Tips for Bonding with Your Tween

*this post contains affiliate links, please see my disclosure page for more information.

No one tells you how hard the tween years can be. Or how you (and them) will survive with as little bloodshed as possible. With hormones on high during these awesomely precious years when it seems as if everything you say to them either causes major embarrassment or defiance; because you know we as parents know nothing. Throw in a situation where there are little ones in the house or maybe you are pregnant (I have been both).  You’re sleep deprived and have a low tolerance level for obnoxiousness.

Our personal story has so many twists and turns; our poor kiddo has been through more in his short life than most. He is my stepson but was the first to make me a mom. The most trying time was when we lost our son in 2015. Although we had done our best to explain to him we really didn’t know what to expect, I don’t think anything could have completely prepared any of us for the heartbreak we had. He was devastated when he wasn’t able to meet his littlest brother alive and for a few months, it took everything we had to keep it together as a family. One of the reasons I think we came out on the other side of the darkness is because we really strived to keep him involved and connected.

To assist with some of the hurdles of change we read books (which are listed below), articles, and whatever other resources we could to get a grip on this um… adventure.After all the reading and the research, I decided I have this great outlet to share knowledge with the world.

I joined forces with my own tween to write this post. He is almost a teen but the knowledge we are about to bestow upon you are from a couple of years in the muck and mud of tweendom. Why not have input from the tween himself? We used this as our own form of bonding time and enjoyed every minute of it, and to be frank, I think I learned something too!

Listen

This sounds simple enough, right? But kids are smart. If you are on auto pilot and while they are mid-story about someone at school or a cool bottle flip trick, this is important to them. But if your responses are full of nods and “uh huh’s” then they begin to think you don’t care.

This is listening without prodding, these are the conversations that happen at random not while pushing for answers. Although you may not really care about the newest video their favorite Youtuber posted or the random treasure in the road. These conversations are important to them and they want to know you take them seriously too.

I hear from a reliable source (my own kid 😉 ) That if you listen to these semi-mundane conversations they are more likely to talk to you about tparenting- bonding with your tweenhe tough subjects and they know you still love them regardless.

 

Teach them something

Ever watched one of those movies themed back in the 50’s or 60’s? One common scene you see in those films are dads teaching boys to work on cars or moms teaching their daughters to bake. Granted life is a little more complicated than it was back then,  we have to get a little more creative. Cue Pinterest! 🙂

Teach them something that could help them later in life. My dad showed me how to check the oil in a car when I was 13, even though I couldn’t drive yet the fact that he took the time to show me something simple still sits with me. Last but not least, make this lesson fun! If you come across similar to a drill sergeant you aren’t going to make any headway.  The point of teaching them is to give them a new skill and bond, not boss.

My son loves to cook, so I teach him different methods when it’s something he can do. He also likes choosing recipes when we have the ingredients.

Spend time doing one on one activities

This is kind of tough when you have multiple children but you are investing in another human. This person you are trying to mold to be a future adult.  They want to have your undivided attention sometimes, just to reconnect. Especially by the people who are supposed to love them the most in the world.

These don’t have to be major activities. Something as simple as playing a video game (their favorite of course) or running to get a soda just the two of you. Make it something you both will enjoy and it’s a win-win.

Parenting Bonding with your tweenA few suggestions from my source: cooking, coffee runs, ice cream trips, movie dates, dinner dates, and of course video games.

Family time

At our house, we are huge comic book fans. Whenever a new Marvel movie comes out,  you can bet we are going to see it in theaters.  Because of this love of comics, much of our family time revolves around the release of these movies. We make a family adventure out of it, usually includes dinner to a fun restaurant then off to see the film. If we can’t make it to the theaters then we make it a family movie night and buy a special dessert for everyone to have while watching it.

We live in a city with a zoo and plenty of malls, so we try to take advantage of those activities as well. Water parks and random drives are top of our list too. A simple go-to activity is the classic playing basketball or baseball in the yard or at a local park. The goal for this year is for my husband to be able to take our tween to the Comic Con in our city as a special activity.

Let them teach you

Tweens are at the time of their life when they feel like everyone is watching.  Peers view of them becomes important and they want to make sure they fit in somewhere. Unfortunately, it’s also that time of life when you as a parent are watching them; this is the time when kids are exposed to sex, drugs, and identity crises.Parenting Bonding with your tween

We as parents have a tendency to want to control our kid’s lives. We have already lived through this stormy part of life so naturally, we just think our kids should listen to us because we have been there.  Consider, though, did you like hearing how you should do things when you were their age? Let them teach you something, give them time to show you something they think is cool. Even if you don’t, this opens the lines of communication and it can help them see you as a parent who gives a damn instead of the one who is ruining their life. 🙂

Great Books for raising tweens

The 5 Love Languages of Children

My favorite thing about this book is the quiz for your child to take, it helps hone in what their specific love language is and how to better communicate and bond with them.

 

Disconnected Kids: The Groundbreaking Brain Balance Program for Children with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Neurological Disorders                     by Dr. Robert Melillo

This may seem misplaced, but hear me out. Our son has characteristics of ADHD and high functioning Asperger’s, what this means is he technically doesn’t have those disorders but he shows many of the difficult characteristics that come from both of them. This book offers way more than how to work with your child if they have a neurological disorder. It gives so many suggestions that are just good in general. Including exercises for children to do to help them with their spatial awareness and how their body works; there are diet suggestions for removing certain things to help with symptoms.

How to Hug a Porcupine: Negotiating the Prickly Points of the Tween Years                                                    by Julie Ross

This is a pretty simple read, it gives some great points on how to talk to your tween about all the fun (sarcasm) adult situations they could find themselves in and how to be objective about those conversations.  It also touches on how to create balance in your tweens life and ride out the storm together. It was an insightful read.

What are your favorite ways to bond with your tween? Or do you have any favorite books for tweendom?

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Inspiration Tuesday- It’s the Memories

This week’s inspiration Tuesday is a small dedication to the memories.

Consider the big picture, it really isn’t about the paycheck or the number on the scale. It’s about how much you laughed or tickled your kids. It’s about learning a new skill or reading a killer book. It’s about putting your phone down for an hour to play 50 rounds of goldfish. This hustle bustle life doesn’t need to be wrapped up in the newest model of car, it needs to be the flour mess on the floor or the mud tracks in the house.Inspirational quote- memories

I am guilty as any getting caught up on my list of chores and moving on to the next success story of my life. But if I really take a close look at my life, I am a success. I have a great job, I am chasing my dreams, my kids make me so happy and so crazy at the same time. We do our best to make new memories every day and the older they get the more I take heart to make time for the little things.

This life is far too short to be chasing temporary physical items. Take a moment to reflect,  you will live on through your children’s memories and stories. Be sure those count the most.

 

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6 Unexpected Surprises I Learned From Blogging

*This post contains affiliate links, please see my disclosure page for details.

I have a confession… I purchased the web domain for Mom’s Balanced Life in January of 2016; I didn’t do much with it until September of 2016. I had visions of my well-behaved children and I enjoying our days and my new career of being a blogger fulfilling the dream of all dreams. In this illusion, I had time to clean and prepare wonderful meals. Then I had a reality check. Not a burst your bubble sort of check, just one that would require more work than I had originally anticipated.

Before officially launching, I read so many articles on blogging. How to blog, how not to blog, and of course how to make money blogging. I was trying to soak up all the information I could before really jumping in feet first. Now, I regret not jumping in then doing all the research. I was terrified. I was scared of the critics, I was not thrilled about working with something so foreign like analytics and to be honest I was just plain nervous. I would compare it to starting a new job except you have no one training you; other than the amazing resources you find online. I know I jammed more blogging information into my head than necessary. To the point where I get lost in my blogging thoughts and I bounce around too much. This post is only to share my personal struggles, not to deter anyone from chasing their dream of being a blogger.

Blogging is more than just writing

When Mom’s Balanced Life was just a pipe dream; I thought it would be all about the writing. My thought process was if I produced the content then everything else would just line up. Content is super important, but the part that is difficult for me personally; finding the time to write good, quality content. I want to put my best work out there. There are seven billion people in the world; I want to make sure I am writing on topics that people want to read while still being true to myself. The content is just a portion of the blogging life. It’s about marketing, technology, social media, and getting to know your audience.

6 Surprises from BloggingFinding your own balance with life’s curve balls and chasing your dreams is required for blogging. You want to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and make sure you are willing to make the sacrifices needed in order to grow your business.

Mom’s Balanced Life is still an infant as far as the blogging universe is concerned. It has only been live since October 2016. The strategy to having a successful blog is a slow and steady course. I am learning to find a good balance with my own full-time job, family, and passions. If you are still working full-time like I am, check out my post on how to balance your full-time commitment and side hustle.

Social Media is a must

When I began dreaming of the blogging life, I chalked up social media to being a quick little tool that helps get the word out. This is only the tip of the iceberg! I opened my Instagram account, switched my Pinterest to a business account and figured I was done.

Nope! Not even close. To date, I haven’t created a Facebook account for the blog because of time limitations. I want to keep going on content and managing the social media I currently have. I don’t want to get more behind and lose on the quality of my content. However, I have joined some Facebook groups who are all amazing! I am meeting so many people and learning from other bloggers! Check out this list from Drink Coffee and Prosper for a great list of Facebook Groups for bloggers.

Pinterest has fast become one of my top traffic systems. Group boards are a neat tool.  I had no idea they existed until I took the Blog By Number Course by Suzi at Start a Mom Blog. These are huge! If you haven’t started utilizing group boards you really should.

A couple of my favorite group boards that I am a part of

Best Blogs by Fiona Childs

Mom to Mompreneur by Elna Cain 

Marketing is different and a little more complicated

Having a brick and mortar business requires marketing in the traditional sense. You get the word out about yourself through phone books ads, ad space on Facebook, business cards and word of mouth. Blogging is more about a formula so to speak. I am still getting mine down but learning SEO is one of the biggest tricks I am learning.

When you look up all the “how to’s “of blogging many of them suggest using social media as your marketing tool. However, you also have to consider SEO as a part of marketing as well as your Google Analytics. These all show the peaks and valleys of your blog’s traffic. You then can use the information to figure out your audience and if your social media tactics are working for you.

Check out my Blogging Tips and Tricks board on Pinterest for sources on both analytics and using SEO.

Visual Marketing from Tailwind

 

Learning Word Press can be intimidating

When I said blogging is like learning a new job and your trainers are online and via email, this is what I was really talking about. I love working with Word Press, it’s not too terrible regarding drafting up posts, pages and tweaking your theme. I went into Word Press blind, so to speak. I didn’t realize what I was looking at for awhile.  This especially included plugins, editing theme appearances, uploading media and so much more.

The writing part of blogging is the fun part. Getting to know your word press and all the techie gadgets can be a bit daunting, but don’t let it push you away. Jump in and then do your research. Seriously, there is so much out there written for bloggers by bloggers. It’s an amazing community to be a part of.

Blue Host offers up youtube tutorials for many of your questions and the more you work in the back end of your blog the quicker you will pick it up. You can also check out all the blogging courses out there and see if there is something that jives with you. The best courses are the bloggers who started out just like us!

 

Sometimes inspiration doesn’t happen

I think most of December and a good portion of January I spent hoping for topics to just hit me. Then I would create an amazing masterpiece that you would want to read and BAM! Work all finished. This was my idealistic point of view. I love writing, I love that I have an outlet other than my journal to write in. I am a fan of doing research for the really in-depth pieces and writing from my heart all the time.

Inspiration doesn’t happen like I thought it would. In my reality, it hits at 2 am when I get up with a toddler or right as I am about to fall asleep and my mind is clear. Other times, it hits on my way home from work or something just speaks to me from the radio. While other times I end up with a sort of writer’s block or I get distracted from my blip of a thought and then POOF! Inspiration gone.

I just learned about batching and this week is my first hand at it. I got up and wrote down 5 topics for blog posts (didn’t schedule) just things that I have been thinking about. Then, sat down and worked on all the blog posts. I have no idea where this has been all my life, but it helps! I have been able to get through all the rough drafts, editing, and graphics. Through it all I was on task and able to stay focused. It’s been quite the feeling.

6 surprise blogging lessons

I wrote How to Balance a Full-Time Gig and Side Hustle and talked about being a better planner. I was doing pretty good with scheduling graphic creating, writing and editing before until some crazy life changes happened. Hence, trying the batching and so far so good. You should try it if you aren’t already!

 

Blogging is the hardest job you will ever love

There are few careers in life that you can thoroughly enjoy and feel passion about in the same regards as blogging. There are few careers where you can reach an audience like you can through blogging.  But all the hype about how tough blogging is? It’s all true, every word of it. It’s tough but it is awesome too.

I have hit a wall a couple of times of being frustrated and feeling somewhat self-conscious about my writing and blogging skills. I also tend to be hard on myself and a bit of a perfectionist with getting everything done that day. Then I got tired of the self-doubt and the negativity living in my head;   I w6 Unexpected Surprises from bloggingrote Embracing My Hot Mess Mom-ness and knew I would love writing no matter what was happening in my life.

All the early mornings and late nights are so worth it when I know I am chasing my dream and I am (hopefully) making my mark on this world. This blogging gig is tough for sure, but if you have a love and a passion then you will move forward,  past the road blocks, and embrace the journey as a challenge you are taking on!

What have you loved about blogging? What surprised you the most?

 

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Inspiration Tuesday- Self Acceptance

This week for Inspiration Tuesday we are touching briefly (for today) on self acceptance. Something I know everyone struggles with and I am no stranger to it.

I am a tall person, 5′ 10″ to be exact and I was so much taller than everyone else during my teen years. I hated being as tall as I was, until I watched a 90’s classic; Clueless. The line “I want to be 5′ 10″ like Cindy Crawford” struck a cord with this tall and very boyish figured girl. I wanted so much to be short and to “fit in” but I couldn’t do anything about how tall I was going to be. When I heard that line I was more inclined to accept my above average height. I decided to use my  height to my advantage; enter swimming and water polo. I was good in the water and I liked being an athlete.

It was a little easier to accept things back then.  Facebook didn’t exist, Instagram and smart phones were a thing of the future and the only place where air brushed photographs existed was in the magazines.

Fast forward 18 years. Here we are blasted with get the perfect body, get the perfect kid, get the perfect house,  and so much more. Self acceptance is hard in a world touting perfection. Last week I wrote about embracing my hot mess mom-ness. I wanted to empower ALL moms, whether you are a hot mess mom, a put together mom, a single mom, military mom; whatever mom you are, you are doing the best you can and you are awesome.

Inspirational quote for moms - self acceptance

Let’s embrace our motherhood in all it’s shapes and forms. Let’s embrace ourselves in all our shapes and forms. Self acceptance is contagious, if our children see us believe in ourselves and how we can do hard things; then they will believe they are capable of hard things. We don’t have to be perfect to be good examples.

What does your self acceptance look like?

 

 

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Why I am Embracing my Hot Mess Mom-ness

*this post contains affiliate links, please see my disclosure page for more information

I watched a hilarious video the other day. You may have seen it too. It was posted on BuzzFeed last year but I am just now seeing it, Here Are The Different Types of Moms You Meet.  It lists off the PTA Mom, the Parenting Expert Mom,  the Crunchy Mom, the Hipster Mom and the Hot Mess Mom.  I couldn’t contain my laughter! (I think my cubicle buddies thought I had gone a little off the deep end with how much I was giggling)

I immediately told my husband I was the hot mess mom. Wham! Inspiration for this week. Here is my ode to hot mess moms and why I am embracing my hot mess mom-ness.

zulily Maternity Fashion Week

Chaos is my life

I have been trying like hell to get my sh** together for a few years now. I have been a stepmom longer than I have been a biological mom and let me tell you.. Two boys with a ten year age difference is seriously no picnic. I firmly believe those of you with more than two offspring deserve an award, I can barely contain my house. Not to say I don’t try but when there is a twelve-year-old having a meltdown because the internet is lagging and the two-year-old is having a meltdown because his shirt is the wrong color, don’t tell me you don’t pull your hair out or drink wine during the day!

There are school projects, potty training, extracurricular activities, visits to see family, work, oh yeah and we somehow squeeze in house work, laundry, and dogs.

I have perfected the messy bun

I have a sweet girl at my out of the house job who always compliments my messy buns. I am very gracious for her compliments, but I have zero ideas how else I would do my hair. Get up an hour early just to have it fall all in my face or be pulled on the second I get home? Nope, messy bun to the rescue.

However, I do attempt mascara and eyeliner. I try very hard to take care of my skin but I promise you I don’t look super put together. 🙂

Embrace hot mess mom- perfect messy bun
Meet me and my sidekick Min Min. (See perfect messy bun!)

I .am .late. to.every.thing

Literally, everything. I have no idea how to be on time. I either turn off my alarm, or when I do get up to work on here I get so engulfed that I don’t want to let go. Then the chaos really begins. Shoes can’t be found, jackets are not fun to wear, the dogs have to go out, I forgot my phone, I forgot keys, and whatever else you can think of.

I hate waking up my two year old because he is a nightmare. He has inherited my lack of morning loving as well as his dad’s automatic grumpy face when the light begins to shine. This causes my mornings to be rough and hectic.

A couple of weeks ago we were supposed to arrive at a surprise party for a dear friend’s husband, and of course we pull up when he pulls up to arrive. I made something up on the spot but still felt like a douche. Luckily, my dearest friend knows of my chronic lateness and forgave me.

Why am I embracing this?

Let’s see… I felt inspired. I felt like I needed to go back to why I started Mom’s Balanced Life. Although, hindsight I wished I had used “unbalanced” 🙂 I have written about how I am attempting to take back my health and how you can too, I have written about beauty products that I can’t live without (yup, eyeliner mascara and a messy bun 😉 ), and I have written about my angel son .

I needed to regroup. I needed to really look at what I was like and feel like I put out the real me. I was being honest and forthcoming in all of the posts I have written to date but I need to put it out there that I am a hot mess mom. I do not have my sh** together and I am envious of those Pinterest moms who finger paint every day with their kids or who can take their twelve year old out and play basketball with them.Embracing being a hot mess mom

I love my kids, I love my husband and I truly love my life. There are aspects I would love to change. I would love to be more of a morning person, I would love to have an actual night routine where I am half way ready to run out the door in the morning; but let’s be honest. I am a little lazy and tired. Instead of getting down on myself on how I should be, I decided to embrace what I am. I felt it was more important than trying to be something I couldn’t commit too. I can commit to being a hot mess mom, I already am and it’s working for the most part.

My kids know they are loved; I cook way more than I ever thought I would, and I am sitting here writing my little heart out. What’s not to love? So while you follow me on my crazy adventures here or on Instagram, just know my Pinterest account is,  well a lot of ideas for how to find my own personal balance with being a total procrastinator but a great mom. I refuse to go insane trying to be something I am not, those of you who can do your children’s lunches every single day!? Gold star (seriously!), you get up at 5am or earlier and do a workout? Yup gold star for you and know I am sitting here cheering you on with my cold cup of coffee because I didn’t plan ahead.

We are all moms trying to keep our sh** together and raise tiny, stubborn, adorable humans. Let’s embrace the best parts of ourselves, accept the flaws and cheer each other on.

What type of mom are you? Any pointers for being a better planner without beating myself up? 😉

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Tackling Baby Weight- update 1

Welcome to my journey in losing my baby weight!

If you are new to this story I suggest reading Tackling My Baby Weight and How to Rock Your Health and Fitness Goals. These two posts are precursors updates with me tackling my baby weight.

An honest note

Let me begin with how difficult the last two weeks have been. This is not a negative Nancy soapbox rant. This is real life and no matter how much we plan life throws curve balls and lemons at you.

We have had a series of winter storms hitting us almost back to back. It hasn’t been as tough as other parts of the country, but it has made commuting difficult and getting outside almost impossible. I had to rethink my exercise routine.  There have also been hormonal fluctuations, you know what I mean ladies. I had a few moments where I wanted to inhale a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups but managed to settle on two.  My mind also decided it was time to jump back into the deep dark hole of depression and I to be frank and honest, I am not completely out of the hole yet. However, I am closer to feeling a little less manic and a little more like me.

weight loss, baby weight,
Tackling baby weight after loss

I am laying it all out there folks. I refuse to put on a happy, everything is great and working out perfectly, song and dance for you. We live in a world where everything can (and does) change within moments. I decided to quit fighting the current I was on and attempt to embrace some of the chaos. Instead of letting all the lemons hit me at once I decided to make lemonade and add vodka! 🙂

Exercise routine- random

I haven’t been really focusing on getting a 20 to 30 min workout in. Instead, I have been focusing on getting up more while I am at my desk job, adding random bursts of exercise movements while cooking dinner or letting the dogs out to go potty,  using my giant toddler (weighing in at almost 40 lbs!) as a weight and play time as a work out. All these things actually have been working pretty good. I am less stiff after the desk job and I am able to combine a workout with mommy time! Two birds one stone!

Here are a few of my favorite combinations:

Cooking dinner- 10 reps of squats, 10 leg lifts (each side), 10 back kicks (each side)
Commercials on TV- plank for as long as possible, 10 push ups (currently I am still on my knees for push ups), 10 crunches
Kid bath time- 10 squats, 10 lunges (each side), 10 over head curls, 10 front kicks (each side)

PS- I do this in my hallway while watching kiddo play with toys. I do not tackling baby weight updaterecommend leaving children or doing workouts in the bathroom. 🙂

Goals- adding a yoga sequence to my morning. This is a great way to tone muscles, work on core and get focused for the day!

Diet

I did pretty good with my combine Whole30 and paleo routine……. for about a week. I failed to take my own advice; I didn’t plan. I was not following any sort of routine and fell flat on my face a couple of days last week. I was having difficulty with getting my act together. I regrouped and took note of what was going on.  I decided to eat mostly paleo and try for the strict Whole30 in March when I have the ability to go outside on those days when I would rather inhale a bag of cookies.

I am still putting milk in my coffee for now but it’s getting less and less each day. Meal planning has worked out better for lunches and dinners but breakfast is still a struggle. I am trying to find a few of those breakfast in a crock pot recipes that are lower in calories and don’t require a ton of prep. I will keep you posted on what I find!

Regardless of the setbacks and the rough days, I am happy to report I have lost two pounds and I am beginning to see my energy come back. Depression, while making life changes isn’t easy. If you are trying to make healthy changes and still struggle with the negative (i call mine “mean girls”) voices, take a look at where you can cut yourself some slack. Remember you are not a failure. You are great and you are capable.  These are two things I make sure to tell myself when I feel like I am slipping down that slope. We got this!!

I will continue to post every couple of weeks about this journey. It’s helping me be accountable and hopefully helping you find some peace in your own weight loss tale.

Week 3 Goals- Lose 7 lbs in the next four weeks. (seems small but I am juggling a lot, so I won’t make big goals when I am making lifestyle changes), continue to fit in random workouts through out the day, add in two walks a week, up my vegetable intake to 5 servings a day and to allow myself a judgement free zone in my headtackling baby weight plan

What seems to keep you from your weight loss or healthy goals? How can I help you?

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Inspiration Tuesday- Hope & Heartache

A trending theme here on Inspiration Tuesday has been chasing your dreams and finding the fire within. This week is a little different. I am featuring words from Lexi Behrndt.

I stumbled upon her page last year just weeks after our son passed away. I referenced her in my New Year Without You post. One of her quotes I shared last year on my personal Facebook page popped up in my memories and I was inspired to share her words again.

Sifting through ashes of a former self is not an easy task. Looking in the mirror and feeling as though a stranger is looking back, this is the reality after loss. You are changed in so many ways and many  are difficult to put into words.

The quote featured today is so perfect. There is hope with heartache and it looks different for everyone but it’s there. I see it in my children’s eyes and the rising sun.  This week, whatever your heartache may be, I challenge you to find the hope and to do your part in spreading hope and love.

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How to Balance a Full Time Gig & a Side Hustle

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Currently Mom’s Balanced Life is a side hustle/passion. I am still juggling a full time out of the home job, two kids, two dogs and a husband!  It has come to my attention, I might be a bit of a workaholic.  I literally have to schedule almost every single free moment so I don’t fall behind somewhere.

I have compiled best tips for balancing a full time gig and creating a side hustle. I have found these work best for me, as I build up the Mom’s Balanced Life brand and still spend time with my family. If you are currently looking to build your own blog while working a full time job, as well as handling other life duties, keep reading and put these tips to your own test!

Dream it-Live it

 Earlier this year, I took a quick little free mini course from Ruth Soukup over at Living Well Spending Less. It was her “Best Week Ever Boot Camp” and her first assignment to was; Dream Big .

How to balance full time gig and side hustle

I won’t deny the panic that began to  creep into my brain as I processed this “assignment”. The idea of writing down BIG dreams; you know, those dreams that feel so far fetched and out of reach. I felt silly.  However, I wrote them down and allowed myself the luxury of no boundaries to these dreams. We hardly allow ourselves to dream really big. However, as parents we tend to encourage our children to dream as big as possible, yet we as adults rarely grant ourselves the same permission.

Can you count how many times you didn’t do something for fear of the reaction from other people? I know from personal experience how many times I have talked myself out of something I genuinely desired, all because of fear. The fear lists were endless, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of success.. you get it.

My ‘assignment’ from dreaming big helped me set up goals to move forward with my dreams. I am determined to make them a reality. The anxiety of trying new things and chasing a dream so far into the future can be discouraging, but give yourself a break, dream big and go after it!

Make TimeBalance a full time gig and a side hustle

 This is where I (still) struggle the most. As I have mentioned, I still work outside of my home full time. I have a house full of crazy boys (who I love!) dogs, preparing food, grocery shopping, date night,  and everything in between. I was having a difficult time being able to work here, pay attention to homework, school stories, and love on my kids. I was noticing things were taking a toll. I was losing sleep, time writing, and time with my very important people. Something had to give, I needed to prioritize and make the time for things that mattered.

Not the funnest part of creating but sacrifices have to happen. When I wrote How to Rock your Health and Fitness goals, I touched on sacrifices for your wellness goals. Same rules apply when chasing your business dreams. There are sacrifices that need to happen.I decided winging it wasn’t doing me any good. I would hope for the writing bug to strike at an opportune moment. I would tell myself I would work on a post after the kids went to bed but most nights I was so exhausted that I couldn’t keep my own eyes open after they went down. I began to work in the early mornings, then allow myself one hour of writing/designing  when I got off work. Bath time with my son a has become the perfect time for social media moments. I take a couple of minutes to scroll through Instagram and Pinterest, then it’s kid time.

By far my biggest time saver was Tailwind, an amazing pin scheduler. I am finally using Pinterest to increase traffic flow and Tailwind does most of the work. Originally, I wasn’t going to use a pin scheduling program until I had hit six months of blogging. Tailwind has been a huge topic and was also part of the blogging course I mentioned below. Tailwind literally tripled my Pinterest following in less than a month. I used the free version first then signed up for a plan. You get 100 pins with their free trial version. I can plug in a few things on my phone and boom it’s done.

Using Instagram  for networking has been fun, quick, and easy. I can comment on few photos and follow some fun conversation loops. I save the hard stuff for early mornings, weekends and on the nights where I can keep my eyes open. But I am determined to make this work. Winging it wasn’t paying off, scheduling and time management has been.

Get a Planner

To help with my time management, I did some digging into how some of the veteran bloggers make it look so easy. I noticed a trend with planners.  They talk about planners as if life depended on it. Now I am not just winging it and working on my time management and scheduling I have begun to see the appeal of a planner.

Balancing full time gig and side hustle
My trusty notebook planner substitute

 

I had a form of “sticker shock” when I began to notice just how many articles are written about using a planner for goals, business planning, blog topic storming and inspiration. As a new blogger and new to this time management thing, the need for a planner is so real.  Currently, I am not sporting a planner. I am late arriving to this game. Check out my AWESOME (sarcasm!) old school note book.   I do have my eye on one planner, designed specifically for bloggers by a blogger. I will be purchasing  The Blog + Life Planner created by  Allison Marshall  over at Wonderlass.com. It will be my Valentine’s present to myself.

If you are looking into planners for your growing business there are a few different options you can go for. The option above, purchasing one from another blogger, Amazon has a wide selection of planners, one of my favorites is the Badass Blog Planner , as well as checking in with your local book store.

I want to monetize this blog which is why I do use affiliate marketing but I want to make sure there is a nice mix of inspiration, humor, parenting craziness and coping with life in general.  I rounded up a couple of  awesome planner articles from other bloggers,  and their reasons for using a planner is a must  in the blogging world. Even if it’s a basic notebook like mine!

Reasons to Use a Daily Planner

Why You Need to Use a Planner

Get learning

Recently I took a blogging course BLOG BY NUMBER and loved it! I highly recommend this course if you are just beginning and need assistance with some of the basic technical stuff. The amount of detail and wonderful one on one help you get from Suzi is priceless. I was able to finally find a balance in building and growing my blog. The Blog By Number walks you step by step through the beginnings of blog making, including overviews with basic SEO, Pinterest,creating great graphics and more. Having this advantageous tool saved me so much time trying to figure out the blog business.  A big thank you to Suzi Whitford from Start A Mom Blog for creating this course.

How to balance a full time gig and a side hustle

Follow my  Blog Tips and Tricks Pinterest board, dedicated to learning all things blogging.  There are plenty of free tips around the web, but I highly recommend taking a couple of courses from the established bloggers. They have years of experience and some great advice to offer.

 

Want to start your own blog? Set up your site with Blue Host. Your hosting purchase comes with free tools on their youtube channel, excellent customer service and great prices ($3.95 a month!) After you get setup with Blue Host here is a couple of great “How To’s” for beginners.

Start a Blog 2017 Right Way – Start a Mom Blog

Learn to Blog – Practical Mommy

Keep your eye on the prize

Last but not least, keep your eye on the prize. If you want this, you can make it happen. Chase those dreams.

If a long post doesn’t seem to be coming together the way you envision, create a fun quote for the blog post or find something that you are really passionate about and is easy to whip something up. Make sure it’s clean and to a standard that you would want to take the time to read. I took two weeks off from posting to really gather my thoughts, work on the back end of my blog and to find out what my prize was going to look like for me. Taking a break from creating content was a little bit of a risk, but I have been able to focus more on the content recently than I have in almost a month. All from taking a step back for a moment, looking at the big picture and regrouping.

Remember it takes time for things to grow. This blog is only a few months old. I was about to throw in the towel. Then I realized I hadn’t given this blog enough time to blossom. I am keeping my eye on the prize while still being realistic. It’s okay for things to take time.

If you are a mom like me and have other duties on your plate you know what your schedule looks like. You know where you can crunch in some extra time for your dreams and where you can rest. Take heart and push through obstacles. We all have our own balance and we all have our own way of doing things. I hope these tips help you!

What are your best balancing tricks? How do you build your vision?

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Inspiration Tuesday- Success is No Accident

I had a small melt down this week regarding my own goals for 2017 and stumbled upon the featured quote for this week’s Inspiration Tuesday.

We are officially passed the half way point of January. People have begun to form new habits with their New Year’s Resolutions, perhaps stumbling through them (like me!) or may have given up completely. Last week I wrote on rocking health and fitness goals.  Today, on Inspiration Tuesday is a quick bit of tough love.

This world is full of sources for instant gratification; screen time, ready made treats, TV on demand and so on. Many times people want a magic pill for weight loss or the promotion without extra work.  The majority of people who are (seemingly) on top of the world, worked to get to where they are. Oprah didn’t become a sensation over night, she has been very candid about her struggles towards success, both in the work force and with her health.

If you have started a new venture with your health, travel, dream chasing or whatever else it may be, and feels like an obstacle course to your goals,  keep going! Success doesn’t just land in our laps and it doesn’t happen overnight. I always try to tell myself, I can do hard things, I have done hard things, and I will continue to do hard things.  Cheers to success and the hard times which lead us there!

What are YOU willing to do for your success?

 

 

 

 

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How to ROCK Your Health & Fitness Goals!

*This post contains affiliate links, please see my disclosure page for more information

On my welcome page I explain I am a Certified Health Coach from the American Council of Exercise.  I also have a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Psychology. It’s a tad bit insane,  with all this education I have jammed into my brain, I haven’t done a better job honing in my own health.  I finally had an ah ha moment and told myself if I can’t do this then how am I supposed to teach others?  In December I gave this ah ha moment a voice and wrote my Tackling the Baby Weight post. Then… nothing from me. No posts no follow up, nothing.  I didn’t acknowledge my absence regarding this post until now.

I made a rookie mistake, I committed (quite vocally) to a weight loss program that wasn’t a program! It was a bunch of words I put together, attempting to push myself forward. I had no game plan, no end goal, no stepping goals, and no support. Plus, for me to even think I should take all this on right before the holidays!? I was out of my damn mind.

First things first, I apologize. I should have been more vocal about my non-commitment and about why I left that post just hanging in limbo. I apologize for me turning into every. single. New. Year’s. cliché…. Follow me down the rabbit hole of my (for real) getting healthy and fit journey.

How to rock your health and fitness goals

Back to basics

There are several ways to achieve your health and fitness goals, but these are the basics. To create a solid foundation, you need the basics. If you have taken a breather from fitness or maybe you want to eat better or possibly run a half marathon. All the steps laid out will help you achieve your goals. These will help ME achieve my goals too! Stick around; I will post my personal goals for the year. These are to keep me accountable and on the right road to health.

Choose a Meal Plan

I hate diets. I actually never dieted until a few months before my wedding.  This was before my Health Coach certification. I didn’t’ do as thorough of a research job as I should have. I chose the 17 Day Diet. I ended up losing about 25 lbs. However, by the end of the year I had gained half of that back. Following two pregnancies, it’s all back and then some.  The 17 Day Diet is not one I would recommend for long term weight loss. If there happens to be a small amount left to lose, hit a plateu and you have a firm foundation of health and workouts, then the potential for a short term plan will work.

In August of 2016 I took on the Whole30 challenge.  I loved the program, it’s tough and it’s not meant to be a long term program either. The purpose is to make you more mindful of what you are putting in your body and how you react to certain food groups. I needed to reset my sugar cravings and get a better handle on my eating habits. It is NOT a weight loss plan, but a bonus “side effect” of the program is weight loss. During my challenge, I lost a total of 8.7 pounds and 10 inches total.  I am sad to report that I didn’t follow the exit plan as laid out by the Whole30 book, I didn’t have the full Whole30 experience.  Since then, I have gained the weight back; hence the new health goals for 2017.  My choice combo for this round is a paleo based eating plan while incorporating certain rules from Whole30, including no dairy, beans, corn, or legumes. These plans require an abundance of vegetables, protein, and fat (good kind!).  The premise of both is more real food, less from a box and much less with added sugars along with other additives. Our bodies were designed to process food from its natural sources, not from packages or machine made.

Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound.  The acronym is used for goal setting in general and is an incredible outline for personal and business goals.  In 2015 the top two New Year’s resolutions polled by Nielsen.com was 1) stay fit and healthy and 2) lose weight. Together these two goals totaled up 69% of the resolutions. The problem with these resolutions and why so many people give up? They don’t follow the SMART goals guidelines.

Specific

When setting any goal it’s important to be as exact as possible while outlining your objectives, but it’s even more important for health and fitness goals.  Turn “I want to be healthier” into “I want to play with my kids and not get winded”, “I want to break my sugar addiction”, and “I want to participate in a Cross Fit competition”. See how they have a focusing point?  Right now if you “want to eat better” make it specific, cut sugar out or add extra protein in.  Being precise aids you to have more of a real grasp on the goal rather than it being a fleeting thought.

Measurable

Measurable goals keep you on track for success. The how you will be assessing your aspirations is just as important as the actual measurement. If you are increasing the number of servings of vegetables eat day; will you keep a daily food journal, use a food tracker app, or hope for the best? I don’t recommend just hoping for the best. 🙂  Weight loss goals should require more than just a scale for keeping track of achievements. The scale doesn’t do an accurate job on its own for being a reliable tool. Water weight and hormones can throw off the scale by up to three pounds.  I will be using measurements coupled with the scale.  Looking to gain muscle? Having body fat percentages would be a great way to assess your progress.

Achievable

This is probably the toughest part of goal setting. We want to dream big and I highly recommend reaching for the stars. However, make sure your goals are obtainable. Stepping goals (not an official name 🙂 )  are the small goals leading up to the big end goal.  Should someone have 100 pounds to lose and loses 15 pounds a month, those pounds lost will add up to the final 100 pounds lost. We all know 100 pounds can’t be lost all at once.  Having these small goals give you the wins. Keeping you from setting yourself up for major disappointments and therefore giving up. You take one small success at a time and continue moving forward.

Relevant

This is the second toughest step. Relevance, this goal means more to you than what you will be sacrificing. It is the intrinsic motivation which pushes you ahead.  I am not a morning person; I finally gave up working out in the early morning because as much as I wanted to lose weight but when that alarm rang at 4 am, I simply couldn’t get up. It didn’t mean enough to me to get up and out of bed. I have accepted the fact I don’t want to sacrifice my mornings. I have made my adjustments and created a workout time after I get home from work before dinner needs to get going.  I don’t become resentful to my goals and I can continue sleeping during my early mornings. 🙂

Time Bound

There needs to be an ending to your story.   This is the final supporting key to the S.M.A.R.T Goals Guidelines.   The ending has to be set for you to begin. If you know you want to be able to run that half marathon in the fall then you have a reason to start training.

yoga gear

 

Get moving

*Make sure any exercise is within your physical ability and if needed please see a medical professional for medical clearance.

The risk of chronic diseases is significantly reduced in individuals who get 30-60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity a day. If you are just starting out, begin with small increments of 20 to 30 minute at an intermediate level. If you have been working out regularly, make sure to shake up your routine.  Getting moving is more than adding 60 min workouts each day.   You have to alternate your entire physical routine; going to the spin class doesn’t warrant eating junk food and still sitting most of the day. Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the amount of energy burned just to keep your body functioning. The majority of your calories (think upwards of 70%) are burned just keeping you alive! Working out is definitely a good start; be sure to add other forms of physical activity. Working a job where you are sedentary, adding short walks from 5-10 minutes every hour will add up! Taking the stairs, parking farther from entrances, yard work etc. Even cooking and cleaning burn calories! Meal prepping and extra cooking, since you’re eating out less, creates more dishes; three birds one stone!  This is a helpful article for incorporating more exercise into your daily life.how to rock your health and fitness goals

Gym memberships run specials most during the beginning of the year. Daily Burn is online fitness workout streaming, Betty Rocker creates her own amazing workouts and has so many tools for eating better.  As always Amazon has a selection of terrific workout at home videos, everything from the expensive Insanity Base Kit, Jillian Michaels’ Body Shred to a more pocket-friendly Total Body Tone and everything in between.

Know your boundaries

Also known as, plan for obstacles. This is not to say planning for failure, Plan for curve balls. Ask yourself (be bluntly honest!) How will you handle National Donut Day at the office? Dinner out with a client? Girls/Guys night out for pizza and beer? First, do not hide from social situation.  Hiding can lead to resentment and more likely to drive you off your ledge. Plan! Most dining establishments have online menus to assist with planning. Check out ingredients of items before your dining out event. Ask yourself if one beer or one glass of wine is permitted on your new meal plan. Talk to people who can offer support for your new health goals. They may be very respectful and be inspired by your own journey!

 

Don’t give up!

You started on this health voyage for a reason, don’t let a slip up prevent you from continuing. Jillian Michaels said it best “Try not to say ‘I’m a failure’, instead ask ‘what can I do better?’ ‘What did I do wrong?’ then re-approach”.  One cookie doesn’t derail your entire eating plan. A package of cookies each week? Take a good look at what needs to be adjusted in order to avoid temptation or stress eating triggers.

Most of all, don’t give up if there is a set back. Reset, re-evaluate, and move forward. You got this!

I have an awesome Pinterest board full of health information, everything from exercises for post pregnancy belly, to arms, legs, and of course eating well. Check it out and follow me!  Check out these amazing resources from Stupid Easy Paleo and the Whole30 website.

TMI Time. 🙂 Well not really TMI but we are getting personal. Here are my personal health and wellness goals. 1) Lose 40 pounds by October. 2) Lose 25 of those pounds by June (for my birthday!) 3) Walk every hour at my office 4) Four workouts a week 5) Less processed foods-follow meal plans and form new food habits.There they are!

You have a cheerleader, because hey I am on this journey too! I will post every other week regarding meals, what’s working, what been tough, and updates on my goals.

Let’s do this! What are your health, fitness, or wellness goals for this year?

 

 

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