This is something I’ve been mulling over since reading Mandi’s list of the things that are saving her life as a work-at-home homeschooling mom. It’s a good list and made me start thinking about the things saving my sanity as a sahm (stay-at-home mom).
Here’s my life in a nutshell. I’m a former elementary teacher who now stays home with a 3 year old son and a 1 year old daughter. My husband is a hard working Lutheran school teacher who works long days teaching and coaching. In addition to being wife and mom, I teach piano lessons two afternoons a week, do a little bit of social media work for some churches, and write this blog. Obviously, it’s a busy life!
Some would say I’m really a work-at-home mom (and I definitely am to some degree) but I still identify most with the stay-at-home mom label. And as I try (ahem) to do most of my work while the kids are napping or sleeping so that my attention stays focused on them, I’ll still claim the sahm label.
What sahm doesn’t relate to these busy days of ours? Whether you are juggling jobs inside or outside of the home, or staying home full time, all moms have lots of different hats to wear and responsibilities to manage. In light of that, here’s my list of things that are currently saving my sanity as a sahm.
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1. Bullet journal
I started using a bullet journal a couple months ago on the recommendation of Kalyn from Creative Savings. She has a great Bullet Journal 101 post with lots of details on how to get started. I was hesitant because I am a perfectionist and I didn’t want this to be a time consuming planner.
I’ve actually found the opposite is true. I’m no longer tied to a planner that makes me feel guilty for missing days. By writing my to do lists each day, I am actually more productive. Plus, I love that I have all of my lists (books read, Nathan quotes, Emma’s firsts, monthly to-dos, daily to-dos, blog projects, etc) all in one place!
It’s not as fancy as some bullet journals. I use this spiral grid journal and these pens (which I love). I don’t draw elaborate layouts but my bullet journal is proving its value over and over. My bullet journal has definitely been one of my biggest sanity savers this year.
If you are interested in learning more about bullet journals, be sure to read my full post on why I love my bullet journal here.
Chatbooks was another new discovery and this has also been a total sanity saver! You see, I love scrapbooking and create a decent number of digital scrapbooks through Shutterfly. I create the smaller 8×8 albums for special events (Emma’s birth, Nathan’s baptism, our trip to the Smokies, etc) and then a larger 8×11 album for the entire year.
I love my Canon camera and work hard to take nice pictures because I want to remember these days and our firsts. Still, my phone is always with me and I’ve started snapping more pictures of our daily life and moments to share on Instagram. I was trying to transfer all these pictures into Shutterfly but it was just getting overwhelming and one more thing to do.
Then, I discovered Chatbooks. Chatbooks takes your Instagram (or Facebook) feed and automatically creates a photo album for you! Seriously. You can even do it with just the regular pictures on your phone. Each soft cover photo album includes 60 pages of pictures and automatically pulls the date and caption so I don’t have to remember what was happening. It’s printed on professional photo paper and bound nicely. It’s only $8 for each Chatbook. I think it is totally worth the minimal cost to have automatically printed photo books of all the little moments of our daily life.
I love that it’s automatic so I don’t have to think about it. Whenever you have 60 photos, Chatbook emails you and you have 3 days to edit your album. It’s super quick to deselect any pictures you don’t want included. Then, you just sit back and wait for your Chatbook to arrive in the mail. The waiting is the hardest part of this whole process!
If you want to give Chatbooks a try, sign up this link and you’ll get your first Chatbook completely free! It’s really amazing. I think every busy Mom needs Chatbooks . And it makes me feel good because even if I fall behind on our yearly albums, then at the very least, I have Chatbooks printed regularly for me.
3. Kindle app
I love to read but finding the time to read was becoming a challenge. I installed the Kindle app on my phone and my reading has increased quite a bit! Now, it’s easy to read for a couple minutes when I’m nursing or when Nathan’s watching Daniel Tiger. Did you know you don’t have to have a Kindle to use the Kindle app? Anyone can use it for free!
Along these lines, I’m also loving the Overdrive app that allows me to check out Kindle books from our library. I love that the books instantly appear and then disappear after 21 days. I don’t have to worry about any late fees this way! It’s so nice. I’ve learned to create a wish list in Overdrive so that when I’m looking for a new book to read, I can just scan my list and see what’s available.
Before kids, I used to go to all sorts of different stores to find the best bargains. Now my shopping is down to two stores – Kroger (for the best weekly deals) and Meijer (for sales and everything else). I like grocery shopping and so do my kids but going to two stores is still plenty for one week!
I now use the Ibotta app to save money wherever I shop. I like that you can stack it with the sales and coupons you already using to earn extra money back on things you’re already purchasing. Plus, it’s really easy to use and only takes minutes of time. It’s an easy way to save and make money at the grocery store!
If you haven’t started using Ibotta yet, you can sign up here and get a bonus $10 when you redeem your first offer.
My friend, Lisa, recently introduced me to Qeepsake. It’s an app that helps you record memories of your kids – via text!
You see, I was the typical mom and pretty good about recording miles for my first born. This second time around? Not nearly as good. I want to be but the days rush by with recording all the things I want to remember. Qeepsake helps you record these memories via text.
It’s an interesting but simple concept. You enter the name and birth date and gender of your kids. Then, anywhere from once a day to once a week, you receive a text with a question to answer about your kids. As you text in the answers to the questions, they are then recorded in a journal for your child. All you have to do? Answer the text when it arrives!
The questions range from things like “What is your daughter good at?” or “How has your son changed in the last couple months?” They are all adjusted to the age of your child.
Qeepsake allows you to choose a free plan (1 question a week) or pay for plans that start at $1.99 a month to receive more questions every week or even every day, if you want. I’m currently using the lite free plan because even at 1 question a week, I like how I’m recording memories of and for my kids. You can adjust the plans up or down at any time. You can even text in pictures on some plans.
If you want to give Qeepsake a try, you can sign up for a free 14 trial with 1 question a day to see if it’s right for you. I love that it’s helping remind me to record memories of my kids!
6. OK to Wake alarm clock
Have you seen these? If you are a mama of little ones (ages 1 to 6, particularly), then you need this alarm clock! It’s incredible.
The concept is simple. Your child can get out of bed when the clock turns green. You can set the wake up time for whenever you choose. At our house, Nathan’s clock is currently set for 6:30 am. He used to try to get out of bed before 6. Now, even if he wakes up, he knows to lay there quietly until the clock turns green.
This alarm clock also has a nap timer that is really easy to adjust. You can start the nap timer whenever you want, which is nice too. Right now, Nathan’s nap time clock is set for 2 hours. It gives him plenty of time to unwind and sleep for a bit. If he wakes before the alarm turns green, he just lays in bed and waits. It gives us both the rest time break that we need.
I don’t have to go check on him or remind him to stay in bed. The alarm clock does all the work for me. It has done wonders for our morning awake time as well as naps. I highly recommend this alarm clock to all my mom friends!
Thanks to this clock, I can put Nathan down to nap at the same time as Emma, and know nap time will overlap nicely since he will be in his room until his clock turns green. They don’t always sleep as long as the other, but I am guaranteed at least one hour of quiet time every afternoon, in part, thanks to this clock. If I’m lucky, I can get 2 hours and on the very rare occasion when I have exhausted kids, I’ve been known to relish a 3 hour nap time!
7. Simple meals
We’re in a busy session of life. I love to cook and bake a lot of homemade things for our family. Even so, I’ve learned to embrace simple meals. I don’t fix lots of sides. I have embraced canned fruits and frozen vegetables, particularly in the winter. We eat a main dish with a fruit and a vegetable at our meals. Nothing elaborate. I try to include lots of variety from day to day so my children are still exposed to different foods. However, I am content with simple meals for now. It saves me on prep time and I can quickly have meals on the table that everyone will eat.
Breakfast is often yogurt with granola, frozen waffles, oatmeal, homemade pancakes or muffins.
Lunch time is just me and the kids so we eat leftovers, peanut butter sandwiches, homemade bread and butter, cheese and crackers, fruit or cottage cheese.
I cook more for dinner but know that right now, a 9×13 pan will last us a couple meals – even with kids who love to eat. I’ve become a big fan of 5 ingredient recipes and save lists like these for new ideas.
I will cook more elaborate meals when we have company but for now? Simple meals work for us.
8. Online shopping
While I don’t mind venturing out to go grocery shopping, I don’t care for running countless errands with the kids. It’s one of the reasons I am so thankful for Meijer because I can get almost everything else there along with my groceries.
For everything else? I am huge fan of online shopping – both for the time and money it saves me. We are Amazon Prime members (here’s how we save with Amazon) and I love the good online deals I can find there.
I’ve also started using the Honey app and that has helped me save even more with my online shopping. Once you install this app in your browser, it quickly notifies you if there are better deals available and even searches for available coupon codes that actually work. I’ve already saved quite a few dollars at Amazon, thanks to Honey.
There you have it. There are 8 things saving my time, money and sanity as a stay-at-home mom. What would you add to this list?