New Parenting Super Bundle Available Now!

Trying to balance homeschooling, parenting, housework, business, etc. can certainly be overwhelming. I would be lying if I said I had all my ducks in a row. I feel pretty lucky to believe mine are at least swimming in the same pond. With all the resources out there for parenting advice it can be rather difficult to decide where to invest your time and money. Enter the Parenting Super Bundle!

This amazing collaboration from parents just like you has a value of $1,283.96 if each resource is bought separately. You can get the full bundle for only $29.97 (PDF version)/$39.97 (eReader version). In addition you can upgrade to the ebook version FOR FREE if you buy before August 14th at 11:59pm EST.

 

 

motionmailapp.com

 

What’s Included in the Parenting Super Bundle?

There are 35 eBooks, 10 eCourses, 2 audios, 23 printables, 9 workbooks, and 1 membership site. Topics covered include

  • Activities & Crafts
  • Chore Charts & Planners
  • Discipline
  • Education
  • Faith
  • Food
  • Homeschooling
  • Outdoors & Travelling
  • General Parenthood
  • Special Needs
  • Special Occasions
  • Toddlers and Preschoolers

Check out the website for a full list of all items that are included in this bundle.

In addition there are 4 bonuses available as well.

  • FREE 1-month membership from Musik at Home ($30)
  • 10 free audio stories for kids from Around the World Stories ($30)
  • FREE 1-month subscription from Bookroo ($18)
  • FREE All Natural Bug Repellent & Lotion Bars project kit from Detox Project Box ($25)

Getting Started

Worried you won’t know where to start with all the resources in the bundle? Don’t be! Inside the bundle you’ll find a handy Getting Started Guide so you can find just the right tools for the things you’re dealing with today.

I can’t wait to dive into this bundle myself and I know that you will love it too. One more thing I almost forgot. After you complete you Parenting Super Bundle purchase, you will have a chance to purchase the Conquer Your Clutter Super Bundle for only $27 as well! I don’t know about you, but clutter is probably enemy #1 around my house. With 7 kiddos in 940 sq ft it’s a never ending battle!

Remember to buy the Parenting Super Bundle before it expires on Monday, August 14th, at 11:59 PM EST!

 

motionmailapp.com

What’s in my Hospital bag?

I can’t believe baby #8 is due in 4 weeks! Seems like the perfect time for a blog post about what’s in my hospital bag. With 5 hospital births under my belt I think I’ve got a pretty good grasp on what I need and what I don’t. With my first kid we actually wheeled in a small suitcase lol. With this one I probably won’t even fill my backpack.

I usually wait to pack a hospital bag until I’m actually in labor. It gives me something to do to keep busy and not focus on obsessively timing contractions. I’m pretty good at it by now, so it is calming, not stressful. If you’re a first or second time mom you may want to at least make a list of what needs to be in your hospital bag even if you wait till the last moment to actually pack it.

What's in my Hospital Bag with baby #8 | smithSquad.com |Large Family | Birth | Natural Birth

Hospital Bag for Mom

Kindle- One of the best ways for me to relax in labor and stay entertained after baby is born is by reading a great book. I like having my Kindle Fire because it is small and can carry a ton of books. I can also use it to connect to hospital WiFi and give play by play updates of labor for the family and instantly post all the adorable brand new baby pictures I am sure to take. If reading isn’t your thing bring something that will give you a bit of entertainment/distraction like coloring supplies, music, playing cards, travel games, etc.

2-3 each comfy yoga/pajama pants and t-shirts- I’m not trying to impress anyone, I’m just trying to be comfortable! I really like the roll top waist yoga pants because they are great for adjusting to that post partum belly. If you get the ones with a little compression it can also help hold everything in when you’re feeling all jiggly and out of sorts. With my first I flattened right out in a few days, but my hips had spread and I never fit into my old jeans again. With each baby it’s taken longer to lose that pregnant look. You should just expect to look about 4 months pregnant when you get home and plan your clothing accordingly. If you want something nicer to wear for pictures or the ride home then bring a pair of your maternity pants. You won’t be putting on those pre-pregnancy clothes for a while. It’s also nice to have comfy flip flops/sandals or slip on shoes.

2 Nursing bras- I usually use only one in the few days I’m there, but it’s always great to have a back-up just in case you have any leaking, spit-up, or other mess. My favorite daytime bras are Bravado and for night a comfy nursing tank is great to have. I have also heard great things about the Cake brand nursing bras, though I haven’t tried them myself.

Travel size toiletries- Most hospitals will give you soap and shampoo for your first shower, but they aren’t the best quality and sometimes smell funny. I prefer to have my own favorite brands with me so I can really enjoy that first post-partum shower. It really does feel glorious to get clean in nice hot water after doing all that work of bringing a baby Earthside. Rather than find the small bottles of each of my favorite things I prefer to just get small travel bottles and fill them with the big bottles from my shower. And don’t forget the toothbrush, hairbrush, hair ties, chapstick, etc. that you use daily.

Snacks- The rules against eating in labor are a bunch of bologna and I always ignore them. I make sure to eat a good meal before I leave for the hospital and have a few snacks in my bag as well. Granola bars are my favorite. Carbs for instant energy and protein to get me through the marathon. If you aren’t a rebel and don’t want to eat in labor honey sticks are a great option for a little burst of energy if you start feeling drained. Plus they are really yummy! I also find that the three meals a day schedule of the hospitals doesn’t work for a breastfeeding mom. I am always STARVING before the next meal gets there. Having snacks to get me through from one meal to the next is crucial.

Essential Oils- I have a few oils that I really like to use in labor. I personally use DoTerra oils. Clary sage diluted in coconut oil is rubbed on my belly to help strengthen and regulate contractions, it is also very calming and helps a bit with pain relief. I then like to put Serenity oil on one wrist and Lemon oil on the other. The serenity oil helps me relax and breathe deep through contractions while the lemon is a refreshing pick me up.

Things you probably don’t need- Don’t bother with pads or underwear unless you are just super emotionally attached to your cute panties. The hospital will provide awesome huge pads and these cool comfy mesh underwear. They aren’t cute, but they work awesome! Some mom’s really want their own pillow, but I would recommend leaving it in the car when you go in. If you want it you can send your support person down to get it. I wouldn’t bring it into the delivery room at all because it’s likely to get messy! Don’t bring any clothes that you don’t want to ruin. Between baby blowouts, spit-up and your own blood chances are just about anything you wear in the hospital is going to come home with a stain on it.

Hospital Bag for Baby

New Baby Must Haves- Muslin Swaddle Blankets | SmithSquad.com | What things are absolutely necessary on a tight budget or in a tiny space?

Muslin swaddle blankets- These are #1 on my list of favorite baby products. The muslin blankets are so much easier to swaddle with than the hospital blankets, and way cuter too. You can use just one if it’s warm and layer then if it’s cold. They also make great spit up rags.

Going Home/Photo outfit- You don’t need a bunch of clothes for baby. While you are there it’s easiest for them to do all their routine checks if you just keep baby in the simple undershirt that they provide and swaddle them. The only clothes you will need is if you want something cute for photos and/or going home.

Things you probably don’t need- Yep, that’s really the end of my list for baby. The hospital provides a nose sucker, diapers, wipes, diaper cream, undershirts, etc. so you really don’t need much at all. They also let you take the extras from the opened packages with you, so you don’t even need diapers and wipes for the trip home. If you need a warm fuzzy you can always call and ask the hospital about what they provide and what brands in case you have any specific preferences.

Hospital bag for dad/support partner

He’s on his own- kidding….sort of. I don’t pack my husband’s bag, he really is on his own, but here are a few suggestions of things they may want to bring.

Camera- I can not believe how many times we have forgotten this! Thank goodness for cell phones with cameras! 8 years ago when Maddy was born they were pretty horrible quality. Now days a cell phone camera is perfectly adequate for basic shots to share with friends. Of course the better the camera the better the shots you will get. This time around I am finally getting a birth photographer to attend, but I will also be bringing my own camera for shots before she gets there and after she leaves. I personally shoot with and love my Sony A6000. Nice and compact, but great quality and every bit as much control as a full size DSLR.

Change of Clothes- Even if you have support people that are not planning to stay long after the birth it’s always good for them to have a change of clothes just in case. You never know how long a labor will last.

Toiletries- At a minimum they will probably want a toothbrush and hairbrush. If they are planning to stay with you the entire time then they will probably need their travel size soaps and shampoos as well.

Entertainment- While their primary role is to support you there may be moments where you just want everyone to leave you alone! It’s always good for your support person to bring a book, magazine, paperwork or something else to keep themselves busy if needed.

Miscellaneous items you may need

There are also a few things you should throw in the car for just in case scenarios. It’s great to have a small homebirth kit in case you don’t make it to the hospital in time. These small kits have gloves, a cord clamp, a pad to put under mom and a few other items to help out in an emergency birth situation. It’s also great to read up on what to do in a birth situation  in advance just in case. You will, of course, also need a carseat to bring baby home in, and depending on the weather may need warm blankets as well.

As you can see my list is rather minimalistic. I prefer to have a small bag and not much to worry about when I’m there. Is there anything you feel is a necessity that I forgot? What are your favorite bras, snacks, clothes, etc?

 

My New Baby Must Have Products

My new baby must have products| Smithsquad.com| With a small budget, large family, and tiny home I have to be rather minamilistic with new baby supplies

With only six weeks left until my due date I am thinking a lot about making sure I have everything that baby needs. Fitting a family of 8 in a 980 sq ft house is no easy task. I have to really focus on only bringing into the house things that will truly bless us and get used on a regular basis. I don’t have a baby nursery, or even much storage space for clothes and such. I definitely don’t have room for EVERY awesome baby furniture option out there. Here are a few of my baby must have products that are worth making room for.

Muslin Swaddle Blankets

New Baby Must Have Products- Muslin Swaddle Blankets | SmithSquad.com | What things are absolutely necessary on a tight budget or in a tiny space?

My mom introduced these muslin swaddle blankets to me a few babies ago. She runs the Show Care at Tuacahn Center for the Arts and uses them all the time. They are perfect for swaddling because they are larger than most receiving blankets and thin which makes it easier to get them tight. The are super easy to layer when you need a bit of warmth and make a great light blanket when it is warm. They are also great as a breastfeeding cover or spit-up cloth.

Breastfeeding Essentials

As a stay at home mom I usually can just feed at the breast. It is nice, however, to have the ability to leave daddy or the sitter with a bottle of milk so that I can get some much-needed mommy time off. My favorite Bottles are the Breastflow bottles by “The First Years”. They mimic the way that baby gets milk from the breast so that there aren’t as many issues with nipple rejection or confusion. For the last few babies I have only had a simple Madela Harmony hand pump. It is inexpensive and works beautifully, but can be quite tiring on the hand that’s pumping. It’s great for moms who only pump a few times a week. If you are pumping daily, especially if returning to work, then a double electric is the best choice. Most insurance companies will cover a great one now days, so make sure you check with them before buying one out-of-pocket! In the past I have used the Madela Pump in Style and loved it. This time around my insurance sent me a Hygeia pump. I’ve heard great things about it, and am excited to try it out. I have also heard great things about the Spectra S2. You will also need storage bags and breast pads as a breastfeeding mom. My favorite for both is Lansinoh (bags, pads). Last, but certainly not least it is important to have at least two comfortable supporting bras. My absolute favorite brand is Bravado. Bravado bras are super comfortable and very supportive without having underwire. I love that they have a little bit of stretch to them to accommodate for changing cup sizes between full and empty breasts.

Baby Carrier

New Baby Must Have Products- Baby carrier | SmithSquad.com
This is a kangaroo carry in a woven wrap, perfect for teeny newborns.

I am a huge fan of babywearing! I detest carrying around a car seat, and find strollers that are suitable for newborns bulky and inconvenient. My three favorites for the newborn stage are stretchy wraps (Moby, Boba), woven wraps (Dolcino, Ellaroo, Didymos, Storchenweige, and more), and ring slings (Maya, Becco). You can read my full post about babywearing benefits and carriers here.

Car Seat

It kind of goes without saying that a good car seat is necessary for any baby. Even if you don’t have your own car chances are your baby will be in a friend’s car or taxi and will need a suitable seat. Me personally I prefer to get a good convertible seat and skip the baby bucket seat altogether. They can go from rear facing as low as 5 lbs in infancy to belt positioning booster for your 100 lb child, so you won’t have to buy anything other than a simple no-back booster if needed when your child is older.  It just makes more sense from a financial perspective, and as stated above I don’t take the seat out of the car, so portability isn’t a concern. Many moms prefer to get a travel system that includes a stroller, car seat base and a detachable seat. If you don’t have the same negative feelings towards strollers and carrying seats that I do it is a great option.

Clothing

New Baby Must Have Products- Clothing |SmithSquad.com| bodysuits and footed jammies are all you really need
Babies spend 90% of their time in footed jammies or bodysuits.

I am very blessed to have been gifted plenty of adorable hand-me-downs from friends and family. Really though babies don’t need much at all in the way of clothing. If you are buying your own on a budget stick to the basics. Bodysuits and footed jammies are what my babies wear 90% of the time. Unless the girls are picking the outfit, then they end up in the most frilly and sparkly outfit that can be found! How many to buy depends on how much storage space you have and how often you want to wash. Most babies go through 1-2 outfits a day thanks to diaper leaks and spit-up. If you have a major spitter though, you may need a few more.

That’s it Folks!

Seriously, that is the end of my list. Everything else is just fluff. There are tons of nice to haves and adorable things that are fun to have, but if you’re really working with a minimum budget or tiny space I think you will do just fine with only the things on this list.

Do you think I forgot anything? What are your new baby must have products?

Sunday Morning Chaos

Whoever wrote the song “Easy Like Sunday Morning” clearly did NOT have small children who needed to get ready for church. Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, but when you have six small children who don’t usually get up until the sun does around 7:30 and service at 9:00 it is anything but! Here are a few things I’ve done to help calm the Sunday morning chaos.

7 Tips to Calm the Sunday Morning Chaos | Smithsquad.com | Parenting a large Family | Keeping Sunday morning peaceful |preparing for church

1- Send kids to bed in their church clothes

I know, sounds a bit crazy, but it is genius! I can thank my amazing husband for this one. I rolled my eyes at him and ignored the suggestion, he told the kids to go get dressed for church before bed. Holy cow it made such a big difference in the morning! No hunting for a clean shirt or underpants. No more playing around in their pajamas when they are supposed to be getting dressed. I don’t put the two youngest to bed in their Sunday clothes, they will inevitably spill breakfast on them, but I do lay their clothes out on the couch ready to go. I also plan my own outfit and make sure everything I need is clean and ready to go.

2- Put socks in shoes ready to be put on

Obviously kids aren’t going to sleep in their shoes. Once we got the dressing on Sunday morning under control it seemed like we were always hunting down socks or shoes! Now I have the kids put their socks or tights in their shoes and place them next to their bed. Not only have we already found them, but this reminds them to put them on as they get out of bed in the morning.

3- Prepare an easy breakfast

I must admit I’m much happier with a nice big hot breakfast in my belly. I decided, however, that getting up early enough to scramble eggs, fry bacon, and toast bread wasn’t good for my morning sanity. Breakfast on Sunday is usually some sort of fruit with either cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt. Easy peasy and the biggest kids can get it all out themselves. I decide on breakfast the night before. We did consider setting the table at night, but decided that with a one-year-old who loves to climb on it that it may not be the best plan.

4- Clean on Saturday

Make sure the table is clean, floors swept, counters wiped etc. Do I actually need a clean house to leave for church, not really. Having a clean house, however, helps my mind to be in a more peaceful state. Not to mention that stepping on a Lego can seriously ruin a good mood on any morning!

5- Get up early

I know it’s the weekend and you want to sleep as long as possible. Welcome to stressland! Even if it’s just five or ten minutes get up early enough to give yourself plenty of time for unexpected delays. Fact is they happen, especially with small kids. Someone will spill something, the dog will jump with muddy paws, you’ll discover a rip or hole. Give yourself enough time to calmly deal with the situation and still get out the door on time.

6- Work as a team

Make sure each family member knows the expectations and what their role is. For example with the baby’s clothes laid out ready to go my oldest daughter will often take the initiative to start dressing him after breakfast. I don’t even have to ask because she knows what needs to be done and wants to be helpful. The kids know to put their socks and shoes on first thing, so I rarely have to remind them. Dad knows where the kids clothes are and what’s for breakfast so he can jump in and get things going. When I thought I had to do everything myself and wasn’t communicating and asking for help Sunday mornings were ALWAYS high stress and usually ended with me yelling, crying or both!

7- Don’t stress about being late

This is easier for some than others. We could walk in ten minutes late every single week and my husband wouldn’t bat an eye. If I am walking in and am not fully seated yet when the service starts I am a mess of anxiety. I have had to learn to give myself permission to just roll with the punches. My six kids are fed, happy and at church. It is far better to arrive at church late without any yelling, arguing, fighting, or tears than to be on time in a huff with everyone hating life.

Do you have any tips for calming the Sunday morning chaos? I’d love to hear them!

 

Documenting our Days- Dinner Time

I recently joined a group on Facebook that is all about documenting the real life moments of our day. Each month we have a new theme; usually a specific time of day. This month the theme was dinner time. I kept procrastinating waiting for that day that I knew I’d be proud to share our spectacular life, and it never came. I kind of forgot that the best moments are the real ones.

Documenting Dinner

My mom reality right now is that I am extremely pregnant, completely exhausted, and often procrastinate meal planning until 10 minutes after we should have been eating. Thank goodness I had a mother who took the time to teach me how to create and cook a full meal from whatever I have in the fridge and pantry in 15 minutes!

Documenting Our days- Dinner Time|smithsquad.com|everyday moments are the best|meal planning and prep in 30 minutes!

While I was hunting in the fridge and pantry for inspiration Wally tried to help set the dishes that I had stacked on the table. Once I removed him from the table he then decided that pestering the cat, who was trying to eat his own dinner, was as good of a plan as setting the table.

Documenting Our days- Dinner Time|smithsquad.com|everyday moments are the best|meal planning and prep in 30 minutes!

I found some leftover ham, a few heads of broccoli and some sweet potatoes. Potatoes in the microwave, broccoli cut and in the pot to steam and hand washing commenced! Once the potatoes came out 7 minutes later I got the ham in the microwave for a few minutes while I cut up and dished out the potatoes. Then we were ready to eat.

Documenting Our days- Dinner|smithsquad.com|everyday moments are the best|meal planning and prep in 30 minutes!

I’m grateful to have kids that not only eat broccoli, but actually really like it!

Documenting Our days- Dinner Time|smithsquad.com|everyday moments are the best|meal planning and prep in 30 minutes! Documenting Our days- Dinner Time|smithsquad.com|everyday moments are the best|meal planning and prep in 30 minutes!

The potatoes were the crowd favorite. Probably helps that we sprinkle some brown sugar on top.

Documenting Our days- Dinner Time|smithsquad.com|everyday moments are the best|meal planning and prep in 30 minutes!

After everyone else left the table Wally thought he needed all of the remaining ham to be on his plate. This was after he ate quite a bit of it. He was awfully proud of his self-sufficiency and cleverness in using his fork to get the ham dish close enough to dump onto his plate.

Well there you have it, a typical dinner time at our house! Nothing fancy, but we have fun and eat together!

Make sure you check out Hannah C.’s post and follow the circle to check out more daily dinner routines.

What does your dinner time usually look like? What tricks do you have for healthy meals when you just don’t feel like being super mom?

No, the Housework Can’t Wait- 6 Tips on Keeping a House Full of Kids Clean

A recent conversation in a Facebook mother’s group got me thinking about balancing housework and kids. The conversation went something like this:

“I feel like a horrible mom because I can’t just let the housework go and focus on my kid. I want to spend more time playing with them, but I stress out when the house isn’t clean. I know I should just let it go and focus on my kid, but I can’t or I get anxiety! I try to turn it off, I try to not care, but I can’t!”

“uggg, me too! I just can’t relax in a dirty house!”

“I also struggle with this, I know my kids need all of my attention right now, but I need to get my work done too!”

“Just relax ladies. They’ll only be small for so long. Your kid needs you right now, just be ok with it being messy.”

On and on an on. Mommy guilt galore and advice to just learn how to relax if it’s messy. Well I call shenanigans! Having a clean house is important. Doing what is healthy for you as a mother is important. If our lives revolve around our children to the point of neglecting ourselves and our homes that is not a good thing! Our children need a well-organized clean home just as much as they need face to face with mom time. Also contrary to popular belief your children do not need, or in most cases even want, unlimited “mom plays with me” time (that’s a new post for a new day).

Now my house is no Martha Stewart magazine, but it is neat and clean. My laundry isn’t folded, but it’s washed. My sink has dishes in it, but they are rinsed and stacked neatly. My living room has toys all over, but there isn’t any trash and it gets swept regularly. You do have to accept a certain amount of clutter as a mom, but you shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting to keep order and avoid filth!Large Family|Clean House tips|Homeschool|mother

1. Timed Tidy

When Cameron feels like the mess is getting to be a bit much he will set a timer for 5-15 minutes (depending on how much time he has and how much of a mess there is) and just tidy the one room that is bugging him the most. When the timer stops he’s done. He feels better that the room is cleaner and he hasn’t got caught up in a whirlwind of deep cleaning that takes away from the other things he needs to accomplish. I don’t usually set a specific timer, but I will do a quick ‘pick up the junk’ shallow clean of a room then move on to something else guilt free.

Housework|mother|cleaning|homeschool2. Full Hands In, Full Hands Out

Every time I walk from one room to another I check to see what needs to go with me. Is there a plate in the living room? Toys in the bedroom? Dirty clothes that need to go to the laundry room? Just grab a handful of things that are out-of-place and put them away on your way from one room to another.

3. Make it a Challenge/Game

Kids love it when you give them a challenge and they succeed. There are so many ways to make cleaning a fun challenge. You can set a timer and see who can pick up the most things. You can give rewards for finishing in a certain time frame. You can see who can balance the most toys on their head while carefully walking to the toy box. You can pretend the floor is hot lava and they have to walk along the couch and chairs in order to put all the toys away. With smaller kids you can practice counting, shape sorting, and color identification as you put each toy away Get creative and make it fun.

4. Have a Schedule/System

It is really easy to walk past that sink of dishes stress free when I know that I have budgeted time in my day to do them after dinner. Having a system and schedule in place helps me to be more efficient. I start the dishwasher right before bed, I empty it in the morning, then we put dishes in it all day as we are done with them. This keeps my sink and counter relatively dish free and saves me time on having to load the dishwasher later. I know that right before bed is toy pick-up time. I can happily walk through the minefield in the living room knowing that in the evening it will all be picked up so I can enjoy my quiet time with my husband in a clean room.

5. De-junking

Clean House tips|de-junk|clutter|Large Family|Homeschool|mother

My mother would say that this should be tip #1. Growing up there was a sign taped on my closet door that said “When in doubt, Throw it out!” As a kid it always drove me nuts, but as an adult I may be an even better de-junker than my mother was! The less you have the less there is to clean. Kids don’t need ten million toys. Haven’t you ever noticed that most toddlers prefer to play with the box? In our home we try to stick with open-ended imagination encouraging toys such as dolls, cars, and building supplies. Clean-up doesn’t take very long when you only have about 20 toys on the floor instead of 200. Observe which toys get played with the least and get rid of them. If you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of most of the toys then sort them into boxes of about 5-10 toys per child and put all but one box away. Every few weeks you can rotate the boxes, getting a new one out and putting the current one into storage. It’ll be like Christmas, all new toys to play with!

6. Ditch the Chores

I know, that doesn’t sound like something that should be on this list, but ditching chores was the best thing we ever did for our home. Instead we do family work. Everyone, including Mom and Dad, works together to complete one task. This doesn’t mean I’m hovering and supervising. This means I get down on the floor and help my kids. While working together we are spending time together and having fun. They are learning life skills and they also feel like they are on the same team with Mom and Dad. Work gets done quicker with a lot less fighting and complaining. For example, last night our living room and dining room were way messier than usual. Daddy and Maddy were out on a date so the rest of us got to work. Ben was picking up all the trash, Leah and Rachel were picking up toys, and I was picking up all the other random odds and ends and then swept. Even Jack at age two was able to help pick things up and put them away. While we worked we talked about their day, answered lots of random questions, and sang a few songs.

As a mom have you ever felt mommy guilt over spending time cleaning instead of playing with your kids? What are your top cleanliness tips?