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Yes I have 4 kids and yes my house is clean!

I’m not superwoman. I’m not a miracle worker. I’m just a mom who likes a clean home… and likes the value it brings in raising our kids!

I’m not going to lie.. there are days and times when it’s NOT the neatest. Muddy footprints. Dog hair. Spilled milk. Pencil marks on the wall. You name it.. our kids have probably done it.

So when I say I’m a mom who likes a clean home… I do… but I work my butt off cleaning up after everyone on a daily basis. (And have come up with a whole bunch of life hacks along the way!)

Here’s how I do it. I’m giving you all the secrets!

1. Make the kids help. (And hubby too!)

One day when our kids are married their spouses are going to thank me for training them so well! The truth is I can’t maintain this house all on my own! It’s a team effort. Unloading and loading and washing dishes are a daily chore for our kiddos. Laundry? Uh yea they do their own! And from time to time they vacuum and sweep for me!

2. Set expectations in your household.

All humans who live in my home know how I like my house. They know if they track muddy prints in I’m not going to be happy. They also know if I walk by their room and see dirty clothes all over the floor, I’m definitely going to stop and say something about it. They know better than to leave dirty dishes on the table. Once you set these expectations and don’t let them get away with failing to uphold them, life will be a whole lot easier. Think about how much of this you don’t have to worry about because they will just do it… without you having to ask!

3. Do something each day.

I was getting overwhelmed on the weekends trying to do everything in one day or sometimes just a few hours. It’s so hard when your weekdays are busy with work and after school activities. I was waiting to do it all on the weekends which most working mamas probably do! For me, it’s much easier to break my household chores up and do a little bit every day! Find things that will help you accomplish this such as a Swiffer Wet Jet or by keeping your favorite multipurpose cleaner out in an easy to grab spot. My biggest challenge is keeping my floors clean. I chose that to be my daily priority. The Swiffer has made keeping the dog hair to a minimum and saves me a lot of time! It’s a quick and easy way to go over the floors in the evening either with the wet pads or dry pads. Pick something that’s feasible to do every day and commit to it!

4. Have a take-your-shoes-off at the door rule!

Hands down the easiest way to maintain clean floors is by making sure no one wears shoes in the house. Our home is definitely a no shoes zone! If you think about everywhere your shoes have been… public restrooms, mud puddles, stepping in dog poop… then you would jump on the opportunity to enforce this rule!

5. Declutter often.

Don’t let things pile up! Dedicate a weekend every few months to go through kids’ rooms and discard broken items or trash and donate toys and clothes that are no longer wanted! Do the same thing with the other closets such as the coat closet, linen closet, and YOUR closet! Recognize “clutter hot spots” in your house and rearrange or change things up to force you not to leave “stuff” laying there. For us, the kitchen bar always gets piled with random “stuff,” including mail, wallets, can coozies, pens, and the list goes on. I put a cute wire tray there with a basket in it for mail and a lamp beside it to deter my peeps from piling stuff up on an empty counter. Trust me it works!

Being neat and clean isn’t just me being seriously OCD! It’s teaching our kids how to be independent and responsible. It’s also teaching them how to give things up, because having an abundance of material items isn’t necessary to be happy. It teaches them compassion when they choose which of their old toys to donate to Goodwill. It teaches them teamwork. Have you ever seen THREE kids unload the dishwasher at one time? Our kids have it down to a science! It allows them to contribute to running our home. Acceptance. We aren’t just the mean ol’ parents fussing at them to do stuff. We value their hard work! They aren’t just spoiled rotten and lazy… which don’t get me wrong sometimes they are! But they are being taught to work hard for rewards. They are being taught that we work for what we have and that things don’t always come easy to us in life. We are teaching them that life is full of “I wants” but first we have to do the “I musts.”

I’ve read blogs where mamas believe in spending less time worrying about cleaning. That the dishes can wait because they are only going to be little once. And those mamas are completely right. It’s NOT always all about keeping things neat and tidy. There are times we say “screw it,” let’s enjoy staying outside a little later than normal because it’s a nice evening. Oh, we definitely do that too! But keeping a clean home is more than that. Our time with them as kids is going to go by so fast. And we will always, always make time to enjoy them. I’m also looking at the big picture. I’m thinking about teaching them these values. I’m thinking about what they will be like when they are raising their own families.

I am proud of how we are raising our big family. So yes, my house is clean and neat… even with four kids living here!

Xoxo,

MK

Pregnant during the pandemic

I think it’s safe to say that everyone is aware of the worldwide pandemic that is the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. The media surrounding this virus has provoked fear, panic, and skepticism across our country. Schools are closed, events are cancelled, sports seasons are halted, and grocery stores have cut back their open hours. We have been encouraged to stay at home, refrain from going to the park or have play dates with friends. It seems the internet and news programs have forgotten about much else besides this virus. The average healthy person may or may not be worried about catching the virus, but what if you’re pregnant?

The CDC tells us that because COVID-19 is a new disease, we do not know yet if a pregnant woman has a greater chance of contracting the virus nor do we know how the virus impacts pregnancy or whether it can be passed on to the unborn baby. The CDC website states that there have only been very few cases in pregnant women and that much is still unclear. Read more here – (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fspecific-groups%2Fpregnancy-faq.html)

In a way the data is positive in the fact that the numbers of pregnant women who have had the Coronavirus are very low. There have only been a small number of complications with pregnancies in women who have had Coronavirus and those outcomes cannot be solely blamed on the virus itself, according to the CDC. Overall, pregnant women should still be cautious and stay away from anyone who is sick, just as they would treat the flu or strep throat, or the stomach bug.

Does this information take my fears away? Absolutely not. I was anxious and nervous about birthing a healthy baby before I even had knowledge about what this virus was and way before the virus came to America.

Does this information increase my fear at 8 months pregnant? Absolutely. The fact that there is so much unknown is scary. However, what’s more scary to me is how people are reacting to all of this. It’s a pandemic of panic.

My biggest fear is that I would have the virus and have to be separated from my baby after delivery. (This happened in England!) Although I would never want to get my newborn sick, I am more concerned that because of the hype surrounding this virus and the precautions that have been put in place by hospitals to protect us due to the hysteria, that those special first few minutes, hours, and days with my newborn could be compromised if I were to test positive for the virus. What if this virus could affect me simply as a bad cold and not harm my baby at all? I get it. So much is unknown and we can’t take any chances. Can you imagine not being able to immediately bond with your baby?

I am not trying to downplay this serious virus by any means and these precautions may be necessary and in our best interests… But I can’t help but be prematurely disappointed in how this may affect our delivery. I have been looking forward to spending those first few days with our baby in our little hospital room bubble since the day we found out we were pregnant. I have been looking forward to seeing our other children’s faces as they walk in our room to see the new baby for the first time. Granted, I’ll still get to see their reaction, even if it’s not until we get home since our hospital has now implemented new visitation rules stating no children may visit a patient. And we will still be in a little hospital bubble at some point, but so much is unknown and out of our control because of the craziness that has been provoked recently that it does cause us to be anxious and nervous about what will happen when our baby decides to make his or her entrance into this world.

I will heed all precautions and avoid people and public places and the Lord knows I’ve been washing my hands like crazy. I will sadly stay away from Target. (Internally crying) I will continue to be the germaphobe that I have always been when it comes to trying to avoid any kind of sickness. But the only way to get through this with a peaceful mind is to have faith in God. This is all out of our control and there’s nothing I can do about the hospital policies or when the baby decides to come. There’s nothing I can do about the way the entire world is going ballistic. I can only have faith that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. That’s. All. I. Can. Do.

When the fear sets in, I have to remind myself that we have overcome SO MUCH to get this far… surgery to remove my IUD, over a year of trying to get pregnant, a chemical pregnancy, a miscarriage, and everything in between… After many negative pregnancy tests… after we had stopped “trying,” and those two little pink lines appeared out of the blue… We have made it through every ultrasound and every prenatal appointment with flying colors. We have spent 9 months worrying and hoping and preparing for… now.

The world can’t hurt this joy.

I will do everything in my power to protect this baby, as I would do if there wasn’t a pandemic outside my front door. All that’s left for us to do is keep the faith and trust in God, praying that this too shall pass.

Stay healthy my preggo friends!

Xoxo,

MK

Ways to spend your two week quarantine!

Is it ironic that yesterday I wrote a post about how to pack lunchboxes and today I’m writing about how to spend two weeks at home with your children?! Yesterday, I never would have thought when I was packaging food up for next week’s lunches that I would be sitting here today thinking about spending the next two weeks at home with our kids.

The coronavirus, COVID-19, has taken over our lives. It’s all we see and hear about. Now our Virginia schools are closed for two weeks. Our Rec baseball and softball seasons have been put on hold. So what will you do if you’re going to be home for two weeks with the fam?

Here are some ideas to make this a positive experience!

Put down your phone and read! Grab that book you’ve been trying to make time for. Read to your kiddos! You won’t have to rush to get them home, fed, and in bed so take a few extra minutes to read them a book. They will love you for it!

Watch movies instead of the news. Rent a movie, check out Disney+ or log into your Netflix account. We know the world is going crazy.. distract yourself from the chaos by watching some good ol’ family flicks instead.

Start a project. Use the resources in your home that you already have and get creative. Spray paint that old chair. Paint your front door. Rearrange your closet. Declutter toys and go through clothes. Take that project you haven’t had time to do and dig in! What better time that two weeks at home?

Get outside. It may not be a good idea to travel or leave your home but you’re safe in your own yard! Go outside and play. Challenge your kids to a game of tag or have them play kickball. Swing. Take a walk. Get those flower beds ready for spring and pull those weeds! Make the kids pull weeds! Or just sit outside and read a book! At least we are having nice weather in VA!

Deep clean your house. Coronavirus brings a new meaning to spring cleaning! Get down and clean those baseboards! Clean the showers, flip your mattress, clean your ceiling fans, or wash windows! Do some of that cleaning that you often put off for another day. It will also mentally make you feel better about the sickness that is constantly being discussed in the media. A clean home always makes me feel more comfortable!

Cook dinner and actually sit down with your kids to eat it. How many days out of the week do we actually cook dinner and sit down as a family to eat? For us it’s never. Honestly. I think it’s been since Thanksgiving. Have your kids help cook or bake something! Take the extra time you have to prepare a dinner. Sit down with your kids and enjoy the meal!

Get out those board games! Has it been a hot minute since you played Clue??? How about Monopoly? Everyone has a board game hiding somewhere. Engage your kids and encourage them to put the electronics down and play the game!

Rest. It will probably do your crazy, busy, mom bod some good to get some rest. Binge watch your favorite show. Take a nap while your littles nap. Sleep in if you are as lucky as me and have sleep trained your kids!

We are constantly complaining about not having enough time or being super tired with the every day stresses of life. How many times have you said “Oh I didn’t have time.” Look at the silver lining! You will never regret spending time with your family. The world can be scary. Coronavirus or not, tomorrow is never guaranteed. Let’s try not to live in fear, but to look at every day as a blessing and take advantage of it. Take care of yourself and your family and enjoy them while you’re doing it!

Stay home and stay healthy!

Xoxo,

MK

Lunchbox hacks for every day

With four kiddos in the house packing lunches every day can be a CHORE.

I have bought individualized snacks.. it can get very expensive! Especially when you have to buy them in bulk! The individualized Pringle’s or Lays chips or Cheez-Its… there are few packs in the box and with four kids, they disappear quickly.

I also try to buy some healthy snacks so our kids aren’t eating junk all day long at school.

Here’s what works the best in our house and makes mornings much easier!

Individual yogurt, jello, applesauce and fruit – I just throw them in the fridge on the door or throw them in a plastic container in the fridge. Not all of this has to be refrigerated but with limited storage space in my house this is the best place to store them! The kids can literally open the fridge, grab, and go! I also pre-package fresh fruits and veggies (like baby carrots and grapes) and keep them in the fruit drawer for easy access!

I buy large bags of animal cookies or Doritos for example (because what kid doesn’t love doritos) and then individually bag them up for the week! Graham crackers, fig newtons, and cheez doodles are other choices! Once I bag them up I throw them in a zipper bag so they are all in one place and the kids can grab them easily!

My kids love salad so I’ll also pack salads for them to eat during the week and store them in the fridge for each day!

Our kids pack their own lunches! I haven’t packed their lunches in a couple of years now and teaching them to do this has made a huge difference in the mornings! They know they are limited to a lunch + 3 snacks for the day and they typically stick to it. Make 👏🏻 your 👏🏻 kids 👏🏻 be 👏🏻 responsible 👏🏻 and 👏🏻 independent! All I do is purchase the food and make it easy for them to access! They do the rest!

Honestly I would go insane if I had to pack lunches every day!

Xoxo,

MK

The rainbow after the storm

March is Pregnancy After Loss Awareness Month! March is the perfect month for this because it represents fresh beginnings and brighter days. This month, we acknowledge and support women who have experienced pregnancy loss but are now trying to conceive or are pregnant with their rainbow baby.

Pregnancy after miscarriage is harder than I imagined it would be. The last 7 months have been full of fear and hope simultaneously in the strangest way. I have prayed more than I ever have in my entire life. I have worried and prayed and worried some more. I told myself that with each “milestone” of this pregnancy that I would feel better and it would be easier. But, even after passing the first ultrasound, after making it to the 24 week mark where baby is considered “viable,” and even after overcoming a low lying placenta and hearing that baby is healthy and head down and ready to go… there’s still a sliver of fear that trickles in every now and then that makes you doubt that these dreams will come to fruition.

At the same time, I’m excited and anxious and happy. There are so many “what if’s” and I have to constantly remind myself that everything is okay. But the joy is one that makes your heart so full it could literally explode.

Pregnancy after loss is so different from the other three “normal” pregnancies I’ve had. This time you notice every kick. This time you are scared to death when you arrive for a check up at the ob and you’re on top of the world when you leave the office with a good report. This pregnancy is buying all the baby things with all the hope but you say a prayer beside your new bassinet that you’ll actually get to meet this baby. This entire experience has been a balance between joy and grief.

Pregnancy after loss is still grieving the baby you lost while learning to fall in love with a little rainbow. There’s a feeling of guilt that will overcome you every time you begin to complain about your back hurting at 34 weeks or when you’re throwing up for the 21st day in a row, you tell yourself you’re being ungrateful because deep down you know that things could be so much worse. When none of your clothes fit and you can’t sleep at night because you’re so uncomfortable, you remind yourself that this could all be over in an instant.

There’s also an awareness you have when you’re talking about being pregnant or planning for the new baby. While I want to be excited and share everything, I am cautious because I know there could be someone present or listening who is struggling with infertility or who just lost their own baby. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. It has happened to women all around you. Miscarriage has taught me to be sensitive to those statistics.

If you just found out you’re expecting a rainbow, or you’re trying to conceive, or you are grieving a loss, there is hope. This month we remember the storms we’ve been through. We accept the difficulties we are experiencing and we talk about it. We spread awareness about this almost taboo topic and we continue to support each other in an effort to understand that not one of us is alone in this journey.

“In the world of pregnancy after loss there is a story of hope about a precious new life, and it’s the story of the rainbow baby. It is based on the understanding that the beauty of the rainbow does not negate the ravages of any storm. The clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides hope and promise of new life ahead.”

Pregnancy After Loss Awareness Month

Xoxo,

MK