6 Tips to Manage a Household as a Busy Parent

This is a sponsored post.

now that we are a family of six, i have to admit, life has gotten a whole lot harder. it’s mostly when it comes to juggling everyone’s schedules and keeping up with all their needs. i have been doing my best to organize the house and simplify everything to help make life a little easier for us. i also am learning to let things go…life doesn’t always need to be perfect. i used to think i could do it all, but i’m finally realizing that YES, i do need help. and now that i have realized this, things are going much smoother for my family.

so, how am i managing our busy family now? it may not be perfect, but the house is picked up for the most part, the kids have their needs met, and even get a shower most days. that’s definitely a win. so yeah…things are moving along. and i thought that i would share with you some of the ways i’ve adjusted our lives to make managing life as a busy parent easier.

Simplify

time to get rid of the excess. too many toys. too many clothes. too much junk. there is just TOO MUCH STUFF everywhere. and this equals more messes. i’ve been learning that this kind of chaos really holds you back. especially when you’re constantly trying to clean up and organize around TOO MUCH STUFF. many trash bags of unwanted and necessary things have been leaving my house. what a relief!

Everything Has a Place

Tips to Manage a Household

once i simplified the amount of stuff i have in an area of my home, i make sure everything has a specific spot to live in. i have labeled every storage container and also the shelves in the cupboards so that everyone in the house knows what goes where. this has really cut down on finding things in the wrong places and has also saved a lot of time. we no longer are searching for lost stuff.

Get Outside Help

the fact is, there’s only one of you. sometimes it is physically impossible to get everything finished that you need to get done. this is when you get help from others. family and friends can’t always be there when you need them. i mean…sometime i just can’t keep up. YIKES!

so there are services like Care.com that can help you get the right people to do the jobs you need help with. it’s the world’s largest online marketplace for finding and managing family care – and includes services such as sitters, housekeepers, nannies, senior care, dog walkers and more.

did you know they even have a database of tutors? this is what really excited me….i could really use that kind of help.

using Care.com makes life simpler for families because you can go online and find the services you need at the click of a button. whether you need childcare while you’re at work or want to line up the occasional date night sitter, Care.com is there for you.

Shared Family Calendar

using a shared calendar is very helpful when it comes to keeping everyone in the family on the same page. there have been many times when i have just assumed that my husband knew of an event or appointment that was happening and vice versa, when in reality, i never told him. it’s really hard to keep track of everything happening at school, sports, extracurricular activities and in our personal lives. so writing it down is very helpful. a shared Google calendar or a large family calendar posted on a wall in your home is what i recommend. here are some tips to organize your family’s schedule.

Make a Routine but Allow Flexibility

i know this sounds like a contradiction, but really, it can work in your favor. when it comes to mornings or bedtimes, i like to make sure the family sticks to a routine. i need the kids to be ready for school, and in the evenings, i need them to go down for the night so i can unwind and set up the house for the next day.

making lunches the night before, packing bags and cleaning up the house from that day makes the next day run much better. at the same time, it’s good to allow flexibility in our schedules. sometimes there’s going to be a late night, sometimes you have take out instead of making dinner, maybe to kids skip a bath on those not-so-dirty day, sometimes the dishes aren’t going to get done till the next day. it’s okay. life can’t always be perfect.

finally,

Take Time to De-stress

when parents de-stress, we’re more at ease and more focused. a simple date night or some alone time can give you back the energy you need to survive parenthood. This is another way that Care.com can help. You can find a babysitter that fits your family’s needs

How Care.com works

you can quickly and easily sign up on Care.com for FREE as a Basic Member, which allows you to start searching for great local help, see their services and rates. if you choose to upgrade to a Premium Membership, you can reach out to the persons offering the services you need and are able to check their reviews and references. you are also allowed to schedule interviews and even book and pay for care online through the Care.com app. if you are looking for something specific, you can post a job and receive responses from caregivers in your area. You are allowed to view each caregiver’s profile and contact them for interviews or learn more about them. Care.com also provides access to a variety of background check options, so you can make the best hiring decision. wonder how much you should pay your sitter?

remember: it is your responsibility to make sure that the persons you hire on Care.com meet the criteria you are looking for. There are lots of details to remember and things to think about and agree on, so it’s a great idea to create a contract to make sure you both understand what to expect from each other.

Get 20% off – sign up now for Care.com, and you can save 20% off a Premium Membership! from now through September 30th, you can use the Care.com promo code SANDYTOES20 to save 20% off a Premium Membership by visiting this link http://bit.ly/2ta87Oo.

these 6 Tips to Manage a Household as a Busy Parent are simply things that have help our family tremendously when trying to manage our large family busy lives. hopefully some of them can help you as well. it’s piece of mind when you know your kids, parents, pets and home are well cared for. life can be tricky with kids…so we all need all the help we can get. happy parenting!

{Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Care.com and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.}

Using Kelley Blue Book to Buy a New Car

so much has changed and is changing for our family with the birth of our baby girl. moving up from a family of 5 to a family of 6 has caused some major changes, especially in the space situation. suddenly our house is too small, our laundry piles are bigger, and everything takes more time. PLUS, we no longer have room in our truck to fit our entire family. the biggest issue with this, is that we can no longer pull our travel trailer when we go on vacation or road trips. how are we going to share our road trips with you if we can’t even fit in the truck that pulls the trailer! so it’s a great time to partner with Kelley Blue Book to help us find a new family car that will fit our entire family, and still pull our travel trailer.

since my husband’s truck is a company car, we are going to have to sell my minivan, and get something that will work. i am fine with that because i have been wanting a new car for a while now. and although i love my minivan, it’s getting old and starting to cost more in repairs than the money we are saving from having paid it off. how will we go about selling our old vehicle and buying a new one? we’ve done the dealer route and the for-sale-by-owner route. we are comfortable with either as long as we are getting the best deal. by using Kelley Blue Book, we can make sure we do. you can use KBB.com to find the most trusted vehicle valuation and also use it as an information source to find the best vehicle, as it is one of the most trusted and relied upon sources for consumers and the automotive industry.

How will we pick our car?

to make our choice easier, the Kelley Blue Book editorial team drives and tests hundreds of new cars, trucks, SUVs and minivans every year. it has named its list of the 12 Best Family Cars of 2017. to choose this list, they focused on safety, value, reputation and fit of various child safety car seats. the new Best Family Cars of 2017 list focuses strictly on mainstream brands, and includes a diverse group of new vehicles that best meet the needs of today’s families. in fact, this is the first year that no sedans have been included.

How does Kelley Blue Book know what parent’s need in a vehicle?

the KBB.com’s editorial staff includes several parents with children in a full range of ages from toddler to college. they’ve also enlisted the help of their own families to put this year’s contenders to the real-world test.

this year’s winners range in price from around $20,000 to the low $30,000 range, with only one vehicle exceeding a $40,000 starting price. that is just what my family is looking for. and with two children still in car seats, i am glad that KBB.com took carseats into consideration when they made their list of winners. included in this year’s content is a car seat guide with useful tips and specific details regarding the strengths and weaknesses of each of this year’s Best Family Cars.

Who are the winners?

if you are looking into purchasing a new family car this year, Kelley Blue Book has created this video of this year’s winners:

i am very excited to be getting a new car this year. i can’t wait to go shopping. with Kelley Blue Book by my side, i have more confidence in my purchase. KBB.com serves the typical everyday car buyer like myself to provide me with every bit of information necessary to make an intelligent car-purchase decision. i can’t wait to share with you what i end up getting!

{disclosure: This is a sponsored post through the Mom It Forward Influencer Network. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.}

Tips for Helping Families Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

This post is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente Orange County.Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

i know you have heard it a million times, but when it comes to keeping your family healthy during cold and flu season, the number one answer is WASH YOUR HANDS! it’s hard to believe that something so simple can make the biggest difference in your wellness..but it does. i recently spoke to Dr. Michelle Solomon, a pediatrician at the Kaiser Permanente Orange County offices in Garden Grove, and she discussed some great Tips for Helping Families Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season. and i sure needed the reminder…i do not like my family to get sick or to be around germs.

here’s the main reason i have been especially germaphobic this cold and flu season. we have a new baby in our home! and as a mom to a newborn, you can never be too careful. i can practically see germs crawling all over the place LOL! when my kids come home from school, they are pretty much sanitized. i don’t want my baby catching the cold or flu….especially something like RSV. here are the tips i received from Dr. Solomon.

How to Properly Wash Your Hands

like i mentioned before, Dr. Solomon said washing hands is the number one way to fight off germs. but did you know that most people do not wash their hands effectively? first of all, it is not necessary to use antibacterial soaps. regular soap works just fine. you need to make sure you wash long enough – while washing them, sing Happy Birthday TWICE. that is the proper amount of time you need to wash them. make sure to use enough soap and scrub between the fingers.

just washing your hands is not enough either, drying them is a big deal. you must effectively dry your hands to make the washing count. use a clean towel or a paper towel. hand dryers are great too.

you can use alcohol based hand sanitizers to fight germs, but they only work well if your hands aren’t visibly dirty. you also must use good technique – that means getting the hand sanitizer between the fingers, using a good amount, making sure your hands are completely wet with it and waiting till dried.

Preventing Sickness

you can help prevent sickness by promoting good nutrition – eat healthy foods rich in nutrients such as Vitamin C. adults can try taking zinc supplements, however, they are not recommended for kids.

stay away from malls, enclosed areas, and play areas heavily used by children. and if you do visit these places make sure to wash your hands the proper way as mentioned above.

most doctors recommend getting a flu shot. if your child is 6 months or older, talk to your doctor to see if this is a good choice for your family.

What to Do When Someone Gets Sick in Your Family

when one person gets sick in the family, it’s time to up the washing the hands. this means the ENTIRE FAMILY. make sure to not share anything….from food to blankets to toys. make sure that everyone is using a covering cough method – which is also known as the Dracula arm where you actually cough into your arm/elbow, not into your hand. if the person who is sick is stuffy, you can have them take a warm shower or use a humidifier. but always make sure the humidifier is clean. humidifiers can harbor mold and germs that can be spread. remember, just because you are not sick, you still can harbor virus….you can be A symptomatic. so do your best to not spread germs.

When to Send Your Kids Back to School

only send your kids back to school if they have had no fevers for 24 hours. this is a complete 24 hours…not just over night. make your child rest if they don’t look well. when it comes to teens, they tend to try to go to school even when they aren’t 100%.  it is not good to send them to school when they are sick because older kids can’t focus when they are. trust your instinct as a parent on whether or not your child is well enough to go to school.

i thank Dr. Solomon for giving me some great reminders on How to Keep My Family Healthy During Cold and Flu Season. such a caring and informative doctor. i have really loved getting to know all the Kaiser doctors that i have met during the past few months. if you have missed the posts i have written about them, here they are:

My Trip to the Kaiser Orange County Farmers Market
When I Learned About Kaiser Orange County’s Prenatal Programs
Our Family’s Visit Thrive Walk at the Orange County Great Park
Great Tips on Mens Health

the great thing about Kaiser Permanente Orange County, is everything is under one roof. most Kaiser Permanente Orange County locations include pharmacy, lab, X-ray services and more. plus, there are locations throughout Orange County, as far north as Brea and as far south as San Juan Capistrano, including Tustin Ranch, Foothill Ranch and the new Radiation Oncology Center located at the Anaheim Medical Center. wow…this is the kind of service i look for in my healthcare.

10 Baby Shower Gifts Moms Will Love

10 Baby Shower Gifts Moms Will Love

with a fourth baby on the way, i often get asked what items i would recommend getting a new mom for her new arrival. since my youngest is six, it’s been a LONG time since i bought anything for a baby. in fact, i mostly used items i already had on -hand for my last two children, so its practically been fourteen years since i looked at baby gear. there are so many new and amazing baby products out there….so many things you can buy a baby – from clothes to strollers. so i wanted to come up with a list of items that might be a little extra special for a mom to receive at a baby shower – things that she might not buy herself. so i partnered with ScholarShare to create this list of 10 Baby Shower Gifts Moms Will Love!

i think all of these items are pretty neat! i didn’t have them with any of my other babies because they either weren’t available yet, or they weren’t necessities. but sometimes its fun to get things that you wouldn’t always splurge on. let me share them with you.10 Baby Shower Gifts Moms Will Love

 

10 Baby Shower Gifts Moms Will Love

my number 1 on the list….
1) Scholarshare Gift Certificate – more than ever, i’ve been thinking about my kids future. now that i will have four children to care for, saving for college is going to be a necessity. i want my children to have every opportunity available to them. attending college without worrying about debt would be a wonderful gift to each of them. family members and friends can purchase Scholarshare gift certificates in any dollar amount for the baby. this would be one of the most appreciated gifts, especially since they will probably already receive a lot of the baby necessities. why not get their college accounts started early….every little bit helps. i wish i had started my other boys 529 College Savings plans at birth. i definitely know better with this baby.  (p.s. you don’t need to be a California resident to sign-up. This college saver account is available nationwide.)

and then there are also these great gifts.

2) Mommy Teething Necklace – i love chunky jewelry, and these teething necklaces would be perfect for a mama to wear when she has a baby who is going to try and grab her jewelry and suck on it. these necklaces are made with silicone and natural wood beads that are teething and baby-friendly!

3) Joovy Boob bottles – i recently fell in love with the Boob bottles. they come in PPSU (Polyphenylsulphone), PP (Polypropylene) and glass! i am especially excited about the glass ones…they have a optional silicone sleeve you can pair with them to prevent breaks. Boobs are BPS, BPA, phthalate and lead free and offer the safe delivery of formula or milk.  The new nipple design has a CleanFlow® Vent System, and they have an ergonomic shape that fits nicely in your hand.

4) Jujube Diaper Bag – i’ve never had a fancy diaper bag before…and this time around, i am going to go for it. i recently learned about the JuJube bags, and i think one would make the perfect diaper bag. they are stylish, have lots of great colors and features, have a compartment for you to keep your phone and money, plus they are durable and easy to clean. everything you would want in a diaper bag.

5) Joovy New Nook Highchair – this is a fantastic highchair made by Joovy. it features a large swing-open tray that can operates using only one-hand motion…two hands are not needed! plus, you don’t have to line up cumbersome rails. there is no need to remove dishes from the tray before taking the child out of the chair – simply swing the tray open, unbuckle your child.

6) Honest Diapers – OMG!!! i just love the patterns. all my other kids just got plain white diapers, but i am excited to splurge on some of these cuties this time around.

7) Mist Wipe Warmer – i know many people think a wipe warmer is totally unnecessary, but i did have one with all my babies and loved it. super convenient to use, especially on newborns because the wipes are warm and not cold. anything to keep a baby calm and happy. right!

8) Milkmaid Goods Nursing Poncho – i’ve always used a blanket if i needed to cover-up while nursing. but i just love these nursing ponchos from Milkmaid Goods. the prints are super cute and stylish, and you can also use them as a blanket, or a carseat/shopping cart cover. psst…they also have the most adorable baby swaddle sets.

9) Playtex Diaper Genie Complete – never had a Diaper Genie or any kind of fancy diaper pail, but i heard they are awesome. this one comes in pink!

10) Freshly Picked Moccasins –these little leather baby and toddler shoes became all the rage just after my youngest was too big for them, so i am so excited to get a couple pairs for the baby. they are great because they stay on baby feet and you don’t have to worry about ties and buckles.

and there you have it – 10 Baby Shower Gifts Moms Will Love! i’m sure any of these baby items would make any mom feel special to receive. i can not wait for my little one to arrive in just a few months. i just love babies…and their gear is just so darn cute too.

 

{Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.}

Tips for Having a Healthy Pregnancy

kaiser_guide_to_pregnancyi’m now six months pregnant with our little girl. sometimes it feels like time is flying by, and then at other times it feels like i have been pregnant FOREVER!!!!  i am not the happiest pregnant person. i pretty much always feel sick and fatigued, and it lasts my entire pregnancy. however, despite still feeling that way, this pregnancy has definitely been my easiest. i am not sure if it is because this time around we are having a girl, or perhaps because i am older. but i think one of the reasons is because i have more time to myself this time around. my kids are older and in school, so i have the days to myself to concentrate on resting and feeling better. plus i have been given more resources this time around. information have changed a lot since my last one almost seven years ago. in fact, i have partnered with Kaiser Permanente, who has taken the time to give me some Tips for Having a Healthy Pregnancy.

kaiser_permanente_orange_countyi met with Dr. Paula Richter, an OB/GYN at Kaiser Permanente in Irvine. she was wonderful at our meeting, and we had a great connection. she seemed so sweet and caring. plus we discussed many of the questions i had about the current procedures of navigating through a pregnancy and giving birth now days. things have changed even in the past 7 years…i love how Kaiser takes its cues from the mom to make her feel comfortable and help her have the experience she is wanting for her pregnancy.

kaiser_maternity_serviceskaiser_hospital_ob_gynwe also had a great chat with Dr. Richter about steps i could take to have a healthy pregnancy. tips on how to feel better and stay healthy during this time. let me share them with you…

Tips for Having a Healthy Pregnancy

healthy eating. eat well-balanced meals and a variety of foods which are low in fat and have no added sugars.
try to avoid foods that are high in fat, sugar, and sodium such as soft drinks, desserts, fried foods, fast foods, whole milk, and fatty meats. it’s great to include healthy food options such as whole-grain breads, cereal, oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, lean meat, skinless chicken or turkey, baked fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. vitamins and minerals that are especially important for you and your growing baby include calcium, iron, and folate (also called folic acid).

exercise. exercising during pregnancy can help you maintain muscle strength, avoid excess weight gain, and shed unwanted pounds after your baby is born. try to exercise at least 30 minutes per day. make sure to check with your doctor or nurse before starting any exercise routine, and don’t overdo it. listen to your body and rest if you feel tired…as you should be able to carry on a conversation during any activity. walking, low-impact dance or aerobics, swimming, stretching or yoga are great forms of exercise to do while you are pregnant.

keep up on your prenatal visits. one of the best things you can do to keep you and your baby healthy during your pregnancy is to attend all of your prenatal visits. at these appointments you can discuss any questions or concerns you have with your physician. there isn’t any question that is not important. be confident to ask your physician or midwife anything you are questioning. and if a question comes up between visits, you can call your physicians office or email your doctor.

prenatal vitamins. take a prenatal vitamin each day as directed by your obstetrician or midwife.

educate yourself. even if this isn’t your first baby, you can never be to prepared. attending a childbirth class can help you feel more prepared for your delivery. Not only will you have the chance to learn more about childbirth and infant care, but you can ask specific questions and voice any concerns. also, this is a great time to brush up on your family’s medical history,  report any family incidences of birth defects, and talk to your doctor about problems with past pregnancies.

sleep. rest when you can. daily naps are great! you can also stretch before bed to help prevent leg cramps and calm yourself.

pamper yourself. treat yourself to a lunchtime manicure, spend a much-needed night out with the girls, or simply taking a quiet walk can help you relax and de-stress. go shoe shopping to purchase comfy shoes with good support. put your feet up several times a day to prevent fatigue and swelling of your feet, legs, and ankles. take a nap. being relaxed and stress-free is not only good for you, but also your baby!

stay hydrated. make sure to drink plenty of water – at least eight to 10 glasses a day or around 3 liters. try to avoid sugary drinks, caffeine and artificial coloring.

prepare. pack your bags for the hospital. this will take one more worry of your to-do list. don’t forget your insurance cards, pre-registration forms, camera, birth plan, etc.

finally, Kaiser’s website is also a great resource. they have an entire section just for pregnancy where you can find information on pregnancy week by week, a new baby checklist, what to bring to the hospital, and even sign up for Healthy Beginnings newsletters. you don’t even have to be a member to enjoy these resources. and if you are a member, you can enjoy the many classes and health programs in your area.

Kaiser Maternity Ward Tour

after our meeting, i really wanted to check out the maternity ward at Kaiser Permanente. until now, i have only delivered my babies at one hospital, and i was curious to check out Kaiser’s facility. they have two main hospitals in Orange County. one in Anaheim and the other in Irvine which are mirror images of each other. each offering the latest services to Southern California residents and beyond.

this was hallway on our way to the maternity wing. isn’t it nice and inviting!

kaiser_maternity_wing

on our tour, we ran into one of the midwife’s who was on-call. for some women, a midwife is the perfect choice for them to have during their pregnancy. i never knew that i could have the option when delivering a baby at the hospital. i think i would have like this choice. she was so warm and nice.

kaiser_midwifei stopped by one of the rooms…all rooms are private which is so important to me, and took a peek at the baby beds. it’s so surreal that soon i will be welcoming our little girl in a room similar to this.
kaiser_hopsital_babay_bedkaiser_hopsital_bedwe stopped in the hall where Dr. Richter showed me the baby bell which gets pushed overtime a baby is born. it plays a lullaby throughout the entire hospital to let everyone know that a baby has arrived. it’s just one of the ways that Kaiser hopes to bring up everyone’s moral at the hospital. i was told the sweet music brightens the faces of many sick patients who love to hear a new little one has arrived on earth.
new_baby_hospital_bellwe also ran into one of the on-call pediatric physicians who comes to check in on the newborns. i was impressed at how friendly and kind all the doctors i met were.
kaiser_hospital_pediatricianit sure was fun to tour the Kaiser hospital maternity wing. you can also take a virtual tour of a Kaiser Birthing Suites here. it makes me even more excited to meet my little one. i just can’t wait. i love babies.kaiser_hospital_baby_delivery_bed

i have to say that i was really impressed. i think i would really love to join the Kaiser network. the hospital was so clean and inviting. and i also was impressed by the classes and services they offer their patients. i am very interested to get to know more about their services and qualifications, because, being self-employed, it’s a big job trying to find the best medical insurance for my family. there are so many factors to think about and it can be overwhelming making a decision. i may have never considered moving my insurance into the Kaiser Permanente network, but after my experience so far, i am really going to consider it for the upcoming year.

but for now….i am busy making a baby. 3 more months!!!!!

kaiser_womens_choice_award

{disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. }