Holidays & Parties, Parenting

7 Exciting Ways to Keep Christ at the Center of Easter

As a Christian mom, I want to be sure that my kids understand what Easter is and what Jesus sacrificed for us, but I want to do it in a fun way!  The last thing I want is for the Easter Bunny to be more important to them than Jesus.

Over the past few years, I have assembled a few traditions we do every year to recognize the amazing power of Jesus Christ and to celebrate the resurrection!

First, the food.  Because I love food.

This photo is not the best as it was just taken for fun a couple of years ago, but this is our traditional Easter morning breakfast.  Easter Eggs, Resurrection Cookies, Resurrection Rolls and fruit.  You can see the Resurrection rolls on the right and the Resurrection cookies at the top!

Resurrection Rolls

These are not only fun to make, they are also meaningful as they tell the story of the burial and resurrection of Jesus! They are also so good that my kids have asked to make them other times than just Easter (we don’t though…I want to keep this as a special once-a-year tradition!).  Check out this recipe to add to your collection and enjoy them before heading out to church!

Resurrection Cookies

One of my favorite parts of Easter since I was a child was making and eating Resurrection Cookies.  They are some of the very best cookies I have ever had, and they are fun!  The kids really enjoy taking turns adding the ingredients (which all have a meaning and go along with the Easter story).  Their favorite part is always beating the pecans with a wooden spoon!  Once you are finished making them, you put them in the oven and seal it with tape (just as Jesus was sealed in the tomb).  It is so much fun to take off the tape on Easter morning to get to the cookies!  Wendy at Around My Family Table has the recipe, as well as some activities for the kids to go along with it!

 

Resurrection Eggs 

Resurrection Eggs are our newest tradition!  I purchased a set last year from Barnes and Nobel and they are so cool!  There are a dozen Easter eggs that open up to reveal a symbol that relates to the Easter story!  A little booklet that comes with it that tells you which order to open the eggs.  My kids loved taking turns opening the eggs to see what was inside!

You can get the one I have HERE.

If you want a less expensive option, Oriental Trading has a set that your kids can color!

You can even make your own Resurrection Eggs!  There are several different ways to make them:

  • You can buy plastic Easter eggs and fill them with items that represent the Easter story.  Amy from Wildflower Ramblings posted about her homemade Resurrection Eggs and even includes a free printable that you can use for your own set!
  • If you don’t want to go searching for items to fill the eggs, you can print a coloring sheet for your kids with the items on it!  All you have to do is cut out the pictures when they are done and put them inside the eggs!  This one is free!
  • For another, more creative option, Sarah from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls made some awesome wooden eggs with symbols burned onto them!  If you are super crafty, you can try her method!

No matter which Resurrection Egg set you purchase or make, it is a great way to teach the Easter story to your kids!

 

Resurrection Garden

Until this year, I had never heard of a Resurrection Garden, but it is a neat concept, especially if you are into gardening and the outdoors!  Basically, you set up a little gardening pot and use it to remember the Easter story.  You can purchase a Resurrection Garden Set at Oriental Trading (and there is free shipping through tomorrow by the way) for $19.99.

If you want to build your own DIY version, you can do that too!  Molly from Sweet Lilac shared her garden as a means to keep Christ at the forefront of Easter.

 

Passover Meal

When I was in high school, our church had a Seder meal.  My parents (and my sisters and I) loved it so much that we did it the following year just for our family.  This is not something that would be as fun for younger children, but if you have older children or teenagers, this tradition is a great way to get to know God and Christ in a new way.  By celebrating Passover, we celebrate God and his provision and plan.  We recognize his power and holiness, and remember how he continued to show love for us by sending Jesus to die as a sacrifice for our sins.  This meal is both a worshipful time and an educational one that I would like to incorporate in our home once my children get a little older.

You can do a Seder meal all sorts of ways, but this post has a great outline of the events, foods, and what all should take place.  You will want to block out a significant amount of time as it is not a quick activity, but as I said before, it is definitely a meaningful one.

 

Flower Experiment to teach Atonement

All in all, the Easter story is full of hard concepts.  The idea of Jesus taking on the sins of the world when he was on the cross…that is difficult even for adults to grasp, much less children.  But it is important to understand that Christ became sin for us so he could be the sacrifice we needed in order to be reconciled with God.  I just found a wonderful experiment to explain this concept, and I am so excited to try it this year with my girls!  Basically, you buy white flowers.  You trim the stems, place them in water, and put food dye into the water.  By the next day, the flowers will take on the color of the water.  You can find all of the specifics for the experiment here.

 

Sin Washing Experiment

Speaking of Easter concepts, the most important part of Easter is the “Why”.  Why did God send Jesus to Earth?  Why did he die on the Cross?  Why was he resurrected again?

The Answer: To cleanse us from our sin so we could be reconciled with God and have a relationship with Him because he loves us.

To demonstrate this concept, you only need a few items to perform an experiment you may remember from youth group or Sunday School.  Some of the ingredients are harsh though, so you won’t want to let your children handle them!

 

I hope you found some activities that you can incorporate into your Easter traditions!  What do you do to remember Christ during Easter?

Parenting

2 Games to Make Cleaning Fun For Kids

It is amazing how big of a mess two little people can make in such a short amount of time.

My youngest finds great joy in taking every single individual toy bin and dumping it out on the floor.  WHY!?!

But luckily kids also love to clean up their messes when they’re done.  Oh, wait.  Yours don’t either?

At my house, getting my kids to clean up their room is like WWIII.  For the last two weeks, I have been at my wits end trying to get my kids to clean up.  I even told them that they couldn’t do anything fun until their room was clean.  I went up to check on their progress, and they were cheerfully playing amongst the mess.

Of course they were.

But then my daughter asked me if we could play the 10 Things Game, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it earlier.  I happily said yes, and the kids excitedly  went to work on their messy room and actually cleaned it.

What is the 10 Things Game, you ask?  Well, when my oldest was around 5 years old, I made up a cleaning up game to make picking up a messy room more fun.  After all, who doesn’t love a good game?  It was a hit at the time, but then somehow, I forgot about it, and we hadn’t played it in years until she asked a few days ago.

Basically, the 10 Things Game solves the hardest hurdle of picking up:  Where to Start.  There is nothing worse than staring at an incredibly messy room and feeling the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness.  Instead of just starting somewhere, we anxiously think about how we will never get done.

Secondly, the 10 Things Game sets small goals and rewards the small accomplishments.  We all know how much easier it is to tackle a little project than a big one, and how amazing it feels to have completed a goal!

Lastly, it is competitive (for kids who thrive with contests).  If your kiddo doesn’t do well with competing, you can take turns instead of having the winner get to go next every time.

So, without further ado, the 10 Things Game:

10 Things Game

  1. Always start with the number 10. (Hence the name).
  2. Yell GO. All kids (and adults if they want to help), begin picking up items in the room. It can be ANY item as long as it is put in the correct spot when it is picked up.
  3. The person who picks up their 10 items the fastest is the winner. He/she gets to pick some type of exercise/dance/etc move for the group to do. The group will do the same number of moves as the number of items.  So, if the winner picks kicks, the group will do 10 kicks.  (Other suggestions: touching toes, jumping jacks, twirls, stretches, running back and forth in the hallway, leaps, etc).
  4. When the group has completed the dance/exercise moves, the winner from picking up will pick a new number. (I always say no less than 5, but really the kids don’t like low numbers anyway…it isn’t as fun).
  5. Repeat the game with the new number. The winner of that round gets to pick the next dance/exercise move and number and so on.

Pro Tip: I usually play with my kids for several reasons: 1) It helps them stay focused 2) It is actually kind of fun 3) I get some exercise 4) It’s fun bonding time.

It is amazing how fast the room will get clean when everyone is staying focused and working together.

Wanting some official “Game Rules” to show the kids?  I’ve got you covered! Just click HERE  to download the game instructions!  There are two different color options to choose from!

If your kids get tired of that game, or if you want to mix it up, I have another game for you!

The Bucket Game

Another game my kiddos love is the Bucket Game.  This game takes a little more prep the first time, but it is reusable.  Write down every item that your kids have in their room on a piece of paper.  Cut up the strips of paper and put them in a bucket or jar.  The child reaches in the bucket to get a slip of paper, and then they pick up all of the items in the room that match that slip of paper.  Then they choose another piece of paper and so on and so forth until the room is clean.

My kids love this game, and it also does a good job of tackling the “Where to begin?” question when looking at an overwhelming mess.  Instead of facing a huge project, it breaks the items down into small categories.  Since the kids have to search through the mess for the correct items, cleaning becomes a fun hunting game.

To save you some time, I have a FREE printable with strips of paper all ready to go!  There are many common kids toys and items on them already, but you can add any additional items on the blank strips!  Just print, cut, fold, and place in a bucket or jar, and you’ll be all ready to go!   Just click HERE to download!

Looking for ways to make it more fun to actually clean the house once all the toys are put away?  Cornerstone Confessions has some ideas here.

How do you get your kids excited to clean up?  Let us know in the comments!

Download Both Games Here!

 

 

 

Budgeting Tips, Fashion

12 Secrets to Scoring a Preppy Wardrobe on a Tight Budget

What if I told you that you can dress the way you want to without breaking the bank?  Building an amazing wardrobe on a budget will take time, but I have some secrets and tips that will help you make the most of your money in the process.  I have rarely paid full price for any item of clothing, and with this list, you won’t either.

  1. Follow your favorite designers and brands on social media and join their email lists. If you want to know about the best sales, this is crucial.  Many preppy designers/brands have amazing sales if you know the right time to shop.  As an added bonus, most websites will give you a percentage off your first online purchase once you sign up!  Start a little “fun money” or “clothing” fund and save it for when the big sales come around.
  • Lilly Pulitzer – Lilly gives 2 chances to shop the “After Party Sale” every year: One in August and one in January, and they both include free shipping.  This sale gets crazy, so if you plan to shop the next one, create an account on the site and enter your credit card info ahead of time.  The site will be locked down the day of and you will be put into a virtual line to shop.  You will want to log in early (on multiple devices if you have them), grab a cup of coffee, and wait for your turn.  This sale truly is major event and you will want to be prepared to make the most of it, so check out additional tips and tricks from Annie Wears It here.
  • Kate Spade – Kate Spade will have “Surprise Sales” from time to time.  This is a great way to score purses and jewelry!  You can expect deals up to 75% off retail!  The Surprise Sales are the best way to save big on Kate Spade, although there are also Friends and Family sales in April and October.  Raging Rouge has more Kate Spade sale info here.
  • Tory Burch – Tory Burch has Private Sales throughout the year, in addition to a Friends and Family sale and a Friends and Fans sale.  Pay close attention to your emails in March, August, and October!  The most recent sale just ended and had items up to 72% off!
  • Lauren James – Lauren James has a big birthday sale every year on January 28th, but there are also other sales throughout the year, such as the Extra Love Sale that took place in February this year where shoppers could score an additional 40% off of sale items!
  1. Know when to shop. Certain days of the year are just better days to shop in general.  Black Friday.  Cyber Monday.  Day after Christmas.  July 4th and 5th.  Even if a designer is not having an online or in-store sale, you may score big at a department store or boutique during these big sale days.

 

  1. Take note of brand/designer secrets and tricks. There are some secret hacks for scoring a deal on certain brands.
  • Hunter Boots – If you wear a size 7 1/2 like me (or if your shoe size is smaller), you are in luck!  You can fit into Hunter Boots kids sizes and purchase a pair for about half the price!  Find out even more Hunter Boots tricks here from Kelly in the City.
  • Kendra Scott – On the month of your birthday, Kendra Scott will give you 50% off of your purchase of one item!  You will need a valid ID.
  1. Shop discount sites. There are several discount sites that sell items that may be on sale or from last season.  This is especially helpful for designers that do not have an online sale page.  My favorites are Rue La La and 6pm.  For a complete list of sites, check out this post.
  1. Hit up the sales rack first. Back in the day, I didn’t like to shop the sales rack because I felt like those clothes were older and not as good.  Then I began working at a retail store in college and realized that some items we received would go straight to the sale rack without ever even hitting the sales floor.  It may be a little more work to look through the sales rack, but you can find some incredible deals! For instance, I once found a cute Banana Republic sweater for $5!

 

  1. Check out the outlets. Many designers and brands have outlets now.  You can find discounted Kate Spade, Vineyard Vines, Polo Ralph Lauren, etc.  The catch is that most outlet stores are not online, however, some are!  For instance, Mudpie has an online outlet store now that has some great deals!

 

  1. Pair designer pieces with cheap ones. Your entire outfit doesn’t have to be expensive.  A Walmart, Target, or Old Navy top will look just as cute with Lilly shorts and will be a lot less expensive.  If you are on a budget, don’t blow $40 on a pink top when you can get one for $3.  No one will know the difference, but they will notice how cute your one-of-a-kind shorts are and compliment you on your Kate Spade purse!

 

  1. Stick to neutral shades for accessories. If you can’t afford to get three different pairs of designer shoes or multiple purses, stick to a color that will go with everything.  For instance, I have two pairs of Tory Burch flats, a black pair and a tan one.  My Lilly Pulitzer sandals are gold.  Neutrals are your friend.

 

  1. Research which items hold their resale value well. Some designers and brands hold their value much better than others.  Lilly Pulitzer, Tory Burch, Tieks, Louis Vitton, Frye, Lulu Lemon, Michael Kors, Burberry, etc.  If you take care of your clothing and accessories, you can sell them when you are tired of them.  Where can you get the biggest bang for your buck?  The old standby is Ebay, but you can also sell locally on neighborhood Facebook groups.  Another option is to join brand/designer specific Facebook groups if you are willing to ship.  You should always use PayPal (not friends and family) when buying and selling online.  Live Laugh Motherhood has some great tips for successful buying, selling and shipping online using PayPal!

 

  1. Buying used clothing. Join the online Facebook groups for the best deals.  You can also stop by consignment stores and head to women’s consignment sales too!  You can sometimes find awesome deals at stores like Goodwill or at yard sales, but those amazing scores are few and far between, and you can waste a lot of time there.  However, if you are careful with your purchases and buy items that hold their resale value well, you can often get back as much as you paid for the item in the first place!  How is that for cheap!?

 

  1. Let gift givers know when your favorite pieces are on sale. When you see an item that you want for a great price, tell those who buy gifts for you, especially if it is near your birthday or Christmas.  Most people will appreciate the heads up!  Just a couple of weeks ago, my kids gave me a hard to find NWT (New With Tags) Lilly dress that I found at a consignment store as a birthday gift!  That never would have happened if I hadn’t given my mom the heads up of the fantastic deal!  Every Christmas, I get a few Lilly gifts that were purchased during the August After Party Sale because we all know that is the best time to buy brand new Lilly!

 

  1. Make friends with people who love the same brands you do! When I lived in Charleston, I started a Facebook group called Lilly Lovers of Charleston (It is still active if you love Lilly and you live in the Charleston, SC area!).  Through it, I was able to connect with others who loved Lilly like I did.  We would shop together and alert each other of great deals!  Plus, when you have friends who love the same clothing as you, they give you first dibs when they are tired of the items they want to sell!

So, there you have it…some of the best secrets and tips for dressing preppy on a budget!  I hope they help you fill your closet with lots of beautiful items that you never thought you could afford!

Speaking of filling your closet, when I lived in Charleston, I began a consignment sale for Lilly Pulitzer clothing.  We then expanded the sale to include some accessories (such as Kate Spade, Tory Burch, Louis Vuitton, etc!)  I am no longer running the sale since I have moved, but some of my closest Lilly friends are keeping it going and it’s this Saturday, March 10th!  If you love Lilly, it is the best way to score some great deals (and it is where I got a pair of Tory Burch flats and a gorgeous hot pink Kate Spade purse!)  I’ll be volunteering and taking home some new finds!  Email chslillylovers@gmail.com for more info!

Do you have any shopping secrets to share?  Let us know in the comments below!

Budgeting Tips, Healthy Eating, Healthy Lifestyle

7 Tips for Cooking on a Budget PLUS 2 Black Bean Recipes

I love food.

Like, I really love food.  Probably as much or more than anyone you know.  There is nothing better than eating a fantastic meal.

But, I have a bit of a confession: I didn’t really learn to cook until I was separated at 30 years old.

When I was married, we went out to eat A LOT.  Every night, the question wasn’t “What’s for dinner?”, it was where.  And I had some great reasons for wanting to go out. Not only did I enjoy the delicious food that seemed intimidating to make, we could also eat different meals at the same time, so everyone was happy. We were also forced to sit at a table together for at least an hour and have family time.  (Now I make sure we eat a family meal every night around our own kitchen table).

It wasn’t until I was alone with two young kids that I realized 2 things: 1) Eating out is expensive.  I can’t even imagine how much money we blew on those amazing dinners, and 2) Going out to eat with a 6 and 2 year old by yourself is just not fun at all.  It was time to learn the skill of cooking on a budget.

So, armed with the motivation to cook for pretty much the first time in my entire life, I began searching for recipes in an attempt to bring the delicious food I was used to eating in restaurants home to our kitchen table.

It wasn’t long before I realized that the soup I was paying $5.00 a cup for was the easiest thing in the world to make at home for way less.  Then I tried the chicken enchilada casserole from 100 Days of Real Food and it was amazing (I added green peppers to mine and used whole grain tortillas), which encouraged me to try even more new recipes! I even learned to cook bacon and grits instead of going out to brunch on the weekends!  (Seriously, that is how much I did NOT cook before).  My girls became more adventurous eaters since they had to eat what I cooked (and there were no chicken tenders or cheeseburgers on the menu).  I began to discover what spices went into which types of dishes, and cooking became kind of fun!

I also realized how little a meal could cost.  Since I am not a huge meat eater, we started to eat mostly vegetarian foods.  I started to pay attention to what was on sale and stock up for future meals.  Cutting out meat may not be for you, but for this little fam of all girls, it has worked well!  (And we still eat meat occasionally).

I’m still learning how to make healthy, kid friendly meals on a tight budget, but these are the tips I have learned so far!

  1. Stock Up on Sale Items. But only items you need.  I purchase healthy snacks for my kids and the ingredients to make meals.  That is it.  And I buy the same items over and over.
  2. Use Coupons if you have them. But only clip the coupons if the are for items you need.  It does not save you money to spend $2.00 on a junk food item that you would never have purchased if you hadn’t see the $.50 off coupon.  I also save the coupon for when the item goes on sale again.
  3. Buy Frozen and Canned foods when possible. Frozen veggies are better for you than canned, so I always buy those, along with frozen fruits if I plan to cook with them.  I do buy canned tomatoes and black beans (and other beans, but black beans are a major staple at my house). I do not buy fresh anything if I can avoid it, because I want every item to have the longest shelf-life possible.  Any food item that is thrown out is a waste of money.
  4. Rotate out Fresh Fruits/Veggies. Of course, there are some items you have to purchase fresh, such as fruits and veggies that you plan to eat raw (especially for snacking)! I used to go wild buying several different types of veggies and fruits at once, and no matter how much we snacked on them, I would usually end up tossing something.  I have learned if I get a couple types of veggies and fruits each, we are more likely to finish them and less is wasted.  Then I can get something new the next week and everyone is excited to eat it.
  5. Limit Your Meat Intake. Meat can easily become the most expensive part of a meal. When I first started cooking, I would make a meat and a couple of sides, and I occasionally still do this.  However, I have learned that my kids eat more vegetables when they are incorporated in the meal in some way (soups, pasta, etc), so I started putting meat on the backburner instead of making it the star of the meal.  When I do cook with meat, I will get a package of something such as chicken breasts, cook them, and use a little bit in multiple meals.  IE: I’ll make a chicken pot pie one day, and chicken noodle soup the next.
  6. Soups are your BFF. I love soups. You can put any vegetable in a soup and it instantly become easier to eat.  My kids won’t touch onions or cooked bell peppers until I put them in our favorite chili!  Plus, as an added bonus, we generally have enough soup left over for at least one meal afterwards, and sometimes for me to take to work too!
  7. Have Flip Flop Day. Eat breakfast for dinner. Eggs and Grits are sooo cheap.  Add bacon for a little more.  Pancakes and waffles are quick and easy on a busy weeknight, or you can whip up omelets for a healthier option.

The two recipes below take all of the rules above in consideration, and they are go-to meals for me!

 

Easy Peasy Black Bean Chili

This chili is ALWAYS a hit at my house and I keep enough ingredients on hand to make it any time I’m not sure what to make for dinner.  At home, we eat the meatless version, but I usually add chicken if I’m making it for others!

Ingredients:

2 cans of black beans

1 can diced tomatoes with chilis

1 can diced tomatoes

1/3 bag frozen corn (save rest for next time!)

1/3 bag frozen sliced peppers and onions (save rest for next time!)

1 container chicken broth

1 1/2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp minced garlic

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground pepper

Diced cooked chicken (optional)

Shredded cheddar cheese, for serving

Sour cream, for serving

Jalapenos, for serving

Cilantro, for serving

Directions:

  1. If you have time, saute the pepper and onions in a pan with a little olive oil and minced garlic. If you’re in a hurry, skip to step 2.
  2. Put black beans, diced tomatoes, and diced tomatoes with chilis in a pot. If you would like your chili to be thicker, drain juice first.  If you want a soupier chili, do not drain.  Add frozen (or fresh) peppers and onions.  Add corn.  Add chicken broth and chicken (optional).  Bring mixture to a boil.
  3. Turn setting down and let the chili simmer. Add seasonings.  I estimated the amounts because I usually taste as I go.  I start with less and add more until I reach the desired flavor.  DO NOT leave out the cinnamon.  It makes a big difference in the recipe!  You can add red pepper flakes for an added kick.
  4. It will be ready to eat in around 30 mins, but the longer it cooks, the better, and it is even better reheated the next day!
  5. Serve with sour cream, cheese, jalapenos, cilantro, etc.

 

Vegetarian Farmers Hash with Gouda Grits

This recipe is my version of my favorite meal at Charleston’s Café, my #1 place to brunch when I’m in Mt Pleasant.  They always add meat in their version (chorizo seems to be a fav), but when I make it at home, I go meatless.  They also usually use potatoes instead of grits, but I prefer keeping grits in my pantry since they have a longer shelf life (and because they’re grits, and I’m a southern girl).

Directions for Vegetarian Farmers Hash:

  1. Saute the pepper and onions in a pan with butter and minced garlic. Add a sprinkle or two of cumin.
  2. Once the onions have caramelized, add drained black beans. Continue to cook mixture until it thickens. (If you want to add cooked meat, you can do so at this time as well).
  3. In the meantime, fry two eggs in a separate pan.
  4. When black bean and pepper mixture is finished cooking, move it to plate. Add shredded gouda cheese on top.  When eggs are done cooking, place them on top of cheese.
  5. Serve with gouda grits and enjoy!

Directions for Gouda Grits:

  1. Cook grits according to package instructions (roughly ¼ cup grits for every 1 cup of water).
  2. Once grits are cooked, add salt and pepper to taste, a pat of butter, and shredded gouda cheese. Add a few splashes of milk and stir.
  3. Serve with Vegetarian Farmers Hash

Don’t forget to shop the sales to get the best price on the ingredients!

What are your favorite healthy meals that are easy on the budget? Any additional tips on how to save?  Tell us in the comments below!

Friendship, Relationships (Friendship/Dating), Tackling Lemons

How to Make Friends as a Single Mom

First Day of Kindergarten.  College Orientation.  There are some situations in life when it is easy to make friends because everyone else is looking for new friends too.  But for the rest of your life, it can be more difficult.  You have to make more of an effort.  You have to seek out friendships instead of having them fall in your lap.

This can become even more difficult as a single mom.  Some newly divorced moms find that their married friends don’t call them to hang out as much, or they stop getting invited to couples events entirely.  On top of that, many single moms end up moving, either for financial reasons or to be near family.  That means they have to start over in the friend department.

But don’t worry, there are many places to make new friends if you take the initiative and have an open attitude!

Where to Make Friends

  1. Church – If you are a Christian, the local church is a great place to build new friendships! The key is getting involved by joining a small group/lifegroup/Sunday School class and/or volunteering in an area where you are gifted.  If you are currently at a church where you aren’t connecting with anyone, try a different church!  Pro Tip – If there is a playground, hang out there for a bit after the service.  That is a great place to meet other parents!
  2. Meetup.com – I have made countless friends on this site at different stages of my life. It is free to join, and there are groups of every kind.  Search for Single Moms groups or moms groups in general!  But don’t limit yourself to meeting other moms!  Charlotte (where I live) has groups for hiking, board games, kickball, wine tastings…etc.  Whatever your interest, you can find others who are into the same thing!
  3. Sports Leagues – If you are the sporty type (or not, but you like team sports anyway like me), check out the local leagues. You can play kickball, soccer, flag football, softball, volleyball, etc.
  4. Facebook Groups – No matter where you live, there is likely at least one group on Facebook for moms in your area. Where I live, for example, I am in three: one for my town, one for moms in my neighborhood with school-aged kids, and a smaller group for those new to the neighborhood.  Post in the group asking if anyone wants to meet up for a drink or a playdate. You’ll likely have a ton of interest!
  5. Neighborhood clubs/events – If you live in an active neighborhood or apartment complex, you probably have clubs and activities going on. Pay attention to any newsletters or announcements that you receive from the HOA or management company to see what all there is out there.  See something that interests you but not sure if it is your thing?  Try it out anyway!  Bunco is something I had never played before, but it was a great way to meet people in my neighborhood!
  6. Start a group for single moms where you can meet up together if you can’t find one! I have lots of friends who are married with and without kids, or single with no kids, but it is nice to have at least a couple of friends who can understand the specific challenges that come with solo-parenting, dating with children, etc.  In fact, I just started my own local group for single moms last week!  I posted in the Facebook mom’s group for our hometown asking if there were any other single moms who would like to get together.  The response was great, so I started a Facebook group for us and we got together this past Friday night for the first time!  If you start it, they will come, and they’ll be thankful you took the initiative!

So now that you know how to find people, how do you turn acquaintances into friendships?  Here are some methods that work for me!

How to Make Friends from Aquaintances

  1. Be open to people who are different than you. When I go somewhere new, I do not just go into the room looking for single moms in their 30s with a 2nd grader and 4 year old.  Don’t discount a potential friend because that person is married, doesn’t have kids, has different interests than you, etc.  There is likely something you have in common with pretty much everyone.  Look for that commonality, and build a friendship from there.
  2. Look for ways to hang out in addition to the planned activity.  If you are meeting people in a structured environment, invite the group out to do something fun.  If you meet at church, see if anyone wants to go out to eat after the service Sunday, or go grab a drink after kickball.
  3. Invite people over to your house.  Pretty much every month has at least one excuse to celebrate!  Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, St Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th…  Throw a party and invite people from the groups you are involved in to come.  It is a great way to get to know people better!  Pro Tip: Over-Invite!  Especially if your party is on a holiday when people may have other plans (ie: July 4th), you could have low percentage of attendees.  Even if someone cannot attend, however, your invitation will be appreciated!
  4. Invite people from one group to another group.  I naturally do this, but I’m not sure if others do.  If you are my friend from small group, I’m going to invite you to join my kickball team, and vice versa.  This is a great way to spend more time with your new friends as well as to get to know them in a different environment!
  5. When someone invites you somewhere, go. If you get invited to something and you like the person who invited you, go if at all possible! If you can’t find a sitter or have previous plans, be sure to let that person know that you would love to attend next  time!
  6. Be authentic. We are all different.  Be your own, real self and don’t try to be what anyone wants you to be.  They will like the real you more than someone who wears a mask.                                                                                                                                                     

Bottom Line: No matter where you make your friends, be true to yourself and open to others, even if they seem very different than you…the person who is your total opposite may end up being your best friend!

 

What are your tips for making friends?

Positive Mindset

Raining Lemons

Y’all.

I have been looking so forward to starting this blog about being positive and living your best life as a single mom, and then, oh the irony.  Today, the day I finally took the plunge and bought my domain, my toilet overflowed ALL OVER THE DOWNSTAIRS.

Tomorrow morning, my oldest daughter will be put to sleep for the first time for a minor procedure and her dad is not able to make it due to being between jobs and living in another state.  My youngest just got over the flu.  And then this happens.

Today is a day when I feel like I have been dealt a few lemons.  Too many lemons.  Well, I’m trying to do my best to make the best darn lemonade I can.

We are all dealt lemons sometimes.  Divorce.  Job loss.  Moving from somewhere we love.  Sickness.  Death of a loved one.  I know I have had all of those thrown at me and more.  But it isn’t about the lemons, what matters is our mindset when they come.

When lemons come my way, I try to deal with them and stay positive, even when I want to curl up in a ball and cry (and sometimes I do that first, just being real here).  However, I don’t stay in that place.  I reset my mind on the positive, and these are some of the ways that I am able to do that, even when everything is bad.

  1. Look for the positive in the situation.  There is always a positive. Tonight, I caught the water before it ruined the entire downstairs.  That’s a pretty big positive.
  2. Meditate on your blessings. My kids are generally healthy.  The flu did not spread through our home (knock on wood).  Speaking of homes, we have one and it is a nice one in my favorite place to live.  I have a wonderful family and lots of friends.  I am not doing this thing all by myself, even if it feels like that in the moment when no one else wants to take care of my sick kid and no one else is there when the toilet overflows right when I need a break.
  3. Ask for help. Tonight I called my parents for advice on how to deal with the plumbing issue (and to commiserate with them).  When my daughter had the flu, I posted on my neighborhood page looking for someone to bring me Elderberry syrup (I had cash) and I had two different strangers bring me things I needed to take care of her since I couldn’t get out.  Even though my daughter’s dad won’t be there tomorrow, my boyfriend will be at the hospital when we get there and my dad is going to come when he has to leave so I won’t be alone.  If you need help, ask for it.  Then pay it forward.
  4. Create more positives. If your life right now is just one big lemon, focus on the problems and tackle them one by one.  Have no friends?  Make some (get started here).  Dating life stagnant when you don’t want it to be?  Put yourself out there.  Unhappy with your health?  Start making choices to move towards your goal.  Create more positives in your life instead of focusing on the bad.
  5. Accept that life will not be perfect.  Life is not perfect for anyone.  There are some things that we just have to deal with.  Parenting is hard.  Relationships take work.  Dealing with an ex on a regular basis because you have children together isn’t super fun.  Focus on the things you can change and control, and look for the good in the situations you can’t change.

I am not perfect, and sometimes I have to have a bit of a breakdown before I get to the stage where I can look at the positives, but it really does help to reset my mind and look for the good in a situation instead of wallowing in the bad.  Because no matter how great a person’s life looks, there is always at least a little bad.  And no matter how awful your situation or mine looks, there is always at least a little good.

What are your tips for keeping a positive mindset when it is raining lemons?