How To Be A Productive Stay at Home Mom

How To Be A Productive Stay At Home Mom - Chic and Domestic

If you’ve been a SAHM for a while, then I’m sure you’re an expert by now. Or maybe you’re practically a professional, (Like me!) As much as I do in a day as far as keeping 3 little people alive and well, having so much flexibility with my days can sometimes put me in a rut if I’m not too careful. Back in your working days, how great would it have been to hear your alarm go off (the one telling you to get up and get ready for morning traffic) and actually been able to cover up and go back to bed for an extra hour of sleep, because your boss tells you its fineee I’m still tired too! YEAH, pretty amazing I bet. Well, for me personally, my little bosses telling me that I have an extra hour to sleep in usually means the start of one of our lazy days, which I like to keep at a minimum. Of course one of the perks of being a full time mom at home is that we get to do days of easy breakfast, movies and cuddling on the couch, and lots of undivided attention, but on a day to day basis, I like to wake up and cross a few things off of my “To Do” list first.

1. Get up and make your bed
A great start to any productive morning is to rise and shine, and make your bed behind you. It’s crazy what a simple task can do to get your day off on the right foot. I don’t know about you, but making my bed means that I’ve already accomplished something before even getting out of my pajamas. It also means that once I go through the trouble of making my bedding nice and neat, that I am less likely to have plans to get back in it! Don’t tempt me fluffy duvet cover, don’t tempt me.

2. Unload the dishwasher from the night before/ Put away dishes
Maybe you’re a mom that likes to do your dish washing in full every night. Me? Naah, not so much. I usually only have time to do about half before it’s time to move on to baths, reading, and bedtime. So, once I’m up and moving I like to head to the kitchen to either unload my clean dishes from the night before, or put away the hand washed dishes. And yes, I let them dry on the drying rack! Guilty as charged. This is something quick and easy to do, something that can be done while you’re already in the kitchen making breakfast or your morning coffee. The best part is, it can be yet another productive thing to cross off of your list. Little accomplishments for the win!

3. Start a load of laundry
I know the running joke is that no one ever finishes a full load of laundry in a day (Wash, Dry, Fold, AND put away) but sometimes getting started is half of the battle. We’re a larger family so we essentially wash clothes everyday. I’m sure we could manage to cut that down to multiple loads of laundry in less days, BUT … no one ever finishes a load of laundry in a day, right? So who is really about to finish 2, or even 3? Probably not this mama. Pace yourself.

*MomTip: Set an alarm to remind yourself to move your clean laundry over to the dryer. No one wants to come back hours later and find their soggy laundry still sitting.

Check out “10 ways to cut your household expenses” where I discuss how adjusting your laundry times could actually save you money.

4. Start breakfast
Breakfast is probably the favorite meal time for my children. Meaning one of the only times I can get them to eat up all of their food without complaints, or too much food thrown on the floor. It’s also one of my favorite meal times, because breakfast is by far the easiest to cook. It helps to have a meal plan in place, or things meal prepped in advance, and it’s definitely helpful when you’ve got hangry little ones ready for food.

Be sure to subscribe, and look out for my list of Toddler Breakfast Suggestions!

5. Clean Something
I try to stick this into my morning routine on a consistent basis. No room or area specifically, but I do like to get something cleaned before I move on with the rest of my day. It’s usually between me just cleaning up the kitchen during breakfast, like hand washing the dishes and pots and pans I just used, or cleaning and organizing something that I put on my list from the night before. So this could be cleaning out the refrigerator (Normally done on a Thursday), organizing the kids toys (Which is a great way to get them involved), or even getting out of the house every once in a while and taking the car to get washed. (Which my little ones hate lol) It’s surprising what I’m able to accomplish either while they eat, or that first 20 minutes of them getting into play mode.

P.S Now would also be a great time to throw your laundry in the dryer.

By this time in my house, I’ve usually done so many productive things that I’m just on a roll. I have time to just sit and play with my kids before they take a nap about 2 hours later. We read, color, or do puzzles. Some days I use this early morning time to continue my productivity, and I either pay bills, do things for my blog, or continue cleaning if something wasn’t done the night before.

It’s so important to start your day off being productive, especially as a stay at home mom. You have to stay upbeat and motivated, not only to keep up with your littles, but because sometimes without a big boss breathing down your neck, it gets easy to procrastinate.

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My Top 5 Cloth Diaper Brands

My Top 5 Cloth Diaper Brands - Chic and Domestic

I had such a hard time collecting my top 5 cloth diaper brands. And yes, I’ve tried out that many. Diving into the cloth diaper world can be completely overwhelming if you let it be, and I know that personally, I had no idea where to start in the beginning. My biggest help was choosing at least one cute print that I was in love with, and going from there. Cloth diapering can be a lot of trial and error in the beginning, but having prints that I loved really helped me stay motivated to make it work. It’s like those favorite pair of jeans that you’re determined to hop back into after pregnancy. They’re cute! They’re perfect, you could never give up and let them go to waste.

1. Alva Cloth Diaper

Alva Cloth Diapers definitely make my number one choice. They probably take up the majority of my cloth diaper collection. They’re in the lower price range (between $5 – $10) and they carry a TON of beautiful prints for little ones. I also love how easy they’ve been to purchase when I’m looking for new prints. They sell directly through their website, and they’re also available on Amazon. I was originally hesitant to purchase from them, thinking that maybe I should bite the bullet and spend more for quality, but we diaper 3 littles on a daily basis and these bad boys have held up GREAT. The pockets are a good size for stuffing the diapers, and we have never had any leaks, and no need for repairs as of yet. I’m nothing less than pleased with every purchase thus far.

2. Bitty Bum Baby

I can’t say enough about Bitty Bum Baby. I only own 3 of their diapers so far, but their prints (can you tell I’m a print snob?) are completely adorable. I was actually extremely pleased to find out that they’re a small owned business. Not only was I able to shop small, but I was also able to support a local business in the process. She had great customer service, and I love the relatable story behind her business being that she’s a work at home mom. The pocket size was perfect and I also got a few organic hemp inserts during a sale. When I say these inserts are my favorite hemp inserts, I mean it. No exaggeration. The diapers go for only $6.50, so right up alley for a mom trying to cover 3 booties.

3. Mama Koala

I could start by telling you that Mama Koala is the place to be if you’re looking for a wide variety of prints, but I’m sure you could have guessed that. I feel like Mama Koala Diapers are probably a great option for smaller babies. My twins always had the tinniest little legs, and even though these don’t have the hip adjustments like a lot of my other diapers, they still manage to fit them perfectly. I like the large pocket opening, but I must say I wish it elastic on both sides of the opening. It hasn’t been an issue for us thus far though, so no worries. I got my first set of these for $40 from Amazon. It came as a 6 pack with 6 inserts. All beautiful prints.

4. Lighthouse Kids Company

As much as I love my lower priced diapers, I had to give a little love to Lighthouse Kids Company for their amazing diapers. I only have one, (yes one) single diaper in my stash, but it’s been so sturdy and reliable. I love the elastic around the waist of the diaper, it’s equip with adjustable snaps, and hello guys, the prints! A downside is that I only see these diapers retail for around $20, which is more than I normally spend considering I try to buy multiple diapers at a time, but I would totally pay for the quality. Another downside is having access to these diapers to purchase them. I’ve yet to discover a direct website for them, they’re only located at other stores around The U.S and Internationally. So, while it is one of my favs, and I would totally recommend the purchase if you find one, I can’t say I see myself adding too many to my stash in the future.

5. Bum Genius 5.0

I didn’t start my journey buying a lot of Bum Genius diapers, even though I’ve always heard great things. It was just that they’re priced between $15- $20 and that wasn’t something I wanted to spend just in case the cloth life wasn’t for me. Now, being more experienced with cloth diapers, I’ve finally purchased a few and I love them. They’ve been great overnight diapers, the adjustable snaps are great, and the solid colored diapers are vibrant. I really feel like they provide enough options to fit just about any cloth mama, and her preferences for her little one.

 

Interested in more of my cloth diaper posts!? Looking to get into cloth diapering all together? Check out Part 1 of my “All About Cloth Series” to get you going, OR, read all about “What’s In MY Diaper Bag. Cloth Edition.

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Wellness Visit Tips. A Twin Mom Experience!

Navigating Wellness Visits. Identifying Your Twins. Getting Your Questions Answered.

Navigating Wellness Visits. Identifying Your Twins. Getting Your Questions Answered.

Becoming a mommy means getting familiarized with all of the fun that a wellness visit with the pediatrician brings. I clearly say that sarcastically, because in case you missed the title, we’re talking about wellness visits, twin style! Doctor’s appointments can be emotional for any parent. You get to deal with shots, tears, and just general developmental worries. “Is my child gaining enough, Are they eating enough, Are they hitting all of their milestones?” With twins, you also get the added bonus of just making sure that you aren’t losing track of anybody once they realize that you aren’t really making that fun stop at the toy store.

They basically walked around like they owned the place, exploring anything and everything within reach. Their visit from 6 months ago was a little bit different because, we had their big sister and my husband tag along with us, and I’m also completely sure that the twins came riding in their double stroller. This time I figured that since they’re such great walkers now, Ehh why not? Right. Well, I might have been overly optimistic about my plan.

Helpful Check-Up Tips

1. Bring The Stroller/ Babywear
My very first useful tip would be to bring your stroller, or babywear your twins for their doctor’s visits. I didn’t this time, and while it wasn’t a huge deal (2 kids, 2 arms, no problem!) it became super inconvenient when signing them in, filling out papers, or even in between their check-ups when one child or the other was completely like, “I’m out of here mom!” It might have been easier to just strap them in and take them out when needed. Now, I do drive our double stroller like a BOSS, so cutting corners around their pediatrician’s office has never been an issue for me, but if your office has smaller spaces, then maybe baby wearing would be a better option for you.

2. Dress Them Comfy
Another great tip to think about before you even step foot out of your front door is to really take into consideration what you’re dressing your twins in for the day. When our twins were younger, we always chose to bring them in their onesies if it was warm, and sleepers when it was cold. It made things super easy because literally 5 seconds after arriving they’re telling you to undress your babies anyway! If your visits aren’t hectic enough, the last thing you want to be doing is wrestling over dressing and undressing, zippers and buttons, and losing tiny socks.

3. Dress Them With Identifiers
A lot of these tips can also apply to moms of singletons, (There I go using that word again.) but only a mother of multiples understands how important it is to help office staff identify your children! I can’t stress this enough, they will ask you at least 3 times before walking out of there, “Which one is this again?” Something super simple that I’ve learned in the last 2 years is to give the twins identifiers to help with any confusion. When they were still infants, I would dress them in different socks so that after getting them undressed it was still easier to differentiate between Baby A in the blue socks, and Baby B in the gray socks. The doctor has seen our boys plenty of times. Even more than the average number of visits, because they were preemies. Even more than the average number of preemie baby visits, because one of our sons has dealt with a few medical issues in his short life. Their doctor often still can’t tell them apart because well, identical twins, and because they’ve both grown and changed a lot since the last time she saw them. The boys also see the same few nurses when we go, and even though they recognize us when we walk through the door, they still don’t always know which twins is which. Now that they’re older, nothing has changed. I don’t often dress our twins alike anyway, but if I do, it won’t be on a trip to the doctor. I’ll choose to dress them differently, put a different cloth diaper pattern on them both, or I’ll still stick to my simple handy dandy sock trick.

4. Write Down Your Answers
I don’t know how it is for you, but we get asked the same few questions on our trips to the pediatrician. “How are they eating for you? How much? What are they eating? What are they drinking? How much? How often?” As many times as I’ve been asked these questions, I still catch myself stalling for answers. How much are they drinking? I don’t know, a cups worth of milk. But how many ounces are actually in their cups? Then, they use more than one cup throughout the day. But are they about the same size? I find that I tend to question myself sometimes! So, I started making notes in my phone. I don’t always need them as a reference, but it’s nice to have, especially with everything else going on in that moment.

5. Write Down Your Questions
The same way it can be helpful to write down your answers, it’s extremely helpful to write down your questions. When we’re going back and forth between actual check-ups, height and weight, keeping your twins close, out of the cabinets, and whatever else they’re up to, it’s so easy to forget some of your questions or concerns. Our office is always friendly and helpful, so if I ever need to call back with a question it’s no problem, but I feel better asking their doctor in person. A day or so before coming in, I jot down things in my phone so that nothing is going unanswered.

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10 Ways to Cut Your Household Expenses

With our new year already in full swing, everyone is interested in getting their fresh start, decluttering, organizing, and cutting their expenses to better be able to keep themselves on the straight and narrow for the next 12 months. I am definitely one of those people! I try to stay focused on my fabulously frugal goals always, but having that cliché “New year, New me” feeling really kicks that into high gear. I always get a ton of questions about ways to cut back and save less, but most of the time the outlook is only about cutting a monetary number in half, or decreasing the value of a bill.

I’m here to share 10 ways to cut your household expenses, just by making a few simple lifestyle changes, and switching up how you look at your everyday life.

1. Reuse, Repurpose, and Do It Yourself

Every Frugal OG knows the life of reusing, repurposing, and learning to do things yourself! This is a very broad category for frugal living, but it can definitely be applied nearly everywhere. Apply this philosophy to furniture, car maintenance, carryout containers, mason jars, beauty and grooming, simple home renovations, the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, because I’m not saying that you should be so frugal that you’re electrocuting yourself, or causing a home flood for trying to do it all yourself, but a little research and a Youtube video or two could definitely get you out of a few costly expenses, and it could also have you on the road to learning a new trade, or creating yourself a side hustle.

2. Cut the Cable, Cheaper Phone Plans, Read for Fun

Cut back on electronics! Taking up reading instead of watching is an easy way to cut an expense. The less tv you’re watching, the less you need tv and cable at your disposal. I was one of those people that always said that I couldn’t do it. I would NEVER get rid of my cable. I’m a stay at home mom, and after a long day sometimes a girl just needs a good dose of trashy reality tv! However, I did it. I’ve done it. I invested in a fire stick, and I’ve always been a faithful Netflix and Hulu user, so I’ve been happy with the household expense difference ever since. This expense cut won’t fit everyone, but this is normally a BIG expense that can make a difference if it’s an option for you. There are now so many options to still get access to great shows or the channels that you enjoy. A great way to cut electronic expenses are cheaper phone plans, and no contract phones. I’m still team iPhone, I haven’t had to give up smart phone life (I’m a blogger, so it isss actual conducive to my business) and I’m not trapped into a contract, and I can upgrade whenever I want, and I’m more likely to do so when I actually have the money.

3. Utilize Your Local and Public Resources 

While you’re cutting cable and becoming a reading warrior, you should also learn to use your public resources; like the library. The library has options for books so you can save a few pennies before purchasing your own. It also has movies for rent while you’re learning to live your new cable free life. Also, did you know that a lot of local libraries provide cool (and FREE) events for your littles throughout the month? While you’re looking for kid friendly fun, you can also look for local Rec and Community Centers and invest in an affordable membership. Many places will work with you and base your monthly cost off of your household income.

4. Buy Reusable vs Buying Disposable

I like plastic and paper plates just as much as the next person that occasionally hates washing dishes, BUT it really doesn’t save you any money at all. I remember living in my first apartment with my husband and never buying real baking dishes. I only needed them once in a blue moon, so I always chose to buy disposable instead. Years later .. still never bought a baking dish! The amount of times I ended up using a disposable option, I could have just bought a reusable dish (or two) with all of that money instead. Plates, utensils, water bottles, whatever the case may be, buy them all reusable, and not disposable.

5. Cook at Home, Cook From Scratch, Plant When Possible

My favorite thing to talk about when it comes to saving money on groceries and cooking is to start Meal Planning. I have a great break down for it here on my blog. Planning your meals helps to prevent over spending, cooking those meals from scratch help cut costs on premade and prepackaged items, and learning to be sustainable with your fresh produce by learning to plant your own saves cost (and possibly even your health) on your fresh ingredients.

6. Laundry Times, Laundry Temps, Laundry Frequency

I’ve heard once that doing dishes, laundry, and using your electric essentials between certain hours of the day can actually help to lower your energy costs. It didn’t make sense to me at first, but I became genuinely curious so I started to research it. I even went as far as trying it out for a while and really going over my energy bill at the end of the month and surprisingly I actually saw a difference. I started cautiously doing laundry after 7pm, which was the little energy trick that I picked up. I also washed in only cold water, and tried to decrease our laundry frequency (which is surprisingly hard with a family of 5!) but I tried to make it work.

7. Paying Off Credit Cards to a $0 balance

Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise that massive credit card debt is absolutely necessary for daily living. It’s NOT. I do however believe in them for emergency purposes (Although emergency savings should always come first) and building some sort of credit history, but if you’re looking to decrease your household expenses, a great way to do that is to pay down the unnecessary debt that’s wallowing over your head. Once it’s paid off, stick to the 30% utilization rule, and keep your monthly payments low.

8. Buy Used Cars

I know it seems nearly impossible with all of the fancy and flashy cars on the road, but say it with me, and more importantly start saying it to yourself when it’s time to car shop, “The value of a new car depreciates as soon as you drive it off of the lot.” More importantly, after you’ve paid a car payment between $300 – $400 for a year or two, how’s it feel knowing that it still won’t technically be yours to own until another couple thousand dollars are paid? New cars also mean higher required car insurance, on top of your regular gas and maintenance. Buying used isn’t always a taboo. It shouldn’t be. Any car can break down, any car can throw you curveballs, but a car that’s bought outright makes it yours. Yours to sell with no lien, and yours to junk if need be with no burden of still paying a remaining balance. One of the worst feelings is having something happen to your car and still having your loan creep over your head for something you aren’t even enjoying anymore.

9. Date Nights In

My husband and I are just natural homebodies (A match made in heaven!) so it’s always been pretty easy for us to get creative and just enjoy time together from the comfort of our own home. No lines, no crowds, and no extra spending! If you’re a couple that naturally likes to be out and about, that’s fine too. To cut back on expenses, start incorporating more nights in by renting a movie at home vs seeing one in theaters, or cooking your own romantic dinner together vs sitting down at a restaurant. For the times where you do want to get out of the house, check Groupon for local events in your area, or opt to grab cheaper prices by doing a lunch date vs a dinner date.

10. Kids Day “Out”

This same concept of “Date Night In” can even be applied to fun times for the kids. Let them do movie night in the living room, where you create fun treats, and make them their own movie boxes for snacking. You could also plan a scavenger hunt around your house or backyard, do a paint night for kids where you invite a few other friends over, and if the weather permits, the backyard possibilities could be endless for affordably fun times.

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Little Ocean’s Fluff Cloth Diaper Review

*DISCLAIMER* This is a sponsored post. While I was compensated for this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own. For more information, please refer to my disclosure page.

I had the pleasure of working with Little Ocean’s Fluff to provide you with this post and quick review. In case you’re unfortunately out of the loop, Little Ocean’s Fluff is a small Etsy shop that specializes in affordable cloth diapers. They also sell T-shirts, totes, stickers, and buttons. All to represent a little bit of cloth diaper love. They also work with a few other Work At Home Moms to create and design some of their accessory products, so shopping with them means support for a few hard working Mompreneurs (Which I am ALL for) and helping them to support their families.

It was such a pleasure working with Mala. She’s friendly, she responds to questions quickly, and she definitely delivers. These are all things that I normally look for when I’m shopping small, because I love the feeling of a personable purchase. It’s nice to feel like the owner is really working to provide you with a positive experience and a quality product. Something that can often get lost with larger companies.

 

My Honest Review

The Print

I received their I Pump Love Diaper. They also have a few other prints listed in their shop, but I chose this one specifically, because I exclusively pumped with my twins, and that’s something near and dear to me. I spent the first 2 ½ months away from my preemie babies, so initially nursing wasn’t an option, and eventually latching was a struggle. They were able to get breastmilk for a solid 8 months without nursing, so I’m all for the support of pumping liquid gold for your babies. Much like nursing, pumping is hard work, and some bodies don’t respond as well to a pump as it naturally would to your baby. So yay for pumping, and yay to Little Ocean’s Fluff for selling this print!

The Cut

It’s a one-size pocket diaper with snaps for both the rise and the waist. I cloth diaper 3 little ones, so this is the type of cover that we prefer to stick to for flexibility. It really provides the opportunity for a custom fit for each one of our children. For example, one of my twins has slightly chunkier thighs, and definitely a larger waist than my other son, and my daughter. I’ve used this cover on him, and also on my daughter to test out the fit.

Durability/ Quality

At this point I’ve washed the cover (two times from after use, one initial wash). I unfortunately also got to test out how the cover takes both pee, and poop. Nothing like breaking in a new cloth diaper like doing it with a diaper full of poop, right? I obviously haven’t had a ton of uses out of it, but the cover held up great during the few washes it did endure. There was no staining on the cover, which I always have to jump for joy for when trying out a new cloth diaper brand. Apartment living isn’t always conducive to sunning your diapers, so it’s great that everything came out with a simple wash. I didn’t notice any fading from the cover. In fact, it essentially looks the same as the day that I got it.

The overall quality of the diaper is a 10 in my book. I see no issues with the snaps, or the lining of the cover. I often see more affordable diapers get a bad rep for quality, but affordable DOES NOT mean cheap. Especially when it comes to this diaper.

The Price

Little Oceans Fluff specializes in cloth diapers of a more affordable price point, so this diaper is listed for only $8.50 along with their other prints. That’s a price that I can’t complain about. When I do cloth diaper purchases, that’s the price point that I try to stay in. Diapering of any kind can get pretty expensive when you’re covering 3 booties.

Overall, Little Ocean’s Fluff gets 5 snaps from me. I love supporting family business, shopping small, and finding a new quality diaper to add to my stash is just icing on the cake.

 

Please feel free to use my coupon code CHICDOMESTIC10 for 10% off your purchase with Little Ocean’s Fluff.

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