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Guest Post: Getting Organized for the Holidays

This is a guest post from an organizing professional whom I really admire, Angela Harris of Angela Harris Design. As the holidays approach, I start to feel the pressure of all those extra tasks. Angela gives us three tips on how to overcome! For more great advice, visit her site at www.angelaharrisdesign.com.

As the holidays approach, the building of excitement often begins to be overtaken by the escalating stress thatinevitably takes over. While I attribute some of my lower stress these days to the overall shift to order I’ve made in different areas of my life, do these three things today to feel an immediate difference:

#1:  ASK:  What’s on your {and your family’s} list? In general what are your favorite parts of the holidays – what do you want to experience?During dinner the other night, I asked my family what they most wish for for the upcoming holiday season: emphasizing I wasn’t talking gift wish list!  Here’s part of what we came up with:

  • Attending the Nutcracker{something we used to do but hadn’t gone to in a while}
  • Making peanut butter balls {a holiday favorite – we ran out of time & didn’t make last year}
  • Spending an evening viewing Christmas lights
  • Walking through a nativity scene at a nearby church
  • Doing something to help others
  • Bringing holiday style to my window boxes
  • Decorating Christmas cookies {trial & error last year; learned some great tips – will share later}
  • Reading our favorite Advent book together each night {helping to keep us focused on what Christmas means to us}

Just getting to know what each family member wants to experience can sometimes be an eye opener.  It helps to know what to prioritize and can slide.

#2:  Establish a budget.  Maybe not the most fun part, but a crucial one.

A.  Know how much you have {are willing} to spend {without going into debt}.
B.  Make a list of what you’ll need to purchase, including:

  • gifts
  • cards, stamps, pictures
  • decorations
  • entertaining {if you’re having a party, all of the expenses involved with this}
  • travel
  • groceries {above & beyond what you normally would spend}
  • wrapping supplies
  • special event tickets

C.  Allocate amounts for each. 

Tips: 

  • I do my holiday budget in an Excel spreadsheet. I list every item in one column and put a budgeted amount in the column next to it.  Using the auto sum button, I add the $ column and then play around with budgeted amounts for each item until the sum is where I need it to be.
  • After the holidays, indicate how much you actually spent {you can add an “actual” column}. Also, note other expenses you didn’t anticipate.
  • Next year, you can pull up that spreadsheet, “save as” that new year, tweak slightly and your new budget will be complete! {Last night I did my 2011 one in five minutes.}

 

#3:  Make – and use! – your own Holiday Organizer:  I use a Five-Pocket Letter File to keep me organized during the season. My tabs include:
  1. Ideas: Ideas I tear out of magazines are kept right here.
  2. Coupons: I’m not a huge coupon clipper but do clip during this time of the year.
  3. Receipts:  ALL of my holiday receipts go in this ONE place. {In an upcoming post, I’ll share what I do with my receipts and  how it kept me under budget the last two years!}
  4. Cards:  My Christmas card mailing list – along with a few extra cards, stamps and addressing pen – goes here.
  5. List:  My specific list of whom I need to shop for. I print out my budget list {above} then, using a pencil {which I keep in my organizer at all times!} I jot down ideas and cross off when that person is taken care of.

Tips:

  • Take some quiet, focused time to set up your own organizer – customize to best fit your needs.
  • Keep it with you. {I have mine with me throughout the season. I’ll take out what I need for that store, leaving the actual folder in the car.}
  • Before running out to shop, sit down and look through what you need. Visually think through where you’ll need to go for what. Do a little on-line research prior to leaving home to keep from having to run from place to place.
  • If you end up going over budget or find something else you’d rather give, you’ll have your receipt right there so you can return original item.  {Know return policies from the stores you purchase from.}
  • Plan trips out when stores are least crowded.  Or do you shopping on-line.
  • Streamline whenever possible!

Do YOU have a favorite way to stay organized during the holidays?  I’d love to hear!

Guest Post: Recipe of the Day

Following is a guest post from Andrea at Inspired2Cook.com.

Hello! My name is Andrea and I’m a stay-at-home mom and author of Inspired2cook, a blog filled with recipes and cooking tips. Here’s a delicious recipe for fried rice. Not only do you get all the food groups in one dish (protein, carbs, veggies), it’s also super quick and easy to make.

I used ground turkey instead of ground pork and it worked great! It’s important to use cold leftover rice because freshly-made rice will turn into a mushy mess…and nobody wants to eat that! Serve the fried rice with your favorite Asian hot sauce.

To find more great recipes, visit me at http://www.inspired2cook.com/

Pork (or Turkey) Fried Rice
-recipe from Martha Stewart Everyday Food

Keep leftover rice on hand to whip up this one-pot dish. It’s an economical, tasty supper that’s faster than takeout. Leftover cooked rice is perfect in this dish because it won’t stick together in the skillet. For a lighter version, substitute ground turkey for the pork. Serves 4.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
1/2 pound ground pork
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 cups cooked white rice (about 3/4 cup uncooked rice)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar

In a wok or large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over high. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, lightly beat eggs with 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce to combine. Add eggs to wok and swirl to coat bottom of pan. Cook, without stirring, until almost set, 1 minute, then fold in thirds with a spatula. Transfer cooked eggs to a work surface and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to wok and swirl to coat. Add garlic, ginger, and scallion whites and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add pork and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add carrots, peas, and rice and stir to combine. Add cooked egg, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and vinegar and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is coated, about 1 minute. Let cook, undisturbed, until warm, about 1 minute. Top with scallion greens and serve.

Guest Post: Integrating Babies and Pets at Home

We’d all love nothing more than for our furry babies and human babies to get along in one big family.  Some pets unfortunately resist change and resent anything that takes attention away from them.

You may be thinking, “No, my Spot and Mittens are perfectly mannered love bugs,” but ask yourself these questions first.

  1. Does your pet display possessive behavior?  Do they growl when you get near their toys or food?  Do they growl when you’re holding them and someone else comes near you?
  2. How does your pet greet someone?  By standing up and putting their paws on that person?  By barking and shying away?
  3. How does your pet get along with smaller animals?  Do they chase?  Do they fixate?

If you answered yes to any of these, there’s some behavior to remedy and it’s high time to check out your local dog training center.  It may cost a hefty penny, but consider the price you would put on your baby’s life.  Just as you must first be a mother and not a friend to your children, you must first be a leader for your pack of animals.

If your pets don’t show any aggression, there are still small steps you should take to make the introduction between the pack and its new member a happy one.

  1. Parents will be more preoccupied when the baby arrives.  In the months preceding birth, pay less attention to your pets to get them used to being more autonomous.  This doesn’t mean you can’t love on them!  Just remember that dogs and cats are both very cunning creatures.  Give them an inch and they learn that they can boss you around.
  2. After the baby is born, bring home a blanket with the baby’s smell.  Wrap a doll in it and put it on the couch.  Correct your pets when they come to smell it.  They are not allowed to even smell it until you invite them.  Since it’s difficult to train a cat, get in the habit of using a spray bottle of water to discourage bad behavior.
  3. If your dog doesn’t have a crate, get him one that’s appropriate for his size.  Although the crate should never be used as punishment, practice putting the dog inside it with a Kong stuffed with peanut butter for an hour at a time.  If the dog is ever in the way or becomes excited around the baby, he can be put into the crate.  Do not put the crate in the child’s bedroom.
  4. Do not allow the dog into the baby’s bedroom, not even when you’re in it.  Instructing your dog to respect the baby’s space tells the dog that he is not higher on the pecking order than the baby.
  5. Neither dogs nor cats should be allowed near the baby unsupervised.  Even snuggle-happy cats can accidentally hurt a baby.

You are the pack leader for both your furry and human babies.  Earn their respect and love will naturally follow.

Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and researcher for College Scholarships, where recently she’s been researching Spanish scholarships as well as Spanish student scholarships. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Guest Post: Fabulous Valentine’s Day Dessert

The following is a guest post from one of our favorite food bloggers, Andrea from www.inspired2cook.com.

Hello! My name is Andrea and I’m a stay-at-home mom and food blogger. If you’re looking for an easy dessert to make for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day, look no further. This recipe for Bittersweet Chocolate Pots de Crème is rich, smooth and a cinch to make.

Pots de crème (prounounced poh-duh-KREHM), is French for “pot of cream”. Unlike traditional recipes for pots de crème which require baking in a water bath, this simplified version cuts out that step. The pudding cooks quickly then needs to chill for an hour or so in the refrigerator.

Use the best chocolate chips you can find. My favorite is Guittard brand chocolate chips because they are smooth, high quality and really delicious. For this recipe, I used ¼ cup of Guittard Semisweet Chocolate Chips and ¼ cup of Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Chips. If you can’t find bittersweet chocolate chips, use good quality semisweet chocolate chips.

Garnish the pots de crème with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and fresh berries, or enjoy as is! Visit me at my blog, Inspired2cook, for other great recipes and cooking tips: http://www.inspired2cook.com/

Bittersweet Chocolate Pots de Crème
-recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine (February/March 2011) 

This quick version of a classic French pudding comes together on the stovetop in minutes and then chills during dinner. Makes 2 servings.

1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup whole milk
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
Kosher salt

Heat the half-and-half and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until scalding hot. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Slowly whisk the hot milk mixture into the eggs.

Return the milk mixture to the pan, reduce the heat to low, and whisk until it thickens, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate chips, sugar, and a pinch of salt; whisk until melted. Strain through a medium-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Divide the mixture between two 6-oz. ramekins or serving glasses. Refrigerate until set, at least 1 hour.

Guest Post: Do You Need a Baby Planner? by Desiree Miller, Bottles to Britches Baby Planning

When you first find out you are expecting it can be quite overwhelming.  Most moms-to-be immediately start thinking about delivery, the nursery, whether you’ll work with the baby or stay home, figuring out what kind of gear you need, if you’ll be able to figure out the breastfeeding thing (or whether you even want to give it a try).  It’s a lot to think about.  And, there’s a lot to learn. 

That said, expectant parents these days have a new resource available to help guide them through the maze of motherhood. That new option is a baby planner.  A baby planner is actually a coach and consultant of sorts, with some concierge thrown in, too.  All baby planners hope to educate parents.  Some baby planners offer specialties in certain areas, such as pre-natal fitness or going green, while others act as a clearinghouse of information on other baby industry experts in their region, such as night nurses and lactation consultants. 

A baby planner can help a first-time parent or someone who waited a while between children (which was the case with me and it seemed all the rules had changed!).  If an expectant mom finds she has multiples on the way, a baby planner can help her figure out what she really needs double of.  Adoptive parents can also find a baby planner to be quite useful as they prepare for their new addition.

In many cases, a friend or family member serves the role of a baby planner without the title.  But not every expectant mom really wants their advice, especially if those people haven’t spent much time around newborns recently.  And not every expectant mom has friends or family nearby.  They may feel lost in where to start to prepare for a child. 

I worked with a mom last year who had done so much research on the products available that she ended up emotionally paralyzed by all the information.  She no longer trusted her gut, so my job was not only to help her get her registry set but also to help her believe in herself again.  In the end, her baby came five weeks early and she had barely started working on her nursery.  Getting to know her as well as I did, I was able to step in and pull all the pieces together to complete the nursery while she was in the hospital with the baby.  It was wonderful for me to know she was coming home to the nursery she wanted and she is happy to point out it was a huge relief to her, too.

Baby planners don’t always take on huge projects.  They can help with the little stuff, too.  From running errands while you take care of your newborn or setting up your baby announcements, most baby planners can do whatever you need.  If you like the idea of getting this kind of assistance, there are associations you should check for members, including http://internationalbabyplanners.com/members/ and http://www.babyplannerinstitute.com/members/.  If you don’t see a baby planner in your area you can contact me at Desiree@BottlestoBritches.com and I’ll help you find the help you need.

Guest Post: Thanksgiving Recipes from Inspired2cook.com

The following is a guest post from a great little blog called Inspired2cook. Andrea has so many recipes and great ideas to pull from that I asked her to submit a couple in time for this Thursday’s feast. Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello! My name is Andrea and I’m a stay-at-home mom and author of Inspired2cook, a blog filled with recipes and cooking tips. When I’m entertaining, I try to do as much as possible ahead of time, especially during the holidays. Hopefully these recipes will inspire you to get in the kitchen and try something new. To see photos of them and find more great recipes, visit me at http://www.inspired2cook.com/

 Roasted Carrots and Parsnips with Fresh Herbs
-recipe from The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan

These orange and ivory root vegetables, flecked with fresh herbs, complement turkey and are a colorful addition to the holiday table. Look for medium-sized, well-shaped parsnips that are firm. Avoid ones that are limp or spotted. Store them wrapped in paper towels inside a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Serves 8 to 10.

7 medium parsnips (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, trimmed, and cut into 3-inch-by-1/2-inch sticks
1 1/2 pounds tender carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 3-inch-by-1/2-inch sticks
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large roasting pan or 9-by-13-inch baking dish, toss the parsnips and carrots with the olive oil, dill, parsley, pepper, and salt. Roast, stirring once or twice, for about 45 minutes until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife and lightly caramelized in spots. Serve immediately, or cover and keep warm for up to 1 hour before serving.

Do Ahead: The roasted vegetables can be made up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate, covered, and bring to room temperature 2 hours before reheating.

 Old-Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies
-recipe from verybestbaking.com

These moist, cake-like cookies are delicious, easy to make and a perfect treat for holiday gatherings. For a little more flavor, I used 1 cup of white sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar (instead of all white sugar). I baked the first batch plain then added dried cranberries and chopped pecans to the rest of the batter. Both versions are delicious!

Makes 36 cookies.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease baking sheets.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl. Beat sugar and butter in large mixer bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle Glaze over cookies.

For Glaze: Combine 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in small bowl until smooth.

Variations: Add 1/2 cup chopped nuts to the recipe.

Guest Post: Preserve Your Memories by Organizing

This is a guest post by organization expert Angela Harris. Her company, Angela Harris Design, Inc. helps clients to create order in public and private spaces and to preserve their stories through beautiful photo albumn products.

Q:  What’s the key to preserving your memories?

HINT:  The same thing that makes everything (from your closets + meal planning, to your home + calendar) work beautifully

A:  ORDER!

One of the most common ways to capture our story is through photographs.  And one of the most common complaints I hear from clients is, “What do I do with these (visual AND virtual!) piles of photos?”

I’m passionate about preserving your story AND being the author of it. But as a mom of two young children, I know how difficult this can be. While running my album design company, and (oftentimes, more challenging) household, order became my lifesaver. So much so that helping others organize is now a big part of what my I do! Before my Photo Organizing 101, here’s what I’ve learned about order:

 1. My mantra:  surround yourself with what you love.  Our lives are often filled with excess.  Order is about having a vision (knowing, keeping, adding what you DO love) and streamlining (taking out what you DON’T).

 2. Each of us defines order differently – and each needs a personalized approach.

 3. Being more organized is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you work on it little by little, you will begin to feel that “shift” from chaos to control. 

 4.  Building systems – and keeping them as simple as possible – is vital to maintaining order.

 5. Evaluate and tweak when necessary.

 6. If you are overwhelmed, want quicker results, or simply need another viewpoint, enlist the help of a trusted friend or professional organizer. 

 7. LET GO of perfection.

 8.  Infusing order into life brings tremendous benefits:  less stress, more control … positively impacting our attitude, health, loved ones … and translating into one thing we DO need in excess:  PEACE.

 Using the same basic steps I use when organizing a client’s home or workspace, here’s how to turn your good intentions of photo organization into a reality. 

#1. DEFINE VISION
First, gather all photos. Now visualize:  What’s your ideal outcome for this project? 

WHAT story you wish to tell
HOW you’ll organize
WHO you’ll involve 
WHEN you can commit
WHERE you’ll do it

#2.  PURGE + SORT
Decide what to toss while sorting the rest.

#3. FIND HOME
Now, decide what you’ll use to tell your story:  album (digitally downloaded, traditional photo, scrapbook), frames, containers – or some of each.

#4. CREATE SYSTEM
Systems are vital to maintaining order. Simplify what you can!

Purge
Organize (categories/subcategories)  
Label (individual photos or groups)
Share (on-line or gift)
Protect (back it up!)

 And if it’s NOT easy (or completely UNenjoyable)…

#5.  EVALUATE + TWEAK
Change what’s not working.

 … which happens to be what I’m in the process of doing! I’ll post my progress updates (including tips/product suggestions).  And would LOVE for you to share YOUR ideas with me! Join me at: http://angelaharrisdesign.wordpress.com/.

Have fun telling your story… and make it a good one while you’re at it!

Guest Post: Mothers: Surviving Stress in the Holidays by Snowden McFall, author of Stress Express! 15 Instant Stress Relievers

Halloween is almost here, Thanksgiving is around the corner, and Chanukah, Christmas and Kwanza are all coming in December.  That means upcoming crazy days for mothers who are already incredibly busy.  How do you cope and what can you do?

 First, ask yourself how stressed are you right now.  If you’re like most Americans, you’re very stressed. Career Builder.com says that 78% of American workers feel burned out. 1/3 of Americans say they’re living with extreme stress.1 Nearly 80% of all doctor visits are stress-related and 43% of adults are sick because of stress.

 As a mother, that stress gets magnified, especially if you are a working mother. Despite their best attempts, many husbands are not much help at home and women carry the greatest burdens of housework as well as childcare and community service. And the more stressed you are, the more stressed your children are.

 ”Children absolutely sense parents’ stress,” says pediatrician Kenneth Ginsburg, associate professor at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. In 2009, 36% of kids surveyed said they worried more this summer than last; 30% said they worried about family financial difficulties. 2

 What Can You Do To Lower Your Stress Levels?


1. Sleep at least 7 hours a night.  According to the World Health Organization, anything less than 7 hours a night could cause cancer!  Less than 7 hours means you are 3 times more susceptible to colds and likely to gain more weight. The solution: go to bed earlier, no email before bed, no TV in bed.  Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleeping, making love and resting.

2. Take Vacations:  Sadly, Expedia found that 34% of Americans don’t go on vacation at all! And yet for women aged 45-64, two weeks of vacation cut their incidence of heart attack in half, according to a Boston College study! 3  Expedia also found most people feel rejuvenated after vacation, are more productive and more satisfied with their marriage.

3. Use aromatherapy to help with stress. A few drops of vanilla oil on the wrists of a child can transform a cranky, whiny child into one who is happy and laughing. Peppermint extract on your forehead or temples can help relieve pain immediately.  It’s also great for concentration.  Lemon scent cuts keyboard mistakes by 50%!

4. Spend time with girlfriends The latest research shows spending time with friends creates the release of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that relieves stress and promotes euphoria.  In a study, those who had the most friends over a 9 year time period cut their risk of death in the next 10 years by 60%.4

5. Cultivate Optimism Optimists live 7 years longer than pessimists, have better lung function and are far less likely to die young or die from cancer. The top 10% executives think differently from others: they are all optimists! So if you want greater success, achievement,  and joy in your life, become a more positive thinker.

Women have the ability to make a huge difference in the lives of others. As mothers, your greatest gifts are your love, wisdom and   care taking.  But only if you take care of yourself and manage your stress.

# # #

 Snowden McFall, professional speaker, trainer and author, is the owner of 27- year old Brightwork Advertising and Training and 14-year old Fired Up. She has written 5 books, including Fired Up!, which has sold  63,000+ copies, and her new book Stress Express! 15 Instant Stress Relievers. An expert on stress and motivation,  she has appeared on 300 radio shows, CNN Financial News, The Home Shopping Network, Bloomberg Television, Investors Business Daily, and foxnews.com. She was named National Women in Business Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration and was honored at the White House and Congress. She can be reached at www.firedupnow.com

For your free report:  The Top 20 Tips to Get Fired Up and Stay Fired Up, go to http://firedupnow.com/top20tips.html  

1.  “Stress in US Rises, Causes Health Problems,” The Scoop, The Meeting Professional, March 2008, p.442.

2.   Jayson, Sharon Kids ‘absolutely’ feel parents’ stress, 30% worry about finances,”  USA Today,  11/2/2009 http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-11-03-kids-stress-parents_N.htm

 3. Brown, Sarah,  “Clean Break,” Vogue, June 2003

4.  Taylor, S. E.; Klein, L.C.; Lewis, B. P.; Gruenewald, T. L.; Gurung, R. A. R.; & Updegraff, J. A. “Female Responses to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight”, Psychological Review (2000), 107(3), p.41-429.

Guest Post from Double Duty Mommy: Best Products for More than One Child

The following is a guest post from Jennifer Mercurio, who writes the Double Duty Mommy blog.

 As a wife, mother of two, homemaker, web designer, and blogger, I have enough to take care of on a daily basis. Having time saving products in my life has made it possibly to survive my days sometimes. My daughters are 5 (6 in November), and 11 weeks old, so the following products have definitely helped daddy & me keep a little bit of our sanity.

 Recently I was sent a Bottle Snuggler baby bottle holder for a review, and now I have no idea how I made it through life without it. Okay, maybe that’s a little exaggerated, but it has definitely made daily chores more possible and has let me eat or talk on the phone when I wasn’t able to previously. Bottle Snugglers hold the bottle for you, so while you are hold and feed baby, you will still have one hand free! It’s helped both daddy & me eat while at a restaurant, answer phone calls, help with our 5 year old, and the list goes on!  They are perfect for a multi-tasking mom like me.

 I’ve been trying for 10 weeks now to breastfeed, but because since birth Kendall has such a big issue with latching, I’ve always pumped. I think now that we’re 10 weeks into it it probably won’t happen, but I do keep trying to get her latched. A product that has helped us is Pumpin’ Pals. Of course, the pump is wonderful, and helps me pump faster. Pumpin Pal is a hands-free pumping accessory. If you pump you know that normally you have to hold the bottles, and usually lean forward which kills your back. With Pumpin’ Pals attached, it eliminates all the back pain and frees your hands completely because the pump horns are angled downward and fit into most pumps you already own!

What makes the Pumpin’ Pal great is that it’s made to wrap around a double pump and then again around your neck which makes it hands-free for a relaxed and productive pumping session. I would recommend the Pumpin’ Pal if you pump regardless but if you have more then 1 kid; it is definitely a must. A big plus for me is that now, when I’m pumping, I can help my other daughter with her homework instead of making her wait.

 And lastly, probably my number one family friendly product is to wear your baby! Believe me, I never use to be a fan when I had my first daughter. Now I realize I just didn’t have the right carrier. We have several wraps and a BabyBjörn carrier (that only daddy uses). I’ve learned that I do not like carriers, and I am more of a wrap baby wearer . I was extremely intimidated by wraps at first but, believe me, they are so easy to use. My favorite by far is the Sugar Sweet Baby. Lara’s wraps are very lightweight, extremely breathe-able and, of course, gorgeous to look at.

I think wraps and carriers are definitely a must have for any parents. When all else fails, wear your baby, and I assure you your baby will fall asleep within minutes. There after you are free to get any housework done, eat, help your other kids, or just RELAX!

These are  just a few products I use to make my with two small children just a little easier.

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