10 weeknight family dinners

Working full time and being a single mom sometimes it is hard to find dinner ideas that are easy, not junk food, and that my kids will eat. Here are some tried and true recipes.

  1. Crock pot chicken and stuffing
  2. Crock pot broccoli Alfredo chicken
  3. Slow cooker chicken fajitas
  4. Slow cooker chicken and veggies
  5. Slow cooker garlic parm chicken
  6. Chicken and veggies sheet pan
  7. One pot vegetable pastas
  8. Steak and potatoes in a stick (or really any kabob recipe)
  9. Easy stuffed peppers
  10. Breakfast bacon and egg grilled cheese (or any form of grilled cheese)

10 Ways to Teach Young Kids to be Thankful

Bubba is at the age where he understands more about the Holidays. We have been working hard this month on teaching him to be Thankful for things.

  1. Teach them to say thank you. This is the first step to teaching children to be thankful. We are even working with Z on saying thank you in sign language.
  2. Thank them. Show them that you are thankful for them and what they do for the family.
  3. Model being thankful. I say things like I am thankful for Bubba, baby Z, hot chocolate, etc.
  4. Talk about what you are thankful during dinner. This helps me model it but it allows him to practice and he even says funny things like hamburgers and hotdogs.
  5. Prayer. Praying to God and thanking him for what we are thankful for is a great way to model being thankful.
  6. Go on a nature walk. Teach kids to be thankful for what is in nature.
  7. Have them do something for their siblings. And teach them not to expect anything in return.
  8. Have them pack up some toys to give to kids in need. This helps clean out your house for Christmas as well.
  9. Make food in a food kitchen. If your children are old enough.
  10. Have them do chores (and thank them for it instead of pay them). This might seem like a weird one but it shows kids to appreciate all the work that is done in the house.

10 ways I save time

After Thursday’s post I got thinking and I realized that there are a lot of little things I do to help my self save time and maybe get some extra time to myself or extra sleep. Here are 10 ways I save time.

  1.  Having groceries delivered. Though it usually is an extra charge the last thing I want to do when I’m exhausted and stressed is take two kids to the store.
  2.  Getting my house cleaned. We keep our house pretty clean but once a month someone comes in and deep cleans my house. It saves me so much time. Though cleaning services are expensive you can try trading with a friend, they clean your hous and you babysit or mow their lawn or sow thing. I hate deep cleaning and would rather do anything else.
  3. Setting out clothes. After I do laundry on Saturday I set out everyone’s clothes for the week. I even check the weather to make sure we dress appropriate. This saves us so much time in the morning and I get 5 extra minutes of sleep.
  4. Making my lunches for the week on Sunday. I put every thing together in the fridge and just put it in my lunch box every morning.
  5.  Cooking in a crock pot. When I get home from a long day of work and something isn’t already prepared for dinner I will end up just ordering something. However, if something delicious and healthy is waiting for me in the crock pot I will save money and calories.
  6. Shower at night. I have said this before but if I didn’t shower at night I would be one crabby person in the morning.
  7. Have an automatic start in my car. Not only does this save time because I don’t have to take a trip out to the car but it’s probably safer then keeping my keys in my car.
  8. Amazon prime. I’m absolutely in love with amazon 🙂
  9. Not wearing make up. Okay I honestly do this because I have super sensitive skin and I haven’t found a single type of make up that doesn’t make me look like a giant red tomato after wearing it all day.
  10. Not sweating the small stuff. When I’m really stressed. Like this week. I just work on making sure I get everything done that needs to get done and don’t worry about the little things. Like the fact one of our toilets is broken.

10 ways to take time for yourself

I always feel like I never take enough time for myself. Here are some things I love to do to relax. 

  1. Go to a movie alone. I always thought this was weird but when I have some time to myself (like once a year) I sneak out and watch a movie by myself or go to dinner by myself.
  2. Paint your nails. I don’t know about you but when I’m stressed the last thing I think about his my nails (right now they are super long and I should probably take care of that). Once I have my nails all painted I feel so much better. 
  3. Drive somewhere with a pretty view. I have even done this when my kids are asleep in the car. It is calming and relaxing. Sometimes you need peace and quiet.
  4. Watch an old movie. I have no idea how many times I have watched Greece and Dirty Dancing.
  5. Have a dance party. Not only is dancing relaxing but it can also be a family activity
  6. Get a babysitter just to have time for yourself. Sometimes I get a babysitter so I can just be alone for an hour. It’s not often and I sometimes feel guilty about it, but I definitely need it. 
  7. Work out. Though I don’t go to the gym enough it is a great way to relax and do something healthy. They have child care so that’s a big bonus.
  8. Take a really long shower. Okay sometimes the only alone time you can get is in the shower.
  9. Blog. I love blogging because it fixes me time to sit down and write things. I don’t care if no one reads it. I can get my adult thoughts out. 
  10. Cry in your car alone. When you are having a bad day like I’m having today just crying alone is refreshing. 

10 ways parenting made me an A-hole recently 

I realized recently sometimes I am inadvertently an a-hole because either I am tired, distracted or simply because I am a parent.

  1. When I had to cut someone off because  I realized I had to turn the other way to go to Home Depot.
  2. When I asked the lady at the McDonald’s drive thru to repeat herself 4 times because both my kids were crying.
  3. When I held up traffic for about 30 seconds in the same drive thru line so that I could help the crying kids. 
  4. When I held up the Walgreens line because I had approximately a million questions about my child’s prescription.
  5. Anytime I have ever used WIC especially when I am trying to use multiple coupons at once. 
  6. Anytime I have tried to use a clothing voucher
  7. When my kid cried while in the doctor waiting room because he was bored and wanted to crawl and I wouldn’t let him. 
  8. When I missed two meetings at work because I was home with a sick kid.
  9. When I didn’t have time to breakdown all my boxes before putting them in the recycle bin (sorry neighbors)
  10. When I forgot to send Bubba’s library books back.

So everyone I pissed off I am really sorry. 

10 things to do the first month of a new placement 

Now that you know the child(ren) a little bit better it is time to take care of business. That first month is full of meetings and asking questions.

  1. Talk to a caseworker.  If after the first week you don’t hear anything, start calling the licensing worker and agencies office. Have a list of questions ready.
  2. Find out about the court case. When you do finally talk to someone make sure you are all caught up on how the first court hearing went and when the next one will be.
  3. Find out information about the parents. Are the parents together? Is there any other family they are close to and will be seeing? How will you communicate with the parents?
  4. Meet the parents. This might not happen in every case but if you have the chance jump on it. Introduce yourself, ask them if there is anything you should know about their child, and let them know you are there to support them as well.
  5. Set up visits.  In some states you make have to drive the child yourself. In Illinois we have a program that drives the child and monitor visits. I have to spend a lot of time on the phone though making sure the days work with the kids school schedule.
  6. Set up therapy. I am a firm believer that any child 3 and over in foster care should be in therapy no matter what. Children need as many positive adults in their life that they can talk to.
  7. Go to the doctor. In Illinois you need to set up a doctors appointment within 28 days. I would set it up as soon as you get a placement. I would also make sure you have a list of questions ready especially if it is a younger child.
  8. Get a health history. You might be able to ask the casewoeker for a health history or the parents. It is very important to know as much information as you can about a child’s health.
  9. Ask the child if there is anything that you can do for them. Is there a sport they want to join? Friends or family they are hoping to see? A church they are part of? Try to see what you can do to make this time for the child as easy as possible.
  10. Take time for yourself. That first month is exhausting and especially if it is your first time parenting it can be very overwhelming. Find some time for yourself even if it’s just eating Oreos while watching tv (my favorite pastime)

10 things to do the first week of a new placement 

The first week with a new foster placement is all about getting to know the foster child and allowing them to get to know you. It is an overwhelming week but these steps are crucial in starting the foundation for them feeling at home and loved. 

  1. Sign them up for school/daycare. This is always the first thing I do (during the school year). I take off the first two days I have a placement so that I can sign them up and then take them to school for the first day.
  2. Learn about any court dates and visits set up.  The caseworker or licensing worker should call you within the first week to let you know when they child will be seeing their parents. 
  3. Establish rules/chores. This is something I do very slowly. Everyone has their own way of setting down ground rules for foster kids. I prefer to just mention things as they come up. 
  4. Be patient with the rules. They are in a brand new house and probably have forgotten your name already. Gently remind them the rules in your house. These rules are brand new to them and will take time. 
  5. Go to the store with your foster child. Allow them to pick out food they like and clothing they like. Also maybe allow them to pick out a special toy. One time the day after I got a placement I took all my foster kids to a garage sale and let them pick out a toy. 
  6. Take lots of pictures. It is always nice to have pictures to look back at. However, the point of taking pictures the first week is to be able to put pictures of your new foster kids around your house so they feel at home.
  7. Allow them to decorate their room. I always let my foster kids pick out wall stickers to put around their room. They always love it.
  8. Find out what they like to do and do it. Even if it is something small like building a puzzle together, show them you care about their interests.
  9. Go on a family outing. It can be something as simple as going to the movies together. Just do something to make them feel like part of the family. 
  10. Know there will be some hiccups. Like finding out your new foster child only eats oatmeal for breakfast and you don’t have any in the house. It happens and you will figure it out.

10 things to do the first night of a new placement 

That first night is scary and overwhelming for a foster child. Here are some tips for making them feel at home or for you to not be a nervous wreck (though to be honest I always am anyways…but these tips help me calm down a little) 

  1. Breathe. After you hang up the phone it is a little nerve-racking. Take a deap breath and pray for the child(ren) you are about to meet.
  2. Prepare their room. I always have clothes for every age/gender I am licensed for so I can grab a couple outfits.
  3. Welcome them to your home. The children could be scared or they could open up to you right away. Have a movie going or toys out for them to play with while you talk to the placement worker
  4. Make sure to get all the information from the placement worker you need. In my experience placement workers are always rushed. Make sure you get the placement paperwork, medical card information, and ask any questions you might have. Also, always make sure you have the phone numbers you need.
  5. Introduce everyone in your family (including pets). I always have foster children call me by my first name as well as my parents. 
  6. Give a tour of the house. Show the child the whole house so they are familiar. This is also a great time to go over the rules. Such as, make sure you lock the bathroom door when you are in there or no one is allowed in my bedroom.
  7. Make a kid friendly meal for dinner. I always have frozen pizza and mac n cheese on hand and I let them chose what they would like to eat. 
  8. Get to know them. Ask them questions as long as they seem open to it. The first night I learned my first foster son loved the Seahawks which was my dads favorite team. My dad brought over a Seahawks blanket for him immediately and he still has it to this day even though he is no longer in my house.
  9. Have them get to know you. Allow them to ask you any question they want and tell them silly things about you. 
  10. Allow them to have control. I’m a strict believer in very few rules that first night. I allow them to watch as much tv as they want, eat what they want, and go to bed when they want. They are usually scared and unsure of what is going on. I feel it’s important to not expect too much of them that first night. 

10 Tips for surviving a road trip as a single parent 

This summer I finally was able to get the siding put on my house. The wood on my house probably hadn’t been painted in 20 years and was rotting. Though I was very excited to finally get this project done, I was not excited to have my house turn into a construction site. I decided to go on a road trip for 10 days. Though there were some problems I have to say overall it was an amazing trip.

1. Bring snacks and comfort food. Both kids were tired of eating out pretty quickly so it was nice to pull out a mini box of their favorite cereal, some ramen, or easy mac when they wanted something they didn’t have to wait in line for.

2. Don’t drive a lot in one day. I planned my trip so I was only traveling three or four hours in one day. It was perfect because we were not in a rush and we could stop at tourist places on our way. The last day we ended up traveling 9 hours in one day and I have to say it was exhausting and I wouldn’t do it again.

3. Go somewhere kid friendly. I really wanted to go to Springfield and Kansas City since they are not places I have been been able to explore a lot. I made sure I had a list of good kid activities we could do at each destination in between doing what I wanted to do.

4. Stay at a hotel/campground with a pool. Everyplace we went had a pool and we even stayed at a water park for part of it. Kids love pools and it gave us something to do every night.

5. Do things that might seem too hard as a single parent. I went on a tube water slide with both kids at one time. I was absolutely amazed that Great Wolf Lodge had a water slide that fit three people on it and they they allowed children smaller than 4 feet to go on. I was even more amazed that both my kids wanted to go on it. I wasn’t sure how this was going to work since both kids are terrified of water slides. We got up to the front and my two year old started to cry. I started to freak out wondering what I was supposed to do now. The life guard took my two year old out of my arms and held him as I got myself and my nine year old situated. Thank god for nice strangers or I think we would have had to walk back down those scary steps. We were able to enjoy our water slide but sadly I could not convince my two year old to go back on.

6. Get extra help when needed. There were three points along my trip where I met with friends. It was so nice to have extra hands at the dinner table and to have adult conversation.

7. Give each child individual attention. I know it’s not always possible but kids love when they get special attention. A lot of times on the trip I had each kid take turns picking an activity. I also always spent nap time hanging out with my older daughter so she didn’t feel like the “baby” was getting all the attention.

8. Treat yourself. I spent every night watching my favorite show and eating Oreos. I love my kids but it was important for my sanity to make sure I made this trip about me as well.

9. Don’t be afraid to change plans. We drove home a day early because we all needed to sleep in our own beds. It’s okay to change plans based on how your kids are feeling or doing.

10. Have fun 🙂 🙂 🙂