Food Prep For The Busy Mama

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The title of this blog post may intrigue you or overwhelm you, or both. Most likely deep

down, you know eating good, nourishing food is important. However, “healthy” just

doesn’t seem realistic in this season of life you find yourself right now. Healthy is for a

season of life that doesn’t require so much of you physically, that allows you to sleep

more, that is absent of postpartum brain fog, and has more margin in your schedule,

right?

No.

Wellness is for right now, because mama, you only have this one motherhood.

We want to be mentally present, have energy for our kids and see mama play, and be able

to have daily joy in the mundane. While there are so many things we can do or remove to

nurture that, it is critical that we look at our basic needs as well. The truth of the matter is

that what we put in our mouth does something to our body, it affects the way we feel

physically, our mental capacity, and possibly even our emotional health. I’m absolutely

not saying to monitor everything we put in our mouth – hello, balance! What I am saying

is if we are fueling the engine with low quality gas, how can we expect it to run well? It

may run, but barely. Let’s not just barely run, mama. Right, I know that we can’t control

absolutely everything that helps our engines run smooth (ahem, sleep deprivation), but

we can be good stewards of what we consume. Let’s fuel up, so we can do this sacred

role of mama and live out our purpose well.

The best part is that we don’t have to become obsessive or spend hours in the kitchen to

make this happen. We just need to shift our mindset to become stewards of our body and

our food that God has both so purposefully and beautifully created. Yes, you can

realistically fuel your body well during this very season you are in! Let me show you how

to simplify it.

The concept of food prep vs. meal prep entered my rhythms when I became a mama and I

haven’t looked back! Meal prep requires you to prepare full meals completely, and while

that is amazing, I personally don’t have the capacity every week to spend half the day in

the kitchen. It also overwhelmed me to plan full meals ahead of time. Food prep on the

other hand consists of prepping elements of a meal and mix and matching through the

week. Here is why I love it – 1) I only spend a max of 1 hour prepping, 2) I don’t always

eat the same thing every day, 3) it taught me how to prepare, eat, and love real food, 4) it

teaches resourcefulness by using what you have on hand, and 5) putting together my

meals takes less than 5 minutes.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:

1) Assess what you already have on hand in the pantry and fridge

2) Choose 2 proteins, 3-4 vegetables, maybe a grain to prep if you can/want

3) Store everything in separate containers and mix and match throughout the week

When I prep like this, I use it for lunch, because that’s the meal of the day that is hardest

for me to eat healthy as a mama. Feel free to add in a breakfast + snack to prep if that is

most helpful to you. I’ll show you what that looks like below.

FOOD PREP PLAN EXAMPLE:

Protein

- Baked Chicken

- Hard Boiled Eggs

Produce

- Raw Carrots

- Raw Cucumbers

- Salad Mix

- Roasted Sweet Potatoes

- Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Breakfast

- Overnight Oats

- Sweet Potato Egg Skillet

Snacks

- Apples + Cinnamon + Peanut Butter or Rice Cake + Nut Butter

FOOD PREP COMBOS:

Chicken Breast + Roasted Veggie Bowl

Snack Plate: Hard Boiled Eggs + Raw Veggies + Hummus + Apple

Salad: Chicken + Lettuce + Raw Veggies + Dressing of Choice

Repeat these combos through out the week or make different snack plate from

leftovers so nothing goes to waste. To get the full instructions on this food prep

example, you can click here to download!

I hope when you read the above, you not only see simplicity, but also that you are worth

it. You are worth an hour of simple, real food prep to streamline mealtime during the

week and equip you to choose fueling foods, so you can do your motherhood with more

energy and intention. You’ll be amazed how the shift of eating real, clean food affects

your brain function, energy level, and confidence. This is self-care worth pursuing.


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Amanda Wilson

Amanda Wilson is a wife, a mama to 2 boys, an RN, and has started using her passion for health to equip others in making it a lifestyle. She has a purpose to simplify health and wellness, making it a realistic pursuit for the individual in the season of life they find themselves. She rarely refuses coffee and chocolate, and enjoys a good awkward moment.

Follow Her Here

www.instagram.com/awilsonwellness

www.awilsonwellness.com


How To Take A Social Media Break On Maternity Leave

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The average person spends 142 minutes on social media every day. Seem low? Remember, this count includes your Grandpa who doesn’t know what a DVR is. For the average business owner, it’s not surprising that this number is higher by, um, a lot. And here’s the catch – for most of us, the amount of time we spend actually in our social apps pales in comparison to the amount of time we spend thinking about what to post. With such a huge importance and energy suck in our day-to-day lives pre-baby, it’s imperative for pregnant (or planning to be pregnant) business owners to consider what the heck they’re going to do with their social media in their postpartum before it arrives.

Just like every other step of the entrepreneurial journey, there’s no one perfect one-size-fits-all solution. Rather, it’s a customized series of decisions, based completely on your own preferences. You’ve got the power and you know yourself and your business best. 

Today, I’m going to walk you through three options for logging off of social media in your postpartum, as well as the potential pros & cons and some recommended resources for taking action.

By now, we’re all becoming more and more aware of the negative effects of social media on our mental health. We’re also becoming more aware of perinatal mood disorders. With the two of these worlds overlapping in your postpartum, there’s a strong case for taking your business’ social media off your plate in your maternity leave. 

Ready to get started? Here are your three options for logging off...

1. HIT PAUSE.

This is the most straightforward – it’s literally just stopping.

It’s a beautiful option for those whose businesses don’t rely on social media for lead generation or marketing. If you decide to go this route, I recommend giving your audience a heads up ahead of time and letting them when to expect you back. No one likes to be ghosted. A potential downside here is that an inactive account cannot build business and can start to gather dust (i.e. lower visibility) from your absence.

*Recommended resource: You

2. OUTSOURCE IT.

Hand off the reigns. 

Outsourcing works well for those who want to keep a thriving social presence and continue garnering leads, but are unsure what their own capabilities will be in their immediate postpartum. When outsourcing, I recommend investing in an expert with a vetted system for onboarding to minimize the stress and time investment on your end.

*Recommended resource: Biz Babysitters (http://bizbabysitters.com)

3. AUTOMATE IT.

Schedule it and step away.

This involves some legwork ahead of time, but keeps an active presence while freeing up some mental hard drive. For scheduling, I love the Later (https://later.com/r/28b49e) app, which can handle both Instagram and Facebook. It gets bonus points because you can use it from both Desktop and your iPhone. Automation is great for business owners who want to DIY it. The potential downside of automation is overwhelm and an increased temptation to “check in” (which is a slippery, slippery slope). 

*Recommended resource: Later (https://later.com/r/28b49e)

The cool thing is that there is no wrong answer – just an array of selections that can all be customized to fit your exact, unique desires. The important part is to take your business's social media, which can be an ever present monkey on your back, off your plate so you can focus on what's important – your own healing during this important transitional time.

No matter which route you choose, you’re not alone. If you want support in your decision making, I’d love to chat. Reach out to me via DM on Instagram as @bizbabysitters (https://instagram.com/bizbabysitters/). 


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Christine Emmer

Chris is the social media strategist and educator behind Sweaty Wisdom and the founder of Biz Babysitters – a one-stop-shop supporting female business owners on their maternity leave and into their postpartum journeys.

Follow Her Here

www.instagram.com/sweatywisdom

www.sweatywisdom.com

Mindful Parenting: Letting Go of Perfect and Being True to Yourself

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Before having children, I thought it’d be a breeze to parent mindfully. 

I imagined myself calm as a cucumber, confident in my instincts, and, above all, lovingly connected. 

Then, reality hit as I arrived home from the hospital broken and depleted from a 44-hour labor. The fog of tiredness so thick I could barely feel a connection to our sweet baby boy. 

Wrought with anxiety, I questioned whether I had the skills and ability to keep this tiny, vulnerable being alive. 

And as far as the instantaneous, heartbreaking joy everyone raves about, it was confusingly absent at times.

As weeks turned into months in those blurry postpartum days, I slowly began to find my groove as a mother, witnessing with satisfaction as our baby boy grew and developed in positive, healthy ways. 

But even then, I grappled to understand the person I was now that I had a child. 

What parts of my previous life (and self) made sense to hold onto? What parts no longer fit, and therefore did I need to let go? How did my practice and profession as a mindfulness teacher fit with my new role as a parent? Furthermore, since calm and present – two words commonly related to mindfulness – didn’t come naturally in the early months and years of being a parent, what did this mean: Did I need to work harder? Cut myself some slack? Adjust my expectations? 

What Is Mindful Parenting Not? 

One of the things I discovered is that I unconsciously created expectations that were impossible to live up to as a naïve, new parent. For example, I thought I needed to be exquisitely present and attuned to my child at all times in order to pass the mindful parent test. Secondly, I put myself on a pedestal as a mindfulness teacher, thinking that I should always be engaged and playful. Then, I’d feel horribly guilty when I had other, equally important things, to focus on. And if that wasn’t enough, I’d berate myself when I lost my patience or raised my voice because I didn’t think a “mindful parent” did this.

What had I done to myself!? 

How about you, have you ever put excessive pressure on yourself to parent a certain way, only to realize it’s impossible to achieve, maybe even misaligned with what you – or your children – need? 

Another unfortunate issue about the popularized version of mindful parenting is that it can give parents the impression that they’re doing something wrong when they don’t always interact with their children calmly, compassionately, or non judgmentally, causing them to feel guilt and shame when they don’t live up to certain standards or ideals. 

Don’t get me wrong, these qualities are generative and important on their own, and when applied in the right context, but it’s unfair to present them as the end-all be-all way to parent.  There’s a time and place for firmness and directness in your parenting approach, and you shouldn’t have to explain yourself when you assert yourself as the person who’s in charge – because you are, and your kids need to know that you are! 

There’s also something to be said about all the other responsibilities on your plate (including the time you must make for yourself to stay sane!), which makes it impossible to connect with your children all the time.  

Even with the best of intentions, you — and we — will miss the mark over and over again. This is why you have to keep your eye on the big picture, knowing that, as Winnicott said, good enough parenting, or a parent who willingly makes – and learns from – mistakes is crucial, both for your sanity and your child’s emotional resilience. Yes, they need to see you stumble in order to learn they don’t have to be perfect!

A Realistic, Empowering View on Mindful Parenting

After lots of missteps and misconceptions, I finally gave up on a perfect version of mindful parenting. 

I’m convinced that parents don’t need another approach that pressures them to parent a certain way. Instead, they – ahem, you – need a way to harness and trust the amazingly unique parent – and person – you already are. 

In case that sounds too lofty or abstract, I’ll give a practical example.

As a half extrovert, half introvert, I take great pleasure in connecting with others. At the same time, it’s a balm to my soul to spend time by myself, writing, reflecting, just being. When I make a point to honor both of these needs, I’m hands-down a better parent. I worry less about trivial things like messes and noise. I relax into a sillier version of myself. And, I ‘m able to turn mundane moments of connection into sweet, joyful ones that leave a mark on my heart. 

Of course, it’s not that seamless all the time because, well, that’s not true of any aspect of parenthood, but, generally speaking, the more time you spend discovering who you are and what you want, the easier it’ll be to navigate challenging situations and connect in a way that rings true to your heart. 

Awaken Your Authentic Self with Mindfulness

Mindfulness offers you a way to slow down and look inward. Getting to know yourself, and coming to terms with all you are, not only your imperfections or wounds, but also your brilliance. Clarifying and embracing your values and needs. Giving yourself permission to let go of popular ways to parent if they don’t fit you or your family. Find your way. Be wholeheartedly, unapologetically yourself in the way you parent — and live. 

As you do this inner work, you can’t help but be a mirror for your children’s unique and limitless potential. 

I’m not sure there’s any greater gift you can offer them!


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Breon Michel

Parenting educator, postpartum support group facilitator, and advocate for mothers. She has a Master’s in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, and extensive training in mindfulness and self-compassion from Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the Center for Mindfulness at U Mass Medical. Her mission is to support, empower, and connect mothers through 1:1 coaching and group experiences. 

Follow Her Here:
instagram.com/breon.michel

www.breonmichel.com


Summer Smoothies For The Busy Momma

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Hi, Momma! I'm so happy you're here and thankful for the opportunity to connect with you as you journey on to being the healthiest Mom you can be!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some super fun and practical pieces with you to kick off your healthiest summer as a busy Momma!

As a busy mom myself, I know how crazy motherhood can be.  We want the best for our children and ourselves, but somehow and some way our health always seems to slip on the back burner! If you find yourself constantly slipping up with your nutrition, despite your best efforts, girl you are in the right place!

I used to be the girl who tried to eat salads every day and who stuffed her face with sugar free and fat free foods because I thought they were “healthy“...  And then I found myself binging late at night because I was so hungry and depleted. SIGH. If this sounds like you or if you’re feeling like you need help figuring out how to make healthier choices in your mom life, you’re not alone girlfriend and you’re in the right place!

Today I’m going to teach you how adding just one smoothie a day to your diet can completely transform your health and energy from the inside, out! Remember, your kids need you to be feeling energized and fueling your body with the best nutrition so you can in return be the happy, healthy mom they need! Let's do this!


Why Should Moms Have A Daily Smoothie?

Smoothies are quick + easy meals for busy moms!

1. Helllooo grabbing and going! Whether you're in the carpool line, off to work, or simply enjoying a morning at home, smoothies are the EASIEST way to simply blend, sip, and go. We'll also go over how to save time by prepping your smoothies beforehand! Ensuring each smoothie meal takes you less than 10 minutes!

2. Smoothies are an amazing way for your kids to get an increased amount and fruits and vegetables!
Yes, yes, and yes!! We all know the struggle of getting those important nutrition into our littles but the best part about a smoothie is kiddos LOVEEE them!! Add fun straws and let them pick their own add-ins and you're practically mom of the year! #WIN-WIN

3. If you have a sweet tooth, smoothies are an amazing wait to curb that craving…
I’ll show you all my secrets for creating creamy and dreamy ice cream like smoothie bowls! Trust me, you’d never know there was spinach in there ;-)


How Should Moms Simplify The Smoothie Process?

It's no secret that prepping is a Momma's BEST FRIEND~ so it's absolutely KEY that as you begin to develop new smoothie habits, prepping is at the top of your list! Here are my top two methods of blending up the best smoothies! Whether you prefer green smoothies or protein smoothies (or both!), I’ve got you covered, Momma!

Method #1 (my go-to for protein smoothies):

-Cut all fruit and vegetables needed for 7 days of smoothies

-Measure out exact portions of fruits and veggies and any add ins you want to add and store into individual "smoothie packs" (this is a fancy pants term for using a ziploc bag or mason jar)

-Once your ingredients have been measured and stored, place in the freezer and then you pull them out as needed throughout your week to add your liquid, blend, and be on the go!

Method #2 (PERFECT for green smoothies!):

-Fully blend up a double or triple batch of smoothies

-Pour smoothie into 5-7 mason jars

-Place smoothie in the freezer

-The night before you want to enjoy your smoothie, place your mason jar in the fridge to un-thaw

-The next morning, your smoothie is ready to enjoy! For an extra icy texture, you can pop it back in the blender with some ice!

How Moms Can Create The PERFECT Blossoming Mommy And Baby Smoothie

1. Start with soft and/or frozen ingredients on the bottom (closest to the blade)

2. Add your veggies (ie: spinach, kale, cucumber, zucchini, cauliflower)

3. Sprinkle in power packed add-ons like chia seeds, flaxseed, or dates to name a few!

4. Fill blender with liquid just above top layer of ingredients (almond milk and coconut water are my go to!)

5. Pulse blender 10 times (with all ingredients) before blending on high for 30 seconds
6. Transfer to your favorite cup or bowl and top with your favorite toppings!

When you're ready for your smoothie, just pull out your smoothie pack and dump into your blender! Fill your blender with liquid of choice (i.e. almond milk, coconut water, etc), just above the line of your frozen mixture and blend away momma. For an extra creamy smoothie bowl, use less liquid :-)

Before I send you on your way, here are 3 of my most requested smoothies from moms just like you! These are all signature Blossoming Mommy And Baby Blends and are meant to nourish your body ANNNND of course taste amazing as well! Be sure to make enough smoothie for your kiddos too and if you have extra smoothie mixture, pour the leftovers into popsicle molds for a healthy, refreshing treat!

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Rise + Shine Sunrise Smoothie

Serving size: 1 smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen peaches

  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries

  • 1/2 cup chopped raw zucchini

  • 1 1/4 cup almond milk

  • 1 Tbsp nut butter

  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder

Directions:

  • Place all ingredients into blender. Pulse, then blend on high for 45-60 seconds.

  • Great Toppings include: coconut flakes, blueberries, raspberries!

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Dairy Free Shamrock Mint-Chocolate Chip Smoothie Bowl

Serving Size: 1 large bowl of “nice-cream” :)

Ingredients:

  • 2 large frozen bananas

  • 1/2 cup ice

  • 3/4 cup almond milk

  • ¼ cup avocado

  • ½ cup spinach

  • 1 Tbsp nut butter

  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder

  • 2 pitted dates (chopped)

  • 3 Tbsp organic chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Soak dates for 10 minutes in warm water then use knife to chop into small pieces.

  • After dates have softened, place all ingredients except chocolate chips into blender and pulse for 10 seconds, then blend on high for 45-60 seconds.

  • Lastly, place chocolate chips into mixture and pulse 5x.

  • Spoon ice cream into bowl and have a party!

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Dragon Fruit Smoothie Bowl
Serving size: 14 oz smoothie bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen dragon fruit (also called pitaya)

  • 1 frozen banana

  • 1 1/4 cup almond milk

  • 1 Tbsp nut butter

  • 1 handful spinach

Toppings:

  • Strawberries

  • Chia seed

  • Banana

  • Coconut flakes

  • Kiwi

  • Mango

Directions:

  • Place all ingredients in blender (except for toppings)

  • Pulse 10x, then blend on high for 30 seconds.

  • Transfer to bowl and top with toppings!


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Jennifer Blossom

Occupational therapist and CEO/Founder of Blossoming Mommy And Baby, a digital wellness brand that helps overwhelmed Moms simplify healthy living + modern homemaking.

Follow Her Here

Blossomingmommyandbaby.com

instagram.com/blossomingmommyandbaby

3 Ways to Transform Your Summer Pictures

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I get questions every single day about photography.

What lens do I use? How do I edit? What apps are the best for editing on iPhones? What backdrop color I use? What's my editing process? How do I get such good lighting in my photos?

Literally the list goes on. I was in the same boat when I was getting started in photography.

At the end of the day though I just want to teach others to document their loved ones and lives.

That being said I want you to take AMAZING pictures of your summer adventures. I want you to get your iPhone out and KILL IT. I want you to rest assure that you don't need to spend thousands of dollars on equipment in order to get lasting memories of your children.  

Here are my tips to up your phone photography game:

1. Find shade.

Do not take pictures where its harsh shadows or where your kids are squinting their eyes.

When you find some shade snap away. Just moving a couple inches or feet you will be able to take a way better image.

Cloud coverage gives you awesome lighting because you don't have to worry about harsh shadows, squinting and all that fun stuff.

2. Edit.

Take 5 minutes and throw a filter aka preset to take that pic from amateur to pro.

Use the Lightroom app (it's free)

You can use my presets I've created for the Lightroom app just use TheLaurenStyle20 for 20% off. They make a day and night difference.

3. Fix it.

You can fix anything in an image (okay well almost everything) thanks to amazing apps. For instance you take a photo and there is someone behind the pic you can remove it or let's say you have a huge pimple you can remove it in 2 seconds.

My favorite editing apps are Airbrush, Retouch, and Colorstory. And all of them are free!

I hope these tips help when it comes to all those summer trips you have planned with your families. These are the best times of your kids lives so give them a chance to remember these special memories roasting marshmallows with cousins and siblings. Swimming lessons and road trips. Every moment deserves to be documented even if it feel mundane like baking cookies or watching Frozen for the 50th time!


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Lauren Schumacher

Lauren is a photographer trying to help others transform their images, whether you're a mom capturing your little ones or entrepreneur trying to build a brand through images. She offers workshops, courses and coaching to educate others about becoming their own photographer.

Follow Her Here:

www.thelaurenstyle.com

www.instagram.com/thelaurenstyle

5 Simple Things We May Miss the Opportunity to Pray About

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I have this creativity prayer saved as the screen saver of my phone. I try to pray it before every work session, over my work, my creativity, my clients. And as I was driving today, wrestling in my head of the true need for chore charts and summer duties, desiring to teach my children responsibility and you know, all the mothering things; I thought to myself, why do I not pray over this aspect of my motherhood in the same way as my work?

It’s embarrassing to admit, as a pastor’s wife and a pretty big advocate for prayer in general, that I lack prayer discipline in certain areas. But, if I’m being honest, I don’t pray over the seemingly mundane work before me as a mother.  I don’t second guess praying over the words I write, the projects I tackle, or the mere sentence that needs to be drafted for work. And yet, I say I want to be sure I’m building my children properly for a lifetime of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and I’m choosing not to pray over the building blocks to our daily lives. Seems a bit off balance.

Why the confession? I hope to offer a bit of hope to the mama out there that may feel like I have today.  We don’t always get it right. We, too, are in need of grace upon grace. And when we gather around one another, in encouragement and support, we can move mountains and change the world right in front of us.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” --1 John 5:14

So today, I offer this gentle reminder that these things, too, are good to spend time in prayer over.

1. The tools you choose to use to build your children. I’m okay at praying about what feels big -- the tension my girls have with friends at school, the decision of which extra-curricular activities they should take on, that God protects their little minds and hearts. But what about if those chore charts I spoke of earlier are necessary for their growth, maybe one system works better than another, maybe one child needs a specific task assigned to them to mold their heart in a particular way… I don’t want to miss that. These little things I frequently find myself wrestling with and getting annoyed by, rather than bringing them to the foot of my Father who knows my children SO well.

2. The choices you get to make on a daily basis. I frequently forget just how blessed I am to have a vast amount of choices before me on a daily basis. I can choose Starbucks, Dutch Bros., homemade or the mom and pop shop down the street. I can choose cleaning products, toothbrushes, images to grace my walls, apps to download to my phone, where to shop for my family’s needs, what to do with my leftovers, and which of the thousands of books at my local library to read. Our choices are endless. I believe God wants to be a part of all these choices. Why wouldn’t He? We are His daughters! As mothers, we can fully understand just how lovely communication with someone we love is.  Sometimes, we think these choices are too small or pointless, maybe. But I would argue, the Holy Spirit would love to prompt us in even these small choices to reach, touch, and encourage the beautiful lives and hearts of our children. Maybe this simple act of praying through the small things is the perfect way to steward them well.

3. The work you’re able to do outside the home. Some moms may choose to work outside the home because they feel it’s the right choice for their heart, others may feel as if they have to in support of the family, but either way, praying over your work brings a genuine thankfulness and excitement to what you get to do outside of the home. Looking at your work as an opportunity to pour into others, possibly serve other adults, using the gifts God’s so generously blessed you with. This is not only a beautiful practice, but it brings a depth of meaning to our work that spills over into our homes and how our children perceive working in the future.

4. Creativity to implement good stewardship.  Sometimes we simply pray for more. A bigger budget. More hours in a day. A bigger house. But I would challenge, maybe we should be shifting the prayer from more to God-inspired creativity. New eyes to look at how to steward what we already have in a better way. How to turn the small square footage into a castle for a princess. How to take a few ingredients and somehow, turn loaves and fish into abundance. Maybe God is calling us as mothers, to breath supernatural creativity into what we already have and let it catch a joy and brilliance to what is before us in the eyes of our children.

5. Opportunities to reflect Jesus in the everyday. Sometimes it is so difficult to simply make it through the day. Sometimes all I want to do is hole up with a good book and no one to bother me. Alas, spilled milk and the whines of my children ensue and what I do in those moments makes a difference. What if I chose to pray to teach in those moments lessons of Jesus, of patience, grace, and love. What if I took moments to teach why baking bread and bringing it to the neighbors really matters. That it’s a heart thing and it can change the world. What if I  remember, in the everyday, that these moments, these minutes, are impactful and important. My mind may try to convince me my days are small or annoying. And still, I need to be praying that my mindset shifts to see value in every little opportunity. An honest prayer that my confession turn to belief and really truly reshapes how not only I but how my sweet children view the whole world before them.

We can do this mamas, let’s get after Jesus in the everyday. Let’s bring all the small before Him and watch as His glory is seen through all of it.


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Jenna Martin

Jenna Martin is a momma to three littles, pastor’s wife and avid coffee drinker by day, while moonlighting as a freelance writer and social media manager. She has a passion for drawing in an audience with creative hooks and soul searching composition. Her prayer is that all she puts her hands to draws others toward the real, awesome and transforming heart of Christ.

Follow Her Here:

www.instagram.com/jennaleighmartin

www.jennaleighmartin.com/blog

Fast Fashion vs Quality Investments

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Fast fashion is a new-ish trend here in the US, enticing us to buy a bargain $10 top every time we step into a big box store. However, much of this "fashion" ends up in the landfill. Americans send four times more clothing to the landfill today than they did in 1980. In fact, it's about 70 lbs per US citizen each year!

I hear from so many women who wish they could afford nicer things, but the end up buying the same bargain pieces every season because they aren't sure what to do. And we can see why! It’s tempting to buy our wardrobes at discount clothing stores so we can have MORE. More feels secure. More feels abundant. More feels like choice. More feels like it should be easier in the morning.

I also hear from clients who tell me that they get frustrated with shopping all of the time and never feeling like they have anything to wear when they open their closets.

So, what do we do? How do we build wardrobes we love full of items that fit and flatter, WITHOUT feeling like we are spending too much?

Will you stop reading if I tell you that it can take years? That it took ME years?  

I used to be the Queen of Savings. I loved trying to see how much I could save on my clothing. If someone complimented me, I’d say, “Thanks! I got it for $7!” If I could find a decent pair of jeans for a bargain price, I’d excitedly buy them only to discover quickly that they didn’t work (the big issue for me used to be that they’d fit in the thighs but fall down at the waist when I bent over). Then I’d buy another pair of bargain jeans hoping they’d work better. And another. I just felt like that was the way it was. I couldn’t justify the high price tag of the designer jeans that actually fit. And I thought that they’d just “get ruined” around the kids anyway. The bargains also made me feel justified in purchasing new things for myself when I didn’t feel worthy of more expensive items. And I felt like my husband wouldn’t say anything about a few $25 purchases the way he might about a $150 purchase!

(Note: He will be so mad to read that sentence! He never once told me NOT to get the nicer things. It was all in my own mind.)  

Add that bargain mindset on top of the transitional wardrobe that I had in the new mom years. I had clothing in smaller pre-kids sizing, larger-sized items when it was too early for maternity clothes, maternity clothes, post-baby clothing…on repeat three times! It felt like “throwing money away” to buy nicer items when they would only fit for a little while.

I can speak from personal experience here that the cost of buying and donating OVER AND OVER again things that were inexpensive is tedious and frustrating.

So, what did I do? I started slowly. I imagined the best version of myself and pictured what she’d wear every day. Then, I created a capsule wardrobe that worked for my lifestyle. I broke my wardrobe into the three categories based on the places I most often went. I called the Athleisure-style capsule “Pick Up Lane." My casual jeans outfits were “Around the Burbs,” and when I got dressed up I would say I'm going “To The City.”

Since I spent most of my time in the athleisure, I already had plenty of things that I’d categorize as “Pickup Lane” Pieces. And, I had a couple of cute things I liked to wear “To The City.” So, I needed to concentrate on upping my everyday outfits. Can you relate? Lots of moms feel this way!

I started by creating a uniform for myself. I wore pieces that I was comfortable in already: jeans, graphic tees and jackets with cute booties or sneakers.

I added nicer quality denim and comfortable shoes to the less expensive tee shirts I already owned. I invested in jackets. I stayed away from trends and opted for more neutral pieces I thought I’d be able to wear across seasons and for a few years. It was a trial and error process. There were some expensive mistakes in footwear. There were some bargain pieces that worked really well.

You can do this too! Here are my tips to really make this capsule wardrobe lifestyle plan work for you:

  • Keep a list on your phone of the items you’re looking for and shop around. You may find some amazing designer jeans at Nordstrom Rack or TJ Maxx!

  • Don't buy something pricey if you can't imagine how to dress it up and dress it down. Aim to wear it three different ways.

  • Start where you are! And work with what you already own. Build on what you have that you like wearing. Piece by piece, continue to move in the right direction. It may take a few months or even years to build the full wardrobe you love, but you will get there!

  • Create a capsule wardrobe where everything mixes and works together so that you need fewer new pieces.

  • Focus on neutrals. You'll always look pulled together in them!

Stay the course because it’s SO WORTH IT to have quality pieces in your closet that you love. Mix them in with bargains so you get the best of both worlds.  

As always, I want to remind you that you need less than you think!

If you need more ideas for your casual wardrobe, check out my Free Wardrobe Essential Style Guide!


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Meghann VanderBaan

Meghann teaches women how to get out of their yoga pants and create a stylish wardrobe that works for their life through her guides and her online clothing boutique!

Follow Her Here:

http://www.mvbstyle.com

http://www.shopmvbstyle.com

http://www.instagram.com/mvbstyle




Remembering To Be Right Where We Are

My son lost his two front teeth simultaneously. Like, literally his two teeth came out at once. He had those bad boys wiggling loose from his gums FOREVER, just demanding to be pulled. It became uncomfortable for him to attempt to eat around two porcelain stones that were barely hanging on. However, he had no intention of pulling them out. So after a lot of pleading (and a bribe of ice cream), he let dad pull both teeth out.

Losing both teeth at once created a dramatic effect on my son. It instantly changed his look and the way he talks. His vivacious and fiery demeanor was intensified and sweetened with the loss of those two teeth. The cutest little lisp made him seem both younger and older all at once. I found it completely adorable and with each passing day I see those new teeth popping through and I feel a twinge of sadness because it reminds me that this stage won't last forever.

But not every person sees change as a good thing. Someone made fun of his lisp at school. This affected my son by choosing an, "If I can't beat 'em, I'll join 'em" mentality, getting ahead of the teasing he opted to be "silly on purpose". He compensated his feelings of being different by talking in baby talk. It's almost as if he wants to choose how he will be different instead of letting others tell him how his uniqueness makes him "wrong". It made me sad. If he only knew how endearing his temporary lisp is to me! If he only understood what it represents! A unique milestone! A new chapter! He's growing up! It won't last forever. I'd love it if he'd embrace it and not hide from who he is in the midst of transition.

Don't we all have so much to learn from a situation like this?

When we are perceiving our unique differences as negatives rather than positives, we are holding ourselves back from being purposeful RIGHT WHERE WE ARE.

The discontent for our exact situation says so much about how we feel about ourselves and our Creator.

It says we want more from life, but it also says we don't want the more that God wants for our lives.

Where have you "lost your teeth" and wish that you could "instantly grow new ones"?

With your season of life: staying at home with the babies when you'd rather be at work.

With your body: having a few extra pounds when you want to fit into that dress you wore 5 years ago.

With relationships: desiring easy, fun, and known friendships when you just moved into a new city.

Our attempts to make life better by compensating our circumstances may work for a while. But ultimately attempts will fall flat as we continue to be left disappointed with our current situation because it hasn't instantly changed. If this is the cycle you find yourself in, it's time for a reality check.

Often times we wish for things in life that aren't our actual situation. Dreams are good, desires for more in life are great, but some of our hopes and dreams aren't part of God's plan and we tend to ignore the unique situation He has us in RIGHT NOW that is valuable and worthy.

You may not like where you are, but God always loves you at every stage. Your value and worth never change, no matter what.

If you could accept this truth, how would your life instantly change?

Would you instantly drop those 10 lbs, have that new job, make those new friends?

No.

The instant change will happen in your heart. And really, isn't that what we are attempting to mend?

God sees us as perfect...when we see the defects. We try to hide them, cover them up, or force a new perspective on those who've hurt us. We're so precious in the very stage we are enduring. Learn from this situation and apply it to your proverbial lisp.

As you wait for your new teeth to grow in, God's using you right where you are. Don't cover it up. Be free. You are exactly where you are supposed to be.


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Donna Harris - Podcaster

Donna Harris is a podcaster, wife and mother to three boys. Her Podcast, Constantly Under Construction, highlights guests and her own personal stories that will motivate and inspire you and deepen your desire to know your Creator.

Follow Donna Here

Listen Here

Time to Master Your Kegels | Light Bladder Leakage is NOT ‘just part of being a woman’

Life is busy!  Work, Playdates, Mom and Baby Fitness Classes, walks in the park – moms everywhere are connecting in a variety of ways to share stories and bond through the spit ups, the sleepless nights and the struggles of motherhood. Conversations typically revolve around the children, marking milestones, demonstrating new habits, and sharing laughs about the joys and the trials of being a mom.  

The reality is, most of these moms are leaking when they laugh.   

While it is common to leak urine, it is not normal but media and many health care professionals tell us that it is ‘normal after having kids’ or that it is something that just ‘happens as you age’.  Women wear a pad every day and accept their fate but I am here to tell you that you can ditch the pads and live a leak free life!

Motherhood is all consuming and moms often prioritize others instead of themselves.  When the leaks start it is easy to simply put a panty liner in and carry on. Almost unconsciously, women start to go to the bathroom a little more often in hopes of minimizing the leaks.  They don’t notice much improvement so they start drinking less thinking that with less fluid in the bladder it won’t leak as much. They still don’t notice much improvement so decide to accept it as normal. And so they carry on wearing pads, emptying their bladders too often and drinking less while trying to ignore the problem.  

Leaking urine when you laugh or run or sneeze or any other time when you are not sitting on a toilet wanting to pee is not normal, it is common but not normal.  The good news is that it is very treatable.

Treatment can depend a bit on what is contributing to the incontinence and what type of incontinence it is.

There are different types of incontinence with Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) and Urge Incontinence (UI) being the most common.  

SUI is classified as the involuntary loss or urine upon exertion such as coughing or sneezing or running.  Urge incontinence is classified as an intense urge to void even with a bladder that is not completely full.  

SUI can be from weak pelvic floor muscles that are underused but it can also develop from chronically contracted muscles that become weak from overuse and are not able to do their job of closing the sphincters as well as they should.

SUI responds well to pelvic floor exercise, posture adjustments and breath work.  The type of exercise will be dependent on if the muscles are weak from underuse or weak from overuse.  Seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist can help you learn about your pelvic floor and how best to exercise it.

UI may be a result of nerve damage sustained during pregnancy or childbirth, it may also develop from unhealthy elimination habits.  Remember the mom who started to go more often to try and prevent leaks? By emptying her bladder before it is full, she will start to interfere with the messaging between the brain and the bladder.  The bladder will start to send “I’m full’ signals to the brain more often and sooner than it should and soon she is making plans around where she will be able to go to the bathroom and she will start avoiding activities in which she isn’t able to go to the bathroom often.  

She may also restrict fluids to try and avoid the need to pee and while it seems to logical to drink less water – less liquid means less peeing – by restricting her water intake her urine will become more concentrated which will then irritate the bladder which will then increase the urgency and frequency.

A healthy elimination schedule is between 5 – 9 times a day and no more than once at night.  Typically every 2-4 hours is how often you should pee. Drinking caffeinated beverages, ingesting products with artificial sweeteners, acidic foods and alcohol can irritate the bladder and make you go more often so avoiding them can help control the urgency and reduce the frequency.  

Kegels have long been the recommendation for women dealing with pelvic floor challenges.  Kegels are very effective if done correctly. The trouble is, verbally telling someone to do kegels is not effective.  

Kegels are a voluntary contraction/lift of the pelvic floor followed by a relaxation or letting go of that contract/lift.  Many women actually squeeze their glutes and/or inner thighs instead of their pelvic floor muscles. In fact, over 50% of women do kegels incorrectly so it is no wonder people think they don’t work.

It is important to understand that a kegel is a balance between effort and ease.  Many focus so much on the contract and forget about the relax so even if they are doing them correctly, by only doing the contract they aren’t effectively solving the problem.

Kegels are best coordinated with the breath.  Here is a quick visualization for you to try. Sit tall with an awareness of your vulva on the surface of the chair.  Ensuring you are not slouching or sitting back on your tailbone.

As you inhale imagine your vulva blossoming.  Yes, you read that right. Inhale and expand and let go of tension between your sitz bones, in your glutes and allow your vulva to soften and gently blossom.  

As you exhale, purse your lips as if you are blowing out a candle and then imagine picking up a blueberry with your vagina and your anus (yes, you also read that right).  

Inhale and blossom while allowing the blueberry to release … as a blueberry, not blueberry juice.

Many think harder is better and will squeeze their pelvic floor with maximal effort.  Back up your effort and use just enough force to imagine lifting up a blueberry and then put it back down again.

Kegels need to be done correctly, consistently and coordinated with movement.  Doing kegels at every red light or while sitting watching tv is better than nothing but you need to learn how to kegel while lifting and doing other activities of daily living.

A set of 10, 10 second holds coordinated with the breath is a good start and then aim to add 20 more reps into your day while standing in line at the grocery store, watching your kids activities, waiting for coffee…you get the idea.

When first getting started it can be tough to remember to do them every day let alone try and bring them into daily movement.  

I have created an online kegel challenge that lasts 28 days, is app based with daily reminders and not only teaches you how to exercise your pelvic floor but how to bring your kegels into movement.

It is incredibly effective and many participants are leak free or close to it by day 14!  If you feel inspired, it is a great wait to get started and for the Master Your Motherhood community you can use coupon code kegelmaster and save $10 (making the challenge only $17)

You don’t have to accept pads as your destiny.  Leak free living IS possible and by paying attention to your pelvic floor, your confidence will soar, motherhood seems easier and your relationships will benefit as well.



Kim Vopni - Pelvic Floor Coach

Kim Vopni is a pelvic floor coach, who offers a wide variety of courses and coaching programs to help you optimize your pelvic health in pregnancy, motherhood and menopause. She is on a mission to break through taboos and redefine how we think about women’s health.

Follow her here!

Why you are so burnt out and how to avoid it

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Most women complain that they feel run down, burnt out, frustrated and that they have to literally facilitate everything. But most moms don’t really know how to put those things into words and communicate that to our families. When we do try to ask family members to “step up” we get the typical response…”All you have to do is ask”.

But I get it. We don’t want to have to ask!

Although we aren’t expecting our spouses or our children to become mind readers, we also don’t understand why we are the only ones who know where the extra bottle of ketchup is, or that we need to reorder diapers because we are on our very last one! We don’t understand why our family’s cannot seem to pick up their own messes, or why were the only ones who know everyone schedule, when birthday parties are and what meals are being cooked this week. Is it too much to ask to get a little help? Most of the time, yes it is. Because that would require us delegating which sometimes takes more effort than just doing it ourselves. Right?

I felt all of this but I never really knew how to explain it. Nor did I really comprehend how common these feelings and frustrations were. I didn’t have the right “terms” or science backed research to explain that this was a real thing. The emotional burden of raising a family.

There is been so much research on the “givers”. Meaning working professionals such as teachers, flight attendants and nurses. That they reach burnout often because of the mental and emotional toll that their job takes on them. They are always caring for others but still have to maintain a level of kindness and joy while exhausting themselves as they continue to serve. They have to be able to diffuse stressful situations while not taking things personally. They have to manage many moving parts all while maintaining a level of stability and self control.

But don’t these job descriptions sound a lot like parenting?

Mom’s juggle more than I can even begin to describe here. While we might be physically juggling a million and one things, the mental and emotional turmoil that takes place is rarely recognized. Like actually remembering to do everything, directing the operations of the home, creatively solving problems with the kids, remembering to buy more paper towels and the birthday present for Timmy’s friend for his party next week plus the cupcakes needed for Mrs. Johnson’s Classroom etc etc etc. It is exhausting. All the while our kids do their thing, with their few chores that we ask of them (and they complain about non stop) and our spouses work so we try to make sure they are taken care of and then we are left to ourselves to try some form of self care so that we don’t get burnt out.

Guess what….no amount of self care will consistently help if you haven’t strategically solved the root cause of the stress.

Family Meetings changed our lives.

I used to manage almost everything on my own. And I couldn’t do it anymore. So I stopped. I started expecting my family to step up and take an integral role in our family and how it functions. Because I only get one life, and I couldn’t spend one more day being stressed out and resentful because no one else noticed the toilet paper was running low.

The key was effective communication - not about what I needed, but an open discussion about what it took for this family to function and survive. Because we don’t really need the help. We are the ones taking care of them. They need the help.

We started meeting regularly to discuss all that it took to run the household and how everyone could play their roles to serve our family. And then bang! All of a sudden, I wasn’t doing everything myself anymore.

It was life changing for us and I want that for you too!

Family Meetings are so much more than just a meeting. It is a tool, a resource, a safe space, a sacred space, a huddle to create a game plan together! A coach just helps leads the team with wisdom and knowledge, but the players of the game take part in the game. Get your family team in a huddle, lead them and coach them and then allow them to take part in the game, mamas.

Click here to grab Master Your Family Meetings for only $19

We are LIVE!

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WE ARE LIVE!!!!!

Today is the day! Master Your Motherhood is officially LIVE!

Master Your Motherhood was founded by Stuart + Jaime McLaughlin (of The Mac House Blog). We knew that there was a massive gap in content for current families. Our generation is coming from previous generations that didn’t discuss many topics such as money or sex. We were thrown into adulthood without much direction. Then we become spouses and parents and again - jump in with both feet but without a really good understanding of that that is supposed to look like.

We are living in a generation where there is so much confusion and unknowns.

Our mission is to support and inspire families by providing tools, knowledge and wisdom to women (and families) looking to master their motherhood and become the CEO of their lives. Knowledge is power, and motherhood doesn’t have to be as overwhelming, isolating and confusing – as it is for a lot of women.

We believe in a team atmosphere when raising a family, that women are capable of great things, and that we can simplify life and implement strategies,” said McLaughlin. “I believe creating rhythms in our daily life will help women remove the stress and the overburdened feeling that so many mothers feel.

Our Launch today includes five new e-book resources The five e-Books will provide mothers and families with strategies and realistic tips to:

  • Master Your Mindset

  • Master Your Finances

  • Master Your Family Meetings

  • Master Your Kid’s Reward System

  • Master Your Schedule

Jaime’s husband, Stuart McLaughlin, has assisted with cultivating the company and provides a male’s perspective which has been integrated within the e-book resources.

Our goal as parents and as the “head of the household” is to create a home of peace – a safe haven where there is stability, predictability and trust. We are excited to share tools and resources to help families start to walk down that path
— Stuart McLaughlin

Master Your Motherhood will provide affordable tools to help families function in a healthy, proactive and positive way. The company will cultivate a community of women, who can support each other while they grow in different areas of motherhood and self-improvement.

We are so excited!! Thanks for looking around and we cannot wait to see the massive transformations that happen in your lives!

Jaime + Stuart