The life of a busy mom is crazy and hectic. Sometimes we need a little help and encouragement to stay organized and get through the day with as little stress as possible. Here at the Healthy Moms Magazine we are dedicated to educating busy moms on how to make simple lifestyle changes to take care of their whole self, mind, body and spirit. As parents we are our children’s first teachers. They learn by our example, therefore if we are going to raise a healthier generation we need to put ourselves first. Therefore, we have put together a collaborative article from our top expert contributing moms to help you stay organized and sane while managing your busy life. We want to help you. Below is our “Ultimate Guide for Busy Moms.”
Simple Meal Planning Tips for Busy Moms
by: Cascia Talbert – Founder of the Healthy Moms Magazine
It’s 2016 and families are busier than ever. Even though we wake up early we still rush to get the kids ready for school in the morning and ourselves ready for work or our daily tasks. The day flies by and before we know it, it’s time to pick the kids up from school, and hurry off to extra curricular activities. When we get home we still have to eat and feed our kids before bed time. It’s no surprise that fast food, quick dinners, and frozen microwave meals are so popular for Americans. We just do not have the time to cook and prepare healthy meals.
But, there is hope. There is a way to fit in healthy meals into our busy lives. I am going to share my secrets to how I help my family of seven eat healthier while still maintaining our hectic lifestyle. If we can do it, you can too.
The first tip is plan your meals out ahead of time.
Meal planning done right will save you time, money and keep you and your family on track to eating healthy.
Materials You Will Need for Successful Meal Planning:
Calendar or Meal Planning App (I use both, my favorite meal planning app is Food Planner, free on the App Store and Google Play)
pen dry erase board and dry erase marker, recipes, cook books, Notepad to write grocery lists, or you can use the built-in grocery list from the Food Planner app
4″ x 6″ Line Ruled White Index Cards Index Card File Box for 4″ x 6″ cards
Alpha Self-Tab Card Guides 4″ x 6″
Some of my favorite places to find healthy recipes online are:
A few of my favorite healthy cookbooks are:
• The Big Book of Recipes for Babies, Toddlers & Children (suitable for families with children 3 and under)
• Natural Superfoods: 150 Nutrient-packed Recipes for Complete Health, Vitality and Healing
• The Soupmaker’s Kitchen: How to Save Your Scraps, Prepare a Stock, and Craft the Perfect Pot of Soup
• The Passionate Vegetable
• Serve it Up, A Parent’s Guide to Kid-Friendly Portions (suitable for families with children ages 3-10)
• Appetite for Life, The Thumbs-Up, No-Yucks Guide to Getting Your Kid to Be a Great Eater, by Stacey Antine (suitable for families with children ages 3-12)
• Smart Eating Made Simple
Once you have all of your materials you need to decide how far ahead you wish to plan your meals and which meals you need to plan. For some people, planning a week in advance is enough, others may wish to plan meals for a whole month. If your children eat breakfast at school or daycare, you might not have to plan breakfasts. If you prefer to serve healthy breakfasts for your family, then you may wish to add breakfast recipes to your meal plan. Families with small children 3 and under should plan healthy snacks for their kids. In order to prevent your family from wasting too much food make sure you set aside at least one night for leftovers. I like to serve leftovers on nights that I don’t have time to cook.
After you decide how far ahead you would like to plan your meals you can go through your recipes and pick out family favorites and new and healthy recipes you would like to try. Some breakfast ideas are, whole grain pancakes with turkey sausage and eggs, steel-cut oatmeal topped with cinnamon and chopped apples, fruit smoothies, Greek yogurt topped with fresh fruit and granola. For lunch you may wish to try a healthy soup recipe with home-made whole grain bread, sub sandwiches or a healthy salad. Family dinners should include a lean protein, fresh vegetable or salad and a whole grain. Make sure you mark your recipes with bookmarks, or print out your online recipes for easy access when it is time to prepare your meals.
Write down your meals in your calendar and or your meal planning app. The Food Planner app also allows you to plug-in your recipes and includes a grocery shopping list.
Once you have all your meals planned out, go through the ingredients in your recipes, check out your inventory, and make your grocery list. Some items can be purchased in bulk from a wholesale store and portioned out for several recipes to save you time and money. These may include, meats, seasonings, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Other items such as dairy, and produce will need to be purchased once a week at smaller grocery stores or your local farmer’s market.
If your children are old enough to read you can display a dry erase board in your kitchen with all your meals written on it for the week. If they have a favorite breakfast you may wish to serve it on the same day every week.
When you try a new recipe and your family likes it or you have some family favorites, write them down on your index cards and file them into your index card box for easy reference.
Tips for Nights When you Don’t Have Time to Cook
• Cook up your protein a head of time and chop it up to top already prepared salads, or add to sandwiches and wraps. Store in your refrigerator in a plastic container. This will keep for about a week.
• Make your own whole grain bread dough and freeze for later use.
• Cook up grains like, brown and wild rice and beans a head of time and store in your refrigerator for later use. These will also keep for about a week.
• Prepare casseroles and lasagna recipes ahead of time and store them in your freezer. Make sure you label them with baking instructions.
• Try new slow cooker recipes. You’ll be surprised to find out how many different kinds of meals can be prepared in your slow cooker, many of them are healthy too.
• Freeze soups to heat up later.
You can download this complete meal planning guide in PDF along with Talbert family favorite recipes for free here: Simple Meal Planning Tips for busy Families.
7 Steps to a Better Night’s Sleep
Everyone knows a night of tossing and turning makes you irritable and foggy, but skimping on sleep over time can wreak havoc on your body, too: It’s been linked with heart disease, memory impairment, weight gain, even premature wrinkles. For a better night’s sleep, follow these simple tips.
1. Reset your internal clock. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sack time per night. If you can’t fall asleep early enough to hit that goal, tuck in 15 minutes sooner every week until you do. Your body will adapt.
2. Create a pre-bedtime ritual and stick to it. It can be as simple as massaging cream into your hands each night or writing a few lines in your journal. The point is to train your brain to recognize the signs that it’s time to wind down.
3. Don’t hype up your brain. Stimulating TV, books, or computer games get your mind racing, and that can make it harder to fall asleep. Ditto for job-related stuff; don’t work right up to bedtime.
4. Make your bedroom a sleep oasis. Keep your space tidy and enjoyable, with gentle lighting and a good mattress. And of course, be sure your bedding and jammies are super-soft and sweet smelling—launder them with fabric softener and scent-boosters in a layered scent, such as lavender and vanilla, you find soothing.
5. Sidetrack your worries. Organize the next morning’s essentials before you hit the sack: Pack school snacks and put out the kids’ outfits (or your own). Write a to-do list for any tasks that invade your thoughts and hide the list in another room so you don’t see it and ruminate.
6. Limit alcohol. A nightcap might relax you, but it’ll have the reverse effect a couple of hours later, as alcohol disrupts sleep and causes wake-ups as it’s metabolized. (Similarly, individuals sensitive to caffeine should abstain four to six hours before bedtime.)
7. Switch off the night-light. Sleep scientists recommend sleeping in a room that’s slightly cool and as dark as possible. Both signal the brain that it’s sleepy time.
How to Make More Time for Prayer
By Rosie Moore
As moms and wives we often ask ourselves how we can make more time to spend with family, exercising, working, cooking, cleaning, laundry, school activities and the list goes on. We have lost some of the time that we used to spend at the dinner tables asking how our kids or our spouse’s day went because we are so busy that dinner is often on the road in-between activities. Then one day something happens, a child is sick or a parent is sick and we ask someone to pray for our loved one. Once that loved one gets well, we realize at that moment that all the things of this world don’t mean as much if they are not in it with us. We start to realize that we need prayer in our life.
It is not enough to just go to church every Sunday and pray there once per week or for our meal. We realize that we need God in our lives daily all the time. But how can we make time for prayer when we are already so tapped out? One of the things that I always do in my daily prayer life is read a daily devotion. I start out my day before getting up out of the bed and reading my daily devotion and then praying right after that in the still quiet of the morning while the kids and my husband are still sleeping. Sometimes my husband is up walking the dog and he will also sit outside on our back porch and do his devotion and pray at that time. We find that starting our day with God before the hustle and bustle of the day begins, affords us the time to pray and give out first moments of the day to God so that our day can be blessed.
If you are a night person, then the morning routine may not work for you because it does require waking up earlier to allow this quiet time between you and God to pray. At night it is a little different it will mean waiting until everyone has gone to bed and you can have your moments alone before bed to read the devotion and pray. Sometimes it is hard to stay awake and pray before bed, but if you are able to stay awake and take advantage of it, then absolutely do it. Prayer is a special time for you to connect and be refreshed. Whenever it works for you whether in the early morning or late at night take advantage of it because we all need prayer in our lives.
6 Tips for Saving at the Grocery Store
Saving money is something that we all love to do. Whether it’s using a coupon or just buying something on clearance there is a type of excitement that we get from knowing that we saved a buck. Since we all have to buy groceries, this is one thing that we can all afford to save a few bucks on. Here are some tips that you can use each time you grocery shop to help lighten the load on your wallet.
1) Always have a plan. I never suggest that anyone enter a grocery store without a plan. Knowing what you’re going to buy helps to distractions at a minimum. A list is great idea for keeping up with your estimated expenses for your trip as well as how many of each item you plan to buy. Less time spent in the store= less money spent!
2) Never shop hungry. This is a classic piece of advice that still carries great meaning. Along with having a plan, shopping on a full tummy can reduce your urges to buy things not on your list and therefore saving you from spending extra. Grab a snack on the way out the door to the grocery store. This is a wonderful way to get something in your tummy without having to eat an entire meal.
3) Check your store circular for sales. Before you head out the door for your big shopping trip, take a moment to look through the store’s circular for that week. I personally never purchase anything that is not on sale. One of my philosophies in fact is, if it’s not on a sale, I don’t need it. If you need something that is not on sale that week, there is a chance that within the coming weeks it could go on sale. Keeping an on your stores sale cycle, you’ll start to notice a pattern of what they will have a sale each week. For example, at my Publix something that’s on sale every 3 or 4 weeks is I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray. I know it will be on sale so I never buy it unless it is.
4) Use COUPONS! There is a common myth among some people that buying a store brand is cheaper than buying the name brand with a coupon. This is simply just not the case. Often times, you can combine your coupons with a sale to get MAJOR savings on the brand name items. Therefore you can snag the brands for even LESS than you’d pay for a store brand.
5) Don’t be brand loyal. One thing that I learned early on was to break away from my brand loyalties. If you really want to save the most money, you’ll need to try new things that are comparable. This is also a great way to try some new products out. Keep your family allergies in mind when trying new products.
6) Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon. Just because you have a coupon, doesn’t always mean that you’ll get a good deal. Some manufacturers put out coupons to get you to try their new, pricey product. This isn’t always in your best interest for saving money.
I hope that these tips will help you to be a frugality and save the most at the grocery store!
Check out the blog, Saving with Amy to learn more money-saving tips!
5 Simple Parenting Tips for a Happy and Healthy Family
By Jen McCarthy Mons
1. Live in the present moment
If there is one thing I am sure we can all agree on, it is that children seem to make our life fly by. It feels like if you blink, that you may miss something. Children are like little sponges absorbing everything in the world around them, and changing faster than we can get the words out to slow down. Our time is so precious with them. I know there are days and periods in life that can seem exhausting, overwhelming, and full of chaos, but it is really just a blink of an eye in our lifetime. Often times, we find ourselves so busy being human doings rather than human beings that we forget to about being present. The present moment is the only certain thing in our life at any given moment and it is a gift which is why it is called present. Most of today’s families keep a very busy schedule with school and extracurricular activities. Remind yourself to enjoy those precious moments of just being by allowing your children to bring you into the present moment.
2. Shift Your perception
Our life story is made up of our memories and experiences. We have a choice in how we perceive our experiences to be which will shape how our life story is told. Children help us to remain present and to see a different side of every story. Their natural state of curiosity, awareness without judgment, innocence, and pure love allow their perception of the world around them to be quite different then ours. As we grow older we learn behaviors, fears, and limiting beliefs that can hinder our perception of what is happening our world. We can learn from this. We can choose how an experience will create our life story with either a positive our negative outlook. Next time you find yourself struggling through a life situation, ask yourself “is this how I want my life to be?”. Our emotions do not have to define us, and our challenges can help us grow on a path to live with our highest intention.
3. Receive the gifts of parenting
“Parenting is so easy” so no one, ever! I think most of us can agree that becoming a parent is one of the most life changing and challenging events throughout our lives. Have you ever felt that our children can be our greatest teachers? They can teach us so much about ourselves, about life, and about the world around us. They come into this world full of pure love, without judgment, and very connected to God. There is so much to learn from that. Often times, if we allow ourselves to receive the gifts of parenting we will realize that every challenging moment can be our greatest gift, that every loss is a new beginning, and that every day is a miracle. One of the best decisions I every made was to give up control of who my children are. When we allow them to just be who they are, within mindful and safe guidelines, there is so much to be gained by all.
A Nourished family is a happy family. Nourishment is necessary to sustain life for all of us. Nourishment of our mind, body, and spirit allows our family to co-exist in a healthy environment. We can nourish the mind through many different ways including mediation, prayer, art, reading, writing, and other creative outlets to naturally flow in a state of being. We can nourish our physical bodies with healthy whole food eating habits. A diet mostly plant-based and high in vegetables with healthy sources of fat and protein will help everyone sustain energy throughout the day. Try eliminating or avoiding processed foods, especially with ingredients you cannot pronounce. Eat local, organic ,and lots of veggies when you can. Find a coach, a blog, or person of interest who inspires you to make healthy changes. Nourishing the spirit is where we nourish our loving relationships with everything that we hold dear in our life. The most important relationship being the divine connection within our own hearts. Healthy balanced living means that all of theses areas are valued for a consciously nourished family.
5. Self Love
For some of us this can be the hardest to prioritize, yet it can be the most important. I remember the exhausting days in the infancy stage of motherhood taking care of sick kids and being told that the only way they are going to get better is when I take care of myself. That thought stuck with me and it was true. I began to let go of any guilt associated with my personal time and to value self-love. We all need to be reminded of this from time to time. Make time for the those things that bring you joy. It is important to have fun and to relax! Schedule some ME time for self-care and self-love whether it is exercise, yoga, a facial, massage, girl’s night, book club, or whatever you enjoy. Schedule a caretaker for your kids so that you can take care of yourself! When mama is happy and healthy, the whole family is too!
Jen Mons, Healthy Beach Girl, CHHC, AADP, Yoga RYT 200
Tips for Busy Moms to Make Time for Fitness
By Brittany Colasuonno
As a parent, our schedules can be INSANE. Even as a stay-at-home-mom I feel like my days are a whirlwind. Our children keep us very busy and often we are left with little-to-no time for ourselves. However, it is so important to take care of ourselves! Whether you want to work out in a gym or prefer to have your own fitness routine at home, here are a few tips and tricks to fit a workout into your day,
- Find a Gym with Child Care – I cannot tell you how much I love having a gym that offers child care. This gives me my “me” time but also gives my daughter playtime with other kiddo’s. I’m able to concentrate on my workout while knowing my daughter is being taken care of. Find a time that works for you and make it a part of your daily routine.
- At Home Workouts – What better way to get your blood pumping first thing in the morning than with a great workout? When I was working full-time I wasn’t able to get to the gym in the morning, so I would complete at-home workouts from my living room. You can find millions of workout videos on YouTube alone FOR FREE. I would have to sacrifice about 30-40 extra minutes of sleep, but the adrenaline rush, mental clarity and effects on my body made my morning workouts well worth it.
- Working Walks – What is a working walk, you may ask? It’s a quick, brisk walk you can do around your workplace during the day. I tried to take longer routes to other office buildings in order to get my blood pumping or even just walked around my own office. Anytime you are getting up and moving is contributing to your fitness!
- Work Fitness Into Everyday Chores – I love being able to fit mini-workouts into my everyday activities. Doing “mini” workouts will raise your heart rate while also working on toning your body. Some examples of these would be butt kicks while waiting for the microwave to cook your food, squats while folding laundry, toe raises while you brush your teeth, stair jumps, etc. I set a goal to fit 10 of these mini workouts into my day on days I do not make it to the gym.
10 Tips to Eat Healthy for the Busy Mom on the Go!
By Jen McCarthy Mons
The 21st century mom is almost always on the go. You know you are busy when you actually have to schedule your yoga practice or you ME time in your calendar. We spend much of our time running our kids from one activity to the next, working in our own careers, running a businesses, or maybe we are the CEO of our own household. Whatever it is, there is less time to focus on self-love then the generations before us. So how do we manage our busy schedules while also creating healthy lifestyle changes? One answer, keep it simple. Pick one small change to work on that can make a big difference. Once you incorporate that small change, pick something else to work on. Often times, people choose less healthy options because of the lack of time. The effort in the commitment to change is really the only thing required. Prioritize and make time for the things that you value. If a healthy family is one of those, which I am guessing it is since you are on this blog, then make a commitment for one small change. Time is really a perception to an individual person. Compare the 5 minute warning for your kids to leave the park vs. the waiting 5 minutes for a bathroom emergency. Both are 5 minutes, but our perception can differ depending on the situation. Some people get intimidated by the prospect of having to prepare healthy food to eat. Even if you don’t have the time to make elaborate meals, you can still eat healthy and feel amazing
Here are my top 10 health tips for the busy person on the go!
1. All you need for a healthy clean eating meal is a healthy protein, vegetables, and a healthy fat. This can be as simple as half an avocado and some grilled chicken on a bed of greens.
2. Add salsa, hot sauce, wheat-free tamari, tahini, garlic, or other healthy condiments can make any food taste fabulous. Cook bland foods to accommodate the family and let each person flavor as they wish.
3. Explore the take-out options at local restaurants and health food stores, or even clean food delivery services if they’re available in your area. Check our veggie deliveries and prepped meal service deliveries.
4. Take a look at the ready-made protein options offered at your local supermarket, and have some on hand in the fridge.
5. The key to success is planning ahead and prepping. Find recipes you know you can cook. Make extra servings, and freeze them. Try to make the prep fun, maybe a family event on the weekend. Here is an idea, put on some music and dance while you food prep :).
6. Look up soup recipes to see which ones you can make large batches of to freeze. Invest in a crock pot for easy dinner options.
7. Chop veggies and salad greens to have ready to go in the refrigerator. Keep your favorite dressing from the recipes in a Mason jar in the fridge, or toss together a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon, and raw apple cider vinegar.
9. Prepare your breakfast smoothie the night before. Store it in a BPA-free container or mason jar overnight, or use a crock pot for warm breakfast cereals!
10. If you want to juice, but it feels like too much, then simply buy a juice at your local health food store.
The kids are back in school and everyone is adjusting to the new normal. Keep it simple and healthy! We would love to hear from you! Please share the simple healthy tip you plan to add in to your daily or weekly routine!
5 Simple Tips for Busy Moms to live in balance
By Jen McCarthy Mons
Most of us will probably find the following statement true in our house, “when mama isn’t happy, no one is happy.” You may be giggling or feeling guilty with your inner knowing, but guess what you are not alone. One of the most proactive ways to have a happy and healthy family is to value your own need for balance in life. Many of us are balancing the roles we live as mom, wife, daughter, friend, business owner or employee, and now we are adding to the plate rock star mom, healthy meals, helping with kids extra curricular activities and school work and more. As moms, we have to take the time to slow down and realize the balance of being and becoming. The importance of self-care, self-love, and being in the present moment with the growing, evolving and roles that we bounce to and from thought our day. We start by realizing that these roles, even as a mother, are just things we do and are not necessarily the essence of who we are. The essence of who we are as our authentic self is just as simple as that; BEING who we are. Quite simply, being a mother is a balance of a human being and a human doing. So here are 5 tips to help you discover how to stay in balance.
Schedule Me Time – I know it may sound selfish to some of you but this is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves, for our health, and for our sanity. The truth is that when we take time to nourish ourselves with self-care, it feeds our soul, the essence of who we are, and that allows us to give more to those around us. The act of putting it in the calendar is the first step to commitment so go ahead a schedule a little TLC this week.
Eat Simple and Healthy Meals – Nourishment and eating healthy foods is a form of self-love. We all need food for survival. Our babies depend on us from the moment they come into this world. We need to remember the importance of nourishing our own physical bodies with healthy foods. Our intuition becomes more clear when we eat healthy and feel good. The easiest and most cost-effective way to nourish a healthy family is to keep it simple and stick to whole food eating. Work towards reducing packaged and processed foods in the house. A simple and effective rule is to reduce or eliminate ingredients you cannot pronounce. They can end up costing more because they are not nutrient dense foods. A basic, simple, nutrient dense meal consists of protein, a healthy fat, and veggies.
Mindful Movement – Mindful movement is another word for the exercise that works for your body. Taking the time for the right type of movement for your body, not what you think you “should” do. This can be anything high cardio from biking, running, or swimming to a blissful yoga class or a walk in nature. Whatever your choice of movement is, pick something that you enjoy and schedule it in at least 3 times a week.
Shift your perception to create your experience – This is a big one. Many of us would not have predicted the challenges we would be faced with that come with motherhood. This statement encompasses all of the choices that we make as a parent. The first thing I humbly learned in becoming a parent was that I was not in control. Every experience that we have in the lifetime is our choice. The perception that we have of each experience creates our own reality which then creates our life story. We can choose to believe that our life is full of challenges and living in the chaos of raising a family, or we can welcome our biggest challenges to be our greatest gifts that allow us to grow and evolve. We can shift our perception with every experience whether big or small. From a scratch on the knee to the loss of a loved one. We all have ups and downs throughout parenting, raising a family and in life, but we choose how we let it affect us. One of the greatest and most empowering gifts you can give yourself and your children is this knowledge that we can create our life story from a place of love.
Make time for the things you love – Start with a simple meditation or a write a love letter to yourself or maybe your inner child acknowledging her for who she is and the things that make her happy. Joy is our birthright. It does not mean that every day is a good day and that as moms we are not allowed to have bad days. Of course we are, we are human. Make a list of the things that bring you joy and commit to doing one them a week. It can be as simple as reading, taking a bath, girls night out, or maybe dancing in the kitchen while preparing a meal. Joy and happiness are infectious and can resonate throughout your entire family. One of the wonderful gifts that children bring us is the ability to tap into our inner child, that is if we are living enough in the present moment to appreciate that. Take the moments to laugh, dance, sing, and play sports with your kids, and you might be pleasantly surprised with your youthful experience.hare
If you enjoyed this article and it has helped you organize your busy schedule please share it on social media to help other busy moms.