Mommy Tips and Hacks!

Hello again! After a long stint away from the blog, I’m back… again. Spring is a very busy season for my family, so many birthdays and milestone occasions. It takes a hot minute to get back into the swing of things once it has been derailed.

Also, in this absence, I kicked my business into full gear. As a SAHM, I take care of my, now 1 year old, daughter, 2 dogs, and try to do what I can to make Hubby’s work week a little easier. He commutes 3 hours a day so I try to get lunches made, dinners prepped, and house tidy with as little of his assistance as possible.  This may not be the dynamic in your house, and that is ok. This is what works for us. We’re partners in the same game with the same end goal, keep the tiny humans we make alive and turn them in to functioning, reasonable members of society while maintaining our own sanity! 😉

You can find things I’ve made or have available on my etsy shop page, Ribbons and Curls Boutique. I also have an Instagram and Facebook page you can find by clicking @TheRibbonsandCurls.  I make custom items like signs, t-shirts, mugs, tumblers, wine glasses, tote bags, onesies… you name it. If my machine can crank it out, I can make it for you.

Just a sample of something I’ve made before we get into the mom hacks!

beauty beast

So now on to the hacks I’ve discovered!  As a first time mom, you’re really just feeling things out. For the first 6 months to 1 year, you follow doctors advice religiously. Ask your friends and family with kids all kinds of questions (and sometimes receive unsolicited advice), and you google just about EVERYTHING! That is ok! You’re learning, and as long as they are happy and healthy, you’re doing a good job. It is completely acceptable to kick up your feet and enjoy that glass (or bottle) of wine once they are in bed.

Here are some things I’ve picked up in the year I’ve been keeping my tiny minion alive.

  1. Keep a toy on the changing table! At some point, those little hands are going to try to “help” you, whether that is their intention or not. I tried to do the thing where you wrap their arms up in their onesie before changing, by my kid is a little hulk ninja, and that never worked for us. A toy will distract them just long enough to wipe and secure!
  2. Dollar Tree containers will save your mind! Once my daughter was able to crunch on her own treats, we kept her section of the pantry stocked. She enjoyed Baby Mum Mum crunchy sticks (we called them surf boards because of their shape) and any Gerber treat you could imagine! If you don’t get them on sale or in bulk, it can be pricey. Best alternative, CHERRIOS! Now, they can’t have honey nut until after 1 year, but the plain ones are just as yummy to them. You can use any cereal you prefer. As an alternative to constantly getting up and down for cherrios or giving her her own bag due to the fact they would then become the dog’s cherrios, I picked up some containers from the Dollar Tree store. I personally got these. I keep one in the family room and one in her upstairs play room. Plus she loves to shake it because it makes noise, two things in one! Never had it open up and spill on us. You can get any style you like. The baskets and bins are also amazing pantry organizers, but that’s a different hack post all together.container
  3. Freeze your berries! I’m pretty sure this is all kids, but ours LOVES fruit! She cannot get enough of it. Blueberries and raspberries are her favorites. Right now is the peak of fruit season. Our grocery had buy one pack of strawberries and get two free! Of course I stocked up, but then was at a loss of how to keep them from going bad before we use them all. Then I remembered a cooking show I watched were they put berries and fruits on a cookie sheet and flash froze them before bagging. That’s just what I did. I cleaned the berries and laid them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and stashed them in the freezer. I gave it a day and then bagged them up in freezer bags, no need to vacuum seal as you will probably use them quickly.  What makes this a mom hack is pairing it with a strainer teether like the one below. Let the berry thaw just a touch so you can get it in there, or pre-cut your berries before freezing. Then you not only have a nice cool snack for kiddo on a hot day, but you also have teething relief for sore gums! You can also portion out into snack size bags and toss a frozen bag into the diaper bag before the park or lunch time. It won’t get smushed in there because they are hard and will soften by the time you need them.
  4. Hair Ties! Now this may just pertain to my mamas with little girls, but these could be handy for anyone really. Dollar Tree also carries the small elastic hair ties. I pick up a box of 700 for a dollar! You can use this style for a number of things. I mainly use them for her hair but they can be used to tie loose shirts back during craft time too. Regular hair ties are handy as a way to keep kids out of cabinets you haven’t child proofed yet. Put it in figure 8 around each knob and they can only get it open just a little. Buys you some time until you do something more permanent if you chose to.
  5. Snack Tray! It’s after nap time, you’ve got to run to the store for groceries. You are dreading an afternoon trip because it means you’ll likely have a melt down on your hands. Here is your sanity saver, the Snack N Shop! Ever since my daughter could sit in a cart herself, I’ve always engaged with her while shopping. I’m pretty sure I sound like a crazy person talking to myself up and down the isles. I ask her questions, talk about what were going to do during errands, make for dinner, whatever really. Sometimes, that’s not enough. She will get peckish and want a snack, but I don’t want to leave a trail of snacks thru the store by giving her a baggie or having to hold it, push the cart, make sure she doesn’t drop anything, and decide what I need in the store. A friend posted a picture of her daughter using this snack tray while shopping! I decided to give it a shot and it has completely changed my shopping experience with a child!! You can get it on Amazon here. Ranges from $15 to $17 depending on the color you want. Has a lid so you can close it up if there is still food inside. I always hate myself when I’ve forgotten it on the counter after cleaning it, it makes such a difference in how we run errands! Every single shopping trip someone is asking where I got it. 20180612_112203.jpg
  6. Dave and Ava! I know there is a great debate about screen time. I am of the camp “everything in moderation”. Lets face it, when we were kids, we had TV time. However, we didn’t have cell phones so we still did the playing outside gig. While I don’t advocate handing your toddler a tablet and using that all day every day, sometimes, you need help to keep their attention while you do dishes, switch the laundry, or scrub the bathrooms. Let’s face it, a show is the quickest, easiest way to buy yourself 30 minutes. ava

A friend of mine recommended Dave and Ava. This show is on YouTube for free (with ads) or you can download the app on your phone or tablet for a fee and use it without ads or in app purchases for as long as you want.  I let her watch mostly at home so we have YouTube on our smart TV. There is minimal interruption, maybe 3 ads per 100 minutes. The best thing is, its all nursery rhymes! It’s a brother and sister and they are Old McDonald’s kids. They play with farm animals all while the nursery rhyme is playing. The animation is much slower than say Mickey Mouse Club house or any other kid’s show so their eyes can follow the pictures and it’s still brightly colored. It teaches counting and letters as well in some of the songs. She doesn’t watch it everyday, maybe twice a week really. And it’s generally if I have to do something and she is in a super clingy mood. We joke it’s like baby crack. She hears the opening song start and automatically looks for the kids!  Screen time is gonna happen unless you have strict rules, might as well be something wholesome and educational.

 

These are what I have for now, as I discover more I’ll be sure to share. If these work for you, YAY! Thats great! If not, just remember every kid is different, just have to find what works for you and your family.  If you have some hacks you’d like to share, please comment below! We all need help in this parenting thing.

Advertisements

Kid Corner : Applesauce Pouches

Before I had my daughter, I swore up and down that I would have a normal delivery, breastfeed exclusively, only do cloth diapers, wash all her clothes in Dreft detergent all the time, and only make her food myself. These were all things I thought I could control no matter what happened. I learned very quickly, kids always do things on their own terms, no matter how old they are!

Long stories short, I had to have an unplanned C-section, she had to go on formula 3 days after birth, cloth diapers lasted until our move, and her clothes get washed in the same detergent ours do. Reality hit home fast that I was not in control and never really would be. The one thing I was able to hold out on was making her food myself. I will admit that when the pediatrician said we could start her on solids, she did have Gerber pre-made food for about a month. She was taking in small portions, about 2oz at a time, and we were trying to figure out what she liked and didn’t like in addition to the stress of moving.

After everything calmed down, I was able to purchase the items to start making her baby food at home. Once you get in the practice of making your own baby food, it is easy to translate into snacks and foods as they grow. Instead of buying pre-made pouches for on the go snacks when they are in kindergarten, you can customize flavors for them so they are the envy at the lunch table. But that is far into the future for us.

The pouches I made today are apple only, however I have done apple with pear, berries, sweet potato, the possibilities are endless. You can use this system for fruits, vegetables, meats, pastas etc. Based on what you prepare will dictate price per ounce. Thepennyhoarder.com outlines the costs of making your baby food at home very well on their site. This saved me the headache of finding out per ounce information.

I didn’t start making her baby food for the price as much as I did for the content. As I looked at foods on the shelf, I noticed a lot of things had a shelf life of 2 years! To me, that was a little scary. The nutritional value is different as well. For example, Gerber Second Foods – Apple (for unsupported sitters) has 60 calories, 5mg of sodium, 14g carbs, 12g sugar in each serving which is one 4 oz container. Homemade Unsweetened Applesauce is only 52 calories, 0mg of sodium, 12g carbs, and 6g sugar per 4 oz serving. It may not seem like much but when you think of how much of it they are eating overall, it promotes good eating habits.

Making baby food really is easy once you have your set up. You cook the foods, puree (or leave chunky depending on how old your tot is) and put in the pouches, ice cube trays, baggies, however you chose to store it. For her eating stage right now, I use pouches.

Baby food
My set up

I use the Infantino system as it was a relatively inexpensive investment to start with, has the attachable spoons, and not really infant specific. Infantino Squeeze Station cost $20 on Amazon, Target, and Toys R Us. The 50 count 4 oz pouches cost $15-$20. The spoons you attach cost about $3.99 for a two pack with a handy holder to keep them together in the diaper bag.

I decided to get a little food processor instead of getting the infant blenders out there because it is a multi-tool in the kitchen. Nuts, spices, salsas, etc, not just baby specific. I have a Ninja blender I love and decided to stick with them. The Ninja Express Chop Food Chopper costs $20-$35 depending on retailer.

20180122_181325.jpg
Peel
20180122_185358.jpg
Dice

Last night, I peeled and cored my apples, diced them into half in chunks and set them to simmer on the stove in just enough water to cover the apples.

I checked them with a fork, when the tines slide in easily, remove from heat and leave to cool. I put them in a Tupperware container and put them in the fridge to finish today.

Place in the puree method of your choice and blend.

20180123_202911.jpg
Cold apple chunks ready to go

Once pureed to your liking, spoon into the cylinders.

20180123_202945.jpg
Pureed to perfection

Spoon into the cylinders. Be careful not go above the top notch, don’t go to the purple lip. This will cause your pouch to over flow.

20180123_203435.jpg
1 pouch down

Depress contents in cylinder until it fills pouch and after sliding out, put the lid on it. Be sure to label with date made and contents.

I got 11 pouches with 9 apples.

20180123_204432.jpg

I strongly recommend working with cooled foods. This is why I put mine in the fridge overnight until I packaged it. If you have to work with hot or warm foods, be sure to put the pouches in the fridge over night to cool them down before putting the freezer. This will reduce the ice crystals and freezer burn making them taste fresh.

Here is my stash. I have quite a few flavors stocked up. I like to go to Costco to get produce and spend one of her nap times making the pouches, that way I’m not making them all the time and have a variety to chose from.

20180123_204526-1.jpg

To use, just pull out the day before and put it in the fridge. I pull out 2 new ones for the next day when I get her settled for dinner at night. If you prefer ice cube trays, I recommend getting a food saver system (it is a great money saver for any and all food) as a way to keep them fresh also. The system came with a handy magnet to put on the fridge for when to eat reference.

20180123_203759.jpg

A lot of this stuff is a no brainer, but I wanted to be sure to include everything from start to finish.

I’m always looking for new food combinations, what kind have you tried? Please leave a comment for combos! Be sure to follow my site so you can stay caught up.

**I am not sponsored by any of these products. Everything used was purchased by me**