Posted in Family, Lifestyle

How To Crush Your New Year’s Resolutions

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The new year is finally here! We’ve made it past New Years Day and we’re ready to start tackling our New Year’s resolutions!

This year will be the year that you’ll finally lose that weight, start that business, finish that degree and spend more time with your family!

Yes, this year will be the year!

And then…it’s March and our resolutions have fallen to the wayside. We’ve slipped back into our old habits for one reason or another. And we’ve resigned ourselves to try again next year.

But what if that doesn’t have to be the case. What if there was a way we could crush every resolution we’ve set this year?! Are you ready to try it?

Alrighty then! Here are 5 tips to help keep those pesky New Year’s Resolutions.

1. Ditch the Resolutions

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In the spirit of being transparent, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago. Instead of making a long list of vague resolutions like losing weight, saving money, or getting out of debt my family and I make New Year’s goals instead.

Why is a goal better than a resolution? Goals tend to be more specific, which makes them a little easier to tackle.

When you go to the gym and work with a trainer one of the first questions they ask you is what your fitness goals are: Do you want to lose fat? Build muscle? Or just tone up a little?

Goals give you something to focus on and cause you to think about HOW you’re going to achieve it. For example look at these two statements: I’m going to get out of debt this year (resolution). or I’m going to pay off one credit card this year (goal).

Which one sounds more manageable? The resolution sounds a bit overwhelming, while the goal seems practical and something that can be easily worked towards.

2. Use SMART Goals

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So now that we’ve decided to ditch the resolution and trade them in for goals. I want to show you how to make those goals achievable.

When I was a teacher we were required to create SMART goals for our class assessments.

Before we switched to SMART goals my lessons plans would look something like this:

Objective: By the end of this lesson students will be able to identify the parts of the food web and how energy is transferred between each level.

Goal: Students can identify the parts of the food web and show the flow of energy on the ecology exam.

That sounds like an acceptable goal. What teacher doesn’t want their students to pass their quizzes and test?

Then our school district changed the way they wanted our lesson plans written and introduced us to SMART Goals.

What is a SMART goal and how is it different from a regular goal? Good question!

In order for something to be considered a SMART goal it has to meet the following criteria:

SMART Goals

As you can see, unlike a regular goal, smart goals tend to be very specific. If we go back to my original example:

Goal: Students can identify the parts of the food web and show the flow of energy on the ecology exam.

SMART Goal: Students will be able to identify the parts of the food web and transfer of energy with 90% accuracy on the unit exam. (FYI: these goals were more for the teacher than the students.)

But we’re not here to score well on tests. We’re here to create life goals!

And the process behind SMART goals can be used to achieve those life goals. (And it’s way easier, than those education goals. It took a lot of brain cells to get that right!)

This year I have a few different goals: losing weight, being a more consistent blogger, developing my spiritual relationship with God, and getting out of debt.

I’m sure many of you have at least 1 or 2 of these on your list. I’ll start with the easiest one and probably most common of all new years goals…losing weight!

After 3 kids and transitioning to being a SAHM. It hasn’t been easy to shed those pesky pounds.

2019 Goal # 1– To Lose 20 lbs.

Now let’s turn that into a SMART goal.

SMART Goal– By April 5th, 2019 I will have lost 20 lbs.

Is it truly a SMART Goal? We’ll let’s see..

Is it Specific…Yes,the target weight is 20 lbs.

Is it Measurable..Yes, I can measure how much weight I’m losing per month.

Is it Achievable…Yes, as long as I stick to my diet and exercise plan.

Is it Realistic…Yes, that’s about 6 lbs a month which is a safe and healthy rate of weight loss.

Is it Time-bound…Yes, I have 3 months to complete the goal.

Goal # 2: Get out of Debt

Ok, I don’t know if you’re like me, but I have a lot of student loan and credit card debt that I need to get rid of. And being a SAHM makes this part a little more challenging since I only work once a month.

SMART Goal: Pay an extra $25 towards my credit card with the lowest balance each month.

Is it Specific…Yes- the target is paying down my credit cards by and extra $25.

Is it Measurable…Yes, I can keep track of my balances with my monthly statements.

Is it Achievable…Yes, I can make an extra $25/month .

Is it Realistic…Yes, with the plan being to roll that extra money over into the next card when the other is paid off. (The Debt Snowball Method)

Is it Time-bound…No, I don’t have a specific date for when all of these cards will be paid off, but If I crunched the numbers I could probably come up with an actual date.

I’m not going to bore you with the rest of my goals. I think you get the picture.

SMART goals are a great way to help you break down your new year’s goals and transform them into something that you can manage and succeed at.

3. Don’t Go Overboard

I have A LOT of things I want to accomplish this year. I mentioned a few of my goals earlier, but that’s not even the tip of the iceberg.

I could try to tackle them all this year, but when it comes to setting goals and being able to achieve them more is NOT better.

If I tried to achieve all of the plans that I have running around in this little head of mine I probably wouldn’t achieve any of them.

So my advice to you is to pick your top 3-5 goals and focus on those.

However, don’t toss out your long list. Many of us have goals that can be considered short-term and long-term goals.

A short-term goal is anything that can be completed in 1-4 months, while a long-term goal is anything that is going to take 5 months or longer to complete.

Yes, yes. I know this is not the technical wisdom on short and long-term goals, but we’re talking about stuff you can realistically complete in a year. It’s relative.

So if you finish one of your short-term goals early, then you can always add another one to the list.

4. Visualize

There is nothing more satisfying than crossing something off your to-do list. In order to crush your goals this year, you need to have a place in your home where you can see them daily.

You can dedicate a whole wall in your house to your goals or you can just write it on a sheet of paper and tape it to the bathroom mirror.

It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you can see it. And when you complete a goal celebrate it! Throw yourself a mini-party.

And keep the completed goal on the board. So on those days when you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything you can look back at your paper and remind yourself that you finished one goal and you can knock out another one.

5. Breathe

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My final tip for you today is to remember to breathe and relax. Goals are just what they are goals. Something that you are trying to reach for.

It’s awesome if you complete the goal. But it’s not the end of the world if you don’t.

If I don’t lose 20 lbs by April 5th, but I’ve lost something or I went down a dress size. Then that’s still a success in my book.

If I can only manage to pay an extra $5 a month towards my credit cards, at least I’ve still taken a step to getting out of debt.

When your goals become a source of sadness and frustration they are no longer goals but have become unnecessary weights.

At that point it’s time to take a deep breath and re-evaluate your goals.

Maybe it wasn’t realistic or maybe the time to complete it wasn’t long enough. Or maybe life just happened.

But that’s the good thing about goals. You can always re-evaluate and start reaching for them all over again. Just don’t stop reaching for them and I’m sure you’ll succeed.

I hope that you crush each and every goal that you set this year.

If you’re excited about the New Year and all that you have planned leave me a “Yes!” in the comments section.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

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Posted in Family, Lifestyle, Morning Musings

Morning Musings: Step-Mom

In my previous post, I talked about a shirt that my oldest daughter wore and my issues with said shirt. I also mentioned that I didn’t buy her that shirt. Why?  Because her mother brought it for her.

See my eldest daughter, Kayla, is not my biological daughter.  She is my husbands’ daughter.  I have known this little girl since she was one and I consider our bond to be a special one.  And I have only on rare occasion ever referred to her as my step-daughter to other people.

So the other day when she snuggled up to me and called me her, “step-mom” I was a bit offended. I guess by now you all are saying what’s the big deal? You guys are a blended family that’s normal.

However, I did not willingly walk into step-motherhood. My husband and I just recently celebrated our 11th anniversary. Our eldest child is 7, followed by Kayla who is 4, my youngest son who is also 4, and my youngest daughter who just turned 1. I could spell it out for you, but I’ll let you put two and two together.

When I decided that I wanted Kayla to be a part of my life. I made a decision that she and her siblings would never refer to each other as step/half siblings. They are brothers and sisters. Period. This was something that I also made her mother aware of at the time.

I knew that she would never be allowed to call me Mom. So I came up with a nickname for myself hence I became MoMo to her. Even though sometimes she does slip up an call me mom, I just gently redirect her.

And that’s what I did the day she referred to me as her step-mom. I just gently reminded her that I was her MoMo and nothing else. I know for her mom it makes it easier to describe who I am without having to explain anything to people.

I am sure it’s all well-intentioned, but I don’t want to be Kayla’s stepmom. I just want to be her MoMo. Stepmom just seems like a bad word to me on top of being something that I never wanted to be. It kind of makes me feel slighted, even though I know that’s not the intent.

I feel the same way when people infer that we’re a blended family. But that is a story for another day.

It’s just a way to designate me as the woman that is not her mom, but the woman that takes care of her when she is with us. I don’t know? Maybe some of you are step-parents and get where I’m coming from or maybe you’re just like girl get over it. (lol)

It is just a name after all. But if you can or can’t relate please leave a comment or share your own story. I’d love to hear from other step parents.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Family, Lifestyle

6 Pieces of Advice for Stay At Home Moms

If you had asked me what I wanted to be when I was 7 it definitely wouldn’t have been a stay at home mom. (I would have said a veterinarian, which I didn’t become either.) However, I also wouldn’t have said that I wanted to be a high school teacher( which I did for 10 years).

Both of my parent’s worked when I was growing up. So when I decided to become a SAHM my parents weren’t exactly on board with the idea. I think my mother was a little more accepting of the idea than my father was. Even now he frequently asks me what I’m going to do and if I’ve considered doing Uber or Amazon Flex.

I’m not really sure why he’s not totally on board. My grandmother was a SAHM so maybe it’s more of a personal reason for him. My husband was completely on board with the idea and that was really all that mattered to me.

At the time I didn’t really know any other SAHMs. The few I did know I wasn’t really close with so contacting them for advice was pretty much out of the question. After about four months of trial and error, I have learned many things.

However, I have 6 important pieces of advice that I think all SAHM’s whether they are newbies or pros should know.

Schedules Are Your Friend

One of the biggest things that helped me be more productive while I’m at home is developing a schedule or routine that I follow every day. At first, I didn’t have a schedule because I thought I could manage my time well without it. (FYI: I put the PRO in Procrastinator.)

Instead, my husband would come home daily to a very frustrated wife. It seemed like I never had enough time to do anything or get anything done in the house during the day. Why? Because I wasn’t using my time wisely.

Thus a schedule was born! It took me a few tries to get it right, but once I did I became less frustrated and managed to get more thing accomplished during the day.  I still haven’t figured out how to work blogging into that schedule yet, but it’s a work in progress.

It’s Ok If Everything Doesn’t Get Done

Even though I do my best to stick to the schedule I have created sometimes things just don’t work out the way I planned. Life happens. The baby is fussy, my sister in law needs a ride to the doctor, or I lose the keys and waste 20 minutes looking for them (this happens a lot, I should probably find a solution to that).

And that pile of laundry I wanted to get folded goes undone, the elaborate dinner that I wanted to make doesn’t get cooked, that blog post I wanted to work on doesn’t get started.

It’s so frustrating when your well laid out plans don’t work out. I would look at my to-do list and just shake my head in frustration and defeat.

My husband had to remind me that it was ok if I didn’t get everything done and to remember to just take a deep breath. Eventually, the laundry will get folded and that elaborate dinner I planned will get made, just not today.

And I had to accept the fact that it was okay to not get everything done. Just breathe and try again tomorrow.

Keep In Contact With Your Old Coworkers/Friends

I am an introvert by nature so staying in contact with coworkers and friends can be a bit of challenge. I have managed to stay in contact with one of my former coworkers, which has been a blessing.

It gives me another adult to talk to besides my husband and it keeps me in the loop about what’s happening and changing in the educational field. That way whenever I decided to go back, if I ever go back, I’ll at least have some idea of what I’ll be getting myself into.

They are also a good source of adult conversation. No need to talk about Doc McStuffins and Elmo with them.

Make SAH Friends

Don’t become a shut-in with just you and your child(ren) existing in your own tiny bubble. Your old friends aren’t gonna want to hear about how cute Charlie was when he sat on the potty this morning

. It’s important to get out and make some mom friends. Many cities have free playgroups that parents can take their kids too. This is an excellent place to meet other SAHMs or SAHDs.

Then you can have that one friend that totally gets it when you talk about how your toddler shoved a bead up his nose and you were at the emergency room all night.

They are also a great source of parenting advice and provide support for those tough days when you just don’t or can’t muster up the strength to be Super Mom.

Make Time For Yourself

As women, we tend to sacrifice our own health and well being for the sake of others. Being SAHM is no different. You get so caught up in taking care of the kids, keeping the house clean, arranging playdates, etc. That you forget to take time for yourself.

It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate like going on a girls night out. Maybe splurging on a mani/pedi is your thing.  Personally, a few hours of quiet time works for me. I like to crochet or just go to the local Barnes and Noble and read through a few books. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s something you enjoy.

Make Time For Your Spouse

For most of us, the reason we stayed home was to take care of the kids. So our focus tends to be on making sure the kids have what they need and that they are taken care of. We tend not to focus on our spouses and they get pushed to the back burner.p———————–

I have been guilty of this issue and I have to keep reminding myself that my husband works 10 hr days and overtime on the weekends to keep a roof over our heads. The least I can do is put the kids to bed early and just make some time for us to be together without the kids.

Try to call a sitter and schedule a date night once a month. Even simple things like making his lunch for work are simple ways to show your spouse that you care.

Being a stay at home parent is a hard job and as your children get older the challenges of parenting change with it.

Hopefully, these 6 tips will help make your life a little easier

Did any tip stick out to you as the most important? Or maybe you have another one to add to the list? Share it with me in the comments section. I’d love to hear what you think.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Family, Lifestyle

10 Essential Foods I Keep Stocked in My Pantry

woman carrying basket of fruits and vegetables
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As hurricane Florance makes it’s way to the East Coast I started taking notice of the various food items that I keep stocked in my pantry. While many of these foods are not essential to us surviving the coming storm. They are foods that are a regular part of my families diet. Thus making them essential for us.

Without further ado here are the 10 essential foods that I keep stocked in my pantry:

1.Cereal

I have 4 small children living in my house, so cereal is a no-brainer for us. It’s something simple that the kids can make on their own for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  It can be eaten with or without milk.

The best time to stock up on cereal is when they are having a good sale on your favorite brands or buying the store brand. Recently, at my local Krogers, they had a deal for 4 boxes of general mills cereal for $8 plus a free gallon of milk.

If you use grocery rebate apps like ibotta or checkout 51 you can even get money back on your purchases. You can also join rewards clubs, like kelloges.com, to get coupons for your favorite items.

2.Oatmeal

Oatmeal is another family favorite that’s cheap and inexpensive. Unlike cereal, oatmeal tends to leave me feeling fuller longer throughout the day. It’s also a great source of fiber. Oatmeal can also be used to make cookies, dog treats, and facial masks.

3.Pancake Mix

Pancake mix is another one of those versatile breakfast items that we tend to overlook. However, pancake mix can be used to make pancakes (duh…) and waffles. But did you also know that you can use pancake mix to make cookies, cakes, and scones. Check out this post on the 9 Things To Make With Pancake Mix.

4. Bread

I think bread is the most eaten food item in our house. My husband uses 3 slices of bread to make his PB & Jelly sandwiches! 3 slices!!!! I guess it would be more precisely called a PB, jelly & cheese sandwich (bread, PB, a slice of cheese, bread, jelly, bread). It sounds gross to me, but he loves it.

We buy our bread from Aldi’s for .75 cents. You can also purchase bread at the dollar store. Just make sure you check the expiration dates before you purchase them. I usually buy about 6 loaves at a time. I just freeze the rest until we need them.

Like everything else on my list bread can be used for other things besides making sandwiches check out these 10 uses for bread.

5.PB & Jelly

Peanut butter can actually be really expensive, we usually buy ours in bulk from Sams or BJs. Jelly, however, is a lot cheaper. If we didn’t have these items my husband would go out and buy food for lunch. Which if you haven’t read my series on The Smart Way to Transition to One Income, eating out can really add up.  So for us, the PB is a frugal expense.

6.Ramen

Ramen…if you’ve ever lived in a dorm you should be very familiar with Ramen. Ramen is the college students best friend. What else can you go to Walmart and buy for .20? Yea, your blood pressure might be a little high after eating it, but when you’re paycheck is still a few days away ramen will get you through.

Ramen noodle can also be used to make other kinds of soup. Throw in some carrots, broccoli, and chicken into a pot of chicken flavored ramen and you’ve got chicken soup! Or you could try these other 17 ways to use Ramen noodles.

7. Noodles (Lasagna,spaghetti, penne,etc)

I always try to keep spaghetti and lasagna noodles stocked in my pantry. You can make a variety of pasta dishes besides spaghetti and lasagna. I make a baked penne and cheese dish that my husband loves. It’s a lot like lasagna, but with a twist.

8. Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti sauce is another favorite item I like to keep in my pantry. I can usually get jars or cans of spaghetti sauce for as little as .88 when they are on sale. Besides using spaghetti sauce to make pasta you can also try to use them in these 10 dishes.

9. Rice

Rice is another one of the staple foods that can be used in times of plenty and times of want. It’s very filling and a little goes a long way. We pretty much eat plain rice with almost every meal. Every now and then we’ll jazz it up and make chicken fried rice, jambalaya, or beans and rice. Need a few more ideas on ways to cook rice check out this link.

10. Beans

Right now we have several different cans of beans in our pantry. The cheapest way to buy beans is to buy them dried and then cook them yourself. However, I have never had much success making beans that way. They always end up hard.

Beans are another versatile food can be used in any number of recipes. Beans are also an excellent substitute for meat. I’ve used beans in spaghetti as a substitute for ground beef. I’ve also used beans and rice to make burritos.

They’re also great for soups and my all time favorite cold weather food chili!

Well, that’s it. Those are the top 9 items that you can find in my pantry on any given day. What foods did you keep stocked in your pantry?

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro