Making Time For Phone-Free Fun

I hate to admit it, but I can get a little addicted to my smart phone. I know I’m really in trouble when my neck starts to hurt from looking down! The thing is, smart phones help us accomplish so much and offer opportunities to connect literally at our fingertips; I’ve found though,  I’m much more efficient on my phone when I’m not with it at all times.

A few weeks ago, I took the kids and my dog for a long walk and for whatever reason did not bring my phone. I realized right away that I didn’t have it but did not turn back. Within minutes of walking, I started to have some really good blog post ideas. I decided what to make for dinner. I thought about a promotion to do at my yoga studio. My creative juices were flowing because I was allowing them to run free. No dings or bells or chimes or beeps interrupted. I did think at one point, ‘I sure bet I’ll have a lot of missed calls/e-mails/text messages/notifications what I get home.’ And guess what … I didn’t have a single one!

Since then, I’ve made a conscience effort to have some quality phone-free fun every day. Right away I realize I’m more present and relaxed without my phone. Because I love taking pictures of my kids, I’ve dusted off my real camera that I bought for our household a few years ago and am enjoying playing around with its features.

We all have things we’d rather be doing (ahem, sweating 😉 ) and the smart phone addiction takes away from those real life desires. If you’re thinking you’d like to go phone-free, even for parts of the day, the following ideas and tips can help you to do so.

  • Set a designated time to check email and social media. Even if you check it more than once a day, be intentional with when you check it and respond as necessary during that designated time.
  • Turn off e-mail and social media notifications
  • Turn off the ringer
  • Heck, just turn it off! 😉
  • Make a “no phones at the dinner table” rule
  • Take that a step further and make a “no phones when eating” rule. Yep, even that afternoon stack when the kids are napping!
  • Get outside and switch up your surroundings

Without technology at our fingertips, we can embrace the opportunity to think freely. Recognizing where are thoughts travel is really interesting. They probably go to places and consider things differently than if there was an electronic distraction present and glowing.

Hopefully what happens is that is that we become less attached and less addicted to these devices; we should use them to enhance our lives, not consume them.

 

Not Your Average Oatmeal

I can hardly call this concoction a “recipe,” but it is so easy and quick to make and tastes absolutely delicious that I had to share it nonetheless! I’ve been eating this for breakfast every morning all week and it truly gives me the energy I need to focus be productive. Speaking of focus, healthy food really does affect our brains and concentration. On mornings when I have a breakfast like this I feel so energized, not only physically but also mentally.

I wanted to make sure to be including oatmeal in my diet is because I’ve been reading how it’s great for breastfeeding moms and increasing milk supply. I don’t have a supply problem (my daughter is in the 97th percentile! ha!) but growth spurts seem to come on so quickly that I want to be proactive and be able to keep up with her needs. Although some sources say that there’s no scientific evidence to support that oatmeal boots milk supply, I figure it can’t hurt and it’s healthy anyway!

So here the steps for the yummiest oatmeal I’ve ever had:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup shelled walnuts
  • 1/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt
  • drizzle maple syrup

Instructions

  • Mix oats and water and cook according to instructions (I just microwaved mine for 2 minutes)
  • Add walnuts, yogurt, and maple syrup
  • Stir and enjoy!

Oatmeal

I should say that you absolutely do not have to be a breastfeeding mom to enjoy this yummy meal! Even my two-year son old loved it this morning; in fact, I had to make a second bowl because he ate my entire serving!

Hosting Easter with Little Kids

I don’t want to let too much time pass without writing down exactly how we pulled off hosting Easter for 17 guests … with our two year old and our six month old! At first thought, hosting holidays and caring for two young kids seems daunting and impossible; yet, the alternative – traveling to someone else’s house, packing toys, bringing diapers, working around nap times (or worse, forfeiting the nap and ending up with cranky kids) – has challenges of its own.

So here we were, deciding to host Easter for 17 people.

Without further ado, here are my tips if you find yourself hosting a holiday get-together and you have young children, after recently having come off of a successful Easter Sunday.

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1. IT’S ALL ABOUT A POTLUCK 

Listen, getting your house ready, cleaned, organized, and possibly even decorated is no small task. Making sure you’re stocked with enough paper goods, coffee, and serving utensils takes work and planning. Then on top of that you’re expected to cook? No. People want to help. Luckily, and luckily is a huge understatement, I am blessed to have amazing family and friends who all said, “what can I bring?” the moment I invited them. Don’t feel like you have to do everything.

I was absolutely tempted (for about a quarter of a second) to be the one to truly “do it all,” but the reality is that doing it all would not have allowed me to enjoy the day. So not worth it. So delegate certain dishes to certain people. And hey, if you enjoy the cooking and meal preparation, delegate the other stuff. Maybe one aunt brings the drinks. Another friend brings the paper plates and napkins. And so on and so forth. For the sake of all hosts working hard on holidays, please don’t feel that twinge of guilt for not doing nor wanting to do it all. What are friends and family for after all?! 😉

2. BUY SOMETHING PRE-MADE

For our Easter, I knew I wanted to serve ham. And the store down the street makes a darn good ham. All we had to do was heat it up and carve it, and it was such a hit! If you know what you want to serve is better from the store than if you were to make it yourself, and buying would save you a boatload of time and effort, then buy it! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking a few shortcuts to save your sanity. Plus if you know that what you’re buying is a crowd pleaser, you’ve got yourself a win-win!

3. THE FINAL CLEANING

Something that has been working amazingly well in our household is the final cleaning before the festivities begin. You see, our Australian Cattle Dog Dasher sheds A LOT. Combine the shedding with the tornado-like tendencies of our toddler and the house gets pretty messy pretty quickly. How I’ve combatted this is by doing the following:

  • Afternoon before event (during kids’ nap): Pick up! This includes putting away toys, mail, laundry, etc.
  • Night before event (when kids are asleep): Wipe down! This includes all {sticky} surfaces including (but not limited to) counters, tables, chairs, coffee tables, and kitchen sink.
  • Morning before event (get husband/partner/family member to take kids and dog for a nice long walk): Before you clean ANYTHING, bask in the peace of a quiet, empty house … ahhhhh 🙂 … Ok, now is when I do my final vacuuming. It’s also an opportunity, while everyone is out, to get myself organized (mentally as well as physically) for the day ahead.

4. WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE, VISIT MORE & CLEAN LESS

You’re going to be cleaning one way or another so you may as well visit while your guests are there! Sure you might be tired by saving the cleaning for when everyone leaves but holidays really are about the friends and family and connections that we share together. Don’t miss out on that because you have to wash a dish or wipe down a surface. Play a lawn game, go for a walk, and relax in the company of good friends and family.

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This is four generations! How amazing and blessed!

How to De-Clutter Your Home

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, ‘what is a post like this doing on a blog called “Rather Be Sweating”?’ It’s ok, it’ll work… 🙂 When the days start to get a little warmer and longer and the air smells of spring, I always get motivated to do a big spring cleaning. Usually, though, big cleaning plans fall by the wayside and are replaced by other more fun activities (hence, rather be sweating 😉 ). This year though, I have been determined to make a dent in de-cluttering our home.

Since becoming a mom (and more specifically since becoming a mom of two) I have felt the gene that carries my organizational skills slowly making its presence known. I’ll admit that it’s much easier to maintain a household that’s organized so that’s the train I’m riding. As someone who has spent the majority of her life a bit to the left of disorganized, I can genuinely say that becoming organized IS POSSIBLE! Below are my 5 recommendations to de-cluttering your home, tried and tested by yours truly.

If nothing else, read #5 as that was most helpful in my de-cluttering efforts!

1. Give Yourself a Time Limit

I used to say things like “this spring I’ll de-clutter.” And guess what happened. I never de-cluttered. There was no sense of urgency, no deadline. Spring lasts somewhere in the vicinity of three months. That’s a lot of opportunity to keep saying “I’ll start tomorrow.” Trust me, that’s what I said. By giving yourself a weekend or even a single day, you work smarter, more quickly, and accomplish more.

2. Get the Kids Out of the House

This might seem like a no-brainer, but schedule some open-ended childcare for the time you’ve given yourself to de-clutter. This way, you will have one task at hand and won’t have to spread yourself thin over caring for kids and trying to make a dent in the clutter.

3. Start With Clean, Folded Laundry

If your household is anything like mine (and if you love Target, Marshalls, and T.J Maxx as much as I do!), clothing will comprise a great deal of your clutter. I was SO thankful that I had washed and folded our laundry before beginning this project. I certainly did not want to be donating dirty clothes so the fact that everything was ready to either be saved or donated in its current state was extremely helpful.

4. Trash Bags, Trash Bags, Trash Bags!

I find that the black, heavy-duty contractor trash bags are awesome for projects like this. They fit and hold a ton of stuff and when you donate your belongings you can be done with the whole package right then and there.I started putting a lot of the “donate clothes” in big plastic bins – plastic bins that I want to keep – so I’m going to have to transfer all that stuff into bags before I donate it (an unnecessary step). Learn from my mistake!! Keep a few big trash bags in every room with you so you’re able to put stuff in the “throw-away” bag and the “donate” bag as necessary.

5. Stay Focused on the One (or Two) Word Task at Hand

This is the most helpful step. My word, or more accurately my mantra, was “de-clutter.” Several times I had to remind myself that this day was not in fact about “deep-cleaning” or “finding a place for the stuff we’re keeping.” Return to your mantra when you start to feel a little off-track and be able to forge head and complete your goal. There’s always another day for another project. Attempting too many goals in a short amount of time leaves little accomplished. Strive for a goal filled with quality work rather than a large quantity of goals.

I know that there is a wealth of information out there on this subject. I am personally looking forward to reading Marie Kondo’s “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” (Has anyone read it? Put her tips to use?) But since I hadn’t read it yet, I also figured I’d better start somewhere! Since I am just now tapping in to my organizational self, I’d love to hear what tips and tricks others use to stay organized!

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I apologize about the awful, ugly yellow tone of this picture! But I just had to show it. This is only about half of the stuff we’re getting rid of. So satisfying!

Remember, just because you may not have read the latest book or, you don’t consider yourself a neat or organized person, this experience of de-cluttering is actually really satisfying.

Hopefully the above tips can help make a dent in a project you’ve been anticipating!

 

 

Soba Noodle Stir Fry

Ahhh it’s Friday, which means it’s FOOD FRIDAY here on Rather Be Sweating! Remember, every Friday I’ll be blogging about a meal, snack, or edible creation that I’ve whipped up this past week. The goal with these recipes is that they provide you with yummy, filling, satisfying food but are easy to make and give you a boost of energy.

What I love about this meal is that you can substitute the veggies and protein that I suggest for others that you might prefer. For example, you could use beef and asparagus rather than chicken and broccoli. Also, I’m a big fan of recipes that don’t require exact measuring so feel free to add in more carrots and less chicken, or extra garlic or low-sodium soy sauce … you get the idea 😉

One final note: for busy moms out there who might be feeling discouraged around meal time, this meal took me exactly 34 minutes to make from start to finish. And that INCLUDES me stopping to take the pictures below and fix my toddler a snack of peanut butter and crackers. Make the whole package of noodles too, that will at least give you a couple meals the next day (or seconds if you have ginormous appetites like we do in my family)!

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2-ish tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 cups carrots
  • drizzle olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 1 package Soba Noodles
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic

Instructions

Chop broccoli, onion, and carrots. Set aside.

broccoli carrots&onions

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and then add vegetable oil. (I like using vegetable oil because the meat won’t stick to the pan and it can take a high heat so the kitchen doesn’t get smoky). Trim and cube the chicken thighs and start to sautee. After a few minutes add in the veggies with the drizzle of olive oil.

Put on a pot of water to boil for the soba noodles. Keep tossing the veggie/chicken mix and after about 5 minutes, add in the chicken stock, turn heat to medium, and cover.

chicken veggie mix covered

When the water is boiling, add the soba noodles and cook based on the package’s instructions. Although these noodles look like spaghetti, they take about half as long to cook so be ready for them to be finished quickly.

Soba Noodles Package

While the noodles are cooking and the veggie chicken mix is finishing up, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, and crushed garlic. Drain the noodles really well and then pour the soy sauce mixture over the noodles. Stir well to coat the noodles then add in the veggies and chicken. Stir again and serve! Like most pasta-type meals, this is delicious leftover as well.

soba noodle stir fry

Enjoy!

Make A Date … With Yourself!

Do you ever feel that what you want to be do gets pushed aside for things that you need to do? Kids, work, chores, relationships, errands, bills (not to mention taking time to eat and sleep) devour time throughout the week leaving very little leftover for, say, a workout class a few nights a week.

One of my favorite ways to proactively avoid having a week of only “needs” is to schedule in my “wants” for the week on Sunday night. That’s right, I’ll actually add, for example, YOGA at 7PM, into my Google Calendar. Sounds simple, right? It is, but simple does not always mean easy. In the process of making dates with myself all week long, I’ll undoubtedly need to check in with my husband to make sure my plans work for the household. There may be some negotiation on his end depending on schedules, but this way we start the week on the same page.

I’ve also found that being clear with my ambitions no matter how big or small draws support from those around me. So when I make it known that I have very specific exercise goals, you’d better believe that the other people in my life are helping me make them happen. Lots of times, that helps comes in the form of coming home in time to take over with kid-duty.

When I look at my calendar and see the time blocked out for ME, I’m motivated to keep those appointments. I’m reminded that I took time on Sunday night to creatively schedule ways to recharge. And I don’t want to stand myself up!

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Here’s a look at my exercise dates for the week. Since Rather Be Sweating is basically my mantra, physical activities are the kind of things I enjoy scheduling. It’s fun for my to think about the week and work in different times and activities for exercise.

Walk It Out

This past week was all about walking. And not just any kind of walking … double-stroller walking. I used to have an “all or nothing” mentality about working out: if I couldn’t devote at least two hours to a sweat session then I may as well do nothing. So dumb, right?! Thank goodness I lowered my standards otherwise I’d never exercise again!

That being said, I often have days where my exercise intentions get de-railed, but for my mental sanity I need to find a way to get creative and squeeze in some physical activity.  That’s where walking comes in. Now, the whole double-stroller piece is new to me as of about 6 months ago when my daughter was born. Those monstrosities are HEAVY! Seriously heavy! So heavy that my arms burned a little and my core was sore from pushing it up a hill in our neighborhood. The sweat session I thought I was missing out on actually came in the form of a double stroller walk.

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I have a Chicco Double Stroller which (and they should advertise it this way) gives the best forearm and bicep workout on the market!

If you’re a mom home with young kids or you missed the last class of the day at the gym or you just don’t have the energy to power through a run, then WALK. And while you’re walking, don’t underestimate how good that movement is for you! Based on information from the Mayo Clinic, walking helps to:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
  • Strengthen your bones
  • Lift your mood
  • Improve your balance and coordination

The point is, giving ourselves credit for the little efforts we make to stay healthy is really important because it encourages us to continue making those little efforts. And you know what? A little effort here and a little effort there amounts to a whole lot of healthy stuff that you’re doing for yourself and your loved ones. So walk it out.