Life

Gear & Gadgets for Moms with Little Ones

mj

As a mom of toddlers, I am often around other moms of small children and two common topics that come up over time are:

(1)  “How do I save time?”

(2)  “What’s an easy way to do this?”

Let’s face it–when you have kids, there is only so much time you can save and nothing is easy about being a mom :).  With that said, it is all the more important to have efficient gear and gadgets (please note that I am only specifying brand names when necessary):

(1)  Primo Bath Tub–This bathtub can be used from Day 1 and my 2 and 3-year-olds still use it.  It’s safer than using your own bathtub/sink and other baby tubs, saves water, and makes bath time a cinch (with this tub, bath time for each kid is only 5 minutes!).

(2)  Electric Pressure Cooker–Three words: One button cooking.  Throw everything in a pot, push a button, and walk away.  I cannot imagine my life without mine.

(3)  Stand Mixer–Many people have hand mixers (as do I) but the idea is that the less you have to do by hand, the better.  Also, mommy deserves a treat once in a while (try making a chiffon cake with a hand mixer–possible but would take forever!).

(4)  Blender–If you’re lazy, busy, or have kids who won’t eat their veggies (or all of the above), then a blender can help you and your family have a healthier diet.  Remember, there’s a difference between blending and juicing (both have benefits).

(5)  Contours Options Tandem Stroller–I have used this stroller just about every day since our kids were born and I would say that this is probably the best mommy gear we have in our home.  The reason is because the seats can recline 180 degrees, are adjustable, and removable/interchangeable.  The space under the seats has ample storage for shopping and day trips.  In addition, there is a shopping basket attachment that you can purchase.  (Before we had our second child, we would replace the second stroller seat with the shopping basket attachment–pure genius; I would get wide-eyed, envious looks from other moms of babies every time I used our stroller.)

(6)   TravelJohn Unisex Travel Disposable Urinals–This product is a godsend.  Anyone (men, women, boys, girls, adults, toddlers, etc.) can use it.  Plus, it’s odor and leak resistant (the internal non-toxic gel instantly absorbs urine and transforms all contents into a gel).  Super portable and disposable.  Use it anytime and anywhere.  Need I say more?

Flu Season Tips

FluSeason

We are in the middle of flu season and since I just read an article that states that 1 in 10 American deaths have been caused by the flu this season, I thought I’d share some tips that have been helpful for our family.  Although nothing is a cure-all, I believe these things, at the very least, help to minimize cold/flu symptoms when we do fall under the weather.  (Disclaimer:  Since I am not a medical professional, you should only try these ideas if they are compatible with your doctor’s recommendations.)

(1)  Yogurt–Since giving my kids yogurt on a daily basis, I have noticed a significant change in the number of times they get colds/flus.  Yogurt helps to increase the number of good bacteria in your gut, which is where many (if not most) illnesses start to form in your body. Foods don’t make you indestructible but they are a good preventative measure against illness and help strengthen your immune system.  For those who can’t get your kids to eat yogurt, look for drinkable options at the grocery store and mix them into your kids’ milk with breakfast.

(2)  Soup–Same reason as (1).  Chicken soup really does work.  Wonderful alternatives are miso soup and bone broth.

(3)  Essential Oils–My favorite oils during flu season are eucalyptus and peppermint.  In addition to deterring bugs/mosquitoes during the spring/summer, these oils also have anti-viral/bacterial properties and make great bathroom air fresheners, aromatherapy, vapor rubs, etc.  The oils also have a calming effect.

(4)  Air CirculationStagnant air leads to illnesses spreading at rapid rates so make sure your home is well-ventilated and there is ample air circulation.  For us, we always keep our ceiling fans and air purifiers on high.  And, when the weather and air quality are nice outside, we’ll also open our windows.

(5)  Don’t Touch Your Face–This has always been hard for me to do but I find that it really does make a difference.  Your eyes, nose, and mouth are prime entry points for viruses and bacteria.  Parents, remind your kids about this, too!

(6)  Avoid Crowds in Tight Spaces–Places where many people are gathered in tight areas should be avoided during flu season for obvious reasons.  Such places include subways, buses, planes, trains, etc.

(7)  Hot baths and Showers–Take a hot bath and/or shower at night before bedtime.  Not only is it relaxing, but it also washes away all the dirt, grime, allergens, pollutants, cold/flu viruses/bacteria that are on your person (everything that settles on your hair and skin as you’re out and about during the day).

(8)  Stay Home–We don’t live in a bubble but because we have small children, I try to be mindful of when and where we take them during flu season.  Do we really want to go to a birthday party where half the kids have snotty noses and are coughing every two minutes?  No, thanks (our kids have their entire lives to socialize)!

(9)  Wash Clothes and Linens in Hot Water and Dry in High Heat–This is a big one.  Many of us don’t realize how dirty our clothes, towels, and bed linens are, especially during flu season.  In college, I discovered that not everyone uses a fresh/clean towel with each bath/shower and that some people reuse their towels (mind blown).  No offense to those of you who reuse your towels but during flu season, changing towels after each use is a must.  In our home, we also change our bed linens every week.  Wash everything in hot water (rinse cold; this, of course, does not apply to delicate items). It doesn’t matter how much detergent you use (a little goes a long way) but the water must be HOT.  After washing, dry everything in high heat.  Studies show that drying your items in high heat will help rid your clothes of lingering viruses and bacteria.

(10)  WASH YOUR HANDS–And oldie but goodie rule of thumb.  According to the CDC, 80% of diseases are spread by hands 😨.  If you dislike dry hands from washing, stock up on lotions, creams, and oils (take your pick).  Parents, repeat this mantra to your kids over and over.  It’s far better than getting yourself or others sick!

Pack Your Bags

So, we arrived in Seoul a couple days ago.  (For all my blog followers:  We’ll be living in Seoul for the next couple years due to Derrick’s job.)  The flight was brutal (6-hour delay–when you’re traveling with two toddlers, that feels like a lifetime!).  We’ve been living in hotels for the past two weeks (thankfully, we’re moving into our apartment tomorrow!) and these eBags packing cubes are fantastic.  

Up until this past trip, my usual method of packing has been rolling up all of our clothes and putting them into clear trash bags.  The reason I’ve done it this way is because I have a theory–the more TSA/luggage handlers can see (at arm’s length), the less likely they are to touch/manhandle your things (goodness knows where their disgusting gloves have been!).  And, being the germaphobe that I am, I refuse to use the dressers in hotels–we keep everything in our suitcases (with the exception of our toiletries).  The problem with this is that every time we grab something out of the suitcases, things get unrolled and jumbled up.  If you’re on a 2-day trip, that’s not a big deal.  But any longer than that (and if you’re a family of four), the disorganization becomes ridiculous. 

Well, color-coded packing cubes to the rescue.  With the four of us, each person was assigned a color.  And with the see-through mesh, it makes it easy to see the contents of each cube.  These things were a godsend–they helped keep us well-organized and, hopefully, will help you, too! 

Mommy Time Savers

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Happy and Healthy New Year!  As a new mommy of two, I’ve learned quite a lot this past year and my favorite thing to ask myself has been, “How will this save me time (and energy)?”  So, in the spirit of new year’s resolutions, here are my top mommy time savers:

(1)  Electric Pressure Cooker–This thing is amazing and I don’t know what I would ever do without it.  I use it primarily for meats, stews, and soups.  A dish that would ordinarily take at least a couple hours to make with my standing at the stove (what mother has time for that?) now takes an hour with my not even being in the kitchen.  I just toss everything into the pot, push a button, and go about my day.

(2)  Rice Cooker–I adore my rice cooker and use it just about every day.  Many people don’t realize that you can do quite a lot with a good rice cooker.  Not only do I use it to make rice, I also use it to steam vegetables (as a matter of fact, since I use it primarily to cook our veggies, I often call it “the steamer”).  And, like the electric pressure cooker, you set the timer and you’re free as a bird.

(3)  Grocery Delivery Service–Depending on where you live, delivery fees can range from reasonable to pricey.  It all comes down to how much your time is worth.  Being parents of a 2-year-old and 6-month-old, Derrick and I rely heavily on this service.  Sure, we’ll occasionally do the shop ourselves (if we forget to add on a few items to our weekly delivery) but we have the same reaction after every trip:  “Geez, that took a whole hour?” (if one of us goes to the store) or “We are NOT going to forget to put this on the list next week!” (if the entire family goes–and, yes, it takes longer for us to get the kids ready to go out than the time we spend at the grocery store)

(4)  Product Subscriptions–If you use any skincare products, I highly recommend this.  Many online stores offer a subscription service where they’ll send your products to you at regular intervals.  This not only saves you time but helps you to avoid the annoying situation of being in the shower and realizing all of a sudden that you’re out of your favorite facial scrub.

(5)  USPS Package Pickup–Because we do most of our non-grocery-related shopping online, we also make quite a few returns via mail.  If you’re like us, here’s a tip:  you’re eligible for free USPS pickup service if you’re mailing at least one Priority Mail package.  Just schedule your pickup online at www.usps.com.

(6)  Multiple Stations–Our home has two levels and when we brought our baby girl home, we decided that we needed at least one diaper changing station on each level to save us the hassle of running up and down the stairs with every diaper change (and if you’re parents of two or multiples under the age of 2, you understand the value of this).  So, we converted one of our loveseats into a changing station complete with a diaper pad, a month’s supply of diapers/wipes/baby powder, and a diaper pail.  To protect the loveseat, we draped it with flat bed sheet (but you can also use a sofa slip cover).  The key takeaway here is to have at least a couple “stations” for something you do often during the course of the day easily accessible to you (because minutes add up to hours and hours add up to days!).

(7)  One Size Ahead–If you have small children, you know that shopping ahead can save you the aggravation of impulse buying and/or having your child(ren) go without something for a certain period of time (and when you have kids, two days without gloves in the winter can seem like an eternity!).  This is why I always try to buy at least one size ahead for my children.  And it’s a great system.

(8)  Cook in Bulk and Freeze–This is quite common and self-explanatory.

(9)  No Holiday Cards–Before we had kids, I was the stationery queen.  Cards for everyone and for every occasion.  No more.  Other than handwritten thank-you and sympathy notes, we now use e-mail and social media to send birthday/congratulatory/holiday greetings via e-cards.

Hope you’ve found these tips to be useful–please feel free to share this post to anyone and everyone who would find it helpful!

Daughter


The blood ran so fast

How long would it last?

Rushed to the hospital

Hope little by little

Then you out you came

And I cried your name

Esther, the Queen

My pretty little bean

Soon you shall be

An admirable lady

Virginia 2.0

Into a woman you will grow

You’ll avoid all my mistakes

Not to mention headaches

You’ll steer clear of bullshit

Tell jerks to go suck it

Know life is too short

To hang with dolt sorts

But like me, you’ll find

A man who is kind

With whom you’ll have children

In a loving pavilion

And have grandchildren galore

What a life to adore

And remember your dear mother 

Who loved you like no other