Quick and Easy Kid Food: Yummy Black Bean Dip

Quick and Easy Kid Food: Yummy Black Bean Dip

*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.

Quick & Easy Kid Food: Yummy Black Bean Dip

With 4 little mouths to feed and very little time, quick and easy kid food is my jam. Especially when its healthy and my kids will actually eat it.

This black bean dip fits the bill on all counts.

Nothing is quicker to make and it involved zero cooking. It takes less than 5 minutes and is packed with protein and fiber. Plus, my kids absolutely gobble it up!

I created it during an afternoon of desperation. You know, when you’ve gone a bit too long between trips to the grocery store and your kids are starving.

While my kids were requesting bean burritos (their favorite food) one afternoon, we didn’t have either refried beans or tortillas. In fact, we were out of most everything. But the thought of dragging all 4 of my kids to the grocery store put my brain into survival mode.

The choice was get creative or make the haul to the store.

I chose to get creative.

So I found a can of black beans and decided I’d make some bean dip. (Close to bean burritos, right?)

I threw the beans into my trusty mini food processor with some plain greek yogurt, cheddar cheese, salt, and this spice (optional, but way good). I blended it up and within minutes served it with some multigrain chips and fresh fruit, not sure what my picky little eaters would think. I was just hoping we wouldn’t have any major food freakouts. 

To my surprise, they absolutely loved it and it was immediately added to our meal rotation. It’s an easy staple that I return to again and again. Just a few minutes to whip up and then throw some tortilla chips, fruit, and veggies with it and it’s a quick and balanced meal 

Here it is!

Quick, easy and healthy kid food #healthy #easykidfood #momhacks

Kid-Friendly Black Bean Dip

This dip is quick, easy, & packed with protein and fiber! Makes a great meal served with multigrain chips and fresh fruit. 

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 4
Author Erin

Ingredients

  • 1 can black beans drained
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp no-salt seasoning optional

Instructions

  1. Drain and rinse black beans.

  2. Add all ingredients to mini food processor and blend thoroughly.

  3. Serve with chips and fresh fruit.

You can’t beat how easy this is.

And it’s a great way to get some healthy protein into picky eaters (to help picky eaters develop healthy eating habits, check out my post here). My pickiest eater requests this almost every day. Quick and easy kid food for the win!

If you try it, let me know what you (and your kids) think!

 

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3 Brilliant Laundry Folding Hacks (Never Get Behind Again!)

3 Brilliant Laundry Folding Hacks (Never Get Behind Again!)

NEVER GET BEHIND AGAIN: 3 SIMPLE LAUNDRY FOLDING HACKS

Never fall behind on folding again with these simple folding laundry folding hacks! #laundryhacks #momhacks #laundryroutine

Do you hate folding laundry? Or is it just so hard to get to with all the other million things on your to-do list? Oh man, I feel ya sooooo much.

Having 4 kids in less than 5 years meant that laundry very quickly became the bane of my existence. Oh my gosh, it was insane. It felt like I blinked and suddenly went from doing a couple of loads a laundry a week to the seventh circle of laundry hell. 

I was drowning in the laundry of a tiny crew of dirt magnets.

Dirt magnets who routinely used their clothes as napkins. 

It was as baffling as it was depressing. I mean, how do tiny little bodies produce sooooo much laundry? Absolutely mindboggling.

And while washing laundry never seemed to be too big of a problem (because it takes like 2 seconds to start the washing machine), folding it was an another matter entirely.

While it weighed on me, it just never seemed like a pressing matter. After all, the clothes are clean.

“Do I know where that shirt is? No. But it’s clean…somewhere in these 4 overflowing baskets of clean clothes.”

Folding clothes that I’d just have to wash and fold again a week later just never got me super motivated. It felt like a waste of time.

But if I can be honest, living out of clean laundry baskets is an even greater waste of time. Not only did it take 15 minutes to find that one article of clothing my kid was searching for, but she left a mess of clothes in her wake.

That’s when I realized that the biggest waste of time was not staying on top of my folding. So I set out to figure out how I (someone who hates folding clothes with the fire of a thousand suns) could create a routine that makes it easy to keep up.

Hate folding laundry? Never fall behind again with these simple folding laundry folding hacks! #laundryhacks #momhacks #laundryroutine

And I did. I first figured our my 15 minute a day laundry hack and then discovered 3 fabulous folding laundry hacks to motivate me to do the dreaded task of folding clothes.

Here they are:

1) Use pairing

Pairing is one of the best ways to get yourself to do basically anything that you regularly put off, be it folding clothes or exercising.

Here’s what you do: you pair up an enjoyable task with the loathed task. You ONLY can do the fun thing if you are doing the unpleasant thing. This uses your desire to do the pleasurable task to get yourself to do the not-so-pleasurable task.

Things you can pair with folding clothes:

  • Listening to podcasts
  • Watching a specific TV show
  • Watching a movie
  • Listening to audiobooks
  • Listening to music
  • Movie date night with your husband (where you both fold together)

Honestly, the possibilities are endless!

The key is that you’ve got to be folding clothes in order to allow yourself to engage in the fun activity.

Like you can only watch your Netflix show when you fold laundry. It also has the added benefit of getting the joy of watching your show and not feeling guilty. All while getting your folding done.

2) Set an alarm and just do it just a few minutes a day. 

I had friend in college who absolutely hated goodbyes. So he would either just suddenly leave without saying a word or would give a quick, unexpected hug and take off without warning.

In his words, he was “ripping it off like a band-aid.” In other words, doing something painful really fast makes it less awful.

This is the rip-the-bandaid-off-fast method of folding clothes.

Set an alarm for 10 minutes and just fold whatever you can in that time. This makes folding quick and relatively painless. You can do anything for 10 minutes. And you may be surprised what you get done. This method works extremely well with my 15-minute a day philosophy to laundry.

3) Enlist your kids.

I’m constantly amazed as a parent how often my children learn things well before I think they’ll be able to. After introducing folding laundry to my older kids at 4 and 5 years old, they enthusiastically began to help me.

And not only are they more meticulous than I (which is not hard, I’ll admit), they actually love it. So I gotta tap into that while I can!

I started by giving them easy rectangular items, like wash clothes, dish towels, and baby blankets. They then happily moved on to their own clothes.

This is an especially great hack because not only does it take the pressure off of you, it teaches your children a new skill and gives them an important responsibility. So you’re just winning all over the place.

The key is to make it a routine and habit your kids are used to. Make them expect to help with folding each week or however it works for you.

Use the folding laundry hacks to get our laundry hell.

No matter how much you loathe folding, using these folding laundry hacks will make keeping up with your laundry painless...and maybe even enjoyable. Pick one or do as I do and use a combination of all of them. I fold for about 10 minutes a day, while listening to podcasts and enlist my children in folding towels, blankets, and most of their own clothes.

You’ve got this, mama!

 

4 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Evenings (and How to Fix it)

4 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Evenings (and How to Fix it)

4 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Evenings (and How to Turn it Around)

Evening Routine For Moms #momhacks #momschedule #selfcareroutineEvening Routine For Moms #momhacks #momschedule #selfcareroutine

As the day goes on, our reserves of will power get used up. Which is probably why my natural inclination after a long day of kid wrangling, laundry doing, mess cleaning, food making, and diaper changing is to sit on the couch and avoid any unnecessary movement.

All while I let the latest binge-worthy Netflix show wash over me like a gentle wave.

Once we’ve run through the bedtime shenanigans and 4 little heads are nestled in their pillows,  I am straight up pooped. Like end-of-a-marathon-fall-asleep-where-I’m-standing exhausted (aka MOTHERHOOD).

But instead of actually taking care of myself and listening to my needs, I just wasted time.

(Not unlike my kids at bedtime.)

My natural response was to push the fatigue aside and feel all the glory of what it’s like to do absolutely nothing for several hours. I wanted to relish being awake and not have to be constantly meeting someone else’s needs.

However, an evening spent in mindless activity (I’m talking’ to you Netflix) all but guarantees that the next day is going to be rough. It means crummy sleep, and a cranky morning once my kids are trying to pry my exhausted body out of bed to make them breakfast.

Before I even realized how my evenings were impacting my entire day, I realized that I needed to change my morning routines and wake up earlier. Once I made over my mornings I started to accomplish loads more every day (you can read my post here).

But early mornings forced me to recognize that I was blowing my evenings BIG TIME.

I needed to be way more intentional with my time.

Which led to me to searching for evening routine ideas. And resulted in me completely changing my evening routines by implementing more structure and prioritizing self care. In doing so, my sleep quality improved a ton, I was happier, accomplished more, and was more relaxed.

So what are your evening like? If they’re like mine used to be then here is how you’re sabotaging your evenings…and how you can turn it all around (with several evening routine ideas).

Evening Routine For Moms #momhacks #momschedule #selfcareroutine

1) YOU DON’T HAVE AN INTENTIONAL EVENING ROUTINE.

By the end of the day, we’re exhausted. Which is why late at night we are way more inclined to eat food we shouldn’t eat and waste time with things we shouldn’t do.

If we don’t have a specific plan for our evenings, then we are at the mercy of whatever forces come our way.

How to turn it around: Design Your Ideal Routine

If I’ve got no plan for once my kids are in bed, it’s all but guaranteed I’m going to waste time and end up even more exhausted. But simply having a plan makes it way more likely that I’m going to make smart choices even though exhausted.

When you’re tired, it’s hard to make good choices. Creating a plan beforehand takes away needing to choose when you are exhausted. You can just follow through with the plan you already put in place.

So what do you want your ideal evening to look like? Do you envision yourself cozied up in an armchair reading a book? Or taking a fragrant bubble bath? Drinking relaxing tea as you decompress and talk about your day with your husband? Meditating? Working towards a personal goal? Completing a project?

Once you know what activities you want in your evenings, determine what things are getting in your way.

For me, it was screens. Whether TV, phone, or computer screens, at the end of a long day I just wanted to get lost in mindless consumption. While it was nice to zone out, it didn’t leave me feeling particularly relaxed or help me get to my goals.

I realized that taking a bath and reading before bed were far more effective at leaving me relaxed and fulfilled. They even help me sleep better. So I do both nearly every single night.

Start eliminating the time-wasters and including more of what actually relaxes you and makes you happy. Create your evening rules that you will stick to. My rules are generally no eating and no screens (unless there is a planned exception like a stay-at-home date once the kids are in bed). 

2) YOU DON’T HAVE A BEDTIME.

We often think of bedtimes in relation to our kids. We give them bedtimes knowing that they need a certain amount of sleep each night or else they turn into little monsters.

Our bedtimes, on the other hand, tends to be very flexible.

But just like our kids, we REALLY need our sleep to function well, be healthy, and not turn into The Hulk when the day gets frustrating. Experts say that as adults, we need at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. I’ve discovered that I need 8-9 to function well. 

When I don’t get my 8 hours of sleep, I’m not as happy, I’m more likely to overeat (and eat things that aren’t healthy), and I don’t get near as much done as when I’m fully rested. Frankly, I’m super inefficient when sleep-deprived.

How to turn it around: Figure out how much sleep you need.

So how much sleep do you REALLY need to function well? Be honest with yourself. Hint: it’s more than 7. Surviving is one thing, but actually thriving is another. How much do you need to thrive?

Set your bedtime accordingly and make keeping it a priority. As a mom, it’s sooooo easy to put your needs last. But when you are well-rested everyone is going to win when there is a happier, more patient mama around.

For more on improving sleep, check out my post 10 Strategies For Moms to Dramatically Improve Sleep.

3) YOU’VE GOT TOO MANY SCREENS HAPPENING. 

While we scroll though our smartphones or binge watch TV all in the name of relaxing, it ironically leaves us less likely to get quality sleep. The light emanating from the screens actually makes it harder to fall asleep and to then sleep soundly.

Also, have you notices that when you’re in front of a screen you enter a weird time warp? I’ll think “Oh I’ll just check out FB/Instagram/news for a few minutes” and while I’ll think 10 minutes has passed, a whole hour has flown by.

Screens mess up your sleep and suck up your time.

How to turn it around: Stop screens a few hours before your bedtime.

You’ve already determined what bedtime is going to be best for you. Cut off your screen time in the 3 hours before your bedtime. This will help your body relax and prepare for a more restful sleep.

I know it’s tough. Oh heavens, I know exactly how hard it can be. We are literally surrounded by screens.

But cutting off screens in the evening has been the most important change I have made to my evenings. Suddenly, I had more time to do things that actually feed my soul that I can’t get to during the day (e.g. reading, goal setting, planning, thinking coherent thoughts).

If you only change one thing about your evenings, ditch the screens. That alone will transform your evenings…and your sleep.

4) YOU DON’T PRIORITIZE SELF CARE.

Effective relaxation–the kind that makes your broken self feel whole again–all comes down to self-care practices. And just to clarify, doing nothing is not self care.

I may have tried to fool myself that sitting on the couch, not moving, was self care. But it wasn’t. Self care needs to be intentional. It doesn’t have to be complicated (in fact, I’d say it shouldn’t be), but it should be purposeful.

Self care is intentionally taking care of our minds, souls and bodies. And it is essential to not just creating the evening we want, but creating the life we want.

How to turn it around: Add self care to your evening routine. 

Some examples of self care practices you can add to your evening routine:

  • stretch/yoga
  • take a bath
  • read a book for enjoyment
  • go for a walk/run around your neighborhood (and listen to music you love, an audio book, or podcast)
  • journal

For more self care evening routine ideas, check out my post Getting Started With Self Care.

You can create a fulfilling and relaxing evening routine.

As exhausted moms, at the end of the day we just want to relax and do the stuff we couldn’t do throughout the day. We want to drown out our fatigue into our phone screens or binge watch one of the zillions of must-watch series that get zapped on demand straight to out TVs.

But with these evening routine ideas, your evening can be a catalyst to a happier, healthier, and more organized life. Your evenings determine your sleep quality, energy, self care practice, health and happiness.

Mama, you’ve got this!

 

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4 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Calm Themselves Down

4 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Calm Themselves Down

4 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Calm Themselves Down

When one of my girls gets upset, she gets UPSET. I mean, it’s really intense. It’s like all the angst of a troubled teen have been crammed into 42 pounds of raw emotion.

She sobs. She screams. The veins in her neck bulge like she’s trying to lift a car. And her whole body shakes as she tries to contain the intensity of all that she feels.

Everyone knows that you can’t reason with someone when they are completely out of their mind (though we try anyways). So my natural, motherly response was be to try and help her calm down. So what would I do?

Two things:

  1. Instruct her to “calm down” (which is about as effective as telling her to do jumping jacks)
  2. Try and get her to breathe deeply, to which she would promptly respond by hyperventilating.

Yeah, they didn’t work.

But in my failure, I knew that if I could just get her her to breathe deeply then she could start to calm and reason. Filling her lungs with air would send oxygen to her brain making it function better so she could start to think more clearly.

Basically, it would take her out of her fight-or-flight mode and help her to start reasoning.

End meltdowns and teach your kids to calm themselves down with these simple and fun techniques.

Deep breathing is my jam.

Its literally how I get through days of raising 4 small kids while balancing work (and countless other stresses moms face) without completely losing my mind. Seriously, I owe my sanity to deep breathing.

So I just knew that if I could figure out how to teach her to take deep cleansing breaths, we could have less raging and more “Kumbaya”.

But I was at a complete loss. Trying to get her to breathe deeply by modeling and coaching her only made her more upset. She would take quick shallow breaths until she would basically hyperventilate. 

I needed a kid-specific approach to teaching deep breathing. 

Which is why I was beyond thrilled when I learned these 4 strategies in a Conscious Discipline parenting class (which I’m obsessed with, btw). It was like the heavens opened. They were just what I was looking for.

And they made all the difference.

No more hyperventilating. Shorter meltdowns. More control. It’s been awesome. I’ve taught all my older kids.

But here’s why I especially love them: it is giving my girls the tools to self-regulate and handle difficult situations. So whether they are at a friend’s house or at school, they have the tools they need to calm themselves when they are feeling ALL the feelings. 

While I describe them all below, it’s easier to see how they’re done. So I wrangled my older 3 girls and we made a video (below). Mind you, they were soooo over the idea of making a video by the time I actually got them into one place.

And I always feel so goofy when I’m being recorded. Nonetheless, here you go!!!

1) Balloon Breathing

This is my favorite. I actually made one of the college classes I teach do this on a day when everyone was stressed out of their minds (after which one student exclaimed “I actually do feel a lot better!”).

What you do: Link fingers above your head and take a few repeated breaths in filling your lungs, while raising your arms (filling the balloon). Then drop your hands and breathe out mimicking a deflating balloon. 

2) Drain

This is another fun one for kids. It mimics a faucet of running water.

What you do: With straight arms in front of you, and hands clenched in a fist, you tighten up everything. Then you “turn the faucet” and release all the tension as you slowly float your arms down (like water coming down) and do a long shhhhhh breath out. 

3) Pretzel

This one can be a tad tricky, but being tricky it engages the brain and helps it to calm down. Incidentally, it’s also useful for calming your mind when you are lying awake at night with your thoughts racing. 

What you do: With arms twisted, crossed, and palms together, you wrap your arms in to a pretzel. You then cross your legs. Sounds complicated right? Better watch the video 🙂

4) Be a STAR

Okay, I’m actually pretty sure this one is actually my favorite. Because I use it all the time. When my 2 year old chucks the plate of food I just made her at my head (because she can’t just eat ice cream), this is what keeps me from losing it. Before I respond, I first…

  • Stop
  • Take a deep breath
  • And
  • Relax

And then I can deal with the situation without turning in The Hulk.

While it works great for moms, it’s also a helpful strategy for kids!

Give your kids the tools.

Remember, big emotions don’t have to spiral into an entire household of frustration. Instead, we can give our kids the tools to calm themselves down when upset. We can teach them to handle difficult things. So that even when we aren’t with them, they can handle the big emotions that come with being a kid. 

What do you think? Let me know if they work for you!

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Why You Should Wake Up Before Your Kids

Why You Should Wake Up Before Your Kids

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.

Why You Should Wake Up Before Your Kids

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been jarred awake by a high pitched voice demanding breakfast. And I’m the first to tell ya, it’s a terrible way to start the day. 

Before I started to wake up before my kids, my days started generally the same way:

  • I wake up to two little eyes staring back at me, knowing I’ve lost even before I’ve begun. 
  • While my kids are moaning at the side of my bed that they are absolutely starving, I’ve suddenly got to pee.
  • So my kids follow me into the bathroom, their moaning for food intensifying while I am trying to remember what day it is.
  • I then groggily assure them that I will fix them breakfast in just a second. But they become more whiny and upset, convinced I am trying to starve them. 
  • When we finally make it to the kitchen and I get the breakfast, I’m annoyed and already feeling 2 steps behind and my kids are crabby.

While I knew my mornings needed to change, waking up early just sounded like cruel and unusual punishment. I was the consummate night owl and dreaded mornings.

But I finally decided that things really needed to change. So I read this book, and actually started waking up well before my kids.

What happened was miraculous. Suddenly, everyone was so much happier in the mornings. Instead of feeling behind, I felt accomplished and was able to not only serve breakfast, but do breakfast dishes.

Most miraculous of all, we started to getting to school on time. Getting lunches and backpacks ready and 4 little bodies fed, pottied, and into car seats is no small feat!!!

That’s when this girl became a believer in the power of mornings. Especially in waking up before your kids. Almost instantly, I was accomplishing more everyday, happier, and healthier. Which translated into a happier, calmer, more organized home and family.

 

Waking up before your kids will change your life.

 

Starting Out Behind

Think about it for a minute: Once your kids are awake, they’re all about mama.

Whether for your ability to make breakfast, change diapers, or give righteous snuggles, you’re in high demand once those little heads pop off their pillows.

But when you first wake up, you’re not quite poised and ready for action. You’ve gotta take care of business (i.e. pee, brush your teeth, and actually start thinking coherent thoughts) before you can really start to function like human being.

But such business tends to turn hungry kids into supremely cranky kids. And cranky kids plus a tired mama usually equals a cranky mama. And that is no way to start your day!

However, simply setting your alarm for 30 (or even 15!!) minutes earlier has the power to completely transform your day (for tips to wake up earlier, check out my post here). You will be happier, more efficient, and get more done each day. Your personal morning time will center you and set you up for your whole day.

Bare Minimum: Wake up 15 minutes earlier.

Girl, I know waking up is tough sometimes (or all the time). Especially when you’re up with a baby or a sick kid. Or just up late spending time with your husband binge watching Netflix.

Then just shoot for 15 minutes before your kids wake up and see how you feel. Here’s what you should do:

  • Get dressed
  • Brush teeth
  • Set your intentions for the day (e.g. set daily priorities, plan, schedule, pray, journal etc.)

This will get you mentally and physically prepared to start your day before anyone needs something from you. And it will give you a bit of time to be by yourself (which frankly feels like a treat as a mom of 4 little ones).

Ready for a bit more? Try an hour earlier

Your Mama Power Hour

Waking up before your kids and starting your day by giving yourself a whoIe hour to yourself will truly change your life. I’ve found that how you start your day more often than not determines the quality of everything that follows (seriously, changing my mornings has literally changed my whole life).

Spending an hour taking care of yourself will set you up to be the mom you strive to be. And you will get more done everyday! If you can spend an hour before your kids are up taking care of yourself, you will be happier, healthier and more fulfilled. And your whole family will reap the benefits.

Here are some recommendations:

  • Make your bed: Start your day with an accomplishment.
  • Get dressed: Preferably, in workout clothes so you that much closer to getting your sweat on!
  • Exercise: And this 25 minute workout is the perfect. Getting your workout done first thing will give you a blast of endorphins, energy, and a serious sense of accomplishment. Don’t let it hang over your head all day!
  • Determine your daily priorities: This could be writing lists, planning, making a schedule, journaling, meditating..whatever gets you centered and focused for the day.
  • Read something uplifting: This could be parenting books, self-help books (I’m obsessed), scripture, etc. 
  • Spend time/effort on your personal goals:  Part of achieving your goals means making time for them. Spending even a little bit every morning will get you closer to achieving your goals than any sporadic and massive effort. 

And here’s a big giant DON’T for your mornings:

  • Stay away from your phone and any social media.

Nothing will zap your time away faster than “just checking” something. Think of this time a sacred time your YOU. Guard it ferociously. For me, this means no checking any news on my phone. 

Your Morning Transformation

Here’s what happens when you start your day in solitude and preparing yourself for your day:

  • You start the day with incredible momentum and can accomplish more
  • You’re happier and totally ready for the chaos once your kids are up
  • You start achieving your goals faster because you are actually making time every single day to get there.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that waking up before my kids has changed my whole life. It has played a big part in pushing me and helping me achieve my goals (including losing over 35 lbs after having 4 kids).

My mornings are a sacred alone time that I get during the day. That time prepares me to relish my days of chaos, snuggles, and challenges. And I get so much more done that I seriously feel like I have actually more hours in the day.

Get Started Tomorrow

So what are you waiting for!?! Set your alarm a little earlier, wake up before your kids, and transform your mornings. Before you have to throw on your super hero mom cape, taking time for yourself first thing in the morning will do wonders for your happiness and productivity.

Even if it’s just for 15 or 30 minutes, that short time in the morning will have a massive impact on the quality of your day. You will be more able to handle stress and challenges and you will be more likely to achieve your personal goals.

You deserve it, mama.

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