became a mom. I retired my red lipstick because I didn’t want to leave lipstick on my baby that I couldn’t stop kissing. I became the baby bouncing mom making mom friends. I started crafting and taking my son to library story time. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a mom, but as soon as I saw my baby boy, I fell head over heels in love and into mom life. My career was what I always said I would never give up for the sake of being a mom. To that end, I went back to work when my son was only six weeks old. I convinced myself that my career I loved kept me sane and kept a part of me separate from being a mom. I kept telling myself it was good for my family, good for my son and good for my sanity, but still the mom guilt set in. Little did I know this would be my biggest battle of the first year.

Mom guilt is not something I ever thought I would struggle with. I mean, I was unapologetically me. I loved my career and grew up with two parents who worked long hours. I turned out fine, so why would my son be any different? But once I went back to work it hit me hard. Guilt about missing out on the majority of my son’s waking hours, guilt about taking time out of my workday to pump. Guilt about missing the first word, the first crawl, the first clapping. Guilt about getting to work at the last minute and leaving right at the end of my shift. Guilt about skipping out on girl nights to go home and spend time with my son. Guilt about going out with friends and missing out on my limited time with my son. The list just keeps going.  There was no winning.

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I really thought that those things would all balance out as I got better at being a working mom. I wouldn’t be pumping forever, and my son would start napping less and being awake for longer hours that I could play with him. I would develop a rhythm that would allow me to see my friends but still spend time with my son. It would all balance out. But a year after becoming a mom, it hasn’t balanced out. If anything, the guilt has only gotten more pronounced.

Everyone keeps saying to cherish every moment because time goes by so fast and they grow up so fast. And everyone is right.

I feel like I blinked and missed this past year. My snuggly little newborn wants to get into everything now and snuggles only slow him down. Maybe I should be listening to everyone and loving every minute of the messes and noise and snuggles because sooner rather than later they will be over.

Enter more mom guilt. The initial mom guilt-inducing situations have gone, or I’ve gotten used to them. Now I feel guilty when my son is snuggled with me and I’m thinking of the million things that I need to do. I feel guilty when I let him play by himself so I can get something on my to-do list done. I feel guilty enjoying his super long naps because it means I can get a ton of things done. I feel guilty not checking work emails while I’m home with my son but feel guilty when I do. And the list keeps going.

Now that I’ve been a mom for a year, I’ve added another dimension to the mom guilt.

I’ve remembered that I used to be someone with dreams and goals before I was mom and that someone was pretty awesome.

I had a full-time life prior to becoming a mom and now I’ve created a full-time mom life where my career is about all that resembles that previous life.

I miss me, or at least the pre-mom me.

The problem is that fitting any of my pre-mom activities in requires taking time from somewhere which often means time I could spend with my son. Now I feel guilty when I’m reading a book instead of doing household things or leaving my son with dad while I go ride my horse.

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I reached the point where working instead of being with my son was pretty easy to justify. Now though I’m trying to justify non-work things that don’t involve my son. And every time I do one of those things, I get a constant stream running through my head about how my son is only little once, and the years fly by. And it’s even worse when my son doesn’t want me to leave. I had a rare opportunity to leave my son with his grandmother while I spent an afternoon at a coffee shop and went to dinner with a friend (2 of my favorite pre-mom activities that I almost never do anymore). I was excited to go and sure that my son would have fun with grandma. Then he saw me and crawled over and wanted to be held and snuggled and my heart melted. He didn’t want me to leave. Cue the mom guilt.

Despite the ever-present mom guilt, I will keep pushing forward. I know that there is more to me than just being a working mom. I know that having multiple dimensions to my personality and how I define myself makes me a better mom. I know there is a balance to be found, but it’s a work in progress. I will continue to be positive.

So, in the meantime, please quit reminding me that the years are short and I’m going to miss this stage because I already know all that.

Mom guilt may be the hardest thing about being a working mom, but there are plenty of great things. For a list of reasons why being a working mom is great, check out this post.

If you are a working mom and struggling to fit everything in, these tips from other working moms may help, and here is how I organize my week..

If you are getting ready to head back to work after maternity leave, make sure to check out these tips for returning to work.

The Hardest Thing About Being a Working Mom

20 Mom Tweets We Can All Relate To

20 Mom Tweets We Can All Relate To
20 Mom Tweets We Can All Relate To

Mom life is tough, so we take to Twitter to remind each other that there is no such thing as a perfect mom, and we are just trying to get through the comical stages of motherhood as best we can. If we don’t laugh, we just might cry, so for your reading entertainment, I bring you the top 20 tweets about mom life.

When you can’t stop asking yourself ‘why?’

When you realize the line between children and pets is pretty thin

Technology you have betrayed me!

Sorry, you have to work for at least 10 years before you accumulate personnal time.

Going to the bathroom alone is definitely a luxury!

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It all starts with a late period and you are never on time for anything ever again.

All moms are superheros

Did we forget to mention this job is 24/7 with no holidays?

These are important questions!

Who has the time or energy to style her hair?

Having kids makes a messy house slightly more acceptable than a messy house with no children.

You will never feel fully rested again!

If you think you are done with laundry, you are just forgetting a pile.

No one ever said the tiny dictators were rationale.

I will never take silence for granted again!

On the bright side, you don’t have to splurge on razor blades so often.

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Someone in the house needs to eat all the healthy food I bought.

Who knew someone so tiny could transport so many germs.

Once you get pregnant once, the leaking never stops.

But despite all that, you wouldn’t trade being a mom for anything!

Were those tweets entertaining? Follow me on Twitter where I try to be funny once in a while but also retweet others that are much funnier than me for your daily entertainment!

As much as we enjoy hearing stories about the crazy things toddlers do, you eventually need to tame the tantrums. Once you finish telling everyone on Twitter about it, grab these awesome tips for taming the tantrums.

20 Mom Tweets We Can All Relate To