In addition to everything I already do as a mom, something I have been focused on is how to improve our family wellness. This means anything from a better night of sleep to a more productive and stress-free house.
I have learned over the years that if I don’t feel well or am in a very stressful and chaotic environment, then I can’t be the best person (or parent) that I can be. And the same goes for my kids and husband.
So, what are ways I can improve our family so we are healthier, happier, and function better as a household?
Here are some quick and easy hacks to raising a healthy, happy family that you can add in your life today.
Mom Tips for a Better Night of Sleep:
Becoming a mom has taught me just how awful sleep deprivation can be. And since then, I really prioritize ways I can help us all get a better night of sleep.
Leave the doors open: When you sleep in your room, the carbon dioxide levels rise. Poor air quality can lead to headaches, nausea and much more. It can also disrupt your REM cycles. The best way to prevent carbon dioxide build up at night is to leave bedroom doors open. Another good option is to leave windows open at night, weather permitting.
Add plants to every bedroom: Another way we try to lower the level of carbon dioxide in our house is using plants. Plants also clean the air. My two favorite plants to add to rooms are pathos and spider plants since they are so easy to care for and really hard to kill.
Pajamas right after dinner: For some reason in our house, pajamas always turn into a big fight because they are the start to our bedtime routine. If we do them instead right after dinner, then play comes next and there is no fight. I clean up while they get pajamas on.
Read books with dimmed lights: Melatonin, the sleep hormone, is produced based on light exposure. To increase or help their bodies produce melatonin, we always read books in bed with a dimmed light. We read for 15-20 minutes and they are so sleepy after.
Add in a final bedtime step: The hardest part of our bedtime routine is always trying to leave the room. They always want us to stay. Two last bedtime activities that have helped tremendously are telling stories while drawing them out on their back (or just a back rub) or playing an audio story with lights out.
Bamboo sheets and breathable comforters: Recently I switched all of our sheets and comforters to be made of “breathable” fabrics. I have never had such an easy time falling asleep. I will never go back. Completely worth every penny if you or your kids have a hard time falling asleep.
Ask your pediatrician: I didn’t realize we underutilized this resource until recently. Not only does she have a sleep specialist on staff but it’s also covered by insurance. I have met with her multiple times and she always has great tips on how to improve our specific sleep issues.
Mom Tips for Heathy and Easy Eating
Feeding a family is hard work. Eating healthy can also be a lot of meal prep and work. Since eating healthy is so important to me, I am always looking for new ways to get my kids to eat better. And since it can take up to 21 times of trying a new food before you even like it, I am also always trying to find ways to get my kids to try new foods. Here are things we do to eat better as a family.
Buy one new food a week: If you have picky eaters or find that you eat the same things each week, then this tip is for you. Each week try to find a new vegetable or fruit that you haven’t tried. Search the internet for the easiest way to cook and serve it, and try it together as a family. You can turn this into a game that is great for toddlers and young kids. Also try repeating new foods but cooked or served a different way.
Join a farm (CSA) share: Search your area for a farm share and try one out. We decided to do this and I was amazed at how many vegetables we got each week that I had never heard of. It forced me to learn how to cook them. It was a great way to try new foods. A lot of these type of farm shares also have a pick your own each week. We have picked strawberries, cherry tomatoes, etc. The activity of picking your own food teaches kids where food comes from and I find, they are more willing to try it. We also did our farm share with a few friends and all sign up for the same pick up time. We meet at the farm and do a group picnic there.
Everyone eats the same “meal”: The best advice I got was to make one meal but make sure it has options for everyone. Let people mix their own food and serve it like a pasta or salad bar. By setting each item out on the table instead of premixed in one bowl, there are lot of options to pick from. It is so much less work than trying to make a different healthy meal for kids. It also is a great standard to set that we all eat the same meal. And if you have a toddler, be sure to take a small part out before spicing.
Try one new recipe a week: Trying to add a lot of new recipes into your rotation can be really overwhelming and exhausting. I find that I actually enjoy it so much more when I think small. Before making the grocery list, I find one new recipe that I want to try. And it doesn’t always have to be a dinner. I switch it up by also doing dessert or snack recipes too.
Include your kid in a dinner: Each kid since toddlerhood has helped with dinner one night a week. Not only does this help build life skills, but also they are so much more willing to eat it. They are so proud of their effort. It can be as simple as helping you cook that night or as extensive as helping you pick and shop for the meal.
Keep water bottles full and in the fridge: I really love coffee and drink it all day. The one downside is I do not drink nearly enough water. I also never keep track of my water bottle or my kid’s water bottles. So, I finally made a dedicated space in the fridge for them. These are our house water bottles. They are always full and in the door of the fridge. Our kids know where to find them, can grab a drink and put them back. I have a second set that I keep in our fridge for the mom (diaper) bag that are also kept full in the fridge ready to go.
Mom Tips for an Organized, Picked Up House
While a clean house is nice, a picked-up house is what really lowers my stress level. Not to mention being organized saves you time because picking up to clean or vacuum is easier. For way too long, I underestimated the importance of organization. It was always to hard to keep our house organized and with my oh so helpful toddler, I had to get creative.
The 1-minute rule: I learned this amazing tip after reading the Happiness Project. Basically, if it takes less than a minute do it right away. Once you intentionally start to do this, it will become habit. It is one of the best ways to keep the house picked up. I will put things away if it takes less than a minute. If not, I will wait until I have more time.
Always pick the path to least resistance: Add organization solutions where things end up naturally. For instance, if keys always end up on the first counter. Add something on the wall right above the spot or add a basket on that counter for keys and wallets. Organizational solutions only work if they require minimal effort to put things back.
Everything has a spot: If something doesn’t have a home, then the counter or the floor will become its permanent home. It also makes it so much easier to pick up because you know where to put everything. One project that I do each month is to pick an area that always seems to get cluttered and I go through each item and find a home for it. I make a list of everything that doesn’t have a home so I can look for and get a solution for the specific need. Before doing that, I would just buy organization items randomly which never really worked.
Every room should have storage: If you don’t have storage in a room, then there will always be items out. My favorite solution is to use baskets. They make great decor in almost any room. Also, they are so versatile that you can buy a collection of different sizes and use them again and again in all types of situations.
Get better at maximizing space: Reading a lot of organization blogs taught me that I really had no idea how to use space effectively for storage. The best ways we increased our effective space for storage was getting garage shelving, outfitting closets and using under the bed bins for seasonal items.
Declutter one area every month: I use to try to go through the whole house and declutter. I would never know what to get rid of. So instead, I only focus on one area at a time. The project is then more manageable.
Number of extras: If something is useful, then I tend to keep it. However, what I am realizing is that I have too many extras. So, I now try to give away extras, so I don’t have 30 extra dish towels or 20 extra empty binders. For items that are not super expensive, it really is easier to just buy when you need them. The stress of storing and organizing is not worth it.
Toy rotation and toy closet: If you don’t have a playroom, then a great way to not let the toy mess get out of hand is a toy closet and/or a toy rotation. If your playroom has too many toys, then take out half and keep them in a toy closet. Every week rotate a few toys back into the room and put away some other ones.
We do have a playroom but I do this for the living room, which is the other area where they like to play. I also sort toys. Toys that have lots of pieces (magnet tiles, games, puzzles) go into the toy closet. Toys that are easy to clean up, good for dramatic play or can live on a shelf go into the toy room. If they want a new game or toy from the closet, then the other one must first be cleaned up. It is also so easy to enforce because cleaning it up is very easy since it is the only toy out. I also recommend this if you have lots of toys.
Mom Tips for a Healthier Living Space:
Besides basic cleaning chores to keep our house clean and healthy, here are some ideas to improve your living space. We spend so much time in our homes especially in winter that I wanted to invest in making the space healthier.
Ditch the cleaning products: Honestly, there are so many chemicals in cleaning products that I just don’t want to spend time reading every label or worrying about it. You can really clean everything in your house with either baking soda, vinegar, and bleach. Just remember to not mix vinegar and baking soda since they react to make salt water. They only work as cleaning agents separately. Some quick google searches on “what can you clean with vinegar”, “what can you clean with baking soda” and “what can you clean with bleach”, will not only surprise you but also get you started. Not to mention, how much money you will save on cleaning products.
Filter the air: It wasn’t until recently that I learned you can have your air ducts cleaned professionally. This is especially important if you recently moved into an old house or complete a renovation project.
Filters on showers: In addition to cleaning showerheads on a regular basis, because lots of bacteria grow in showerheads, you should try a shower filter. They are not super expensive and are well worth it. Water contains so many chemicals and hard water is also high in mineral content which can wreak havoc on your skin and hair. Adding a shower filter actually helped clean up my acne.
Invest in humidity: It seems everyone in my house has sensitive skin and we all end up with dry itchy skin every winter. Desperate for a solution besides coating us all in lotion, we invested in a whole house humidifier. It was such a great decision. Our dry skin issue literally disappeared. At the very least, look into nightstand humidifiers for while you sleep.
Clean appliances on a regular basis: Deep cleaning our house does not happen as often as it should. However, I make an effort to wash appliances regularly. They are some of the biggest hot spots for mold and bacteria. This is everything from the washing machine and dishwasher to the coffee pot and ice maker.
Add more plants: Since plants clean air so well, they are not just great in bedrooms but also all over the house. I love how they can be used for home decor. When winter rolls around, they make me happy because they are green. I recently signed up for a plant box subscription and love it.
One big chore a day: With little kids, it is impossible to get a lot done. So instead I aim to get one big chore done a day. I always know the night before what I plan on tacking the next day. And when I accomplish that one chore, I feel good. Our house is never perfectly clean but this helps a lot.
Create or find cleaning schedules: I was at such a loss when it came to making my own cleaning schedule. I would try to tackle as much as possible and also didn’t really know how often I should be cleaning anything. Some areas would be super clean and other things I never got to. It is so hard to remember when you cleaned what unless you are following a schedule. Not to worry though, you don’t need to make your own. What I found out was that there are so many awesome FREE monthly calendar cleaning chart printables online. I searched google images and Pinterest until I found one that fit our house well and then of course made adjustments.
My last mom tip: A family list
This tip gets a section all to itself because it has made that big of a difference in our house. It has changed how we communicate and operate. The best part about this tip is that after starting it, I was less overwhelmed and didn’t feel like I was getting requests all day.
What we did was create a board that is dedicated to requests. We put a whiteboard up and its sole purpose is for anyone in the household to put requests or to-do items on it. For instance, instead of my kids now telling me they want this from the grocery store, or they need me to sign a certain paper, they can write it on the board.
It helps them be responsible for themselves and it frees me up from getting told to do things all day. Also, I don’t forget it because it is all up there on the board. Once or twice a day, I check it and can take care of a few items on the list. I also keep a folder below, so they have somewhere to put papers or items that I need to sign, etc.
Pursue Ways to Live Better Today
Finding ways to get more done in less time is what us moms do best. It amazes me sometimes how big my to do list is or how much I need to juggle. Anything that helps me accomplish more, live better and be happier is well worth my time.
I hope a few of these tips can help you have a cleaner and more organized space, eat better, sleep better or have more fun as a family. Family wellness is something that we must all be intentional about.
As always, if you have any awesome mom hacks to add to this list, please do so in the comments!