Primary Clothing Review (with video)

Primary Clothing Review (with video)

*This is not a sponsored post. The opinions expressed are entirely my own. I stumbled upon Primary, fell madly in love, and chose to do a review. Because I believe in the clothes and the company 100%, I became an affiliate. That means that if you click a link from this page and choose to purchase form Primary, at no extra cost to you, I will get a very small commision that helps keep this site up and running. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Primary Clothing Review

It should come as no surprise that Primary, an online children’s clothing company, was created by moms. Simply put: these clothes make mom’s lives easier. From the affordable and high-quality clothes to the outstanding customer service, I have fallen madly in love with this company.

In addition this this review, created a Primary clothing review video.

No time for the full review? Here’s the 10-Second Primary Clothing Review

For more in-depth look at the clothes and my experiences, scroll down a bit further. Otherwise, in a nutshell…

What is awesome:

  • The clothes are a tremendous value. Very high quality–especially considering the cost.
  • Fabrics are easy to care for. Everything is machine washable, and very few items would ever need an iron.
  • Clothes are simple solid colors. No loud patterns or designs. Makes it easier for kids to match their own clothes.
  • The clothes come in ALL the colors so there’s no explosion of pink and purple for girls and green and blue for boys.
  • The company is super responsive and customer service is top-notch.
  • Clothes are super comfortable (no tags) and very functional (pockets in the dresses).
  • Clothes are true to size and the website is very helpful in selecting the correct size.

Why you might not like it:

  • If you don’t like simple solid-color clothing, this is not the company for you.

Review of Primary.com kid's clothes.

THE IN-DEPTH LOOK AT PRIMARY CLOTHING

My Experience

As a mom of 4 girls (3 of whom dress themselves), Primary immediately appealed to me. I was sold with the concept:

  • simple, affordable, high-quality, children’s clothes in a range of vibrant colors
  • no tags, no patterns, sequins, no logos, and no glitter [shudder] to come off all over my house and children

Just adorable, simple, and affordable clothes for kids.

Halloween

As Halloween was approaching, the website was full of DIY halloween costumes ideas using Primary clothes. My interest was piqued. Instead of spending too-much money on poor-quality costumes they would wear a few times, a few quick DIY hacks paired with some lovely clothes from Primary could create some super cute costumes (see my very poor quality pictures below). And all the clothes would just be added to their daily wardrobe. I’m all about practical and economical.

With 20% off total order for first time buyers, I figured “what the heck” and ordered outfits (that could double as costumes) for all 4 of my kids. I figured that was worth it–even if they didn’t live up to their advertising.

I mean, we’ve all been disappointed with online purchases, right? So many clothes that seemed like a great deal when ordering just turned out to be cheaply-made disappointments on our doorsteps.

First impressions

When I opened the package (which was adorably colorful, btw), first things I saw were the gorgeous colors. When I handled the clothes, I could quickly tell these were quality fabrics. As a seamstress, I can be a little obsessive about fabrics. It was seriously love at first sight, I kid you not. Right off the bat, I knew that this was just the beginning (3 months later, I’ve ordered 3 additional large orders).

And boy, the clothes were so very cute! The girls loved them. They were thrilled with their panda, Belle, and sunshine costume (frankly, the unicorn didn’t really care). 

Primary Halloween

Why I love Primary: The Nitty-Gritty Primary Clothing Review

As a super busy mom on a budget, I am always looking for both things that make my life easier and are great values. Primary clothes fits the bill on both counts. Here’s what I love about Primary (and trust me, there’s so much to love):

1) Easy for kids to dress themselves and match

My kids dress themselves from the time they are able (about 2 and-a-half). This makes my life so much easier and they develop independence and a sense of self (win-win). While I don’t get worked up over horribly mismatched clothes, with Primary clothes, it’s very easy for my girls to put together really cute outfits. 

2) They use high quality, sturdy fabrics

I have been impressed by the quality of every item I have purchased (and I’ve had 4 big orders at the time of writing). While I had been hesitant to spend $23 on a kid’s cardigan, when I pulled it out of its packaging I was immediately impressed by its quality. I realized that I don’t have a cardigan that nice.

3) Very affordably priced (especially considering the quality)

Like a lot of people, I am on a budget. When it comes to kid’s clothes, as much as I wasn’t high quality, clothes still have to be affordable. So I shop sales and have, in the past, bought cheaply made kid’s clothes. But never again, thanks to Primary.

Every item is made of high-quality fabric. Which means it not only looks nice, but they will last longer and won’t shrink up several sizes.

A great example of the quality can be found in Primary leggings. They cost $10 each ($9 for 3 or more). Comparing Primary leggings to Target leggings (my old go-to) is almost a joke. Primary leggings are sooooo much better. Thicker fabric, nicer waistband. The leggings are AMAZING. 

Since the regular prices are fantastic, the sales are absolutely spectacular values! Once you order and get on their mailing list, you get access to sale before the general public!

4) Clothes are very comfortable (no tags!)

I have a kid who is super sensitive to how clothes feel and is easily irritated by seams, tags etc. There has been no such issue with Primary! I seriously wish primary had clothes in my size. 

5) Free shipping, always

Yes, please!

6) Customer service is spectacular

Before ordering, I looked at their Facebook page. I noticed how incredibly responsive they were to customers. After ordering my second order, I got a mass email from them saying that they had a PJ promotion–free Pjs with orders over $50. I had noticed the promotion when I ordered and tried to get it tried to get, but it didn’t work. I assumed it was for first time buyers only. But the email I received after ordering didn’t say that. So I emailed them just to make sure. They got back to me super fast and said they’d be happy to send me free PJs. I was impressed. And the PJs are fantastic 🙂

7) No logos/sequins/sparkles/character etc

I like that kids get to look like kids and not walking billboards. As I have all girls, I’m 100% tired of clothes dripping with sequins, characters, logos and other things that don’t age well (and are often accompanied with poor quality). Don’t even get me started about clothes with glitter (aka Satan’s dust).   

8) The pictures on the website are SUPER helpful in selecting sizes

On the website, they show pictures of all sorts of different kids wearing the clothes and they list the size and the child’s weight and height. I LOVE this since it really helps get an idea of how the clothes will fit your child. So helpful!

Here’s what I don’t love

1) Can get a bit boring

While I love the general idea of no patterns, it’d be awesome if there was just a polka dot print or nice stripe to mix it up a little (in full fairness, they do have a couple striped items). Despite truly loving this company, I couldn’t just buy all their clothes from Primary. I need some pattern to mix it up. As advertised, it is clothing basics…

2) The panties

The panties appear to be a little too low cut for my tastes. Which is why I haven’t ordered. While I wish they made a slightly higher waisted panty for little girls (like these Carters panties that I love), they don’t at this time. I would be 100% stocking up on them if they did!

Overall, Primary simply makes my life easier because…

  • inexpensive and high quality
  • it’s easier for my kids to match their clothes.
  • the clothes are high quality so I don’t need to fix holes or purchase new clothes as often.
  • the clothes are sturdier so it can make it as a hand-me-down

Primary_Kids_Clothing_20_Percent_Off

Primary Sizing

Sizing seems pretty true to size. From my experience, do not order too big.  Many articles of clothes at the time of writing are in combined sizes (2/3, 4/5, 6/7 etc). The 2/3 is a little big on my very petite 2 year-old. My 4 year-old fits pretty well into 4T, generally, and she fits perfectly into the 4 pants and the 4/5 tops are maybe just slightly large on her (but I’m all about a little big as opposed to too tight). The 5 year-old (who wears 5T) fits perfectly into 5 pants and the 4/5 tops.

Our favorite Clothes (all girls stuff since I have girls)

  • Reversible dress–2 dresses in one with pockets. Need I say more?
  • Leggings
  • Peter pan collared shirts
  • Tunic shirt

Check out Primary.com and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Review of primary.com kid's clothes

Review of primary.com kid's clothes

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The Ultimate Guide to Slashing Your Grocery Budget (While Eating Healthy)

The Ultimate Guide to Slashing Your Grocery Budget (While Eating Healthy)

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

The Ultimate Guide to Slashing Your Grocery Spending (While Eating Healthy)

 

Several months ago, my husband and I decided to drastically reduce our spending in order to reach our financial goals. I wasn’t a big spender to begin with so I wasn’t sure how we’d do. But to my pleasant surprise, the results were amazing:

We drastically reduced our grocery spending, ate healthier, both lost lost 10-15 lbs within a month or so, and saved a ton of money.

Sounds incredible, right? Well, it has been! The 13 steps that I am sharing are the result of a lot of research and work and I know that they can help you too. I’ve broken down the process and made an awesome workbook (see the end of the post to get download) for you so this process doesn’t have to take you as long as it took me. But as long as it took, it was 100% worth it!

The Results

 

While I felt we were pretty cautious with our money before, we went from spending over $1300 a month on food and grocery expenses to spending around $600 a month for my family of 6 (that’s ALL food and grocery expenses with buying a lot of organic products).

Need to save money on groceries, but not sure where to start. This is the ULTIMATE guide to grocery shopping in a budget. This is detailed (with a FREE workbook) and takes you step-by-step to mastering your grocery budget and living a healthier life!

Getting Started: Two Books I HIGHLY Recommend

 

While I’ve always been a budgeter and a planner, I needed some extra help. In my research on budgeting and spending I found two books that were particularly fantastic. I seriously think everyone should read these. Oh, how different our world would be if people took control of their spending! They really helped me set the stage for planning how to drastically reduce my grocery spending.

1) Total Money Makeover: Like many people wanting to get finances in order, I turned to Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. This is a quick read yet full of super fantastic information that will give you a big picture strategy about how to attack your debt, build savings, and plan for the future with investments. I highly recommend it for a big picture strategy.  

2) Personal Finance For Dummies: While I’ve never been attracted to the “For Dummies” series of books (because while I certainly can be a giant dummy, I really hate to admit it), I found experts (like the Wall Street Journal) recommending this book over and over. Sure enough, it has been an indispensible source of information. Eric Tyson is a legit financial expert with loads of real-world experience. It basically takes you through step-by-step getting your finances completely in order from top to bottom, looking at everything from your credit score to insurance and investments.

The Work is Worth it, Trust Me

 

After reading these books, I knew I needed to cut my grocery spending, but they didn’t really provide concrete steps to do so. After doing lots of additional research, I decided to take the 13 steps that I am sharing with you.

These simple steps took some time at the start, and some things were a bit hard. But honestly, we got used to the changes pretty quickly and it was so motivating and empowering to see the positive changes in our bank account and health.

BTW, it’s a total misconception that it costs a lot to eat healthy–it cost us a lot more to eat less healthy!

13 Keys to Slashing your Grocery Spending

 

1) Figure out how much you are actually spending on everything.

Do not skip this step. I repeat: Do not skip this step. While this is the most time consuming step, it will have the most impact on your spending. You have to know where your money is going. Like every single penny. And I’m willing to bet, you’re going to be surprised how much you are spending. I know that I was.  

Check ALL Accounts

Check out your online banking and any credit cards you have used. Most have spending breakdowns so instead of going through each transaction, it’s easier to figure out exactly how much you are spending each month on food and groceries. But if you really want to see your expenses, go through every transaction. Do this with every account you use.

Find out exactly how much you have spend in the last 6-12 months on eating out and grocery expenses. If you are analyzing 6 months of data, add up every single eating out and grocery expense from every single account, then divide by 6. Now you have your monthly average.

Are you surprised?

I certainly was.

I seriously did not think we ate out much–my husband mostly took his lunch to work and I cooked a lot. But I’d occasionally run through a drive thru for lunch for the girls, we’d get take out once a week, and my husband picked up lunch once or twice a week.

But holy cow, that adds up: $219/mo on average for what I thought was not eating out much. Yikes. Then move to grocery spending. Ouch, again. Over $1100 a month on grocery expenses. For me, that was waaaay too much for our family of 6 considering the goals I had.

Yes, this is time consuming. But it will help you get down to the truth about your spending habits. As they say, the truth will set you free…or maybe scare you into changing behaviour!

2) Stop eating out.

I know this can be hard when you want something quick. As a working mom, it was hard to not fall back on picking up dinner instead of making it. But if I can do it, so can you! See how long you can go without eating out. It is absolutely insane how quickly small cheap trips add up. And small cheap trips are usually loaded with fat, calories, sugar, and salt. I promise, you will adjust quickly. We did. And it felt amazing.

3) Set your budget and stick to it.

You know how much you are currently spending if you followed step 1. Now, decide what is a realistic goal for your budget. I would caution against slashing your budget too much. You want to set a goal that you can keep. What good is a budget if you are not sticking to it?

As your habits change and you experience success, you’ll find it easier to then cut your budget further.

4) Create system to keep track of spending.

This is how you make sure you stick to your budget. There are two easy ways I suggest that don’t necessarily involve tracking each and every expense:

1) Use the cash envelope system: Old school but effective for many. Set aside cash for different budget categories and when the cash is gone, you stop spending! We did this at different points, but prefer option 2. If this strikes your fancy, check out The Budget Mom’s Ultimate Guide to the Cash Envelope System.

2) Open another checking account: I have a separate checking account attached to my other accounts. I transfer my budget allotment every other week. Anything that fits the grocery/food budget comes out of that account. And that’s it. It make sticking to the budget and knowing where our money is going so much easier.

Note: some banks charge for accounts, but there are usually ways to avoid fees for accounts. I use Wells Fargo and I avoid a monthly fee by simple having 10 transactions a month (which is super easy since all my food grocery comes from here). Make sure you aren’t actually paying for your extra account!

5) Consider reducing your consumption of meat and processed foods.

Both meat and processed foods can be pretty expensive. Cutting out both has helped us feel so much better and lose weight quickly.

Processed food is full of nasty stuff that we don’t want in our bodies. Making your own food will save your health and pocketbooks.

I’ve always liked the idea of eating less meat, so I’ve mostly stopped buying meat. Ever since I watched this awesome TED talk on becoming a weekday vegetarian, it’s been a goal of mine.

Not only has it been very helpful in saving money, I seriously feel so much better on the weeks we don’t eat meat. Even if you cannot imagine cutting out meat, just try to reduce your consumption and see how you and your wallet feel. You may be surprised.

6) Create your Standard Grocery List.

This is your core grocery list of everything you buy and use. Intentionally creating this list will help to focus and plan your spending long-term. Your Standard Grocery List consists of three categories of food items. These food items will vary depending on your eating habits. 

Standard Grocery List

1) Staples you buy in bulk every couple of months: For us, these are things like  grains, quinoa, rice, beans, pasta, baking supplies, cooking oils (olive, coconut, and avocado), spices etc.

 

2)Stuff you buy monthly: For us, these are things like cheese, canned foods, frozen fruits (for smoothies), bread (I buy in bulk at Costco and freeze extra loaves), Costco frozen pizzas (I keep this one processed convenience food on hand because sometime you just need something fast!)

3)Stuff you need weekly: fresh produce in season, milk (we just do almond milk).

Write your list of everything you use. Cut out the expensive stuff you can live without and find a less expensive alternatives. Keeping a core list (and sticking to it) will eliminate impulse buys and otherwise wasting money on food that you do not use or need. That’s why it’s important to be as thorough as possible with your list. 

In making my list and tracking my spending, I realized that we spend a ton on fresh fruit. Switching to in-season fruit and focusing on buying more of the less expensive vitamin rich vegetables was the right move for my family.

Also, this is a great opportunity to more carefully curate the kinds of foods you want to have in your home. You can simply cut out unhealthy food you want to eliminate and add in healthy foods you want to bring into your family’s diet. This really helped us be healthier since I just planned meals around the inexpensive and healthy food I had on my list.I pretty much cut out buying white flour. While I still bake, I use wheat flour and everything still tastes awesome! We’ve also used natural alternatives for sugar as well.

7) Make a list of all the meals breakfast, lunch, and dinners you can make with those ingredients.

Once you have your standard grocery list, go through and think of all the breakfasts, lunches, dinners you can make with those ingredients. Keep this list on hand when you can’t figure out what to make. It will be a serious money saver.

8) Using your list, figure out who has the best price for each of the items you buy.

You don’t have to do this all at once. As you go to stores, take note how much your items cost. You will quickly figure out where to get each item.

Also, I highly recommend finding a place with super cheap produce. Ask around and see what hidden treasures exist. In my area, there are a couple places to get super cheap produce. They’re pretty busy and I have to plan ahead, but it’s so worth it to get a cart completely full of produce for $30 (much of it organic). Often it’s produce that is going to go bad soon, so if you meal prep (step 13) you can prepare it all and freeze it right away. Win-win.

A note on Costco and other big-box stores:

For many items, you will clearly save with Costco (or your big-box store of choice), but with others you will not. If it’s something you use often and Costco has the best price, go for it. But they don’t always have the best prices, so be careful.

And if it’s an item you use only occasionally, even if they do have the best per ounce price, it may still be a more expensive option.

Think about it: if you spend $15 getting a truckload of some spice or product that you rarely use, it will expire before you use it all. That is the more expensive option to buying the $4 version at another store that will last you 6 months to a year.

Need to save money on groceries, but not sure where to start. This is the ULTIMATE guide to grocery shopping in a budget. This is detailed (with a FREE workbook) and takes you step-by-step to mastering your grocery budget and living a healthier life!

9) Don’t go shopping again until you’ve emptied your refrigerator.

This is key to fine-tuning your grocery shopping and eliminating costly food waste. If you get in the habit of emptying out your fridge of all your produce and perishables before you restock, you start to really get a sense of how much you actually use. And it forces you to be creative and use produce you may have just let get bad.

It’s seriously like a game for me. I ALWAYS have loads of veggies in my fridge that I’ve ignored. If I’m forced to use everything before I go shopping, I usually end up making a really healthy dinner full of food that would have otherwise gone bad before I used it.

This reduces food waste and saves $ and time by not running to the store. Also, keeping my fridge cleared out makes it easier to know what I have and I am more likely to use everything.

10) Have ingredients for 3-4 super easy, healthy and cheap meal your family will eat always on hand.

This will keep you from getting take out out of desperation and blowing your budget. You probably already have stuff on hand for several meals. This takes some planning and creativity, but it’s worth it!

For me, I always have stuff to make a whole wheat pasta in a quick homemade marinara with roasted veggies, black bean soup, sandwiches and a quick homemade tomato soup.

For quick and easy breakfast food ideas, check out my post 7 Healthy & Delicious Make-Ahead Breakfasts That Will Change Your Morning.

For other ideas, Bless This Mess has tons of recipes for healthy meals under 30 minutes.

11) Use Recipe Substitutions

How many times have you run to the store to get one item for a recipe you are making? Or you spent $10 for one spice or item for a recipe you found on Pinterest that you only make once?

I am definitely guilty of this.

When following recipes, use substitutions that you have as opposed to going out to the store and buying something just to finish your recipe. There are almost always great substitutions at the end of a quick google search. This has saved me money and it’s been empowering to know that I truly can make due with what I have.

Print this awesome and comprehensive list of ingredient substitutions form allrecipes and keep it handy.

12) Take inventory of what you have every few weeks

How often have you bought a bunch of stuff only to find a stash of it hidden in your pantry?

While you may use it eventually, keeping too much on hand is taking up space and costing you money. Taking a quick inventory doesn’t take long. Note staple items that will need to be purchased in the next few weeks. Repeat this every few weeks or so. This will save you from running to the store to grab just 1 or 2 items and guard against blowing your budget with impulse buys and eating out.

13) Meal prep

Take meals you listed from step 7 and make them in bulk and freeze. This will save you some time and money. For help getting started with freezer meal prep, check out my post Busy Mom’s Guide to Getting Started WIth Meal Prep.

Take charge of your grocery spending and be empowered!

Whew! That was a lot of information. Congratulations on getting to the end. You definitely deserve a treat for that 🙂

But there you go! Following these steps has really had fantastic results for both our bank account and our waistlines. With these steps, we naturally ate healthier. To make it easier to follow these steps, download my  free workbook that walks you through the process. You can do this! This is such an empowering process and you will feel so great.

I would love you to know what you think!

Please let me know in the comments or drop me a line at erin at theincrementalmama dot com. I would absolutely love to hear from you!

 

7 Healthy & Delicious Make-Ahead Breakfasts That Will Change Your Morning

7 Healthy & Delicious Make-Ahead Breakfasts That Will Change Your Morning

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

7 Healthy & Delicious Make Ahead Breakfasts That Will Change Your Morning

 

No matter how you slice it, mornings are especially crazy if you have a young family. With kids and babies demanding to be fed, it’s all too easy to turn to processed foods like eggo waffles, sugar-laden cereals, or perhaps slip through a drive thru before you head to the school drop off line.

 

If you want healthy, simple, budget friendly alternatives make ahead breakfasts will absolutely change your life. Make ahead breakfasts can be prepared in bulk and will alleviate much of the stress of crazy mornings by providing healthy, filling, food for the whole family.

 

Honestly, I couldn’t survive 4 kids 5 and under without preparing breakfasts in advance. My 4 small children always seem to need me at once and let me tell you, they are crabby before they have been fed.

 

Once they wake up, I’ve got to get food in their little bodies or we are barrelling down the road to disaster.

 

However, it’s really important to me that my family eats healthy food. So I try to avoid the processed junk, but there is no way I could make a nice healthy breakfast every morning without losing my mind.

 

So these recipes literally start my day off on the right foot. We get to start the day will fantastic healthy breakfasts that have been prepared ahead of time.

 

These recipes can all be prepared quickly in bulk, and frozen or stored in the fridge. My whole family loves them and they can even double as a snack during the day!

 

Crazy mornings with no time for a healthy and quick breakfast? These will save the day! These are 7 super yummy AND healthy breakfasts recipes that you can make ahead and eat in the days and weeks to come.

 

7 Healthy and Simple Make Ahead Meals

 

From A Sassy Spoon

 

1) Protein Banana muffins — A Sassy Spoon

 

Holy smokes, we love these guys. Not only does every member of my family love them, they always disappear very quickly at potlucks. I quadruple the recipe and put them in gallon freezer bags. In the morning, it just takes 30 seconds in the microwave and–boom–delicious breakfast! 

Since I legit make breakfast muffins A LOT, I started using these amazing silicone muffin tins and no more scrubbing metal baking pans. Wahoo!!!

 

Tip: Prepare the muffins according to directions, but don’t add the choco chips. Instead sprinkly a few on the top before baking. This limits the chocolate and really helps with equal choco distribution (I found that they tend to pool in the bottom) 

 

From Clean Food Crush

 

2) Green smoothie prep packs — Clean Food Crush  

 

Green smoothies are a great way to start your day with a blast of plant-based vitamins. This is a fantastic recipe to start you out with freezer smoothie packs. And you can take the concept and literally put in any smoothie ingredients that you want. Before blending, I also love to add various seeds and nuts to add a bit of protein. 

 

From Real Mom Nutrition

 

3) Whole Wheat Freezer waffles — Real Mom Nutrition

 

As easy to prep as eggs waffles, but sooo much healthier! I pop them in the toaster and top with PB and a little bit of maple syrup. Kids love them!

 

From Organize Yourself Skinny

 

4) Blueberry Coconut Almond Overnight Oats — Organize Yourself Skinny

 

Oh my gosh, these oats in mason jars are genius. She has loads of different recipes at her site (I also seriously love her mason jar salad recipes) and I’ve yet to try one I didn’t like. My husband and I really love this particular recipe and it’s just so stinkin’ easy. Just throw some ingredients into a mason jar, mix, and stick in the fridge overnight. You eat these oats cold and they last for up to 5 days.  I love to add chia seeds and substitute steel cut oats (I just add a bit more almond milk).

 

From Eat Yourself Skinny

 

5) Healthy Veggie Egg Muffins — Eat Yourself Skinny

 

Oh my gosh, I love these! These are great veggie-filled egg muffins. Protein and fiber for the win! I like to use spinach (since that is a staple I always have) and sharp cheddar cheese along with plenty of zucchini. Again, these silicone muffin trays are heaven sent–scrubbing eggs off metal pans is no fun. 

 

from Thriving Home Blog

 

6) Protein blueberry muffins — Thriving Home Blog

 

Another muffin favorite at our house. These blueberry muffins are packed with fiber and flavor! Freeze in gallon freezer bags. Microwave for 30 seconds and you’re good to go! I also love them as quick snacks during the day.

 

from Thriving Home Blog

 

7) Whole Wheat Pumpkin Freezer pancakes — Thriving Home Blog

 

My kids are obsessed with these pancakes right now. They are so tasty! The pumpkin adds a tasty alternative to plain pancakes. I freeze them in gallon bags between sheets of parchment paper so they separate easily.  Microwave or toast for a quick breakfast! We top ours with PB and maple syrup. So yummy.

 

Which recipes look best to you?

 

So which one are your going to try out the week?Try one and let me know what you think!

 

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11 Tips to Surviving and Thriving With 4 Kids 5 and Under

11 Tips to Surviving and Thriving With 4 Kids 5 and Under

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Surviving and Thriving With 4 Kids Five and Under (and a Job)

Let’s be honest: it’s easy to feel overwhlemed as a mom of 1 kid, let alone 4 kids 5 and under. Mommin’ is hard. Some of the hardest work around. We rarely even get to go to the bathroom alone, let alone get an actual break from our daily labor. Even if we start the day like a rock star, by 5:00pm we start to lose our marbles.

I get it. I’ve been there more times than I can count. But having 4 kids in under 5 years and managing a job on top of it has taught me a thing or two about trying to keep mom overwhlem at bay. The principles of avoiding overwhelm while raising kids is pretty much the same no matter how many kids you have.
11 Tips to Survive Motherhood of Small Kids and Avoid Overwhelm

Being a mom of 4 kids 5 and under can be REALLY tough. These tips for moms on not only surviving, but THRIVING with small kids can help make you days happier, healthier and more balanced!

 

11 TIPS FOR MANAGING MOM OVERHWHELM

(SURVIVING & THRIVING WITH 4 KIDS 5 AND UNDER)

 

1) Make your health a priority.

When you get on an airplane, the flight attendant always goes through that spiel where they remind you that in case of an air pressure emergency to put on your own mask before helping anyone else.

This absolutely applies to motherhood. So many moms put their needs last, afraid to take care of themselves thinking it will take away from their kids. But it’s not a zero-sum game where if you are focusing on yourself, your kids are missing out. It’s actually the opposite: The better care you give yourself, the better equipped you are to take care of your family.

Just like you can’t put on your kid’s masks on an airplane if you’ve passed out due to lack of oxygen, you can’t give your kids everything if you are running on empty. You are probably already a pretty dang awesome mom. I mean, seriously: if you are reading this, you are probably trying to get tips to be a better mom. Crummy moms don’t do that. You’re a good mom. So take care of yourself mentally and physically and you can become even better. Check out my post of getting started with self-care here.

 

2) Get enough sleep.

Okay, stop laughing. It actually is possible. But it’s not going to happen naturally–it’s gonna take some effort. But even with 4 kids 5 and under, I almost always get at least 7 hours of sleep a night (here’s some strategies to get better sleep).

Have you ever been so exhausted after you put the kids to bed that you can’t do anything but sit and stare? So you sit in front of the TV and binge a show for 3 hours because you can’t muster the energy to actually go to bed. Then the kids wake you up the next day and you are totally crabby because you are exhausted.

Oh boy, been there and done that. While it’s nice to do sometimes, I realized that it does not fit with my goals. I can’t do that regularly and be the mom I want to be.

Sleep is 100% linked to basically every part of your health  (weight, energy, level, skin etc) not to mention directly correlated to the amount of patience one has. And you are going to need that as a mom. I’m not saying you have to stop watching The Bachelor or doing something else that brings you joy. But you’ve got to be smarter about it to get enough sleep. Even cleaning your house may be unproductive if you are sleep deprived. Think about it: if you were bleeding profusely, you wouldn’t be like “Oh, let me just finish these dishes and then I’ll go get something to take care of this bleeding.” You would take care of the bleeding immediately. If you are seriously sleep deprived, sleep is way more important than cleaning.

 

3) Wake up before the kids.

Call me crazy, but I wake up at 4:00am most mornings. I am NOT a natural morning person, but once I started doing this, it changed my whole life.

This gives me my “Me Time” in the morning when I am fresh and can make the most of it. I find that waking up early, exercising, and getting a few thing done before my kids are awake honestly makes me feel like there are more hours in the day.

Without a doubt, days when I wake up before my kids are far more productive than when I wake up to a child staring at me and asking for breakfast. Once my 4 kids 5 and under are awake, I have to hit the ground running and I have zero time for myself. If I have my “Me Time” after the kids are in bed, chances are it’s going to be spent in front of the TV or computer doing something completely unproductive. Which means time wasted and crummy sleep.

 

4) Write a comprehensive “To Do” list every single morning, first thing.

Organization is key when balancing all the mom tasks that we have. Writing down all that you need to get done can help take the stress off your mind and focus your energy during the day.

I’ll usually begin my list the night before so I wake up knowing where my daily focus should be. I’m old school and write most of my daily lists on legal pads (there are no fewer than 5 strewn across my house at any particular time–my husband just loves it!). Pretty much every major task I need to accomplish from exercising, showering, taking kids to school, making dinner, or calling a plumber is on my list.

Apps like Wunderlist or Evernote can also be super helpful in organizing your day and consolidating your lists.

 

5) Exercise.

Exercising boosts energy, promotes bone and muscle function, aids in weight loss, and helps mental health. And you don’t need to spend hours doig it to reap the benefits. Just 2-30 minutes of solid exercise can make a huge difference.

For me, working out a key element of most all of my “good mom days”. All these benefits are like gold when it comes to taking care of 4 kids 5 and under and maintaining a home all day. My average day is like an olympic event, so working out is like conditioning to mentally and physically handle my long busy days. For ideas on exercising, check out my post 6 Gym-Free Ways For Busy Moms to Fit in a Quick Workout.

 

6) Pick your battles wisely.

This has been a very key strategy to how I am able to manage all I have on my plate. You can’t do it all, but you can do what is important and valuable to YOU. For example, I do not battle over my kids clothes and hair. It does not affect my happiness one bit. Instead, the fact that they dress themselves from about age 2 and on makes my life considerably easier.

As an added bonus, they love having some control and autonomy over their lives. Plus they learn to make their own choices. We do “brush our hair for Jesus” so they look presentable at church. And they have to be appropriately covered (no panties showing and pants & jackets if it’s cold). Peplum tops pose serious confusion as my girls cannot understand that they are not actually dresses.

On the other hand, I am really concerned about my kids eating healthy food. Therefore, I put a lot more energy and effort into preparing healthy foods and encouraging them to like things that are good for their bodies.

You can’t fight every battle and have sanity left over. Pick your battles and let go of the rest.

 

7) Shower & get dressed everyday.

It may seem silly, but I am more productive and efficient when I am showered and dressed for the day. Being dressed and presentable allows me to focus more clearly on the tasks I have to get done. Mind you, “dressed for the day” does not mean I’m ready for the Oscars or even to go to work. It means I am clean, clothed, and have brushed my teeth. This whole process takes me about 15 minutes. I shower, use this dry shampoo, put my hair in a ponytail, and if I’m feeling fancy I use a little mascara and lip moisturizer.

 

8) Give individual attention and snuggles to each child daily.

Having 4 kids 5 and under means that this takes some forethought. But lot’s of snuggles make happier kids. And crabby kids make for a crabby and frustrated mama. But most crabby kids don’t need a lecture, they need a good long hug. The more snuggles in a day, usually translates into a smoother, happier day.

 

9) Live by 1 minute rule

If a task will take only 1 minute or less to complete, do it right away. This gives you 2 boosts: you get the satisfaction of getting something done plus it creates momentum to accomplish more tasks.

This is how I manage my long to-do list. Attack the quick and easy stuff right when I think of it. Otherwise, I get massive overwhelm with all I have to do. If you have a bunch of small tasks do them back to back. It takes a couple minutes and you get a great energy and happiness boost.

 

10) Use the “10 minute clean” philosophy.

It’s pretty amazing what kinds of messes 4 kids 5 and under can make in just a few minutes. When I have huge messes to clean and no time (i.e. every moment of my life), this strategy perfect. I muster whatever strength I have for just 10 minutes and I do a whirlwind clean. It’s amazing what I can accomplish in 10 minutes when I am focused and working quickly. It’s usually enough to get areas of my house in good enough shape to feel fine moving on to an essential task or going to bed.

 

11) Declutter, declutter, declutter.

The more things you have, the more messes you have to clean up. So the more clutter you have, the more time it takes to manage it. A couple of years ago, I was so very frustrated by all the messes in our home and a friend recommended Marie Kondo’s The Magical Art of Tidying Up. I devoured the book. Then I immediately started to do her program of massive purging. I did it all–even talking to my possessions. It was therapeutic and energizing. I was able to part with stuff I’d held on to for years without a second glance. And best of all: it made keeping my house clean so much easier. Not to mention I enjoyed my home so much more. I completely reorganized my home and kitchen to be more functional. As an added bonus, we made several hundred dollars selling stuff on Craigslist and at a garage sale.

The Minimalists are also a great decluttering resource if you are looking for motivation. This is one of their strategies to declutter your home and life.

 

These “Rules” Make 4 Kids 5 and Under Totally Doable

So there you have it! These are some key tactics to managing my life with kids and work. As our family has quickly grown over the last few years, these tips have been nothing short of lifesaving. No matter how mant kids you have, these tips can help manage the overwhelm.

Let me know what you think!

 

 

The Busy Mom’s Guide to Getting Started With Meal Prep

The Busy Mom’s Guide to Getting Started With Meal Prep

The Busy Mom’s Guide to Getting Started With Meal Prep

 

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you click a link and make a purchase, I receive a small comission). Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Basically, no matter what you’ve got going on, if you want more time, less cleaning, healthier meals, and to spend less money–then meal prep is absolutely for you. But it can get overwhelming trying to figure out how exactly to start prepping meals ahead of time, especially if you haven’t done much of it in the past. Well, sit tight and stop worrying because meal prep is EASY and will save you so much time and hassle while helping you eat healthier.

 

A while back, I realized that we were spending, on average, $219 a month on fast food and take-out. I was floored because I did not feel like we ate out that much. But then I thought more about it.  With 4 little kids and a very busy life, it was so easy to roll into Chick-fil-a for lunch as opposed to taking time and making a mess in the kitchen preparing a meal. And on nights I had to teach, it was so easy to just have my husband pick up take-out on his way home since I was busy taking care of the girls and prepping my class. I’ve always done meal prep, but it was time to up my game and do it simply and weekly.

 

Want to start prepping meals in advance, but not quite sure how to start? Here's a simple meal prep guide that will help you start saving time right away.

 

 

Why Meal Prep?

 

Meal prep is amazing:

 

  • it saves so much time because you only have one time for chopping and preparing all the food and one time cleaning up the mess.
  • It’s healthier than takeout.
  • It will save you money. On busy days, you can simply pop something out of the freezer instead of sliding through a drive through. Y
  • It can be incredibly simple and just take minutes.

 

Meal prep can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be. Some people will spend hours making dozens of meals at once while others do it on a much smaller scale yet still reap so many benefits. I’m all about maximum efficiency so I like quick and simple. You can prep your lunches for the week and have them in containers in the fridge (these mason jar salads are a personal favorite). Or you can make a dozen lasagnas and have them in the freezer. If you are busy, you don’t have time NOT to do meal prep.

 

 

 

GETTING STARTED WITH MEAL PREP

 

 

 

1) Pick out a couple meals that you you want to prep in advance.

 

The sky is the limit with which meals you can start with, but it’s best to start with meals you already make and you know your family likes. If you are at a loss, 2 super easy places to start are spaghetti sauce and marinated chicken breasts in quart bags to go in the freezer (these marinades are amazing–I have made them all). Both are easy and you you can make a ton without too much effort. If you haven’t done much meal prep or are short on time, I’d stick to maybe 2 things max.

Here are some amazing (and super easy) make-ahead breakfast recipes that my family lives on. 

 

2) Pick out a day of the week to do your meal prep

 

Depending on what you plan to do, it’s good to have a couple hours blocked out for meal prep and clean up. I tend to make a bunch of stuff at once and so I am racing around the kitchen for 3 hours, but then at the end, I have 10 dinners for my family, a bunch of pizza rolls, and like 60 protein muffins for breakfasts and snacks.

 

3) Make list of the ingredients you need & do the shopping

 

With 4 kids 5 and under I only go shopping once a week, so planning ahead is crucial. There is nothing worse than settling in for a nice meal prep session and realizing that you are 1 or 2 items short. Take the recipes that you want to make and decide how many meals you are looking to have on hand. If you want to a 5 meals, make sure you multiply all your ingredients by 5. Unless you use the ingredients all the time, only buy as much as you need. I find that meal prep helps me eliminate food waste. I get a bunch of veggies, chop them all, and use them immediately.

 

4) Be sure you have the appropriate containers

 

You’ll pick your containers depending on what you are trying to do. If I’m prepping meals to go in the fridge, I love these glass containers since they store well, and you can heat them right up in the microwave without worrying about BPA and all that nasty stuff. If it’s a sauce or chicken in a marinade, I just use quart freezer bags. These little guys are amazing for helping fill the freezer bags without awkward spills. I use these aluminum foil dishes for lasagna and enchiladas and I used to use these smaller foil dishes with lids when our family was smaller. Make sure you label everything–preferably before you fill it with food.

 

5) Prep your meal

 

It’s magic time! Stick on some great music, a podcast, or whatever strikes your fancy and follow your recipes. The more recipes you try at once, the trickier it gets. However, with practice meal prep will become more efficient and easier. For food safety, be sure to let everything cool before going in the fridge or freezer.

 

6) Put meals away & clean up

 

If using quart freezer bags for sauces, soups, or chicken, be sure to lay them flat when you put them in the freezer. Otherwise, they can get stuck to things as they freeze. If you have the space, don’t stack them until after they’re frozen. When making something in individual pieces (like muffins), flash freeze them on cookies sheets. When you put them in gallon freezer bags, they won’t stick together.

 

I try to clean up as I go along. The great beauty of meal prep is that you have just one clean up session for all the meals you make. This is probably my favorite aspect of meal prep!

 

7) Celebrate because you are on top of it mama!

 

There is something so satisfying about seeing a bunch of meals on your counter or in your freezer. There’s a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, plus peace of mind knowing that you’ve got a stock of meals for your family.

 

Good luck!