10 Ways for Moms to De-Stress After Work

Being a working mom can be stressful! It is important to de-stress after a long day at work no matter what your profession. I work swing shift so I am not home until about midnight on nights that I work. I often get on social media when I get home which I know is not the best way to unwind but for whatever reason, I still find myself there. I came up with this list for myself but I also hope that it will be helpful for you. I often feel like I don’t have much time after I get home to do some of these things but then I end up on social media for over an hour many times. That is plenty of time to spend time doing a more helpful de-stressing activity!

Take a Bath

There are so many studies about the benefits of baths. Taking a hot bath is good for your mind and body. There are many essential oils and salts that can be added to make baths even more helpful. Here is a post from HealthLine that goes more in depth about the benefits of taking a bath after a long day. How a hot bath can clean of a days stress. Bath bombs are a big deal right now and they make bathtime simple. Here are a few of my favorites!

Or you could try making your own! I might try it. Here is a recipe I found on Pinterest from Sunlit spaces How to make amazing DIY bath bombs

Color

I’m sure you have heard about the “adult coloring book” craze. I thought it was a little silly when I first heard about it. Coloring is thought of as an activity for kids. I actually enjoy coloring with my kids though. I did buy myself an “adult coloring book” too. I even got my husband a star wars one. I don’t color as often as I would like. Sometimes it seems like too much work. But once I get started I never regret it. It helps clear the mind and can be calming as well. It helps you use your creativity too which is good for your well being. Here are a few I like from amazon!

Talk to a friend

Talking to a friend and being able to de-brief and vent about a tough part of the day is a great way to de-stress. Friends can re-assure us that we made good choices. They can also validate our frustrations. I love being able to walk out of work with my co-workers. I work in a large hospital so walking to the parking garage is a bit of a trek. This trek gives us just a few minutes though to talk about or day, voice our frustrations or laugh about ridiculous moments of the day. As I was thinking about ways to de-stress, I realized how beneficial these few minutes are.

Write in a Journal

If you are not able to talk to a friend about your day you can write in a journal instead. Getting thoughts down on paper can be very helpful. We often learn a lot from a stressful day and writing down these thoughts can help us face a similar situation with less stress.

I have also started a gratitude journal recently. Each day I write down something I am grateful for. This helps me find the good in a work day, even if it was stressful. You can read more about gratitude journals here. Count your many blessings: Thoughts on keeping a gratitude journal. 

Listen to Music

Music is a huge motivator for me. Whenever I don’t feel like doing housework or doing a particular task for my blog, I turn on some of my favorite music. Listening to music can also help you de-stress after work. I love blasting a favorite song and singing along on my drive home from work. Music has always been a huge part of my life and has helped me so much during tough times. There is such a variety of music too! Something for every mood and situation.

Meditation/Yoga

I have never been good at either of these. My mind usually wanders or can’t get off a particularly bad moment of the day. I imagine that listening to music and meditating might be helpful. I also have terrible balance and coordination so yoga is a bit tough for me. I really want to start doing more yoga though! Since I work such a late shift I can’t exercise after work. But yoga is a great way to exercise and relax at the same time. I have a yoga mat with some suggested poses that I am going to try out. I recommended a DVD below as well. I love Jessica Smith’s workouts! There are also a lot of great free videos on youtube (Including some from Jessica Smith)! My family is usually all sleeping when I get home though, so this won’t work for me.

Spend time outdoors

Since I get off work so late, I can’t really spend time outdoors after work. I try to spend a lot of time outdoors though on my days off, or in the morning before work. There are a lot of studies about how spending time outdoors helps people have less stress in their lives and in turn even live longer. Here is a post from Business insider that gives science-backed reasons for spending time outdoors including improving memory, fighting depression, and lowing blood pressure. Why spending more time outside is healthy. Even though I live in a city, I still enjoy spending time in my backyard. I even got a hammock to hang in a couple of trees, and it is awesome. So relaxing!

Turn your electronics off

This is very tough for me. I have always used my phone as my “mindless” activity after work. But there have been some recent studies that show that spending time on electronics actually increases our stress and can lead to depression. Here is a study called “Association between screen time and depression in U.S Adults“. And another from Psychology Today called Screens and Stress Response. I am working hard to break this habit. I encourage you to do the same. Try one of the other ideas on this list if you feel stressed out. It will work better than spending mindless hours on social media.

Work on a Craft

I love doing crafts even though I am not that great at it. There is something about making something yourself though that is very rewarding. Working on a craft can also be relaxing, especially compared to the chaotic environment of a hospital. I usually do not have the motivation to work on a craft when I get home. My craft area is also in our bedroom which is not ideal in the middle of the night, haha. But if you have the ability, I say go for it!

Eat Ice Cream

When all else fails, eat some ice cream or your favorite treat. Even if you are trying to eat healthy, an occasional treat after a bad day is definitely ok in my book!

These are just a few ways that I have found to de-stress after work. What are some ways you de-stress? Thanks for reading!

7 Tips to Help Reduce Stress When Flying with Toddlers

Flying with toddlers can be pretty stressful.  I have learned a lot of lessons over the last few years of flying with our 2 kiddos. My husband’s family lives in California so we try to make at least a yearly trip to visit them. If we were to drive, it would take close to 20 hours to make the trip. Even though the airport is stressful, it is still worth it due to the amount of time we can save. Here are some helpful tips I have come up with along the way to help reduce stress when flying with toddlers.

This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on them and ordering featured products will earn me a commission at no extra cost to you. 

flying with toddlers

1. Family Backpacks

flying with toddlers

Pack your carry-on items in Backpacks instead of suitcases or bags.

Pack everything else in Suitcases. This made our last trip so smooth! Another time that I flew we had a “food bag” and then a “toy bag” and then the kids had their backpacks and I had my purse and there was another backpack. I thought it would be more organized that way but I was wrong. It was a bit chaotic making sure we got all of our bags off of the airplane. When each person just has one bag(plus I had my purse) it is very easy to keep track of everything. “Does everyone have their backpack? Good!” I love the idea of using backpacks, even for parents, because it allows your hands to be free. Having your hands free is very important in reducing stress!

What should you pack in them?

Both of my kids are still in diapers so I filled both backpacks with diapers. We were going on a 10-day trip, so I tried to bring enough to last us at least half of that. I also packed a full pack of wipes in one of the backpacks plus the pack I had in my purse. You can never have too many wipes!

The kid’s backpacks were for the toys, of course right? I also included a few snacks in them too. I had a variety of snacks in each backpack. I feel like snacks are the ultimate distraction tool. See my snack recommendations below. I also included a sweater and extra pair of clothes for each kid.

2. Check your Suitcases!

The first time that we flew with both kids I was super stoked that we could each bring a carry on bag and avoid the charge for checking bags. That was until we seemed to have a hundred bags to try to carry between me and my husband, and two kids to tote around. I felt pretty dumb. We ended up checking the bags anyways. The last couple of times I’ve flown, I got smart and bought a slightly larger suitcase so that we only bring 2 suitcases with us. One for me and the kids, the other for my husband. We found a good flight through Southwest this time so our check bags are free also. Score!

3. Arrive Early!

Even if you have a small airport it is helpful to arrive at least 2 hours early. This can mean you end up with extra time, but this is better than being rushed. On one of our flights we got too relaxed about arriving early and arrived to the gate after boarding. I was super stressed! This last time we were super early. We had time to eat before the flight. The only stress we had was how to keep the kids busy, which wasn’t too bad.

4. Do you need a stroller or baby carrier?

This may vary depending on the age of your kids and your preference on what would work best for them.  I have tried a number of different options so I will share each of them below.

single stroller for each kid

The first time we flew with both kids they were just over 1 and 4. My daughter(the 4-year-old) still had trouble walking a long distance and still loved to ride in strollers. And with the amount of bags we had, there was no way we could carry her. So, I decided to put each kid in an umbrella stroller since my husband would be with me. We could hang some bags on the strollers to help carry them, which was helpful.

baby carrier?

Another option would have been to put my son in a strap-on baby carrier. I loved using a baby carrier when I flew alone with my daughter when she was a baby. Unfortunately my son never really liked the baby carriers though. I also considered buying a suitcase that had a built-in seat for kiddos. Or attaching their car seats to the suitcases. We ultimately decided this was more trouble than it was worth though.

double stroller?

The next time that we flew, almost a year later, I decided to invest in a double stroller. I spent a lot of time picking the perfect stroller. I settled on an older model of the sit and stand strollers that I got a great deal on. I was sure it would be perfect. But boy was I wrong. The stroller turned out to not steer properly with 2 kids on board and it was more of a pain than it was worth. Things may have been better if I could have found a less bulky stroller, but this was difficult on a budget.

Forgoing a stroller all together

Based on these two bad experiences with strollers in the airport I decided to forgo the stroller all together this last time that we flew. The kids are now 2 and 5 with birthdays coming up soon. We considered just using a stroller for my son(the 2-year-old) since he is still pretty slow and gets tired. But since we only had back-packs on we knew we could pick him up sometimes if we needed to. We allowed ourselves plenty of time to so going slow wasn’t a big deal.

5. Thoughts on bringing car seats on the airplane

Ok, this is quite the difficult topic. When my daughter was 4 and my son 1 we took my daughters car seat on the airplane with us. I did a lot of research ahead of time that made it seem like this was absolutely necessary. It definitely was helpful once we got on the airplane. But getting it and both kids and all of our bags on board was another story.

The last 2 times that we flew we did not bring our daughters car seat on board. She still did fine. Now if you are going on a long flight, I would say for sure bring the car seat. Or if you know your kid won’t stay in the seat without it. (I saw this happen with a kid on one of our flights). But if it’s a short flight I don’t think it’s worth it. Boarding the airplane is super stressful already in my opinion and trying to haul a car seat on (or 2) just isn’t practical. They do make handy bags that you could use to carry your car seats if you need them. Or straps that make it easier to hook them to your luggage.

6. Best toys for airplane

  • Sticker books-I especially love the reusable sticker boards! Both kids love these and they are very reasonably priced.

 

  • Felt books- I made my own a couple of months ago. I’m not super crafty but my kids love these. Read the blog post here: DIY felt quiet books

 

  • Doodle pads- I’m not sure what it is about these, but my kids LOVE them. They are a must-have for airplane and car rides. I love these for church as well. Non-messy coloring/drawing is the best!

  • Matchbox cars- My son is obsessed with cars. He loves to drive his little cars around on whatever fun surface he can find. Perfect for airplane or car trips.

7. Best snacks for airplane

Snacks are a must have for airplane rides. A lot of snacks can be messy though, which can be an annoyance on airplanes. Here are a few ideas that aren’t usually too messy.

  • Squeezable fruits/veggies- I love these chia squeeze pouches! They have fruits and veggies and chia seeds that are high in protein!

  • Fruit snacks- I found a healthy option for fruit snacks! We are trying to stay away from snacks with lots of sugar so these Veggie Go’s are a great option!

 

  • Granola/protein bars- I had a hard time finding anything on Amazon to recommend here. I found some at the grocery store called “snapstick” from Powercrunch that have high protein and low sugar. They were a little messy, but the kids loved them! Whatever your favorite protein/granola bar is, bring it along!

Conclusion

I am by no means a travel expert. I am just a mom who has traveled a number of times with 2 rambunctious toddlers. I have had a lot of trial and error that I wanted to share with you. Flying and traveling with toddlers can be stressful. But there are definitely ways to reduce this stress! Hope these tips were helpful. What are some things that you do to reduce stress when traveling with your kids?

Here are a few other resources I found that could be helpful for you, especially if you are embarking on a long trip(which I have never done). Happy travels!

10 tips for flying with toddlers from Skyscanner.net

13 tips to help parents avoid stress when flying with a toddler from millionmilesecrets.com

7 Must-Have Outdoor Toys That Won’t Break the Bank

I was so excited when we moved into our house almost 3 years ago. We actually had our own yard! Our kids could play in the backyard, which is so much easier than a park(I’m a bit of a homebody, haha). But, since I had not previously had a yard, I realized I had no outdoor toys. How boring! Over the years we have built up our collection of outdoor toys. Some have been gifts, but almost all were under $50(some even cheaper)! I wanted to share them with you to save you the trouble of spending hours on research(like I did for some of these). So here are 7 must-have outdoor toys that my kids love! (These are affiliate links, clicking on them and ordering items will earn me a small commision at no extra charge to you)

Gardening tools                                                

This was the first toy we got for our yard. It is still one of the kids’ favorites (but maybe not mine, haha) The wagon that comes with this set is definitely a plus as well. It is helpful to store all of the tools in and the kids love to pull it around the backyard. But the gardening tools are great too! They are definitely a little bit cheap… But most have held up ok over the years. I really want to get these more sturdy gardening tools too though!                                                                   

 

Basketball hoop                                               

Another simple and inexpensive toy, that is a favorite of the kids. They love to put anything through the hoop, not just basketballs. I love that it is adjustable too, for as they get bigger. This one even comes with 3 basketballs. They must have been thinking when they did that because toys are so easily lost, lol!

Little Tikes slide                                               

This is a really basic slide. It is best for small toddlers( 18 months-3 years) But even though it is small, my daughter who is 5 still loves this slide. Other kids who are under 5 who have come to our house love this slide too. It is small enough that I even had it inside for a bit before moving it outside. The only problem that we have with it is that the blue handles at the top never stayed on. It works just fine without them though! I have thought about getting a bigger slide, but they are all more expensive so I have been reluctant. A friend of ours has this bigger slide, and my kids really liked it. It is still a lot cheaper than buying an actual play structure, and is pretty sturdy too!

Bubble Lawnmower                                       

This is our most recent addition to our toy collection. Our son is 2 and of course, wants to do everything that daddy does. He loves to help mow the lawn! And it blows bubbles. I mean what could be better? Haha, but really this is a definite must-have outdoor toy!

Mini Trampoline                                              

We bought this trampoline with hopes of helping our daughter learn how to jump. She is developmentally delayed and still can barely just off the ground or run. This trampoline was helpful for her! The handle is very sturdy and very helpful. She still jumps on it everytime we are outside and now my son(who is 2) loves it too. It has, unfortunately, went up in price over the last couple of years, but still worth it I think!

Picnic Table                                                        

Ok, this isn’t a toy I guess but my kids love it! It’s light, folds down easily, cleans easily. We love being able to eat outside as we enjoy spring and summer. Now I had a really hard time picking which picnic table. There are some that are cheaper, but they also seem to be more cheaply made. I like that this one is neutrally colored and more sturdy than the all plastic ones. It has the best reviews as well.

Wagon                                                                  

Everybody needs a wagon! Seriously though. My kids love this thing. They love to be pulled around the backyard. They would let me pull them all day if I didn’t get tired, haha. My daughter is actually strong enough to pull my son too! They both love to pull it around the backyard empty too. Or dump rocks in it, lol. The one complaint we have with this wagon is that the door is hard to latch and unlatch. We usually just don’t bother latching it though and it works just fine. I love that it has the door so that it is easier to get in and out. Comes in green or blue! There is one that comes with a canopy too which might be nice if you are going on walks with it.

Playhouse                                                           

This was one of the latest additions to our backyard. We waited for birthdays though and asked for it as a gift. It was the cheapest playhouse I could find with good reviews. I love that it has the water/sand table and the little mailbox. My daughter was obsessed with “Blues Clue’s” at the time, so it was perfect. It comes with a play screwdriver that they can use on the fence as well. It’s been a huge hit!

 

We hope to someday have a nice play structure for our kids. But right now it just wasn’t an option. My kids are hard on things as well. So I am glad I don’t have to worry too much about any of these toys. They are cheap enough that we can replace them if we need to. I hope this list was helpful for you! Outdoor toys for your backyard don’t have to break the bank. All of these toys are kid tested and approved too! What are your favorite outdoor toys? Happy summer to you all!

12 Staple Pantry Items I ALWAYS Keep on Hand for Quick, Simple Meals

My meal planning comes in waves. Sometimes I am good at sitting down and deciding what I want to make. Other times we just throw meals together based on what we have on hand. If it weren’t for keeping these “staple pantry items” on hand, we would probably eat out more or starve…Now, some of these aren’t actual “pantry” items. They are just items to keep on hand either in pantry, fridge or freezer.

Staple Pantry Items

Cooking Soups and Sauces

Cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, cream of celery, cheddar cheese soup, etc. Also spaghetti sauces and alfredo sauces.

We love to use canned soup to make what we call “chicken dinner” It is cream of mushroom or chicken with frozen veggies and chicken added, put over rice or noodles. Super easy and somewhat healthy. This meal often saves me from buying meals at work so it is definitely worth having on hand.

Spaghetti sauce or alfredo sauce are great for quick meals too for Spaghetti or chicken alfredo. We also use alfredo sauce on pre-made ravioli sometimes.

I also recently started making my own cheese sauce using cheddar cheese soup. I will get the recipe up soon. We love it since we love all things Mexican(see below)

 Frozen veggies

As mentioned above we love to use these in “chicken dinner”. You could also use them in a stir-fry or as a side to any meal. I love the “steamer” versions that you just throw in the microwave. Cooking vegetables just right can be hard but these steamer versions always turn out great. Making veggies easier to make/serve is important, even though my kids still won’t eat them right now(You have to keep trying though right?)

Frozen Meat

I always have frozen chicken on hand. I love the chicken tenderloins because they are a good size for thawing out and cooking easily.  I have started buying meat ahead of time at Costco and freezing it. This is a much better deal. Costco has some great options for “healthy” meat too. Grass-fed beef, wild caught cod, etc. Ground beef or turkey is great to have on hand for spaghetti or chilli as well.

Noodles/Rice

These are great to add to any meal depending on your preference. We use the noodles to make “chicken alfredo” sometimes or the rice as mentioned in our “chicken dinner”. It is nice to have these on hand so that you can throw meals together last minute.

Bread

I am not a big sandwich person, but my kids are. They could eat sandwiches for every meal. Usually pb&j or tuna. We also love grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup(another great item to keep on hand). We like to buy the “healthy” bread too. We absolutely love Daves killer bread because it has no added sugars or preservatives. Healthy bread is an easy way to add nutrition to a meal that otherwise wouldn’t be healthy.

Mexican Pantry Items

Mexican food is always our go to. So here are a few more items that we always have on hand. We can almost always throw tacos or nachos together which is great because we love them.

Tortilla chips

We also love chips and salsa so having extra tortilla chips on hand is always ok! (This is a must buy at Costco)

Refried beans

Not much needs to be said here. Refried beans are absolutely necessary for Mexican food. They are easy to make too. I usually dump a bunch of salsa verde in the saucepan with them which helps make them smooth and yummy.  They have a lot of low sodium/fat options now too.

Spanish/Mexican rice-

Love these, but I have recently noticed how full of sodium and preservatives these pre-packaged things are. They are cheap and quick to throw together though. A fun healthy alternative to these though is sweet potatoes. To make sweet potatoes equally as easy as packaged rice, you can cook them in the microwave. Just poke some holes in it and cook for about 8-10 minutes (depending on size and power of microwave).

Olives

I buy 4-6 at a time. You can never have too many olives! They are considered healthy fat 😉

Favorite salsa/hot sauce

Right now I am loving Herdez’s guacamole salsa. We also love green sauce or salsa verde.

Shredded cheese

We are all about convenience here in the Drennan home, haha. Who has the time or motivation to shred cheese? Not us, haha. Yes, it may be a little more expensive but not enough to matter.

Sour Cream

Mexican food means you have to have sour cream. We often buy the big tub from Costco. It is an absolutely necessary item to always have on hand in the Drennan home.

Your list may look different

This list is not meant to be a list of items you have to keep on hand. It is meant to inspire you into having your own list of staple items. Now I also realize that not all of these items keep long-term and some require refrigeration. In my opinion, though, they keep for a surprisingly long time and we use them quick enough anyway.

Having foods on hand like this is meant to help you cook, even if you have a hectic or random schedule(like me). I work swing shift which means I am often gone for dinner time. Having food on hand has been helpful because I can cook a quick meal before work or ahead of time. What do you always have in your pantry?

For other thoughts on meal planning see this post I also wrote

How I finally started meal planning and quit buying fast food

If you want more ideas for staple pantry items see this post from keeperofthehome.com

25 pantry staples for last minute meals

 

What Are the Best Scrubs for Nurses That Are Pregnant or Nursing?

I went through 2 pregnancies and nursing of babies as a nursing student/nurse. Knowing what maternity scrubs to buy and where to buy them was a challenge. I was also on a budget and didn’t want to spend a lot of money on scrubs I would only wear for a few months. At the time, I didn’t know any pregnant nurses and didn’t even think to turn to Google for help. I really could have used a post like this though! Hope you find it helpful! (This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on them and ordering products can earn me commissions with no extra charge for you)

I tried to go for as long as I could without having to wear maternity scrubs. I bought a couple “stretchy side” types from a thrift store. But eventually, I had no choice, my scrub tops were barely fitting! I just didn’t like the idea that I had to buy special scrubs just to wear for a few months and then never wear again. With a little creativity and some help from my local scrub store, I was able to find some options that worked for me. I have also asked some other mom/nurses for their suggestions to put together this post. 

Maternity Scrubs

I never actually wore real maternity scrubs. I am petite and my belly grew straight out. I was sure I would outgrow any maternity top I tried. I know a lot of people now who can make maternity scrubs work. I found a few options on Amazon that have great reviews. 

Tops

Maternity Scrub Alternatives

As I mentioned above, I actually did not buy traditional maternity scrubs. I have talked to a lot of other nurse moms who did not buy maternity scrubs either. Here are a few options if you are not looking for traditional maternity scrubs.

Button up tops

My favorite scrub tops for while I was pregnant were jackets or button-ups. My baby was due in September so that meant I was at my biggest during the summer. Using the button up style meant I could wear a normal maternity t-shirt with the button up over it(not buttoned obviously). Long sleeve jackets were not an option because it was so hot, but if you have a winter baby they would work great! They do have short sleeve versions though! I love these options on Amazon. They come in multiple colors too.

What is great about these button-up tops is that you can wear them for while you are nursing as well! I found these tops super helpful because it saved me from having to lift up the scrub top up in order to pump. It is kind of a pain to lift a scrub top since you often have tons of stuff in your pockets. I love when I can lots of use out of an item. Buying button up scrubs is the way to go!

Size-up regular scrubs

Some women choose to buy the “unisex” style scrubs in a size up from your normal. This will give your belly plenty of room to grow, without the added price of “maternity” scrubs.

Stretchy waste bottoms

Now, I also hated the idea of traditional maternity scrub bottoms. For one, I have a very hard time finding pants that fit me right because I am pretty petite. I knew I would have to try them on. So I went to my local uniform store asking for help. The store worker suggested the Koi Morgan yoga style scrub pants. They have a super stretchy, yoga style waste with a drawstring. The waistband can also be rolled down so it will stretch around the bottom of your belly. These are still my favorite pants by the way. I bought some more recently because I love them so much. They don’t fall down like a lot of my other pants have. There are other “yoga waist” or stretchy waiste options as well.

These are very high-quality scrubs. I only bought 3 pairs because of how pricey they were to me. It helped that I knew I could wear them after my pregnancy as well though. And they have lasted me a long time, they have barely shown any wear in years.

Ideas from others

Here is another post I found from another blog called Midlevelyou. It’s called Pregnant? Best Maternity Scrubs

Stay tuned

Stay tuned for more advice for navigating pregnancy while nursing! Thanks for reading! What are your favorite scrubs to wear while pregnant? Let me know in the comments!

A couple other nurse related posts:

Are you cut out for nursing?

7 Strange truths about the hospital