The Routines That Keep My Household Afloat

The Routines That Keep My Household Afloat

Now that I’ve been a Mom of two for over a year (and am getting closer and closer to being a Mom of three!) I’ve realized the key to success in my household is creating routines and sticking to them, and how routines might help others even if you’re a parent (or future parent) of one. My household does the best when we stick to established routines, and when we stray from them for too long chaos usually ensues! Below I’ve listed some of the routines that I use to keep my sanity on weekdays, including the kids’ daily routines, my weekday mealtime routine, and most importantly our bedtime routine (is there anything parents want more than more sleep?) 

The Kids’ Daytime Schedule

We typically follow the same schedule Monday through Friday. When the kids wake up I let them play for about half an hour, make breakfast, then let them watch cartoons while I do some laundry or cleaning (yes, I am pro screen time when I need a distraction).

After that we do an at home preschool program by Susie of the Busy Toddler. It’s meant for kids ages 2.5 and up, but my youngest Myles still participates sometimes. The lessons typically involve a song or two, a book, and 2-3 hands on activities. I get most of the suggested books from the library, and the rest of the books and supplies on Amazon.

After “preschool” and more play time I make lunch and put the boys down for a nap. It took a little while to get both of them on the same nap schedule. This involved doing my best to keep Myles awake until after lunch, until he got used to it. Getting them down for a nap at the same time is so worth it, because it guarantees me an hour or two of free time where I can get some things done or take a nap myself (which has been helpful this pregnancy). If you have two children close in age I recommend getting them on the same nap schedule as early as possible. 

After nap time I take them out in the stroller for a walk or some time at the park or library. Then I just let them play until my husband comes home and he takes over while I make dinner. The rest of the evening typically revolves around whatever my husband and I are doing.

Mealtimes

I love to eat but I am not the type of person who loves to cook. I’ve developed a few hacks to make things easier for myself. The first thing I do to make things easier is never taking my kids grocery shopping. I rarely go to the grocery store at all these days, unless I’m running in for a quick item or two. The rest of the time I order groceries through Amazon Prime Now. They are conveniently delivered to my door and as long as you buy at least $35 worth of groceries the delivery fee is free (although you can add on an optional tip for the driver). This means no more struggling with a crying toddler or two while I schlep down aisle after aisle, and grocery shopping no longer raises my blood pressure like it has in the past. 

For breakfast I usually alternate between whole wheat pancakes, Abe’s amazing vegan muffins (I cannot stress enough how amazing they are), cinnamon raisin toast, or scrambled eggs with fresh fruit for my kids. In the future I’d love to expand to some more healthy recipes but for now these options are quick and always work.

Lunch is usually peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or Dr. Praegar’s spinach, broccoli, sweet potato or kale littles with veggies or fruit. I don’t experiment much with lunch foods because my oldest Mason is so picky.

Dinner is when I do the most experimenting. I recently restarted my Hello Fresh subscription so that I can learn more vegetarian meals, and we go meat free 3 times a week with their veggie plan. I won’t keep the subscription going forever, but for now it’s a great way to learn new recipes and cooking skills, and having a subscription has definitely increased my interest in cooking. The rest of the week I cook with meat from a farm CSA (community supported agriculture) share. This allows us to purchase 15 lbs of pasture raised, hormone-free meat each month. I purchase my share through Liberty Delight Farms. And once a week we order takeout for dinner (my favorite night of the week).

Bedtime

Thankfully both of my children sleep through the night at this stage (I’m getting ready to start over with baby #3 so wish me luck!) but we got there by moving the kids out of our bedroom, establishing a bedtime routine, and using the cry it out method (aka sleep training) for a little while. Moving the kids out of my bedroom was vital for me. I always start off with co-sleeping before moving my kids to a bassinet or pack n play in my room. But there’s something about having me nearby that just causes my kids to wake up looking for my attention (or milk) more often. I was amazed at how much longer they started sleeping when they left my room. This is only recommended when your kids are about 6 months +.

Crying it out is a controversial method, I know some parents can’t stand to hear their little ones’ cries go unanswered and I felt the same way at first. We tried it with my son Mason when he was about 5 months old because I was still getting up multiple times a night and feeling like a zombie at work. The first night of crying it out my husband had to stop me from going to him and I felt so sad. But then when he finally fell asleep, he slept for the rest of the night! On the second night he cried for a much shorter interval before falling asleep. After a few days he barely cried at all. The time it takes to get this method to work can vary but trust me it does work. And both of my kids survived the experience and are happy and very attached to me. 

Some people are amazed at how easily they usually fall asleep at home but it’s because we’ve been doing the same bedtime routine for so long that they’re very used to what comes next. I use Honest Calming Lavender Bubble Bath to help the boys get in a sleepy mood. After bath time I read 1-2 board books that are appropriate for Myles, then take him to his bed and turn on 15 minutes of bedtime music on his Scout dog (I’ve also used a noise machine and night light in the past- the Hatch Baby Rest is amazing, but found that they do fine without it now). I rock him in my arms for 2-3 minutes then lay him down and leave. He’s usually asleep within 10 minutes without any fuss. Then I read 1-2 more advanced books for Mason and repeat the same music/rocking routine with his Scout dog. Sometimes he takes longer to fall asleep but he lays in his crib without crying until he does. Then I give myself a mental pat on the back and relax for about 30 mins before joining my husband for a Netflix show. 

I know a lot of people who co-sleep end up doing so long-term, but once my babies reached the 6 month mark having designated kid-free time every night and sleeping in my bed without them has been so beneficial to my mental health and my marriage.

Those are the most important aspects of my daily routine. I would love to hear your thoughts/tips for establishing a routine in the comments. 

 

Xo,

Courtney

My Holy Grail Beauty Essentials

My Holy Grail Beauty Essentials

I’ve found that as I get older I’m actually getting more into beauty products- upgrading my skincare routine as well as perfecting my day and night makeup looks. I see it as an important form of self-care now that I’m in my 30s. And as a busy Mom of two I need self-care. Below I’ve listed my absolute favorite skincare and makeup products. Let me know what your favorites are in the comments.

Rodan + Fields Radiant Defense Perfecting Liquid– If you use foundation I’m sure you’ve dealt with the pain of finding the perfect formula. There are so many brands out there and quality varies widely. I’ve tried many brands over the years and struggled to find one that provided just the right amount of coverage, offered the perfect color match, lasted a long time, and didn’t transfer color. Rodan and Fields had the best foundation I’ve tried yet. The formula is so lightweight it feels like a tinted moisturizer, but it really lasts and the color blends perfectly. My skin always looks dewy and illuminated when I put it on.


Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo– I’ve always had sparse brows and I’ve been filling them in pretty religiously for the past 6 or 7 years (I cringe at some of my old photos before I started filling them in). I finally made the leap and scheduled an appointment with one of the top microblading artists in the DMV area at the end of the April (she’s booked months out and I couldn’t be more excited about this upcoming appointment). But up until now Anastasia Beverly Hills’ brow powder has been a lifesaver. It’s easy to use with an angled brush, the pigment looks very natural and blends easily, and one pot of this magic formula lasts a long time.

Too Faced Better than Sex Mascara– Like the search for the perfect foundation, my search for the perfect mascara went on for some time. Too Faced’s Better than Sex mascara offers the most dramatic length of any mascara brand I’ve tried. I love the wand itself and their tips for getting the most length.


Fenty Beauty Match Stix Trio– I’ve always been intimidated by contouring, but the Fenty Beauty Match stix make contouring and highlighting so easy. You can choose the perfect shade of concealer, the perfect contour color, and a pretty highlighter shade by matching it to your Fenty foundation shade. Being able to do a simple contour has really upgraded my night out makeup looks.


Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick-I love matte liquid lipstick because it makes my lips look fuller. My husband has even accused me of altering my lips in photos when I’m wearing it. Anastasia Beverly Hills offers gorgeous colors in a formula with staying power. I’ve really been getting in to red lipstick lately and I love the shade “Seraphine” for the perfect ruby red, and mixing “Heathers” and “Tulip” for a vampy shade of red.

Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment– I love all Sunday Riley products but the Lactic Acid Treatment is perfect for exfoliating your skin. My skin always looks more even and my pores look smaller after using it.
What are your favorite makeup and skincare products?
Xo,
Courtney

4 Misconceptions About Millennial Motherhood (Part 2)

4 Misconceptions About Millennial Motherhood (Part 2)

Welcome back! In part 1 of my post on the top 4 misconceptions about millennial motherhood I addressed romance and travel after having kids. In part 2 I’m sharing my thoughts on taking care of yourself and climbing the career ladder. I want to continue to give future and current millennial moms a little encouragement. But if you’ve been through these things and have a different take I’d love to know your thoughts too! If you missed misconception 1 and 2 be sure to check out part 1.

Misconception # 3: You’ll stop taking care of yourself– I’ll admit this one is tough. It’s easy to neglect your own maintenance and self-care when you have another human to look after. There have been plenty of days that I didn’t feel like changing out of my sweats because I knew it was likely that spit up/food/some miscellaneous substance would end up on me. And days that I didn’t relish my normal beauty routine or opted for something quick and unhealthy instead of focusing on eating well. But when you take the time to take care of yourself you tend to feel better. I definitely need a pick me up sometimes and putting on a cute outfit and doing my hair and makeup is a relatively simple way to get a small boost. I feel more capable when I put that effort in. You definitely don’t have to be a celebrity to do this. I have a couple of very glam mom friends who inspire me whenever I see them (my own mother and grandmother are very glam as well and quick to call me out if they think I need to take care of myself better). Taking care of yourself well after kids isn’t always easy but it’s possible and sometimes it’s necessary.

Misconception #4: You’ll lose your ambition/ability to climb the career ladder– Balancing your career with being a mother can be really tough, especially in the early stages. But thankfully there are a lot of companies that support family life. I work at a company that allows me to work from home a couple of days a week, supports breastfeeding mothers, and didn’t treat me any differently when I announced my pregnancy (I still got a raise after my annual review, and the assignments kept coming in). I know that’s not the case for everyone though and if you work at a place that you feel really doesn’t support you as a mother, then it may be best to move on if you can. And yes you can look for a new job while pregnant! I did with my first, and when I got an interview with my current company during my first trimester I was so nervous about when I should tell them and how they would react. It’s pretty sad that pregnant women even have to worry about employers’ reactions. I ended up waiting until I got my offer (and before I accepted)  to let them know and when I did everyone was very sweet and supportive about it. The right company will understand that you have a right to start a family if and when you choose.

In the DMV area in particular there are a few large companies that offer benefits like paid maternity leave and backup childcare. And government positions often come with a lot of scheduling flexibility. I also consider myself lucky to work with other women who embraced motherhood and still continued to climb the career ladder. And there are more opportunities than ever to do something entrepreneurial from home. The bottom line is it’s not easy but giving life definitely doesn’t have to stop your career growth if you’re working. There’s also nothing wrong with having children and deciding to stay home with them if you can, you never know how you’ll feel until the option is presented to you, we all have different paths.

Those are my thoughts on some of the top misconceptions about millennial motherhood, If you have questions or comments about anything, including job hunting or work-life balance as a mom I’d love to chat. 

As always wishing you lots of self-care,

Courtney