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Finding Your “No”: How and Why I Stopped Being a People Pleaser

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I am a pleaser of people. A “Yes” woman, afraid to say “No”. I have been as long as I can remember. This has oftentimes come at the expense of my own happiness and well-being, as there have been many scenarios in the past where I have placed myself in harmful situations out of fear of hurting others. 

No

In the end, I only hurt myself. 

I noticed a large shift when I became a mother. My focus instantly became much more on my family and less on others and their opinions. There was a period of time when I juggled others’ preferences and happiness with my own, and I crashed hard. When that crash came, I thought, “for what?” At that point, I vowed to start moving away from being that “Yes” woman and to find more “No” in my life. 

It’s been roughly three years since that moment. During that time, life has thrown a lot in the way of our family, as it does for everyone. In stressful situations, including those that are so overwhelming that you can’t see through to the next ten minutes, I have found my “No.” I’ve listened to my gut feeling and rolled with it. 

No

And you know what? “No” becomes easier the more you use it. The stronger your “No,” the better and more beautiful your “Yes” will be. You will be able to say “Yes” to those things that truly spark love and joy in your life. 

“No” applies to all sorts of things in life. Social obligations. Toxic family members. Holiday planning. Kid parties. Relationships – be they professional or personal. Jobs. Vacations. You get the idea. 

When I freed myself by using “No,” my “Yes” became all the more meaningful. I started to use more of my heart/gut and less of my head. As an anxious overthinker, this was difficult to do. The heart/gut tends to let you know where you’re at pretty quickly. It’s magic. 

Perhaps the best phenomenon has been learning to lean in and truly embrace the “Yes.” Again, my gut feeling. People show up in the toughest times who you would not have otherwise expected. Opportunities re-appear at times that are better than ever. As someone who has made a ton of mistakes and continues to do so, I think these re-appear to give me another shot with the knowledge made from falling hard.

Where I used to try, try, and try again, I have learned to let stuff be where it’s meant to be, instead of forcing it.

Where I used to internalize, I now focus on external factors that could have nothing to do with me and I let things lie. 

People, scenarios, opportunities, and hardships will come and go. Though cliche, the “reason, season, or a lifetime” saying comes to mind. It’s okay to let things be, even if they are not in a spot where you’re comfortable. Sometimes they will come back around. 

Though someone may be hurting, you don’t have to continue to be a doormat. Give yourself space and make yourself available if you choose, if and when that opportunity arises. 

I do this not only for my own peace but for the peace and well-being of my home. I want to set a great example for my kids. If they choose to walk away from something given it’s no longer for them, that doesn’t make them a quitter or a failure. If anything, it opens up space in their hearts and minds to figure out what ignites their passion and what truly serves them.

I want my kids to wholeheartedly embrace where their “Yes” leads them, and look forward to continuing to learn beside them as I find my own way. 

Where + How to Find the Best Petoskey Stones in Michigan

There’s nothing like digging your hands into the sand beneath Lake Michigan to scoop a handful of rocks and stones to eventually lay eyes on a Petoskey Stone – Michigan’s state stone. If you landed here you’re either 1. A fellow rock hunting lover like myself or 2. Visiting Northern Michigan and are looking for clues in finding Petoskey Stones. If you ask me, a Petoskey Stone is a true treasure and lucky for you I’m sharing my go-to spots + tips for finding these beauties. And when I say “lucky for you” I mean it because I’ve never left one of my go-to spots without a Petoskey Stone. 

Petoskey StoneMy go-to spots:

  1. East Bay Park, Traverse City | This hidden gem features a small beach area located at the bottom of East Arm of Grand Traverse Bay and is home to some small but beautiful Petoskey Stones. The park also features a small play area with picnic tables making it a perfect spot for a picnic lunch.
  2. Old Mission Point Park, Traverse City | Parts of this beach are very rocky which makes for amazing stone hunting! The beach is a beautiful beach to walk and is home to Mission Point Lighthouse.
  3. Empire Beach Park, Empire | Another beautiful beach that offers miles and miles of epic stone hunting opportunities. Along your route to Empire Beach Park you’ll find a few narrow roads leading to Lake Michigan that might provide a quieter spot for stone hunting if you’re visiting during a busier time of year.
  4. Glen Haven Beach, Glen Arbor | This beach is one of my all time favorites as I made lots of childhood memories at an A-Frame cottage right across from this beach area. When visiting here during the summer months you’ll definitely want to stroll down the beach a ways to enjoy some piece and quiet during your search.
  5. Petoskey State Park, Petoskey | A perfect spot to visit for some evening stone hunting. 
  6. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Empire | Pack your strainer, wade into the waters of Lake Michigan, and you’ll find a beauty or two here, no doubt.

My tips:

  1. Think spring. Beaches are much less crowded when the weather starts to warm up prior to Memorial Day weekend. Plus, thanks to the winter turnover in Lake Michigan, new stones are turned over on the surrounding beaches making it PEEK time to find a “keeper.” The water is also really clear this time of year upping your chances of laying eyes on a stone without all the work.
  2. Bring a strainer and wear pants with pockets. Digging into the sand with your hands is fun and all but if you find a really good rocky spot under the water you’ll want a strainer to help dig and sift through all the rocks and stones you’re bringing up. You’ll also want pockets to keep your stones safe and sound.
  3. Get your kid(s) involved. I’m going to say that 99.9% of kids love rocks! So, make it a family event and go on a rock hunt for one of these Michigan beauties. 
  4. If you find one stone there’s more than likely a few more right where your feet are when you find that one. Is there research to back this tip up? Nope. But in my experience (20+ years thank you very much) whenever I find one stone I usually grab 2-3 more right in the same spot.
  5. Visit the area of the beach with the least amount of people. When you visit any one of my go-to spots in the summertime it’s usually pretty busy so you’ll want to walk down the beach a little ways where there have been less people. You’re definitely not the only one looking for Petoskey Stones these days.
  6. Understand the beach rules. The Michigan DNR works to protect our beaches and beach goers are only allowed to remove 25lbs of stones each year. 

Tell me about your Petoskey Stone hunting adventures! Does your family enjoy stone hunting while visiting Northern Michigan?

Water Safety: Choosing The Right Life Jacket For Your Child

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Summer will be here shortly and that means WATER.  As a self-proclaimed Moana {as in I always come back to the water} my family spends a majority of its time either on a boat, by a lake, on a paddleboard, or in a pool, so water safety is of the utmost importance, especially with three little ones.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries. Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. The most alarming of these statistics is that among children 1-14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death {after motor vehicle crashes}.

While I understand that most drowning incidents are accidents, just like the majority of motor vehicle crashes, I wholeheartedly believe just like researching car seats to protect our children we should take every step possible to ensure water safety and put the same effort into researching life jackets, swimming/ISR lessons, and even color of swimsuits!
water life jacketTo save you from the deep interweb of life jackets for little ones (and spending hundreds of dollars on garbage ones like me!) I’ve compiled some helpful tips, rules, and my favorite U.S. Coast Guard {USCG} approved life jackets for a fun, SAFE summer on the water for you and your children!
water life jacket

Keep the following in mind when selecting a life jacket for a child:

  • To work correctly, a life jacket or personal flotation device {PFD} must be worn, fit snugly, and not allow the child’s chin or ears to slip through.  
  • Child life jacket approvals are based on the child’s weight. Check the “User Weight” on the label or the approval statement that will read something like “Approved for use on recreational boats and uninspected commercial vessels not carrying passengers for hire, by persons weighing __ lbs.” They can be marked “less than 30,” “30 to 50,” “less than 50,” or “50 to 90.”
  • Michigan law requires all children under six years of age to wear a USCG-approved Type I or II PFD when riding on the open deck of any boat while underway. {PFD laws for all states here}
  • Each person riding on a jet ski or Personal Water Craft {PWC} or being towed behind a PWC or other vessel must wear a USCG-approved Type I, II, or III personal flotation device. Inflatable PFDs are not allowed on PWC or while being towed behind any PWC or boat.
  • Most importantly a life jacket/personal flotation device is not a substitute for adult supervision – NEVER leave a child unattended in or near the water.

waterAccording to the USCG there are 5 types of life jackets (PFDs), the three most recognizable are:

  • TYPE I – Best for open, rough or remote waters where rescue may take time.
    • Turns most unconscious wearers face-up in water.
    • Highly visible in color.
    • Floats the person the best, however, this PFD is often large and bulky.
  • TYPE II – Best for calm, inland water or where there is a high probability of fast rescue.
    • Not suitable for extended survival in rough water.
    • A Type II will turn SOME unconscious wearers face-up in water.
    • Often requires the wearer to tread water in order to keep head above water. 
  • TYPE III – Good for calm, inland water or where there is a high probability of fast rescue.
    • Generally the most comfortable type for continuous wear and available in a variety of styles and colors.
    • A Type III PFD allows freedom of movement for most active water sports including water-skiing, small boat, sailing, fishing, swimming, etc.
    • Individuals may have to tilt their head back to avoid going face down, not for extended survival in rough water.

A great way to test a child’s lifejacket is to pick the child up by the shoulders of the PFD. If you’ve got the right fit, the PFD will not slip above the child’s chin and ears.

water life jacket infant child youth favoriteMy FAVORITE Life Jackets:

  1. Stohlquist WaterWare Infant and Stohlquist Child– This is hands down my favorite of all infant life jackets I’ve tried. The best feature, in my opinion, is the V-neck {see image below}. The child is secure but the V-neck allows for more movement and their face/neck is not squished especially when being held, and trust me this includes the chubbiest of babies.  The back of this PFD is also not bulky as it’s just cross straps with the head support which is nice for naps, walking, being held, and of course, if they were to fall into the water to roll them on their back and support the head.  The infant weight {0-30lbs} is rated a Type II and the child weight {30-50lbs} is rated a Type III which provides good support to children with some swimming skills. It is available via Amazon {with prime shipping} or directly from the Stohlquist website.
  2.  Level Six Puffer Infant Life Jacket – Before you read past this be aware this is a Canadian company and therefore the lifejacket is NOT USCG approved as it has not been tested under US Standards – HOWEVER I love this life jacket! Like #1 it has the ability to roll a child 9-25lbs on their back should they fall in the water but still allows them to be mobile due to the back being a neoprene harness. Straps are adjustable for those long torso babes and its not too hot in the summer heat.  This is my go-to for boating adventures! It is available via Amazon or from the Level Six website. 
  3. Hyperlite Child Indy Vest – Also available in a variety of colors, this neoprene vest is my go-to for life on the lake. This vest is great for swimming, tubing, the pool, playing on a lily-pad, or just when I’m not 100% comfortable my child is not going to fall off the dock while fishing. Please note this PFD is rated a Type III for children who weigh 30-50lbs so I would ensure your child is able to keep their head above water or that a fast rescue would happen should they go into the water. It is available via Amazon, the Hyperlite website, and online/in-store at most Costco locations.
  4. Mustang Lil’ Legends Life Vest – If you are serious about boating or much prefer the Great Lakes or coastal boating over inland lakes/intercoastal waterways, then this PFD would be the best choice. It is a Type II rated life jacket with all the bells and whistles when it comes to PFDs; constructed with ultra-soft, stain-resistant outer fabric, a ventilated mesh back, and a moisture-wicking liner, this vest provides all-day comfort and reduces complaints. The zipper and buckle closure with the leg strap creates a secure fit, and the three-piece collar cradles the head when in the water. The grab loop makes quick rescue possible, and reflective accents ensure visibility. It is a little bulkier, but definitely worth it. It is available via Amazon and the Mustang website.
  5. Puddle Jumper – Being completely honest here I use a puddle jumper BUT my ISR instructor and the internet has advised me otherwise hence my * disclaimer. This Type V rated PFD is great in my opinion for being in the pool, lake, or beach with adult supervision when you just don’t have enough hands to hold or wrangle multiple children who can not yet swim alone. The reason for this is that studies show this PFD creates an upright swimming position which is literally the drowning position for children and impossible for children under 4 to maintain. Not to mention many believe that Puddle Jumpers create a false sense of security and confidence for children who do not yet have the cognitive capability to understand that they need the device to float in the pool. Thus, the problem occurs when the child is not wearing the puddle jumper. The child is now conditioned to believe that not only can they can swim alone in the pool, but they are supposed to do so in an upright position. So like I said I do use this device, rarely but I do, and when I do I give my children breaks from it to reinforce that they can not swim/float without it and we are HUGE supporters of ISR so before we exit the pool after wearing the Puddle Jumper we do a couple of starfishes for muscle memory! Please use your own judgment with this PFD, and definitely on boats in motion or situations where a water rescue may occur as this will not keep an unconscious person’s head out of the water. It is available via Amazon or the Stearns website.
  6. Hyperlite Youth Vest – In my opinion you can’t go wrong with HyperLite or if not this brand a good quality neoprene vest. There is something about the feel and freedom of movement it allows that makes it much easier for kids. This small size version of this vest is for kids 50-70lbs and is rated a Type III, there are two additional weight options for bigger kids and a smaller version for toddlers up to 30lbs. with head-support. I just love Hyperlites colors, style and look – most importantly I know they’re safe . It is available via the Hyperlite website and online/in-store at most Costco locations.

water life jacketFor more information or to answer any additional questions you may have about life jackets/personal flotation devices or the laws pertaining to PFDs please visit:

Mid-Michigan Moms Favorite Neon + Bright Swimsuits & Rash Guards

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Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause of death for children ages 1-14.  We hate to come out of the gate swinging on a post with a statistic like that but it’s important to know how quickly and how easily even the best of swimmers can drown – which is why seconds truly matter when it comes to finding a person in water.

As we approach summer it is no surprise that our social media post alerting parents that the color of their child’s swimsuit could potentially safe their life went viral! This post included water tests from Alive Solutions that showed visibility of clothing colors at certain depths in certain environments such as light bottom pools, dark bottom pools, and lakes… which led to everyone asking where can I get neon and bright suits for my kids?!

neon bright swimsuit rash water safety guardSo we at Mid-Michigan Moms have rounded up {and linked below!} our favorite neon and bright swimsuits and rash guards to make it easier to dress your kids in those eye-catching colors this swim season!

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23

And remember just because a person is dressed in these colors does NOT guarantee you will be able to see them underwater as many factors affect visibility such as pool bottom coloring, water clarity, lighting and weather, surface activity such as agitation and currents, type of water, lake bottom make-up, and of course depth at which the person is under the surface.

For those who boat or prefer to spend their times on lakes, oceans, and ponds almost all colors disappeared which is why it is so important to have your child in the appropriate life jacket to keep them at the surface.

MOST IMPORTANTLY WE WANT TO EMPHASIZE THAT NO LIFE JACKET/PFD, # OF SWIM LESSONS, TYPE OF SWIM LESSON, COLOR OF SWIMSUIT SHOULD EVER REPLACE ADULT SUPERVISION OF CHILDREN IN + AROUND WATER.

Eighty-seven percent of drowning fatalities happen in home pools or hot tubs for children younger than 5. Most take place in pools owned by family or friends. The color of bathing suits + rash guards is simply an added precaution to help make them more visible during supervision or should they sink below the surface to hopefully be able to locate them quickly.

I’m Failing as a Mom and it’s OK

As I hear the words, “You’re a bad mom!” shouted at me from the small human in my kitchen, I cringe. Out of her own frustration and anger, our daughter has just informed me of one of my greatest fears – that I am failing as a mom. 

failingGranted, she is four and a half and I had just asked her to go brush her teeth {for the 4th time}. However, these words still sting and a wave of guilt comes over me. “Am I really failing as a mom?” I then have to brush it off as quickly as the thought comes. I may be far from perfect and in that moment, to her, I might be a bad mom, but it’s ok.

Most days, I make mistakes. I am not perfect. I lose my temper and don’t always respond out of love or kindness. Sometimes I let her have too much screen time and expect more than I should out of a four-year-old. Other times, I ask her to ‘go play’ and be creative by herself. Playing with my daughter can be hard, especially when there’s laundry, dishes, meal prepping, and emails to answer. Yes, in those moments, screen time is much easier. It’s not that I don’t WANT to play with her, but life is full.

We give our daughter ‘choices.’ If you see her walking around in the cold without a coat or with sandals on; she won’t freeze, but she will learn to dress appropriately for the weather. Sometimes, it’s ME who is throwing a tantrum, but then I apologize. I over explain things. I tell her I love her a thousand times a day and sometimes I hide in the bathroom and cry. I’m not failing. I’m learning to give grace to myself and to my daughter, while teaching her to do the same.

If I was to ever be compared to social media highlights, analyzed by a child behavioralist {If you fall into this category please don’t tell me you’re analyzing me as a parent}, or actually had to talk calmly, engage 100% of the time, and show patience all day long…I would look like I’m failing. I know these ‘standards’ are not real life and you should too. We are all just tiny humans {in adult bodies} trying to navigate feelings, emotions, stress, hunger, sleepiness, and even fear. We learn from these experiences, give ourselves grace, and work to do better next time. Exactly what we teach our kiddos, right? We all feel the same things from time to time and there’s nothing like a miniature version of yourself to bring out the best – usually when you’re exhausted and feeling a little ‘hangry.’ 

I know I’m not failing as a mom because I will be the first to say I’m sorry. I teach my child to problem solve when working with others. To give her responsibilities is to teach her self-respect and to respect others and the things she has. I show her that somedays, we just need a rest day and it sometimes looks like a cartoon marathon.

I hope I teach her that life is about moderation and that it’s okay to have that ice cream cone before supper once in a while. In our home, we teach to act and talk out of kindness and love. However, we are all human and sometimes we mess up and we say “I’m sorry.” I’m teaching her to make her own choices and that there are consequences for choices. 

No, I am far from perfect and I mess up every single day but I work to be a better version of myself. So, if that means I’m failing as a mom, then I’m okay with that. 

Last Minute Gifts for Mom

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I took some time asking a few moms about some of their favorite gifts they have given and received for Mother’s Day. Most of these items can be done last minute for those kids or dads looking for the perfect gift still. Here are some of the favorites of Mid-Michigan Moms!

giftsGifts For Family Time

Gifts For Pampering Her

  • Makeup / Make up Accessories / Makeup Brushes  
  • Facials
  • Massages
  • Manicures and Pedicures 
  • Her Favorite Lotion, Perfume, Bath Soak

Treats and Sweets Gifts

  • Fudge
  • Pastries 
  • Cupcakes
  • Macaroons 
  • Cookies 
  • Chocolate Covered Fruit

Breakfast in Bed Gifts

  • Eggs and Toast
  • Waffles and Fruit
  • Muffins and Smoothies 

Sparkles and Bling Gifts

  • Children’s birthstone rings or Necklaces 
  • Bracelet
  • Shoes / Cute Flip Flops
  • Purse or Summer Tote Bag

Garden and Yard Gifts

  • Plants for the Garden
  • Hanging Flower Baskets 
  • Gardening Set
  • Hand-print stepping stones 

Relaxing and Hanging Out Gifts

  • Fire Pit
  • Air Chair / Hammock Chair
  • Picnic Basket 
  • Hammock 
  • Reading Books
  • Journals / Coloring Books

DIY by the Kids Gifts

  • Fleece Tie Blanket 
  • Beaded Necklaces 
  • Home Made Cards, and Flowers 
  • Coupon Books 
  • Pictures and Memory Books 

Still looking for some help? Check out our free Printable here! You can print these adorable cards and have the kids color them in. 

As always we want to hear from you! What is one of your favorite Mother’s Days gifts to give or receive? 

Baby Sprinkle – A Virtual Event For New, Hopeful, and Expectant Parents

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To our hopeful, expecting, and new parents, we are thrilled to be bringing our Baby Sprinkle event back!

Baby Sprinkle is a 100% free, virtual event taking place in the Baby Sprinkle Facebook Event from May 16th-20th. This will allow you to {from the comfort of your own home} hear from experts and physicians, check out our favorite pregnancy and kid products, tour local facilities, and, of course, there will be the infamous Mid-Michigan Moms’ giveaways. Including a grand prize valued at over $1600! This incredible event is being brought to you by our friends at Hurley Medical Center and Hurley Childrens Hospital.

Invite your friends, invite your neighbors, whoever may be interested because we believe the more the merrier! We hope to meet you soon and would love for you to follow along on the Baby Sprinkle Facebook Event for exciting event updates and giveaway announcements!

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We are thrilled to have Hurley Medical Center and Hurley Childrens Hospital as the title sponsors of our 4th Baby Sprinkle event. From pre-conception care and fertility support, through pregnancy, birth, and beyond, Hurley is dedicated to providing you and your family the best care.

NoMI Moms

Every pregnancy is unique, but at Hurley Medical Center, they all have one thing in common: the best care around. Hurley offers the area’s highest level of obstetric and gynecological services, as well as, a full spectrum of educational classes to help you make the right choices for your growing family and beyond.

At Hurley Medical Center, they’re proud of the part they play in approximately 3,000 births a year. From textbook pregnancies to high-risk births and everything in between, their obstetricians, nursing teams, and Certified Nurse Midwives have seen it all. And should the need arise, Hurley is home to the region’s only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), giving patients the best chance for a positive outcome when the unexpected happens.

Plus, Hurley was recently designated as a Blue Distinction Center+ for Maternity Care by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. That means they’ve met the criteria established for safe and effective specialty care while keeping down costs–all things you want to consider when planning a family.

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We are delighted to welcome a panel of professionals and experts that will be sharing their knowledge on a variety of topics throughout the week of Baby Sprinkle through Facebook Live and Premier videos. We are thrilled to introduce our experts soon, including an Obstetrician, Fertility Specialist, Certified Nurse Midwife, and a Certified Lactation Consultant.

Regardless of the stage of motherhood, you are in, we know our experts will have something for you to learn or share with others!

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Who doesn’t love a good giveaway? How about a grand prize package worth over $1600 for one lucky participant? We’re excited to present you with so many amazing products, services, and items, all thanks to our wonderful giveaway sponsors!

So, how do you enter to win one of these giveaways? Giveaway opportunities will be posted in the Baby Sprinkle Facebook Event throughout the week {May 16th-20th}. Entries will differ for each item but may include responding to a question, watching a video from one of our expert panelists, or commenting or liking a post. Entering and winning could not be easier! For full giveaway descriptions and rules, check out the Baby Sprinkle Event on Facebook!

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baby sprinkle

We are looking forward to e-meeting you during our virtual Baby Sprinkle event and for you to learn and connect with the bounty of local and national resources, panelists, and giveaways with have gathered!

Bookmark this page or the Baby Sprinkle Facebook Event Page to keep up to date on all the exciting giveaway and panelist updates we have in store!

Are you a service, resource, or business that is interested in being featured in Baby Sprinkle? Please contact Courtney at courtney@midmichiganmoms.com to learn more about our opportunities.

4 Budget-Friendly Beauty Hacks for Busy Moms

Beauty hacks for busy moms? Genius! It’s no secret that once you become a mom, your personal beauty standards are suddenly very different. Long showers, daily blowouts, manicured nails, and full faces of makeup often get relegated to the backburner when faced with the time demands that come with raising children. 

Gone are the days when we could afford to waste our precious time or money on experimental beauty products – we moms need things that work, and we need them now! And – we don’t want them to break the bank.

beauty hacksLooking great shouldn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, so here are 4 easy beauty hacks for busy moms that will hopefully end up saving you a buck or two: 

1. Makeup Remover Cloths

Before I discovered the ease of makeup remover cloths, I was buying makeup remover wipes and using them daily. Not only were they expensive, but I also bought them almost every other week and I felt bad just throwing them away after I was done {I was already doing that like crazy with baby wipes!} It felt wasteful, both financially and environmentally – there had to be an easier way! 

As a “beauty hacks” experiment, I bought the cheapest makeup remover cloths I could find on Amazon, and two years later I still could not be more impressed with them. A one-time $7 purchase made my makeup wipes a thing of the past. They are basically just a microfiber washcloth, and even though I typically wear waterproof/long-wear makeup {because #momlife} these cloths take my makeup right off. Two years of daily use later and the cheap makeup remover cloths are going strong! I estimate that 2 years of using these have saved me at least $144 over buying makeup remover wipes! Plus –  I feel better about contributing a smidge less to a landfill. 

2. Shaving with Conditioner

If you are a mom who shaves her legs on the regular, you deserve applause – it’s a time-consuming task! Shaving cream by itself isn’t going to bankrupt you, but I used to get annoyed at how fast cans of shaving cream ran out. I switched from buying fancy shaving gel marketed to women to bare-boned Barbasol to save some money, but even those cans ran out quickly.

I can’t remember where I heard it, but someone told me to try shaving with cheap conditioner instead of shaving cream – and it was a “beauty hacks” game-changer! Not only did I feel like I got a smoother shave by using conditioner, you can buy massive bottles of it at your local grocery store for a whopping $1.99 – and it lasts forever. Plus, if you’re anything like me, you usually need to buy two bottles of conditioner for every one bottle of shampoo, and it’s not a bad thing to have extra conditioner laying around! I estimate that shaving with conditioner saves me about $75 a year over buying shaving cream.

beauty hacks3. Dry Shampoo Powder 

When you have any amount of children at home, finding time to keep your hair perfectly shiny is daunting. There’s a reason why many a meme geared toward moms reads, “Running on Coffee and Dry Shampoo!”

After having kids, I used dry shampoo liberally, but my favorite aerosol dry shampoo ran upwards of $6 a can! Again, not going to put you in the poorhouse, but it’s annoying to spend that much on dry shampoo frequently. Enter, your new “beauty hacks” best friend: dry shampoo powder! It’s the same thing as dry shampoo spray, but instead of spraying it on your roots like hairspray, you shake some into your hands and then rub it into your hair. I thought I might hate that, but after a few applications I got the hang of it. It works just as well if not better than your favorite aerosol dry shampoo, and it lasts infinitely longer – I bought a one ounce bottle last summer and I haven’t used it up yet! (For reference – My hair runs to my mid-back and I use big amounts of dry shampoo powder at least 3 times a week). Using this $10 product has saved me around $120 on dry shampoo in the last year!

4. Silk Pillowcases

Last but not least, you’ll be doing skin and hair a big favor by swapping out your traditional pillowcase for a silk pillowcase. 

During the pandemic, my “hobby” was learning all about the “curly girl method” as I was a few months postpartum and my hair was newly wavy {and wonky. And frizzy. And falling out}. One of the things the curly community advocates for is the use of silk pillowcases to reduce friction while sleeping at night, which reduces frizz and breakage of hair. There’s anecdotal evidence that silk pillowcases may help your skin wrinkle less at night as well. A pillowcase isn’t going to massively transform how you look, but sleeping on a silk pillowcase makes you feel like a princess and it’ll cost you less than $20 – that’s a “beauty hacks” win in my book!   

Mama, you are working hard, doing your best to raise good humans in a crazy world. Practice a little #treatyoself and use these hacks to pamper yourself on a budget. You’re doing a great job!

Have you tried any of these 4 beauty hacks?

What other budget-friendly beauty tips would you add to this list?

Meal Planning Woes? Here’s Some Epic Dinner Inspiration!

What’s for dinner this week? I’m so burnt out on meal planning! Sound familiar? It’s a very common question in our Mid-Michigan Moms Community + Conversations Facebook group. And with nearly 2K members (and counting!) the question always generates dozens of new comments, whether members are sharing insight, looking for answers, or admitting a similar fate.

We decided to put all the best suggestions into one giant master list of scrollable dinner inspiration! Fun, right? Some meals include recipe links, some don’t—but that’s what Pinterest is for! If you’re in a rut or looking to switch it up, you’ve come to the right place.  

Bookmark this page now! We also invite you to share the love by adding your own meal ideas (breakfast, lunch, or dinner!) in the comments. That way there’s always something new for you or other bleary-eyed parents to discover—solidarity!

Before we get started, here are a few helpful tips:

  • Theme nights are fun and help narrow down decision overwhelm.
  • Kitchen gadgets and time-saving appliances are your friends.
  • A healthy balance is ideal but relax if convenience or comfort foods win your family over.
  • Food prep helps! If you can set time aside to get a head start, you’ll be grateful later.
  • Keep staples on hand. Every meal doesn’t need to be a carefully crafted recipe.
  • Check the weather! Let mother nature help inspire your cravings.
  • Create a menu board to get your family involved and excited about dinner.

Explore the digital recipe box below by clicking on each tab to reveal our curated, family-friendly recipes and ideas. Even more tips, tricks, and suggestions follow! What would you add? Tell us and we’ll keep adding to our list!

Happy Meal Planning!

Simple and Delicious

Don’t overthink it. Sometimes the best thing you can do is keep it simple.  

  • Add Grilled Chicken to a Bagged Salad Kit
    • Put the mixture in a tortilla to make fresh wraps
  • Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
    • Make your sandwich with pesto, mozzarella, and sliced tomatoes
    • Add croutons and a sprinkle of parmesan to a tomato bisque
    • Add turkey and avocado to your grilled cheese
  • Grilled cheese and tomato soupEmbrace Pizza Night
    • Make your own, ex: BBQ chicken or Italian sausage
    • Make a calzone with the dough instead
    • Let your kids make mini pizzas out of English muffins
    • Try pizza sliders in the oven using a package of Hawaiian rolls
  • Egg Salad Sandwiches, Chips, and Fruit
  • Roll-ups- put anything you’d make into a sandwich in a tortilla!
  • Pick 3! Choose a meat/veggie/carb combo like steak, tenderloin, or chicken paired with a veggie option and a rice/potato/pasta side dish.

 

Taco Tuesday Reboot

Mexican is always a popular choice, even with the kids. Try switching it up!

  • Crustless Taco PieChicken Tortilla Soup
  • Taco Salad

Fire Up the Grill

Something magical happens with grilled food and we’re here for it!

  • Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, or Brats (Summer picnic vibes!)
    • Try ground turkey or veggie burger options
    • Grill zucchini or squash for a side
  • Chicken and Veggie Kabobs, Rice, and Hummus
    • Leftovers make great rice/quinoa bowls, wraps, or salad toppers
  • Chicken KabobsTry Fruit! Slice up a pineapple or watermelon and taste the magic.
  • Grilled PineappleSalmon with Asparagus and Campfire Potatoes
  • Skirt Steak
    • Thin slices mixed with bell peppers and onion in a foil wrap
    • When done, top with fresh tomatoes, cheese, and salsa
  • Grilled chicken or steak, thinly sliced once cooked through, served with foil-wrapped and cooked on the grill bell peppers and onions. Serve with warmed tortillas, cheese, and sour cream for a fajita night!

Breakfast for Dinner

This is a staple in many households! What’s not to love?

  • Made to Order Omelets
  • Quiche and a Fruit Salad
  • Cheesy Scrambled Eggs with Prosciutto and Hashbrowns
  • Eggs in a Basket (Wow your family!)
  • Biscuits and Gravy
  • Pancakes and Bacon (Give pancake art a try!)
  • Kodiak Cakes Protein Waffles
  • Breakfast Burritos

Breakfast Burritos

  • Fancy, filled French toast with fresh fruit and eggs
  • Make-ahead egg bake or French toast casserole

Comfort Classics

There’s nothing quite like cozy, comfort food for dinner.

  • Chicken Pot Pie (store-bought pie crusts work just fine)
  • Hearty Chili and Cornbread
  • Create a chili bar with sour cream, cheese, chives, tortilla chips, etc.Chili
  • Oven-Baked Chicken Parmesan
      • Mom hack: Use frozen breaded chicken patties
      • Pair with a veggie/side salad or mashed potatoes/buttered noodles
  • Sloppy Joes (the messier, the better!)
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu
  • Meatloaf, Collard Greens, and Potatoes
  • Tater Tot Casserole
  • Stuffed Peppers
  • Salisbury Steak
  • Chicken Drumsticks
  • Refrigerated (or thawed frozen) pizza crust made into custom mini pizzas, calzones, or a stromboli
  • Sauteed chicken breasts, steamed broccoli, and white rice. Combine and top with shredded cheddar cheese.

Crockpot or Instant Pot

Let your cool gadgets do all the heavy lifting!

  • Creamy Ranch Chicken Roast
    • Place thinly-sliced red skin potatoes and baby carrots on the bottom of slow cooker.
    • Lay 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts on top (seasoned to your liking).
    • In a bowl, mix 2 cans cream of chicken soup, 1 ranch seasoning packet, and ½ cup milk. Pour over chicken.
    • Cook on high for 5 to 6 hours.
  • IP Jasmine Rice (for a quick stir fry)
    • Mom hack: Use a bag of stir fry veggies, a bottle of General Tso’s sauce from Aldi, and popcorn chicken
  • Sausage and Sauerkraut
  • IP Macaroni and Cheese
  • Corned Beef and Cabbage
  • IP Jambalaya

Savory Soups

You can’t go wrong with a bowl of goodness. Great for lunch leftovers too!

French Onion Soup

Rice/Pasta

Mmmm, carbs. Try a protein-rich pasta or cauliflower rice swap if you’re cutting back.

Easy Stovetop/Oven

Let it simmer while you enjoy a glass of wine or some dinnertime tunes!

Get Creative

These think outside the box ideas had us drooling! Go ahead, try something new.

  • Dinner Cupcakes
    • It’s a cornbread muffin with redskin mashed potatoes with gravy topped with a chicken tender, paired with fresh green beans with garlic and almond slices.
  • Dinner CupcakesMuffin Tray Fridays
    • The kids get to pick their muffins, paired with fruit and other finger foods
    • The adults get takeout the kids wouldn’t normally eat, like spicy Thai
  • Salmon Bowls with Homemade Coleslaw and Grilled PineappleSalmon Bowls
  • Greek Chicken Meatloaf (served with Tzatziki Sauce)
  • Charcuterie Board Dinner 

If you’re still running low on motivation, there is no shame in quick grab options, like a round of Happy Meals or a Hot ‘N Ready. Some nights are just too busy and sometimes you’re just too tired. This is a judgment-free zone! But, here are a few more ideas for you:

  • Visit your local farmer’s market to utilize seasonal options. It’s fun to shop the rainbow and strike up conversations with vendors to get new ideas (and maybe even a recipe!). Visit your local farmers’ market or set up a weekly delivery from Market Wagon.
  • Reserve fresh, locally prepared meals from services like Feedme Michigan to support local foodies who do all the work for you.
  • Try a meal-kit delivery service, such as HelloFresh, Blue Apron, or Sunbasket to regain your sanity and find some recipes worth trying again. 
  • Use eMeals to take the stress out of meal planning entirely. They do it for you! 
  • If your kids are interested and old enough to be trusted in the kitchen, have them choose a meal to plan, prepare, and serve. They’ll learn a valuable life skill and their confidence will get a major boost. You’re doing a great job raising these little humans momma!

Finally, remember that leftovers are your friend! Make enough to transform them into an entirely different meal for round two—think pulled pork one night, BBQ pork tacos the next, or extra roast beef reimagined as shredded beef stir fry later in the week. The possibilities are endless (and cost-effective too).

BONUS TIP:
This local mom gets creative to hide the veggies!

“Grate vegetables using a cheese grater. Zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, peppers, you name it, I grate it and put the vegetables in whatever I cook. Pizza, pasta sauce, meatloaf, homemade mac & cheese, etc. My husband and toddler both eat it all without complaints. I also use kitchen scissors to chop fresh spinach into tiny pieces, so it looks like seasoning!”

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